I had the opportunity to chat with budding author/illustrator partnership Hannah Chandler and Jordan Daly recently. These delightful and talented girls have recently completed a picture book manuscript and dream of pursuing a career in writing and illustration together in the future. I can't wait to see their books on the shelves of my local bookstore. - Susan Whelan
‘I’ve heard that you enjoy writing, Hannah, so I have a project for you, if you’re interested. Between now and the end of the year, I would love for you to work on writing a book for children.’
This simple suggestion by Cardiff South Public School principal David Holland, offered as an optional extension activity to 11-year-old Hannah Chandler earlier this year, achieved something beyond what either David or Hannah anticipated. Neither expected that several months later, they would be holding a bound copy of I Don’t Like Cheese in their hands, written by Hannah and illustrated by fellow Year 5 student, 10-year-old Jordan Daly.
Mr Holland’s task was the perfect challenge for Hannah, who has been writing stories since she was three-years-old. ‘When I was very young I used to tell my stories to my mother, who wrote them down and then I added drawings for illustrations. Now I write stories all the time and when Mr Holland suggested that I write a children’s picture book, I already had a character in mind – Mike the Mouse.’
While Hannah had the character ready to go, it took her two months to come up with the perfect storyline. During that time, she enlisted the help of her friend Jordan to draw the illustrations for the story once it was ready. ‘Hannah and I have known each other since preschool and we’ve always said that we would work together one day as author and illustrator,’ explains Jordan. ‘I love to draw and I want to be an illustrator when I grow up. It was really exciting to be involved in this project, but it was also hard work making sure that everything was perfect.’
When Hannah had the thought ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if there was a mouse who didn’t like cheese?’ the story took off, with Hannah completing the manuscript in two days. With a little bit of tweaking and editing, the story was ready to show to Jordan. The girls had a meeting so they could discuss possible illustrations, then Jordan went away to put those ideas to paper, taking a couple of weeks to complete the pictures of Mike the Mouse sampling foods from around the world as he discovers that he just might like cheese after all.
Both girls agree that while the project was exciting and lots of fun, it also involved hard work on their part. Hannah put a lot of time into considering different story ideas before she found the right one and Jordan said there were lots of rough drafts of the illustrations before she was certain that she had exactly what she wanted for the story.
Hannah and Jordan said that seeing the finished product and holding the book in their hands for the first time was the most exciting part of the whole experience, although the opportunity to work together and the attention they have received has also been fun. The attention has come as a surprise to the girls and they are very quick to thank family, Mr Holland and the Cardiff South PS staff, friends and fellow students for their support and encouragement.
When asked what advice they have for other aspiring young writers, the girls have words of encouragement of their own to share. ‘Finding the right idea is the hardest part,’ says Hannah. ‘Don’t get frustrated and give up. The idea will come and once you get started, it is so exciting to see your story appear on the page.’
Jordan agrees that writing and illustrating a story takes commitment. ‘Don’t rush it. The process takes time and it is better to make sure you have everything perfect rather than rushing through. It can get really frustrating, but you need to just keep working on it. The hard work will all be worth it when you are holding your finished story in your hands.’
Hannah and Jordan are hoping to capture the attention of a publisher with I Don’t Like Cheese and they are already working on ideas for the next Mike the Mouse adventure. We’ll keep you posted as their creative journey continues.
For further information about Hannah and Jordan and their work, you can email KBR Managing Editor Susan Whelan at susanATkids-bookreviewDOTcom.