A drawing without looking

A drawing without looking

Gavin bishop

Illustrator of ‘Honky’

 Gavin Bishop’s 60 children’s books have been translated into twelve languages. He has also written the libretti for children’s ballets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet and written and designed for TV and the stage.

In 2009 the STORYLINES GAVIN BISHOP AWARD for new Illustrators was established by Random House NZ Ltd in recognition of his work.

He was awarded the ONZM by the NZ Government in 2013 for his services to literature.

'I started out when things were pretty quiet in New Zealand. Very few children’s books were being published here in the late 1970s. The first book I submitted to Oxford University Press was accepted. It was as rough as guts, but they saw something in it, luckily for me. I spent the next four years rewriting it with a good editor and in doing so, learned what a picture book actually was. Bidibidi, submitted in 1978 was finally published in 1982.

What do I do when I’m not writing or drawing? Not much. I read as much as I can and I watch movies. But most of all I love eating burgers with my grandkids.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve won the glittering prizes, travelled all over the place and been toasted at some very nice events, but it is the children I’ve met who know more about my books than I do, that have made all the hard work worthwhile.

There weren’t many books in our house when I was very little except for Coles Funny Picture Book No 1.

The stories, rhymes and songs I heard were from my grandmother or from adults around the dinner table on Sunday.

I sometimes got an Annual for Christmas or my birthday - Chatterbox, Boys’ Own or something like that. I tended to read books that were already in our house - titles Mum or Dad had when they were kids. Ruth Fielding and the Gypsies was one of those.

My first teacher at primary school read us big books – Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Wind in the Willows.

When we moved to Invercargill I joined the Juvenile Library and that’s when my reading really took off. I discovered one chapter of The Hobbit in a School Journal and was delighted to find the complete book in the library. I read all of the ‘Dr Doolittle’ books by Hugh Lofting and most of ‘The Twins’ books by Lucy Fitch Perkins.

I read dozens of collections of folk tales and fairy stories and I particularly liked reading about people in other lands. When I was about 10 I got a job cutting the lawns at the Methodist church. That meant I could buy a ‘Wide World’ magazine now and then and sometimes a copy of Life magazine.'

Gavin's website