#thisiscaptaincook Question Time

Thursday, 12 March 2015


In Question Time, you, Dear Reader, have the chance to ask Christina and I a question! All you have to do is leave a comment below, asking your question, and we will respond in the comments as the day unfolds.

You might like to ask about our book creation process, our ideas, something specific about the book or even something about Captain Cook's life! Kids also welcome to ask questions.

Don't be shy! Send us your best!Just leave a comment below. Comments are moderated and need to be approved before publication, so may not appear immediately.



50 comments:

Nicky Johnston said...

Question for Tania:
is this book all how you imagined it would be, given for you it has been bubbling away for five years?

Question for Christina:

What medium(s) did you use to create these gorgeous illustrations? (I adore them!)

Leonie Cheetham said...

I'm interested in how much research time you spent on Captain Cook to then be able to condense the content into the book? Also did Tania and Christine both do the illustrations or just one?

I love the illustrations by the way! Many thanks in anticipation.

Sophie Pittaway said...

What will children mostly get out of reading this story?

Xtina said...

Hi Nicky,
I started with grey lead pencil, sketched in the outlines and textures and then I gently removed the excess graphite using a putty eraser. I then used water colour paint. Once this was complete, I used pencil again and sketched in stronger outlines and more texture, especially for the audience. I worked on 300gsm Arches cold pressed water colour paper. Cold or hot pressed determines how rough or smooth the paper is.

jessesmess said...

Question for Tania:
It must be really difficult interpreting historical facts for interesting books for children? How did you research this book, and turn it into an engaging manuscript for kids?

Question for Christina:
When you received the manuscript, how did you first go about interpreting the story pictorially?

Tania McCartney said...

Hi Nicky! Thanks for your wonderful question.

I would have to say the end result for this book is far more than I ever dreamed it would be. I had images in my mind of how it might look but Christina's illustrations took it to a whole new level, as did the design team at the NLA. They always do such divine work and I'm just delighted with how the book turned out.

Tania McCartney said...

Hi Leonie!

The research component was huge and probably took about 3 months on and off (we were still finding new things right at the end of production--there are a lot of inaccuracies and conjectured ideas out there!).

I not only had to get to know an entire lifetime of this extraordinary man, but I then had the task of going over all the content and honing it down to key moments, as well as material that would be child-friendly.

This was a real balancing act, and I really think we got it right in the end.

jackiehoskingpio said...

A question for Tania and Christina - who's idea was it to set the story on stage, as a play? So clever!

Tania McCartney said...

Hi Sophie--I love this question. My concept for This is Captain Cook was that it should be both educational and entertaining. For this target age group (roughly 3 - 7), it was important to spend time creating a narrative they could relate to ... adding humour and charm and action. The subplot Christina developed, with the audience members and the runaway chicken, brilliant blends with the storyline narrative to create a book that will both enlighten and entertain. I'm really thrilled about this.

Renee Price said...

Hi ladies,

Congratulations on producing such a gorgeous picture book! How did the two of you come together for the project? Did NLA Publishing pair you or did you voice that you'd like to work together?

Renee x

Natalie Daniel said...

For Christina: How much time did you have to complete your illustrations? And as an illustrator were you able to work with Tania to help with your ideas for the illustrations

Leonie Cheetham said...

Thanks Tania - 3 months - wow! I would love doing that sort of research and I totally agree that Captain Cook is a very interesting man. May have to zap off an order for this special book.

Tania McCartney said...

Hi Jess!

I started by studying his entire life, plucking out both key moments and those that appealed more to the very young. From there, I spent time fine-tuning each part I felt was vital to the storyline, and thinking about how it could be complemented illustration-wise (if, for example, the part was a bit 'boring' to kids!).

An example of this is when Cook is sent to Tahiti to log the passing of Venus over the sun's surface. I had to do this in a way that was both interesting and comprehensible to little ones! So we came up with the idea of a child holding a cardboard sun with a little venus in front of it.

