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

#ByAustralianBuyAustralian

 

 

RABBIT REVIEWS – WHITE BUNNY WHIMS

It’s the Year of the Rabbit so Tania and I thought we’d let the rabbits have their say this week on Kids’ Book Capers.

We’ve brought our bunnies, Cosi and Pickachew (who live at the White household) and Mango and Max (who are fluffy McCartneys) along this week to talk about their favourite books.

Not surprisingly, every book they chose features a rabbit or close relative.

So please put your paws together today to welcome Pickachew and Mango rabbit talking about what they love to read. Today it’s the White Bunnies turn and tomorrow the Brown Bunnies will be here to talk about their favourites.

Pickachew Bunny

PICKACHEW RABBIT’S PICKS

Squish Rabbit – written and illustrated by Katherine Battersby.

Pickachew is a white rabbit just like Squish in Katherine Battersby’s new book, Squish Rabbit.  This could explain why he likes Squish so much, but Pickachew says he has other reasons.

Squish is just like me. I was a lonely rabbit with no friends until Cosi rabbit hopped into my house. Every rabbit needs a friend.

My friend, Cosi is like Squish’s friend, Squirrel; cute, kind and loves to play. Squish Rabbit is one of my favourite books because I know what it’s like to be a little white rabbit in a big world.”

The Fidgety Itch – written by Lucy Davey and illustrated by Katz Crowley.

“Twas only a niggle…

the teensiest titch

but that fidgety feeling grew to an ITCH.”

I love this book, not just because it features my cousin, Fuzzy Hare, but because I can so relate to that feeling of having an itch that just won’t go away, that really needs to be scratched.

I’m lucky I have my friend Cosi Rabbit to do it for me.

I really like all the friends Fuzzy O’ Hare has in this book too. Like Timpkin the mouse, “gleefully gobbling his cheese beneath the fru-fru trees”. And Possum Pie and Feather McDoo.

The pictures are great and I like the way everyone helps each other in this book.

MANGO RABBIT’S COLLECTION

The Rabbit Problem – written and illustrated by Emily Gravett.

I’m a soft, white Netherland dwarf – but don’t let that fool you – I’m also a feisty bunny with big ideas …. just like Emily Gravett, who is one of my fave authors because she really knows her bunnies.

In The Rabbit Problem, we meet a pair of rabbits who come together to… er… multiply. It’s not done in an obvious way or anything, so it’s totally suitable for kids.

When, seemingly overnight, the multiplication gets kind of out of hand, the pair realise overpopulation is not their only problem. There’s also teeming rain, a carrot shortage, a plague of crows, a too-hot summer and carotene-fuelled weight issues.

Like any intelligent species, however, they soon work out just what to do. Complete with chew holes and pop-ups, this book makes me feel like ‘home’.

Wolves – written and illustrated by Emily Gravett.

I know, I know – it’s another Gravett book, but I already told you I was a serious fan.

Now, many would say this book is anti-rabbit … but I disagree. It’s important that young rabbits are made aware of the dangers out there in this big bad world, and Wolves certainly tells it like it is – no carrots barred.

The star of the book – a RABBIT – goes to the library to burrow [sic] a book on wolves. As he reads through it, he becomes more and more wide-eyed and nervous – clearly, too much information may not be a good thing … especially when the rabbit discovers what wolves like to serve up for dinner.

I know for a fact that no rabbits were harmed in the making of Wolves – and I do feel that although this book is somewhat confronting, there’s nothing wrong with injecting a little fear into the current crop of young upstart rabbits who think they’re utterly invincible.

Wolves are everywhere. This is an important book.

Pickachew and Mango had so much fun playing together today and talking about their favourite books. Tomorrow, Cosi will meet Max rabbit and they’ll be talking about the Brown Bunnies’ Best Books. Hop on over and meet them.

 

 

 

 

WHO CREATED “SQUISH RABBIT”?

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.