ABOVE: Tamsin Ainslie at work in her studio in Murwillumbah.
ABOVE: Tamsin Ainslie at work in her studio in Murwillumbah. John Gass

Mousy Cecile steals the hearts of young readers

THE success of local illustrator Tamsin Ainslie's latest picture book for children, with its diminutive mouse heroine, Cecile Saint-Claire, proves the age-old adage, that good things come in small packages.

While mice often incite terror among the bravest of us, the character of her latest work has high hopes and a great gift.

The little mouse has since stolen everyone's heart.

The Sister's Saint-Claire, by first-time author Carlie Gibson, and illustrated by Murwillumbah-based Ainslie, has rocketed to the national best seller's list, and tells the story of five mouse sisters who learn that greatness resides even in the smallest of us.

The beautifully styled hard cover book was a natural fit for Ainslie, an illustrator of more than 50 books for children, and renowned for her tiny paintings that elevate life's overlooked small details.

The Murwillumbah illustrator was supported creatively by a family who believed in living a "fairytale”.

"I love to paint little things.

"I feel that something as ordinary as a favourite sweet, a cup of milk, even an old pencil, are wonderful painting subjects, and have the power to transport us because they're often full of stories and personal histories.

"The story of 'Cecile', the youngest and tiniest in the family of mice, dreams about sharing her gifts with the big wide world.

"The story resonated with me naturally,” Ms Ainslie said.

Reminiscent of a country style French recipe book, Ainslie takes us to rural France with her beautiful watercolour illustrations of rolling vineyards, bustling, cobblestoned market squares, and mouthwatering pretty pies, delicious cheeses, and buttery pastries.

According to Ainslie, within this delicious heaven on earth for mice, is a powerful message for girls seeking independence, or for anyone who feels their big dreams are just out of reach.

"The book's author is herself one of five girls, and she's written an inspiring story about sisters supporting each other, stepping out and being brave, no matter how insignificant our gifts might seem to us or anyone else,” she said.

"I'm excited that it's been so well received, and for a debut children's author to go straight to the national 40 best sellers list is wonderful.”

Tamsin Ainslie and Carlie Gibson will celebrate the launch of The Sister's Saint-Claire' on Friday, November 25 at 4pm, with French food, book signings and face painters at The Bowerbird Emporium, 9 Wollumbin StreetMurwillumbah.

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