Ellis Rowan and Zimmermann at the National Library of Australia

Sunday, 28 February 2021

You know those moments that send you weak at the knees, quite literally. When little peeps of glee squeak out without even thinking? When you want to melt and get an overwhelming need to lie down on the floor?


A short while ago, Zimmermann released their 2021 Wild Botanica Spring Collection and you may have noticed my endless IG Stories as I fell about in rapture over one of the most stunning collections I’ve ever had the privilege to lay eyes on. But it wasn’t until just recently that I learned the collection was inspired by another great love of mine - Ellis Rowan.

Ellis was one of Australia’s earliest botanical artists. Born in 1848, she was a remarkable woman for her time. A naturalist, artist and intrepid traveller, she had no formal art training yet exhibited all over the world - her paintings at once fastidiously artistic yet exquisitely artistic and feminine. She even trekked Papua New Guinea twice, using local guides and finding an immense variety of birds and insects.

Over 900 of Ellis Rowan’s paintings are held at the National Library of Australia and now, one of my favourite designers is showing a small collection of gowns inspired by her work. I visited today and I could not even contain my overwhelm. Can you even believe the beauty.

Fashion in the Foyer will end 11 March, so get thee there if you can! See more here. And also don't miss Birds of Paradise: Ellis Rowan in New Guinea exhibition (ends 28 March 2021). Both exhibitions are free, and you can also view the Birds of Paradise online.

(In case you're wondering, the long wattle-inspired gown and the shorter blue and red one next to it would be my faves, along with the white blossom long gown.)

ALPHAKID Colouring Pages

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Keep the kiddles busy with these colouring pages from
Just click on them to right click and save. 
Then print and get busy!



happy new year and some giveaways

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Hello, gorgeous people. 

How is 2021 shaping up for you? I've felt such a fresh new energy these past weeks (although cannot even believe it's already February!) and I'm hoping things are okay where you are. 

I've just come out of an intense few months on book one of a new picture book series with Hardie Grant Travel, and I'm looking forward to sharing more with you soon. Above is a peek at one of the images and some more, below. Do you think it may be loosely based on travel???

Dream job.

have yourself a merry little christmas

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on
Our troubles will be out of sight
That's what I wish for you this year. It's been some kind of 2020 and it seems that on top of the regular stuff [we're all tired of hearing about], so many of you have had an extra challenging year. Some of you have lost loved ones, too. I am sending an extra special helping of virtual festive smooches to you.

Like most of you, I've pared back the Christmas card deliveries this year, so here is my Christmas card to you.
My decorating theme this year is 'nature with a hint of shimmer'. It nearly killed me putting this up, I'm that exhausted and over it... and to think I pared back even more than last year (indeed, each year is more simple). But I knew it would be more painful if I didn't do it. If you're anything like me, I've just let go of a lot of 'effort' this year, as everything just seemed too much. I knew that if I let go of this festive tradition, I'd be on a slippery slope to misery, so She Persisted.

And I'm so happy I did. It fills my heart every time I move around the house.

Sending you love this shimmery Christmas day. It's going to be a little different for us, again, with the kids older now, and working. We'll do an early pressie/breakfast thing then our meal will be in the evening (très European, sweetie darling, though a day late). We'll nestle into the couches, with candles and games and a massive spread of antipasto and all things deliciousness, including my annual gingerbread and fruitcake (though I'm going gluten-free for both - wish me luck). I'm doing a bombe Alaska this year, too.

So, hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.


LECTURE: Images and Roles of Australian Animals in Picture Books - National Library of Korea

Friday, 4 December 2020

Earlier in the year, I was invited to speak at the 국립중앙도서관 National Library of Korea.

Alas - you know, Covid.

Huge thanks to Hyung-Joo Park and her amazing team, the event is going ahead virtually. I will be lecturing (along with Dr Christopher Richardson and Hyung-Joo Park), and my talk will be on the images and roles of Australian Animals in Picture Books.

I hope to share a small portion of the lecture later.

How wonderful it is to share and promote a passion for literature between our countries. It's been the most glorious experience.

