Libby Gleeson’s books have a special place on the bookshelves in our house because of the way her stories transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. I have recently added Look, A Book! Look A Book! has been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council Of Australia in the picture book section. I went and collected her other books from the various bookshelves scattered throughout the house and sat down for a quiet Sunday afternoon of reading and remembering.
Where’s Mum? was an early favourite, with my very young children feeling pleased with the connections they could make with the fairy tales and nursery rhymes they were growing up with.
Shutting in the Chooks gave them a hero they could cheer on as he raced to find the missing chook, saving her from the villainous fox. I suspect they were enjoying the vicarious experience of fear from the safety of the armchair; similar to an adult watching Hitchcock’s Birds.
As these books were moved from their shelves to mine to make way for their changing literature interests, I added a few more that supported my work with students. Some to explore world issues such as The Great Bear which, with its sombre illustrations and stirring text, opened the door to discussions of animal cruelty.
Others supported values education, Amy and Louis is an example of how friendships can survive change. It is also a wonderful book to use when studying visual literacy as is An Ordinary Day. Both reinforce how the illustrations tell so much about the emotions and thoughts of the characters. An Ordinary Day reminds us of how we all have grey day experiences but our imagination can change that.
Becoming a reader of poetry coincided with returning to work while raising three very active boys. I found I had time to read poetry whereas I had time for little else. I didn’t have any desire to analyse, just to enjoy the emotions and wonders told in a few verses. As my children have grown I again have time for reading novels but continue to regularly dip in and out of poetry.
Through poetry I first began to notice the craft of writing and how powerful a few words can be. Raw emotions and shared humour – no matter what was happening in my life there was a poem that captured the moment. Yes I know I need to attempt capturing those moments with my own poems – one day soon I will try.
I recently came across Timothy Walsh’s At the Goodwill . (yes this too did capture a moment in my life but that is for another slice) I couldn’t help but smile at the images which came while reading the first verse. This is one I will tuck away as a mentor text when working with students on similes, imagery or word choice. Do you have a poem which is a favourite mentor text for an aspect of writer’s craft?
At The Goodwill
Timothy Walsh (Verse 1 only)
Like crows tearing at roadkill,
people rummage among the aisles
and clothes bins,
ransacking the discarded clutter of other lives
for that special undiscovered something.