Never Bored – Board Books for Babies

Little books for little hands to grasp. Big world concepts for small minds to soak up. Board books are often baby’s first introduction to the relationship between sound and words and pictures. They also represent a delightful extension of love between parent and child as their worlds widen. These next few board books ensure these shared reading experiences are both entertaining and memorable.

At the Zoo I See by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells

This is the first in the Young Art board book series by young Indigenous Australian artists. Home grown and little hand worthy, it is a brief but merry parade of animals you might find at the Zoo. Some you’d have to look hard for, like the ‘prowling quoll’ and ‘queenly cassowary’ chicks, others are more immediate and recognisable like the ‘surprised lion.’

Button’s stripped bare text is spot on for toddlers and two year olds but includes some jolly adjectives to keep little minds tuned in and turning. I love Wells’ painted and ink illustrations – expression plus! Collect them all for your 0 – 4 year-olds.

Magabala Books February 2017

The Thank You Dish by Trace Balla

Meal times at our place are often a mixed plate of dedicated eating, distracted concentration and animated conversation. The Thank You Dish draws on these around-table -scenarios as one family sits down to enjoy their meal.

Continue reading Never Bored – Board Books for Babies

Review – Little Wing

Little WingAuthor illustrator, Katherine Battersby has flown many miles in recent times, a bit like her latest picture book character, Little Wing. Little Wing catapults the connotation of taking a leap of faith into glowing picture book form that is a pure delight to read.

Little Wing is the smartest animal in the world. He owes his genius to good old-fashioned book learning, that is to say, he reads – a lot. Nearly everything he knows is attributed to the days he spends between the pages of dozens of books bequeathed to his island home by providence.

Little Wing illos spreadIt appears a satisfying way to spend his days; I mean who hasn’t dreamed of reading under swaying palm trees on a sun soaked faraway island as a full time occupation! I’d call that heaven but for Little Wing whose aspirations and yearnings clearly outclass mine, ‘something was always missing.’ So, he sets out to find it.

Turns out, it’s Little Wing’s sense of self that is absent and no matter how many books or alter egos he assumes, none of them provide the right answer, the perfect fit. Until one radiant morning, realisation dawns and Little Wing’s life transforms forever. His social circles are greatly enhanced, as well.

Little Wing illoThe wait for Battersby’s next picture book has been well worth it. Little Wing exudes all the warmth, charm and wit of her debut picture book character, Squish Rabbit whilst introducing fans and new readers to a wonderfully new winsome critter. He is difficult not to love with his little wings and clacky big blue bit (aka his beak). However, what makes Little Wing universally appealing to young and old is his quiet and unquestioning fortitude. Even when faced with one of life’s most prominent and niggling questions: who am I and why am I here? Little Wing diligently pursues the answer until the answer literally flies right over him.

His tenacity tells young people that being one thing is fine but if you want to try other things, new things, then that’s okay too; you just need to be brave enough to pursue your dreams, to make that first leap into the unknown. Youngsters are no strangers to change. In fact the leaps in their young lives are almost always forced and without negotiation: going to school, moving home, surviving decaying family situations, growing up…So it won’t be hard for them to accept Little Wing as someone they can emulate and learn from.

Little Wing is likely to resonate with adults just as strongly. We all want to learn to fly. How many of us really have the courage to look deep within ourselves, take that first big breath, and then, move forward, though? It’s a daunting prospect but like Battersby herself, Little Wing does it with admirable aplomb.

Battersby’s accompanying artwork for this story is nothing short of fabulous. Bland bookish concepts are captured in bold watercolour and pencil illustrations intoxicatingly combined with fabrics, textiles and scanned vintage books. The resultant collage effect is a cocktail of fun and colour. I love it! So does my Miss 10 who spent many joyful moments with me feverishly examining the end pages in an effort to match feather to friend.

Katherine Battersby & Little WingLittle Wing is a picture book experience that sings on many levels but most importantly gives children license to extend themselves and follow their most ardent callings in order to reach true happiness.

Little Wing is available now, here. For those fortunate enough to live in SE Queensland, Katherine Battersby is touring a number of local schools, accompanying Little Wing as he explores his new home.

Little Wing # 2Little Wing is officially taking off this Saturday August 13th at Riverbend Books in Bulimba, Queensland. Join Katherine, Little Wing, and special guest, Peter Carnavas from 10.30 am for lots of fun and feathers.

UQP August 2016





As part of Bunny Week at Kids’ Book Capers we are thrilled to welcome Katherine Battersby, creator of Squish Rabbit, a picture book that’s bound to delight all ages.

Clearly, Squish is a character who is very close to his creator’s heart.

Squish is such a great character. He could be any young animal or even a child. Why did you decide that Squish had to be a rabbit?

Thanks Dee! I didn’t really choose his form so much as Squish demanded to be just what he is. I often find myself chasing my characters around my mind, trying to capture them on paper, as opposed to feeling like I really create them myself. Squish has taken on a few different forms over the years but he has always been a rabbit. He’s always been kind of soft looking and squishy, and always very small.

He’s like that little whimsical part of me that never really grew up and certainly never grew any taller. I always did feel kind of short as a child!

