Sweetie May (illustrated by Kerry Millard)
ABC Books Australia, 1998
Captain Widehide and Captain Leanbean love arguing – from dawn to dusk, day after day. The only thing they love more than arguing is treasure – lots of it! Then one day they find more than they bargained for…
Captain Widehide and Captain Leanbean rattled around in my imagination for years, making their first appearance in a play I wrote for children. I loved those goofy, greedy pirates and their long-winded, silly arguing so much that one day I decided they needed a story of their own.
I was just as shocked as the two captains when they discovered the baby Sweetie May in a cave. When I first began the story I was sure that Sweetie May was going to be another pirate! The best part about writing (aside from getting to laugh at your own jokes) is making these surprising discoveries. It’s a bit like finding unexpected treasure really.
‘Sweetie May’ was my first book for children and my first collaboration with Kerry Millard. It’s a funny thing but in the years when I sent story after story to publishers, hoping and dreaming that one day I might become a writer for children, I used to carry around Wendy Orr’s beautiful chapter book ‘Ark in the Park’ in my handbag, for inspiration and encouragement. Part of the immense charm of that wonderful book was Kerry Millard’s gorgeous illustrations. When I first heard that Kerry was to be the illustrator for ‘Sweetie May,’ I was thrilled beyond belief. I may have even shrieked out loud. She is so fantastically deft at capturing hilarity and joy, without losing touch with the deep central tenderness of a story, which is a rare and special gift.
“This is ideal “book bait” for newly established readers itching to practise their skills.”
“‘Sweetie May’ is an appealing book. The language is rhythmic and varied, the characters are strongly defined, and the black and white illustrations are humorous and full of movement. In the quest to write accessible ‘chapter books’ for young children, many authors somehow miss really engaging the reader. Children value a good story that is funny and well written. ‘Sweetie May’ is the perfect book to engage a young reader and also lends itself to being read aloud. Very highly recommended.”
- Notable Book 1999: Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year for Award Junior Readers