My Little Story Corner

For the love of picture books


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What Do You Wish For? Book Launch

imageWhat Do You Wish For?, Jane Godwin (author), Anna Walker (illus.), Penguin Random House, October 2015.
Book Launch October 11, 2015 at Readings Hawthorn.

“All the children in the street are writing down a special Christmas wish.
But What is Ruby’s wish? What does she wish for at Christmas time?
Ruby thinks of all the things that make Christmas special…”

“From this much-loved creative partnership comes a sparkling and beautiful story, full of the wonder of Christmas, the magic of wishing, and the timeless dreams of a child.”

I chose well considering it was the first book launch that I’ve attended! Although, in the company of two of Australia’s most elite book creators I was slightly overwhelmed. It’s true, I have met the superlative Anna Walker previously at her Mr Huff Exhibition (read about it here), and she is utterly divine, but still…

From the beginning of the event, the mood at Readings Hawthorn was spirited and amiable, as people mingled and nibbled on the gorgeous, handmade Christmas-themed cupcakes and shortbread bikkies.
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Miss 5 enjoying a cupcake.

Miss 5 enjoying a cupcake.

Then came the speeches. Launching the book was author and friend to Jane Godwin, Davina Bell. With the already jovial atmosphere present, Davina’s speech set off even more warm and fuzzies with her beautifully heartfelt words about what the story, and her own little Christmassy moments, meant to her. She was also engaging and funny; a perfect combination.

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Jane’s emotional presentation stole the crowd’s hearts from the get-go. She, too, spoke about the meaning behind the story – that a ‘wish’ signifies more of a statement or fear of loss, and her intention is for readers to understand that this time of year is, and should be, one of gratitude. She proceeded with some special thank-you’s; fitting, considering the nature of the book.

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Anna relayed the loving message by expressing her own fond feelings at Christmas time. She quoted a couple of lines from the book – “Ruby looked up, and the whole world was sparkling. She heard the paper wishes rustle in the warm, night-time breeze.” She reminisced about listening to cicadas and enjoying the tree, and complimented Jane’s words for making her heart glow.

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A story and question time by Jane gave the children in the audience opportunities to share their own special wishes, and the event concluded with book signing and a valuable, brief moment to converse with the extraordinary pair.
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So, a successful book launch! Jane Godwin and Anna Walker truly are champions in their field. Together they have created five sublime picture books, but today, they masterfully worked the crowd! There was so much love and warmth in the air that it felt like everyone’s Christmases had come at once.

What Do You Wish For? available for purchase here.

More photos:

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Written and photographed by Romi Sharp.
© My Little Story Corner 2015.
www.facebook.com/mylittlestorycorner


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Fire: Teaching Notes

Fire, Jackie French (author), Bruce Whatley (illus.), Scholastic Press, 2014.  

Review.

fireHarsh weather conditions are terrifying enough at the best of times, but what about when Mother Nature plays a hand in the wild and extreme that gamble with actual lives?
Award-winning author and Australian Laureate, Jackie French, together with the unequivocally talented illustrator, Bruce Whatley, have joined forces in producing a gripping and stunningly haunting book of adversity; ‘Fire’. Just like their previous book, ‘Flood’; depicting the horrendous Queensland floods in 2011, ‘Fire’ is another efficacious story of courage and strength in the face of a natural disaster.

Throughout the book are amazing, succinct verses that take your breath away with every word. The story begins with a serene outback set amongst golden hills and limp gum tree leaves. Upon turning the page, we are faced with the sudden impact of ferocious orange flames and black smoke, sending a once peaceful cockatoo fleeing for its life. Ramifications advance, affecting the people who live amongst the burning trees as the fire engulfs the land in a thunderous, cackling roar. Pretty soon, whole page spreads bleed with blood-red paint across the atmosphere, and thick grey ash that forces inhabitants to quickly escape the “gulping smoke and singed debris.”
Fire book imageNext, a gut-wrenching image of the oven swallowing houses, trees, the land. What about the aftermath? Loss, grief, disbelief. But the bravery of the firefighters and the safety of loved ones is what is appreciated most. From pain comes the strength of the Australian spirit, as we see the CFA tending to sick animals, and read of those friends who give love and help rebuild a world burnt bare. And eventually, the Earth is reborn once again.  

The final page details Jackie French‘s personal experiences with fighting bushfires and its effects on the land, and how best to manage its dangers. Bruce Whatley also gives appreciation for the courage of those dealing with these terrors, and his account of his illustration process. It is fascinating that he felt the erratic nature of the fire was the hardest thing to capture, because looking at his daubs, flicks, bleeding outlines, reds and yellows amongst their surrounding darks certainly creates intensely evocative and impactful imagery in my eyes.  

‘Fire’ is a powerful, poignant and moving story of real life truths; a devastingly beautiful, poetic rendition of a tough facet of nature. It is a book about life, love, friendship, hope and the human spirit that is so brilliantly captured in its words and images. ‘Fire’ is suited to primary school children, and is deservingly shortlisted in the CBCA’s 2015 Picture Book of the Year awards. Just phenomenal.

