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Book month takes me from one end of Sydney to the other – from kids in Athelstane Arncliffe with lots of kids whose families come from Lebanon to Hills Grammar Kenthurst with lots of kids who are on the edges of our beautiful countryside.
I never realised that writing would take me on this journey which is like a lovefest of literature, young people, readers who jump into my JACK books and sail into Ships in the Field.
They know my books better than I do thanks to the fabulous school librarians who are embracing the National Year of Reading 2012. (NYR)
Love being an ambassador for the NYR.
How special are these librarians – with libraries filled with the kids’ creativitiy, display of books and preparing the kids for my visit.
Special thankyou to Melinda Levy (Athelstane Public School) and Tania Maley (Hills Grammar).
Yesterday was hectic – crossing highways, through inner city and county – got there and it was fantastic.
Shaun Tan inspired a packed auditorium at Imperial College London.
Shan Tan is such a deep thinker but with lots of humour and self deprecation too. He accepts the frailties of life, observes, is in the malstrom of lifes he illustrates the human condition – its quirkiness, challenges, and that endless curiosity that drives us all.
Robin Morrow presenting on Bob Graham’s work which was great.
Loved Frane Lessac’s session with her colourful, celebratory picture books embracing all cultures.
Loved Mark Greenwood’s earthy, real work with indigenous communities in the West which he translates into significant historical picture books many illustrated by Frane Lessac.
In my own session on Ships in the Field,I explored how my personal story that translates to the universal story of an immigrant world seeking family, love and home.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS were but British academics Marjorie Couglan Editor of Paper Tigers respected e-journal and
Janet Evans Lecturer in Education Liverpool Hope University
both presented Australian Picture books including Arim Greder’s ‘Island; John Marsden’s and Matt Ottely’s ‘Home and Away’.
A sojourn in the country. Gloucester is one of those ideallic villages.
Impacted by the decline of the dairy industry for small holders, there were still dairy cows dotting the fields.
Fires are threatening and I had breakfast with firefighters who were staying at my motel.
Maybe the threats of fire, make the young people thinkers, maybe the relationship with the land. Whatever it is, they had great questions and were engaged in critical thinking and literature.
‘Ships in the Field’ and Belonging are natural partners. Anna Pignataro’s evocative illustrations of a family seeking belonging in a new ‘field’/land and the story reach into an immigrant world. It opens questions and discussion.
I was deeply touched by Caitlin a year 11 student, who shared her love of ‘Butterflies’ with me. I wrote that from such a deep place – that search for identity, meeting challenges and being all you can be. Thankyou Caitlin.
Great week sharing Ships in the Field with the wonderful teacher-librarians who travelled from the Illawarra 2 hours each way to The Children’s Bookshop Beecroft.
They had a great time perusing the bookshop, talking books with The bookshop’s Paul MacDonald and celebrating reading onThursday.
Also thankyou to the librarians and teachers of Cerdon College who invited me to launch the National Year of Reading on friday. What a great college. The girls just love books, reading and writing and expressed great views. They were wonderful.
Special hello to the JACK fans – you know who you are.
Love being an ambassador for the National Year of Reading!
My friends piled into Readings Bookstore for the launch of ALIEN SHORES - authors Jen McVeity, Hazel Edwards, Meredith Costain, Paul Collins, Rose Inserra, illustrator Marjory Gardner. Love them.
Julian Burnside QC gave a moving speech to launch ‘Alien Shores’ edited by Sharon Rundle and Meenakshi Bharat. I felt overwhelmed by Julian’s description of a refugee who converted to Christianity and would have been stoned brutally if forced back to Iran.
Arnold Zable read a segment from his story in ‘Alien Shores’.
Sharon Rundle and I spoke on ABC Radio National with the insightful Michael Cathcart about ‘Alien Shores’.
Michael Cathcart also talked about my personal story in ‘Ships in the Field’ illustrated by Anna Pigantaro and how that related to ‘Alien Shores’.
Loved talking to the teacher-librarians at Maroubra Junction Public School in the eastern Suburbs of Sydney.
The Reading Hour is on the 25th August – mums and dads, teachers and kids, grocers and butchers, life savers and dog trainers …. EVERYONE … are going to pick up a book and read for the National Year of Reading 2012.
Pick up a book and read – in a group, under a tree, with friends …. it’s cool and colossal.
Kate Colley shared her favourite new books – you can always count on Bloomin’ Books.
I shared ‘Ships in the Field’ and the complex issues within Anna Pigantaro’s painting:-
- the dog of war and the dog of hope
- the fighter planes becoming birds of hope
- refugees who are transparent and become so small as they board the ships
- and …..
-with some of my favourite people – teacher-librarians.
Join the Library Conference Day, Monday 16th July for the fabulous South West Region for Teacher librarians at Breakfree International Hotel Chapel Road Bankstwon.
