Siblings team up to create children's book

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 15:31 06/06/2014
Tania Norfolk and her brother Chris Norfolk
SALLY KIDSON/FAIRFAX NZ
TREE WISDOM: Tania Norfolk and her brother Chris Norfolk. They have produced a children's book, Grasshopper's Week, which Tania wrote and Chris illustrated.

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The special way children view the world is the inspiration behind a Nelson woman's first children's book.

Tania Norfolk's book Grasshopper's Week is based on the friendship between a wise old tree and a curious grasshopper.

The book is a family collaboration. Tania's brother Chris illustrated the book, bringing Tania's captivating characters to life in a series of engaging chalk pastel drawings.

Both say it was great working with their sibling, and it was a smooth collaboration even though they lived at opposite ends of the South Island. Chris is based in Invercargill so all communication was by phone or by email.

"It went really well," Tania says.

The book, published by Craig Potton Publishing, was launched at a special function at Nelson bookstore Page and Blackmore last week.

Its story revolves around the innocent Grasshopper asking Tree what day of the week it is. Tree then reveals each day of the week in a different way to the young grasshopper.

The characters are joined by different creatures, based on New Zealand wildlife.

Tania, mother of Darcy, 8, and Miro, 6, says the story is inspired by the immediacy of the child's world and renaming the days of the week in the story is a way of reflecting that.

She says the story started a few years ago after she began writing about a wise old tree character and a cricket, who eventually morphed into the grasshopper character.

At the time she started the book her youngest child, Miro, was about 3 and at the stage of asking: "Mum, what day is today?"

Tania says she likes how children can be really taken by little moments, and those moments can be a rich source of inspiration.

"They will stop and really see a spider's web."

The book went through different versions before it was picked up by Craig Potton Publishing.

Tania is working as a librarian and information literacy tutor at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. She has worked in education for many years and has been exploring creative writing for some time.

Chris has a background in graphic design and has worked in animation. He is studying towards a degree at Southland Institute of Technology.

He was halfway through his degree when Tania approached him to illustrate the book, and he had to juggle his studies with doing the drawings.

He was able to lock himself away during the first term break and do most of the major work on the book.

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Working with Tania was great because she provided sketches of how she wanted each page to look.

He enjoyed working with the chalk pastel, as they have a good broad colour and a nice textural look.

"A lot of my background is painting. I wanted it to have a painting look."

Both are pleased with how sales of the book have been so far and are not ruling out further collaborations.

"I've got several other ideas and various other writing projects on the go," Tania says.

"I would love to do another one with Chris. It is just getting the time really," she says.

- The Nelson Mail

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