Vietnam Diary, Book 3 in the Children in War Trilogy is out now (Hachette Children's).
Literature Alive: Reading Pictures panel discussion
23 May, Toorak/South Yarra Library (340 Toorak Road, South Yarra)6.30 -7.30pm
Free event. Book online (http://www.eventbrite.com.au/event/5063523134#) or call Toorak/South Yarra Library: 8290 8000
As part of the Literature Alive festival, Gallery for a Day curator, Amanda Cooper, will lead a discussion about ‘Reading Pictures’ with leading children's authors and illustrators Elizabeth Honey, Mark Wilson and Kevin Burgemeestre.Exhibition & workshops: Ben and Gracies Art Adventure - Frederick McCubbin. See all the sketches, roughs and final illustrations at the Kyneton Museum from May 3rd.
Live Art in the Martat Prahran market. Bring the kids for some fun & a hands - on Art & Picture book experience with Children's authors and illustrators. Sat. May 25, 11am - 2pm.
Exhibition & workshops: Stonington Literature Alive Festival is on again, from May 13 to May 25. Sign your school up now to see some of Australias best authors & illustrators, including yours truely. Workshops at Malvern, Prahran, Phoenix Park & Toorak/South Yarra Libraries.
Children's Book Festival 2013 at the State Library of Victoria in March was a huge success once again. Thanks to all who came along to my workshops and storytelling sessions, we had a ball!
New editions of The Last Tree, I Saw Nothing - The Extinction of the Thylacine and Angel of Kokoda are now in the shops!
Journey of the Sea Turtle artwork is now with the exhibition collection at the Fremantle Literature Centre in W.A. (teacher's notes are printed at the end of this page).
Author in Residence - I want to thank the staff and students at St. Pauls Anglican Grammar, Traralgon Campus, for making my residency a great success.
I was recently awarded the Dromkeen Medal for Services to Children's Literature, but I want to emphasise that it also belongs to the many librarians I have had the pleasure to work with throughout Australia, far to many to name here. But the winner of this years Dromkeen Medal, Libby Ahern, has been a huge supporter for many years, and together with the help of many others, the Yea MARC Literature Festival has been a huge success. This year will be no different, so thanks Libby and all those involved. The Ipswich Festival of Children's Literature and Voices on the Coast, Youth Literature Festival in Qld. were also brilliant! Thanks to all those who came along, and especially the organisers.
Music: My band the The Dodgy Chairs will be playing at Blenders Cafe and Wine Bar in Cheltenham once a month, from 11.00am to 2.00pm. on Sundays. To check which sundays we are playing, call 9583 7766. We'll be playing in the courtyard at the rear of the cafe.T he fundraiser at the Carlton Football Club for the Baby Trees Project was a huge success (a fundraiser to build a school and hospital in Cambodia). Thanks for everyones support. It was a great gig!
I want to thank everyone who has supported my book Journey of the Sea Turtle, which has now sold over 10,000 copies. Lothian/Hachette Australia have done a third print run, so the message is still out there - we must save the sea turtles. All six species living in Australian waters are threatened and desperately need our help.
Vietnam Diary Lothian/Hachette (March 2013. Teachers notes at hachettechildrens.com.au
Little Dolphin Windy Hollow Books. Teachers notes at windyhollowbooks.com.au
Inside the World of Tom Roberts book two,Ben and Gracie's Art Adventure series (Lothian/Hachette Children's).
A Day to Remember, the Story of the ANZAC with Jackie French (Harper Collins)
Deep Sea Whale Rescue with Jan Ramage, tells the true story of the rescue of a Humpback whale and her calf (Dept. of Education and Conservation, W.A.)
All books are available (including signed copies) through Robinsons Bookshop (Frankston Branch) on 03 9783 6488 or email@example.com
Woooohhh! Things are already rockin' this year...
In The Beginning...
I was born in Brunswick, Victoria, just up the road from the Carlton Football ground. I loved drawing from a very early age. My brother Leigh and I spent most evenings drawing on huge sheets of paper on the kitchen table. I also loved comics, especially The Phantom, and a long forgotten western hero called Kid Colt. The drawings in both were brilliant! I would copy them over and over, which is really how I learnt to draw.
I had my first part-time job when I was 14, delivering bread and milk (I was allowed to take home as much bread as I could carry on my bike, and free bread and milk helped mum out a lot in those days). After that, I worked as a petrol jockey on weekends (as soon as I started my shift on Saturdays, my brother and his mates would pull into the servo trying to get free petrol for his old FJ Holden!).
