As I get closer to releasing Janet’s Yellow Butterflies, I have been reflecting on some of the literature, media and memories that inspired ideas for it.
Today’s writing inspiration is My Place, written by @Nadia Wheatley and illustrated by Donna Rawlins. I bought this book as a child in 1988, and it is still one of the most treasured items on my bookshelf. I knew before I bought it that I was interested in the “olden days”, but this book helped spark my lifelong love of family and place-based history.
It begins in 1988 with Laura, who lives in a terrace house in inner city Sydney. Each page goes back decade by decade to 1788, with a custodian of the property providing a glimpse into their life and family at the time. We see different families come and go over the years with their own generational story threads, the influence of historic events and trends, and how people’s actions impact future generations.
Donna has done an amazing job bringing each decade’s characters to life visually. The map showing what has changed and what has stayed the same each decade is fascinating. And throughout the whole 200 years the big tree is always a constant.
Janet’s Yellow Butterflies intertwines two story threads, one set in the 1700s and one set in modern times. My Place really influenced my thinking on how to connect these through stories and place-based artefacts passed down through the generations.
I have loved sharing My Place with my children to give them a sense of how we each belong to a story much greater and older than we sometimes realise.