Little monkey NicNic is off on an adventure around the world, through lions’ manes, flamingo feathers, and the clutches of a cumulous cloud! In search of something just out of reach, the star strewn night sky invites you to join him on this magical journey.
This beautifully illustrated story about the importance of the simple things is the debut picture book from renowned Auckland architect Jonathan Smith. We asked him some questions about how it came to be.
You’re a successful architect, what made you decide to write a children’s book?
Writing a book has always been a huge draw for me. When I knew I was going to be a father it provided the catalyst to make it happen.
How did the process differ from, say, designing a house?
Breaking the rules! The book provided me with certain freedoms from reality and bureaucracy that were refreshing and invigorating. Although the book took me ten years to complete, the timeline was something under my control rather than the construction industry’s.
What do you wish you knew before you started?
How much fun it could be, this would have motivated me to do something sooner.
The artwork in the book is stunning, tell us a bit about your process:
Allowing my imagination to roam free on paper was very refreshing. The process of creating characters and filling them with emotions was challenging in a wonderful way. I used different mediums including, pencil, charcoal, acrylics, and spray paint to create the specific look & feel. The idea was to achieve a different aesthetic for each place visited within the book, while maintaining an almost dream like quality to the lighting.
You’ve said your son, Nic, was an inspiration for the story. What does he think of the finished product?
(sic) “i love it... well it’s an amazing book”
Do you think the book would have happened if the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t spurred you on? And did the time in lockdown help you form new habits for creativity now that have stuck around now that life is slightly more “normal”?
No, the majority of the illustrations for this book were completed during the initial years of the COVID pandemic...COVID has created a lot of anguish and stress throughout the world, but there are positives including the importance of loved ones, human connections, and reengaging with the simple things in life. As time has passed i feel like now it’s even more important that we recognise what we are still going through and hold onto the things that make us happy, for me that is time with family and friends and allowing daydreaming time for creativity when possible.
The Monkey and the Moonbeam, written and Illustrated by Jonathan Smith, published by Little Love, $30.00 RRP