Posts tagged Tina Matthews

Star Guest – Tina Matthews talks about illustrating

Hi, my name is Tina Matthews and I’m an author and an illustrator.  This is International Year of the Forests so I’m pretty pleased that my two books, which are both about trees , have been published in 2011. Not only are they about trees, wood was an essential part of making the pictures for both books.

The top of a tree always seemed a very safe place to me when I was small. Even at school we were allowed to climb the huge trees  and I can remember how smooth and shiny the bark was in the places where shoes and feet had found their footing as kids of all ages climbed to the top. In the weekends and after school, from way up in the big trees at home, I could see places I knew, tiny in the distance.  I could hear people I  loved near by. And I could feel the world turning as the sun and the sickle moon went down. Those pleasurable recollections led me to write Waiting For Later. I think kids still love climbing trees, but adults are more nervous about children hurting themselves than they used to be. So I’m very pleased with the cover Walker Books chose for Waiting for Later.

My first book Out of the Egg has just come out in paperback. It’s about a hen, a seed, a little red chick and a great green whispery tree.  It’s about not giving up on a good idea, and children not accepting the silly things their parents sometimes say. It’s a bit like the old story of The Little Red Hen but I’ve given Out of the Egg a new generation and a new ending.

I did all the pictures for Out of the Egg using woodblock prints. It’s a long process which involves drawing the picture on paper then transfering it to a woodblock, carving the picture out of the wood, inking it, then printing it. This is an old way of making pictures and it seemed just right for Out of the Egg. With Waiting for Later I did simpler wood block prints then stencilled over the top of them. I even drew in a few of the tiny details by hand.


People sometimes ask why I go to all the trouble and effort of doing pictures this way. But however you do pictures they can take time and I love the way wood makes its mark on mine. It gives me a hand to get the pictures right.

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My favourite NZ books – Tina Matthews

My favorite NZ picture book at the moment is Herbert the Brave Sea Dog. It’s a true story about a dog that gets lost at sea and then found, still paddling, 30 hours later. If you didn’t know it was true you wouldn’t believe it possible that Herbert could keep swimming and Tim, his young owner, would keep looking for such a long, long time. The story is beautifully told and you can feel how gutted everyone is when Herbert is found to be missing and how elated everyone is when he is found alive. You feel the same.  I’ve loved Robyn Belton’s pictures ever since she did Greedy Cat with Joy Cowley, more than 20 years ago, and when I read Herbert in a shop in Sydney last year I got goose-bumps and bought the book straight away. It’s a great book to read if you’re feeling glum because it reminds you not to give up hope.

I think Under the Mountain by Maurice Gee is a great NZ book too. Everyone knows the story so I won’t retell it (and if you don’t, you really ought to read it!). I clearly remember reading it to my children and I think we were all as excited and scared and delighted as each other. The next time I went to Auckland those extinct volcanoes seemed very menacing indeed. And although the evil Wilberforces are eventually defeated in the book, I think they will be firmly stuck in my mind for the rest of my life.

Tina Matthews

Read some books written by Tina Matthews

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