What have you loved most about creating and getting to know Squish?

Squish was the first time my illustration style really came together as my own. It was such a thrill when he appeared on the page, and I could see from people’s reactions that he was something a little bit special. Once I found it, his story and illustrations came at a rush. For me, Squish is such a joyous little guy to spend time with. He’s tiny and cautious and a little self-doubting, but he’s also clever and loyal and wonderfully quirky. He’s certainly a character I can relate to, and I think my affection for him probably comes across in his story.

How have you drawn on your own experiences to create Squish?

As a young writer I was frequently told to ‘write what you know’. I’ve learnt over time that this isn’t meant to be taken literally – it actually means ‘write to your emotional truths’. If you write about the feelings you know and have sat inside of, then your characters and stories will be that much more alive.

Looking back on my childhood, Squish Rabbit certainly captures my emotional truths. I recall vividly what it was like to feel small in a big world. I remember the first time I lost my mum in the supermarket – the panic was so big it filled up my small body, so that I honestly believed I would never see her again. I remember having important things to say in a world where big people get listened to first. I recall having thoughts and questions and ideas bubbling up inside of me, and yet having no clue how to say any of it.

This is ultimately why I started writing and drawing – to express all those things I had trouble voicing. This is also where Squish comes from. He is that small part of me that was at times unseen and unheard. I suppose he is that secret part of anyone that has ever felt small or different and alone in it all.

How long did it take for Squish to hop from an idea in your head to the bookseller’s burrow?

This can be a tricky thing to pinpoint as ideas brew and broil together in one’s mind over many years. Squish Rabbit was actually one of the very first stories I wrote (when I first began pursuing writing seriously) back in 2006, although like with most first stories … it was really bad. Luckily I kept writing and drawing, and many years later rediscovered this little character filed away in my drawer (and my mind).

My style had developed a lot over that time so when I started drawing Squish again he looked quite different. I decided his old story was well and truly deceased, and spent some time with him to figure out his true story. It emerged in early 2009, and mid-year it got the attention of my wonderful agent who sold it to Viking (Penguin US) on my September birthday that year. I developed it with my publisher over the next year, then it sold to my amazing Australian publisher, UQP, in early 2011. It’s now been in bookstores nearly 2 months, coming out over here August 29th.

Do you have any more adventures planned for Squish?

He’s so alive to me, I can’t help but daydream what other adventures Squish gets up to. I had a secret little hope I might get the chance to tell another Squishy tale, so when my publisher asked for book two I was thrilled. His second book should be in coming out August 2012…

If so, can you give us a sneak peek at what he might be up to next? Does Squirrel join him on his next adventure?

Yes, squirrel plays more of a starring role alongside Squish this time (and she even gets a name!). The story is about another problem Squish encounters due to being small – namely that there are many big things to fear. His greatest fear is the dark, which is so big it’s everywhere. He’s pretty good at hiding from his fears, until Squirrel goes missing late one afternoon … I only hope Squish can find the courage to go out into the dark and find her.

Thanks for chatting with me, Katherine. I’m so pleased to hear there will be another Squish adventure. I can’t wait to hop into it.

A ‘Squish’ Review

Squish Rabbit is a little rabbit with a BIG problem…he doesn’t have a friend.

Simply told, this book is so insightful. It delves right into the heart and mind of a small child, making up a pretend friend because he doesn’t have a real one.

Then he meets a squirrel who invites him to play, but can Squish save his new friend from danger?

Squish has a very large heart but nobody can see it, because they don’t look at him, seem to notice he’s there. As small children, how often do we feel unnoticed and afraid in the big wide world?

Although Squish is a rabbit, his feelings, emotions and fears are very genuinely those of a small child.

Squish thought no one was watching so he threw a tantrum.

This response is so childlike yet even when he is scowling and throwing himself on the ground, just like a small child, Squish manages to look cute.

The authenticity of Squish’s dilemma and the way he handles it makes the story all the more poignant.

Katherine Battersby has clearly captured her characters feelings of being alone and small in a big world. Even as adults, we still experience these feelings and this is probably one of the reasons this book will appeal to adults as well.

Katherine has an obsession with textures and she has brought this to the story, using all sorts of materials to provide the layered illustrations in the book. Her use of this method is combined with clean lines and bright colours to provide an original and striking look for Squish Rabbit.

The words and pictures work in perfect harmony in this book. So much is left unsaid in the text and told in the pictures.

The illustrations are deceptively simple, yet they convey so much. The text is sparse with not a word out of place, not a word wasted.

Squish Rabbit is beautifully produced to evoke maximum response and even has a squishy cover.

I can see this one being handed down through the generations.

Squish Rabbit is written and illustrated by Katherine Battersby and published in Australia by UQP. I look forward to Squish Rabbit’s next adventure.


Huggable Hero – An Interview with Squish Rabbit

He’s cute. He’s fluffy. He’s small. But he has some big things to say. On friendship. On feeling lonely. On being brave.

Today we welcome the totally squishable Squish Rabbit and his gorgeous author Katherine Battersby – with this exclusive (and v. cute) interview!

Hello Squish, hello Katherine – so lovely to e-meet you!

