Fantail's Quilt - A Story by Gay Hay
Fantail’s Quilt is both a striking children’s story and a story of Whitireia talent – on all fronts. The story was written by a student on the online Writing for Children course, the illustrator is a graduate (and has tutored) on the Visual Arts Programme, and the book was project managed by students on the Whitireia Publishing Course.
Fantail’s Quilt is a classic New Zealand story – a fantail, a rat, a morepork and the bush – strikingly illustrated and told in a deceptively simple way. And already it’s receiving great reviews from children’s authors and leading booksellers.
Gay Hay, the author and a former teacher says, “When I was teaching I saw that little children wanted to know facts, but most books are too wordy. I saw the reaction of children to a photo of a rat taking eggs from a fantail’s nest, and when we had to write a picture book for an assignment, that’s the idea I used.”
Gay’s family, and Writing for Children tutor Julia Wall, encouraged her to see the story through. Thanks to a collaboration with Porirua-based artist and educator, Margaret Tolland, readers are treated to a detailed look at a favourite native bird and its habitat, complemented by a story that uses the bare minimum of words to build tension and interest.
But a great story with fantastic illustrations still needs all the skill of those in the publishing business to take it to the next step. That’s where Whitireia Publishing students came in. Kylie Sutcliffe says for her, working on real-life projects was one of the most valuable aspects of the Whitireia course. In this project the Whitireia team's role was to manage the book's production and organise aspects of the sales and marketing process. They also had input into some of the editorial and design decisions.
“It was a huge learning curve for all of us – we had no idea of the many steps required to transform words and images into a finished book, and a finished book into a book that reaches its readers. It has been such a thrill watching Fantail’s Quilt take off – Gay and Margaret's success is so well deserved and we're staying tuned for their next collaboration.”
Cover illustration from Margaret Tolland's paintings