Illustrating point of view
A rousing childrenís tale of adventure carries the plight of our planet.
Author Geoff Thomson (pen-name Malcolm Thomson) has more than entertainment in mind when he writes his books for children.
The Trinity Beach writer, who is originally from Scotland, is currently working in Canberra as a graphic designer while promoting his new book, Saga of the Vegvisir, and says he began writing seriously two years ago.
“I was an environmental activist and it was a way to get the message across to children about protecting the environment,” Geoff says.
“I was in the Wilderness Society and Greenpeace. This story encourages kids to learn about and have respect for animals.”
Geoff’s previous books are Greenhouse Mouse, about global warming, and a book about a squirrel called Let’s Go Nuts.
He became interested in the environment during many bush walks in the Blue Mountains and the Budawang Range in the ’70s.
“Then in 1987, I joined the Wilderness Society’s action group and became actively involved in preventing the woodchipping of native forests on the New South Wales south coast escarpment forests,’’ he says.
“Watching huge areas of beautiful old growth wilderness being annihilated was a depressing experience and brought home to me the vital importance of saving as many of these areas as possible.’’
Geoff’s books aim to communicate the importance of the natural environment to the younger generation.
“This book, Saga of Vegvisir, is an attempt to communicate this message to the young, because it is the grim future they will inherit from our short-sightedness,” Geoff says.
His books are written in a way, though, that is fun and exciting, and his colourful illustrations are hand-drawn and developed in a unique way.
“I pencil them and then do an outline in black ink,” the long-time cartoonist says.
“Then I scan them and work on them in Photoshop. I’ve learned to do the shaping and colouring.”
The protagonist of his latest book, published in Australia, the US, and the UK, is Fergus, who sets off to find the Loch Ness monster, and finds the purple monster sans loch crying his eyes out.
His tale is based on both Scottish and Norwegian folklore, and Geoff says he did his research when travelling last year.
“I got the resources whilst travelling in Norway,’’ he says.
“It took about a year to create the book and it was hard work.”
The focus of the tale is a good old-fashioned adventure story.
“The story is about a compass that was thrown into the bottom of the loch thousands of years ago,” Geoff says.
“The trolls took it and so Fergus goes back to tell the other kids to get them on side. A fisherman takes them to Norway but there is a storm and they are shipwrecked on an island and attacked by Haggis, who are nasty creatures with kilts,” he says, laughing.
They eventually reach a Viking ship that takes them to an isle off Norway, that according to Norwegian fable, no one can see.
“In my version, they can only see it during the northern lights,” Geoff says.
In a moment of magic, the animals explain why they are dying and the children return home to pass on the news to others.
Geoff says he was helped with the book by Professor David Karoly of the University of Melbourne, who is an international expert in climate change and variability.
He says the best part of his work, although he enjoys educating children on environmental issues, is the reaction of children to his books when he visits them in schools and libraries.
“I enjoy creating the characters and seeing the reactions on the kids’ faces when they read my books,” he says.
Geoff (Malcolm Thomson)’s book Saga of the Vegvisir is available from Amazon, and Author House UK via their web bookshop.
NEW CAIRNS.COM.AU COMMENT POLICY
We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Comments submitted without a full name and suburb/location will not be considered for publication. Please read our full comment policy and publication guidelines.
Share this article
Geoff Thomsonís Saga of the Vegvisir