But as fate would have it, my older brother Leigh was a good drummer and taught me how to play (just to stop me using mums pots and pans as a drumkit-very noisy). After school each day, I'd play along with songs by Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Chuck Berry, The Beatles and the great Bob Dylan. I went on to spend most of my teenage years pretending to be a drummer in various rock bands, and trying my hardest to sing like John Lennon.
I started studying art in year ten and went on to study mural design and painting at C.I.T. (now Monash, Caulfield Campus). I skipped classes two days a week to work as a cleaner to pay my way (somehow I still managed to pass though). I remember a few of us in the painting group were invited to lunch by the late great Fred Williams (at his house/studio). It was just amazing to see the paintings and prints he was working on, to see how he worked and to have a chat. He was a really nice guy and a great influence on me as a young painter.
Off to Work ...
After art school, I did National Service for two years, serving with Survey Corps and then Training Command (a slouch hat on my strange looking head wasn't a good look!). After the army, I did a Diploma of Education, but by now, the band was doing some good gigs, so my choice was to work for a living, or live the rock'n'roll dream. Not a hard choice. What a life! For one gig, we were flown to King Island and you could see the giant waves in Bass Straight not far below us. The pilot let our crazy guitarist take the controls for a while-what a buzz!
In the mid seventies, I thought I should get a 'real' job, and landed a position as designer and illustrator for The Education Magazine and Pursuit Magazine ( still playing drums though, in the bands Centerfold and Piranha. You can never get drumming out of your blood once it's in there!). I also started writing songs for the band and still write today.
In 1981 started freelance illustration for various other publishers including Penguin, Rigby, Brooks Waterloo and Reed Publishing in Australia, and Shortland in North America. My friend Ann James gave me my first picturebook to illustrate at the time, called Drenched. A great little story about a little boy caught in the rain after school. From that moment on I was hooked on picturebooks!
At about the same time, I became involved with various wildlife conservation groups like the Australian Conservation Foundation and The Wildlife Protection Council of Victoria. I did a lot of illustration work for these groups and others, which led me into writing my own stories concerning conservation and protecting native species. It has now become a lifelong passion. Prayer for the Animals (Lothian) was the first book, and I worked for the first time with the brilliant editor Helen Chamberlin, who has been my editor ever since.
In 1982 I held my first solo exhibition of paintings and drawings,at the Artists Proof Gallery in Richmond. I love painting and still paint and exhibit every couple of years (see the painting link at the top of this page). I still get the same buzz as I did as a little kid at school, opening the paint pot and just getting stuck into it!
My absolute passion though, is writing and illustrating children’s books. This also takes me all over Australia doing presentations and workshops in schools and at literature festivals (this fits in nicely with my eternal quest to find the best coffee shop in Australia!).
What A Year...
The Dromkeen collection of Picture Book Art is now a part of the State Library of Victoria Collection. As one of the Grand Dragons of Dromkeen, I am happy with the promise from the SLV, that they will keep the Dromkeen Dragon Tradition going too, and even expand it.
I have also been doing volunteer work for a charitable group called CLAN (Children's Literature Australia Network ). Our aim is to publish books and to get them to disadvantaged children/schools when and wherever we can. The first book is The Timor Sparrow , and is one of six books I have written for the project. The Timor Sparrow is being printed in the Tetum Language of Timor Leste. It will be off to the printer soon, as we have finally secured some funding! It's a huge project and we are just getting started, but there are some wonderful people I'm working with, so wish us luck!
I have also been working on two other picture book projects (see New Picturebooks ). Vietnam Diary (Lothian/Hachette Children's) and Little Dolphin (Windy Hollow Books) have both just been released, so check out a copy now at your local bookstore, school or Library.
My blues band The Dodgy Chairs (featuring guitarist Ken Spencer) is recording at the moment. Should have a half decent demo soon! Also see the Australian feature length movie Now and Then, for a brief peek at illustrations from my picture book The Penguin Shore.
Take a Moment...
I know it's a busy life we all lead, but if possible, try to put some time aside to do a little for the environment. This in turn helps our wild creatures. Remember, the smallest things are the most important and together, we can change things.
I want to thank all the schools and festivals that have kindly invited me along to do workshops and presentations this year. In particular, thestaff at the State Library of Victoria and Victoria Vaughan and the teachers and students of Mount Eliza North Primary School, for their wonderful enthusiasm and support over the last few years.
Good luck to all the budding storytellers out there, and especially to all the people who read our books. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to write, illustrate and enjoy children's books.