Thankyou to Jennifer Dyer at Birrong Girls High School and Debbie Van de Meer at Cecil Hills High School
for inviting me to speak as:-
an ambassador for the National Year of Reading 2012
to share ‘Ships in the Field’
Looking forward to catching up with Victor Davidson teacher and storyteller extra-ordinaire who support kids and reading.
Review: Ships in the Field by Susanne Gervay & Anna Pignataro
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
Reviewer: Jenny Mounfield
With issues of immigration featuring heavily in news headlines over the past year, the release of this title couldn’t be more timely. Ships in the Field concerns one family’s experience of migration as seen through the eyes of a child. Forced from their homeland by war, the unnamed child and her parents embrace a new life in Australia. Once a farmer, Papa now works in a factory, while Ma, a teacher, takes in sewing. Despite the horror of the past and the unknown future ahead, this family is a joyful one—though something is still missing for our child narrator.
In these two heart-felt sentences, Gervay captures the child’s perspective beautifully:
“Papa grew up in a village in the old country, before it was broken.
Ma grew up in a city in the old country, before it was broken.”
By using deceptively subtle wording and misdirection, Gervay expertly conveys the war that still haunts this famil
Crossing Boundaries: Translations and Migrations, to be held at Imperial College, London, from 23rd to 26th August 2012.
It’s going to be fantastic and I get to see friends from all over the world.
Shaun Tan, Mark Greenwood, Frane Lessac – the fantastic Aussie contingent of authors/illustrators from the West are coming.
Can’t wait to speak about ‘Ships in the Field’ on a panel with Marjorie Coughlan editor of Paper Tigers
Picture Books about Migration
Zeynep Bassa (Author and Illustrator, Turkey) Picture Books on the Theme of Migration in Germany Questions of migration, discrimination, social marginalisation and integration appear as newly emerging topics in children’s books. Based partially on the author’s personal experiences as a migrant mother of two children in Germany and from work with migrant children, this paper reviews some of the children’s books published in Germany on the subjects of tolerance and acceptance of different identities.
Marjorie Coughlan (Editor, Paper Tigers, U.K.) Escaping Conflict, Seeking Peace: picture books that relate refugee stories, and their importance Attention is drawn to picture books in English from around the world about children and young people who have been forced from their homes because of conflict. These are stories that need to be told, whether they are biographical or fictionalised accounts, for understanding of the past, healing in the present, and hope for the future.
Susanne Gervay (Author, Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrato
Ships in the Field by Susanne Gervay, illustrated by Anna Pignataro
(Ford Street Publishing)
HB RRP $26.95
Reviewed by Francine Sculli
for BUZZ WORDS
Joining the mastery of award-winning author, Susanne Gervay and award-winning illustrator, Anna Pignataro – Ships in the Field is a picture book filled with significance, beauty and rich subtext.
Narrated through the simple, but intuitive eyes of a little girl, this picture book tells the story of life for a refugee family who have fled from their war torn country and started a new life in a foreign land. The little girl shares heart warming family moments with the reader. Images of her father splashing her with water from the laundry tub, making hats for the whole family from paper napkins, promising her a puppy that she so longs for, or sitting on top of trees that give a view of the whole world; all of these provide a safe and comfortable foundation for her to share other images of her family’s life that are far deeper and more complex. We see her mother crying in the hallway as she sleeps, we hear of how the night scares her, we hear of the loss of their previous life, and the complexity of mistaking ‘ship’ for ‘sheep’. These images are delicately interwoven in a way that brings hope and understanding.
The intricate images from Anna Pignataro are wonderfully complimentary and equally telling. She captures the warmth, solidary and strength of the family through her soft, watercolour images; however, the double page image spreads also provide the subtext for what is left partially unsaid in the narrative – the gloom, loss, fear and devastation of war. Colour is a significant part of the illustrations and the sense of hope overcoming loss and devastation is depicted through the changing colours, as the darker and more neutral tones are slowly replaced with brighter and more vibrant colours towards the books close.
Through its imagery, clever word play and warmth, Ships in the Field has created a thoughtful and touching insight into the world of a child whose life has been shredded by war. While it is a great insight, it is not overly confronting and easily accessible for younger readers. It is a significant picture book that will assist children (aged 7+) to develop empathy and understanding.
How exciting to be welcomed with a huge window display at The Children’s Bookshop Beecroft of ‘Ships in the Field’, a National Year of Reading event.
Anna Pignataro the brilliant illustrator of ‘Ships in the Field’ loved speaking to authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, kids and friends.
Anna shared her Italian-Egyptian background and how her parents were forced out of Egypt, while I shared my Hungarian refugee background – in ‘Ships in The Field’ – a story of finding home.
Fabulous authors like Wendy Blaxland, Wendy Fitzgerald, Belinda Murrell, Margaret Roc, Felicity Pulman, Isolde Martyn, tanka poet Beverley George …Maria Simpson creator of Bilby Theatre, librarians like the fantastic Claire Stuckey and friends came to celebrate ‘Ships in the Field’.