This review appeared first on Boomerang Books.

Discussion.

Before reading:

Ask, what do you know about bushfires? How do you think they start?
Have you seen stories about bushfires on the news? Have you or do you know anyone who has experienced this tragedy?
Look at the cover. What can you see? What does it tell us about this bushfire?

During reading:

What do you notice about the language used? What is a metaphor? How is a fire like a black snake?
What do you think the animals do to escape bushfire? How do the people need to act?
Discuss the illustrations in the book. How effective are they in making such a huge impact on the reader?

After reading:

What people / jobs might you see around the bushfire? What would their roles be?
What happened to the land during and after the bushfire? What could we do to help people who lost their homes in a bushfire? What ways can people protect themselves and their homes when living in the bush?

Curriculum Activities.

Literacy / Writing: Bushfire Poems
Objectives: Discuss language used in the book, including rhyming words, metaphors, symbolism. Discuss the order of events.

Acrostic Poem.
You may choose to write your own style of poem. My Prep daughter wrote an acrostic poem with the word BUSHFIRE.

imageBurning
Unsafe
Save yourself
Help animals
Firefighters are brave
I feel sad
Regrowth
Earth re-born.

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Technology / Craft: Firefighter and Burning Tree Construction.
Objectives: Understand the role and uniform of the CFA volunteers, and the effects of bushfires on the land, people and animals, and strategies to deal with its adversity.

Paper Roll Firefighter
Materials:
Paper roll, coloured paper (red, yellow, black or brown), goggle eyes (optional), pencil, glue, scissors, sticky tape, pipe cleaner.
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Directions:
1. Cut a strip of yellow paper for the body and attach to the paper roll. Cut a yellow hat / helmet shape and attach to the top of the roll.
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2. Pierce two holes in each side of the body and thread through the pipe cleaner (cut to size).
3. Decorate the firefighter as desired, with details on the uniform, goggle eyes and face.
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Paper Roll Burning Tree.
Materials:
Paper roll, choice of tissue paper / coloured paper / streamer, etc in fire colours (red, orange, yellow), sticky tape, scissors.
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Directions:
1. Cut large piece of tissue paper and stuff into top of paper roll.
2. Cut out flame shapes with another colour and stick in to tissue paper inside roll.
3. Cut out more flames with the third colour and stick into roll.
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4. Use your firefighter to put out the fire in the tree. We added a little pipe cleaner hose for the firefighter to hold.
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Science.
Learn about fire facts and its impact on humans, animals and land. Science Kids has some interesting information.

Lessons by Romi Sharp.
My Little Story Corner 2015
www.facebook.com/mylittlestorycorner
All sourced resources have been credited.
These lessons are for personal or classroom use only and are not permitted for commercial use without written consent.


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Visiting Mr Huff and his creator, Anna Walker.

Just like her picture books, Anna Walker is sweet, gentle and thoughtful, and as well as being down-to-earth, she’s also exceptionally gifted. Meeting her at her Mr Huff Exhibition at the gallery in Melbourne’s CBD was like a dream becoming reality. Her books are well-loved and highly treasured in our household, and for so long I have longed to make contact but didn’t have the courage.

  
But now I’ve done it! Face-to-face! I felt like a brave little chicken being swept away with the excitement in the city!
Anna was simply delightful. She answered all my questions generously and politely, even the silly ones! And her work, well, you think it’s enchanting in the books? Yes. But even more so to view up close and personal! Just sublime. The amount of detail with individually cut and pasted floorboards, leaves, tiny characters all with their very unique personalities. The level of skill in her intricate watercolour paintings, etches and sketches, and miniature models is simply extraordinary.   

   
   
  
Backtrack a bit… This was the second attempt at making the trip into the city, but as it turned out, the weather was (slightly) better, and we (Miss 5 and I) had time to prepare a little gift for the talented author / illustrator (one of our faves), just to show how much we love her. With some prior planning, (and a little bit of help from me), Miss 5 drew and painted her favourite Anna Walker characters in what we thought turned out to be quite a whimsical piece.

  
The teacher in me was happy to see her drawing on her knowledge of various Walker tales and creating an innovative pictorial story. “Alfie is searching for Sharkie and he’s shouting so loud that he’s blowing Peggy away with the wind from his mouth!” (Can you spot Sharkie?!)
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But did Anna Walker like it? She certainly seemed impressed and complimented Miss 5 on her artistic skills.:)
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So, for a glorious half hour or so, we had Anna Walker and her magical ‘Mr Huff’ world all to ourselves (pretty much), feeling absolutely enchanted by her brilliant words and images. Wow! An experience to remember!  

Inside Scoop!

 Anna is currently working on a new story about a little girl on a ‘flowery’ kind of adventure! It sounds absolutely magical. Only to be released in two to three years, though. But her new ‘What Do You Wish For?’ Christmas book with Jane Godwin will be out soon! Yay!  

See more of Anna Walker and her books on her website.

Buy Mr Huff here (affiliate link).

Written and photographed by Romi Sharp, 2015.