Doodles and Drafts – Peter Allert Part Two

Today we continue to follow exciting new Queensland talent, Peter Allert and have a sqizz at his first published children’s picture book, Long Live Us!Long Live Us PB

Q Where has your work appeared?

My first book was ‘Long Live Us’ written by Edel Wignell and published by IP Kidz in 2011. Since then I have been focussing on my own illustrations and writing my own children’s book. I was part of a SCBWI Illustrators Exhibition at the Brisbane City Library in 2012 exhibiting my illustrations from Long Live Us and other projects.

Over the years I have volunteered my services as an illustrator to gain more experience, this was helpful in building my portfolio.

I have Illustrated Artwork for Aurealis Australian Fantasy & Sci-Fi Magazine This has been exciting as you have to sum up a whole story into one illustration which can be a challenge. But these are the challenges that make being an illustrator worth it for me. Anything that allows you to be creative should be encouraged.

Q What children’s books have you illustrated?

In 2010 I finished illustrating my first children’s book for Interactive Publications, Pty, Ltd. “Long Live Us!” was written by Edel Wignell and published by IP Kidz in 2011.

Q How long did it take to complete your picture book project, “Long Live Us!”?

As I was working fulltime it mostly worked on the weekends and whenever I had spare time, from the character inception, storyboarding, final illustrations and adding colour in was approx. 15 to 18 months.

Peter Allert illoQ I can barely master a stick drawing. Do you like to dabble in the written word and if so, have you consider writing your own children’s book?

Yes, I would encourage any illustrator to attempt this. Apart from it possibly turning out to be a published book, it also gives you insight into the processes of how a book is developed. I am working on several ideas at the moment, I will be happy to share them once they are closer to completion.

Q Which Aussie children’s book illustrator do you admire most and why?

I believe Shaun Tan has opened up a lot of doors for illustrators in Australia and inspired many to pursue their craft. He combines his mastery of painting and illustrating with new perspectives in storytelling. Plus he’s just a nice guy.

Q Name one ‘I’ll never forget that’ moment in your illustrating career so far.

Professionally I’m not surprising anyone by saying that when they send you a copy of the book you have just illustrated or written and you see it the first time with your name, it is one of the best moments in your career. On a personal level though I completed an illustration I was very proud of and still am to this day. I looked back and said ‘did I do this?’ That is also a great moment for illustrators because you know all your long hours and work have paid off.

Q What is on the storyboard for Peter?

This year I will be attending and volunteering for the CYA Conference for the 8th Year in a row. I would encourage anyone considering becoming an illustrator, writer, or both to attend this conference. It gives you a great set of skills and understanding of the industry to start you off. Apart from that I would like to start another book and illustrate some of the photographs I took in Japan or Sweden last year. I am always open for new challenges and will add any of my new work to my website

Have a look at this charming little trailer for Long Live Us! featuring some dubious fairy tale folk and one very hungry troll. (just click on the link)

Long Live Us!



Bilby Secrets is Australian author, Edel Wignell’s latest book and it’s part of the acclaimed Nature Storybooks series from Walker books.

The bilby is an endangered Australian marsupial and Bilby Secrets reveals how it manages to survive the harsh desert environment. Readers discover so much about the bilby – where it finds its food, where it sleeps, who its predators are.

One of the things I liked about this book is the way that the true story of how a bilby lives is presented in narrative so the reader is carried into the bilby’s world.

The reader gets to take a peek inside Mother Bilby’s burrow as she gives birth to her baby and keeps him safe inside her pouch.

The young Bilby grows and becomes independent and finally gets to leave the burrow, cantering behind his mother. Young bilby is introduced to the desert and taught how to find his own food and about the dangers lurking there.

Alongside the bilby story are lots of great facts – the bilby secrets that Edel Wignell reveals. The fact that bilbys have around four litters of young a year but the number varies depending on the food and water supply.

Bilbies have sharp teeth. As they hunt, they store food in their cheeks.

A bilby may have up to twenty tunnels in its feeding area.

