Author Interview, Creativity

Interview with Zanni Louise about creating Tiggy and the magic paintbrush.

This week I was lucky enough to interview Zanni Louise, author of 2018 CBCA shortlisted book Archie and the Bear, Too busy sleeping and now a wonderful new series called Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush.

Zanni Louise_ credit Kate Nutt Photography

Zanni explains what inspired her to write this new series, the importance of friendship and how a magic paintbrush can lead to the development of self belief in those tough times.

Thank you Zanni!

————-

  1. What inspired you to write a series of books about a young girl with a magical paintbrush?

The stories evolved over a number of years. They began as stories about a girl called Wynn and a 3D printing machine, which Wynn used to print things to solve her problems. The idea initially came from a fun conversation with my daughter. Working with editors, though, I ended up ‘refreshing’ the name, and decided that it would be more practical to have a magical device she could take with her, and preferably keep secret.

  1. Why a magical paintbrush?

When brainstorming devices, my daughter rushed past me, hurriedly painting imaginary things in the air with her invisible paintbrush. A paintbrush is handy, portable, and small enough to hide. It also gives Tiggy scope for creativity, which is something I really like.

  1. Tiggy has two special friends at school, and in one of your picture books, Archie and the bear, friendship is focussed on too. How important is it that we have friends in our lives – at all ages?

Friendship is a big theme in my life, and inadvertently a big theme in all my stories. Everyone has a different version of friendship, and I guess I’m interested in exploring all these different forms.

  1. How do you see this book helping young children as they start early schooling or even when they change classes or schools?

The first book A School Day Smile was written because my daughter was at the cusp of starting school, and I was curious about about her emotional responses, and her strategies for coping with this big change. Tiggy is clearly nervous about her first day, but is trying to be brave. I think this is a common experience, and for kids reading this, they feel validated that these are normal experiences. Tiggy also attempts to use magic to make her feelings go away, going as far as changing who she is, so people will like her. But in the end, she has to come back to being comfortable with her Tiggy-ness. I think this is important for all of us.

  1. Tiggy’s paintbrush is a tool she can use but she also learns that she can cope without it. I think this is a really important aspect of the story – why did you feel the need to ensure when children read this that they knew how important it is to realise how wonderful they are and that they can get by without these magical tools?

That aspect to the stories emerged quite unintentionally. It becomes a nice metaphor for reality though, that we don’t need to rely on our ‘crutches’ – we have all the resources we need within us. My editor at Five Mile, Melissa Keil, really helped draw out the ambiguity between Tiggy’s magic and her imagined world. I love too that Gillian’s illustrations bring this to life, by contrasting Tiggy’s ‘real’ black and white world, with her colourful imagined, magical world.

  1. You have written two wonderful picture books and now a junior fiction book. How was the process of writing Tiggy and the Magical paintbrush different to your other stories?

It took me a long time to get my head around writing for this age group. Unlike picture books, junior fiction and independent readers are being read by kids themselves, so the language needs to be very simple, without compromising the stories. The process of writing these stories, particularly as a series, has helped me really flesh out the narrative arc in all my stories. I have always gotten away with writing very intuitively with picture books. But independent readers push me in new directions.

  1. Inspiration can come from many places – how do you find yours and develop these ideas into stories?

I like to keep inspiration and creativity at my finger tips. To be honest, I have half a mind on potential ideas almost all the time! Mostly, I’ll try and write ideas down. When I get a chance, or feel particularly inspired, I’ll start nutting out a story. I’m fairly patient with stories. Some take days to develop. But some take years! Often a partly formed idea will sit on my computer for months before it becomes anything more.

  1. What else will we see Tiggy get up to in future books?

In the next two books, Tiggy tries her hand at performing, and prepares for a birthday party. And next? Well, yet to be seen!

Buy Tiggy and the Magic paintbrush here: 

A School Day Smile (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

A Pet Called Nibbles (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

Booktopia

Advertisements
Book review, Creativity, gifted education, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

Ruben by Bruce Whatley

Ruben’s dreams were of places that made no sense to him. Places that didn’t exist. At least not anymore.

Ruben, a young boy lives on the outskirts of a damaged, abandoned and futuristic city. Every day when he wakes he writes about his dreams and flicks through images of places he once knew.