Hello from long ago - an update

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Well, hello booklovers, 

Just wanted to say hi and send an update into the grand void. It's been a while. The last update was August, can you believe it. You know, life and all that - least of all this bonkers year. I don't really know where to start, so this post will be a little random and won't anywhere near include everything. But I'll try.

Most important news of all is that Canberra has had endless weeks of consistent rain. I can't even tell you a) how rare this is, and b) what this means to me (let alone the farmers). It's immensely happy-making for so many reasons, least of all setting us up for an easier summer, hopefully less fires, and a garden out of Eden. Our fruit trees are flourishing for the first time in too-long-to-remember. I'm spending decent tracts of time just walking outside and staring, sometimes sitting and staring. Running fingers over leaf. Sighing. It's just wonderful.

Weirdest thing of all is that I've taken to gum-chewing. I hate gum-chewing, and so do it in seclusion, but my God, I'm chumbling like a freight train (as I type!). A friend suggested it may be a way of dealing with stress, and I suppose it's better than out-of-control shopping. Oh. Wait...

So, America has a new president. That's a grand thing. I felt the Earth's axis tilt a little. That's an even better thing. Let's hope this heralds a new world energy that's exponentially more positive and less crappy.

Happy book birthday, Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather!

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Happy book birthday,

Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather!

Stephanie Owen Reeder and I are thrilled to officially launch our breezy book into the troposphere (which is the layer where weather hangs out, just quietly) and we hope you love the book as much as we've loved putting it together.

In celebration, the NLA have created the most ASTONISHING digital classroom for the book - you can view it right here. Ideal for teachers and librarians, but for parents, too (and kids, of course!). It has a bunch of links and resources and activities - ideal for those of you homeschooling at the mo, too. 

Check out our hilarious Weather book trailer right here. And you've just got to try out the very special weather quiz Stephanie put together, to get your kids thinking hard about the weather! *Hint: all the answers are in the book. See it here.

If you just happen to need a copy of the book (who wouldn't!?) then the National Library Bookshop currently has signed copies (both Stephanie and me). If you can't get instore, I'm sure the Bookshop can organise a signed copy for you if you contact them on Facebook.  

Whatever the weather, we hope you love this book!

COVER REVEAL! AlphaKid: An A to Z of Animal Antics

Monday, 21 September 2020

I'm absolutely delighted to reveal the cover of my newest book - out 1 November 2020 - AlphaKid!

An A to Z of Antics, it features 26 animals and their hapless (or proud or frustrated or entranced) parents as they draw, bake, toot trumpets, snuggle, dance and get out the shears!

'Annoying, bored, creative and daring, AlphaKid is every kid-at their best (kind, loving), worst (impatient, unreasonable) and in between (smelly, odd). Packed with heart and humour, kids of all ages will smirk and titter at this A to Z of antics, from dawn to dusk, chaos to calm.

A graphic-design style ABC book for little ones, AlphaKid is a humorous riff on the parent/child relationship. An overarching narrative takes the alphabetical entries from waking through to bedtime and the various careening childlike states the kids (and parents!) find themselves in during waking hours.'

It's a happy-making thing to tick off another Bucket List book in my career thus far - I simply adore alphabet books and it was an absolute hoot creating this with my wonderful publisher at Windy Hollow, Cristina Pase. This is the kind of book adults will love as much as kids, with two narrative threads showing both perspectives.

Cannot wait to share it with you in the wild. Click the cover to see the book details, and you can pre-order at Booktopia right here (or the online store of your choice). In stores 1 November!


cover reveal - Wonderful Shoes!

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Early bird gets the worm... this divine little book isn't out till April 2021 but we can wait not a single moment longer. Delighted to reveal the cover for Wonderful Shoes, written by fellow fashionista Emma Bowd, and publishing with Windy Hollow.

A timeless tale of tip-tapping click-clacking delight. 
Wonderful Shoes is a joyful celebration of what
 happens when little feet find big shoes!

What a joy it was to illustrate the little poppets in this book who STOMP and STAMP and FLIP and FLOP and TIP and TAP their way through a fine collection of footwear, as little ones are wont to do.

As the year melts away (thank goodness), Emma and I so look forward to sharing more about this lovely book - including internal peeks.

Shoes. Babies. Toddlers. It's bliss in a book.

Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather!

