It is clearly the season for great South African stories to be published and this week we are bringing you a new author/illustrator interview and introducing their fabulous story, The Lemon Tree… and read all the way down for a GiveAway as well…
Let’s Meet the Book
The Lemon Tree published by Penguin Random House South Africa: This is the story of a typical South African home on a rainy day… and Gogo (granny) calls the children, who are dancing outdoors in the refreshing rain, to come inside and make pancakes. Turns out it takes a village to make a plate of pancakes. First they discover that they have no flour, so they take some fresh lemons to the neighbour as a gift. Of course the neighbour asks terribly politely, if there is anything they would like in exchange for the gift, and so the children return home with some flour… and then they need eggs, and milk as well… and (spoiler alert) by the time they have shared their lemons with the neighbours and received the necessary flour, eggs and milk, they realise that they don’t have any lemons left to have with their sugar and cinnamon pancakes. The story is delightful, and the illustrations have a very magical feel to them, bright and busy… there is lots to look at, to keep children of all ages lingering a little longer on each page. It is so good to discover a story that includes so much of our local culture. In order to develop a cultural literacy, children surely need to be immersed in books from their own culture. I love that the book doesn’t have, what is often a not so secretly hidden “educational” agenda… it is a good story and a fun story and one that will enhance the joy of reading for many, many children.
This book will inspire you to make pancakes, make sure you have all your ingredients ready or very friendly neighbours. We were lucky enough to meet the author, Katherine Graham and illustrator, Wendy Paterson last week at their book launch at the fabulous Book Lounge in the city…
At the Book Lounge again… because this is where books are read and meant to be thoroughly enjoyed. This is one of our all time favourite bookshops and well worth a trip into the city on a Saturday morning for a visit… and their regular children’s story time. Take a look at their website to find out about their Saturday morning reads in the basement… even if it isn’t a Saturday morning, they serve a fine coffee and have a stunning children’s book selection, where you will be able to step off the world and vanish for a couple of hours.
And the Book Launch
So many folk headed for the city for this book launch, it was crazy and it was busy and it was fun. First the team read their book together and showed us the illustrations as they went along. And then kids in the audience were invited to help act it out… and act they did.
It was spectacular, with a lemon tree and gogo, plenty of neighbours and of course many many lemons…
There was a drawing lesson and colouring… and masses of happy, busy kids…
And cake of course, because what is a book launch without a massive cake…
Let’s Meet the Author: Katherine Graham
- Did you always write? I trained as a journalist, but realised that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that, and then the stories just started to bubble out.
- Did you always read? Do you have favourite childhood books? I always read a lot, my favourite childhood book has to be the BFG.
- What are you reading right now? I am going through a South African phase, I have been reading Joy Packer and Marguerite Poland.
- What is your inspiration, what makes you keep at it? Stories literally bubble out of me, they feel like a gift, and have to be written.
- What is your work style, are you disciplined or inspired? I would say I am a combination of discipline and inspired, but I am quite disciplined and enjoy half an hour of free writing every day. It just makes me happier, and my days are so much better when I write. And reading is my research… I am always making notes of interesting quotes and ideas.
- Tell us about your workspace: I work in a study at a desk… with a laptop. I have a lemon tree right outside the window, that I love to look at.
- What is your favourite medium, pen and paper or laptop? I use a laptop for most of my writing.
- Do you have a message for our readers? Never underestimate the power of perseverance.
Let’s Meet the Illustrator: Wendy Paterson
- Did you always illustrate? I decided when I was ten that I would run the Comrades Marathon and be an illustrator. My matric art teacher discouraged me from a career in art. But I understood that as an exercise in reverse psychology and it pushed me to work harder in that direction.
- Did you always read? Do you have favourite childhood books? I went through phases of reading, I would find a good series and latch on to it. Series I loved were C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, Roald Dahl and Alice in Wonderland., in matric I discovered Tolkien. I actually prefer to doodle and draw at night to relax.
- What are you reading right now? I prefer to draw and illustrate, but when I do read I want it to be easy reading, like Joanna Trollope’s Daughter’s in Law. And I just discovered Katie Fforde, I love that she writes about real people, these books make you feel “not so bad about yourself because everybody makes mistakes.”
- Do you have favourite book illustrators? How you can you name one… I have tons: Quentin Blake, Chris Riddell, Catherine Rayner, Gwen Millward, Oliver Jeffers, Beatrix Potter, Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies, Babette Cole and Korky Paul. And the South Africans: Piet Grobler, a> Joan Rankin and the fabulous Wendy Hartman.
- What is your inspiration? Children and the funny things they say and do. Children give you new eyes to look at things and a completely different perspective, they make you look at things again… nature, cows, bees, bugs, aloes… when she sees something inspiring she quickly draws it, even if it is at a stop light.
- What is your work style, are you disciplined or inspired? I lead a very distracted life, my work happens between pets and laundry and kids, I am always dashing about doing something… I get lost on google saving inspiring pictures. And then for a deadline I get into “mission mode:” and work all night and get totally into the project.
- Tell us About Your Work Space and What is your favourite medium to work in?: I have a huge upstairs studio, with a lovely view of Table Mountain. I keep a pin board filled with new ideas and inspiration. I have two desks covered in stuff, and when they get too full I draw on the floor. My favourite medium has to be pen and watercolours. I use Uniballs and the cheapest possible Reeves watercolours.
- Do you have a message for our Readers? Don’t give up on your dreams.
We have a copy of The Lemon Tree to give to one of our readers somewhere in the world. All you have to do to stand a chance of winning is leave a comment, before the end of play on Saturday 13 August 2016. In the spirit of promoting local book creators, we would love so many of our readers to leave a comment… and stand a chance of winning. If you don’t have small children enter away and gift this lovely story on.
We will draw and publish the winner in the Fabulous Fun Post after the 13 August. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!
We would like to thank the author/illustrator team for their time and the publishers Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with the book to review and the book to giveaway. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are as usual my own.