Interview with Zanni Louise about creating Tiggy and the magic paintbrush.

This week I was lucky enough to interview Zanni Louise, author of 2018 CBCA shortlisted book Archie and the Bear, Too busy sleeping and now a wonderful new series called Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush.

Zanni Louise_ credit Kate Nutt Photography

Zanni explains what inspired her to write this new series, the importance of friendship and how a magic paintbrush can lead to the development of self belief in those tough times.

Thank you Zanni!

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  1. What inspired you to write a series of books about a young girl with a magical paintbrush?

The stories evolved over a number of years. They began as stories about a girl called Wynn and a 3D printing machine, which Wynn used to print things to solve her problems. The idea initially came from a fun conversation with my daughter. Working with editors, though, I ended up ‘refreshing’ the name, and decided that it would be more practical to have a magical device she could take with her, and preferably keep secret.

  1. Why a magical paintbrush?

When brainstorming devices, my daughter rushed past me, hurriedly painting imaginary things in the air with her invisible paintbrush. A paintbrush is handy, portable, and small enough to hide. It also gives Tiggy scope for creativity, which is something I really like.

  1. Tiggy has two special friends at school, and in one of your picture books, Archie and the bear, friendship is focussed on too. How important is it that we have friends in our lives – at all ages?

Friendship is a big theme in my life, and inadvertently a big theme in all my stories. Everyone has a different version of friendship, and I guess I’m interested in exploring all these different forms.

  1. How do you see this book helping young children as they start early schooling or even when they change classes or schools?

The first book A School Day Smile was written because my daughter was at the cusp of starting school, and I was curious about about her emotional responses, and her strategies for coping with this big change. Tiggy is clearly nervous about her first day, but is trying to be brave. I think this is a common experience, and for kids reading this, they feel validated that these are normal experiences. Tiggy also attempts to use magic to make her feelings go away, going as far as changing who she is, so people will like her. But in the end, she has to come back to being comfortable with her Tiggy-ness. I think this is important for all of us.

  1. Tiggy’s paintbrush is a tool she can use but she also learns that she can cope without it. I think this is a really important aspect of the story – why did you feel the need to ensure when children read this that they knew how important it is to realise how wonderful they are and that they can get by without these magical tools?

That aspect to the stories emerged quite unintentionally. It becomes a nice metaphor for reality though, that we don’t need to rely on our ‘crutches’ – we have all the resources we need within us. My editor at Five Mile, Melissa Keil, really helped draw out the ambiguity between Tiggy’s magic and her imagined world. I love too that Gillian’s illustrations bring this to life, by contrasting Tiggy’s ‘real’ black and white world, with her colourful imagined, magical world.

  1. You have written two wonderful picture books and now a junior fiction book. How was the process of writing Tiggy and the Magical paintbrush different to your other stories?

It took me a long time to get my head around writing for this age group. Unlike picture books, junior fiction and independent readers are being read by kids themselves, so the language needs to be very simple, without compromising the stories. The process of writing these stories, particularly as a series, has helped me really flesh out the narrative arc in all my stories. I have always gotten away with writing very intuitively with picture books. But independent readers push me in new directions.

  1. Inspiration can come from many places – how do you find yours and develop these ideas into stories?

I like to keep inspiration and creativity at my finger tips. To be honest, I have half a mind on potential ideas almost all the time! Mostly, I’ll try and write ideas down. When I get a chance, or feel particularly inspired, I’ll start nutting out a story. I’m fairly patient with stories. Some take days to develop. But some take years! Often a partly formed idea will sit on my computer for months before it becomes anything more.

  1. What else will we see Tiggy get up to in future books?

In the next two books, Tiggy tries her hand at performing, and prepares for a birthday party. And next? Well, yet to be seen!

Buy Tiggy and the Magic paintbrush here: 

A School Day Smile (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

A Pet Called Nibbles (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

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Tiggy and the magic paintbrush: A pet called nibbles by Zanni Louise.

Today is Pet Day at Tiggy’s school, and Tiggy is a little worried – she is the only person in the class who doesn’t have a pet! Lucky Tiggy has her special magic paintbrush – but will it help her solve the problem this time? 

The second book is this fun series – Tiggy and the magic paintbrush – takes us back to school on pet day.

I’ve never been to a school pet day, but I can imagine they would be lots of fun (and a bit chaotic) but also possibly worrying for children who don’t have a pet.

Tiggy is one of those children, but luckily with her big imagination and magic paintbrush, she can create the best pet that anyone could ask for!

And even though Tiggy can’t quite take a photo of her new pet, she is able to draw one and show her friends just how wonderful he is.

You’ll have to read the story to find out what Tiggy’s pet is and why children will love reading this book!

BUY HERE:

A Pet Called Nibbles (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

Zanni has written this story with young children and their beautifully creative imagination in mind. There are so many great ideas just waiting to be found in the big world but so often children’s lives are too busy with organised activities or technology they just don’t have the space to dream big.

This story just shows how important imagination is, how it fills your soul and mind with happiness and wonder – and encourages us to show who we are.

Tiggy is a delightful character, as are her friends and with the magic paintbrush in tow, anything can happen!

Tiggy and the magic paintbrush – a pet called nibbles has been a very popular read for my children (aged 6 and 4) and the students at school (I’ve read this to Kindergarten to Year 3!) so keep an eye out for this wonderful new series – I’m sure it will delight!

Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush. A school day smile by Zanni Louise.

Tiggy has a big imagination. She sometimes has BIG feelings too. But everything is A-Okay, because Tiggy has a very special secret….

Zanni Louise has created the beautifully told story of Tiggy. A young girl who is starting her first ever day at school – and of course like most children is worried about making new friends, learning new things and being brave in an unfamiliar place.

BUY HERE:

A Pet Called Nibbles (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

A School Day Smile (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush  – A school day smile, is part of a new series for younger readers. Parents can read this story out loud or encourage new readers to have a go themselves. This is a wonderful story for beginning readers and one which can foster a love of reading.

Accompanied with delightful black and white illustrations by Gillian Flint, (with magical colour splashed in at the right moments) The reader meets Tiggy and her friends as they learn how to cope in a difficult situation – the first day of school!

Tiggy has her magic paintbrush with her all the time, and it can always help her out whenever she needs it. But sometimes having a magic paintbrush stops Tiggy from being herself  and Tiggy needs to be brave enough to realise when it is time for her to rely on the goodness inside herself rather than the paintbrush.

Tiggy shows the characteristics many new Kindergarten children will show when they are in a new situation but she also shows resilience and self belief.

Children will love this idea of a magic paintbrush and it will possibly give them that little boost in the back of their mind when they feel nervous, worried or sad.

Tiggy and the magic paintbrush is a new favourite at our house and we can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

Check out my interview with Zanni Louise coming soon to this blog.!

What else can you do with this book?

Here are some questions you can ask children after they have read the book –

  • Why are the illustrations in black and white (except for the paintbrush)?
  • Have you ever felt like Tiggy?
  • How did you behave when you were in a new situation?
  • Do you have a magic paintbrush to help you when you are nervous, worried or sad?
  • If you had a magic paintbrush, how would it help you?
  • Could the magic paintbrush cause trouble?
  • How might Tiggy feel if she loses it?
  • Do you think Tiggy always needs her paintbrush? Think about what she realise when she looked in the mirror.