Under the southern Cross by Frane Lessac.


Take a fact tastic tour on Frane Lessac’s most recent picture book – Under the southern cross and discover many intriguing facts about Australia that perhaps you never knew.


Such as

  • A golden staircase rises from the sea over Broome with every full moon.
  • Ribbons of rainbows hover over Tasmania at certain times of the year
  • Cape Tribulation is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world
  • The southern cross is used not only for navigation but to help with seasons and of course storytelling.

Each page is filled with simple facts but overarching this is the double page lllustration highlighting the beauty and wonder of the particular place in Australia.

Details abound and so much can be gained from just looking at the illustrations before reading the facts.

Under the Southern Cross is a great book to use in the classroom to show how we can learn about what really makes each place around Australia unique. We often get caught up in the basic facts and landmarks – this book will inspire your students to look further into each individual place and see what really makes it different.

What can you do with this book?

Geography

Plot each place on the map of Australia then compare at least two of them to discover the similarities and differences.

Why have these places been chosen to be in this book? Find another place or two that you think should be included in the book for their uniqueness.

Literacy

Write a short piece – similar to how each place is introduced in the book to introduce a place of your choice.

STEM

Explore other constellations that are important in the Southern Hemisphere.

Locate these in the night sky and find out if there are any Indigenous stories that accompany them.

Teacher notes:

https://www.franelessac.com/wp-content/uploads/Under-the-Southern-Cross-Classroom-Ideas.pdf

Advertisements

How to Bee by Bren Mac Dibble.


Have you ever wondered about what life would look like if there were only a small amount of bees left in the world?

This is a very real problem and one book that made me shudder with the possibility of being real.

Meet tough, smart and vibrant Peony, an ten year old farm girl who works in the Goulburn Valley of NSW, Australia. Peony works hard on the farm, manually removing bugs from crops as pesticides have been banned – however becoming a Bee is what she dreams of. Being a Bee is one of the most important roles in this futuristic society as the young and nimble need to do the job the bees once did – pollinating flowers.

Peony lives with her grandfather and sister but the community around them and the bond they all have is amazing and something to aspire due despite the poverty they live in. Peony’s mother wants more than farm life and takes Peony off to the city to earn real money. Despite her utter dislike for city life, huge disparity being rich and poor and still the utter disregard for the hard work of farmers, Peony learns about the importance of friendship, family and kind acts.

How to Bee brought a tear to my eye and although it may seem like a bleak outlook from the start it shows how strong the human spirit is and the need we all have to belong and live in harmony.

Perhaps if the big supermarkets and chemical companies read this story they would start to change how they see the world and start to think more about the impact we are having on the future.

There are some areas of the world where this form of pollination is already happening today – I’m not sure if we want this to spread to all areas of the world. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/humans-bees-china_us_570404b3e4b083f5c6092ba9?section=australia

So what can you do?

Bee and Me

The Book of Bees

Bee

Oxfam Shop

Sorry day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler

Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away

Sorry Day is a very important picture book  to share this Sorry day – or any future Sorry days.

Released on May 1st, Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is a powerful story that highlights both the impact on the families who lost loved ones when they were taken away and the impact Kevin Rudd and the Australian community had when they formally said sorry in 2008.

The scene is set as we meet young Maggie who is excitedly waiting at the Sorry Day speech but amongst the excitement she loses her mother and frantically searches for her amongst the sea of legs and people.

But as we watch Maggie we also see the loss the Indigenous people experienced during the period of The Stolen Generation, we experience through word and illustration how it would have felt to be ripped apart from your family with no warning.

Dub Leffler’s illustrations are amazing and give so much more emotion to this meaningful story. We hear the story and we see the people.

We hear their cries and we feel the emotion as we watch their faces.

We read the history and we see how this has effected the current landscape.

Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is picture book you will not forget.

I’m sure children will have many questions about this topic once this story has been read as the links between a child getting lost in a crowd and the story of children being taken away really pulls at the heartstrings and stirs so much emotion.

Delve deep into this topic with your young readers, explore the past and think about how we can make the future a better place.

What else can you talk about?

