Member of Kelly Dyksterhouse's Kidlit Crew
I am asked this question quite often. Honestly, it’s the magic of it. I am very much drawn to fairytales and traditional storybook concepts, as who wouldn’t want an excuse to immerse themselves in a world where rabbits run around with pocket watches, or where crocodiles tick, or where partially clothed bears eat honey at every mealtime! The world can feel a bit devoid of magic and imagination at times and so it’s great to escape into an illustrated story and pretend like that’s the norm for a while.
So true, this! Anything else you love about being a member of the kidlit industry?
I also love how there is so much variety in children’s book illustration with so many amazing artists to learn and be inspired from. I am always working to improve my illustration skills and my story-telling abilities and to have such a wealth of expertise and skill available to draw upon is quite inspirational. You can’t help wanting to get better at what you do when you see how much amazing work others have achieved!
Children’s book illustrators are generally a really good bunch of people too!
That does seem to be a general rule! So, why do you love drawing animals?
I’ve been blessed with a wonderful career working very closely with animals of all species. I’ve worked in a veterinarian clinic, in animal hospitals, and at wildlife parks. I've raised both kittens and kangaroos (separately of course), health-checked an array of animals from puppies to polar bears, assisted in theatre with canine hip replacements, anaesthetized sea turtles, nebulized snakes and rescued orphaned seal pups from freezing cold beaches. And I’ve spent hour upon hour monitoring and recording the various physiological and psychological parameters of animal patients. All this work with animals has given me a fairly unique insight into animals and their behaviors. As a veterinary nurse, for example, it’s your job to observe animals to determine if they are sad, apprehensive, happy and/or content. Animal characterization is now second nature to me.
Besides, I love animals, all animals, and I love capturing their individual personalities in my illustrations, and if that’s whilst they drink a cup of hot cocoa in a forest clearing with their woodland pals--then all the better!
I love a classic storybook. It doesn’t have to be an old classic just one that exudes quality and a heartfelt message. A book which you pick up and from just the title and that first glimpse of art on the cover you know that its going to be exceptional. Any book where each turn of the page feels like a real treat is one to be treasured I think. I have lots of books like that on my bookshelf and they make me smile each and every time I pull one of them down to admire. I aspire to one day create a book like that. One I can be really proud of and hopefully that others will love as much as I do.
I also love a good rhyming text as I feel the melody of rhyme can really add to the magical feel I am always looking for in a picture book. I like books that create a feeling of atmosphere, and those centered around a specific idea or event. I’m a fanatic for winter holidays and so festive books with all of their fairy-lit imagery are instant winners with me, and of course, I'm sold with anything with woodland animals in a forest setting!
How did you and Kelly find each other?
Kelly and I found each other through Instagram. Kelly came across an illustration of mine that caught her eye, which in turn directed her to my Instagram account and then to my website and portfolio page. She reached out to me shortly thereafter and we started chatting about representation and author-illustrated work. I liked Kelly from the offset and felt a great sense of confidence in her knowledge and love of children's writing and picture books. Joining her team at Tobias Literary felt like a very natural thing to do and I am grateful that our paths crossed when they did!
Thanks so much, Caroline, for sharing a little bit about your kidlit journey so far. I can't wait to hold one of your illustrated books in my hand!
It's been a delight to be here!