Living alone, Ruben often wanders the streets, avoiding the huge machines that live in Block city who destroy things humans need for survival – freedom, safety and knowledge.

One day, on his way through the city in search of food and water, he discovers Koji, another child who is also alone. Together they understand each other, share secrets and dream of escaping on one of the fast trains that leave the destroyed city.

Bruce Whatley is a master illustrator who has created this whole world in black and white – giving it the grim and abandoned feel it needs. Readers will pour over the illustrations for hours as they journey with Ruben hoping that he can escape this formidable place.

Although set in the future, the sketches of objects Bruce Whatley has included, pull on our own heart strings and lead us to think – what if? Children of all ages will ponder the possibility of places in our world that already look like this or the possibly of our own country looking like this if we don’t care for others around us.

This Dystopian world that Ruben lives in is one that young children can enter without the violence of many other Dystopian fiction books on the market.

I have explored this book with some Gifted Year 4 students and they have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Ruben and then creating a Dystopian world of their own.

So what can you do? 

GRASPS Task – – Ruben by Bruce Whatley

GOAL: You are going to create your own dystopian world using as many as the key areas as you can.

ROLE You are the engineer of this futuristic society. You are the designer of the people, their plight and their place.

AUDIENCE You need to create a world that will appeal to readers aged 8-12. .

SITUATION : In the book market there are many fiction books set in Dystopian worlds but they are for older readers and any are full of violence. You need to create a dystopian world without violence. There are many other ways the world can become dystopian so use your create juices and move away from the violence we hear about in the older books.

PRODUCT. The world you create needs to be a combination of things so we can get a true insight into this world. You can use: Diary entries, maps, posters, sketches, storytelling, newspaper articles, radio correspondence etc.

You will be marked out of 15.

STANDARDS and CRITERIA [INDICATORS]

 

1 2 3
Key areas of a dystopian world. Student has used 3 key areas in their dystopian world Student has used 5 key areas in their dystopian world Student has used 6 r more key areas in their dystopian world.
Understand how texts vary in complexity and technicality depending on the approach to the topic, the purpose and the intended audience (ACELA1490 Student has developed three different types of texts to engage the audience Student has developed four different types of texts to engage the audience Student has developed five or more different types of texts to engage the audience
Discuss how authors and illustrators make stories exciting, moving and absorbing and hold readers’ interest by using various techniques, for example character development and plot tension (ACELT1605 Outline how they developed characters and settings briefly. Outline how they developed characters and settings in details. Outline how they developed characters and settings in detail and respond to questions with good explanation.
Create literary texts by developing storylines, characters and settings (ACELT1794 Outline the basic process of creating this Dystopian world. Discuss how characters were developed and how they fit into the world created. consider how and why particular traits for a character have been chosen. Discuss in details why the setting has been created and how the idea was developed.
Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive print and multimodal texts, choosing text structures, language features, images and sound appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1704 Many errors made in final draft with little editing present. Some mistakes made in final products wth some editing present. Excellent final product with little or no mistakes.

 

 

 

Book review, Creativity, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

Tiggy and the magic paintbrush: A pet called nibbles by Zanni Louise.

Today is Pet Day at Tiggy’s school, and Tiggy is a little worried – she is the only person in the class who doesn’t have a pet! Lucky Tiggy has her special magic paintbrush – but will it help her solve the problem this time? 

The second book is this fun series – Tiggy and the magic paintbrush – takes us back to school on pet day.

I’ve never been to a school pet day, but I can imagine they would be lots of fun (and a bit chaotic) but also possibly worrying for children who don’t have a pet.

Tiggy is one of those children, but luckily with her big imagination and magic paintbrush, she can create the best pet that anyone could ask for!

And even though Tiggy can’t quite take a photo of her new pet, she is able to draw one and show her friends just how wonderful he is.

You’ll have to read the story to find out what Tiggy’s pet is and why children will love reading this book!

BUY HERE:

A Pet Called Nibbles (Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush)

Zanni has written this story with young children and their beautifully creative imagination in mind. There are so many great ideas just waiting to be found in the big world but so often children’s lives are too busy with organised activities or technology they just don’t have the space to dream big.