  • Explore the quote: Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away.
  • How did the story impact your emotions?
  • Why did the author jump between the past and the present?
  • How has the illustrator shown the difference between the past and the present?

Sorry Day

  • When is Sorry Day and how long have we commemorated this day?
  • Explore the impacts of The Stolen Generation.
  • Why was there a Stolen Generation?
  • What can we do now to ensure inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous people lessen?
  • How can you share the story of Sorry Day with others?

Creative Arts

  • List any songs that you know of that explore this theme.
  • List any artwork that you know of that explores this theme.

There are some excellent teacher notes here: https://flickingonthebook.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/3fe4b-sorrydayteachers27notes.pdf

Buy this book now from Fishpond:

Bouncing Back: An eastern barred bandicoot story by Rohan Cleave and Coral Tulloch

How did the last eastern barred bandicoot on the Australian mainland end up living in a rubbish tip? 

Based on a true story, Rohan Cleave and Coral Tulloch have created a picture book that teaches young readers about the plight of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot and the hard work of volunteers, conservationists and scientists to bring them back from the brink of extinction.

The story begins with some information about the Bandicoot, accompanied by delicately illustrated pictures. We learn how they live and grow, what they like to eat and their habitat.

Sadly we learn how humans have caused devastation to this once thriving population through the eyes of the Bandicoot.

The Bandicoots tell us that because of land clearing, fires, foxes and cats their numbers have drastically dwindled.

They tell us that because they have no where to hide in the once loved long grasses, they are easy prey for owls and feral animals.

The double page spread drawn by Coral Tulloch brings home the terrible circumstances these animals were in – life in a rubbish dump – the only place they felt safe enough.

Luckily a small band of dedicated people were able to save the last few of these Eastern Barred bandicoots and with hard work their population is on the rise in fenced reserves, safe from feral animals and land clearing.

This story, although long, is engaging and children will be happy to know that there is a happy ending – even if there is still a lot of work to be done.

Facts and a glossary are added to the end of the story and the endpapers are a fantastic tool for conversation!!

What else can you do with this story? 

Ask students to find out about an endangered species and create their own picture book so they can teach others about it’s plight and how people are trying to save them.

Ask students : What would life be like if Eastern Barred Bandicoot’s disappeared? How would the ecosystem be effected?

Find out: Are there other picture books that are based on factual events that look at animals brought back from near extinction? Try Phasmid: saving the Lord Howe Island Insect and Rhino in the House

And access some great teacher notes from CSIRO

Buy your own copy from Booktopia

Booktopia

Extra links for further study

Conservation volunteers: http://conservationvolunteers.com.au/what-we-do/threatened-species/eastern-barred-bandicoot/

Zoos Victoria: https://www.zoo.org.au/werribee/animals/eastern-barred-bandicoot

Teacher notes written by Vanessa

Have a look at the notes I have produced recently and ask me how I can help develop teacher notes for your novel or picture book.

‘The teachers’ notes Vanessa prepared for me were well thought out, comprehensive and completed in a timely manner. They captured the essence of Esme’s Wish very well and would make a valuable addition to any teacher’s tool kit.’ Elizabeth Foster, Esme’s wish. 
 

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster, http://elizabethfoster.com.au

Continue reading

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

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

If you had one wish what would it be?

Esme Silver lost her mother 7 years ago and has just witnessed her father remarry a women she doesn’t like at all. She is not only upset at her father for remarrying but also upset that he wants to move on when she can’t. Her mother went missing 7 years ago for no apparent reason and it is this unknowing that draws Esme to a small cottage she has been told to avoid for the last 7 years after her father and his new wife depart on their honeymoon.

Not only does Esme discover more about her mother, she also discovered another world – and this world has many more links to her mother than she would like to think.

When Esme steps into this other world, she makes many true and good friends in the city of Esperance who help her to find out what has happened to her mother. She shows determination, clever thinking and a strong will as she journeys through a city which constantly surprises her with it’s twists and turns around every corner.

Esme’s wish is a marvellous story and a definite page turner. It is full of magic and wonder,imagination and marvel, creativity and friendship. Not only does Esme travel Esperance to find her mother, she travels through it to also save the city from certain destruction.

