Teen illustrator's sketchy future

17:00, Apr 24 2014

Most teenagers draw in books as a way of avoiding schoolwork.

But 17-year-old Mathew Frauenstein fitted illustrating a children's book around school late last year.

His work is now in print in two books by Hamilton-based author Gary Nelson.

The pair attend the same church and Nelson's wife had noticed Frauenstein's artistic talent. So Nelson asked him to provide artwork for his first children's book, The Ultimate Tree House Project. He was just 15 when he started on it.

Frauenstein is also behind the illustrations in the more recent instalment, The Scariest Haunted House Project Ever!.

"The hardest part was coming up with how the characters need to look and maintaining that look throughout the book," the Hamilton Boys' High School student said.

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He hand-drew the outlines, scanned them and coloured and shaded on the computer to save time.

The cartoon-style illustrations were a change from his usual style - pencil sketches like the art in fantasy books.

And the satisfaction of seeing his work in print has given him food for thought as he considers what to do after school.

"It's coming to the end of my school time and I have to think about a career or what sort of work I want to do. So it's definitely made me think more about doing something in the art area."

The titles in the Project Kids series are "project management books for kids", Nelson said, and aimed at eight to 12-year-olds.

His own children proved to be good critics, especially with the first book.

"I had the first draft and they said ‘No, no Dad. You can't start it that way. You can't start the adventure. You have to introduce the characters more'."

Those characters take readers along as they plan and complete tasks - it was making a tree house in book one and a haunted house in book two.

A science fair project and a Valentine's Day disaster are in Nelson's sights for future titles.

Nelson and Frauenstein will be at Hillcrest Library next Tuesday, April 29, from 10.30am to noon. Register online or at the library.

Books cost $20 and can also be found through projectkidsadventures.com.

Waikato Times