Wombat Books Blog

Wombat Books blog is the place to keep up to date with all the goings-on in the world of Aussie kid's books.

Talking Trouble with Amanda Francey

FranceyAmandaWombat Books talks trouble with Amanda Francey, illustrator of Trouble For Toby.

1. What was the best thing about illustrating Trouble For Toby?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Janet Reid's humorous and beautifully written story. For me to enjoy illustrating a children's book, it's really important that I can relate to it in some way. So the best thing about illustrating Trouble For Toby, was that immediate connection I felt to the main character. Toby reminded me very much of my own son when he was younger. 

His heart was in the right place, but his imagination and impulsiveness often led to trouble. 

2. Toby desperately wants a pet, but his parents don’t think he can look after one. Did your parents let you get a pet when you were a kid? Were you able to look after it?

Thinking back, I feel sorry for my parents. After many years of nagging and trying to convince my parents that I knew everything about ponies from reading books, they reluctantly agreed to let me buy one. Our neighbour sold me her ageing pony before she moved to the suburbs. While I successfully looked after my pony, I had no horse riding experience. Apparently, this is knowledge you learn from practical experience, like horse riding lessons, not from reading books.

I'm lucky to be alive really, after the amount of times my beloved pony aimed my head towards a low hanging branch, tossed me into a creek and trampled over the top of me.

3. Toby’s imagination takes him to crazy places. What is your favourite imaginary place that readers visit in the book?

 When Toby convinces Sam to be park rangers in search for rare animals in the Tranquillity Garden. I will say no more, as I don't Trouble of Toby 10 002 8want to spoil any hairy surprises.

4. If you could be any fictional character, who would it be?

Anne of Green Gables because I enjoyed spending most of my childhood living in my own imaginary worlds, without a care in the world. Plus Prince Edward Island is my utopia. The scenery is positively sublime and the lobster is irresistibly delicious.

 

5. What do you love the most about children’s books? Are there one or two books that stick in your mind as most meaningful? Why?

I've always loved looking at pictures in children's books. The artwork in children's books was the very thing that influenced me to want to become an illustrator. I was a reluctant reader with a love for stories, so I was more inclined to read picture books or comic books, because the combination of words and pictures was easier for me to follow along.

During middle primary school, my favourite children's chapter book was The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. It was one of few 'illustrated' chapter books on a subject that interested me. If I was a child today, I believe I’d be an avid reader due to the much larger selection of illustrated chapter books offered in libraries.

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Talking Trouble with Janet Reid

ReidJanet

Wombat Books chats with Janet Reid about her debut early reader, Trouble For Toby.

1. What’s one thing hardly anyone knows about you and the Wombat Family should?

I hold a licence to ride a motorbike. When I was in my teens, I rode a motorbike around my parents' farm, and even had a spill or two. Then, when I went to college, I got around on a step-through scooter. It cost me about twenty cents to fill up back then.

2. Toby has a fantastic imagination – from outer space to the circus. Do you often find yourself in your head like Toby?

Yes, I do, especially now I write for young people. But back when I was a school girl, my sister and I would make up stories and play them out. I remember one incident when we were playing in the old pigsties – I was the big bad wolf and she was the little pig. The story didn't end well and involved a bit of blood. I think I was a bit like Toby that day – I did something impulsive and ended up hurting someone. And, like Toby, I felt really bad about it.

3. Toby gets into trouble a lot. Have you ever taught any Toby-like students? Or were you a troublesome student in school?Trouble of Toby 10 002 24

Yes, I have taught kids like Toby. They were generally lots of fun to have in class. Toby's character is actually based on a kid a taught not so long ago. He was a terrific student and I rarely had a problem with his behaviour in the classroom, but he was always getting into trouble in the playground because of his impulsiveness. The spider incident in Trouble for Toby was what sparked the idea for this book.

And no, I wasn't particularly troublesome at school, though I did have my moments. I didn't, and still don't like getting into trouble. My sister, though, was trouble from the start, so maybe some of my ideas come from the mischief she got up to as a kid.

4. If you could be any fictional character, who would it be?

Hmmm … maybe Merida from the movie Brave, and not just for her gorgeous wild red hair. She fought against the conventions for the day, and yeah, she did land herself in trouble along the way, but she learned a lot from her mistakes. I like seeing characters, especially female characters, who push the boundaries of their world and make a difference.

5. Sum up Trouble for Toby in 3 words.

Impulsive, imaginative, courageous.

 

Janet Reid is a CYA success story. For more information, visit here.

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