Esme’s wish by Elizabeth Foster is a book for readers aged 11 and up and perhaps one that may have a sequel….who knows? Perhaps I will have to ask Elizabeth Foster herself…..

So what else can you do with this book?

– Draw a map of Esperance and surrounding islands after you have read the book

– Make a list of the different gifts people can have. How do people have gifts in our world? Are they as revered as they are in this story? Are all gifts equal in this world and our own?

– What is a pearl made out of? Why are they precious? Can you find any stories throughout history related to pearls?

– As you read list the metaphors and similes and other types of figurative language. This book is rich in this type of language and a great way to study how you can add more to your writing.

There are so many more wonderful activities to do with this book – it’s a great book to share or read as a group!

Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers

“No, you cannot have a pet lizard -” Lizzy’s mum said, “And before you ask, no snakes either. No reptiles of any sort.”

 

Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers is a wonderful new fantasy  novel for younger readers – and they won’t want to put it down!


I know that as a young child I always wanted a different pet -a dog, a rabbit, a fish or a bird – I never wanted a lizard, and still wouldn’t want one crawling about in the house But Lizzy does, and she is determined to get a pet of her own.

Lizzy lives on a farm which is going through drought. The grass is brown, the dams are dry and their is the ever present threat of bush fire.

Lizzy is a strong, caring and clever young girl and perhaps by luck or perhaps by magic she stumbles upon a round shaped egg in the field outside their house. Her brother Joey discovers Lizzy and her secretive behaviour and does what many siblings would do – threaten to tell their parents if she doesn’t let him on the secret.

Despite Lizzy’s efforts to keep her egg (and then pet dragon) a secret, her brother finds out and Lizzy has to put up with doing all of his chores – that is until she discovers the magic her dragon holds and possibly the real reason the dragon egg happened to land in the drought stricken land.

Full of magic and mystery, Lizzy’s Dragon is an story you cannot put down. Younger readers will love this story as Lizzy is a character many children will identify with – she is thoughtful, she fights with her brother, she cares for her family and she wants the best for the place she lives in.

Dragons are magical beasts which excite and engage many readers and the beauty of this dragon is that it comes across as one of the best possible pets you could have.

Lizzy’s dragon is a wonderful read – one to read out loud or for better readers –  to read alone. The pictures within the novel give the readers some more insight into what Lizzy and her dragon look like and ignite more of that wonderful imagination.

Magic, mystery and mettle, Lizzy’s dragon is a book to inspire the best in all of us.

So what else can you do with this story?

 – Design your own dragon. What egg would it hatch from? where would you keep it and what would it’s special gift be?

– Are there any areas close to you or in your country that are experiencing drought? What do these places have to do during times of drought?

– Have you ever helped out in your community? Find out how you could help in some way at a community event.

——

Want to become a global guardian?

glochaxxxCV1824_160x

Join now and receive 10% off with my unique code: GGPVanessa


Buy Biome products now and keep your home and the world sustainable and eco friendly

 

Snap review: Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables by Tim Harris

Mr Bambuckle is every student’s idea of a dream teacher and perhaps some teacher’s wish they could be more like Mr Bambuckle!


I loved the way Tim Harris presented each short story and through each short story we were able to meet the different students in 12B.

I particulary loved the story of the washing machine as I know that in my childhood I was once afraid of the noise the washing machine made.

Tim Harris has a great ability to make children laugh, connect with the characters and perhaps learn a lesson or two as they read.

This book is also a great way to show students the many different ways stories can be presented.

A great book to read out loud to your class – and perhaps inspire some great storytelling amongst a group!

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins

I’m writing this story in a bottle lost at sea…..

 

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins is a collection of poems for children that ignite imagination, incite dreaming and explore the great land and wildlife of Australia.


Poetry is not something I read a lot of – but after reading Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins I believe it is something I should do more often.

Not only did I enjoy the diverse range of poems included in this book but the children I read it to lapped it up.

My son asked me to read the poem about the Cassowary several times over along with Pond Pests and Magic Fish Dreaming. We loved the rhyme in some poems, the storytelling within others and the speech between families.

