Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator? Drawing and painting have always been a natural part of our lives as we grew up in a family and community that really encouraged creativity as an important aspect of everyday life and avenue for learning and reflection. We painted and drew a lot with our siblings growing up and it has just continued to evolve as we seek out opportunities to collaborate with growing number of like-minded individuals.
For the rest of this story visit Meet Ruha and Minaira Fifita at
“One of the best parts of running the Children’s Book Academy is seeing the beautiful books that our students make. This one is from June Perkins who took our Self-Publishing with Crowdfunding course, co-taught by Jed Alexander and myself. Magic Fish Dreaming is truly gorgeous, getting rave reviews, and most importantly getting into children’s hands in June’s native Australia.
June did not want to wait for an editor or agent and the incredibly slow process of getting contracted and published. Because it’s a book of poems, which also makes it harder to be picked up by a traditional publisher, June was wise to follow her heart and take her destiny into her own hands to create the book that she wanted. With the help of her illustrator Helene Magisson, and a small village of both professional and non-professional help, June has created something very beautiful and meaningful.
We are so grateful that June was sympathetic with our instructions by getting her poems professionally edited and hiring a really high-quality professional illustrator and designer from the money she raised in her successful Kickstarter campaign. We are also grateful that this beautiful book exists because of its beauty, it’s diversity, and the environmental caring it subtly weaves through inspiration.
After the book came out, I was delighted to interview June for this blog in hopes that others will purchase it and learn from June’s innovative poem structures, the exquisite art, and about this magic place in far North Queensland where Magic Fish Dreaming takes place. Here’s the interview where June shares about her experiences of self-publishing and about her process in making the book.”
Magic Fish Dreaming is the collaborative project of two Brisbane women, of multicultural backgrounds to produce a magical full colour illustrated poetry book for children.
June is Papua New Guinean raised in Australia and Helene, French, raised in Africa. Both are now resident and active in the children’s writing and illustrating community in Brisbane.
June recently won a mentorship to work on another of her picture books, with the Australian Society of Authors. Helene, an award winning artist has several books coming out in the next year and is the illustrator of a recent version of The Velveteen Rabbit.
In the last 20 days Magic Fish Dreaming has become one of the top supported children’s books in Australia and Queensland in the global kickstarter projects.
They’re hoping in the next 19 days the public, especially Queenslanders and Australians can help it across the line (but all welcome to support!) to become a reality and make its way onto the world stage.
As well as having backers from Australia. It has backers from the United States, France, Philippines, New Zealand, UK, Israel, Papua New Guinea and Canada and the wonderful support of groups like Writelinks, Booklinks, SCWBI, the Children’s Book Academy and more.
Tourism and Events Queensland and a few poetry editors and magazines, have been watching the project, and, impressed by the samples, have backed it, by ordering a sample book to review and will hopefully recommend it after seeing the finished product, for further distribution and use in schools.
June and Helene have now raised 59% of their funds to green light their project and would love the community to help them raise the rest of the funds for the project to go ahead.
The great thing about Kickstarter is it is not a charity, but a place where you get a copy of the product you endorse and other rewards, so it is value for money.
They are going with a kickstarter to independently launch a unique niche book that represents the diversity of poetry, culture and nature that is in Queensland, particularly Far North Queensland.
This is a book that children, families, libraries, teachers and anyone who just loves Queensland, multiculturalism and poetry will love to have in their library and to gift to visitors from overseas.
Contact details for interview and story or leave a message in the comments on how to get in touch with you:
You can read an Interview with Ali Stegert on Magic Fish Dreaming HERE.
“Magic Fish Dreaming is a children’s picture book project written by my friend and crit-buddy June Perkins and illustrated by Helene Magisson. Today, I interview the author about her beautiful work and her dream of bringing the project to fruition.
A Dreamy Book for Youngsters
Ali: “A dreamy book for youngsters” is my five-word description of your book. How about you describe Magic Fish Dreaming in five words?” FOR THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW CLICK HERE.
Helene Magisson is a Children’s book illustrator, who graduated from the painting restoration school “Art et Avenir”, Paris (France).