This story just shows how important imagination is, how it fills your soul and mind with happiness and wonder – and encourages us to show who we are.

Tiggy is a delightful character, as are her friends and with the magic paintbrush in tow, anything can happen!

Tiggy and the magic paintbrush – a pet called nibbles has been a very popular read for my children (aged 6 and 4) and the students at school (I’ve read this to Kindergarten to Year 3!) so keep an eye out for this wonderful new series – I’m sure it will delight!

Books with current issues, Creativity, literacy, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Find your treasure #2

This year the theme for book week is Find your treasure, so each week in our library we will be taking part in a small activity where the theme will be promoted.

I have some much loved covers from my Who gives a crap toilet paper and instead of putting them straight into the bin they are being converted into book covers (see below)

Each book that has been covered has three clues on the front. The idea behind this is for children to see what sort of books could be ones that they treasure.

We have books about adventure, women’s rights, battles and laughter. Not only will children get to guess which books are hidden behind the paper, they will also discover these covered books hidden on our shelves throughout the year.

Finding treasure is exciting and I hope that by covering some much loved books other children will also discover that exploring in the library can be fun!

Books with current issues, Creativity, literacy, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

Find your treasure #1

This year’s CBCA book week theme is Find your treasure. In our library the students will be participating in a variety of competitions with great book prizes!

Perhaps you would like to participate in some of these at your school?

Visit my Tpt store and for a term one special of $3.99 you can download and use these ideas too!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Find-your-Treasure-CBCA-Book-theme-2018-3653620

There are two competitions each term for all terms of the year – Finding your treasure doesn’t end in book week!

Just some of the ideas…..

Term 1, Competition 2.

Choose a book that you have read recently and using your mathematical skills, be creative and explain e.g.

The cost of keeping a dragon as a pet,

The tuition fees of a magic school,

The money you would give to one of the characters and why,

Draw a map to scale,

Create graphs about the characters in the story. Choose at least 3 aspects of the book to use your mathematical skills.

Term 3, Competition One.

Find some facts about a treasure that has never been found but many stories have been told about it.

Present these facts in an engaging way for display in the library.

Book review, Creativity, Indigenous authors, nature play, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Molly the Pirate by Lorraine Teece

“Molly lived a long way from the sea, but every day she wished she was a pirate”

Molly is a little girl with a great imagination. She lives in the red dirt of the Australian outback with her mum, a cat, a dog and three chooks but nothing is stopping her from dancing a jig with a pirate, steering a pirate ship or fighting Captain Chicken!

Lorraine Teece has brought this little girls vivid imagination to life through action, adventure and fun filled description of life aboard a pirate ship. Teamed together with Paul Seden’s colourful and movement filled illustrations, Molly the pirate is a great book for young readers.

Children will be inspired to use their own imagination after they have read this book – noticing that sometimes those every day boring looking objects can be turned into something a lot more fun.

A clothes basket could turn into a pirate ship.

A backyard chook into a fearsome pirate

A washing line into a sail .

Many children lack these skills of imagination as they have so many screens and toys to amuse them. Molly the Pirate shows us that with a little bit of creativity we can make any imaginary world come to life!

Perhaps you’ll start to look at the washing basket a little bit differently next time you take it out to hang on the line….

So what else can you do?

  • CREATE: Encourage imagination!! Instead of buying your children more toys take them outside to a park or natural setting and let them play and imagine up worlds.
  • INVESTIGATE: Take a look at your clothes line – who invented this and why? Why should we dry our clothes on the clothes line instead of the dryer?
  • LEARN: Do you have backyard chooks? Where do your eggs come from? Investigate the best types of eggs to buy if you can’t have chooks of your own.
  • RESEARCH: Where is the red dirt of Australia? Investigate which towns live on red dirt and why it is red.
  • WONDER: Did chickens ever travel on pirate ships? Find out more about pirates and why they existed and how they still exist now.
Creativity, My creations

Why do we need magical worlds

After reading an article or two I have started to think about the importance of magic in our lives and how magical worlds in books can help us to cope with every day activities.