Illustrations really helped make the text more 'entertaining' for littlies.

Therin of Andor said...

Hi Tania and Christina,

Gorgeous book - I was drooling on one in Sydney last Thursday (sorry Abbey's!).

I can really see this book lending itself to Readers' Theatre or indeed, as a play in schools!

Are there plans to have some teachers' notes about the text and the art available as downloadable PDFs from your websites?

Tania McCartney said...

Hi Jackie!

Isn't the play fantastic!? I had told Christina that I wanted all the book's characters to be played by children, with childlike elements, props, toys, etc, and she said 'what about a school play'? I loved the idea!

From there the concept developed and Christina's gorgeous chook came to life, adding even more age-appropriate elements to the narrative.

I loved working with Christina for all those gorgeous visual delights she brought to the manuscript. Picture books are absolutely about both creators, not just one--it's kind of sad when author and illustrator can't work closely together. I think it makes a book.

Nicole Godwin said...

Hi Tania, I'm interested in knowing how much your manuscript changed from your original version to the final version.

And if I can get another question in as well... How important is it to have multiple layers to the story in picture books?
Thanks
Nicole

sherylgwyther said...

I haven't read the book yet, but it looks to me like you've incorporated the story of a young James Cook into a setting that children would relate to very well...a play production.
A couple of questions:
Was this the intent right from the start?
How much collaboration did author and illustrator have before this idea came?
As a keen playwright for children myself, I can see this idea being further used to write a script for children to produce or play read. Are you tempted? :)
All the very best with this new book from the National Library of Australia. Excellent, as usual, I bet. Can't wait to read the book myself.

Nicky Johnston said...

wow what awesome questions....where can others purchase the book? (I just purchased through your virtual launch link, but want to tell my son's school about it)

Heidi Smith said...

Adore the concept for this book, and the illustrations are charming - would love to buy, can you tell me where it's available? Thanks! HX

Susan Whelan said...

The school play setting is such a clever way to engage children's interest in historical figures. I love that the school play gives children something familiar they can identify with while they are reading (and learning) about someone who lived hundreds of years ago.

Will you be working on more stories about famous figures in Australian history and will you use a similar format/setting?

Tania McCartney said...

Hi, Renee!

I had already submitted my manuscript to the National Library and I recommended Christina as the illustrator. The NLA were delighted with this prospect, so I approached Christina directly (she said yes!!!) then the Library took over. I was so happy she had time to fit the book in, and I'm delighted to announce we'll be soon starting on another!

Tania McCartney said...

Therin of Andor--thanks for the giggle! SO glad you liked the book and I so love the idea of this book being used as inspiration for school plays. I hope it happens!

In the meantime, yes we do have some teaching notes available at the link below. I hope you like!

http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpublishing.nla.gov.au%2Fdocuments%2FThis%2520is%2520Captain%2520Cook.pdf&ei=J-4AVd7VDNG78gXO2oHAAg&usg=AFQjCNHxENIqYKmJyEzW-_ERj9bhrfDAUA&sig2=VXfzEqQj-6ctszF7Y7N4yQ&bvm=bv.87920726,d.dGc

jen storer said...

Can we expect more lovely projects from the McBooth Creative Team?? I hope so!

DimbutNice said...

Goodness, most of my curiosities concerning this amazing production have already been addressed but I would love to know how, why and when you, Tania, came up with the idea to showcase Capt. JC's life. Was it a commissioned proposal or your own burning desire? How do you think it sits alongside the Meet...Captain Cook series of pbs and what sets it apart.

Q. for Christina, was 'runaway chook' a character you needed to share and include because of your chook fetish or because chooks played a significant role in the days of exploration and re-settlement?

Q. from Miss 9, did JC in fact ever have a puppy? (a test for your researching skills :-p) Thanks for giving us a beautiful snapshot of human history to share.

