I've been rereading my favourite picture book...
Croc and Bird, by Alexis Deacon. I've known Alexis for a decade or so now, we have made several books together and spent much time making up stories and drawing pictures. I never cease to be amazed by his drawing skills and the sincerity and warmth he brings to every story.
I caught glimpses Croc and Bird being made when I was visiting, with huge drawings of parrots and crocodiles taped up on all the walls... I think it was already my favourite book before it was even finished.
The back endpapers are covered in animal drawings, and give you an idea of what Alexis' sketchbooks look like. He does a lot of animal sketching, going as far as Galapagos to draw wildlife.
Croc and Bird hatch from two abandoned eggs on the beach, and naturally assume that they must be siblings. They are heartbreakingly cute little critters... bird is a pink, featherless tiny creature of endless optimism who seems to know exactly how life should work - food can be trusted to arrive if one waits with ones beak wide open, a nest is essential, and when the sun comes up, one sings to it. Croc is a slightly baffled but very well-meaning little lizard who goes along with all this and makes it work. They are a great team.
They grow up together, practising all the important life skills... flying, floating like a log, climbing, dancing... it evidently doesn't matter if one of them is better at anything than the other.
But things change. I won't spoil the story... just look at these illustrations. Night-time forests, trees full of birds...
None of this is digital, it's all hand-drawn and painted. Some of the foliage is collaged.
Alexis has a small flock of budgies living in his house, so the birds are extremely well observed.
I love this book. It makes me happy.
Alexis has his own blog now where he posts sketches from behind the scenes - observational drawings, record covers that never happened and such. Go look at it, it's pure awesomeness.