During my research for Badge, Boot, Button: The Story of Australian Uniforms, I looked at one of the many curious treasures in the National Library's collection: a large metal trunk painted red and black, with a label engraved ‘P. Shaw Esq'. Inside the trunk, folds of black wool and a burst of feathers resolve themselves into a uniform decorated with gold braid and topped with a plumed bicorn hat.
Most good picture books have some kind of dual narrative going on, another story that's quite apart from the text. As visual narrative, illustrations should not be a direct reflection of the text—they should be so much more.
For a book like This Is Banjo Paterson, where young children are introduced to a topic that's not typical for their age, it was very important to get this visual narrative right.
When I was first approached by the Library's publisher Susan Hall to write what would become What Do We Want? The Story of Protest in Australia, I declined. I was too busy with ‘more serious' things. Besides, I'd never written a ‘picture book' before and was unsure what it would involve.
This little red book about the papers and speeches of Colonel Hutton 1894-1898 was recently brought up to the Preservation lab for a few repairs. When we took a closer look, it was evident that this leather tightback with false raised bands had not only lost its lower board with its upper board hanging on by a thread, but it had already received some treatment in the past.