Illustrating Children's Books, by Martin Salisbury

The success or otherwise of a children’s picture book can (and does) rest on the work of the illustrator. Yet, for the outsider, the illustration may seem easy – just drawing a few pictures to go with the story. In Illustrating Children’s books, Martin Salisbury makes the illustrator’s role a little clearer, and takes the would-be illustrator through the processes involved in illustrating a children’s book.

Packed with examples and case studies, the book explores drawing techniques, materials, design and the publication process as well as looking at illustrating different types of books – including picture books, books for older children, and non-fiction.

Martin Salsibury is himself an accomplished children’s book illustrator as well as a lecturer in the subject. He peppers the book with examples of his own experience and covers areas about the business and legal side of publishing in clear detail.

This is an excellent guide for those considering a career in illustration and is also fascinating for those involved in the writing, editing or study of children’s books.

Illustrating Children’s Books: Creating Pictures for Publication, by Martin Salisbury
Allen & Unwin, 2004

Victoria's Market, by Nan McNam

Reviewed by Tash Hughes


Billabong’s Daughteris the eighth in a series of fifteen books about Norah Linton and her family on their station, Billabong. The series was very popular with girls as they were printed, and has touched generations of Australians and others.

Billabong is an isolated cattle station in Northern Victoria in the early 1900s. Having never known her Mother, Norah lives with her Father, David, elder brother, Jim, and adopted brother, Wally.

An enjoyable book, with much to give younger readers, Victoria’s Market is about a young girl and her father going on their weekly shopping trip.

The story itself will interest children, as they can understand the idea of a child being separated from her father in a public place. Like most children would, Victoria wanders around the market looking for her father, rather than staying still for him to find her.

From page to page, the book alternates perspective between Victoria and her father as they search. Much to the children’s amusement, Dad is constantly seeing unusual beings at the market: a giant, a werewolf, a monster, a spy and a vampire, just to name a few.

The pictures and text show the diversity of things available at a market, giving many opportunities for discussions about foods and produce. It is also a great lead in-book for children about to visit a market and for children able to visit the Queen Victoria Market, it is even more appropriate as the book is based there.

Illustrations by McLean are coloured sketches and they include many details so that it is easy to imagine being at the market with the characters.

Eventually, Victoria and Dad meet up near the food stalls and have their usual treat together. Observant readers will then discover that Dad wasn’t really imagining things in the Market!

Victoria’s Market, by Nan McNam, illustrated by Andrew McLean
Allen & Unwin, 1992

Billabong's Daughter, by Mary Grant Bruce

Reviewed by Tash Hughes

Billabong’s Daughteris the eighth in a series of fifteen books about Norah Linton and her family on their station, Billabong. The series was very popular with girls as they were printed, and has touched generations of Australians and others.

Billabong is an isolated cattle station in Northern Victoria in the early 1900s. Having never known her Mother, Norah lives with her Father, David, elder brother, Jim, and adopted brother, Wally.

Norah and the boys are now young adults, newly returned to Australia from World War I. They have settled back into farm life and the local community. New chums, Bob and Tommy Rainham, have found a farm close to Billabong and are rapidly learning about life in Australia, greatly aided by the Linton family.

An on-the-run thief in the district, who finds Tommy alone at her home, excites the township of Cunjee. Eventually, Jim and the others discover the man, struggling to survive in the hills, and they take pity on him.

Norah and Tommy befriend an Irish woman and her daughter when their horse runs off with them. Later, they care for the girl whilst her mother is in hospital. Norah reflects on her own lack of Mother and enjoys playing a nurturing role towards the child.

A lone bull confronts Norah, but is driven off by a furious Wally who keeps the episode secret from Jim. Wally keeping things quiet is unusual and Jim finds this behaviour puzzling until Wally admits his feelings for Norah are more than brotherly. Feeling he has betrayed the Lintons, Wally returns to Queensland upon his brother’s death and doesn’t plan to return.

Again, Bruce has written a pleasant story of characters who are moral and generous. It tells of simpler times and avoids covering adult subjects in depth.

Billabong’s Daughter, by Mary Grant Bruce
Ward, Lock & Co, 1924

Mutt Dog, by Stephen Michael King

In the city there lives a dog who belongs to no-one. He spends his days searching for food and a place to sleep, until one day he chances upon a half way house, where people are lining up for food and a bed for the night.

The lady working at the refuge tries to turn the dog away but when he sneaks back in she relents and lets him stay the night. The next morning, she decides to offer the dog a home at her place in the country and soon the newly-christened Mutt Dog is settling in to life in a family.

This gorgeous new offering from the talented Stephen Michael King is a cute story about a dog but it is much more than just a dog story. Mutt Dog looks at issues of homelessness – both for animals and humans. It is no coincidence that Mutt Dog is picked up at a refuge for homeless people or that, while he is on the streets, he is surrounded by people who are in the same situation as he is. Probably the most telling part of the whole book is the line, when Mutt Dog discovers the half way house: There wasn’t enough room … or even enough food for a dog.

Mutt Dog will be enjoyed for its quirky illustrations and feel-good story but it will also pave the way for discussions, both in the classroom and at home, about the plight of the homeless.

Mutt Dog is a warm and touching combination of cute story and important subject matter which belongs in every home and library.

Mutt Dog, by Stephen Michael King
Scholastic, 2004

Too Many Pears! by Jackie French

Pamela the cow loves pears. She loves them so much she will stop at nothing to get to them – even if it means crawling through a wombat hole or towing a tree behind her.

Unfortunately, Pamela’s pear obsession means there are no pears left for the people. Something has to be done to stop Pamela eating all the pears.

