I have a great view of the stage for this session – for one thing, the audience here is a lot shorter than previous ones; and I’ve also chosen to sit up the front – I am here to see Oliver Jeffers, critically acclaimed award winning author and illustrator of multiple bestselling picture books, and he’s going to be DRAWING. On stage.  Right in front of us.

New Zealand’s own award-winning graphic novel artist and author Dylan Horrocks introduces him. Oliver has chosen to tell us his bio using slides, and once again I have to make Choices – do I Write or do I Watch? Clearly I watch (and you can too, here, although we get to see some extra special bits here at the Festival that he’s added just for us). He talks his way through the slides, and as well as photos of him as a child, and some of his work, we also get to see lots of pictures of things people have sent him, from crocheted penguins, to crazy glasses, and frighteningly, an oversized, realistic model of a human heart. On a pedestal. The room is already full of Warm, and Happy, and by the end of what is, after all, just an introduction, we are all in love.  Everyone, including all the grownups, is wearing an identical goofy grin.

We are still wearing the grins an hour later as we leave. Thanks to an outstanding tagteam live drawing collaboration with Dylan, we now know

  • how to draw a penguin
  • what a Huey does when he wants to stand out from the crowd
  • why you should be wary of sofas
  • what the trailer for his new film looks like
  • where his ideas actually come from
  • whether he can, in fact, draw feet
  • why you should always eat a cheese sandwich just before bedtime (special thanks to Dylan for this tip)
  • whether he can not just make but also AIM a paper plane
  • how to defeat a 20 foot tall giant banana with laser beams for eyes
  • why eyebrows are the only thing you will need in life
  • and finally, how to make an entire audience feel like we’ve been hugged by a giant penguin in a beanie.