Bilby Secrets, the story of mother and baby bilby’s journey is beautifully illustrated by Melbourne-based artist, Mark Jackson. His pictures depict the rich colours of the desert and reflect the busy but perilous life of a bilby.

Edel Wignell’s fluent narrative is accompanied by well-researched facts to engage the curious young reader.

Bilby Secrets is published in hardback for readers aged 3+





Christina’s Matilda – Bringing a Legend to Life

Everyone knows the song Waltzing Matilda, but how many people know the true story behind its creation?

Christina MacPherson, playing a marching-band tune was the girl who originally inspired Banjo Patterson to write his song while Banjo was visiting her brother.

Though the old Scottish tune and the lyrics are remembered, Christina’s part in the story was forgotten until the 1970s. Christina’s Matilda, written by Edel Wignell and illustrated by Elizabeth Botte brings Christina’s story to life.

What inspired Edel to write the book

In the early 1980s I researched a collection, A Bluey of Swaggies, and the spin-offs, Battlers of the Great Depression and a series, ‘On the Track’ (three titles). Since then I have maintained an interest in the history and folklore surrounding the creation of the song, ‘Waltzing Matilda’. The final chapter in A Bluey of Swaggies explains the events, but I wanted to focus on Christina Macpherson who has been neglected in history. Indeed, she went missing for a while mid-20th century.

The Story Behind the Story

I asked Edel to tell me the story behind the story of her fascinating new book.

While many people know that ‘Banjo’ Paterson wrote the lyrics of ‘Waltzing Matilda’, very few know that Christina Macpherson provided the tune, so I decided to focus on her. In 2002 I interviewed her great-niece, Diana Baillieu (who lived in Toorak, Melbourne), and she was delighted, lending photographs and other items which I copied and included in the book.

Diana Baillieu (aged 87 years) remembered when she was a child and ‘Aunt Chris’ would arrive by train and stay on the family property at Meningoort (near Camperdown, Western District, Victoria). The publication of Christina’s Matilda became Diana’s special project and she was thrilled when I found a publisher for it before she died.

The Pictorial Story

This book is a fascinating read, but it’s the pictures that really bring this story to life. Illustrator, Elizabeth Botté has captured the historical atmosphere by creating borders that reflect the textual and pictorial content of each page.

Anyone from 10 to adult with an interest in history and folklore will find plenty to interest them in this thoroughly researched non-fiction book from Interactive Publications.

The facts of Christina’s life and her contribution towards Waltzing Matilda have never been published in such detail.

Teachers notes are available at: for Teachers


The Story Behind the Pictures

Elizabeth Botté, the talented illustrator of  Christina’s Matilda has published more than 25 books, and today she talks to us about her creative journey.

Painting and drawing and simply soaking in the intricate details of visual imagery is something I’ve just always done. But naturally I presumed I’d grow up and get a real job. There were no illustrator courses when I finished school, and the artists didn’t like me and the designers didn’t like me…. as an illustrator, one meanders somewhere in between. But I chose to just kept practicing enthusiastically and learning on my own.

Sometimes there are those things in life that are deeply fulfilling; fortunately I discovered that creating useful images is what does it for me. Love getting into character for a new project, adapting to a new look and feel. And I do like having my own flexible schedule to work with.

Elizabeth says that her greatest achievement is that her  13yo son still thinks his mothers’ illustrations are the world’s greatest.

Elizabeth’s tips for new illustrators are that you have to practice and love your art and be prepared for  long hours of sitting very still and being in your own thoughts.

Illustrating Christina’s Matilda

Elizabeth says she was  handed a fascinating manuscript with some old photos, about a woman she’d never hear of, but should of.

It was a pleasure to find a way to make it all work together visually and turn it into a book.

Elizabeth says that Christina MacPherson was a  great woman in a difficult time.

It’s frustrating hearing about a time where a woman had her place, it was expected of her to be modest and not speak about her achievements etc. How could they stand it! My gratitude to Women’s Lib.

