Thursday, September 22, 2016

Introducing Jenny Cooper

Jenny Cooper graduated from Christchurch Polytechnic with a Diploma of Visual Communication. She lives in an acre of land in North Canterbury, which is occasionally battered by the nor’west wind. She has a lovely studio, however she is not allowed to leave this studio until she has completed all her work. This has never happened yet. They poke thermoses of tea and slabs of chocolate through a slot in the door to keep her going.

Jenny has won many awards over the last 15 years. She won the 1998 New Zealand Post Student Stamp Design award and the 1998 Telecom New Zealand White Pages Art Award. She has been short-listed twice in the LIANZA Russell Clark Illustration Awards, for The Pipi and the Mussels by Dot Meharry (Reed, 2001) and Down in the Forest by Yvonne Morrison (Scholastic, 2004). The Mad Tadpole Adventure (Scholastic, 2007), by Melanie Drewery and illustrated by Cooper, was nominated in the junior fiction category for the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and was listed as a 2008 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.

Her other awards include: the Storylines Notable Books 2000 Picture Book list for The Wooden Fish, the Storylines Notable Books 2002 Junior Fiction list for The Great Pavlova Cover-up, the Storylines Notable Books 2003 Picture Book list for Duck Walk, the Storylines Notable Books 2008 Junior Fiction list for The Mad Tadpole Adventure, the Storylines Notable Books 2008 Picture Book list Special Mention for The Illustrated Myths & Legends of the Pacific, the Storylines Notable Books 2011 Picture Book list for Ria the Reckless Wrybill, and in 2015 won two Storylines Notable Book Awards- for A Treasury of New Zealand Poems for Children (edited by Paula Green) and for Jim's Letters (written by Glyn Harper). Jim's Letters won the New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults picture book award in 2015.

We asked Jenny to tell us something positive, something sad and something interesting she encountered while researching and illustrating Gladys Goes to War:

Something positive: The real person, Gladys, sounds like an amazing woman, I would like to have had a coffee with her, I think she would have been fun to know, and a lot of laughs.

Something sad: poor Gladys, to lose her dearly loved husband, plus both brothers, in the war. No wonder people were really mad when they had to fight another war in 1939, only 20 years after all the loss and tragedy of WW1. I would have been mad too. You would want to feel that WW1 had solved the problems, but it didn’t.

Something interesting: we had car dealerships here in Auckland as early as 1918, who knew? It was interesting finding out about very early automobiles, such as, when the first cars were used, there were no road rules, no road markings, no driving on left and right sides, people parked their cars anywhere, including in intersections, and there were terrible traffic jams. There were no sealed roads so things were really muddy. Lots of children were killed as in the 1900s, as there were no parks and children played on the streets, and were killed by speeding cars. To cope with the chaos, some cities made people drive their cars no more than 5 miles an hour, and in some places in England, you had to have a constable (police officer) walk in front of your car with a flag, to warn people.

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