Friday, 10 March 2017

Feature Illustrator - Fifi Colston

The Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages exhibition has many fabulous Australian and New Zealand authors and illustrators in it. Go to Authors/Illustrators/Books to see the full list.

This week we have the very talented Fifi Colston, writer, illustrator, craft maker, and entertainer as the feature author. Fifi drew the illustrations for her latest book 'Torty and the Soldier', written by Jennifer Beck. 

New Zealand medic Stewart Little found Torty the tortoise in Salonika (now called Thessaloniki, in Greece) in WW1. Stewart was taking time out from his hospital ship duties when he saw the tortoise ambling along a dirt road. He watched in horror as a French gunner cart rode over the little tortoise. Stewart rushed to see if it was dead and found it looking rather squashed but still alive in the dirt. The tortoise needed some care and Stewart decided to look after it on board HS Marama ship. The tortoise amused the invalids on board while they sailed back and forth from Alexandria to France to England and back again, picking up more wounded soldiers. When the ship sailed home Stewart had to decide what to do; take it home and risk the wrath of his senior officers - no pets were allowed back into New Zealand - or drop it off at one of the stops. A heartwarming tale about the oldest living WW1 survivor.

To illustrate this heartwarming tale Fifi visited the still alive tortoise in Napier and sketched it. She also took photographs of the replica Torty tortoise at Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand, where they have a lifesize exhibition on WW1. Fifi chose to use a limited palette, using sepia-colours; the olive green and browns of the army uniforms, a pale blue water-colour wash for the sky, and has aged the pictures with splatters and crease-marks, which give it an authentic antique-look. It's a stunning book that encourages children to be empathetic to the animals caught up in WW1.

Torty and the Soldier was released this week in Morrinsville and in Wellington, and is also available in Australia at these stores: ABC store, Dymocks, Rosebud Book Barn and Scholastic  

See more about Fifi Colston, Jennifer Beck, Torty and the Soldier here.

1 comment:

  1. Unusual viewpoint which will appeal to child readers.