Illustrator in line for children’s book award

A children’s book illustrated by Mollymook resident Hannah Sommerville called Jetty Jumping has been shortlisted by the Children’s Book Council of Australia.  

Sommerville holding Jetty Jumping. The lake behind contains the jetty that inspired the book. Photo: Jason Gunst

When Sommerville was younger she didn’t quite know what she wanted to do after completing her graphic design degree. 

“I liked art and I tried to do graphic design, but I hated the quick turn-around of the graphic design industry. It wasn’t for me,” Sommerville said.  

It was not until later and she had children of her own that her interest in children’s books ignited and in a way that tied into her graphic design past.   

“When I had kids and I was reading picture books when they were just babies. I love the pictures and I thought, well, this is what I want to do, and it seemed like a far-fetched thing that I couldn’t do, but I tried anyway to learn how to Illustrate and draw pictures,” Sommerville said. 

Without a clear path into the industry, Sommerville decided to get to work on a portfolio in 2010, and in 2012 took an outside chance at being recognised. 

“I did one illustration a week for two years before I saw that there was an illustration showcase in Sydney at the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators Conference and so I got my portfolio together and submitted my work. I didn’t actually go to the conference, but the day after the conference, I had an agent and my first book deal,” Sommerville said. 

Sommerville pointed out the difference between the broader media reception and recognition within the children’s book community. 

“It’s funny because in a lot of media sometimes illustrators aren’t even mentioned. But in the picture book industry, people know that the illustrator is an equal partnership,” Sommerville said. 

That is not to take away from the importance of the story. 

“I mean writing picture books is really hard. It’s really hard to write a story and convey a story in 500 words or less,” Sommerville said. 

The book Jetty Jumping is about a child overcoming her fear of jumping from the jetty and join in the fun until she drops a bracelet too important to lose. The story was written by Andrea Rowe. 

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