The War Trilogy
Angel of Kokoda My Mother's Eyes Vietnam Diary
The three books in this Trilogy explore children's experiences of, and reactions to, three different wars involving Australians; WW1, WW2 and The Vietnam War.
Angel of Kokoda
3rd CJ Picture Book Awards International-Shortlist 2011 CBCA Notable Children's Picture Book 2011
Angel of Kokoda tells the story of Kari, a free spirited mountain boy, living in Papua New Guinea during WW2. When he finds a wounded Australian soldier lying in a ditch, he knows he cannot leave him. Together they embark upon a perilous journey along the Kokoda Track...
My Mother's Eyes - The Story of a Boy Soldier
Notable Children’s Picture Book 2010 CBCA-Eve Pownall Award, Notable Children’s book 2010
My Mother's Eyes-The Story of a Boy Soldier tells the story of William, a young boy who enlists in the Australian Army during the first world war. Like many other underage boys, William is accepted into the AIF and sent to the battlefields of France during WW1. His letters home reveal how, for the boy soldiers, the 'great adventure' was both a triumph and a tragedy.
Vietnam Diary (new release)
Vietnam Diary follows the story of two brothers, Leigh and Jason, who are inseparable. But when Jason is conscripted and sent to fight in Vietnam, they are divided not just by distance, but by their beliefs about the war. The book explores the nature of brotherhood against a war that still divides Australian people today.
Ben and Gracie Art Adventures
Book 1 Ben & Gracie's Art Adventure Book 2 Inside The World of Tom Roberts
Aurealis Award 2013 (Best Children's Fiction Told Primarily Through Pictures) Shortlist
Join Gracie and Ben on their magical adventures, as they discover the world of the pioneers, the early settlers and the bushrangers, through the paintings of the famous Australian artists Fred McCubbin and Tom Roberts - and just a little bit of magic!
Books & Teachers notes are available from:
Hachette Children's Books www.benandgracie.com.au/
Hachette Children's orhttp://www.booktopia.com.au/search.ep?keywords=mark+wilson&productType=917504
Tales From Nature
The Last Tree
Whiteley Award for Children's Literature 2007 Environment Award for Children's Literature 2008 Wilderness Society, Picture Book Section, Shortlist
Our forests are being decimated at an alarming rate and we must do all we can to protect them. The Last tree is a story about one of our forests, and how nature has a way of surviving against all odds! Lothian (Hachette Children's Books Teachers notes at www.hachettechildrens.com.au
Journey of the Sea Turtle
Whitley Award for Children’s Literature 2010
Journey of the Sea Turtle highlights the fragile existence of our Loggerhead Sea Turtle population, and is available through Lothian (Hachette Australia). It follows a Loggerhead Sea Turtle from its nest on a Queensland beach, to the dangers of the open sea. Sea turtle populations are in decline all over the world and desperately need our help to survive. Lothian (Hachette Children's) Review: littlestoriesbigscience.wordpress.com Teacher's notes at the end of this page
Prayer for the Animals
The recording of Prayer for the Animals is available on CD at firstname.lastname@example.org
We need to preserve and protect the natural environment if we have any regard for the wonderful wildlife that inhabit this planet. This book celebrates just some of those wild and beautiful creatures, and we know that time is running out for many of them. It's not only the time to pray, but the time to act! Lothian/Hachette Teacher's notes available at email@example.com
The Convict Children
All books are available online at the publishers or at:
Other Picture Books
See Children's Books link at the top of this page for more images from these and other titles, also publishing details.
