About a boy
For many years I had been writing a story about a parrot. There was a particular afternoon, I was staring at the storyboard. . .but my thoughts were elsewhere. I was thinking about my brother who was going through a separation.
I pondered the experience of heartbreaking isolation, the love of a dad for his children and the transition to a new life. I wondered if these ideas could be explored in a story about a parrot. . . that afternoon, I wrote ‘Hello Jimmy!’
Hello Jimmy! is dedicated to my brother. The story leans into the experience of loneliness and transition, but above all, it is celebrates the love between parent and child.
When thinking about the personality of Jimmy I remembered my Aunt’s Cockatoo. He made me laugh by squawking at the dog, ‘Tammy, get off the garden!’. He would talk and dance and was very curious. I wanted Jimmy to be confident and cheeky, just like that Cocky!
My favourite medium is watercolour, but for Hello Jimmy! I was inspired to use colour pencils after seeing some beautiful original artwork at the Bologna Bookfair in 2019.
The artwork in Jimmy uses a range of traditional mediums including pencil, gouache and mono-printing. I used mono-printing for the background textures such as the clouds.
Jack’s bedroom is based on the bedroom of a friend’s house. Creating the world in a picture book is like making a quilt and stitching together lots of tiny pieces of experience. I use parts of my own life as well as observations of people I know and the world around me.
I enjoy basing parts of the characters on friends and family. My brother is good at making Tacos and had a lizard just like Jack’s Dad. My nephew ‘does not like surprises’ just like Jack.
In 2013, one night my daughter was very unwell, I slept in her room to be near her. That night I dreamt a flock of birds lined the walls watching over us. It sounds strange, but the vision was comforting. I scribbled the dream in my visual diary.
When telling the story of Hello Jimmy! I remembered this scene and thought it would make a lovely gateway to Jimmy escaping. This is one of my favourite spreads.