Author and illustrator Bob Darroch, introduced his beloved kids' book character LIttle Kiwi in 2001. That first book, Little Kiwi is Scared of the Dark, has since been awarded the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book. Little Kiwi turns 15 this year; OHbaby! caught up with Bob to find out where he gets his inspiration, and what makes LIttle Kiwi so popular with younger readers.
Where do you get your ideas for stories from?
From all over the place. Sometimes out of the blue. Other times, after a bit of thinking – usually when doing something else. But often by envisaging a scene or a bit of ‘action’ that could make an interesting or ‘eye catching’ picture. I class myself as an illustrator rather than a writer, so much of the story planning is centred on how it could be illustrated. If an idea for a picture comes up, I’d work on a story to build up to, and then wind down from, that scene.
Why do you think kids like and respond to the Little Kiwi stories so much?
I don’t know for sure – but I’m glad if they do! I’ve tried to make Little Kiwi a character kids can relate to (minus the feathers and long beak!) I’ve avoided aggression, self-importance and greed. His fears and frailties could be similar to ones kids may have, or recognise, and, hopefully, a lesson can be learned by his overcoming them.
What did you want to be when you were little?
A cowboy! But gave up on that a year or two ago. Otherwise I didn’t have any definite plans until my early teen years when I found Giles cartoons, and learned that cartoons weren’t just for kids. From then on, I kept scribbling, and after 20-odd years, turned a ‘hobby’ into a full time activity.
How did you become interested in illustrating and writing?
Probably through books and comics I had or read when young (in the 1940s). I found I enjoyed drawing, so spent a good bit of time ‘at the drawing board’. Through practice, I developed a ‘style’ that eventually was acceptable enough to get published. Fifteen or so years ago, when reading books to grandchildren, I thought I might have a go at writing – and Little Kiwi was born.
What’s next for Little Kiwi?
No idea! We’ve done twelve Little Kiwi books, so that might have thrashed him enough. But – you never know!