Monday, November 14, 2016

Guest Post by Picture Book Author Julie Murphy

SPECIAL GUEST! I’m ecstatic that I have a guest post from picture book author Julie Murphy about her latest book Gilly’s Treasures. Take it away Julie.


Hi, June, and thanks for hosting me on your blog to help celebrate the October 11 release of my picture book for children (4-8), Gilly’s Treasures.

Writers often see the advice, “write about what you know”. I have always loved the beach and often spend my holidays there, so it was natural to write a story set at the beach. And that story evolved into Gilly’s Treasures.


One of my favorite books as a child was Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. I loved it so much that I still dream of visiting Cornwall one day, where the story is set. And of course, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull is a story for all ages. Contemporary children’s books set at the sea that I love are Magic Beach by Alison Lester (fiction), Tanglewood by Margaret Wild and Vivienne Goodman (fiction), and When Elephants Lived in the Sea by Jane Godwin & Vincent Agostino (creative non-fiction).

My daughter and I loved snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef
My husband, daughter and I still often visit the coast for our holidays. We have quite a few gorgeous natural places within a days’ drive. Plus we are very fortunate to have visited some more distant places, such as the Great Barrier Reef, and Ningaloo Reef in north-Western Australia where we saw green turtles!


One of the green turtles we saw at Ningaloo Reef

I love animals so, after school, I trained as a zoologist before working as a zookeeper for a decade. It wasn’t until I left that job to have a baby that I became immersed in the wonderful world of children’s books – both as a reader and a writer. My love of picture books really took over from that point. Many of my favourite picture books are about animals, as well as the ones I write.

I have been writing picture books for about a decade. My training in zoology helped me get a foot in the door with work-for-hire projects, which I wrote to specific briefs provided by the publishers. Most are non-fiction books about animals, but it is only by chance that many are also about the sea. Ocean Animal Adaptations, Coral Reefs Matter, and Anglerfish are just a few examples.

I am proud of my non-fiction books, but I must admit to being extra excited to welcome Gilly’s Treasures into the world. It is my first fiction picture book, and began as my own idea (rather than to a publisher’s brief). With the feel of a traditional children’s fable, it tells the story of Gilly; a seagull who is so busy finding pretty, shiny things at the seaside that he forgets everything else – even to eat! Thankfully, with a little help from his partner, Swoop, he eventually discovers what really matters most to him. Illustrator Jay Fontano has done a wonderful job bringing Gilly and Swoop to life, and balancing my fable-like story with fun, friendly illustrations. I especially love the new character he introduced - a cute little crab who children will love spotting on each page.

I hope that children who read Gilly’s Treasures will want to visit the beach and another natural places for themselves, and maybe find a treasure or two of their own. And it might even spawn a conversation about what they think is most important in their own lives.

I think it is important for children to visit natural places. It gives them a chance to unplug from their devices, slow down, breathe the fresh air, and learn something about the real world. Who doesn’t find nature relaxing? Even a back yard or local park will do the trick. I think it not only benefits the child, but also conservation because kids will be more likely to look after what they know and care about.

My daughter (3) has always loved exploring the beach.


Where to learn more about Julie and her books?

Julie’s web site –

Facebook page with book preview -



Gilly’s Treasures is available from many on-line book stores, including Cedar Fort’s sales page, Books & Things (free for most parts of the USA):


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