Saturday, 15 August 2020


Stephanie Owen Reeder and I are thrilled to reveal the cover (and a trailer!) of our first book together... Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather - out with the National Library of Australia this October 2020.

Did you know that, in 2009, a massive dust storm in Australia blew red dust and sand all the way to New Zealand, where it turned the glaciers pink? That, in 1899, Cyclone Mahina plucked dolphins out of the ocean in Far North Queensland and deposited them on cliff tops? That it snowed at Uluru in 1997?

In Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather, readers are introduced to the wide range of weather in Australia, with bite-size pieces of information presented alongside graphic illustrations to entice young readers. Older readers will enjoy the detailed explanations about everything weather, from
what causes certain phenomena to reading weather maps, exploring the climate of the past and preparing for the climate of the future.

With sections about Australia’s extreme weather and the effects of climate change, Australia’s Wild Weird Wonderful Weather gently introduces young readers to the challenges of a warming planet and encourages them to be mindful of impact their actions have on the environment.

A resource section and glossary of weather words at the back of the book enable a parent, teacher or older reader to satisfy the deeper interest in weather that the book is sure to stimulate.

If you're keen to pre-order Australia's Wild Weird Wonderful Weather before it gets swept up and carried off in a cyclone, just head right here.

And now for the official trailer!


Have weather-obsessed kids at home? Who doesn't??? Enjoy these activity pages by copying, saving and printing - or head right here for a downloadable PDF.

introducing... STYLING TAN

Friday, 14 August 2020


Click for @stylingtan on Instagram
Click for @thestylingtan on Facebook

Styling Tan is a big step for me. On the moon. You know, a leap for all womankind thing.

I’m Tan. I’m a wife and mum and children’s book author, illustrator, editor and designer. I live in Canberra, Australia, with a mountain of books and a forest of artwork and an Aladdin’s cave of clothing and accessories. I’m a woman in her early 50s who still feels 20.

I’ve spent much of my life focused on work and family and health. All three are my Everything. And, like most women, this is perhaps why I feel like I’ve lost myself. I’ve been so busy, I’ve suddenly woken up and felt old. Like life has passed far too quickly and I’ve done so little to keep that youthful, girlish heart, body and mind alive and vibrant.

When I hit menopause, it was like a veil was lifted. Styling Tan slipped on her sequin jacket, clipped on a vintage bangle ... and stepped up.

My love of style and fashion knows no bounds. It’s been present lifelong, but I lost its connection along the way and took the safe, bland route. 

Now, I want my sparkle back. 

I want to celebrate and enjoy my adoration for sequins and denim and colour that lights up my heart as well as my face. 

I want to roll around in tulle and snuggle into faux fur, fall into drape, waft in plissé, bounce in platform sneakers and strut in structured coats and sky-high heels. 

I want to feel the thunder of my heart and the dizzying joy of sartorial pleasure as I snap, zip and button my way through my clothing collection, old and new.

Clothing brings me immense pleasure and helps me settle into this second half of my life in a way that’s both comforting and uplifting. I’m no longer 20 but my heart still beats with youth and energy. And now is the time to embrace the eye-lighting, happy-making pleasures that keep us vibrant.

Styling Tan is for women over 40 and anyone else whose heart beats out of their chest over a fab belt or vintage blouse.

It's for anyone who's losing their mind over Tracky Dacks Daily during lockdown.

It’s for anyone who has sidelined themselves or dumbed themselves down.

It’s for anyone who feels the need to uplift themselves and celebrate whatever stage of life they are in.

I look forward to travelling this blissful sartorial journey with you. Get set to shine.

Tan x

#lockdown special The Fantastical Flying Creator is HALF PRICE!

Thursday, 13 August 2020


To bring a little sunshine to your lockdown, I'm so happy to offer The Fantastical Flying Creator for half price.

To bring a little sunshine to your lockdown, I'm so happy to offer The Fantastical Flying Creator for half price.

If you're an emerging creator, or even a creator who wants to take their career up a notch, this interactive PDF is for you. With over 340 pages of top secret children's book industry savv - yes, you'd better believe it! - you will traverse a decade of information in a mere fraction of the time.

Click the poster above to read all about it and even download a sample.

Hurry - ends this Sunday 16 August.

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