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… 

Quick as a Wink Fairy Pink – Teacher Notes

Teacher Notes
by Janet McLean 

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Written by: Lesley Gibbes
Illustrated by: Sara Acton

Young children will want to jump into bed as quick as a wink to have this story read to them. It is a delightful story of play, hide and seek, and finding ways not to go to bed.

Five little Flutter Fairies going off to bed.
Fairy Blue, Fairy Green, Fairy Gold, and Red.
But one of them is missing. Which fairy do you think?
Could it be the smallest one?
Is it Fairy Pink?

WRITING AND LANGUAGE
As a former teacher Lesley knows the kind writing techniques that young children respond to, and that will help them to learn in a fun way. Quick as a Wink, Fairy Pink is an interactive book, enticing readers into a game of fairy-hide-and-seek. The regular rhythm and rhyme throughout the book is infectious. Children will soon pick up the pattern of the words and will begin join in (some spontaneously, and some with a little encouragement). The repetitive, predictable pattern of the text and the layout is set up in the first three pages.

On the first page there’s elements of humour and suspense – the text says, Five little flutter fairies going off to bed, Fairy Blue, Fairy Green, Fairy Gold and Red. We hear five, but we only see four fairies climbing the stairs. Turn the page, and open to a  double page spread and YES! out pops the fifth Fairy – from under the bed ‘shooshing’ us with a finger to her mouth.

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The blue, green, yellow and red fairies all have their own double-page spread to brush their teeth, have a bath, get dressed, or read a book before bedtime. The rhythm and beat of the text on each these pages follows the same pattern 

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Between each double page spread the reader is asked to look for, and find Fairy Pink.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-3-03-11-pm Continue reading

My Brother – Teacher Notes

‘When a gentle creature sets out to search for a lost brother we are taken on an ethereal journey across land and sea to strange, beautiful and faraway places. To fantastic, floating cities, and mediaeval towns full of dark alleyways and winding staircases – to vast open grasslands and eerie, silent forests – and eventually to a place of timeless beauty and light. My Brother is a metaphorical picture storybook for older children that looks at loss and grief from a sibling’s perspective.’

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TEACHER NOTES
by Janet McLean 

My Brother
by Dee, Oliver, and Tiffany Huxley


WRITING / ILLUSTRATING / DESIGN STYLE     
My Brother has been created by Dee Huxley, with her son Oliver, who created the visual characters, and her daughter Tiffany, who designed the book. Together, they drew on a heart-rending experience to create a book in which the words and pictures tell a moving, symbolic story of loss, and grief, and of the gradual steps taken towards the hope of renewal. Dee Huxley says,

 This book came about because of the loss of a loved one in tragic circumstances, & our world changed forever. It is both a tribute & a release. A tribute to a beautiful, empathetic soul, who touched so many lives, young & old, & who will be loved & missed forever. A release, albeit sorrowful, to be able to make this book for him, & us, & others like us, & a hope that he is somewhere beautiful & safe now. The main character, a metaphorical gentle creature, represents the emotional journey of loss, disbelief, grief, but also a journey of hope.”

The reader is led gently into the story through the title page with a soft black and white drawing of a pair of carelessly discarded boots; and the dedication page with a simple inscription and a drawing of a single tree. On the next two pages Tiffany sets up a layout that will be the pattern for most of the book. She has used various design techniques that help establish the pace and mood of the story. The text sits, like a stanza of poetry, on the stark white left-hand page. The text is spare and understated, but every word and line, and the placement of text on the page, adds to the deep meaning of the story – beginning with a simple statement:‘I miss my brother’. The space that is left between this line and the next, creates a catch-of-breath pause, before: ‘I’m so l o s t without him’. The tiny word ‘so’ combined with the word ‘l o s t’, with a space between each letter, heightens the sense of anguish.

On the facing right-hand page a single illustration is enclosed within a white border. In contrast to the pared down, but poignant, text, the illustration is complex and layered with meaning. Graphite and watercolour have been used for the illustrations in this book, although the watercolour is not introduced until the last three double pages.

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On this page:

  • The softness and sharpness of the moonlit shadows in the blacks/whites/greys of the graphite drawing evoke deep sorrow.
  • The reader’s eye is first drawn to the creature seated at a table. This character represents the journey that must be taken through grief and loss, to a place o
    f release and hope)
  • The creature is placed in the centre of the picture – drooped head, slumped shoulders, downturned eyes, a piece of pie uneaten, on the table.
  • Around the room are real and metaphorical images that relate to the lost Brother, and to the intense sorrow of the main character
    • Light from a full moon shines through the window where a duck (in boots) stands keeping a watchful eye a friend.
    • A flock of dark birds gather near the ceiling, symbolising dejection and loss.
    • Two hats and two coats hang sadly on the wall.
    • Two pairs of boots wait on the floor.
    • On the table sits one cup, untouched, another is still on a hook.
    • One dark bird nestles in a coat pocket.
    • Another bird is anchored in the bottom left-hand corner investigating the rest of the pie, a passing allusion to the child’s nursery rhyme, Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds.

On the wall is a memory of happier times – a picture of the siblings together. Continue reading