Residing in western Australia, Frané Lessac (58), now has about 35 children books to her credit. Attracted by the beauty of Montserrat, the author-cum-illustrator moved to the small Caribbean island, only to come out with her first children’s book, My Little Island (1984).
“I have more illustrations than writings, since I have been painting since the age of two. My mother started taking me to libraries at a very young age. That’s how I know the importance of children literature. I request every mother to expose their children to books at a young age,” says Frane, in Chandigarh for an interaction at Guru Nanak Public School, Sector 37.
Some of the famous books authored by Frane are Caribbean Canvas (1987), Caribbean Alphabet (1989), Camp Granada (2003) and Island Counting 1-2-3 (2005), besides her big list of illustrated books.
Originally from New Jersey, Frane has exhibited her work in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles. Her work, besides winning Australian and international awards, has also been translated into numerous languages. In 2010, she was awarded the Muriel Barwell Award for Distinguished Service to Children’s Literature.
Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth (SPICMACAY), Chandigarh chapter, in collaboration with the Australian Embassy,under its Oz Fest organised Frane’s interaction session at Strawberry Fields School, Sector 26, Rock Garden and St Kabir’s School, Sector 26, besides Guru Nanak Public School. The discussion was organised under the World Heritage series of SPICMACAY.
About travelling various countries and meeting children, she says, “Children are usually the same everywhere, but, in India, especially in Chandigarh (this being her first visit), children are very respectful, have etiquettes and are interested in world culture.”
It’s been 40 years that Frane has been into children’s literature, but her most appreciated work has been with award winning children’s author and husband, Mark Greenwood. “Together we have done eight books; he writes and I do the illustrations. Mark knows exactly what to write to please a child’s mind. In fact, sometimes he rephrases his sentences according to my illustrations,” says she.
Frane also uses primitive and folk art in her illustrations; thus, the portrayal of India (thanks to the four times she has visited) in her books such as Bird Who Was an Elephant, Nine O’Clock Lullaby and Simpson and His Donkey. Known for her colour contrasts, the illustrator says, “I love contrasts and I believe in presenting children with detailed and informative pictures.”
In 2012, her book, Drummer Boy of John John, received a best book award in the US. Frane also stated that she and Mark would be coming out with children’s books, May Flower and Midnight, soon; the latter would be based on a true story.