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The Duck and the Darklings

Author Millard,Glenda

Illustrator King,Stephen Michael

Item Code 8280297

Product Type Book

Format Paperback

ISBN 9781743312612


  • Description
  • Details
  • About Author
  • About Illustrator

In the sorry land of Dark, Peterboy searches for something wonderful to make the light shine again in his Grandpapa's eyes. Instead he finds a wounded duck, and Grandpapa mends her from top to tail; quack, waddle and wing. In return she cosies his toes.

But ducks live for the feel of wind in their wings, and the day comes when Peterboy must make a fine and fitting fare-thee-well for Idaduck. The children wear their candle-hats to light her way. Grandpapa plays oompapas on his curly brass tootle, and the Darklings' farewell goes all night, until the sun rises on the most wonderful day.

Genre: Animal Stories Subject: Picture Books Reading Level: Lower Primary, Middle Primary School Year: Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4 Ages: 6 to 9
Glenda Millard

Where were you born? Where do you live now?

I was born in Castlemaine, a small town in the Central Goldfields region of Victoria, and have never lived further than about half-an-hour’s drive from there.

Where did you go to school?

I went to the Campbell’s Creek Primary School. My mum’s name is on the honour roll there for being dux of the school. Then I attended Castlemaine High School until I was nearly sixteen, when I got my first full-time job.

Did you have a nickname?

Not really, at least not one given to me by my school friends. But the local postmaster and his wife called me Little Oppy because my family name was Oppermann. Now I’m an adult, my friends and family have a special nickname for me. It’s a secret, but it’s to do with my being a writer.

What were you like in school?

I was a quiet, serious little girl, the second fastest runner in grade 6, and my favourite subjects were English, Art, Cookery and Needlework. I hated Maths!

What is the naughtiest thing you did?
We lived next door to a poultry farm and my sister and I used to sneak into the sheds, find the rotten eggs and pelt them at the wall. They made an amazing sound when they exploded and smelt absolutely disgusting!

What was your favourite book growing up?

I have loved far too many books to be able to choose just one. Here are a few of them: Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series and The Magic Faraway Tree, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, Little Women and Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Who is your favourite children’s author?
There are many wonderful contemporary writers I admire including Stephen Michael King, Bob Graham, Margaret Wild, Ursula Dubosarski, David Almond and Jerry Spinelli.

What is your favourite food/colour/movie?
Ice cream is one of my favourite foods—especially the chocolate-chilli flavour that I make myself.
Red is my favourite colour.
My favourite movies are Children of Heaven, The Colour of Paradise and Edward Scissorhands.

Who inspired you to write/illustrate?

The writers of all the books I read when I was growing up in a house with no television. Reading is how you learn to be a writer. It teaches you about beginnings, middles and endings, suspense, synonyms, metaphors, dialogue and all the other essential ingredients that go into making wonderful stories.

How did you get started?
By serendipity. I worked in an office during the day and studied marketing at TAFE in the evenings, where the lecturer commented favourably on my essays. Eventually I followed his advice and joined a creative writing group where I wrote the story that became my first published picture book.

How old were you at that stage?
Mid forties.

Why did you want to be a writer?
I have always loved words, both reading and writing them, but it never occurred to me that I could become an author.

How do you think up ideas?

For me, the ideas for stories often come from quite ordinary, everyday events. Here are the beginning places for some of the books I’ve written:
  • Listening to a talk-back show on the radio.
  • Talking to my mother-in-law who was losing her sight.
  • Speaking to a Russian man on the telephone at work.
  • Driving through a town with an unusual name.
  • Dreaming about a tiger.
  • Finding a grey military coat in a Vinnie’s store.
  • Visiting a man who restored merry-go-rounds.
Do you have a special place where you write?
A little room in the heart of my cottage, which was built in 1860. There is a pot-bellied stove to keep me warm in winter and the walls are filled with beautiful illustrations that other people have made for my books.

What is the best thing about being a writer?
Using my imagination to make something from nothing.

Have you had any funny or embarrassing moment as a writer?
I am sometimes mistaken for an illustrator called Kerry Millard, but this is usually more embarrassing for the people who tell me how much they love my drawings when I have to explain that I don’t draw.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I like gardening, cooking, making ice-cream, all sorts of handcrafts such as sewing and knitting and reading other people’s books.

What would you have chosen to be if you were not a writer?
I would love to be able to sing beautifully.

Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?
Claude Monet, William Shakespeare or Leonardo Da Vinci, but if it were possible I would probably be too awed to be able to speak to them at all.

Website/blog details:
Stephen Michael King

Where were you born? Where do you live now?

Nothing exciting there! I can’t remember being born! Outer suburban Sydney! My first childhood memory has my older brother David being lifted into my cot and us playing together. There’s warm light coming through a window. I can clearly visualise the room. I also have a memory where I’m standing on the back seat in our car and chewing the top of a low front seat. I must have been around one year old. I can taste the red vinyl of the old EH Holden as I talk.

I now live close to the sea, on an island, in a mud-brick house. My studio is a short walk down a hill, through our orchard. I share my life with my wife Trish, our two children, three dogs (Millie, Rosie and Twiggy) and one noisy rainbow lorikeet.

Where did you go to school?

Again, nothing exciting there! I try not to remember. School was difficult with my hearing loss. There were a handful of exceptional teachers who could reach through, guiding me creatively, spiritually and also helpin’ me with readin’, writin’ and writhmatic!