Tania McCartney said...

Hi, Nicole!

The manuscript went through a long process of changes--both in terms of honing the text down to the bare minimum (vital for this target age group) and in regard to clarity and narrative flow. There was plenty that could be cut, or didn't 'progress' the story.

Once the text entered the editing part of production, it also underwent some slight changes for accuracy and comprehension. We also changed text as Christina drew the images, so we could ensure a fine balance.

So, yes, the end text was very different to the original text! But I was still able to keep my author voice, thankfully. I think there's such a thing as over-editing and losing that authentic voice, so I'm pleased it's still there.

Tania McCartney said...

Nicky and Heidi--we're having a book purchasing special today on the NLA online bookshop - 10% off and signed by the author! You can head here for more info http://taniamccartney.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/thisiscaptaincook-buy-your-discounted.html as there is a code you'll need to enter to get the discount.

The book's also available in good bookstores Australia-wide, and of course, at the National Library bookshop in Canberra. Perhaps you could stop by and we can have a cuppa?

Tania McCartney said...

Hi Sheryl--great questions!

The intent from the start was to tell Cook's story for a very young audience--and to focus on his life as a man, husband, father and mariner. We cover all his voyages in the book including his landing on the East Coast of Australia.

For me, I had envisaged the characters being played by children, in a playful, childlike setting. Christina came up with the idea for a school play and I loved it! So things just sort of developed from there.

This idea came right at the start of our collaboration (the script was almost final at this stage) and so we had lots of time for its development.

Absolutely, the idea for real life school plays is glorious. I have this idea in my teaching notes and wouldn't it be superb to see it develop and even tour!

Tania McCartney said...

Thanks so much, Susan! We're so delighted with how the book incorporates those elements small kids can relate so well to. I don't think history has to be boring! And this book is testament to that.

Yes, Christina and I (most happily!) are starting work on another book in this 'series' soon. We already have ideas on how it will unfold, also 'played' by children but not as a school play. Watch this space!

Tania McCartney said...

Yes, Jen! Really happy to be starting on another and already discussing more ideas. It's very exciting!

Unknown said...

Hi there - love the idea for this book and keen to know more about how to use the book to encourage kids to learn and explore - the obvious idea is to act out the story (encourage through the images) but what other ideas do you have to ensure kids engage with the book beyond the story telling and visual experience (as if they were not enough!!). Thanks and congrats on a lovely book! Jodie

Xtina said...

He Leonie,
Thanks for your comments, so glad you like the illustrations. Tania wrote, I drew, we both discussed lots and lots of stuff as the process went on, ideas about the words ad the illustrations, it was very collaborative.

Xtina said...

Hi Jess,
'When you received the manuscript, how did you first go about interpreting the story pictorially'

It is always interesting to receive someone's story and even more so if you are working on two others so you have to give it space and time to breathe. Thankfully, this was such a wonderful one it wasn't hard for it to come to life. I always look for a different angle, something that will ad another part of the story to a book and Tania had said she had envisioned it with small children playing games or in a pool etc. so I decided to make it a schools play. A also had to consider how to make it diverse enough to cover the myriad of cultures included so it was fun to have a truly multicultural cast. I played with lots of sketches and ideas before settling on the one perspective which meant that the reader was also included in the whole affair from beginning to end.

Xtina said...

Hi Jackie,
as Tania has said it was a result of discussing how to bring a child's perspective into the story, it was for young children after all. A school play enabled us to separate some of the less favourable parts of Cook's story as well, I love to use animals and also the multicultural feature. The fun thing is now that we are doing other books in the series we need to come up with quirky ways to portray them, it won't be school play every time!

Xtina said...

Hi Renee,
'Congratulations on producing such a gorgeous picture book! How did the two of you come together for the project? Did NLA Publishing pair you or did you voice that you'd like to work together?'