When we are aware of magical worlds we can remember back to how a character coped when faced with mountain trolls, what the character did when they really just wanted to go home or how they felt when faced with a place that was completely different to the one they knew.

Magical worlds aren’t only in longer novels, they can also be found in picture books and both types of magical worlds are just as wonderful as each other.

Inside these magical worlds are strong characters, whether they be frightening or relatable – many have to ‘toughen up’ in order to cope with the dangers and differences they have to experience every day.

Experiencing others daily lives is important to not only to build empathy but to also build a greater understanding of ourselves. I’m sure if you sit down and think about it, there are always characters in books that spring to your mind at different occasions.

Magical worlds spark ideas, they arouse different feelings and the inspire us to think beyond our daily lives – they help us to wonder what life could be like if something out of the ordinary happens.

 

So what magical books are you going to read today?

Continue reading “Why do we need magical worlds”

Book review, Creativity, Teacher tips and resources

Take a step inside

Have you ever wondered – why we still need books and why we still need a library?  


Perhaps you might think that the internet has everything we need so why use up the extra space and paper? 

Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs has recently been discussing the importance of libraries and the vital role they play in our children’s lives. Not only do they foster a positive reading culture but they allow children to see beyond their interest.

The internet can be a very closed space and we can search and be shown only what we want to see. When a child enters the library they do gravitate towards what they like but they can also be easily shown books by the librarian, parents or teacher that might be a little bit different and might just stretch their world a little further.  Libraries promote a sense of community and hopefully encourage people to take care of the books that they need to share with others.

Perhaps next time rather than buying a book or downloading one, step into your library and see what else is on offer!

Book review, Creativity, literacy, nature play, Parent tips, picture books, Teacher tips and resources

Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise

Have you ever felt like no one really understands you?

Have you ever wondered what life might be like if you just set off and found someone who did? 


Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise is a wonderful tale about friendship, being yourself and acceptance.

I really love this book. I have read it to classes during library time and to my own children many many times.

There is so much to gather from this story, as mentioned above, but overall it is just a really lovely story.

Archie is a bear (but he is really a boy) who goes wondering out into the forest with his homemade honey sandwiches. He meets a friendly boy (who is really a bear) and together they nibble on honey sandwiches and teach each other different things.

As the night grows dark they try to keep each other warm but end up returning to Archie’s house where they sleep warmly by the fire under a warm quilt.

The friendship between the bear and the boy is enviable, they take care of each other, are gentle to each other despite both knowing that they are clearly not what they say they are and they love hanging out together.

Friendship, acceptance and kindness are traits that we want to encourage in our children and this book really shows this in a subtle way.

We need to learn to accept people for who they are, accept people for what they believe in and accept them into our lives even if they are different.

David Mackintosh’s illustrations are bold and simple. They show enough of the story but don’t overload the page. The use of watercolors in the background help the reader to focus more on the main characters and the actions they are taking.

Not only does this book have a calming effect as we watch the friendship blossom, it also shows us how simple life and friendship can be.

Archie and the Bear is a beautiful read, definitely one for your bookshelf!

animals, Creativity, gifted education, literacy, loveozya, My creations, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

The lengths some bears go to

Bollo had had enough.

Every book he read was boring.

His friends told him to try picture books.

BORING!

His little boy told him to try books based on facts

BORING!

His grandma suggested he try audio books

OH HIS EARS!

But that was until he was accidentally locked in the library.

The lights went out, the door clicked shut and the place went quiet.

Bollo looked around but there was no one in sight, no one that is until the books started watching him.

One by one he noticed aliens googling their eyes at him, monsters waving their furry hands and a Mopoke hooting at him.

He crept closer to each book and noticed the shimmer on some covers, the sparkle on the pages and the magic smell.

He hesitantly moved his hand over shelves of picture books, rows of audio books and reams of graphic novels.

He heard stories rumble from within books on low shelves, fact reciting from books on high shelves and constant mumbling from magazines on the back shelf.

With a dash of colour here and there, Bollo found books that were beyond boring. He found books that would transport him to another time, books that would teach him things he never knew possible and books that would give him ideas on how he could change the world.

And so when the lights came back on and a friendly hand picked him up, Bollo thought  that  just perhaps, books were not so boring.

img_8407