Beci Orpin’s New Children’s Book
Beci Orpin is one of our favourite Australian creatives here at We Are Scout, and the clever thing has just launched her first children’s book, Find Me a Castle. Beautifully illustrated in Beci’s inimitable bright and bold graphic style (with liberal use of lovely patterns), Find Me a Castle is a multi-layered ‘find-it’-style book, with loads of hidden objects to discover – and re-discover.
We had a chat with Beci about her favourite books, resources, brands, homewares and clothing for kids…
What inspired you to create a book for children?
It’s been a life-long dream of mine to do a kids’ books! I spent so many years stalking children’s book illustrators in my early ’20s – I once was invited to Graeme Bases’s house and he gave my advice on getting into children’s book industry. 20 years later I finally got to do it!
The inspiration for the topic of this book came from years of reading books to my own kids. The books that they always went back to time and time again were the ‘finding’ books, so it seemed logical to create one of those!
What were your top 5 favourite picture books when you were little?
My mum was so great with giving us excellent books to read. I think that is where my love for children’s books first began.
My faves were (and still are now):
1. Frederick the Mouse by Leo Lionni.
2. Where the Wild Things Are – and pretty much anything by Maurice Sendak – he is still one of my great inspirations.
3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (except I decided the caterpillar should be a girl, so I changed all mentions of “he” to “she”).
4. John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat – I loved some many of Ron Brookes’ illustrations (Annie’s Rainbow was another favourite)
5. Barbapapa series – I lost all of mine but my neighbour recently gave me her childhood copies – they are like gold to me!
Top 5 modern children’s picture books? What do you love reading with your kids?
1. Around the World with Mouk has remained a huge favourite. I love anything illustrated by Marc Boutavant.
2. Anything in the Hilda series by Mark Pearson. Hilda is such a great female role model! It’s published by Flying Eye Books – all their kids’ books are so amazing!
3. I’m not sure if Tove Jansson is considered modern, but all the Moomin books are so great. She is another huge inspiration to me, as is Tomi Ungerer.
4. [Beci’s youngest son] Ari is currently loving anything from the Doctor Proctor series – we’re up to reading some of them for the third time!
5. We also love reading Brothers Grimm tales, even [Beci’s eldest son] Tyke still loves them – I think because they are so morbid! They think its fascinating.
You sound like a creative family. How do you get creative with your kids?
It’s a funny thing – I think because of what I do for a living they are surrounded by it quite bit, so they might not be so interested in doing it in a pre-determined way. It’s rare that we sit down for an afternoon of making things, but we still do a lot of creative stuff.
I try to be guided by them. Often Ari will have a crazy ideas, like making a three-story cat house, so I’ll help him realise those ideas. They are always drawing and writing too, but I try to let that come naturally for them.
What are your favourite creative resources for your kids?
What kids’ brands or designers do you love?
I’m mostly looking at this stuff for Ari now. Tyke is in the verge of high-school and teen years and way too cool for anything little! So sad!
I’m always on the look-out for good boys’ clothes. I love Bobo Chooses – they are my favourite kids’ label – their new homewares are so good. London brand Ruff and Huddle also have some cool stuff, and local kids Paul and Paula and Minti are awesome, too.
At Arro [Beci’s homewares brand] we are about to launch a kids’ line – that’s definitely going on my kids’ beds!
Thanks for the chat, Beci! And congratulations on the launch of your first children’s book.
Go to Beci’s new website, www.beciorpinbooks.com, to get your hands on Find Me a Castle.
All images from Beci Orpin’s Find Me a Castle.
Top three photos styled and photographed by Lisa Tilse for We Are Scout.