Each poem told a different story and really ignited conversations about fairy teeth, why a Cassowary wasn’t at his home and the possibility of us going on an adventure in a bottle.

June Perkin’s poems are short yet effervescent. They are perfect for reading out loud and some of these poems can also be read as a group. Helen Magisson’s delicate pastel illustrations compliment each poem and add more mystery to those poems which make you sit and wonder; what if?

Not only are these poems full of imaginative places they also bring up issues of endangered animals, loss of habitat and the importance of respecting the land. The beauty of these poems that talk about cane toad invasion and loss of natural habitat is that the message can be quickly understood – something that is really important when trying to educate young children.

Magic Fish Dreaming is a wonderful anthology and one to share with your young children.

 

So what can you do at home?

 

  • Read the poems out loud – which poems can you read together? Which poems have different characters?
  • Find the poems that have rhyme – do you prefer poems with or without rhyme?
  • Which animals are mentioned in the story are endangered? Find out where these animals live and why they are endangered.
  • What are cane toad poles? Why are cane toads pests?
  • Rain is mentioned in a few poems – explore how rain can help and hinder the people and animals of the land.
  • Choose a favourite poem and create a short story from this poem. You could explore the idea of writing a story from a bottle or perhaps finding your own fairy tooth.

 

Interview with Karen Tyrell, author of Song Bird Two: The Battle of Bug World.

Welcome Karen, and thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope that these questions will give my readers some more insight into how you have developed the characters in Song Bird , how music inspires and how we can all take better care of the world we live in.

 Song Bird 2 The Battle of Bug World

What inspired you to write the Song Bird series?

Two life changing events.

Fan girls of my Super Space Kids series requested I write a new series with a girl superhero as the main character, especially written for adventurous girls.

img_6873

Songbird Superhero, AKA Rosella Ava Bird character is based on my experiences as a 11-year-old geeky, bullied girl. Each night, I dreamt I could fly, to escape my bullies. Later, I joined the choir and learnt how singing boosted my self-esteem and self-confidence. The following year, I started high school where I discovered my love of science and maths. I wanted Songbird to represent the powerful and free spirit I aspired to be.

Music is so important to all of us and can give us strength. How does music play a role in your life and why did you think your superhero needed music to help her?

Music plays a key role in empowering me in tough times. As a bullied 11-year-old girl, I joined the choir and learnt to sing. My voice was something no bully could defeat.

When I was a bullied teacher, music comforted me when I developed PTSD and anxiety. My student and his parents bullied me to breaking point. Music gave me joy and certainty, a place where I drew confidence and peace.

Like me, Rosella Ava Bird joined the school choir discovered her superpowers lived within herself.

Rosie is such a strong and confident character, even when she doubts herself. Is your character Rosie based on anyone you know?

Rosie is a mix of me and the girl I dreamt to be. I would love to sing and to fly… And use my superpowers for good, to save and protect others.

I really love that you have included children with disabilities in The Battle of Bug World and portrayed them as strong, clever, brave and very able – what inspired you to do this when most books do not?

Two important reasons.

I have a mental illness that’s invisible. Many people label my illness as a disability. I don’t. My illness is part of me. I’ve found writing lets me express my struggles and successes in ways that empower myself, and help others. I want to encourage kids to connect with their inner superhero and live strong.

I once taught a boy-genius who was smart and brave, and an incredible maths science whizz. He also happened to move about in a wheelchair. In Songbird, I wanted to shatter the disabilitry stereotype. Like the boy I knew, Amy Hillcrest, is quite the hero.

How do you think teachers and parents can inspire young children to step up and think for themselves when it comes to looking after our planet?

Children should read and learn about their environment. Realise, they are a part of it and can make a difference to it.

My message: We can all lend a hand to care for our environment. Many hands make light work.

Did you research to learn more about how bees and insects function in our world?

YES. I studied how insects and bees behave, especially the bee’s waggle dance. I spoke to beekeepers of honey bees and Australian stingless bees. I spoke to the director of Bee Aware at the Logan LEAF eco festival.

How do you look after bees in your life? Do you have any tips for our young readers as to what they can do?