All that Tania said, Tania had said for a while she wanted to work with me and this was the perfect opportunity. It is my first proper collaboration rather than being selected by the publisher and them keeping author and illustrator apart (or trying to). It was a fabulous experience.

Xtina said...

Hi Sophie

'What will children mostly get out of reading this story?'

Everything Tania said but also from the perspective of the illustrations something new to be discovered each time they re-visit the book. They can explore the images alone or with a person sharing the reading experience. I hope that it encourages them to come back over and over again to see favourite bits and to discover new ones they missed the last time.

Xtina said...

Hi Natalie,

'How much time did you have to complete your illustrations? And as an illustrator were you able to work with Tania to help with your ideas for the illustrations?'

I thin from memory I had five or six months, that is what I usually schedule for illustrations, especially if i know they will be very involved and intricate. This time included my research which was ongoing through the whole process as well as producing the roughs (some of those are on another page in the launch site).

Yes, Tania and I worked closely as well as with the team from NLA, so many lovely people who had expertise in different matters including Aboriginal culture etc. So important. I really wanted the whole story to be respectful of everyone.

sally fawcett said...

hi tania and Christina, can my local bookshop order this book in. I'd love to see it on their shelves.

Xtina said...

Hi Therin


'I can really see this book lending itself to Readers' Theatre or indeed, as a play in schools!
Are there plans to have some teachers' notes about the text and the art available as downloadable PDFs from your websites?'

Thanks, you are a blast :). I had hoped as I started to work out the ideas for the illustrations that it would be a starting point for classes or schools to be able to perform the story in some way, either in the classroom or on a stage. Even at home in the lounge room, like we did as kids.
it would be lovely to hear about it happening, we have to wait and see,

I will have links up soon on my website which is currently undergoing an overhaul.

Xtina said...

Hi Nicole,

'And if I can get another question in as well... How important is it to have multiple layers to the story in picture books?'

I believe it is essential. Though it should be quite organic, not forced. I find when I accept a manuscript it is because I can already see what sorts of layers will appear. Often they occur as the work progresses but the potential has to be there. The illustrations and words should dance together, in a finely tuned beautiful dance but with each contributing their own unique steps to come together as one story. In each, there will be other surprise arrivals, different elements of the story that keep us hooked into reading both the words and visually.

Xtina said...

Hi Sheryl

A couple of questions:
Was this the intent right from the start?
How much collaboration did author and illustrator have before this idea came?
As a keen playwright for children myself, I can see this idea being further used to write a script for children to produce or play read. Are you tempted? :)

Thanks for that Sheryl. Yes, the idea of the story and aiming it at young children was Tania's, her vision was strong and endearing. When I came up with the idea of a play, we were able to nip and tuck, add and mold a wonderful story around the idea.

I always envisioned kids acting it out, anywhere in the world. It is relevant to them all, either as a stage play like in the book or in the lounge room or class room or back yard.

So to answer your last question...tempted? Yes.

Tania McCartney said...

Hi, Dim!

I had wanted to do a 'bio series' for littlies and the NLA thought the good Captain would be a great place to start. Books for the Library need to align with their collection of amazing imagery, and there is plenty on Cook--including his journals!

I also relished the chance to portray Captain Cook in a way that focused on his life as a man, and not on the questionable outcome of exploration for many countries, including Australia. Indeed, this desire has been noted in the back of the book.

Although I loved learning more about Cook and have deep respect for much that he did, for our second book in this series, I've had the privilege of choosing someone I really resonate with on many levels. Can't wait to reveal that one!

I think the book stands completely apart from the Random House 'Meet' series. It's for a different target group and is narrative as opposed to non-fiction/information/based. This book sold out of its first print run months before publication, so I think that's testament to how different it is, and I also want to say that I truly believe there is 'room' in this children's market for books of similar ilk. I remember when two Marngrook books came out at the same time--synchronicity is alive and well! But I don't think it's in the least bit ruinous.

