Digby and Claude by Emma Allen and Hannah Sommerville

“One autumn, change came to Main Street …”

 

Digby lives on a street that is going through a lot of change. He watches from his window an old crumbling building slowly being moved out of and taken apart, ready for new apartments to be built.

Digby is a child who live in the 1930’s and using his imagination, he decides to find a place to think about what he could build once inspired by the action in front of him. An old bathtub does the trick and he spends many hours lying there admiring the clouds and hatching up great ideas.

However, the next day another boy comes along – Claude – and together they start to build a cubby that they both can play, eat snacks and swap stories in.

The cubby gets bigger as the new developments start to rise up. They spend hours every day adding extra rooms and hideouts to their space – until Claude isn’t allowed to come anymore.

Digby continues to play in the cubby alone until one day some new children arrive – children that have just moved into the new apartments.  Together the magic of the cubby lights up again – showing the children that just a little bit of imagination can go a long way.

 

Ideas for the classroom and at home

How is an idea for a  book made?

Emma Allen talks about her book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkhPV8KgwKE

Community & change

How can you make new members of your community feel welcome?

Why is there change happening in this story? Is there any change happening where you live?

How does change to the buildings affect people? How does it affect the environment?

Who are Digby and Claude?

These children were able to play and there are not many adults in sight – why was this? Are you allowed to play alone? Why do you think this is?

Imagination

What is important about playing outside and using your imagination?

The Natural world

Many children live in apartments now – how can we encourage these children and their parents to play outside and use imagination more? How can buildings be designed so children are safe in common outdoor areas?

Design a cubby house that you would make from natural materials and old things. Label your drawing and outline what would happen in your cubby house.

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Interview with Suzanne Barton, author of Meeka

This month I am interviewing Suzanne Barton, the author of the new picture book: Meeka.
 
Meeka is Suzanne’s first picture book and has been self published.
 
Meeka is a delightful story for young children about not only a father-daughter relationship but also about the care we can give to natures’ smaller creatures. Throughout this story we also feel the care of the market stall owner community when little Meeka cannot be found
 
Thank you Suzanne for answering these questions for my audience and I.
 
1. How did you come up with the idea of Meeka?
Meeka’s story first came to life through a conversation between my mother and I. We were enjoying a delicious Moroccan meal and giggling as we imagined the adventures of a cheeky little bird who got stuck in a tagine. Not long after, I wrote up the story to enter into a writing competition and, to my surprise, the manuscript won its category. After that, I’d always hoped to see the story published.
2. How long have you been writing for and when did you feel that children’s writing was where you wanted to be?
I come from a family full of writers, English teachers and Scrabble enthusiasts – so I’ve been a bookworm and a wordsmith for as long as I can remember. My career and studies have led me to write everything from advertising copy to film scripts, but I really love children’s stories. Some years ago I took a course in children’s writing and loved learning about all the different styles and techniques. Since then, the stories have kept flowing.
3. How did you work with Anil Tortop? Did you exchange ideas or just let Anil explore the story and interpret it herself.
Working with Anil was a wonderful collaboration. I had some ideas about how I saw Meeka coming together, and so did she. From her very first sketches and storyboards, it was clear that Anil knew just how to bring Meeka to life. I always loved receiving her drawings as we were working on the book. Her characters have so much personality and movement. Even now I keep noticing tiny details that make me smile.
Check out the book trailer for Meeka!
4. You ran a successful pozible campaign – how did you ensure its success and how did you cope with the wait?
I am so grateful for the lovely people who supported Meeka on Pozible, helping me print the book beautifully. To prepare, I went to a crowd funding workshop for authors and thought carefully about the rewards I could offer supporters, and what fun things I could share on social media during the project. These included a book trailer, time-lapse videos of the illustrations and Photoshopped ‘selfies’ of Meeka with supporters, which were really fun to make. Sometimes I felt nervous that the project wouldn’t reach its goal, but I tried to stay positive and we got there with a few days to spare.
5. Can you give any advice to budding picture book authors who would love to see their book published?
Never give up. If you have stories in your heart, then keep working hard at your craft and seek support in the wonderful writers’ groups that can be found in many communities, and of course at your fingertips online. I also find critique groups especially handy. The chance to regularly receive constructive criticism from a supportive network of like-minded writers, and also to review other people’s work, really helps keep the creative ideas flowing.
 
 

6. Where to next? Can you expect another picture book some time or are there other areas of creative writing you are going to explore?

 

I have several more picture books up my sleeve and hope to see them brought to life in the coming years. I’m also working on a story for older readers, and continuing to create cabaret productions inspired by 1940s radio drama with my musical ensemble, Neo Radio.
Sounds exciting Suzanne! I can’t wait to see what else you can bring to life. Thank you for the time you have given to answer these questions.
Now followers – do you have any questions?

BUY YOUR COPY HERE: https://www.bluebellbooks.org/shop/