Welcome to #TheQuickSixInterview with Margaret Wild and Hannah Sommerville!

When you come across a storybook that is bound to become a classic, you treasure it. A storybook that radiates with imagination, inspiration, sibling love and a pure goodness of heart. Reading to Baby is a book that glows with joy and shines with the beauty and value in fostering a love of literacy and numeracy from an early age. From its classical style cover to its tender, magical hand-drawn qualities and cleverly structured, gentle wording, this tale enlightens with the power to hold the world in your hands. A book to cherish, just the same way baby Dora is cherished by her older brothers. Brought to life by the phenomenal pairing of multi award-winning, much-loved author of many, many classics (Fox, Harry and Hopper, The Treasure Box, to name a few); Margaret Wild, and award-winning, superlative illustrator Hannah Sommerville. What an absolute honour to have these astounding creators here to share their journey in creating their gorgeous new release, Reading to Baby.

Much gratitude to you both, Margaret and Hannah! 🙂

About the Author

Margaret Wild is a bestselling and award-winning author who was born in South Africa and came to Australia in 1972. She has been a journalist for newspapers and magazines, and she worked as a book editor in children’s publishing for sixteen years, responsible for managing and commissioning a large range of titles.

Margaret lives in Sydney and now writes full time. She has
written more than 70 books for children. Her books are published around the world and have won numerous awards.

About the Illustrator

Hannah Sommerville is an award-winning picture book illustrator who creates watercolour, gouache and digital illustrations from her couch on the South Coast of NSW. Hannah earned a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts and Graphic Design) at the University of Wollongong in 2006. She began illustrating in 2010 after the arrival of her children, from whom she draws inspiration.

Hannah is a storyteller who enjoys creating picture books that capture the imagination, tenderness and playfulness that surround children and family life.

Hannah Sommerville can be found at her website: Hannah Sommerville and on Instagram and Facebook.

Reading to Baby can be purchased via the Affirm Press website.

WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?

Margaret Wild wrote the story, Hannah Sommerville illustrated it, and Affirm Press published it.

WHAT is it about?

MW: The story is about four little boys who are very excited when their sister Dora is born. Each boy decides what he will do for the new baby. Peter decides to read to the baby every day – and by the end of the story Dora is reading to him. It is a book about the benefits of early reading to children, and of the joy and love of reading which can be shared by the whole family.

What is your favourite part of this book?

MW: My favourite parts of the book are the fantasy pictures where we share Dora’s delight in stories and see her imagination being stimulated and starting to soar.

Hannah, what media did you use to illustrate it?

HS: Reading to Baby is illustrated digitally using a program called Procreate. I illustrate much the way I would on paper. I start with a layer of digital water colour and create many layers with digital paint and pencil over the top.

WHEN is its release / launch date?

The release date is 28 May 2024.

Margaret, WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?

MW: A friend’s two little boys were very excited that there would be a new baby in the family. Before she was born they were already planning what they would do for her – pushing her in the pram, cuddling her, playing ball, teaching her how to climb, and so on. One of the boys, who was a very good reader, decided he would read to his baby sister. She is now five, and starting to read herself.

WHY is this book meaningful to you?

MW: I’ve been a bookworm since I was a child. I still remember the power I felt when I realised I could read a book from start to finish all on my own. Whenever I moved homes, I always joined a library straightaway and sought out the nearest bookshop. I can’t imagine life without reading.

HS: I actually struggled to learn to read as a child but I could pour over the illustrations for hours. I make my artwork so detailed, because that’s what I wanted from a book as a kid. I particularly loved illustrating Reading to Baby because I got to tap into that nostalgia and create illustrations that remind me of my childhood books.

Why would its message resonate with readers?

MW: I think the story would resonate with readers because it could start them thinking about what they might do for a younger member of the family. Hopefully, reading to the baby would be one of the activities they’d choose. It’s never too early to engender a lifelong love of reading.

HS: Reading to Baby highlights the importance of nurturing a love for reading from a young age. The familial bonds that support Dora in her reading as it evolves over time will resonate with anyone who values the importance of literacy in childhood development.

Margaret, HOW long did it take to write?

MW: This is always impossible to answer. It’s been many years since I had the germ of an idea, so I’ve thought about it on and off for a very long time. I did the first draft quite quickly, then rewrote it several times until I felt it was the best I could do.

Hannah, how long did it take to illustrate?

HS: It took me about 5 months to illustrate this book from start to finish.

How do you feel about the text / illustrations? Do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?

MW: I love Hannah’s illustrations. They are warm and sweet and endearing. The story lends itself to many possible interpretations, so I was delighted with Hannah’s ideas to extend and enrich the text.

HS: I hope that the illustrations in Reading to Baby evoke a sense wonder for young readers and a feeling of familiarity for their parents, helping them feel connected to the story.

Thanks so much, Margaret and Hannah, for sharing the inspiration and journey with your enlightening picture book! 🙂

#thequicksixinterview #readingtobaby #reading #earlyliteracy #family #picturebooks #justkidslit

Thanks to Affirm Press for providing a complimentary copy of this book.

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