Dear Miss 9: Regarding puppy dogs. I'm almost certain James Cook would have had a pet or two in his lifetime, as he grew up on a farm in Yorkshire with lots of animals. I do know he took some greyhounds on the Endeavour. Does that help?

Xtina said...

Hi Susan,
'Will you be working on more stories about famous figures in Australian history and will you use a similar format/setting?'

The answer is (as Tania has said but I am excited about it)....

YES!!!! But we will be coming up with more unique ideas as to how to present them, I think that if every book is a school play then it will get boring after a while.

Xtina said...

Hi Jodie,

'Hi there - love the idea for this book and keen to know more about how to use the book to encourage kids to learn and explore - the obvious idea is to act out the story (encourage through the images) but what other ideas do you have to ensure kids engage with the book beyond the story telling and visual experience...'

The options are endless, aside from the play as you mentioned, it opens a door for discussion, exchange of ideas and even encourages kids to consider how they might put on a play about someone or something else historical.
It looks at problem solving and design, planning and integration (who does what, where and when). It also encourages group work , being part of a team etc.

Here is the link to Tania's notes with extra activities and teacher notes etc. We also love to hear about other people's ideas and creative input . I'm often amazed a the activities people come up with.

http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpublishing.nla.gov.au%2Fdocuments%2FThis%2520is%2520Captain%2520Cook.pdf&ei=J-4AVd7VDNG78gXO2oHAAg&usg=AFQjCNHxENIqYKmJyEzW-_ERj9bhrfDAUA&sig2=VXfzEqQj-6ctszF7Y7N4yQ&bvm=bv.87920726,d.dGc

Xtina said...

Hi Dimity,

'Q. for Christina, was 'runaway chook' a character you needed to share and include because of your chook fetish or because chooks played a significant role in the days of exploration and re-settlement?'

Yes, I do have a fetish for chooks don't I, but also many other animals. When I read about chooks as props (Tania's author notes/suggestions) I started to draw up the painted ones but when my husband started singing that rhyme about Captain Cook chasing a chook I decided to include it in the story because I like quirky stuff like that. It allowed another element to be added to the story, a problem to be solved and a way to introduce a completely 'left of field' character. I had so much fun with her. She looks like my Agnes!

Xtina said...

Hi Sally
'can my local bookshop order this book in. I'd love to see it on their shelves.'

Absolutely, they just need to contact the NLA (or the distributor, f they look it up they will know what to do. Th more stores that sell it the better,. My two local independent stores have them up in their windows and have big pile (makes an illustrator very happy. You can encourage them by asking if they have it or have seen it. The ISBN (bookstore love it when people bring in the ISBN) is 978-0-642-27896-2

Emma | My Book Corner said...

I'd would love to know if Miss Batt's class will be putting on any more performances, featuring more great figures from history ...

Tania McCartney said...

Hi, Em!
Miss Batts got a little bit tired from her class's performance! so she won't be doing any more plays anytime soon. Christina and I will, however, be presenting the life of another historical figure soon ... with a twist on how the narrative is presented. Watch this space!

DimbutNice said...

Dear co-creators, Thank you! for your excellent answers and reveals. What a delight it's been learning more. It is heartening to read your comments about synchronicity in the children's book market also Tania. Greyhounds you say...interesting. I will be sure to pass this on to Miss 9. Cheers. Oh and Christina, I'm sorry but I think Cook's chook is the spitting image of our Tequila! (my husband's choice of name, not mine.) xxx

Tania McCartney said...

Hi, Jodie!

In my teachers' notes, you will find some more great ideas on how kids can make the most of this book, whether in the classroom, home-schooling, or just fun at home.

You'll find the link in these comments or on my website under BOOKS!

Tania McCartney said...

Our Captain Chook is a real heroine of this story, Dim! Thanks for your lovely words.

This has been a lot of fun, everyone--thank you so much for all your fabulous questions and comments!

x

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...