All Australian Creatures Great and Small

Creative Conversations: Jennifer Truswell of Barrenjoey Books

One of the things I love about Puggle Post is finding out about the amazing people behind the beautiful products, and their personal reasons for creating them.

I chatted to the truly inspirational Jennifer Truswell, who authored and illustrated her book, Pouches, Paws, Tails and Claws while recently on maternity leave. I find this pretty incredible!

Both educational and with gorgeous illustrations, Pouches, Paws, Tails and Claws celebrates some of Australia’s more obscure animals: quokkas to cassowaries, glouldian finches to ghost bats and so much more inbetween. With charming rhymes throughout, suitable for children across a wide age range, and guaranteed to enlighten even the most discerning of adults, the book is an absolute delight.

A zoo-keeper and a wildlife enthusiast – if anyone is qualified to teach us about the diverse, unique and downright fascinating species that call Australia home, it’s Jen.

Sunset at the stunning Cape Leveque – one Jennifer Truswell’s most memorable places on her travels across Australia

You’ve travelled all over this beautiful country. If you could revisit a particular place in an instant where would it be and why?
This question had me stumped for a very long time. Our country is so diverse in it’s landscapes, no one place takes the cake. Kangaroo Island holds a very special place in my heart as I have revisited it a few times now but I definitely think Western Australia is my favourite state. Particularly the top end. The drive from Broome up to Cape Leveque is absolutely stunning… and then a short drive from there you can visit Kakadu, The Kimberleys, El Questro, Ningaloo Reef… the list goes on!

As someone with no previous publishing experience how did you find the process of self-publishing?
Long!!! Once all the illustrations and text were finalised, it was all scanned into a computer and sent to a graphic designer to organise everything on the pages. Once this was complete it was sent to a printer who posted a few proof copies to decide on the thickness of pages, sizing etc. It actually doesn’t sound that convoluted when I’m saying it like that, but the process took 6 or so months.

In your opinion what is Australia’s most obscure creature?
It has to be the Platypus. They are considered a mammal, lay eggs like a bird and are venomous like a reptile. Doesn’t get more obscure than that! They don’t have mammary glands and instead of suckling from teats, the mum secretes milk through the skin of her abdomen and the young lick it up.

How important is it to you that Modern Australiana is designed and made in Australia?
Very important! Once a product leaves this country to be produced, standards no longer fall under the strict Australian guidelines. From my experience, products that are hand-crafted through to completion in this country, are ethically and principally above board, not to mention genuinely made from people who are very passionate about the product they have invested themselves in.

What’s the number one thing Australians could be doing that would help protect our native wildlife?
Plant local, native species in your backyard… and lots of them. Trees are being cut down at an alarming rate and backyards are being replaced with organised and structured hedges and exotic palms, leaving no hope for our little backyard buddies. I personally find so much beauty in the rugged, native gardens because I know how much they are supporting local wildlife.

What does the future hold for Barrenjoey Books?
Well… I have written three more books and I’m currently illustrating one on Insects as we speak, so watch this space! I don’t think even Australians realise how many animals we have that are unique to this country. One book just can’t cover it all.

Pouches Paws and, Tails & Claws is a lightweight paperback book that makes an ideal gift or souvenir. You can see our full range of quality Australia themed books here.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Truswell, Barrenjoey Books, and stock images

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