‘When Sunflower Sam yells ‘Mad Jack, you boofhead! I smell like a brewery’ it usually gets a laugh, because mine is the only picture book in existence containing the word ‘boofhead’. The original line was ‘Yelling, ‘Damn You, McCann, I smell like a brewery’ but was changed to pander to the Catholic Schools lobby. Damn controversial stuff!’
Julie Knoblock and me
At the back of a yard, not yours and not ours
Lived a bed-full of raggedy, half-dying flowers
For it’d been more than three months and a quarter
Since Mad Jack McCann had bothered to water.
Now that might not have been so cruel or so painful
If the season was one that was good for some rainfall
But this was the height of a terrible drought
As those raggedy flowers were now finding out.
A cast of radio performers at Triple R, with narrator Alex Papps, read The Thirsty Flowers.
“‘This book rivals the work of Graeme Base for ingenious poetry with a comical touch and eye catching illustrations. Full review. ” - Kids On The Coast, November December 06 - p38
“Mad Jack McCann is a nasty piece of work. Each day, his poor, neglected flowers slowly die as he washes the leaves from his concrete driveway. One night, Doctor Hydrangea delivers his gloomy prognosis: unless the flowers get water soon, they'll be nothing but withered stalks. The only plant not bothered by the drought is Cactus, who is as cool as a cucumber. If the water won't come to them, can the flowers go to the water? Tony Wilson's book is a joy to read. Inspired by Dr Seuss and Henry Lawson, his poem-like text romps along. Julie Knoblock's illustrations are joyful and every bit as good as Wilson's story.” - Frances Atkinson, The Sunday Age
“ONE SUNDAY NIGHT ON the festival club stage at last month's Age Melbourne Writers' Festival, Tony Wilson unveiled his latest creation, The Thirsty Flowers. No, not a band but a hilarious rhyming children's book with illustrations by Julie Knoblock, reminiscent of Dr Seuss and full of Wilson's idiosyncratic humour. He read the whole book - how many authors can read their whole book at a festival reading? - and it went down a treat.
Although the book is published only this weekend (by Hardie Grant Egmont), it is actually the first book he wrote. Mind you, it had little joy with the publishers when he first sent it round.
"I got rejections from everyone," he says, "but two or three suggested meetings." That led to his first picture book, Grannysaurus Rex, being published in 2004. "It was the standard Aussie picture book in terms of success."
But the illustrator, David Cornish, went on to win a $1 million advance for his own fantasy series, Blood Monster Tattoo.
"Keep your eye on Julie Knoblock," Wilson says. "It would be good if I could catch the wave." But he does have something looming. Next month Geoff Slattery Publishing will unleash Australia United on the reading public, an account of Wilson's adventures in Germany during this year's World Cup finals. (Favourite moment for Wilson? Spotting some Australian fans laying out a blow-up kangaroo and using an Australian flag as a mock shroud in a heartfelt death scene following Australia's defeat by Italy.) And his mind is turning to another satire about the sports world along the lines of his novel Players.” - Jason Steger, Bookmarks, The Age
This book rivals the work of Graeme Base for ingenious poetry with a comical touch and eye catching illustrations.