The Story of my Book: Colin Thompson on The Bicycle
Australian author and illustrator Colin Thompson guest blogs to tell us the story of his new picture book The Bicycle - a compilation of bicycle artworks by children’s book artists including Freya Blackwood, Quentin Blake and Shaun Tan, that is giving all royalties to Save the Children - an organisation improving children’s lives around the world.
In September 2008, Save the Children took my wife, Anne, and I to Cambodia to see some of the work they were doing there. The thing that impressed me the most was how much they were changing so many people’s lives with often very simple solutions.
One day we drove for miles along dirt roads to visit a school in a village that was so remote, the head man said we were the first Westerners to go there. Although this village was a long way from main roads, there are villages with no schools that are even more remote. The nearest school, like the one we visited, is too far to walk to every day.
So Save the Children give them $50 bicycles and that bicycle is the difference between a child spending their life unable to read or write and working hard just to survive or becoming anything they want from a teacher to a doctor to the president of their country.
Every day Save the Children do many, many wonderful things all round the world in all sorts of situations. They provide hope for thousands of children and their families, but it was the simple gift of a bicycle that really made me realise how much we have and how little it can take to change the world.
The illustrations in this book show how the bicycle fits into our lives in different ways. In the rich bits of the world, the bicycle is a something we take for granted. We use it for exercise or relaxation, but we never think of it as something that will change our lives in a particularly dramatic way. Yet to many people, a bicycle is the key to their greatest dreams.
Our first book for Save the Children - Dust - was inspired by a terrible famine that killed thousands of adults and children. The Bicycle is a celebration of how much we can help others with such simple acts of charity.
The Bicycle is out now.
Here are some sample illustrations from inside the book’s pages.
Illustration from The Bicycle by Freya Blackwood
Illustration from The Bicycle by Jan Bowman
Illustration from The Bicycle by Colin Thompson