Carpet of Dreams, author, Tessa Duder, Harper Collins 2007
Fortuyn's Ghost, author, Mark Greenwood, Cygnet Books 2006
Young Murphy, A Boy’s Adventure, author: Gary Crew, Lothian/Hachette 2005
Rodeo Darcy, author, Alison Gregory, Cygnet Books 2005
The Extinction Trilogy
I Saw Nothing – The Extinction of the Thylacine, author; Gary Crew Lothian 2003
I Said Nothing – The Extinction of the Paradise Parrot, author; Gary Crew, Lothian 2004
I Did Nothing – The Extinction of the Gastric Brooding Frog, auth., Gary Crew, Lothian 2005
Castaways of the Charles Eaton, author; Gary Crew, Lothian 2002
Yellow-eye, author; David Spillman, ERA Publications 2001
Valley of Bones, author; Gary Crew, Lothian 2000
Rupert Goes to School, author; John Parker, Shorthand, Denver, USA 1999
The Penguin Shore, author; Tim O’Brian, The Five Mile Press 1995
“Hello, Barney!”, author; Mary K. Pershall, Penguin Books 1988
Books with Colin Thiele
The Fiery Salamander, author, Colin Thiele, Lothian 2007
Mr. Dumby's Duck, author, Colin Thiele, Lothian 2006
All Marks books are available (including signed copies) through Robinsons Bookshop (Frankston Branch) on 03 9783 6488 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent workshops have been a lot of fun in very different places, from the Ipswich Children's Lit. Festival, the CYA Conference, The Voices on the Coast Lit. Festival and the The Somerset Lit. Festival in Queensland, to the Dromkeen Centre for Picture Book Art and the State Library Children's Book Festival in Victoria. The Author in Residence at Mount Eliza North Primary School kept me busy, especially the mentorship program. There will also be workshops at Fremantle Children's Literature Centre in W.A., and I recently did workshops at Cube at Frankston Arts Centre, the Mornington Peninsula Writers' Festival and the Hastings Literary Festival, not to mention all the great schools I visited!
In the 60 minute workshops, we discuss picture books and how different writers and illustrators approach them, and we focus on endangered species (Journey of the Sea Turtle) and Australian history (Angel of Kokoda). There are stories, creative writing and drawing exercises, then we work together exploring line, shape and texture to create illustrations. The students work along with me as we discuss and draw characters from my books, including endangered Species and their habitat. The focus is to encourage students to have confidence in their own work and in developing their own style.
Workshop Feeedback from Schools
Marks workshops are most enjoyable, addressing environmental issues in a fascinating manner as well as encouraging the students to look more deeply at their local surroundings. Anne van den Blink, teacher, Parktone Primary School, Victoria
The session with Mark was fantastic. His approach to the students and his presentation were excellent. He tapped into their interests to really engage them. Tony Patterson, teacher, Newman College, W.A.
The children were really engaged with Marks wonderful picture book workshops. We can’t wait to see him again next term. Victoria Vaughan, teacher, Mount Eliza North Primary School, Victoria
It was interesting, funny, cool and Mark is a talented and exciting author/illustrator. Great stories.
Year 6/7 students, Booragoon Primary School
Mark was a fascinating speaker who really kept the kids engaged. A very successful presentation and enriching day. Keep up the good work! Parents group, Newman College, W.A.
Students, teachers and parents left Mark’s sessions with a thorough understanding of and respect for the processes involved in the making of a picture book. To complete the sessions, Mark’s step by step instructions resulted in all students creating some amazing work. Jenny Doust, Education Officer, Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre
Phone Simon at 'Booked Out' on (03) 9824 0177 for workshop bookings.
Most Asked Questions by Students
1. Who is your favourite author? Conn Igulden ('Emperor' series). Close second is Leo Tolstoy.
2. What is your favourite picture book? Fiona The Pig, by Leigh Hobbs & Little Captain, by Claudio Munoz.
3. How much money do you earn? Not enough.
4. What is your favourite band? Greenday,The Small Faces, The Beatles, Pearl Jam, and the Rolling Stones (plus many, many more,
5. Who is your favourite singer? Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, John Lee Hooker and many other great artists).
6. What is your favourite song? I have many. Tin Soldier, by the Small Faces ('Revolution' by the Beatles & 'Positively 4th Street' by Bob Dylan).
7. Do you have a pet? We have two dogs. Kouta, a Sydney Silky Terrier and Toby (I'm not sure what he is) and my sons dog Melvin is also staying with us at the moment, and they all actually get along okay. We have a pond with seven fish and the odd frog drops by now and then, and trees full of Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern Rosellas and Honey-eaters!
8. What are your hobbies? My Hobbies are playing drums, singing in my band and writing songs. I also love reading Historical fiction.I love Ausi rules football and follow the mighty Saints. I also love walking on the beach and finding old pieces of driftwood and things.
9. How did you become an Illustrator? Very good luck! I had a folio of very strange surrealistic B&W drawings (bodies without heads and strange looking people) and applied for an illustrator job on the student Magazines in Melbourne. Walla! I got the job.
10. What is the best thing about your job? Going for a walk on the beach or playing drums whenever I want to.
11. What's the worst thing about your job? Going for a walk on the beach or playing drums whenever I want to, which means I don't get much work done!
(The List looks impressive, but that's because I've put it in big letters!)
