Melbourne artist, writer, curator, mother and creative dreamer, Tai Snaith, has realised a long held childhood dream - to write, illustrate and publish her own children's book! So dreams really do come true, and we're excited to share with you a little glimpse inside this beautifully whimsical, full colour, 32 page hard back book, The Family Hour in Australia.
We also have a special giveaway for one lucky reader - see the end of this post for details!
The Quoll family (cover)
The Family Hour introduces you to 15 Australian animals and their families. Each page features the family going about their life at a different hour of the day. The Frilled Neck Lizard Family
Meet the architecturally aware Quolls who have numerous family homes, and the extended Sugar Glider family who share meals and washing lines. The Sugar Glider family
There is the hardworking Echidna and the Kangaroo single mums, the gay black swan modern dads and more. The gay Black Swan modern dads
On each page there is a hidden clock and a secondary smaller animal family. All of the stories are based in fact and there is a glossary of extended facts at the back of the book along with an endangered rating, showing which of the animals are near threatened, endangered and critically endangered. The book is suitable for children up till 10 years, but will certainly delight parents too!
Learn more about Tai and her early inspirations in our Q&A below:
1. What was your first visual memory?
Drawing all the way along the hallway of my first house.
2. Who or what inspired you as a kid?
My Uncle Glenn. He was a brilliant drawer and draftsman. He still is. He would come round to our house when I was just really getting into drawing (around 5-10) and draw with me for hours and teach me how to draw things like certain edges of particular leaves and animal faces, which I would practice over and over until I saw him next. My pets and my parents and their attitudes and lifestyles inspired me a lot as a kid also.
Artist Tai Snaith as a little girl
3. Tell us about your style and approach to artmaking?
It’s really my whole life. There is no real ‘approach’ as it is well and truly knit into every aspect of my day to day life. I make as much of what I ‘need’ as I can and then I use a lot of that for art and vice versa. When my son was born (and still now) I had a lot of things that I had just made for fun or for art's sake that became his toys. He has helped me to become less precious and take myself a bit less seriously, which is a great gift. I spend a lot of my spare time making images instead of watching them on TV. Then I have a world of images I can turn to when I am trying to work out what it’s all about. I also collect a lot of old books and magazines and objects for inspiration and materials. I appreciate other people’s art and design and spend a lot of time visiting galleries, reading and researching. I don’t sleep much, but I would like to more.
4. What inspired you to create "The Family Hour in Australia" children's book?
As a kid I was really interested in animal families. I was obsessed with those little Silvanian Families figurines and I was also a member of the WWF and Greenpeace by the time I was 12. I was animal obsessed. I knew all the endangered animals and loved drawing them and earnestly ‘campaigning’ for them. So when I was approached by Thames and Hudson to do something about Australian animals it all came back to me. I guess I just wanted to make a book that my son could have and learn a little bit about our native endangered animals in a fun way. I also wanted to create something that was entertaining for both adults and children and represented modern (and also gay) family units in a positive way.
The endangered Numbat family
5. How did creating a kids' book differ to your typical creative process?
It was much more structured and I made myself a brief, which I quite enjoyed! My studio was much neater. I had to do a lot more scientific or ‘real world’ research into animals, which was fun.
6. What do you hope kids, and their parents, will take out from your book?
A sense of ownership or pride and guardianship for our native animals. We need to really love them to want to protect their environments and this kind of love and compassion starts from a very young age. Much of the old growth forests that are felled are these animals' homes and without an awareness and fondness for these creatures there will be no advocates or activists in the future. But on a simpler level, I hope they can share the book together and get some laughs and some facts and have a snuggle. The Platypus family
7. Do you have any favourite characters or animal families from your book?
I really love the Quolls (on the cover) because they are such funny little families. They live in up to 10 differernt homes (one family) and have all different homes for different purposes, moving between them daily. They just reminded me of a modern, hipster kind of family - needing different places to hang out, get new experiences, etc. I also really like the two male swan dads on the lake at Daylesford (with the rainbow and rainbow trout). I drew these knowing what it must be like to go through all the hoops of having a child as same sex parents and how much those kids must be loved and cared for. I also love the scruffy bad-ass Tassie Devil family band, they were heaps of fun to draw.
The endangered Tasmanian Devil family
8. What makes you laugh out loud?
My son Leo, on a daily basis.
9. Message for mini budding artists?
Draw as much as you can! Keep all your drawings! Do classes after school in all sorts of things that interest you - pottery, dancing, life drawing, whatever. You can never have too many skills! And look at things carefully, it’s all about looking and thinking.
Special Melbourne related event: Tai will giving a free reading for kids this Saturday, 8 July, 3pm at Readings, St Kilda.
Giveaway: We have one copy of The Family Hour to giveaway. Just tell us on our blog, or Facebook page which is your favourite Australian animal to go in the draw to win! Open to Australian readers only. Giveaway starts 6pm, Wednesday 4 July and ends 10pm, Sunday 15 July.
Big thanks to the publishers, Thames & Hudson!
Buy: you can pick up a copy at Tai's etsy store here