It’s great to see an historical work presented like an adventurous tale. An atmospheric scrapbook of Australian History to delve into.

According to Elizabeth the most fun part about illustrating Christina’s Matilda was immersing herself into the mood of the era to  concoct a visual atmosphere where Christina’s story could be told. She loved working in old fashioned sepia tones and says it was engrossing creating the menacing images of “Mad Morgan”.

She says that the hardest thing about illustrating this book was also  the most satisfying challenge.

To hold a bare, typed manuscript, and visualise how it should look as a finished, illustrated book.

You can see more of Elizabeth’s wonderful illustrations at


Long Live Us is a hilarious fractured fairytale written by Edel Wignell with beautiful watercolour pencil illustrations by Peter Allert.

It features characters from some popular fairytales from around the world.

The Troll (from ‘The Three Billy-goats Gruff’) is the main character, and the fact that he is hungry leads to interaction with characters from five tales.

The Greedy Troll waits for his next meal in a cave under a bridge. There he meets the Three Bears on a quest to bring Goldilocks to justice.

This is a classic tale of Goodies versus Baddies but it doesn’t turn out how you think it might.

Author, Edel Wignell has fun fracturing fairy tales to create surprising stories like Long Live Us which was written for readers aged 6-10. There are clever traps, lucky escapes and unwelcome surprises.

Young readers will also love poring over the detailed illustrations that are full of subtext and layered humour. Peter Allert brings life and colour to his illustrations through vibrant tones and perceptive detail.

Long Live Us will appeal to readers looking for books with colour and humour. It is published by IP Kidz and is also available in e-book format.


As an author, it’s always inspiring for me to hear about small independent publishers in Australia willing to team first time picture book illustrators and established authors to produce books that readers will enjoy and that give Australian creators an opportunity to showcase their unique talents.

Long Live Us, from IP Kidz is a perfect example of such a venture. Written by Edel Wignell and illustrated by Peter Allert, it is a fractured fairy tale incorporating some much loved fairytale characters. There are the three pigs, Goldilocks, the Three Bears and of course, the evil troll.

Today we’re going to meet the author and illustrator of this hilarious tale and tomorrow at Kids’ Book Capers, we review Long Live Us and talk more about the book.


Former teacher, Edel Wignell has been writing full time since 1979 and she loves doing research and being able to abandon herself to her imagination. She says her greatest writing achievement to date has been:

The publication of the novel, Escape by Deluge (Walter McVitty Books). It was published in the UK (with a fabulous cover by Allun Hood), the US and Sweden. It was a CBCA Notable Book, and shortlisted in the Adelaide Writers’ Festival and the West Australian Young Readers Book Awards.

The author of more than 90 books, Edel has these tips for new writers:

When your work is returned, don’t respond as though this is a personal slight. There are many reasons why a ms isn’t right for a publishing house: they may have  recently accepted one with a similar theme; they may have enough mss for boys and want one for girls… Be persistent and professional: check publishers’ websites, if possible improve the ms, then send it out again.

Edel’s tale, Long Live Us won a Fractured Fairy Tale competition and she thought it would make a good picture book so she created a parallel strand to be shown only in the illustrations.

It stars The Troll from the Three Billy Goats Gruff and is an epic tale of goodies verses baddies featuring food and hunger which Edel points out are very important topics for children.

Peter Allert’s illustrations vividly capture the drama of the story, and children will enjoy finding the many humorous details he has interspersed.

Edel says this wasn’t a difficult book to write because she is familiar with folk tales from many countries and the fact that good always triumphs.

Playing with this notion was fun.

Below are links to teachers notes and the book trailer for Long Live Us.

  • for Teachers
  • Trailer:


Peter Allert has loved to draw ever since he can remember.

When I look back at my life I always wanted too express myself artistically through illustrating but was never sure how this talent would translate into developing a career.  One day I just decided to put time aside and focus on developing my skills, I wanted to understand what skills I had and how I could improve them.  Being mostly self-taught I started to do some art classes and received constructive feedback on my work.  This was a great experience because you are sharing with other experienced people.  I also started researching writing and illustrating for children’s books and attended conferences to understand more about the industry.  I made a lot of great friends with similar interests I could share ideas with.  I believe this is when I decided that I wanted to be an illustrator.

