The aspirations of Graeme Base: ‘To become a successful toy and game developer’

by |October 19, 2016


Graeme Base is one of the world’s leading creators of picture books. His alphabet book Animalia, received international acclaim when it was first published in 1986, and has achieved classic status with worldwide sales approaching three million copies.

A special anniversary edition of Animalia has been released to mark 30 years since the book’s publication. Take this stunning visual journey for the first time or delve once again into the world of Animalia….

1.  To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself. Where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born in England – came to Melbourne at the age of 8 – been here ever since.

2.  What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At 12 I wanted to be an artist. At 18, a musician. At 30, an architect. Always something to do with creating something…


3.  What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That I was going to be a successful musician. It didn’t happen but that’s ok, because I gave it a go – in life you tend to only regret the things you didn’t do, not the ones you did.

4.  What were three works of art – book, painting or piece of music, etc – that had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Salvador Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross. All of Albrecht Durer’s woodcuts.


5.  Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I didn’t, I did picture books. Seemed like a way of doing what I loved (colouring in) and getting paid for it. Worked a treat!

6.  Please tell us about your latest novel…

Latest book is the 30th Anniversary Edition of Animalia. Where did those three decades go? That must have been the whooshing sound I’ve had in my ears all that time: life rushing by. (The book has a stunning golden cover under the dust jacket, by the way!)

7.  What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

There are just so many facetious answers to this question, like ‘a copy of someone’s else’s book without paying for it’. But let’s be grown up and ignore them. I hope people take away a sense of optimism. My books always contain a sense of hope. And joy.

8.  Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Tolkien. Have you ever realised the detail of his world? Incredible imaginative powers.

9.  Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To become a successful toy and game developer.


From Animalia


From Animalia

10.  What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Less is more. As Mark Twain once said: ‘I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.’ It’s all about editing.

Thank you for playing, Graeme!


To celebrate Booktoberfest at Booktopia, order Animalia by October 31st and you’ll go into the draw to win a kids prize pack worth $800! And if you order any book from the Booktoberfest showcase, you’ll go into the draw to win a year’s supply of books. That’s a $50 gift voucher every week – for an entire year!

Animaliaby Graeme Base


30th Anniversary Edition

by Graeme Base

Celebrate thirty years of this classic alphabet book with a deluxe anniversary edition.

More than three million copies of Animalia have been sold making Graeme Base's amazing alliterative alphabet book one of the world's most beloved titles for children. Take this stunning visual journey for the first time or delve once again into the world of Animalia . . .

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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.


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