I do simple things like plant brightly coloured flowers and fresh herbs in my garden. I grow purple agapanthus and native grevilleas to attract bees. I put out clean dishes of water for the bees to drink. I’m careful not to spray pesticides on the grass or the garden. That would poison the bees. Instead, I pull out weeds.

How do you think children can make a difference in our world in relation to the degradation of the environment without having to always rely on adults?

Kids can plant and nurture their own garden, pick up litter especially in parks and waterways, pack their own lunches without plastic, turn off lights and taps, sort out family rubbish into glass, paper and cans ready for recycling bins.

 

What is in store for us in Book 3?

Song Bird returns to save the lost rainforest, revealing an ancient mystery.

Thank you Karen for taking the time to answer all of my questions. Such honest responses and really drawn on your own life experiences and those who you have come across that show their own super powers. I am really looking forward to reading more of your inspiring and adventure filled stories.

Make sure you get your copy of Songbird Superhero and The Battle of Bug World here:

Song Bird Superhero and The Battle of Bug World available on Amazon

Karen Tyrrell Bug World

 

Interview with Muza Ulasowski and Jennifer Poulter

 Today I am interviewing Jennifer R Poulter and  Muza Ulasowski, the author and illustrator of the beautiful story – Getting Home.

img_6890

 

 

How did you come about to illustrate picture books?

I have always been ‘arty’ with it being my favourite subject in high school. Even as a child, I remember telling everyone that I was going to illustrate children’s books!! However, life happened to get in the way – I ended up working as a legal secretary and various other professions instead – eventually, forgetting my dream. After my children graduated from high school though, I went back to college and graduated in 2007 with a Diploma in Graphic Design.

In 2011 I was lucky enough to have received my first publishing contract with New Holland to illustrate the book, ‘Where’s Michael?’ by Xavier Waterkeyn. I enjoyed that process so much, that I have been illustrating children’s picture books ever since. So now, I am very happily living my childhood dream.

How were you able to illustrate these Polar bears so that they would look so life like?

My natural style is hyperrealism. No matter how hard I try, I cannot do simple illustrations. Before I begin to illustrate a character in a book, I research and research and research, downloading hundreds of images via Google. I also visit zoos. For the book Forest Wonder, for example, I spent a lot of time at Lone Pine and also at Australia Zoo photographing the animals and sketching, to get a feel of their movements. I definitely used up my annual passes to both places!! With Getting Home, I visited Sea World many times and took photographs of their polar bears.

What was the medium you used for the illustrations in ‘Getting home’?

I use digital illustrating for books, and I work in layers. The reason for this is so that I can move the characters and background around to fit the text in comfortably – without having to redraw the whole illustration.

I used a combination of Artrage and Photoshop digital programmes via my trusty Intuos 4 tablet or my Cintiq Companion 2 to illustrate Getting Home. I used Artrage because the program is very straightforward and has no “bells and whistles”. It is very similar in technique to using acrylic paints in that once you choose your brush, intensity, medium, colour and transparency – away you go. Each brush stroke is applied individually – just like using acrylic paints – except there’s virtual “water”, no paint spillage and, you never run out of paint. Also, there’s a magical button I like to use a lot – called “delete”!!

Each character is created as a separate illustration, much larger in size than needed so that I can put a lot of detail in each illustration. All the created characters and the background are then combined in a Photoshop file and any touch-ups to colour and shadows are then finalised.

 

Do you enjoy drawing animals?

I love drawing birds and animals and portraying the tiniest of details. I find it fascinating to try to convey expressions on their faces and though quite challenging, it’s extremely rewarding when I “nail it”.

 

Your illustrations bring out so much in this story which has such a simple storyline. How do you do this so you can not only draw what has been written but add more to it?

I usually know what I want to draw before I start, but the pictures tend to change and evolve as I go. Sometimes it feels as though the animal characters totally take over – dictating to me what should happen on the page and what else is going to be happening on the page. Usually this happens once I am halfway through a book, and then I have to go back and amend or add to what I’ve previously drawn. So the stories evolve as I go further into the book with sidelines being added to the story.

Do you discuss much of your work with the author?

J.R.Poulter: “Getting Home” was a collaboration. Muza and I spent over a year to and fro-ing ideas, modifying images, modifying text till we had a cohesive whole that we knew ‘worked!’

