The Sound of Picture Books


For me creativity is creativity. I’ve never made much of a distinction between painting and writing music, and from my earliest memories I have always created music in my imagination. It seemed natural that I would eventually be a composer as well as an author and artist. To help people understand my creative process, and give them an insight into the way words, images, and music can be combined to create a far greater and richer sensory experience, I devised The Sound of Picture Books.

The Sound of Picture Books began in 2014 with performances of Tree (written by Danny Parker) performed by players from WASO (the West Australian Symphony Orchestra) in partnership with The Literature Centre and Yamaha Music. Danny was instrumental in helping create the original format of the workshops.

The Sound of Picture Books is a series of unique multi-modal workshops that bring the published books I have either collaborated on, or written and illustrated myself, to life through a journey of sound and imagery. In many of the performances I have been fortunate to work with the author of the particular work, which provides further insights into the creative processes involved in creating picture books.

Works included in The Sound of Picture Books

The Sound of Picture Books provide students of all ages, and adults with an innovative learning experience that leaves them excited about the boundless possibilities of music, art and literature. Each performance ranges from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours and is tailored to the specific audiences’ needs, so the same show can be adapted for young children, family groups, older children or for adults. Below are samples from some of the books I have included in this program.


Tree is a 7 minute work featuring music for string quintet and piano, set to the images from the book Tree and narrated by the author, Danny Parker. The DVD includes two tracks. One track is complete with images, music and narration, and the second track consists of music and images only, ideal for self narrated performance in the classroom.

Home & Away

From the book by James Marsden, about one family’s displacement by war and the tragic sequence of events which follow, this work is set for a small symphony orchestra, narrator and soprano (featuring Nina Baumer in the recording). It runs for 18 minutes and is accompanied by images from the book, as well as archival photographs of asylum seekers from around the world.


Music for string quintet, set to the images from Parachute, written by Danny Parker and narrated by Tina Wilson. Running time is 9 minutes per track. One track is complete with images, music and narration, the other with music and images only.

Dumazi & The Big Yellow Lion

30 minute musical work specifically composed for the heart warming children’s book written by Valanga Khoza and Illustrated by me. Composed by me for a small orchestra with guest composition by Valanga Khoza (narration, lyrics and playing of traditional zulu instruments). 

Purchase the book/cd here

The Incredible Freedom Machines

From the book The Incredible Freedom Machines by author Kirli Saunders and illustrated by me, this is a work for string quintet and piano based on the rhythms of pistons in engines. 

Video coming soon.

Afloat in Venice

I have wanted, for a very long time, to write a piano piece that has an upbeat ragtime feel to it and this imaginative story for young children, Afloat in Venice (the first book in the Monkey’s Great Adventures series) by author/illustrator Tina Wilson, was a perfect vehicle for that.

I composed an eleven minute composition for string quintet, piano, French horn and clarinet with an additional version specifically narrated for the visually impaired. The music, performed by members of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, is fun and transporting and can be listened to with or without the book.

Purchase the book/cd here