Anyone can be the mother

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“…Vivian Paley observes in her classic study of social inclusion, “You Can’t Say You Can’t Play”…
“Certain children will have the right to limit the social experiences of their classmates. Henceforth a ruling class will notify others of their acceptability, and the outsiders learn to anticipate the sting of rejection” (p.3)

What then if, as Paley documents in her work, we took a stand against such exclusion, and actively (intentionally!) sought to shape and guide the social relationships occurring before us, just as clearly and strongly as we seek to shape the other kinds of learning that happen in our settings everyday?

http://thespoke.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/what-if/#comments

 

 

Andrew’s other picture books

Fabish (2016)

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Written by Neridah McMullin
Published by Allen and Unwin

Bob the Railway Dog (2015)

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Written by Corinne Fenton
Published by Black Dog Books

Lucas and Jack (2013)

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 Written by Ellie Royce
Published by Working Title Press

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Our picture books

Let’s Go Baby-o! (2011)

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A young child and his cousin play actions games together, but in between they stop to look out the window. What do they see?

Let’s Go Baby-o! is a fun-filled story for sharing with young children who are discovering the world around them.
Published as a board book in 2012.


Notable Book, Children’s Book Council Awards.


Make It I’m the Mother (2000)

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One morning at kindergarten, Pascal and his friends learn how how to resolve their differences when they all have their own ideas about how to play their game.

Make It I’m the Mother is a funny, honest and affectionate story that many children will relate to, learn from and enjoy.



Josh and the Ducks (1998)

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Josh likes to be in on everything, but these two ducks won’t let him play. They don’t like dog games…or do they?


Josh and the Monster (1998)

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Josh and his friend are off to find the Monster of Mud. Up and over the mountain they go…but where is the monster hiding? And can Josh catch that Monster?



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Mandala

Otto’s ‘MAdLLN’ – to his Mum with love

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by Otto, aged 7 years

The last drawing in the Red Book
The mandala is an archetypal image whose occurrence is attested throughout the ages. It signifies the wholeness of the Self. This circular image represents the wholeness of the psychic ground or, to put it in mythic terms, the divinity incarnate in man.”

Carl JungMemories, Dreams and Reflections
Pages 334-335

 

True Light and Shade

A link a review highlighting the by National Library of Australia of John Maynard’s book:

True Light and Shade – an Aboriginal Perspective of Joseph Lycett’s Art

Professor John Maynard is a Worimi man from the Newcastle/Port Stephens region In this book he ‘brings his own knowledge and insight to his exploration of Lycett’s drawings), and to the fascinating character of Lycett himself.

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“True Light and Shade is filled with beautiful images by convict artist Joseph Lycett that powerfully capture in intimate detail Aboriginal life, a rare record of Aboriginal people within the vicinity of Newcastle and how they adapted to European settlement before cultural destruction impacted on these groups”.

http://nationalunitygovernment.org/content/true-light-and-shade-aboriginal-perspective-joseph-lycetts-artfirestick-farming2

Maggie Chases Hector… 27 years on

Hector and Maggie Cover

We received a lovely message this week about our book Hector and Maggie which was
published in 1990.

“Hector & Maggie – My 29 year husband has a very well loved copy of Hector & Maggie that his late mum gifted him as a child. He is a farmer & kelpie working dog breeder & says this book was always his standout favourite & he has lovely memories of his mum repetitively reading it to him. Now our 3.5 year old also loves it, I just wanted to say thankyou & let you know that this beautiful book is still delivering lots of joy to the next generation :)”

We were thrilled to hear that Hector and Maggie are still running around the farm after all of these years. The idea for this story came from a family holiday we had with our children, Alex, Angus and Catriona at Auntie Heather and Uncle Kev’s farm at Glenroy (near Penola/Coonawarra) in south-east South Australia.

It was in 1988, the year of the Bicentennial. We were staying at their farm while they went to Sydney to join in the celebrations. As soon as we stepped out of the car we came face to face with the main characters in the book, Hector, Maggie and Old Tom. Auntie Heather told later that she called Hector, Sid Vicious. Maggie’s farm name was Bluey, and Old Tom was called Tom. 

Here are some photos we took at the time. We managed to capture Hector and Maggie in full flight, and the hens fussing around Hector, and his “beautiful tail was gone – except for on last feather.” Andrew did a few sketches too, in case we wanted to turn the story into a picture book later on. 