Muza: Getting Home took an extraordinarily long time to develop…. when I look at the original roughs, the final one looks like a totally different book. There were lots and lots and lots of emails between Jennifer and I and a lot of collaboration changing, editing, deleting, redrawing…. it took over a year to get it to where we thought it was just right.

Why is it important that young children are aware of the problems animals face due to human behaviour?

J.R.Poulter: Today’s children, as the next generation of politicians, teachers, writers, researchers etc., are the ones who will work to protect our world and its animal inhabitants or not. It is important that children are taught to respect the world they live in and seek to preserve it for their children. If today’s educators and parents fail to pass on this respect by example as well as by teaching, then we can expect more animal species to become extinct as their habitats disappear, their food sources are cleared, water sources poisoned and the animals themselves hunted to oblivion either literally or by the push of so called ‘progress.’

 Do you have any favourite stories that encourage people to act more sustainably in our world?

J.R.Poulter:

“The Trail of the Sandhill Stag” and “Foam Razorback, His Life and Adventures” both by Ernest Thomas Seton – these two books were handed on to me by my grandmother. My mother’s eldest sister gave me a book called “Nanuk” about an Eskimo boy and his family and how they sought to live and work sustainably in their environment.

My grandmother also had a set of books called “People and Places,” which was published before World War I, I believe. It gave wonderful description of the native peoples and their environments and the animals of these then pristine areas.

Thank you both for giving up your time to answer these questions. Maybe we will see another collaboration someday soon. 

Muza Ulasowski is a graphic designer and children’s book illustrator based in the leafy western suburb of Brookfield in Brisbane, Queensland. Australia. She is inspired and surrounded by a vast array of local birds and animals who tend to make their appearances in her book illustrations. She shares her life with her wonderfully patient husband, their charismatic bulldog called Charlie and a black magic cat named Basil.

In 2010, she was invited to illustrate her first children’s picture book and enjoyed it so much, that she has been collaborating ever since with Australian and international authors. To date she has illustrated 12 children’s picture books and is currently illustrating several more which will be published in 2017/18. Whilst primarily concentrating on creating digital images for children’s picture books, Muza also specializes in graphic design, designing book covers and book layouts to print ready stage. Currently Muza has illustrated approximately 12 books, with more to be published in 2017 and 2018.

In her spare time she enjoys illustrating in pencil and charcoal, acrylic painting, wildlife photography, sewing, and creating artworks for her colourful and crafty ETSY store.

Qualifications:

  • Diploma of Arts – Visual Communication – 1979
  • Certificate IV in Graphic Design – 2008
  • Diploma of Graphic Design – 2008

muza_profilePhoto_NEW

Jennifer R. Poulter was a senior education officer with Qld Studies Authority, writing assessment packages for schools and editing material, and was Deputy head of John Oxley Library [SLQ] when she left there to have her brood of 5. She has over 30 children’s and education titles published in Australia, UK, Europe and USA with mainstream publishers and is currently collaborating with over 30 illustrators publishing her work under her imprint Word Wings for Kids. She has won major awards, including Children’s Choice, New Zealand. More books are coming. She loves teaching children the fun to be had with words!

Under J.R. McRae, she writes novels (including YA), award winning literary poetry, short stories and creates artwork.

J R Poulter - portrait

 

 

Interview with Joanne Karcz, author of Dangar Island. Birds, Barrows, a ferry and me.

Joanne Karcz is the very talented author of the rhythmically relaxing picture book: Dangar Island. Birds, Barrows a ferry and me.

Thank you Joanne for taking the time to answer some questions I have about your great book.

Book-2

How long have you lived on Dangar Island?

I have lived permanently on Dangar Island for seven years, but had a long association with the island before that. We used to come up for weekends regularly since 2000.

What do you love about Dangar Island?

I love so much about the Island, including being so close to nature, having parrots in our trees and water dragons near our jetty. I like that there are no cars. The river is beautiful and the ferry regularly passing our house is a sight I really enjoy. The community here is another great thing about living here. People are friendly and supportive and there are often community initiatives that happen here that are unlikely to happen on the mainland.