Did you have a nickname?
SKING. I liked it.

What were you like in school?
My report cards always said things like: 'quiet and shy', 'quiet achiever', 'it would be nice to see Stephen speak up a little more'. I didn’t hang out in a big group but I always had good, solid, close friends.

What is the ‘naughtiest’ thing you did?
Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever had a goal of being naughty! I’ve challenged authority often, but that’s always felt good! I’m not one of those people who says that the villain is the most interesting character.  A truly 'good' character is far more complex.

To answer your question: My mum thinks I’m a trouble-maker at times and I do like mischief. In my long ago past I regularly skipped school and was often punished for talking (whispering) in class. At the time, if I’d had a chance to defend myself, I would have said that everything was because I couldn’t hear my teachers.

What was your favourite book growing up?
Too many! My parents read to me regularly. It was all about my Dad or Mum reading to me: their voices weren’t asking me to tidy my room or eat my carrots; they were tucking me in, talking, laughing and reading me into slumber. I have nothing but happy memories of going / or not going / to sleep with a book.

Who is your favourite children’s author?
I’m not one to judge! I like nearly anyone who writes for children, there’s only an armful of books that I’ve puzzled over. As long as children remain the author’s focus and there’s no other motive behind what’s being created then I’m happy to browse.

What is your favourite food/colour/movie?

I’m not a foodie! Simple is best: Water / bananas / Vegemite on toast / red beans and rice ... and pizza!

Colour: my wife taught me that all colours have a purpose and are beautiful in their own right. All colours have their own unique visual language, even murky green-brown!

I love movies and I’ve watched them all. A movie I watched recently was His Girl Friday (1940), with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. All my favourite movies seem to feature simple sets and great dialogue, and funny / emotive fast-talking scripts!

Speaking of sets, I love Fantastic Mr Fox directed by Wes Anderson. Wes loves a good set! Stop animation is also a favourite ... on and on I go ... I’m watching some early Charlie Chaplin (did it ever get better than Charlie?).

Who inspired you to illustrate?

My mum was a teacher and she wanted me to be a great reader. Maybe that’s the ‘naughtiest’ thing I’ve ever done; become an illustrator. My Mum or Dad didn’t draw, so drawing was a place I could truly be me. Near the end of school and into my late teens my parents were suggesting that I work for a bank or become a salesman. They didn’t understand 'my art', so creativity became a free, inspiring and self-motivating place to be.

How did you get started?
Art was something I tried to shake off. I tried to procrastinate on starting my creative life, but my creative self couldn’t sit still. Life would have been easier if I could have become a sales person or a banker. Becoming an illustrator was two steps back, one step forward. The biggest challenges aren’t writing, drawing and painting, they are: believing in yourself, finding the strength to expose your deepest emotions then allowing them to be judged. There was one more for me: acknowledging that I was worthy. Truthfully, I had no choice. Having hearing loss meant that I had to draw for my supper whether I was worthy or not.

How old were you?
29 when I was first published! Before then I worked for Burbank, Walt Disney and my favourite jobs ever: a general library assistant (Macquarie University) and a Children’s library Assistant (Ryde Library).

Why did you want to be an illustrator?

I wanted to be a mad passionate artist, then I realised that books had been my gateway to everything. I couldn’t avoid my inner illustrator; he chased me down.

How do you think up ideas?

Ideas come from places where judgement doesn’t exist, liquid, free places. Right or wrong can’t even breathe in truly creative spaces. Ideas are about exploration. Creativity is about recording and celebrating your discoveries.

Do you have a special place where you illustrate?
Anywhere is perfect: train, car, lounge, verandah or desk.  I will say: if you want to be an artist, create a space for yourself. Cooks have kitchens; artists have studios. You deserve it. If you’re an artist and you have a kitchen but not a studio, I suggest you cook outside with the sun, rip out you kitchen and reclaim it as a studio.

What is the best thing about being an illustrator?
Dancing on the job!

My Dad worked from home (insurance salesman). I work from home. A lot of people think you need to be at the office every day, but I enjoy being in my own space and not having to deal with angry bosses. I surround myself with people I love and who love me in return. In my job I rarely wear shoes. I only dress up for fun, if we’re going out or celebrating birthdays etc. When you live in a mud brick house on an island, the simple act of dressing up can be an event.

Have you had any funny or embarrassing moment as an illustrator?
It’s a serious business, no laughing allowed!

What do you do when you are not illustrating?

It varies from year to year, season to season. I like to appreciate what I have. I don’t ask for much: a skateboard, a push pike, a dog to walk on the beach; looking at billowing clouds and country night skies; sitting on my verandah during a storm; and sharing it all with my family are my favourite past times.

What would you have chosen to be if you were not an illustrator?

I removed choice from the equation. All my eggs went into one basket. If I hadn’t been published I would have chosen a quiet part-time job where I had plenty of time for dreaming and creativity outside of work.

Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?

I don’t think about the past much more than answering these questions. I’m usually projecting to my next project or story idea. I guess I’d go for someone who could possibly change my path, a fork in the road kind of person: Mahatma Ghandi ... Leonard Cohen. If my Dad was still alive I’d like to talk to him about Mahatma Ghandi and Leonard Cohen.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?

Drawing is how I speak best.

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