Sunday, September 18, 2011

Drawn from the heart a memoir by Ron Brooks

There are so many reasons why I wanted to read this book. I have always loved John Brown Rose and the midnight cat and reading The Bunyip of Berkeley's creek is such a moving experience I try to include in our library sessions every year. I do like to attend children's book conferences because this is the way I can hear and sometimes meet my favourite authors and illustrators. One CBCA conference in Hobart had Ron Brooks as a presenter (along with the wonderful Bob Graham) so naturally I had to attend. The session with Ron in a little room on a lower level of the Hobart casino is a memory I treasure. Then this book, Drawn from the Heart, received a fabulous review in Magpies by Robin Morrow (a reviewer I really admire) and finally Drawn from the Heart was short listed for the CBCA awards and it was an honour book in the Eve Pownall category. It is easy to see I had to read this book!

In fact I have read it through twice so that should show you that I was totally engrossed in exploring the creative processes of the very talented Ron Brooks. Today I bought a copy of The Macquarie Bedtime story book from my local second hand book seller. It felt quite serendipitous to find it on the shelves of this large well stocked shop. There is a whole chapter devoted to the creation of this book (in New York) along with chapters about John Brown, the bunyip, Fox, Motor Bill and the lovely Caroline, Old Pig, and the little books about his son Henry.

I recommend Drawn from the Heart for all picture book lovers. If you can I suggest you might try to have a complete collection of Ron's books in easy reach so you can look closely at each illustration as it is mentioned and explained. I love the passion of this illustrator and the insights in to every decision from font, cover, end papers, text placement and more.

As Ron says this is a "story about books, about bookmaking, about my life - a series of illustrations ..... it has been an interesting process for me."


magpie said...

Thanks for this.
I love the mysteries in picture books. I would've missed this:)

Puala said...

Sensitive, creative people are vulnerable people, and Ron Brooks's honest account is at times painful to read as he describes a life which has been, in places, deeply unhappy. But he has clearly emerged into the sunshine and is creating again after a ten-year absence. It is so good to see him back.