Art of teaching the young their history

By Riverine Herald

AUTHOR and illustrator Mark Wilson amazed his young audiences at Moama Anglican Grammar School on Monday.

Students from Years 3-6 were treated to the renowned artist as part of their monthly visiting author program.

Setting himself apart, Mark focuses his work around presenting information to young children so they can grow up with a knowledge of Australian history and issues currently facing our nation.

‘‘Kids are power, they’re the future,’’ he said.

‘‘I believe my generation really failed with stopping logging, pollution and they stopped being proactive. So I talk to the kids because they’re really intelligent and hopefully they’ll grow up and make changes to the future.

‘‘I write about these subjects because we need them to know this information.’’

Mark’s collection ranges from wildlife conservation to the Vietnam War. He tells of convict settlement in Australia and the extinction of animals.

In total, Mark has 17 titles to his name printed in nine languages and distributed around the world.

Mark first began writing lyrics for bands, before venturing into the world of illustration.

‘‘I started illustrating for a magazine in 1976, I illustrated my first picture story book in 1986 and I wrote my first picture story book in 1996,’’ he said.

‘‘I work from photographs – I draw from life. I start by looking at the photograph carefully, analysing the positioning and the thickness of the lines and I draw from there and add my imagination’s ideas.

‘‘Lots of the creatures I speak about and show in my books could soon be lost. From emus, quails and echidnas – students don’t know about these animals any more. They see these animals in the wildlife sanctuaries or the zoos and not in real life like I did growing up.

‘‘I can’t do this forever so I want kids to take over the mantle and become activists for change.’’

In the morning Moama Grammar students listened to Mark speak about his experiences and his work.

They discovered the multi-award winning illustrator and author has collaborated with some of Australia’s most famous authors including Leigh Hobbs and Jacki French.

In the afternoon, Year 5 and 6 students had a workshop with Mark where they delved into the imagination behind some of his creations and characters.

‘‘The students created a storyboard where everyone got to contribute their ideas. Mark told the kids that if you’re ever to create a story you have to start with a board,’’ Moama Grammar teacher Felicity Price said.

‘‘Mark’s sessions have been really great. All the kids have been really engaged throughout the day.’’

Mark is collaborating with author Jacki French on a picture story book set to be released in September.

For information on Mark’s work visit