Egg and Spoon racing for the prize

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Greytown illustrator Giselle Clarkson with Egg and Spoon: An Illustrated Cookbook, shortlisted this morning for a book award. PHOTO / TOM TAYLOR

A cookbook with a local flavor is in the running for a national book award.

Out of a pool of 166 entries, 28 finalists for the 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were announced yesterday.

Among the five finalists for the Elsie Locke Award for the Non-Fiction category was Egg and Spoon: An Illustrated Cookbook, with recipes from Pipi Cafe owner and chef Alexandra Tylee.

Pipi was an iconic pizza place on the main drag in Greytown until Tylee moved the cafe to Havelock North.

The book had another Wairarapa connection in the form of freelance illustrator Giselle Clarkson.

Having only moved to Greytown about a year ago, Clarkson had never crossed paths with Tylee, and the first time she heard of Pipi was when publisher Gecko Press wrote it down. contacted about Egg and Spoon.

Clarkson was previously known to Gecko for her work illustrating Joy Cowley’s anthology, The Gobbledegook Book, which was a 2020 finalist.

The publisher gave him some examples of Tylee’s recipes for which Clarkson returned test artwork.

“I went back and they said, ‘This is great, this is going to be perfect’.”

After that first contact, there was a gap of almost a year while Tylee was completing his recipes.

Some of these recipes have been taken directly from coffee, like the famous Pipi Pizza. Others were Tylee’s personal creations.

Clarkson took coffee for the cookbook palette – the coffee and the book were wrapped in a hot pink.

“The whole restaurant has its own amazing aesthetic that Alexandra created, which is just pink – but in the best possible way,” Clarkson said. “It’s warm and comfortable, like slipping into a hug.”

Many customers tended to confuse Pipi as being named after its owner, Tylee, rather his true inspiration, the pee shell. However, for Clarkson, the history of coffee had taken on a life of its own.

“You can imagine the character of Pipi being a young girl in a princess costume but also in a red stripe and stomping around the paddock with a boiled egg in her pocket to eat later. “

Clarkson agreed with the suggestion that some of his work reminded of Roald Dahl’s illustrator Sir Quentin Saxby Blake.

“Obviously he has an influence on me. It’s not intentional that I work this way, but it doesn’t surprise me that people see me like this.

However, Clarkson’s style also developed as a result of her many experiences before becoming an illustrator.

Until about six years ago, she worked as a forest surveyor. Prior to that, she had volunteered on remote islands with the Department of Conservation.

“I’m really passionate about conservation and environmental issues, so a lot of my work goes into this area. “

Clarkson’s other work involved science communication: turning research into comics that could be distributed in schools or through social media.

However, Clarkson said the ultimate goal was always to illustrate children’s books.

“It’s exactly what I wanted, really. Ever since I decided I wanted to be an illustrator, I wanted to get into children’s books. It was the goal. “

With his illustrations for Egg and Spoon helping him reach the children’s book awards final, that goal was already a reality.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Wellington on August 11.



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