>Graeme Base


"I GET VERY TWITCHY WHEN I'M WRITING," says best-selling author and illustrator Graeme Base, 34. "I need absolute silence. I can't stand it even if I hear a lullaby in the distance. For the artwork, I'm a bit less intense." Quietude of that sort has been rare at Base's home base in Melbourne since his wife, Robyn, 34, gave birth to their son, James, two years ago. Still, he was able to finish his fourth children's book, The Sign of the Seahorse, as James was taking his first steps.

Their son was but a gleam when, to research Seahorse, Base and Robyn snorkeled off the Galapagos Islands and scuba-dived off Martinique in 1989. "It was with a sense of wonderment that I discovered another world I'd never illustrated before," he says. With their elaborate pictures and language, Base's books are anomalies, intended to please just one audience: "Me! I don't know that you can dictate what makes a good book. It's like trying to write music to a math formula. It excludes the idea of entertainment, imagination, a sense of fun or pure nonsense."

  • Contributors:
  • Susan Toepfer,
  • Pam Lambert,
  • Joanne Kaufman,
  • Joseph Olshan,
  • Alan Attwood.