Aurealis Award 2013 (Best Children's Fiction Told Primarily Through Pictures) Shortlist
Inside The World of Tom Roberts Lothian/Hachette Children's
White Ravens Award 2013
Trust Me Too Illustrated short story collection (Top 250 books from around the world, prepared by the International Youth Library). Various Authors & Illustrators, edited by Paul Collins, Ford Street
Dromkeen Medal (for Services to Children's Literature) 2011
CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Picture Book 2011
Angel of Kokoda Lothian/Hachette Australia
3rd CJ Picture Books Awards International - Shortlist 2010
Angel of Kokoda Lothian/Hachette Australia
Environment Award for Children's Literature 2011
Stranded Black Dog Books, Wilderness Society, Picture Book Section, Shortlist.
Whitley Award for Children’s Literature 2010
Journey of The Sea Turtle Lothian/Hachette Australia
CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Picture Book 2010
My Mother's Eyes, The Story of a Boy Soldier Lothian/Hachette Australia
CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Book, Eva Pownall Award 2010
My Mother's Eyes, The Story of a Boy Soldier Lothian/Hachette Australia
Environment Award for Children's Literature 2008
The Last Tree Lothia, Hachette Aust. Wilderness Society, Picture Book Section, Shortlist.
Whitley Award for Children's Literature 1008
The Last Tree Lothian/Hachette Australia
CBCA Notable Australian Children’s Book 2006
Young Murphy-A Boy's Adventure Author Gary Crew, Lothian/Hachette Australia
Western Australian Premier's Book Awards, Shortlist 2005
Rodeo Darcy Author Alison Gregory, University of Western Australia Press
Whiteley Award for children’s literature, 2004
I Saw Nothing, The Extinction of the Thylacine Author Gary Crew. Lothian/Hachette Australia
I Said Nothing, The Extinction of the Paradise Parrot Author Gary Crew. Lothian/Hachette Australia
Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children’s Literature-Series 2004
The extinction series - I Saw Nothing, The Extinction of the Thylacine.
I Said Nothing, The Extinction of the Paradise Parrot. I Did Nothing, The Extinction of the Gastric Brooding Frog. Author Gary Crew. Lothian/Hachette Australia,
CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Australian Children’s Book 2004
I Saw Nothing, The Extinction of the Thylacine, author; Gary crew, Lothian/Hachette Children's Books
Wilderness Society Environment Award for children’s literature 2003
Yellow-eye, author; David Spillman, ERA Publishing
CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Australian Children’s Book 2003
Yellow-eye, author; David Spillman, ERA.
CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Australian Children’s Book 1996
The Penguin Shore, author; Tim O’Brien, The Five Mile Press
Rotring National Art Award for Drawing 1990
Westernport Art Prize 1989 (painting)
Attellier National Art Award 1988 (painting)
Undine Award, Melbourne Town Hall Collection 1988 (painting)
Applied Chemicals Australia Art Award 1987 (painting)
This is me painting the mural on the YEA MARC Library truck last year (I've lost a bit of weight since this photo.Yea!). It was great fun, as mural commissions don't come along that often, so I really enjoy them when they do. Just have to watch those ladders!
Prints and original illustrations from Mark's books are available by contacting; email@example.com
Teachers notes: My Mothers Eyes-The Story of a Boy Soldier and Angel of Kokoda are available at mymotherseyes.com.au or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for teachers notes for all titles.
Book Sales: All Marks books are available from the publishers onlineor through Robinsons Bookshop (Frankston Br.) on 03 9783 6488 or email@example.com
Workshop Bookings: Phone Mark on 03 97897036/Email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Simon at 'Booked Out' on (03) 9824 0177
Journey of the Sea Turtle
by Robyn Sheahan-Bright
Themes & Curriculum Topics
Study of history, society and environment
English language and literacy..................
Further Topics for Discussion & Research
About the Author/Illustrator
About the Author of the Notes
‘Many began the journey across the open beach, but the shadow birds were waiting.’
Journey of the Sea Turtle highlights the fragile existence of the loggerhead turtle population, in a story which explores the migratory habits of sea turtles and the challenges they face to survive.
This is the story of a turtle which returns to the beach where it was born, to find that not only are the predatory shadow birds not there anymore but that the beach itself is now densely populated and built upon.
It is beautifully illustrated and sensitively told by author/artist Mark Wilson whose impressionistic images sing a lament and ultimately celebrate the resilience and instincts of wild creatures in their environment.
Where to now for the turtle? Will she find a place to lay and bury her hatchlings? What further challenges will she face? And will she survive?
