Children's author Kaye Baillie with her latest picture book, Boo Loves Books.

Baillie’s book venture is full steam ahead

May 21, 2020 BY

For 20 years, local children’s writer Kaye Baillie has devoted herself to learning how to educate and inspire kids through storytelling, and her efforts are paying off in spades.

Having authored her first picture book Message in a Sock in 2018, Baillie’s latest output Boo Loves Books has just been released by New Frontier Publishing.

She said the story was inspired by an article she stumbled upon in The Huffington Post.

“It was talking about a buddy reading program where children in America were teamed up with cats at an animal shelter,” she said.

“One boy who was mentioned in the article used to call himself stupid because he didn’t like reading and got very frustrated by it.

“When he did the buddy program and started reading to the cats, he was much more relaxed, his reading grades went up, and it became a joy. He even talked his mum into buying a cat. I thought that was a beautiful idea for a story.”

The author said the sentiment that animals don’t judge children was the underlying message she wanted to portray in the narrative.

“I thought it’d be good for children who are anxious about reading,” she said.

“I love any happy stories about animals where an animal ends up finding a home or is saved, or someone’s done something kind for animals. I think it’s lovely that we can reach out to animals and give them joy as well.”

With more children turning to reading during the coronavirus pandemic, Baillie said this year had been surprisingly successful for her writing.

Her non-fiction picture book The Friendly Games is set to hit the shelves next month thanks to MidnightSun Publishing.

Based on John Ian Wing’s anonymous letter to the International Olympic Committee which called for the closing ceremony to be changed and bring together all nations as one, the book was timed to coincide with this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Baillie said while it was disappointing the games had been postponed, the story was timeless nonetheless.

“I didn’t realise this but he was only 17 when he wrote the letter. He lived in Melbourne and watched the preparations for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, but there were quite a few problems with the games at the time,” she said.

“A lot of countries were at war with each other and there was a lot of conflict. He realised this became more of a news headline than the games themselves.

“He put his mind into how he could bring a more peaceful and friendly atmosphere to the games, and I thought that was a brilliant effort by a young student to even think to do such a thing.”

Baillie said Perth illustrator Fiona Burrows had done a “fantastic job” of translating Melbourne’s historic landmarks to page, and that the book offered children the chance to learn more about Victoria’s capital.

She said her next book, to be released early next year, was a fictional tale about native Australian animals.

“It’s probably the only story that I’ve written or had success with that’s totally made up.”

Boo Loves Books is available now at Torquay Books and Great Escape Books, while The Friendly Games is out in June.