Peter says it’s very inspiring to create unique and engaging characters in your own little world. He says that what inspired him the most about working on Long Live Us was the creative process.

I had to first create character profiles (rough illustrations) for the publisher of the Troll, Witch, Goldilocks and Wiley Wolf.  It was fun working out what the Troll might look like. How tall? What colour he might be? Did he have fur or even a tail?  Then I had to create a world around the character’s that was both colourful, and engaging.    Watching the world slowly come to life was the most inspiring.  I still have a lot of the original illustrations around me for inspiration on my next project.

Who is your favourite character and why?

My favorite character is the Troll and his friend the little red dragon.  They work well together and you can see the friendship between them.  The dragon however insisted on having his own dressing room.

How did you decide what the main character would look like?

When someone says there is a Troll under a bridge you often get an image inspired by previous fairytales read to you as a child or what you may see in popular media.  I wanted to build on those ideas but most of all I wanted the character to have its own personality to shine through.  I think I brought my own style to the Troll.

Can you tell us about the illustrating process for this book?

As I read Long Live Us I made notes of the first ideas that popped into my head.  I also made small sketches of these ideas some of which ended up it the final book.  I then worked on what the characters may look like and received feedback from the publisher and the author.  Once they were happy with the style of my illustrations I started drawing a series of storyboards (rough drawings outlining how each page may look and where the text would sit on the page), adding or changing them as the book developed.  Once storyboards where approved I worked on each illustration making sure they all looked consistent and then added the final colour.  The illustrations were then scanned and sent to the publisher to create a mock up book.  This was then sent back to me as a PDF file in order to supply feedback.

What was your favourite part of the illustration process?

Applying colour to the final illustrations was the favorite part for me.  Watercolour pencils can produce a rich and vibrant finish when applied to the right paper.  When I was finishing the final illustrations for Long Live Us the colours made everything come alive.  Sure it takes a little while longer with pencils but the final results are worth it.

What was the hardest part of the illustration process?

Continuity, making sure every illustration looks consistent throughout the book.  This can range from the proportions of the characters (such as their size and shape) to the texture and colour of their cloths. Being very familiar with drawing the characters before you start the book is essential.

Did you get to collaborate with the author or did you work fairly independently?

I worked closely with the author Edel Wignell and the publisher Independent Publications feeding ideas back and forth but I mostly worked independently.  I understand working with the author does not always occour but I found the process a positive experience.

Can you tell us about the medium you used to illustrate this book?

With this book I used watercolour pencils on watercolour paper and then used different sized paintbrushes to smooth over the colours.  I then used standard coloured pencils to sharpen the images.

How long did it take to illustrate?

This is a very common question, one I still have trouble answering.  This particular book took approximately 12 months to complete while I was working full-time from the initial sketches to the final artwork.  Usually if you are entering into a contract with a publisher there are already deadlines established and often this dictates the time it takes.

How many books have you illustrated?

This is my first fully illustrated book and I would like to thank Dr David Reiter from IP Kidz for giving me the opportunity.

Any tips for people who would like to become children’s book illustrators?

I do have a few tips I would like to share, I can only say these worked for me and I hope they do for you.

Create an area to work

Create a place where you can work undisturbed and make it your own.  NO HAWKERS!

Make a place for yourself to work on your writing or illustrating regardless of other commitments otherwise you will be too easily distracted.

Have belief in yourself

Have the courage in yourself and believe in your own work. It is very easy to assassinate yourself or believe the work you are doing is no good but you are a better person when you set your sites on your qualities.  Set yourself achievable goals and be fair with the assessment of your work and abilities.

Don’t forget to come back to Kids’ Book Capers tomorrow to read all about Long Live Us, a colourful and fun new picture book from IP Kidz.