See all posts
25 April 2012 ·

Artists and Animals: Kerry Thompson, aka Kerry Millard

Kerry Thompson, published as Kerry Millard, is a painter,cartoonist and illustrator. We first met twenty years ago at an Australian Children’s Book Council Book of the Year celebration, when we each had books on the Shortlist. We promptly discovered that not only were we both from Canada, were the same age and had arrived in Australia at much the same time, but that she had just signed a contract to illustrate my Ark in the Park. Two years later we enjoyed the same celebrations even more, when Ark won the Book of the Year for Younger Readers. Since then we’ve worked on many books together, and Kerry has kindly agreed to do a cover for the Nim’s Island e-book of Activities & Recipes. Find out more about her books at: 
And about her art at:

If a fish is asleep, how do you know?    Kerry Thompson painting in acrylics on paper
Have you ever been inspired by an animal, or animals in general, in your life or art?

I have always been fascinated by animals and love to learn how different species live. As a cartoonist, I often use animals as my main characters. It’s fun to see how a hippopotamus or a dog would handle a situation that we might find ourselves in. And I love to use animals in my book illustrations, either as main characters, or watching the main characters, or living out a little story of their own running along beside the main story.

Did you have pets as a child? 

I had lots and lots of pets as a child in Canada: dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, turtles, goldfish, rats, gerbils, hamsters, snakes, a bat, a horse, a dove, and a monkey. The pet I most wanted was a skunk, but my mother said, definitely not.

Do you have an animal companion now? 

My elderly dog died last year; she was 16 and was called Susie. I have noticed since she has been gone that I have more lizards in the house, and that wallabies, lyrebirds, and brush turkeys are coming right up to the back door.

What would your pet tell us about you?
With Susie, in a barrel in which we were about to plant a lemon tree.

The lizards would tell you that I need to sweep under my fridge.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

I always thought it would be nice to be a cormorant – then you could fly, paddle on top of the water, and swim underneath it. You wouldn’t be afraid of heights or big waves!

Any advice for people wanting a pet?
Dog’s dinner  – Kerry Thompson painting in acrylics on canvas

A pet isn’t a toy. A pet is a big responsibility, and can have a wonderful relationship with you if you treat it well. Definitely learn a lot about the kind of animal first so you can work out of it’s the right pet for you, and so you can make its world as interesting and appropriate as possible. Learn if it would be happier with a friend or in a group, and make sure it has as much space as possible because it doesn’t have a choice about where it lives. If you are likely to go away on holidays, work out if the pet is one you can easily have looked after by somebody while you’re away. Get a healthy pet from a good breeder or shop, and take good care of it. My mother thought that there shouldn’t be pet shops because too many animals are bought like toys and live sad lives, and I tend to agree.

Favourite animal books?

Silver Snaffles by Primrose Cumming

Add a comment

← Back to all posts

Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio