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  • Manju Howard

How Author Kaye Baillie Leaves Space for Humorous Illustrations

I’m delighted to have Australian picture book author Kaye Baillie. Her fun, new book, When The Waterhole Dries Up, was illustrated by Max Hamilton and published by Windy Hollow Books.


For our Kidlit Creatives Members, Kaye is offering one non-rhyming picture book critique. To WIN this special prize, follow the directions at the end of this post.


First, I want to share Illustrator Max Hamilton’s cover art!

It's bath time in the outback, and a dusty boy is waiting, but so are some very dusty and very cheeky animals. Will this boy ever get clean? A rollicking tale about togetherness and fun!


Welcome, Kaye! Please show us how your words left space for Illustrator Max Hamilton.


It’s lovely to be here, Manju and thanks for having me.


The style of When The Waterhole Dries Up is cumulative like in the story “This is the House That Jack Built”. On each spread a new character is introduced allowing for the illustrator to create some fun mayhem! This portrayal is left up to the illustrator. Will it get splashy? Will the animals get along? Will they use bath toys? What is the boy doing and will he get to have a bath? The alliterative language provides a fun read aloud but it’s the illustrations that provide most of the humor, characterization, and chaos.


In this early spread, Max has included a window which provides a hint at which animal is approaching. She also uses the window to show rain clouds developing and this builds with each spread (a clever addition as I did not indicate this in the art notes). Then there is the side-eye look from the croc. All of this is created by the illustrations.

Moving forward a few spreads, we have nearly all the animals in the bathroom. We see the boy laughing which creates a fun atmosphere. We see balancing antics going on between the quoll and the kangaroo…so cute! And we see another side-eye from the croc.

A few more spreads in and the tiny thorny dragon makes an appearance. The text mentions that he likes to dance which sets up the story to take a new direction. Through the window the rain clouds are even darker. Max has given the boy a bit of cleaning up to do and I love how Dingo reaches for the thorny dragon in a helpful gesture.

A little further along in the story the thorny dragon is seen giggling having caused trouble in the bath. The text picks up pace and Max matches this pace with the escalating chaos. Meanwhile some of the animals are shown reacting and others are still oblivious which continues the humor.

The next spread is one of my favorite spreads because Max has drawn Emu looking directly at the reader with a confused look and this always makes me chuckle. Each animal is shown hopping or tumbling or splashing and Max’s beautiful watercolor paints enhance the watery mayhem.

I won’t spoil the ending, but Max created a wonderful scene where there is only one word of text.


As an author, it’s such a joy to ‘meet’ the characters and see their actions come to life through the illustrations. My text mentions a house, a bathtub and the outback and then like magic, Max has created gorgeous outback scenery with typical Australian red dirt, a charming little farmhouse, a windmill and water tank and carefully chosen colors for each Australian native animal. I feel privileged to provide words that are then taken to a whole new level through the illustrations.


Thanks very much Kaye!

Kaye Baillie grew up writing stories on an orchard with its own waterhole. While she never had to share her bath with animals, she met yabbies and leeches while swimming in nearby channels. Kaye completed her Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing to study the craft of writing for children and to understand the writing industry. Kaye’s passion is writing picture books and she is now a full-time children’s author.

She is the author of four picture books including award winning Message in A Sock (MidnightSun Publishing, Australia, 2018) and many short stories in children’s literary magazine, The School Magazine, Australia.

Scheduled for release in 2022/23 are four picture books ranging in style from rollicking read-a-louds to a biography which will mark her US debut with The Innovation Press.

She is an active member and the Assistant Co-ordinator of SCBWI Victoria, Australia and is a member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Kaye was a member of 12x12 from 2014-2018. She lives in a coastal town in Australia with her family.

Twitter Kaye Baillie Website Kaye Baillie


Prize offer: For a chance to win a non-rhyming picture book critique from Kaye -

Read the post, leave a comment on our Kidlit Creatives page (must be a member) and share this interview on your Twitter or Facebook. Deadline to enter is Friday, July 23rd.


All posts on Manju's blog promote members of Kidlit Creatives: Create, Query & Support

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