18 July 2006

Anthony Browne Groupies!

Julie Walter shares her experience as an Anthony Browne Groupie:

On Friday 23rd June, I had the great pleasure of attending a talk and book signing by Anthony Browne, the English author & illustrator.

Anthony is a slightly built man and he looks a lot like “Willy the Wimp” without the facial hair. He spoke to a large group that included about 6 school groups and many other Librarians and parents.
He opened the talk by telling the audience how he & his brother used to play “The Shape Game” when they were young. They would draw a shape and the other one would turn it into something. He drew some examples and then invited some of the children to participate. He spoke about how he studied art at University and he became a children’s illustrator a bit by accident. He then read to the children “Into The Forest” and pointed out many of the clues he had drawn in the book.

The children in the audience asked Anthony why he always drew gorillas or chimps in his books. Anthony told the children that he loved Gorilla’s because when you looked into their eyes, they were so human and gentle. He felt gorillas & chimps were so close to us in behaviour & characteristics, it makes them so interesting.

Anthony went on to tell the audience how he had lost his father when he was quite young. He said his father had taught him and his brother to play rugby, cricket and to box. He encouraged his sons to draw and his father also wrote poetry. He was a big man, physically, but a gentle, cultured man. Anthony based his “gorilla dad” character on his father in the book “Gorilla”. He also said that was his favourite book. He was an absolute delight and happily signed the many books I took in. He hasn’t been in Australia for almost 10 years, so I felt especially pleased I had the opportunity to hear him speak.


Nicole Sprainger said...

I’m a self confessed Anthony Browne groupie too. Barabara Yee and I also had the opportunity to hear him speak at Sydney University during his recent visit to Sydney. I agree with Judy, I think he was a “Willy” like character. We thought he was delightful and his talk about his relationships with his father and brother gave us great insight into his work. He reminds us that while not everything he includes in his detailed illustrations was originally “planned”, every element is included intentionally

We also liked the fact that he wasn’t too precious about his work. He is very invitational - willing for children to engage with his artwork and explore it – creating their own interpretations.

“Into the Forest” is a personal favourite and would make a great Book Rap for 2007. What does everyone else think?

Cheers, Nicole

Judy O'Connell said...

Definitely a good Book Rap choice! Do it ;-)