What inspired you to write a picture book about Dangar Island?

The freedom that the children who grow up here have, is something very special. They are allowed freedoms that not many children on the mainland have. That and the fact that I love living here gave me the inspiration to share this life with others.

You have written this poem in rhyme – how difficult was it to find the right words?

I have written many things in rhyme over the years, and it is a style that works for me. Finding the right words took time and perseverance – I did many drafts before being satisfied with the text.

What do children love to do on Dangar Island?

The book pretty much describes what the children enjoy doing. Playing in the park, getting covered in mud on the beach when it’s low tide and riding their bikes down the hill to the jetty. They enjoy exploring and older ones like to walk around the island on the shoreline at low tide.

If we come to visit what should we do? The cave looks exciting! 

It is easy to explore the island on foot – it only takes about 40 minutes to walk around the island. A couple of caves are close to the road on the high side. They are big rock overhangs, not deep caves. A walk to the top of the island through the bush is fun. You should see the beach and the park and try and see how many different birds you can see.

The illustrations really complememt the story, was it difficult finding an illustrator who would suit the lightness and happiness of the story?

It was difficult finding an illustrator at all given my budget constraints. This book was a personal project which I wrote for my children and the children of Dangar Island. It took me quite some time to find Jacqui who is the niece of a friend and lives on a property in Queensland. She first came to Dangar Island when we launched the book and used internet searches and photographs to guide her illustrations. We communicated regularly by phone and email. Before engaging her I asked her to do a sample of her work in a style similar to Mem Fox in Possum Magic. I am really happy with how the illustrations and story work together.

Can you see yourself writing any more books in the future? 

I have written a second book which is similar but very different from the Dangar Island book. It is currently in the process of being illustrated. Jacqui was not available and I was lucky to find someone else to work on this new book.

Thank you Joanne. I am looking forward to making a weekend visit over to Dangar Island some day very soon! 

r0_0_4896_3264_w1200_h678_fmax

Photo taken from : http://www.goondiwindiargus.com.au/story/4794923/farleigh-downs-artist-recognised-in-us/

Python by Christopher Cheng and Mark Jackson

It’s morning in the bush.
Python stirs and slithers out from her shelter.
She warms her head and smells the air
with her forked tongue.
Python is a beautiful snake,
but also dangerous
– and she is looking for a meal

Python by Christopher Cheng and Mark Jackson is a captivating picture book that takes you along for a ride as snake looks for her next meal.

Illustrator Mark Jackson brings the danger of the snake to life through his descriptive illustrations of snake sneaking up on her next meal, camouflaging amongst rocks and basking in the warm sun with her brood.

Christopher Cheng not only writes an enchanting story of the snake and her meal seeking adventure, he also adds in some great facts along the way that even the youngest reader can engage with.

Python teaches the reader about Pythons, their habitat and behaviour. Many of us are petrified of snakes and perhaps would rather throw a rock at it than let it run away. When we read stories like this to our children we are building their awareness of creatures like snakes, who are dangerous, and allowing them to know more about them to realise that the snakes are probably a lot more scared of us!

Did you know that pythons might only eat once every four weeks? And that they can unhinge their jaws?

The world of pythons is dangerous yet intriguing and this CBCA shortlisted picture book is a book for all to enjoy.

img_6363.jpg

Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to look at a starry sky without a single sound around him? 

Or looked at a wildflower and not known the name?

Perhaps you’ve only ever visited the big cities and never explored further afoot.


Well, look no further, Australia, Illustrated by Tania McCartney is an amazingly illustrated picture book which explores many different aspects of the Australian landscape.

Australia has such a diverse landscape and this book captures so many of the hidden gems that each state has to offer.

As the reader explores each state they learn about famous Australians, the type of weather and the iconic buildings. We also explore the endangered and endemic animals, local food and hidden bush tracks.

As we read through this story I was able to talk about the different places I had visited and places we would love to go. We were also able to wonder about how people feel about living in different parts of Australia and what those children might get up to on the weekend.

Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney is a book that you can read little by little or in one sitting. It is also a great book that you can return to again and again as there is so much to discover on each page.

