I'm a children's author, wife and mum in no particular order. I perform these jobs simultaneously and I love them all!

Sunday 15 November 2015


Endpapers just fascinate me!

Some are just exquisite while some are subtle and beautiful. I love how some show a sneak peek of what is to come in the story. I see endpapers as a big hug - embracing the story within.

Endpapers have a very important job - much more than being decorative. They are pasted on the front cover of the book and the first free page, and the back cover of the book and the last free page - they hold everything together with a perfect centre fold. Often when you invest in a hardcover picture book, you’ll get blessed with beautiful endpapers.

I wonder why some endpapers have illustrations on them while others don’t. Why were these precious pages missed? Does it have something to do with balancing costs, or did the illustrator just run out of time? 

Inspired by EK Book’s ‘Picture Book a Day Photo Challenge’ on Instagram (the theme today, Monday the 16th November is ‘endpapers’) and by the story behind the endpapers of ‘Dandelions’, written by me and illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan, I decided to have a good, hard look at the endpapers of the picture books I have in my own collection. Oh my! What glorious fun I had! I photographed some of my favourites and added them below. Choosing only one for the Instagram photo challenge was very difficult! 

But first, I want to share with you the endpapers of ‘Dandelions’. There is a story behind them and I’d love to share it with you.

A few years ago, while I was trying to find a publisher who believed in ‘Dandelions’ as much as I did, I asked Kirrili Lonergan to draw me one illustration I could attach to my cover letter and manuscript to send to publishers. While this is not encouraged generally in the industry, I was hoping a publisher might see how our styles matched and contract us as an author/illustrator team.

This was a HUGE dream (and I know some of you are thinking it bordered on ridiculous!). As most of you know, new authors usual get teamed up with an established illustrator, and vice versa, and the publisher chooses that team.

Anyway, here's a photo of what Kirrili drew: 

Illustration by Kirrili Lonergan

It was absolutely beautiful! I ran the risk of a publisher loving her style and talent and not liking my story or writing style. A huge risk!

After my manuscript and Kirrili’s drawing travelled around Australia for a while, and then came home to rest without finding a home, I decided to shelve it for 12 months.

Eventually, thanks to a writing competition, my manuscript gained the attention of a publisher. That publisher then asked me if I had an illustration style in mind that I thought would match my manuscript. Of course I suggested Kirrili’s style and submitted the original illustration that had accompanied my manuscript around the country. That publisher agreed … and she also suggested we make the original illustration design the endpapers.

Here is what the final endpapers look like in ‘Dandelions’: 

Illustration by Kirrili Lonergan

I adore how our endpapers reflect our journey. We were advised so many times not to submit work together but we were lucky this unique opportunity came our way. I’m not suggesting anyone should submit a manuscript with an illustration sample - absolutely not! But this is our story, a true story, and it may never happen to us again.

So back to me rummaging through my picture book collection …

I found some of the most beautiful endpapers. I did end up picking one for the Instagram challenge (you'll have to go over there to see which one) but I couldn't ignore what I found. I've been having a private endpapers party ever since. I thought I would share them here with you.

FYI: The photos are not as beautiful as the real thing! 

Change from front one to back one:


 From 'Banjo and Ruby Red' by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood


'Sad, The Dog' by Sandy Fussell and Tull Suwannakit

Isn't it lovely when the endpapers show change. 
Alison Lester also does this in 'Are We There Yet?'.

Bold and beautiful:

 'An Aussie Year' by Tanya McCartney & Tina Snerling    

'Don’t Let a Spoonbill in the Kitchen' by Narelle Oliver

 'Dandelions' by Katrina McKelvey and Kirrili Lonergan          

'Ruby Red Shoes' by Kate Knapp  

     'Lessons of a LAC' by Lynn Jenkins & Kirrili Lonergan         

'The Terrible Underpants' by Kaz Cooke

Subtle and beautiful:


   'Davy and the Duckling' by Margaret Wild & Julie Vivas       

'A Friend For Marmalade' by Alison Reynolds and Heath McKenzie

  'All Through the Year' by Jane Godwin & Anna Walker        

 'Ruby Learns To Swim' by P. Gwynne & T. Ainslie

 'Today We Have No Plans' by Jane Godwin & Anna Walker       

'No Bears' by Meg McKinlay and Leila Rudge 

 'Too Busy Sleeping' by Zanni Louise & Anna Pignataro

'The Treasure Box' by Margaret Wild & Freya Blackwood

'Where’s The Green Sheep?' by M. Fox & J. Horacek  

 'A Bear and a Tree' by Stephen Michael King  

'When I See Grandma' by Debra Tidball and Leigh Hedstrom

A Pattern of sorts:

'The Day the Crayons Quit' by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers   


'Goodnight Mice' by Frances Watts & Judy Watson

'Rat in a Stripy Sock' by Frances Watts & David Francis    

 'Parsley Rabbit’s Book About Books' by Frances Watts & David Legge

 'Old Tom - Man of Mystery' by Leigh Hobbs          

'Ted' by Leila Rudge

'Jam for Nana' by Deborah Kelly and Lisa Stewart

Note: These little dots represent fingerprints made from eating apricot jam. I wonder if Lisa actually made apricot jam fingerprints to see what they would look like. They look real to me!

'There’s a Monster Under My Bed Who Farts' by Tim Miller and Matt Stanton

Note: I love how these endpapers represent fart gas. So clever!  

So go and have a rummage through hardcover picture books and look at endpapers. I wonder if any of them have their own story to tell? Do your endpapers have a story? Please share! Enjoy your hunt!

Our ‘Dandelions’ journey can be read in more detail here.

You can buy a copy of 'Dandelions' here.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

'Dandelions' Book Launch

Kirrili and I launched our picture book, 'Dandelions' with excitement and pride in the Lovatt Gallery of the Newcastle Region Library last Saturday, 31st October.

We decorated the gallery with yellow flowers (ironically, the yellow flowers weren't dandelions), illustration prints, dandelion photos, our new banner, and balloons posing as dandelion puff balls.


As part of the formalities, Kirrili and I wanted to share a little bit about our personal journeys and the journey of 'Dandelions'. We talked about how we'd travelled anywhere and everywhere from Melbourne and Brisbane to attend festivals, workshops and conferences over the last four years. We shared how our local networks and new friends were the scaffolding we needed when it was time to celebrate (like at a launch!) or be counselled. We shared our love for our families and friends who have supported us tirelessly along the way. Yes, tears flowed but they were happy tears filled with relief and pride.

Kirrili then explained how she designed our main character. Coincidently, Kirrili had been inspired to draw a little girl after observing little Poppy at a school assembly only weeks before she was asked to illustrate 'Dandelions'. 

Then I read 'Dandelions' accompanied by a slideshow of the illustrations so everyone could feel involved. You could hear a pin drop as I lived my dream of reading this story (the one that used to live on my computer and in my head) with a room full of real people, adults and children alike. 

We absolutely loved signing our book for the special people in our lives. It was a great chance to hear heartwarming feedback and engage with everyone who had come to be with us. We had family and extended family come from as far away as Sydney and Scone. We absolutely loved sharing this event with old friends and new, friends and staff from our children's schools, and with our publisher from EK Books. We felt so blessed and humbled by all this support.


While we were signing books, the kids engaged in craft activities inspired by the dandelion plant. My children and I had picked over 1000 seed heads weeks earlier for a collage activity. Kirrili and her mum hand-dyed 1000s of earbuds for the 3D puff ball activity. 

We had many family and friends contribute food such as slices and caramel popcorn to morning tea. Kirrili and I also supplied quite a few mimi cupcakes with an icing dandelion puff ball adorning the top. (We just ran out of time to make them ourselves - it's called outsourcing!)


Thanks to all the extra helpers such as our photographers, assistants, Janet our MC, Poppy's family, library staff, cooks, ballon suppliers, friends and family who helped make this event a truly memorable and deeply special one. Kirrili and I will never forget the launching of out first picture book collaboration. 

We have a special bond with Amanda and Max from MacLean's Booksellers and Julie and Carol from Newcastle Region Libraries. Kirrili and I spent many hours planning our launch with all these wonderful people in between our overseas and interstate trips. We could not have executed such an event without their professional and personal support.

We are so proud to say our creation, thanks to EK Books, is now in the hands of children across the world. We have had so many beautiful reviews sharing how families are engaging more with the outdoors and each other, and conveying how children in classrooms are loving the activities their teachers and librarians are providing - all thanks to OUR book. It's very overwhelming!

To quote Izzy, Tilly and Lara, our beautiful daughters, 

'We would like to declare 'Dandelions' officially launched.'