Themes & Curriculum Topics
This picture book might be used in conjunction with themes and curriculum topics (with lower, middle and upper primary level school students) in the following suggested areas:
Study of History, Society and Environment
Turtles, including sea turtles, freshwater turtles, terrapins and tortoises, are reptiles belonging to the Order Chelonia (also known as Testudines). They are known to have first appeared on earth about 200 million years ago, during the Triassic period. They may be recognised by the hard shell which protects their internal organs. And there are 250 species of turtle!
All types of turtle are threatened in some way, but the sea turtle is the most vulnerable. Sea turtles face threats mainly from fishing activities, but also from poaching, destruction of their habitats, and climate change. Hence, they are rated amongst the most endangered species on the planet. There are seven different kinds of sea turtle: Green Sea Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Leatherback, Australian Flatback and Loggerhead. This story is about a loggerhead.
‘Some turtles that live on land are called tortoises. A terrapin is a turtle that lives in or near freshwater or partly salty, coastal water. The name terrapin is only used for a group of North American turtles... Turtles can be grouped into seven main types: (1) mud and musk turtles, (2) pond and marsh turtles, (3) sea turtles, (4) side-necked turtles, (5) snapping turtles, (6) soft-shelled turtles, and (7) tortoise.’ (42eXplore Project The Topic: Turtles and Tortoises. http://42explore.com/turtle.htm)
Activity: Research sea turtles.
Activity: Study the loggerhead turtle. In this story there are facts at the end of the story about the plight of loggerheads in our waters.
Activity: Study the flatback turtle. ‘perhaps most distinctly the flatback is the only marine turtle to call one nation home. The flatback forages, mates, and lays eggs along Australia’s coasts; its penchant for swimming, rather than riding oceanic currents, keeps it from migrating across oceans as other turtle do.’(Hance 2009)
Discussion Point: How are sea turtles different to freshwater turtles?
Test your students’ knowledge by visiting Kids Questions About Turtles
[See also Creative Arts below.]
Environmental Degradation and Pollution
During the last 150 years, the world’s population has grown from one to almost seven billion. The resulting pressure on the environment has caused a range of environmental problems including depleted natural resources, overcrowding, and displacement of, or destruction of, natural habitats. Commercial fishing, for example, creates hazards such as the depletion of food supplies or the dangers of tangled nets and lines such as the one which captures the turtle in this story. To add to this, the cycle of climate change makes the lives of creatures in the wild often very tenuous.
Activity: Research the effect of population growth and urban sprawl on the migratory habits of species such as turtles.
Activity: Research why sand temperature can affect sea turtle populations around the world. [Answer: If the sand is too hot, more females are born, if it’s too low in temperature, more males are born. Global warming may cause an imbalance in male/female ratios.]
Question: Why are plastic bags a major threat to sea turtles? [Answer: They look like jellyfish drifting in the ocean, so that turtles often swallow them and die. Such bags take approximately 1000 years to break up.]
Activity: Compare the environmental message of this book to that of Jeannie Baker in Where the Forest Meets the Sea, Window and Belonging.
Survival of Species
This story traces the cycle of life in nature where ‘the survival of the fittest’ is contingent on chance, individual strengths and on the nature of the ecosystem in which animals and plants co-exist.
Discussion Point: The shadow birds are described as both symbols of danger and of hope. What do the birds signify in this story?
Activity: Discuss the variety of threats which most reptiles confront in their life cycle.
Science - Biology and Zoology are areas which might be studied in relation to this text.
Activity: Create a taxonomy listing the species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom, domain and life of the turtle (or of one type of turtle).
Question: What type of bird is the shadow bird likely to be?
English Language and Literacy
The text of this book might be used to encourage creative writing.
Activity: Have your students write their own story of a journey by a sea turtle from any region to any other region. Ensure that they research the regions and underpin their creative writing with factual information. Impress on them that they don’t need to include every detail of what they’ve learned, but that they should make sure that the story is factually correct in the obtuse details suggested.
Activity: The sstructure of this narrative is underpinned by the widely used traditional trope of the journey or rite of passage. In this story the sea turtle travels away and then returns to the beach of her ancestors to find it unrecognizable. The turtle then encounters a variety of hazards before finding a new home for its nesting. Write a cumulative version of this story based on the folk tale structure in which a repeated sequence of events is foregrounded by a repeated statement or question, and then ends in a climax. e.g. And then the turtle splashed and dived but was stopped by a [?] which [?].
Activity: Write another description of the events in this book, which are described in third person, in the ‘first person’ voice of a sea turtle.
