How nice is it to see something positive? How cool is it to discover others have the same wonder about the world or that they notice things in the way you do? This is why it was so especially lovely to be online at all three of the Chasing Rainbows book launches hosted by fab author-illustrator team at Big Sky Publishing Katrina McKelvey and Cheri Hughes. This new book of theirs is filled with joy, positive messages about family life and amazing discoveries about the natural world. I absolutely love it!
Not only is this dynamic duo part of the big Sky Publishing Family I hold dear, but they are both talented at bringing out the joy, the wonder and the magic of everyday life through their words and pictures. They may be chasing rainbows but Katrina and Cheri’s readers will find pots of gold in this wondrous tale. There’s fun, friendship and finding out about nature – yes it is a STEM narrative that will have all little leprechauns jumping on their magical unicorns to explore the science of colour theory in their lockdown backyards in no time! It is fabulous book for these pandemic times and with home leaning being a buzz word how better to show the real meaning of learning through play than by sitting down and reading Chasing Rainbows? A lesson for us adults as well as our young people I do believe!
Having watched both these creators grow professionally over the last few years, I am just so impressed with the concepts they explore and draw with such ease yet which resonate deeply with the inner child in us all. I was lucky enough to nab Katrina and Cheri from their works stations to share some of the behind the scene stuff with you in my next two posts. Enjoy!
About the book:
Chasing Rainbows is a story about siblings, Sam and Ruby, that asks children to look at the magic of rainbows in a different way. Sam and Ruby are extremely curious about rainbow magic. They have some unanswered questions. Are there pots of gold at the end, will they feel zingy if they touched one, do unicorns live on the top? Together they set out on a mission to find these answers.
Author: Katrina McKelvey
Illustrator: Cheri Hughes
ISBN: 978-1-922265-70-8 (pb)
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
Release date: August 2020
Format: 230mm x 260mm
Price (incl. GST): $14.99 (paperback)
Reading Age: 3 – 10 years
A little background about Katrina:
Katrina McKelvey is a children’s author, former primary school teacher, wife, and mother to two tweenagers and a cocker spaniel. She’s written many children’s picture books and educational readers including No Baths Week, Up To Something, Isla’s Family Tree (April, 2020), and Chasing Rainbows (August, 2020). Highly involved in CBCA, SCBWI, Katrina is often spotted at literary conferences and festivals, and loves visiting schools. She’s left-handed, loves tea and rollercoasters, and is addicted to mint chocolate. While in lockdown in Disney World a few years ago, she survived Hurricane Gene (Category 5) by eating awful brownies.
Who has inspired you as an author?
The first published author who inspired me to write was Andy Griffiths. One of the first messages he taught me was how smart children are. I already knew this but I was in awe of how passionate he was about it.
Tell us how did you become a writer?
I started writing for children in early 2011 after I had put primary teaching aside to be a full-time mum. My first child was born in 2006 so over the next 3 years I looked for the perfect job that would mix my teaching experiences with a new, flexible career. I had children’s books all around me and I was very passionate about my children falling in love with books as early as possible. Writing for children made complete sense to me.
From here I began learning everything I could about writing for children. I attended every writing workshop and course I could manage. I started the CBCA NSW Inc Branch Newcastle Sub-branch to meet other local creatives. I joined the Board of the Newcastle Writers Festival. I joined organisations such as ASA, AWC, SCBWI, and Writing NSW (NSW Writers Centre). I attended writing festivals and loved all of them. One of favourite is the Byron Bay Writers Festival.
In addition to learning how to write for children, I had to learn the publishing process.
I received my first acceptance via a writing competition late 2013 and had my first book, ‘Dandelions’ in my hands in October, 2015. ‘No Baths Week’ and ‘Up To Something’ were released in 2019. ‘Isla’s Family Tree’ and ‘Chasing Rainbows’ were released this year. I also have four educational readers in the pipeline due end of this year also.
There have been many highlights and bumps in the road but I’m now feeling the benefits of the years of hard work.
If I got to tell myself as a child I would be an author one day, I wouldn’t have believed you. I always wanted to be a primary school teacher. I became one and taught fabulous children for ten years.
I didn’t have a good relationship with books as a child. I preferred climbing trees and riding my bike. I can see now I was a reluctant reader. I was good at reading and writing, I just didn’t like it. I loved Maths and numbers. Maybe I should be writing books about numbers instead – ha!
What is your goal as an author?
I hope everyone takes away something different from my stories. I also hope my readers connect with my stories in some way – either by relating to the character, or relating to the journey. And if my books fuel conversation either in the family or in the classroom, that’s a bonus. And I adore seeing craft and other activities being completed as a result.
What is you favourite book?
I find it difficult to pick just one book. We publish so many beautiful picture books in Australia. But I will say the book that hooked me into reading as an adult, because I was a reluctant reader as a child, was ‘Just Tricking’ by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton.
When it comes to writing, what are your biggest challenges?
1) Word count – I write too many words and don’t always use simple sentences.
2) Putting too much pressure on myself.
3) Passive voice – I’m improving using active voice instead of passive.
4) And aren’t we all working on improving the technique, ‘show, don’t tell’.
About your latest release Chasing Rainbows, your fifth title, what inspired you to write this story?
I remember helping my daughter when she was in Kindergarten write a speech for a public speaking competition. She picked the topic ‘rainbows’. As we were researching the topic, I learnt a few things I didn’t know. The more I learnt, the more I realised picture books mostly deal with the colours of the rainbow. I wanted to share more interesting scientific facts about them, especially that they are circular! So I started planning my first draft late 2014. My daughter is now in Year 6.
The most important message of ‘Chasing Rainbows’: always be open to learning new things, or add to your knowledge. So many people don’t know rainbows are a full circle. This new learning is important because thinking a rainbow is an arc is incorrect.
Tell us three things about yourself that might surprise us.
1) I love theme parks – especially going on the fast rides. But I won’t go on the rides that drop you straight down. I adore the fun atmosphere. I’ve been to Disneyland three times and we’re planning on going to Disneyland in Japan once we can travel overseas again. My son is my riding companion.
2) I love doing Sudoku puzzles. The harder, the better.
3) I love symmetry and dislike prime numbers.
If you weren’t an author what would you be?
I’d probably still be a primary school teacher. And I would have loved to specialise in teaching gifted children – especially in the area of STEM.
Thanks for your time Katrina, where can we find out more?
Website and blog: http://www.katrinamckelvey.comFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/katrinamckelveyauthor/
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/KatrinaMcKelvey
Next time we get artistic with Cheri!