She was also trained in the art of medieval illumination, exhibiting her work in Europe and teaching the history and techniques of medieval miniature in primary and high schools, both in France and in India, where she lived for a few years.
When Helene settled down in Australia, she decided to start a new career in children’s book illustration. Her numerous trips in Europe and Asia, as well as her childhood spent in Africa inspire and enrich her work. She believes that travelling is a fantastic source of inspiration.
Helene was awarded the first prize in the illustration category at the 2013 CYA conference. She has illustrated her first book, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco.
How did you come to work on the Magic Fish Dreaming Project?
One day, I got a message from June Perkins. A long message describing her project with precision. Her approach was clear, smart, graceful and engaging.
She was talking about poetry, places of Far North Queensland, about multiculturalism, team work, and respect. It immediately resonated to me.
So I wanted to know more about her, who she was, and I discovered an incredibly creative and talented woman. I felt that this project could take me into a new world like a door opening to a part of Australia which I was thrilled to discover, through June’s eyes and words.
I had no doubt about the project, no hesitation. It was like something absolutely natural.
Then she sent me her manuscript, and I had this wonderful feeling when each poem suddenly sparkled in my mind. My imagination was flying far away.
The connection was done straight from the first poem.
What appeals to you about this project?
Many things appeal to me.
I always wanted to illustrate poetry for children because there is no limit for the imagination. It is playing with words and images. I think it is a fantastic way to make the children aware of the beauty of the language and the words.
And I love June’s poems. They are so rich – with a mix of humour, gentleness, mystery, depth and a lot of love and admiration for the Far North Queensland environment. I also can feel the soul of a country in it. There is the mystery of a tree, the beauty of a majestic bird, many strange animals, and also children from different communities.
When June approached me I really liked the fact that she highlighted one of my illustrations I called “For our Children”. It is an illustration I did a little bit after the terrorist attack in France.
There are nine children coming from all over the world (India, Pakistan, France, Ireland, Australia, Kenya…), children I have met in the different countries I have been living in or visited, and they are altogether, smiling, teasing, hugging. There are in peace and happy.
June liked it for its multicultural dimension. She wanted to highlight that in the project and that really touched me.
I love the idea to mix Aboriginal, Italian, Torres Strait, English, and Australian children.
It is poetry for all and everyone in a beautiful and peaceful environment.
I feel so fortunate that this project came to me.
What kinds of things did you do or are you doing in illustrating the poetry text for June?
I ask June to tell me more about the poem I start working on. What is behind the text, and how she came to it. She also sends me some photos (she is an incredibly talented photographer too). I collect a lot of ideas from them.
In her photos, she sometimes focuses on a detail, a beautiful detail seen from another point of view. I also see that in her poetry, and I try to transmit this idea in my illustrations.
Then I work on a few ideas, keeping in mind the authenticity of the Queensland environment but then I try to “translate it” in a way to appeal children with the choice of the colours, adding amusing details, hiding animals.
I propose a few roughs and we decide altogether (including June’s editor Matilda Elliot) which one will work the best before I start working with colours.
What is your background with working with understanding illustration that is appealing to an audience of children and their families ?
I studied restoration and history of art and worked as a painting restorer for a few year, this gave me a strong background in my art work but there was no place for creativity.
I think I always loved children’s books. It started from my childhood in Africa when my mum was reading to us all the Andersen, Grimm and Perrault’s tales, even a little mongoose was coming very often to listen.
So I did the same for my children when they were still small, reading all sorts of stories at bed time. I wanted them to be touched by the story but also to be open and sensitive to the quality of the illustrations. And there are so many incredible books that inspired me to pursue this dream,
Also when I decided to illustrate children’s books I spent many hours reading and looking at picture books because I wanted to understand how the illustrations process was working page after page and how to create an interesting relation between the text and the illustration. The more I discovered, the more my passion grew.
And when I felt ready, I attended the CYA competition in 2013 and was delighted to win First prize in the illustration category.
A bit later, I illustrated the beautiful and very well-known classical tale “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams Bianco, published by New Frontier. And I am excited that next year three more books I have illustrated will hit the shelves, including with the help of all our supporters, Magic Fish Dreaming.