Snap! by Anna Walker

Snap! by Anna Walker

Inside the CBCA Shortlist

Inside the 2023 CBCA Shortlist

Inside the 2023 Notable Books

Snap! By Anna Walker (published Scribble Kids’ Books)

Snap! is an exuberant gem of a picture book for young readers and will also be relished by those who share it with them. It is the dramatic tale of a frog who lands in one scrape after another but is told and illustrated with such warmth, playfulness and humour that, although they will enjoy the frisson of danger, children will know that the frog will always be safe in this story.

Author/Illustrator Interview with Anna Walker:

Thank you for speaking to Joy in Books at PaperbarkWords, Anna.

Congratulations on being shortlisted for the 2023 CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood award for Snap!

You have an incredible body of work in picture books (and for your art in the soulful and exquisitely crafted Bedtime Story, written by Chloe Hooper). How is Snap! different from many of your other books?

Thank you for your kind words. Snap! has a brighter colour palette and a graphic quality compared to my other work. I was delighted with the design of the typography by Miriam Rosenbloom and Guy Ivison. The playful nature of the type design plays an important role in the story, enhancing the sounds and the way they interact with the characters while still retaining a lovely simplicity. I have wanted to work with Miriam Rosenbloom at Scribble Books ever since I saw the beautiful ‘Underwater Fancy Dress Parade’ written by Davina Bell and illustrated by Allison Colpoys published by Scribble. 

Your frog character has an appealing and endearing face. How did you create his personality and “look” or “persona”?

Frogs have made me smile ever since I was a child. It might be something to do with them looking like they are smiling too! When I was little I would find a tiny frog in the garden and hold it very carefully. Sometimes without warning it would leap away, which would startle me but also make me laugh!

In thinking about the personality of frog, I wanted to capture the delight in this personality and the way a child is curious about the world, seeking new connections. I tried to convey the range of emotions frog would experience from feeling carefree, to alarmed and back to being intrigued by the world again.

I painted hundreds of frogs, beginning with more realistic watercolour characters – slowly stripping away detail but trying to retain the movement and character.

Your endpapers are inviting, refreshing and generous. How do they invite the reader into your story?  How do they create a warm closure?

My fondness for inviting endpapers began a long time ago with seeing the illustrated map on the endpapers of ‘Winnie the Pooh’. I remember poring over the map and feeling like I was part of the story before I had begun. I enjoy extending the story of a picture book using the endpapers, setting the scene with a detail that may not be mentioned within the pages. I wanted to show frog alone with those slightly worried eyes as I love that he finds a tribe at the end of the story.

Your illustrations throughout are vibrant and lush. What are some of the plants and foliage you have based them on?

Many of them are loosely based on the indoor plants in my studio: Monstera Deliciosa, Heartleaf Phildondren, Pilia, Mosses, Hoya, and Baby Tears.  Along with a visit to the Botanical Gardens for undergrowth inspiration.

How have you created community, and why have you specifically chosen to include some of these animal creatures?

The assortment of animals came from the creatures I was drawing on a family holiday to Queensland where I was sketching brolgas, spoonbills, crocodiles, owls, and fish. At the time I was working on a story centred around a frog and duck which ended on the cutting room floor. But when I thought of the idea for ‘Snap!’ I realised I could use all those animals in frog’s adventure! I wanted different size creatures so that frog could travel up, down, over, under and through. The range of colours and textures in this eclectic family presented fun and creative opportunities!

What media and process have you used, particularly to create varying shades of green, as well as texture?

To create the illustrations I used ink, pencil and gouache and collage. The creatures were painted with watercolour and I used monoprinting to make textures. For example I would paint feathers using black printmaking ink onto a perspex sheet, carefully place a thin sheet of paper over the ink and press evenly over the image so that when the paper is peeled back an impression of the painted textures is captured. Many of the ‘splashes’ were made this way, and then layered in photoshop.

I laughed out loud several times while reading the book. Please give an example of your visual humour?

I enjoy seeing frog in his own little bubble exploring the world, for example amusing himself with trying on flower hats, completely unaware of a cranky bee! It makes me laugh seeing the surprise on frog’s face when huge teeth try to gobble him up while he quickly leaps out of the way! I admire frog’s inner confidence and quiet bravery.

Your written text is minimal, onomatopoeic and well-placed on the page. Could you please give an example of where this enhances the action?

The type has a lovely simplicity yet enhances the experience of the sounds and story.  I love the way the words ‘drip, drop, drip’ were falling just like the rain. 

How do you read Snap! to children? Do you read the whole book straight through? Or use other visual aids or techniques?

I tend to read the whole book through, although I can’t help adding in some extra arm flourishes, for example crouching down tapping quietly to ‘tap, tap, tap’ and then over the page using both arms to a flamboyant ‘SNAP!’ 

What is a child’s response to Snap! that has delighted you?

A friend who has a six-month-old baby sent me the most beautiful pic of her baby beaming at the frog at the edge of the river with the following message: “She laughed and giggled at splash drop drip today!!”

If you know of a great idea of how a teacher or parent is using this book with children, could you please share it?

Teachers have been posting some wonderful activities on Instagram – one of them being a ‘Sound Forest’ where the children collect materials and objects that make different sounds.  Another favourite was a dear prep class ‘reviewing’  Snap! – they sent me a photo and they were all wearing paper frog hats! And the last one I will choose is a class working on a large piece of paper drawing, painting and collaging animals in the forest along with the sounds they make!

What impact has Snap! being made a notable book and now shortlisted for the 2023 CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood had on you or the book?

When a book is made a Notable or is part of any award, it brings an instant glow of pleasure. I feel proud of the book but also happy for the story and the characters in it, especially the quieter ones. You never really know how a book will go out there. To be Shortlisted makes a huge difference to the book in terms of exposure, orders and book sales. A shortlisting is particularly powerful with the recognition the sticker receives being on a book from both the public and the focus from schools. I am grateful to the CBCA and the surrounding community for their support of Australian Children’s Literature!

What have you been reading that you would like to recommend?

I have just finished ‘Still Life’ by Sarah Winman. It took me a little bit of time to immerse myself but once in, I was completely absorbed, I loved the character of Evelyn.

[I loved Still Life as well.]

I also recently read ‘Hot Dog’ by Doug Salati – a joyful narrative of a dog overwhelmed by the city and heat to be restored by a trip to the seaside! Beautifully illustrated with delightful attention to detail!

How can your readers contact you?

Anna Walker’s website

Anna Walker Instagram

Snap! at Scribble Kids’ Books

Teacher Notes on the Scribble website

Thanks to Anna Walker for providing images from Snap!

2 thoughts on “Snap! by Anna Walker

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