Guest Author and Illustrator Visits Year 7s

On Wednesday 25 July, acclaimed Authors and Illustrators Frané Lessac and Mark Greenwood came to speak with the Year 7s to 10s about their work.

This husband and wife team have published over 40 books for children, including ‘A is for Australian Animals’ and ‘My Little Island.’ Winning numerous awards along the way, the couple shared some of their insights and knowledge with our students. They asked the group to interpret what they thought ‘editing’ meant, to which they appropriately responded – grammar, spelling and ensuring the text makes sense! Frané said when she first started she didn’t even know where to put a full stop and would have to do 40 or 50 drafts of the book! However, with perseverance and practice, she eventually improved, though still makes a lot of mistakes along the way. Both of them encouraged the groups that even if they were not competent writers now, they should keep going and not give in.

The presentation was very interactive and visual, using a variety of videos and photographs to capture the students’ imagination. In addition, they gave practical tips on layout and design, such as the ideal length of their books being 32 pages and not putting important parts of an image in the middle of the book, the gutter, as they were difficult to see. This was all useful information to help the students with their individual picture books which they will be doing in the future. Frané advised the students to pick a subject they were interested in, as they would need to stick with it for quite a while.

Frané is originally from New Jersey, USA and initially wanted to be a veterinarian before she moved to Montserrat in the Caribbean, where she began painting and published her first book. Mark is an Australian who initially wanted to be a musician, before moving to England where he met Frané and they started to collaborate with their work. They now live in Fremantle.


Mark became fascinated with creating books about history, in colour, not black and white, so the stories would be brought to life. He pointed out that ‘story’ is part of the word ‘history’, so it’s important to create and capture an emotion or feeling from the reader about a place or person; in the same way that a movie may do. This was particularly relevant for the Year 7s who are doing Mystery Writing at the moment. He reminded the students that they need to have an imagination about what may have happened in a place, such as Fremantle Prison, which is represented in their book ‘The Legend of Moondyne Joe’ which recounts his infamous escape from jail. Mark informed the students that there may be ten years of research that goes into a book, and the idea is to raise curiosity in a person so they can find out more information if they want to.

The students were reminded that there were many stories that have never been told and that maybe they were waiting for people like themselves to uncover these stories. The students were captivated throughout their entire presentation, never restless or disengaged and it was both inspiring and motivational for all who attended.

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