Tania McCartney is a superb illustrator and if you can’t be inspired to take a trip around this great big land, then perhaps no book can convince you!

So what can you do at home?

 – Check out a map of Australia and see where Tania has illustrated.

– Look at the large map of Australia and each state and read the different towns and cities that make up the illustration. Choose one or two to find out more about.

– What has Tania McCartney drawn to make each state unique? Do you agree with this?

– Could you create a book like this about another country?

Desert Lake by Pamela Freeman and Liz Anelli

The dry salt bed of Kati-Thanda~Lake Eyre shimmers in the desert heat.

But far up north, the rains have come. Water is flooding into empty riverbeds and swirling down towards the lake.

Soon everything will change.


Mesmerising images, lyrical narrative and imagination sparking facts – Desert Lake is a work of art created by Pamela Freeman and Liz Anelli.

The story begins in the hot parched desert which looks desolate and barren but as soon as the rains falls and the rivers from up north flow down south we see how amazing the natural world is. As we read this story we were amazed to find out about frogs eggs that lay dormant for  years under the ground waiting for rain and birds that can sense when the lake is in flood from hundreds of kilometres away.

Desert Lake’s illustrator – Liz Anelli has created eye catching illustrations which give more depth to the story through detail and by adding extra images on each page.

The natural world is an amazing place and to see something like this happen in person would be a wondrous event. I was lucky enough to visit Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre when it was in flood in 2010 – we couldn’t drive to the lake at the time as many of the roads were damaged from recent flooding but we were able to take a flight from William Creek Hotel. As we flew overhead we saw flocks of birds all over the lake and understood the span of the water as it sat there glistening in the sunlight.

Kati-Thanda-Lake Eyre does not receive as much water as it used to largely due to climate change and over use of water from nearby farms. Humans have a great knack at doing things that suit us without thinking of the consequences – perhaps now is the time to start to consider the farming procedures in Australia so that we can perhaps start to farm food that works with our climate – food that needs less water and less pesticides.

So what can you do?

  • Take your time to read this book – we have read it over and over and still each time we manage to ask new questions about Kati Thanda.
  • Pull out a map and find out which rivers flow into Kati Thanda.
  • Investigate and find out the type of farming done in the middle of Australia and how the farming might effect the land.
  • How can you save water? List some ways your family can conserve water.
  • How can you look after water? List some ways you can be more mindful of what you put down the drain.

 BUY NOW
Desert Lake: The Story of Kati Thanda - Lake Eyre

The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless – Young Adult Fiction

As soon as I started this novel i couldn’t put it down. This story stirred so many emotions – it brought tears to my eyes, made my stomach flutter with the memories of young love, I felt anger at the town bullies and joy at the beautiful friendships.

The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless is a story about a young girl living in a small Australian coastal town where most people rely on fishing as their income. As in many small towns rumours abound, opportunities dry up and the young people want to leave.


Our strong, fierce and brave character – Lucy – is dealing with the very raw death of her mother, the departure of a close friend and the discovery that she can walk into other people’s dreams.

Dream walker will bring your imagination to life and make you wonder about dreams and how powerful they can be.

A powerful story that delves into issues of suicide, alcoholism, bullying, grief and violence is a must read for any young adult who is pondering where they are in their lives, the harm secrets can bring to us and the importance of friendship and family.

The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless is one of those books that will stay with you long after you have finished. A must read!

Books that have Indigenous links

The Legend of Moonie Jarl

Walking with the seasons in Kakadu

Colours of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft.

Thirst

WELCOME TO COUNTRY by Aunty Joy Murphy

At the Zoo I see

Our Island

Say Yes

Mrs White and the Red Desert

Crabbing with Dad

On the way to Nana’s

Stories for Simon

Animals in my Garden by Bronwyn Houston

Mad Magpie by Gregg Dreise

Shapes of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft 

Waterlilies by Diane Lucas

Shallow in the Deep End by the Tiwi College Alalinguwi Jarrakarlinga

Kookoo Kookaburra by Gregg Dreise

Once there was a boy by Dub Leffler

We all sleep by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan

My Country by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan

At the Zoo I see

Big Fella Rain

Deep Diving