Giving colour to curiosity
IT has taken 45 years from her initial story idea but children’s author and illustrator Katie Stewart is finally able to hold her first traditionally published book through Fremantle Press, What
Colour is the Sea?.
The narrative was first conceived when Stewart was 14 years old while her family lived on the side of Mt Clarence looking towards Middleton Beach in Albany.
They had emigrated from England to Australia when she was nine.
“The idea about the sea having so many colours and yet no colour came to me when staring out of the window at the sea,” Stewart said.
“The idea rattled around my brain for years before I started forming a story around it.”
During those years,
Stewart worked as an archaeological researcher at Fremantle Museum, an ethnohistory researcher at UWA, a primary school teacher and a library assistant.
It was while teaching in Katanning that she met her husband, who was in the State agricultural department, and the couple has lived on a farm north of Northam for the past 30 years and raised three children
What Colour is the Sea? follows the journey of Koala, who asks the book title’s question to all her animal friends.
When everyone gives her a different answer, she sets off on a journey to discover it for herself.
“Koalas are very cute, soft and cuddly, at least that’s how they look, and lots of people love them,” Stewart said.
“I liked the idea of a sleepy, slow creature being so interested in something that she went out of her comfort zone to find the answer.
“Of course, I wasn’t thinking logically.
“In the book, Koala watches a sunset over the sea, which is what happens here in WA, but there are no koalas here.
“There are however, as I’ve discovered after much research, plenty of places in Victoria where a sunset over the sea is possible and where there are koalas.
Stewart illustrated the book on her computer using a Cintiq tablet, which she finds much easier than using watercolours or pencils on paper.
“I can remove mistakes with one press of a key and there’s no chance of me washing my brush in my coffee as I used to,” she said.