When the public service couldn’t provide the flexibility Amy Elleway needed, she had to come…
Canberra Dad, Chris White, has always read bedtime stories to his daughters, twins Megan and Emma, 13 and Hannah, nine. Chris would create tales featuring the girls in elaborate stories. One night, Hannah requested to hear “the one about how I painted the moon”.
As Chris and Hannah tried to recall the story, they decided to write it down, so that next time it would be easier to remember.
From here, the story of Hannah Paints the Moon began.
The story of a little girl who is trying to fall asleep, but can’t find her teddy bear. To help herself fall asleep, Hannah is inspired to “paint the moon”! This charming book is perfect for parents to read to younger children or as a self-reader for older children.
When Chris decided to turn his bedtime story into a children’s book, he needed to find a publisher and an illustrator. He describes his project as an authentic Canberra story.
“For me this turned out to be a really lovely process involving a small Canberra-based publisher, an amazing artist (based here in Canberra)…and me, who’s been a Canberran now for 28 years,” he says.
“I like the fact that I went elsewhere to look and went to a lot of big name people, and I could only find what I wanted locally.” Hannah Paints the Moon is published through Canberra publishers Echo Books and illustrated by local graphic artist, Andrea McCuaig.
Finding an illustrator to create the pictures Chris envisaged was a difficult task. He contacted various international and domestic illustrators, but no one could quite produce his vision. When talking to his friend Andrea, she offered to submit some drawings. Once Chris saw them he knew he had found his illustrator.
Chris explains, “As soon as I saw it, I said ‘that’s my front cover’. I was slightly in tears. I said ‘that’s exactly what I’m after’.”
Megan, Emma and Hannah love having a dad who is now a published children’s author.
“When I got the first copy of the book, I sat them down at Gryphons Caffe Bar in Griffith and I started to read it. I got one and half pages into it and got quite emotional because it’s such a big thing for the four of us,” says Chris.
“One of my daughters asked ‘Should I finish this for you, Dad?’, so she then read it to us.”
The role of author is in stark contrast to Chris’ military career having spent 15 years in the Army, 12 years with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade with numerous postings overseas and now employed with the Department of Infrastructure. Chris says the escape that storytelling provides from his “high pressure, high paced” career is something he really enjoys.
“I love reading; I love reading to my children. And what I’ve really loved is the creative nature,” says Chris.
“It’s enabled me to be my own boss. I can write my own stories, they don’t get changed or corrected. My audience isn’t senior bureaucrats…[but] highly impressionable children and it’s about unlocking their imaginations”.
Hannah Paints the Moon can be purchased online here. Chris will be launching Hannah Paints the Moon this Sunday where he will be giving a brief talk before reading Hannah Paints the Moon. There will be plenty of activities for the kids.
What: Hannah Paints the Moon Launch
When: 12pm, Sunday 24 May
Where: Red Brick Espresso Café, Curtin Shops, 31 Curtin Place, Curtin.