A journey into the wild imagination of a child: Find out the inspiration behind This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

A journey into the wild imagination of a child: Find out the inspiration behind This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

What inspired you to create This Small Blue Dot?

Initially, I made this book for my two young daughters. I wanted to challenge some of the big forces that were shaping their future: divisiveness, environmental decline and uncertainty. I set out to do this by taking a broader view of life on our small dot and celebrating who we are, where we come from and where our dreams may take us. The book was built on the wisdom of many artists, writers, scientists and loving family members including my own parents and grandparents. 

But that all sounds terribly serious, which the book is not. It is also a journey into the wild imagination of a child and I hope it captures some of the fun, colour and strangeness of being a young person on our blue dot

 

What materials did you use to create the artwork? Why did you choose them?

All the artwork for the book was made with pencil and crayon. One of the many joys of having young children is being able to play with simple art materials again like bright, waxy crayons. For this story, I wanted to differentiate between the young girl’s reality and the world of her colourful imagination. Pencil and crayon were perfect for this.

 

Which is your favourite page of This Small Blue Dot and why?

This is a very tough question. There is a bit of my heart in all of them. My very favourite page to draw though was the ‘dance silly dances’ page because drawing crazy dancing is a lot of fun. 

 

What are the key messages or lessons that you wanted to highlight with This Small Blue Dot?

The big message of the book is that we are all living on a small blue dot spinning in space and that it is up to us to take good care of our dot and each other. There are, of course, other important lessons for young people in the book including the best desserts to try from around the world.   

 

What was your favourite picture book as a child?

When I was a child I lived in an old house in a country town and we didn’t have a TV or any other screens. Because of that I lived inside of books and have many favourites. The most impactful children’s book I read was The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde. The most beautiful books I read belonged to a series of Monkey Magic Story Books (Journey to the West) that for some odd reason were sold at a Chinese food supermarket in Melbourne.  

 

Who are your favourite artists?

My favourite Children’s Book artists come from the Golden Age of Children’s Illustrated Books and include Windsor Mckay, Arthur Rackham and Kay Nielsen. I also love Japanese woodblock prints and the art of Utagawa Hiroshige.

 

Which of your coloured crayons is your favourite to use?

Without a doubt, yellow – no colour gives a happy hug to your eyeballs like a warm yellow.

Reviews

Get creative with this wondrous activity pack from This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Review | Book Life | Extract

9 September 2020

Get creative with this wondrous activity pack from This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Help finish these famous artworks with this awesome activity pack from This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Review | Book Life | Extract

8 September 2020

Help finish these famous artworks with this awesome activity pack from This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Welcome to Planet Earth: Read our review of This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Review | Our Review

7 September 2020

Welcome to Planet Earth: Read our review of This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Synopsis

With a strong message of interconnectedness, hope and empowerment, This Small Blue Dot follows a little girl exploring the big and small things in life. From contemplating our place on this ‘blue dot’ to the best Italian, Chinese and Indian desserts, the book provides a broader, more inclusive view of who we are, where we come from and where our dreams may take us.Delivering big lessons with playful humour, the precocious young narrator shares her take on nature and the environment, wisdom from elders, embracing difference, the power of imagination and broccoli. Through this character – loosely based on his eldest daughter, whose crayon drawings decorate the endpapers – Sworder channels the lessons he took from his Chinese grandmother and British father. ‘Because my daughters would not grow up hearing their voices I wanted to pass on some part of who they were and what they had taught me … In passing these lessons forward it was important to me to do so in the same spirit of generosity and fun that they gifted to me. There is a saying that you sail through life on a carpet woven from the love and wisdom of your ancestors. I benefited greatly from such a carpet and I made this book hoping that my daughters will as well.’Richly illustrated with original pencil and crayon drawings that conjure up memories of childhood, This Small Blue Dot captures not only lessons on life but also the sense of fun and strangeness that comes with being a member of the human family on planet Earth.
Zeno Sworder
About the author

Zeno Sworder

Zeno Sworder is a writer and artist who lives in Melbourne with his young family. After studying Chinese literature and migration law at university, he ended up as a dish washer. Later, he went on to work as a journalist, an English language teacher, a consular officer, an advocate for refugees and immigrants and a jewellery designer. He is a lover of all stationery but has a particular soft spot for pencils. This is his first book for children.

Books by Zeno Sworder

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