The Stinky Street Stories: 2 Stinky by Alex Ratt & Jules Faber
Pan Macmillan Au RRP: $14.99AUD
Awhile ago I reviewed the odorous book series The Stinky Street Stories, including an interview with clever kids’ writer Alex Ratt. Perfect for young readers in the 8-12 years bracket, these short story collections unpack the utterly disgusting adventures of Brian (‘Brain’) and his sidekick Nerf as they uncover the origins of local suspicious stenches!
These books fall into the ‘deceptively simple’ category, which I personally love. On the surface, they’re easy reads with madcap storylines, but look a little closer and you’ll find clever characterisation, brain-expanding vocab and charming lessons in friendship and resilience.
Stinky Street Stories 2 has just hit the shelves and this time I was lucky enough to interview talented illustrator Jules Faber. You may recognize his engaging, cartoon-inspired drawings from such mega-series as the WeirDo books. My Mr 6 made that connection straight away – which made him even more keen to get stuck into some stink!
Jules is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and cartoonist. With Anh Do he won the 2014 Book of the Year for Older Children for WeirDo. He has also won three Rotary Cartoon Awards, which is Australia’s biggest annual cartooning competition. He has illustrated covers and interiors for over 25 books and continues to work with some of Australia’s greatest authors. He’s also really friendly … see below!
Interview with illustrator Jules Faber
Thank you for helping my readers get a better understanding of life as a children’s book illustrator!
You’re more than welcome. You’re super welcome.
In my imagination, all professional illustrators were once those kids who liked to sketch in the margins of their school books. Have you always loved to draw?
Your imagination is pretty spot on. I started drawing at around age 4 when I saw Mr Squiggle on TV, so you could say I’ve always loved it, yes. It took me until age 10 to decide it was what I wanted to do for a job and then many, many years of practice getting good enough to make a living from it. Years later I was invited to visit Mr Squiggle and it was one of the most incredible days of my life. He was the very same marionette I had so loved as a boy – but for a few paint touch-ups here and there and new clothes. It was a wonderful moment to hold his hand and say thank you to his wonderful puppeteer Norman Hetherington, who is sadly no longer with us.
I’d love to know more about how author/illustrator teams match words with images. Do the words usually come first, leaving you to work your magic second? Or is it more of a collaborative process?
Sometimes there’s collaboration. Oftentimes I just get given a manuscript. Sometimes with suggestions of what is needed to draw, other times I’m left to my own devices. Each publisher does things differently, as do authors. Some send character suggestions and such, others let me just interpret it my way. Whichever way people do it is mostly cool with me. It keeps it interesting.
I’ve heard that some author/illustrator teams never even meet in real life! Did you know ‘Alex Ratt’ before you worked on the Stinky Street Stories – or did the publisher bring you together?
We did know each other previously due to our mutual love of false moustaches and running into each other at book events. It’s such a small industry it’s hard not to keep bumping into the same people. We became mates and so I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to work with ‘Alex’ on Stinky St.
The Stinky Street Stories are for kids who are moving past picture books and into the early chapter book stages. Why are illustrations still important in books for developing readers?
Kids love to draw and it’s the first way we have of expressing ourselves, usually before we can even speak. It’s been hard-wired into us ever since the days of cave people, when people would draw stories and news thousands of years before there was ever a written language. So kids can relate to pictures and especially simple cartoons because they’ve been with us since the start.
As an illustrator, were there any unique challenges when it came to creating Stinky Street and its inhabitants?
The two lead characters are loveable idiots but I wanted them to look different from each other whilst still being able to see how they could be friends. The narrator Brian is trying to sculpt how people see him (which doesn’t work) and his best friend Nerf is a like-minded individual raised by hippies who is a bit 1980s. His tech is 80s tech for example and heaps of fun to draw. So I wouldn’t say ‘challenges’ per se, more like a super-fun crazy world to jump into and swim around in. Except this time it was much stinkier than usual.
Thank you so much for your thoughts!
Again, you’re super welcome!
Buy The Stinky Street Stories by Alex Ratt & Jules Faber at your favourite local bookstore, or here…