The girl collecting the eggs is our (then) seven-year-old daughter, Cat. Here, she’s been bailed up by Hector. She’s calling for help, “MU-U-U_UM’. Auntie Heather told us that she had to take a rake with her when she went to hang out the washing – Hector would chase anyone and anything.

Andrew & Janet 4

Serendipity

By chance, while I was writing this post, Andrew found this sketch of Old Tom, tucked into one of his art  books.Old Tom 

 

 

You can say “You Can’t Play”

I introduced this concept, to Yarralea, after hearing Vivian Paley speak at a conference in Brisbane in the early 1990s. I found that it gave teachers and children a phrase to begin thinking about the complexities of ‘belonging’.

As Vivian Paley states: We must be told, when we are young, what rules to live by … [teachers should] prepare our children to live and work comfortably with the stranger that sojourneth among them. And should it happen that one day our children themselves are strangers, let them know that a full share of the sun is rightfully theirs.'”

“New friendships were forged as children got to know other children. Children felt relieved (even the ones who did most of the excluding). Teachers could handle issues of exclusion simply (You forgot the rule) rather than approaching each instance as a moral puzzle to be solved.” (Laurie Levy)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-levy/you-can-say-you-bullying_b_5104903.html?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003

Book Week visit – a week early

Yesterday Andrew and I visited Delta Road Pre-School to talk about our booksP1010591

We read The Riverboat Crew, our very first picture book, published so long ago, in 1978. The big book was published in 1988. Here, I have just read the first page: The Alice was a paddle steamer on the Murray River, and a little voice piped up, My name’s Alice – there’s always someone – or they know someone with that name – a brother or sister, a cat or dog, a mum or dad, or a mouse. Andrew told the children that the riverboat was named after his Mum, whose name was …Alice. 

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I also read three of the ‘Josh’ books. They had already read Josh and the Monster, but hadn’t read Josh, Josh and the Ducks, and Josh and Thumper. Behind me is the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Short-List Poster. Fabish, illustrated by Andrew, and written by Neridah McMullin, has been short-listed in the Eve Pownall Information Book Category.  The children were excited to point out to us that they had seen the picture of the book on the poster.

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Andrew drew some pictures with sticks of thin charcoal. He says that one of the best things about using charcoal is, if you want to change something you can rub it out with  kneadable rubber – by rubbing, pressing or dabbing. On this paper he drew a picture of our white Skye terrier, Danny. (We didn’t get a photo of the final drawing).

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He also drew a picture of our cat, Norah, who got herself into a pickle one day when she found herself spreadeagled on top to the clothes horse. It took her a while to work out how to get back down, but it didn’t stop her trying again, and again… 

Who is the mother?

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Poem, after Vivian Paley –  ‘You can’t say you can’t play’

Can I play?
      I ‘m the mother.
But, I want to play.
      I’m playing with the baby.
You can’t say I’m not allowed to play.
      Yes I can – You’re not allowed.
You can’t say I can play.
      Yes I can – you can play.
Yes – I can play.

     Alright,
You can play.

      But I’m the mother.

© Janet McLean, 8 August 2017
(Edited version of previous poem with the same name)

Teach children storytelling

Children are surrounded by stories from the time they are born, and they quickly become true storytellers if they have people (adults and other children of all ages) around them to listen and respond to their stories as stories and not as a way of teaching the rules of language. However, when adults and children create stories together the grammar of language is used naturally. We can teach the langauge and use of grammar to children through their own stories. We can do this from a very early age.

 

Storytelling in its way can have just as much complexity as music or mathematics. That we don’t really understand this craft – or that this is a craft – is partly because of the romantic myth of “inspiration” peddled by authors as much as anyone. It is taught (up to a point) in creative writing degrees – but it can be simplified enough to be taught to schoolchildren as well. Why, for instance, is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt such a compelling story? And what has it got to do with stories like Macbeth? (And yes, it does have something in common – all stories do.)

From an article about the value of teaching / allowing children the time and space  to make up their own stories, as a way of learning the rules of grammar.

Tim Lott, The Guardian, May 19 2017

  

Ditch the Grammar and Teach Children Storytelling Instead

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/19/ditch-the-grammar-and-teach-children-storytelling-instead#img-Teach