Showcasing gifted artist/illustrator, Peter Gouldthorpe

I first met Peter Gouldthorpe at the Public Record Office Victoria in North Melbourne in 2005. As we looked at yellowing newspaper clippings of Queenie the elephant, he took a small scrap of paper from his pocket and started sketching the straps of Queenie’s howdah.

My first picture book, Queenie One Elephant’s Story had been accepted for publication by Maryann Ballantyne, publisher at Black Dog Books. Maryann had invited Peter to illustrate.

We three talked about the book and what it would be and as Peter had flown from Hobart to meet us, we later went for dinner to a little restaurant along Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, not far from Black Dog Books (later becoming an imprint of Walker Books Australia.)

Back then I lived in Warrandyte, a rural township on the edge of the city, so venturing into Fitzroy was in itself exciting. Also, up until that point, I had been writing educational books, primary readers, so working with Maryann and one of Australia’s foremost illustrators was beyond exciting.

School children often ask ‘What is your favourite book, Corinne?’ and I always reply, ‘It will always be Queenie, because I love that elephant and it was my first picture book.’

Queenie with the Franz twins 1933

Now looking back, My Friend Tertius is a close second, again because ‘I love that gibbon,’ and the third will be coming in March 2022. So, an elephant, a gibbon and a very special horse have taken my heart and I will never let them go.

As Peter worked on Queenie and I saw the detailed roughs become stunning illustrations, the anticipation grew. The first launch at the Melbourne Museum claimed interest from the Channel 9 News, newspapers, a generation who had ridden on Queenie’s back and the children who immediately loved hearing her story. The book became an Honour book in the 2007 CBCA Book of the Year Awards and the publicity and popularity of the book continued for many years with a paperback launch at the Melbourne Zoo in 2012 and a US Edition in 2013. Sadly, the Australian edition has recently gone out of print but the US version is still available. I constantly scour second-hand copies to acquire for people who are captured by her story.

Peter and I again Teamed up with Black Dog Books, for The Dog on the Tuckerbox. Including the launch, I visited Gundagai five times to research this story. On one visit I remember taking photos of the landscape for Peter with my digital camera in one hand out the window as I drove up the winding hills out of Gundagai.

When we are not in lockdown, I make regular trips to Gundagai, stopping five miles north at the statue of The Dog on the Tuckerbox and at The Dog on the Tuckerbox Lolly Shop and Café, right next to the statue. Rose and Melissa always have a stack of books for me to sign. One wish is to get back there before Christmas, Covid permitting . . . and one day I hope that Peter and I might work together again.

Here’s the link to Peter’s website where you can view some of his beautiful artwork and read more about him and his exhibitions:


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