Story behind the story

Where did My Little World come from?

The inspiration for this story was from my childhood.  My parents always looked at birds and mammals.  But, when my sister and I came along, we started pointing out all the insects and other tiny animals we found on the ground and in places adults often find it hard to see or don’t look.  My parents were amazed at all the things we saw, that they would never have noticed without us.  Kids see lots of things that many adults miss!

I originally wrote the story as a high school English assignment.  I had to prepare a children’s picture book including illustrations.  I remember spending quite a bit of time going over the words.  I visited the place I had set the book, took photos and then I painted the illustrations in watercolours.  It was one of the few assignments I didn’t leave to the last minute although the quality of my illustrations did deteriorate towards the end of the book!  Despite this I was proud of the mock-up I handed in.  I even made up a publisher’s name, wrote out copyright details and cut out a barcode from a museli bar box to make it look like a published book!  I was delighted with my A+ and a friend said I should try to publish it. Several years later, after more revisions, I sent it to a publisher and I’m thrilled that is now a real book!

Illustration Research

Writing My Little World was just the beginning.  I was very keen for the illustrations to be accurate and so I was involved in research for their development as well.  I enjoyed contacting many scientists for advice and reference images, and looking through scientific publications for location records, pictures and descriptions.  I called in favours, photocopied dusty pages, posted feathers, borrowed butterflies and begged for books.

My contributions included providing species lists of plants and animals for the location, chasing up scientific details (lengths, widths, flowering and flying times), finding reference images and trying to check for accuracy.  It was very time consuming, but fun and I learned a lot! Then the designer and illustrator work their magic!  It was amazing to watch the illustrations develop from rough sketches to detailed sketches to colour plates.   Incredible work!

I photographed this wing from a meadow argus butterfly (Junonia vallida) for the illustrator

Canberra Connection

Although the concept of this book is global and you can find small animals and plants almost anywhere, My Little World has strong connections to Canberra, Australia’s bush capital.

It is set on Black Mountain, a hill in Canberra that is easily recognisable by the telecommunications tower on top.  All the species featured in My Little World could be found here.

My Little World was written while Julia was a student at a Canberra high school.

Black Mountain is covered by dry Eucalyptus forest, and there are great views of Canberra from the top.  There are many walking tracks around the hill and there’s lots to see!  At the foot is the beautiful Australian National Botanic Garden.

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