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Q&A  •  13 September 2022


How a skate star and author worked together on new children's book

We chatted with Olympic skateboarder, Poppy Starr Olsen and author Jess Black, to learn about their new children’s book. Find out how they researched and the main message they want kids to take away from the book.

Poppy Starr Olsen

What is the number one thing you want kids to take away from The Colourful World of Poppy Starr Olsen?

I’d love kids to get a sense of adventure from the book and see that anything is possible. I hope my weird, funny family also inspires kids to be completely themselves because life is too short to hide who you are!

Did you have to do any research for the book?

I guess the main research I did was with the drawings. I spent hours looking through my old cartoon books on how to illustrate people, their body movements and facial expressions.

What was it like looking back on your own childhood?

It was a really fun process. We would get up to so many adventures as kids, so it was fun to go through the memory bank.

What was the process like creating illustrations for the book?

The start was difficult because when I draw there is next-to-no thought process involved. I just draw whatever comes out of my head at the time. For this, however, I had to illustrate what I thought would work within the pages. I also found it hard drawing certain things, but once I got into the swing of it, I would be drawing for hours — sometimes until 3 am!

You’ve said the book is something you would’ve loved to have as a kid. What is one thing you hope stands out to kids when they read it?

You can do anything you set your mind to, and it doesn’t just have to be one thing. I’d love kids to be inspired to be completely themselves. But I also want them to know that they can work really hard for something while having fun and being kind at the same time. I hope they realise that if you don’t win sometimes, it’s not the end of the world. Being an awesome person is being a winner in my eyes!

Jess Black

What was your favourite part of working on the book?

Getting to spend time with Poppy and her family.

How did you capture Poppy’s personality while writing? 

One of the ways to express Poppy’s personality was through her actions. She takes action to make changes in areas she is passionate about – whether this is to do with saving our oceans or equality in skating. Her personality also shines through in her relationships with her good friends and her family – she’s kind, loyal and fearless!

What is your favourite scene in the book?

Poppy’s family is very creative and musical. One of my favourite scenes (hard to choose just one!) is when Poppy brings her skater friends home and her Dad and brother are composing songs on the guitar. It’s a very funny scene as her two worlds collide.

Do you have any advice for kids who want to become writers?

Read as much and as widely as you can. Write stories in your free time, attend holiday writing workshops and don’t give up!


Learn more and get a peek inside the book

Feature Title

The Colourful World of Poppy Starr Olsen
A funny and fresh novel for young readers from Australian Olympic skateboarder and creative soul Poppy Starr Olsen.
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