Activity: The language used in the book contains a series of verbs describing the turtle or the birds in movement. e.g. ‘hovered, swooped, crept, dig, splashed, swam, drifted, diving, looked’. Ask the students to make up a sentence describing the turtles’ or birds’ movements using another verb or verbs.
The visual text of a book must work in tandem with the written text to tell the story using the design of the other parts of the book outlined below:
Activity: The cover of a book is an important part of its message. Read the cover and discuss its impact. The title page of the book repeats the same picture of the turtle swimming in a sea with shadow birds hovering over her. What idea does this picture convey? Discuss the impressions each painting in the book gives you.
Discussion Point: The format of the book is square, and the layout of the storyboard contains a range of double page and single page images — some framed and some bleeding off the edges of the pages. How does the format of, and design of the book, influence your reading of it?
Activity: The book is illustrated in a variety of mixed media, including oil or acrylic painting on canvas, watercolour, pastel crayons, and black and white sketching. (All illustrations except the oil and acrylic are finished in Derwent coloured pencils, the same ones students use in school.) The paintings are often very impressionistic. Discuss the style used in the book by the artist. Then create your own paintings in these media, depicting scenes from this text.
Question: Colours used in this book are richly vibrant. How does colour affect your interpretation of this work?
Question: The endpapers in the book depict two different beach scenes. What do they say to you as a reader?
Celebrate World Turtle Day. This annual event was established in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue, an organisation founded in 1990, and based in Malibu, California. The official date for WTD is May 23rd, and it is intended to invite people all over the world to register their appreciation for turtles and tortoises. For example, The Humane Society of the United States carries out observation and surveys to record how well turtles are thriving (or not thriving) in various parts of the world. There are many creative activities you could take part in on WTD, or on any other day in conjunction with your curriculum planning:
If there is a wildlife area or national park near you where turtles can be viewed, take the class on an excursion to observe them. Visit: Ten Tips for Safe Turtle Watching on World Turtle Day http://www.ecotouirmlogue.com/marine-ecotourism/ten-tips-for-safe-turtle-watching-on-world-turtle-day.html
Dress up as turtles!
Find cards online to email to friends to celebrate WTD. Visit the website: 123 Greetings Free Greetings For the Planet ™ http://www.123greetings.com/events/turtle_day/
Colour in the sea turtle found at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/coloringbook/sea_turtles.html
Examine the postage stamps featuring sea turtles at: Sea Turtle Postage Stamps of the World http://www.2xtreme.net/~nlinsley/ Then design your own stamp!
Make a Model Sea Turtle. Visit the following website to find out how to do it: Williams, Tracia Ledford Sea Turtles: Hands on Craft for Kids http://www.craftsforkids.com/projects/seaturtles.htm
Make up your own dance to appropriate music, depicting some of the issues you’ve learned about in this unit of study. Watch Lekelia’s ‘Sea Turtle Conservation Dance’ on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18Z8zASUnlg It should give you some idea of how to go about this exercise.
Watch a script for a documentary about turtles.
Create a play which explores some of the issues covered in this book. Your play might include music or dance.
Create your own Turtle Display.
Create a Diorama of a beach and of turtles nesting.
Information on turtles, conservation and the environment is widely available not only in libraries but on the internet.
Activity: Research sea turtles on the internet. [See Bibliography below.]
The study of statistics relating to turtle numbers in particular regions or countries could be undertaken.
Activity: Create a table of the major turtle populations in Australian waters.
Further Topics for Discussion & Research
· Research the work of Mark Wilson.
· What were the main points raised by this book? Have students summarise them and then deliver a short address to the class based on the impressions gleaned from the text.
This work should encourage students to read more widely about the environment and how wild creatures, such as turtles, are affected by the behaviour of the other animals and people who share the planet with them.
About the Author/Illustrator
Mark Wilson is an international author/illustrator with 23 national and international awards for children’s literature. He took to drawing from a very early age, and also loved comics and went on to spend most of his teenage years ‘pretending to be a drummer in a rock band (and trying my hardest to sing like John Lennon)’. He studied mural design and painting at C.I.T. (now Monash, Caulfield Campus). He also did National Service, followed by a Diploma of Education. In the early seventies, he became designer and illustrator for Pursuit Magazine, and also started illustrating for various publishers including Penguin, Rigby and Brooks Waterloo. In 1981 he held his first solo exhibition of paintings and drawings. Recently, he has focussed on writing and illustrating children’s books and also picture book presentations in schools and at literature festivals. Awards include five Whitley Awards for Children’s Literature, six CBCA Highly Commended Awards and four Wilderness Society Awards for children’s Literature.