Hi, this is Katherine, the one who observes Squish run around her writing desk (and the inside of her head), desperately trying to capture in words and pictures all he does. Squish is a rather shy little guy, and he has a very small voice, so he’s going to whisper in my ear and I’ll translate what he says. Here goes…

Oh, so cute! Tell me, has Squish always been small?

Yes, Squish was born tiny and has hardly grown since. He’s so titchy he can sit atop a flower and climb inside a child’s sock. He’s often overlooked by larger rabbits and has a hard time being heard or understood. In fact, he’s so small he’s never really made a true friend. Until now of course!

What do you think of the saying that the best things come in the smallest packages, and it’s the smallest creatures that have the biggest hearts?

So true! Squish is a great example of these delightful sayings. Even more than being small, Squish feels small, which prevents him from achieving his dreams. But when another creature is in danger, Squish conjures the courage to intervene and discovers he has big and beautiful things inside of him. I have a lot of empathy for kids trying to express themselves in a world where big people often come first – I remember feeling that way myself. I think this is why Squish’s story is so important to me (Squish just did a little twisty jump, showing agreement – I believe this rabbit move is called a ‘binky’).

Rumour has it a large, green, scaly creature once trod all over Squish. Has he fully recovered? (and I bet he doesn’t let people walk all over him now!)

Poor Squish. He’s just so little the other forest creatures don’t see him. Yes, he’s been trodden on, tripped over, run into, and sadly … squished. But he always bounces back! He’s a little trooper. And for those that have read his story, you’ll know what he discovers that means he’ll never be trodden on again.

Does he still have an imaginary friend?

Squish doesn’t let any friend fall by the wayside, real or imagined, but he has discovered that there’s much more you can do with a real friend. A pretend friend is rather hard to play hide and seek with (they’re not very good at searching). And they’re not so skilled at playing tag (running can be a problem). But they do have their positives – they’re very good at keeping secrets!

How important is it to reach out to people who are smaller?

I think we’ve all felt small at times in our lives. Even adults feel small sometimes, when the world gets big with stress and demands. Squish feels it’s particularly important to be good to those who are smaller than us because we never know when we will next be the ones who need help. Even little rabbits believe in Karma. Then again, Squish has never met anyone smaller than him…

What would Squish like to say to little creatures who are too scared to use a big voice?

Squish says we all have special things inside us. He says not to worry about what others can do, but instead find those things you love. Find the things that make your heart sing. Once you’ve found those, it’s much easier to believe in yourself and find the courage to speak up. Believing in yourself is also sure to make you feel much bigger.

Squish would also like to say something to you Miss Tania: great questions!

Aw, thank you! They have been totally inspired by his story. I wonder how it feels to be a real life hero – being that Squish saved Squirrel’s life and all …

Wow, Squish has never seen himself as a hero (he just did another little binky in excitement!). He’s quite a humble little rabbit, so more than anything he was just happy to have found another creature his size. And he also feels a little shy about the whole incident – after all, it may just have been his silliness that risked Squirrel’s safety in the first place. But Squish definitely did himself proud in the end.

Are Squish and Squirrel still close?

Very. I don’t think there have been two closer friends. As it turns out, Squirrel was feeling pretty small and lonely too. They do most things together now. Although they have quite different personalities, which I think can be a real strength in a friendship. They balance each other well. While squirrel is much braver than Squish, Squish is a deep thinker and very empathic.

What do they like to do together?

They love to play games and get up to all sorts of cheekiness. You may just have to wait until book two to see exactly what kind of mischief they get up to …

I wanted to ask Squish what you’re really like as an author?

Squish has gone a little rosy-cheeked and shy at this question. If I could get him to fess up, I think he’d say that I am quite like him in many ways. I definitely feel small some days, and have trouble speaking up for myself and believing that I can do big things. But I do have some amazing friends in my life who help me feel strong and capable.

Oh – Squish does has something to say. He says to tell you that I always sing while I illustrate. He doesn’t mind my voice so much, but wishes I’d sing more about cabbage and burrows. And he says that sometimes I draw him with a rounder belly than he has in real life. He insists he’s been cutting back on carrots. Hmm …

Can you reveal a little bit about the next Squish adventure?

Squish is living his next adventure as we speak, and I am racing to get it all down on paper, one page at a time. It’s another tale about a problem Squish encounters in being small – namely that there are many big things to fear. He’s most afraid of the dark, which is so big it’s everywhere. But one day Squirrel goes missing and it starts to get dark outside. I just hope Squish finds the courage to go out and find her.

Thank you so much, Squish and Katherine for joining us during this very special Bunny Week on Kids’ Book Capers! Where can we learn more about what you’re up to?

Squish has his own little animated book trailer and I have a website you can visit which may just have some secret rabbity surprises hidden around it … I also keep a blog, where I put all my latest projects and musings, plus the occasional new Squishy illustration. Squish also has a special page with his US publisher and his Australian one, too.

Thanks for letting us drop by your blog! Squish sends love and carrots. x

Squish Rabbit is published by University of Queensland Press. Stay tuned for Dee’s review of Squish Rabbit – this Friday!