Too Many Pears is the latest humorous offering from renowned author-illustrator team, Jackie French and Bruce Whatley. Like so many of French’s books, the story revolves around food and animals, yet, as always, this story is unique. Whatley’s illustrations bring the tale to life, with the cow’s facial expressions a true delight.


Too Many Pears, by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
Koala Books, 2003

There Once Was a Boy Called Tashi, by Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg

There once was a boy called Tashi, who had a way with witches and warlords and guessed the secrets of ghosts … Tashi wasn’t afraid of the giant on the mountain or the wicked Baron by the river, but never, ever, had he dreamed of an ogre such as Gloomin.

When Gloomin comes to the village people run and hide and the sky grows dark. The sad ogre takes up residence in the village and the days which follow are bleak.

Finally, when the ogre starts eyeing people for his cooking pot, Tashi realises he has to do something. He sets about finding out what is making Gloomin so sad, and what can be done to fix the problem.

Tashi has previously appeared in ten chapter book titles, but now the talented team of Anna Fienberg and Kim Gamble have combined to bring him to life in full colour in his first full colour picture book. Tashi fans, young and old, will love the opportuntiy to see this loveable character and his friends brought to life in colour, and those who have not previously been introduced to Tashi will be left clamouring for more.

The Tashi stories arose from a collaboration between Fienberg and her mother, Barbara Fienberg. The stories quickly became popular with children and also with parents and teachers. The arrival of Tashi in full colour is special – bringing him to life and doing full justice to Gamble’s illustrative talents.

There Once Was a Boy called Tashi is pure delight and would make an excellent gift.

There Once Was a Boy Called Tashi, by Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg, illustrated by Kim Gamble
Allen & Unwin, 2004

Mitch 2 Sue, by Kate Walker

When Sue changes schools, she keeps in touch with her cousin Mitch by email. The mail the pair exchange proves to be her lifeline, because Sue is in trouble. She is being bullied – subtly, relentlessly, by another girl intent on making her an outsider – and keeping her outside.

Sue doesn’t know who to turn to. The only person she can talk honestly to is Mitch.

Back home, Mitch is also having problems. Bullying is happening at his school too – nasty vicious bullying which could prove life-threatening. Together, and yet miles apart, Mitch and Sue must work through their respective problems.

Mitch 2 Sue is a teen novel which manages to achieve a rare balance – between issue and action, between male and female and between educational and entertainment. This would make an excellent novel for class study and discussion, but will also appeal to a wide range of teen readers for private reading. The unique format, with the story told through the emails exchanged by Sue and Micth, is likely to appeal to the target age group.


Mitch 2 Sue, by Kate Walker
Scholastic, 2003

The Lost Ship, by Paul Collins

Tammy and Dayne aren’t impressed that their parents are spending their holidays digging up the beach looking for a long lost ship. So, when they notcie a group of tourists heading off for a cave tour, they beg to be allowed to go too.

In the caves, though, strange things happen. When the children decide to hide from the tour group they find that the caves are not as boring as they first thought. They also learn a little more about the lost ship their father is searching for.

The Lost Ship is a yellow level title in Macmillan Education’s Breakers series. Young readers will enjoy the eerie elements of the story, although some may be left a little confused by the rushed ending.

Aimed at a reading age of 8.5, The Lost Ship is suitable for classroom or individual reading.

The Lost Ship, by Paul Collins
Macmillan Education, 2003

Shalott – The Final Journey, by Felicity Pulman

The screen shrieked and went blank. Callie felt herself falling, surfing through space, through an icy blackness that seemed to stretch forever. She knew this, had been through this before. Her plan had succeeded. She was spnining into an unknown, into the last turbulent days of Camelot along with her sister and their friends. This time deadly danger awaited them – but from whom, and from what source? For what purpose had Guinevere summoned her?

Twice before Callie, her sister El and their friends have travelled to Camelot through their father’s virtual reality machine. Each time they have been lucky to return alive and they have sworn not to return. But when Callie hears Gunievere calling her across the ages, she knows she must return, even though she doesn’t understand why she is being called by the woman who has previously tried to destroy her.

Soon the teenagers are back in Camelot and, once again, fighting for their very survival. Callie is charged with rescuing Ana, Guinevere and Lancelot’s child. In doing so she risks losing her friends and their path back to the present day.

The Final Journey is the final installment in the Shalott trilogy from the talented Felicity Pulman. The combination of the Arthurian legend and ultra-modern virtual reality makes it highly appealing to teen readers. Pulman, it seems, is as lost in Arthurian times as her young characters, enabling her to create a believable setting and richly drawn characters. Readers who have come to know Callie in the earlier books will enjoy seeing her face her biggest challenges in this one, in both the real and virtual worlds.

Of course, as with all good series, it is sad to see it end, but the reader will at least feel a sense of completeness with this one.

Shalott: The Final Journey, by Felicity Pulman
Random House, 2003

Rowan of Rin – The Journey, by Emily Rodda

Since 1996 Australian children have followed the fantasy adventures of Rowan of Rin by one of Australia’s favourite children’s authors, Emily Rodda. Rowan is an unlikely hero who emerges, through the five books which make up the series, as a brave and strong leader. With his friends he experiences thrilling adventures and, along the way, comes to have faith in his own abilities.

Now, Scholastic has released the five books which make up this wonderful series as a single hard cover offering at the reasonable price of $29.95. For collectors and lovers of fantasy this is a real treat.

Individual Reviews of the Five Rowan stories can be found here on the Aussiereviews site:

Rowan of Rin (1993)
Rowan and the Travellers (1994)
Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal (1996)
Rowan and the Zebak (1999)
Rowan of the Bukshah (2003)

Rowan of Rin: the Journey, by Emily Rodda
An Omnibus Book from Scholastic Australia, 2004