Sharing stories is an important part of our whakapapa. We share stories so that those who came before us are remembered and celebrated. Some of these stories lend themselves well to being made into a book that can be shared with people all over the world. Janine McVeagh’s story of her husband and the connection that he made with their grandson through his guitar is one of these stories. In Grandad’s Guitar, Janine brings her family’s story to life with the help of Fifi Colston’s wonderful illustrations.
Kahu receives a battered, old guitar for his birthday. He would much rather have a shiny new one, but as his grandmother tells him the story of this guitar Kahu learns how to play the instrument and learns of his connection to his grandad. The guitar once belonged to his grandad who took it all over the world, along with his grandma. They traveled to England, France and Greece before coming home through Iran, Afghanistan and India. The guitar may look old and battered but it is quite a treasure that is now Kahu’s.
Grandad’s Guitar is a fantastic story that celebrates music and its power to connect people across countries and generations. It shows the importance of sharing family stories to keep the memories of those who are no longer with us alive. Janine’s storytelling makes you feel like you are a member of the family listening to her story.
I love the look and feel of this book. Makaro Press have done a wonderful job with the production of the book. The paper is thick and the illustrations are glossy so you almost feel like you are holding Fifi’s original illustrations in your hands. Fifi’s illustrations take you back in time to the 60s, showing the fashion of the times and showing the different cultures through the food and clothing. I especially love the music notes that flow through the illustrations.
This is a great book to share with children young and old. It’s an especially good book to use in a classroom because you could explore many different aspects of the story, from music and its ability to connect people, to family stories and how these are passed down the generations, or even looking at the different cultures that Kahu’s grandparents visit on their travels with the guitar. With Matariki just around the corner I think this is the perfect book to share, as one of the things we celebrate at Matariki is our whakapapa.
Makaro Press have also created some wonderful teacher’s notes to go with the book too – http://www.makaropress.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Final-Teachers-Notes-Grandads-Guitar.pdf
Wearable Wonders is Fifi Colston’s fantastic new book that’s bursting with creativity, tips, tricks and ideas to help you make your own wearable wonder. Fifi has been in Christchurch this week, running workshops for children as part of the TV2 KidsFest, and I got the chance to have a chat with her. I’m a huge fan of Fifi’s books and I grew up watching her on What Now.
Thanks to the wonderful publisher of Wearable Wonders, Scholastic NZ, I have a special signed copy of the book to give away. All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address in the form below. Competition closes Wednesday 31 July (NZ only).
Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner is Sandra Worthington.
Are your kids crafty and creative? Are you looking for that perfect idea to keep your kids entertained for hours these school holidays? Wearable Wonders is Fifi Colston’s fantastic new book that’s bursting with creativity, tips, tricks and ideas to help you make your own wearable wonder.
What wonderful stories can petals, shells and stones tell?
What fantastic forms can fabrics, wire and cardboard take?
What out-of-this-world shapes can old cans and drink bottles make?
Mix them together, add a dash of drama and a splash of imagination and learn how to WOW the world with your very own wearable wonder!
As Fifi says in her introduction, this isn’t a book with patterns that show you how to make something in particular, it’s about showing you ‘how you can come up with an idea for something you’d never dreamed of making before.’ There are plenty of examples of wearable wonders that Fifi and others have created to show you what can be created from materials that you might have lying around the house.
Fifi has split the book up in to lots of sections so that you can work through your masterpiece from start to finish. The first section is all about how and where to find good ideas, and Fifi gives some great tips about tips to help inspire you. Once you have your idea, Fifi then takes you through how to plan your time, shows you the tools and materials that you might need to create your masterpiece, shows you how to construct it, looks at what other accessories you might need to complete your look, and how to paint it. The last section looks at staging a wearable art show and the things you need to pull it all together.
There is so much to like about Wearable Wonders. The information is clear, simple and easy to follow. I especially like the way that the text is arranged in small blocks, on pieces of paper that look like they’ve been pinned or taped to the page. The text is surrounded with lots of colourful diagrams and photos, with arrows matching photos and descriptions. It’s the sort of book that will appeal to kids, teens and adults because it’s so user-friendly. I’m not a crafty person but Fifi makes it look easy to create something wonderful from recycled materials.
Grab a copy of Wearable Wonders from your library or bookshop and create your own masterpiece. It’s the perfect way to spend the school holidays or a rainy weekend.
This year there are a bumper crop of books about New Zealand’s involvement in war being published to coincide with Anzac Day on April 25. The Red Poppy is one of them that really stands out for me because of it’s well-told story by David Hill and it’s stunning illustrations by Fifi Colston. It’s a story full of tension, but ultimately about the friendship between enemies and the loyalty and bravery of one little dog.
I asked both David and Fifi if they would be able to tell me a little about their book and what it meant to them:
The Red Poppy is a senior picture book which tells the story of a young soldier in a terrifying battle on the Western Front in France, during World War 1. Jim McLeod and his battalion have to attack across the open ground, into the face of artillery and machine-gun fire from the German trenches. With them goes the little black messenger dog, Nipper, whose job is to carry back requests for help, to save wounded men. As they charge across the open ground, past a place where red poppies grow among the shattered trees and buildings, Jim is hit by a bullet. He falls into a deep shell-hole, at the bottom of which lies a wounded German soldier. What happens between the two men, and the part played by Nipper in trying to save them, is the rest of the story.
I’ve dedicated my part in The Red Poppy to my uncles who fought in both World Wars. Their stories of the great battles and the courage of soldiers fascinated me from when I was a kid, and finally I had the chance to honour them in a story. Mud and huge guns and fear and the red poppies that have become the symbol of Anzac Day are all in this book.
My husband’s grandfather Rothwell, wrote postcards to his fiancé Hilda, from 1914-1918. Particularly poignant were two from France; they said simply “Am O.K” and “Keep smiling!” I was in the process of scanning and blogging these cards for the family (http://wartimepostcards.blogspot.co.nz/) when Scholastic asked me if I would look at a very special story to illustrate. I had decided some time ago that the next book I illustrated had to really mean something to me on a very personal level. Illustrating a book is a labour of love and I wanted to make a body of work that would enthrall me and push me to produce as excellent work as I could. For that I’d need to relate to the story; it had to move me. Then I read David’s manuscript. Jim’s letter home never mentioning the horrors of the trenches struck an immediate chord with me; those cheerful words from a young man, disguising the reality of his situation. Rothwell did come home from France to be a husband and father, but was far from ‘o.k’; dying just a few short years later from the cruel ravages of his war experience. Illustrating this book has been a journey through his time for me. I visited war museums, studied WW1 uniform, grew red poppies, photographed mud and rubbed chalk pastel until my fingers bled. I have learned much and my artwork is a tribute to him. It’s been a real pleasure working with David, Diana and Penny at Scholastic and Penny Newman the brilliant book designer who created the vision with me.