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Meet the Authors and Illustrators

Book List

Animalia by Graeme Base
Animalia

Discovery of Dragons by Graeme Base
Discovery of Dragons

Jungle Drums by Graeme Base
Jungle Drums

The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base
The Eleventh Hour

Water Hole by Graeme Base
The Water Hole

Truck Dogs by Graeme Base
Truck Dogs

Graeme Base - Illustrator

Australian Graeme Base has created much-loved books for children. His alphabet book Animalia has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, and The Eleventh Hour was named the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year. His books often center around animals and wildlife, including The Water Hole, a counting book, and the upcoming Jungle Drums, about the smallest warthog in the jungleBase is also a musician.

Interview

RIF: What's it like living in Australia?

Graeme Base: There’s a real sense of space. I live in Melbourne, which is a big city with lots of skyscrapers, but it doesn’t take long to get to the country. It’s very lush and green here, but we can get to the desert in a few hours. There’s a sense of isolation way down here in the corner of the world. To clear up some misconceptions, everyone doesn’t own a kangaroo, and there aren’t koalas falling out of trees.

RIF: You put yourself as a character in Animalia. Are you in any of your other books?

GB: No, and with Animalia, it was sort of an afterthought. I never really thought of it as me, to tell the truth. It’s just a boy in a yellow-and-red striped sweater. I did that before “Where’s Waldo?” by the way. I put a Graeme on the G page, and then I decided to put him on all the pages. I put him in there because I had 26 totally separate worlds with nothing to link them all together.

RIF: Animals show up a lot in your books. Which are your favorites to draw?

GB: I love snow leopards because they’re so luxurious looking, but they’re very hard to draw. My favorite thing to draw is something that I made up, like dragons. Discovery of Dragons was the most fun I’ve had drawing a book.

I love all wildlife. I’m as fascinated by snakes as I am by kittens. But I’m not a wildlife artist. Wildlife is my muse, but it’s not my reason for doing the work. It’s a characterization. I’m really talking about humans and their conditions. I translate the stories using animals. I create them as characters you can relate to with a human personality.

RIF: Kids and adults love your books. When you're creating a book, do you think about who will read it?

GB: Not much. I make sure that I’m having fun, that I’m inspired by it. I’m really a 46-year-old kid. My mind seems to be pretty young. As you get older, you find things that you want to say, but you can still say it in a childlike way.

RIF: Your work is always so detailed. How long does it take you to complete a drawing?

GB: I’m getting quicker. With Animalia, I was taking months to do a picture. Part of that was because I was learning a new technique. Now the technique is more refined. Also, the artwork for some of the books I’m doing doesn’t have the same need for complexity, like Animalia, The Water Hole, and The Eleventh Hour did.

I can now do a picture in three weeks. A lot of time is spent on design.

RIF: What were your favorite books as a kid?

GB: I was born in England, so I liked all the classic British stories like The Wind in the Willows. The Lord of the Rings really got me going. I read it at 12 or 13.

RIF: Do you read to your children now?

GB: I have three children, ages 13, 11, and 9. I always read to them, and still do even now. We’ll all go in the piano room and have a cup of tea and coffee with a piece of cake. My wife and I take turns reading. We read a chapter a night. Right now I’m reading The Once and Future King. Next my wife is going to read Huckleberry Finn.

My kids are voracious readers on their own. They all play music. I never forced practice on them. I just wanted them to enjoy it. I want them to grow up with a love of books and a love of music. Both books and music should be parts of life that are great pleasures and great joys.

RIF: What upcoming books do you have?

GB: Jungle Drums is coming out in September. It’s about the smallest warthog in Africa. Warthogs are endearing because they’re so ugly. They really got left out when it came to beauty. And this one in the book is even worse because he’s the smallest, and even his brothers and sisters lay it on him. Then he gets a hold of magic jungle drums that grants him whatever wish he has. The book is about what happens what he gets what he wishes for, even if it doesn’t go right.

RIF: From James, 7: When did you decide your stories were good enough that someone would want to read them?

GB: I wrote my first book when I was 8 or 9. It was called A Field Guide to Monsters of the World. Twenty years later, I produced Discovery of Dragons, which is the same book, just with dragons.

It’s hard to know if an idea is good enough.

Many people probably think they have a good idea for a book, but they don’t want to be told they’re not good enough. I’ve always had self-confidence. I have enthusiasm, confidence and perseverance. I’ve got a great job, but I work hard.

So, do it for yourself first. Then you haven’t wasted your time. After that, never give up. Listen to criticism. Nothing’s going to be perfect at first. Be committed to it.

 

Learn more about each of these authors and illustrators:
 

 
  Author

Author

 
  Illustrator

Illustrator

 

 
- - -
 

  illustrator

Allen Say

 
  Author

Arthur Dorros

 
  Illustrator

Ashley Bryan

 
  Author

Barbara Park

 
  Illustrator

Beverly Cleary

 
  illustrator

Bryan Collier

 
  Author

Candace Fleming

 
 

Carmen Rubin

 
  illustrator

Chris Van Allsburg

 
  Author

Cornelia Funke

 
  Author

Dav Pilkey

 
  illustrator

David Kirk

 
  Author

Eoin Colfer

 
  Illustrator

Eric Carle

 
 

Fred Bowen

 
  Author

Gail Carson Levine

 
  Illustrator

Graeme Base

 
  illustrator

Henry Cole

 
  Author

Jack Prelutsky

 
  illustrator

Jerry Pinkney

 
  Author

Jerry Spinelli

 
  Author

Joseph Bruchac

 
  Author

Karen Cushman

 
  Author

Kate DiCamillo

 
  Author

Kathleen Karr

 
 

Laurie Halse Anderson

 
  Author

Lemony Snicket

 
  Author

Lemony Snicket - part 2

 
  illustrator

Lulu Delacre

 
  illustrator

Mark Teague

 
  Author

Mary Pope Osborne

 
  Author

Megan McDonald

 
  Author

Mem Fox

 
  Author

Michelle Y. Green

 
  illustrator

Mo Willems

 
  Author

Nikki Grimes

 
  illustrator

Nina Laden

 
  Author

Pam Muñoz Ryan

 
  Illustrator

Pat Cummings

 
 

R.A. Montgomery

 
  Author

R.L. Stine

 
  Author

R.L. Stine - Part II

 
  illustrator

Rosemary Wells

 
  Author

Sharon Creech

 
  Author

Stan Lee

 
  Illustrator

Tony DiTerlizzi

 
  Author

Wendelin Van Draanen

 
  Author

William Sleator

 
 


For Grown-Ups:

 
 

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