Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Tassie teen toast of literary world -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

HEATHER EWART, PRESENTER: Now to a remarkable tale about a 15-year-old schoolgirl who's written and
illustrated a children's book about a likeable but accident-prone character called Henry the Goat.
Ella Watkins wrote the book two years ago and now Henry's adventures are in bookshops right across
Australia and New Zealand. In doing so, she's achieved a dream harboured by authors many times her
age. Martin Cuddihy reports from Tasmania.

MARTIN CUDDIHY, REPORTER: Once upon a time, there was a girl who wrote children's books.

ELLA WATKINS, AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR: I'm Henry the Goat. As you can see, I like to play all the

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Ella Watkins is no ordinary teenager. Her tale about Henry the Goat will soon be on
bookshelves across Australia and New Zealand.

ELLA WATKINS: Well, it doesn't feel strange at all, it just kind of - well, it's more Henry's
thing. So I'm just helping Henry get there. So it's more about Henry.

HILARY ROGERS, PUBLISHER: I have never worked with a teenager in this way before and may well never
do so again, I'm not sure. It is an extraordinary story.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: The story begins when, as an eight-year-old schoolgirl, Ella Watkins was asked to
draw a goat.

ELLA WATKINS: And so that's when I first draw Henry's image, but he didn't have the personality
that he has now. And, um, and so then after then I really liked what Henry looked like so I started
drawing him more. And as I drew him more, his personality started to form.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: And Henry has quite the personality. He's exuberant and manages to get into all
sorts of trouble, chasing chooks one moment, covered in mud the next. You talk about Henry like
he's alive. Is he alive in your mind?

ELLA WATKINS: Yep, definitely.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: What does he do?

ELLA WATKINS: He messes about and whenever I do something it's always - I always think what Henry
would be doing and so he's always messing things up and running round.

HILARY ROGERS: It's very rare for us to see a picture book idea and decide to go with it, and it's
certainly very rare for a 13-year-old, as she was at the time, to have developed something so

MARTIN CUDDIHY: The book has been picked up by the international publishing house Hardie Grant
Egmont. They also publish other well-known children's' titles like Winnie the Pooh, Thomas the Tank
Engine and Bob the Builder.

HILARY ROGERS: I think she's definitely got an advantage writing for smaller children. She's only
just out of the age group. She's got perhaps a decade under her belt since she was a toddler. The
rest of us have got a few under our belt, so ...

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Ella starts by sketching each image in pencil. She then traces the outline with a
pen before she paints each picture in water colour. This one of Henry and an octopus took about 10
minutes. But the artwork is not just limited to Henry. There are his two best friends, Rufus, an
intelligent marsupial and Oscar, a crocodile who just happens to be afraid of water.

ELLA WATKINS: When I was forming Oscar, his personality formed and he was a bit of a scaredy cat,
so it just suited that he'd be scared of water.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: But it's Henry who's really come to life for Ella Watkins. The mischief-prone goat
now accompanies the family everywhere, a sort of imaginary friend for everyone.

FRANCES WATKINS: It's very amusing, 'cause it adds another dimension. We're doing something or
having some funny - so what would happen if Henry got involved? How would he - what would his take
be and how would he destroy the situation? So it's fun.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Ella's mum Francis is quite talented in her own right. She's a dermatologist and
part-time sculptor, but she reckons her daughter doesn't quite realise what she's achieved.

FRANCES WATKINS: She doesn't really know how extraordinary it is, I don't think. I don't think so.
It's just something that she's done - one of her things that she does and she's enjoys and she's -
she'll keep going.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: So the public celebration of Ella Watkins's friend and creation has begun. He's now
visiting children all across the country.

IMOGEN CESNIK: Great for kids. It goes over everyday things that kids do and I think kids can
really relate to that and it's got beautiful colours. Kids always love bright colours. So, kids
always love bright colours and I think it's amazing that she's done all the writing and the
illustrations as well.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: As for the author, well, she's just pleased to share Henry.

ELLA WATKINS: I love everyone running around with little Henry toys the most.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: And Henry himself?

ELLA WATKINS: He's pretty happy at the moment. He's enjoying the party.

HEATHER EWART: Martin Cuddihy reporting from Hobart.