Seven Seas of Fleas
Dave Petzold
Publisher: Starfish Bay Publishing
ISBN: 9781760360986
Awards Year: 2021
Category: CBCA Award for New Illustrator
The publisher says...

A flying boy and seven bees are chased by fleas, but an unexpected friendship forms. 

Bryce McFee is an ordinary boy bored with washing the flea-ridden family dog. So, he escapes to his imagination and flies across the backyard with a dandelion and seven bees. Trouble strikes when a swarm of pesky fleas gives chase, threatening to ruin his adventure. Ultimately, an unlikely friendship is formed between the flying boy and the fleas. A fun rhyming story that exercises the imagination. 

The author says...

Seven Seas of Fleas began as a short poem that I wrote many years before it became a picture book. The poem was very different to the current story, however the underlying themes of flying, adventure and imagination were already present and I could see that it had the potential to be a picture book.

When it came to creating Bryce (the main character) the first drafts weren’t all that good. I initially thought he should have wings or maybe fly on the back of bee, but these ideas didn’t feel quite right. But I kept drawing and eventually the dandelion became the chosen mode of transport. At the same time I started working on the storyboards to provide some structure and the story then went through many re-writes. Characters were removed, pages were shuffled around and illustrations reworked.

It took about a year and a half to get the writing and illustrations to a standard where I though they were good enough to start approaching publishers and another year and a half to actually publish the book. So all up, around 3 years from conception to release.

Graphite pencil, ink and oil paint are my favourite mediums. I use graphite pencil to draw the initial illustrations and ink and oil paint to create textures. Once I’m happy with the line work I scan everything and put it all together in Photoshop.

The CBCA judges say...

This fantastical journey across a backyard during a comical dog-washing session is full of action and colour and fun. Petzold’s artwork makes the book live and as a new illustrator he has done well using quickness in line and attitude to deliver a human character and a dog with personality. Using a limited colour palette of teal blues, yellows and the odd red splotches of colour, the digital illustrations reference a stylish use of printmaking to engage us in the boy's world of flea elimination. This wonderful print-maker feel of many objects, with their sharply defined edges contrasting to the shaggy, flea-ridden dog introduce us to a promising new talent.

The Reading Time reviewers say...
Click here to read the Reading Time review.

Shortlist Books 2021