Joy Ramirez is an up-and-coming children’s writer from Auckland, New Zealand. Her debut children’s picture book, Toot – The World’s Tiniest Whale, is full of loveable, unique characters.
Joy’s passion is to create stories that teach children positive attitudes and social skills, to help them grow into awesome adults.
Joy says, ‘Toot only grows when he has the courage to jump out of his little fish bowl and follow his heart. For me, jumping out of my fishbowl was leaving my corporate job and learning how to write children’s stories. I threw myself in the deep end, and just gave it a go.’ Joy wrote 28 drafts of the Toot story over ten months before it reached its final form.
Joy’s background as a singer and songwriter is evident in her writing style, which is full of rhythm and rhyme. She wrote the Toot theme song, 'Keep on Swimming', which she teaches to kids along with a Toot dance at her book reading events.
Joy's background is working in events, marketing, PR and sponsorship management in Auckland, Wellington and Australia. She has produced a wide range of events including cultural festivals, awards ceremonies, rock 'n' roll tours, and has been part of the team producing large televised events.
Joy loves doing book readings at Wymondley Primary School in Otara, with a class of seven and eight year olds. ‘I love hanging out with kids and seeing them learn. They have so much energy and curiosity.’
Talented, up-and-coming Illustrator Mike Chapman has illustrated the colourful and charismatic characters in the story.
He studied fish and whale movement, and applies this to his drawing of the aquatic characters Toot and Henry the Fifth. His drawings focus on subtle details like tail movements, shadows and bubbles to convey emotion and connect with the reader.
While growing up in rural Palmerston North, Mike was heavily influenced by a Finnish illustrator and writer half a world away. He loved Tove Jansson's Moomin books and comics from the 1950s, about an adventurous family of white, hippo-shaped, fairy tale characters. ‘I like the simplicity of it,’ says Mike.
Mike trained at Palmerston North School of Design, Auckland University of Technology and Unitec. He works at Fuman design studio by day, and illustrates Toot by night.
Mike brings the characters to life at his drawing board in his Ponsonby home. He uses black ink for the initial sketches, and uses watercolour pencils to add vibrant colour.
Keep in touch with Joy on Twitter: @JoyStorytime
Follow Toot: www.facebook.com/tootthewhale