Debra Tidball signs Anchored

Debra Tidball chats about her new picture book, Anchored

Today we have Debra Tidball on the blog. Debra is an award-winning author of picture books, flash fiction, short stories, poems and plays. With a background in social work, she also has an MA in children’s literature, and has a particular passion for picture books. She lives in Sydney where she writes, reviews books and blogs, with her Best Buddy, Archie the French Bulldog, always close by. Anchored by Debra Tidball and Arielle Li, has just launched.

Anchored by Debra Tidball and Arielle Li picture book cover.

Andrew: Hi Debra, It’s a pleasure to have you on the blog! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and feel free to include a surprising fact about yourself or something you’ve done.

Debra: Hi Andrew! It’s great to be here! As you’ve mentioned, I live in Sydney where I write with my best buddy, Archie snuggled up beside me. I love going on walks with Archie around the harbour and that’s where the idea for Anchored came from. I was fascinated by the boats, especially the tugs and how they constantly farewell and welcome back huge ships. It made me think about what it’s like to miss someone when they go away, and how I felt when my dad went to Vietnam with the RAAF when I was little, and how reassured I felt getting a post card and knowing he was thinking of me.

A surprising fact? I have a thing for animals with big ears! I once owned a donkey and trained him to become the champion performance donkey at the Castle Hill Show!

Anchored by Debra Tidball and Arielle Li is out now

Andrew: Wow! That’s so cool. So, Debra, after writing a book with a tugboat, you must have learned some interesting facts about them. How strong is a tugboat? What else have you learned about tugboats?

Debra Tidball with a stack of Anchored picture books.

Debra: Tugboats are small but powerful! It’s amazing to watch them push, pull and prod huge ships many times their size, as they guide them safely into and out of the harbour!! Tugs can also come in different shapes depending on purpose. I see a strange one in the harbour sometimes that’s used for pushing barges. It’s called Lady Norman and if you search it on the internet, you’ll see some photos.

I was also amazed at the heroic intercepting of a huge chunk of walkway in the 2011 Brisbane floods by a tugboat and crew, that saved potential damage to the Gateway Bridge! It’s amazing to watch (search it on the internet too).

Andrew: What do you hope kids will take away from reading Anchored?

Debra: I hope Anchored brings kids comfort to know that their love has a sustaining power on their parent or special friend even when they are apart, and that it empowers them to realise that they are small but powerful too – in an emotional sense. And consequently, I hope they understand that being anchored in someone’s heart can make their days brighter too.

Andrew: What are some situations that kids face where they might experience separation?

Debra: So many!! Even just the daily separations of parents going to work or kids going to preschool/school. I know my daughter used to worry about me when she went off to preschool, and always wanted assurances that I would miss her. And then there are the bigger separations like living between parents, or working away from home like FIFO or military parents.

The thing about the characters in my book being a ship and tugboat is that they can represent any relationship – parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, special friend etc.

Andrew: I love the illustration style by Arielle Li! How has she enhanced the story through her gorgeous illustrations and captured the relationship between the two main characters, Tug and Ship?

Debra: I love it too! She has enhanced the story in so many ways!! She has just so nailed the emotional connection between Ship and Tug, right from the front cover! In fact, as the illustrations started coming through, we found we could take out some of the words that were superfluous as Arielle had illustrated it perfectly. Also, there are three double paged spreads in the book that needed that to be ‘wow’ moments, and the way Arielle played with perspective, colour, placement and tone, made them really shine. I love the colours as well – she has made it a really beautiful book that parents and children will love to flip through.

Andrew: That’s amazing. I just know children and their families will love Anchored. And it’ll be a great resource for teachers, librarians, parents and guardians. How can people find more about you and your books?

Debra Tidball Author photo

Debra: They can go to my website or follow me on social media:


Andrew: Thanks Debra, it has been a pleasure to have you on the blog! Thanks for coming and I know kids will love Anchored by Debra Tidball and Arielle Li. For Anchored activities, teachers notes and more, head over to the EK Books website.

Debra: Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Andrew!

Picture book Cover of Anchored by Debra Tidball and Arielle Li.

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For more author interviews and book reviews, see my Kids’ Book Blog!

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