Giv­ing colour to cu­rios­ity

Canning Gazette - - BOOKS - Tanya Macnaughto­n

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.

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