Goose at the Gate: Poems for Children, is a blended whimsical, magical, tender, playful and adventurous collection of delightfully endearing poems, dedicated to Marg Gibbs‘ grandchildren, and written for children of all ages, far and wide. With her own beautiful collages, and combined with the delicious watercolour illustrations of Margeaux Davis, the pair deliver a lyrical feast of 40 colourful pieces featuring animals, seasons, adventure and magical fantasy. This is a stunning anthology that is just perfect for families to pore over, share and treasure for hours and years on end.
It is with absolute pleasure to discuss the inspiration and collaborative process of Goose at the Gate with these two talented creators – Marg Gibbs and Margeaux Davis!
But first, watch the trailer for a few teasers of what you will find in this gorgeous poetry collection for kids…
Tell us a bit about your inspirations behind the creating of this enchanting book. What was the journey of its creation like?
MG: For me the writing of the poems was for my grand- children, 4 poems for each one. I decided to include animals and some of their favourite interests like at the beach, soccer, eating and playing.
How did the collaboration first begin?
MG: I had met Margeaux at a conference in Brisbane and loved her style of illustration, so took the bold step of emailing her with my idea and some of the poems for her to read. She was very keen to take it on.
MD: I met Marg at a SCBWI conference last year and we instantly hit it off. I was delighted to be asked to provide illustrations for Marg’s lovely poems earlier this year.
Marg, how do you feel Margeaux’s illustrations capture the playful essence of your poems? How much collaboration went into the culmination of the book’s design and layout?
MG: Margeaux’s designs and drawing ability capture beautifully the feelings of the poem’s imagery. She carefully thinks about her work, and this shows in her rough sketches. I may have asked her to include a couple of extra things and she willingly and diligently did that.
Margeaux, tell us a bit about your illustration process. And, what do you like most about Marg’s poetry collection?
MD: Marg’s poems are so much fun and have lovely imagery and rhythm to them. My children really enjoyed hearing them and loved ‘Cloud Maker’ and ‘Voyage across the Sea’. The themes really suited the kind of illustrations I like to create.
I start an illustration by filling a sheet of butchers paper with very rough sketches. Once I have something I like, I work on it some more, sometimes using references. I then trace my finished drawing onto watercolour paper using a light box (or a sun-lit window!). After stretching then drying the paper, I’ll add watercolour paint, coloured pencil and pen. Sometimes I’ll go through this process several times before settling on a finished illustration that I’m happy with.
What kind of challenges or surprises did you encounter along the way?
MG: With a busy family and business, Margeaux always wanted to be certain I was happy with her work. She is very creative and a perfectionist, two qualities that shine through in this anthology. Fitting in other commitments was a challenge for Margeaux and having her work and my collages scanned in for the best resolution was my concern. In the end, all worked out very well.
MD: The biggest challenge or surprise for me was the Corona virus lockdown, which meant home-schooling my children throughout the duration of this project. Juggling my other business, illustrating for ‘Goose at the Gate’ and homeschooling two primary-school children kept me very busy. I’m amazed I got it done!
Are there any particular pieces in Goose at the Gate that you most connect with? Why?
MG: The poem for Annie called ‘The Collector’ makes me smile because my three year old grand- daughter is always finding and collecting things around the house; she puts her treasures into hand bags and boxes to play with. ‘The Winter Sock’ also for James is a special poem about an everyday item of clothing that is often found outside neglected or stuffed in a drawer.
MD: I loved the imagery and atmosphere of the poems ‘Cloud Maker’, ‘Fairytale Cubby’ and ‘Cats in the Night’. I really enjoyed coming up with the images for all of the poems I illustrated for Marg, but those three in particular were my favourite.
What do you hope readers will gain from engaging with this book?
MG: I would love readers to enjoy hearing poems read aloud, the sounds of words, and little surprises along the way. I hope they want more. Bite sized pieces of fun.
MD: That poems are fun to read aloud and also fun to write. I hope this anthology will encourage young readers to have a go at writing their own poems, stories or even songs!
What tips can you offer other poets, and/or illustrators on your craft?
MG: Think about the movement, pace and visual imagery of a poem. Practise some rhyming techniques to experiment with. Allow for the senses to do their magic in your poem. The right line or words repeated can have a good impact.
MD: My tip for other illustrators is something we hear all the time… practice… a lot! Carry a sketchbook and pencil with you and draw what you see. Say yes to all sorts of opportunities. Illustrating as a job is (really) hard work but don’t forget to enjoy yourself too. Make time to just play and experiment, when you can.
Thank you both for your time, and congratulations again on your magical poetry collection! 😊
Goose at the Gate is available for purchase at: M J Gibbs website.
Marg has published poetry in magazines and anthologies, ‘The Magic Fairy Wish’ and ‘Musical Christmas Tree’, ‘Alone in a Dark Room’, ‘Phantom Moon’, ‘The Hope Tree’ and ‘Art Room’ in the NSW School magazine. Her stories about the Brisbane flood have been enjoyed by many. Her recent picture book called ‘Arriving Home’, about Maggie the Magpie Goose and Eric Echidna was well received in the community especially with the help of 9 local artists who illustrated it. Its message is clear – friendship, belonging and community. ‘Jasper’s Jumbled up Words’ is a sensitive and gentle picture book about a young boy who wants to be understood, which deals with the difficulties surrounding language development. Illustrated by Emma Stuart, this book was published in July 2020.
Margeaux Davis makes cloth dolls and soft sculpture creatures using discarded fabric scraps, old woollen blankets, remnants and worn out clothing. She also loves to draw and paint, creating the kind of illustrations she loved as a child. Margeaux works from a tiny cabin studio in her garden, in northern New South Wales, Australia. Her most recent illustrations are for ‘Goose at the Gate’ – a book of poetry for children, written by M. J. Gibbs.