Thursday, July 26, 2012

The 2012 Crystal Kite Winner Proflies: South Africa's JENNY HATTON and JOAN RANKIN

In the Africa division, the 2012 Crystal Kite Members Choice Award Winner was FINDING AUNT JOAN by Jenny Hatton, illustrated by Joan Rankin.

The series of three Lucy books that the winning title is from is a real SCBWI Success story.  Here's Jenny explaining how it came about:

“In 2009, Joan Rankin facilitated an SCBWI workshop for a group of aspiring writers and illustrators, myself included. She set us a task, namely to write a story about a journey. I wrote Finding Aunt Joan. After workshopping with the group, I made some changes but was more or less happy with the storyline. Joan wanted to demonstrate how an illustrator takes a text and illustrates it as part of the workshop. She asked if she could use my story to demonstrate. How could I say no? She produced funny, entertaining, lovely illustrations somehow managing to “see” and “show” my characters. Later I put it all together and offered it to Jacana Media. They loved the story and illustrations but were concerned that the book would be lost on the shelves of bookshops. So they asked for more Lucy stories. Of course, I had more and sent them in. They chose two more and in 2011 three little Lucy books were published!”

I connected with Joan to find out more

Lee: Congratulations on Finding Aunt Joan, being awarded the Crystal Kite Members Choice Award for Africa!  Please tell us about your book!

Joan: Finding Aunt Joan is a family story aimed at a 4 year old girl but all ages including parents will relate to it. Anyone who has traveled with a family and pets in a small car and been lost in a strange town will smile and sympathize.

Lee:  How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you've gained by being a member?

Joan:  Joining SCBWI must have happened in 2006. This introduced me to a whole lot of illustrators and writers in the area that I never knew existed. It was such an eye opener after working for so long entirely on my own. The magazines have given knowledge of how things work and this along with tips and new ideas has been such a blessing. Sharing really makes all the difference.

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children's book writers and illustrators?

Joan:  Love the work with a passion. Top quality and never under estimate children. Illustrated books are enriching.

Lee:  Thanks, Joan!

Jenny is also the Assistant Regional Advisor for the South African chapter of SCBWI since the beginning of 2007.  She has organized a number of events in Gauteng. She says, "Through this I’ve been learning more about writing and illustrating children’s books. And so a whole new world has opened for me. Thank you, SCBWI!”

I also contacted Elaine Ridge (co-Regional Advisor with Marjorie van Heerden) to learn more about SCBWI South Africa.  She shared this list of their events, as well as their take on Jenny and Joan's book winning the Crystal Kite Award:

Exhibitions of the work of our illustrator members
Publisher Days - opportunity to pitch work to publishers (15 minute slots).
Conferences (last year we incorporated this in a six-day Spring Event which Steve and Sally attended. We also had a celebratory lunch.
Critique events (sometimes these are informal meetings during which a group meets to comment on each other's work - sometimes we make a day of it and then Marjorie and I use it as a way to highlight all the advantages of membership, to give them information on the publishing world or professional equipment (this year the owner of a stationery shop came to show us the latest drawing equipment. We had a wonderful time trying out the different pencils/ paints/ charcoals…  He is also offering members a 15% discount (specially designed card made for members to use)
Formal presentations - these have ranged from presentations by well-established artists (e.g. Niki Daly) to presentations on the educational publishing and the reading process and educational publishing (this had experts on the reading process as well as publishers who explained their publications' view of reading.
Development opportunities - these range from specific short workshops (e.g. how to draw children) to Retreats of two or more days (coming up we will be having a series of these focusing on character development)
Informal get-togethers - these create an opportunity to share achievements or network or just strengthen bonds.

We are also proud that SCBWI SA is one of the nominating bodies for the Astrid Lindgren Award.

Marjorie and I are thrilled that Jenny and Joan's book was chosen. They are both active SCBWI members. Jenny has been the ARA in SA since 2007 and has done a wonderful job of builiding up the branch in Gauteng.  Joan Rankin generously shares her talent and many people have benefited from the workshops she has done. She is a firm supporter of SCBWI events and the book flows from a workshop she gave at an SCBWI retreat!


You can find out more about Jenny Hatton here and Joan Rankin here.  And dive into all SCBWI South Africa has to offer at their website here.

My thanks to Joan and Elaine, and cheers to Joan and Jenny for winning the Crystal Kite Members Choice Award for FINDING AUNT JOAN!

Illustrate and Write On,

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