Fiction and Poetry
Adams, Patricia Harriet’s Race to the Reef. Ill. by Lynne Wilson. Knowledge Books and Software, 2005.
Mattingley, Christabel. Chelonia Green: Champion of Turtles Allen and Unwin, 2008.
Plater, Inge and Pearson, Sue The Green Turtle HarperCollins, 2001.
Non-Fiction Books and Articles
Dunbier, Sally Sea Turtles: Animals of the Oceans Lothian, 2000.
A Matter of Time: Sea Turtles of Queensland. Qld Turtle Research, Qld Dept of Environment and Heritage, 1994.
Hance, Jeremy ‘Little-known flatback sea turtle receives extra attention at symposium in Australia’ February 17, 2009 Mongabay.com http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0217-hance_flatback.html
Hatzakis, Maria ‘Researchers fear hotter temperatures threaten sea turtles’ ABC News Online
‘Journey Of A Green Turtle From Indonesia Into Australian Opens Mystery Of 'Oceanic Superhighway'’ Science Daily January 7, 2009 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090104094116.htm
Noonan, Diana The Green Turtle Macmillan Education, 1999.
Pyers, Greg Green Turtle Echidna Bbooks, 2002.
Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia(Online) Prepared by the Marine Species Section
Approvals and Wildlife Division, Environment Australia in consultation with the Marine Turtle Recovery Team
July 2003 Environment Australia, 2003. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/27/2502760.htm
Plays and Films
‘Green Sea Turtle on Heron Island, Queensland Australia’ Youtube
General Information Websites
123 Greetings Free Greetings For the Planet ™ shttp://www.123greetings.com/events/turtle_day/
42eXplore Project The Topic: Turtles and Tortoises. http://42explore.com/turtle.htm
Bundaberg Coral Coast & Country ‘Turtles’ http://www.bundabergregion.info/turtles/
Cornish, Jim Elementary Theme Pages Sea Turtles 2002. http://www.cdli.ca/CITE/sturtles.htm
Defenders of Wildlife: Sea Turtles http://www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/sea_turtles.php
Earthwatch Institute Conserving Turtle Populations on World Turtle Day
Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) http://www.australianfauna.com/greenseaturtle.php
Green Sea Turtles http://www.earthtrust.org/wlcurric/turtles.html
Green Sea Turtles Print ’N’ Go Coloring Book http://www.nationalgeographic.com/coloringbook/sea_turtles.html
International Sea Turtle Society http://www.seaturtle.org/ists/
Kids Questions About Turtles http://www.turtlepuddle.org/kidspage/questions.html
Kidz Korner: Sea Turtles for Kids http://www.turtles.org/kids.htm
Loggerheads in Australia http://www.seaturtlefoundation.org/biology/loggerhead-turtle/loggerheads-in-australia/
Project Global Global Bycatch Assessment of Long-Lived Species: Sea Turtles
Queensland Government Environmental Protection Agency Turtles http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/nature_conservation/wildlife/watching_wildlife/turtles/
Sea Turtle Encounters On Western Australia’s Coral Coast
Sea Turtle Foundation http://www.seaturtlefoundation.org
Sea Turtle Net http://www.seaturtlenet.com/index.html
Sea Turtle Postage Stamps of the World http://www.2xtreme.net/~nlinsley/
Sea Turtle Restoration Project http://www.seaturtles.org/
Sea Turtles http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/sea-turtle/index.htm
Sea Turtles A Kids Heart: A Play and Learn Site with Resources for Children and their Teachers http://akidsheart.com/animals/sea/seaturtles.htm
Ten Tips for Safe Turtle Watching on World Turtle Day
Tracking Sea Turtles http://www.gma.org/space1/turtles.html
Turtle Nesting in Mackay http://www.mackayturtles.org.au/nesting.htm
Turtle Time Inc http://www.turtletime.org/
‘Turtles.’ KidsConnect.Com http://www.kidsconnect.com
Williams, Tracia Ledford Sea Turtles: Hands on Craft for Kids http://www.craftsforkids.com/projects/seaturtles.htm
World Turtle Trust http://world-turtle-trust.org/
About the Author of the Notes
Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright operates justified text writing and publishing consultancy services, and is widely published on children’s literature, publishing history and Australian fiction. She also teaches writing for children and young adults at Griffith University (Gold Coast) where she gained her PhD for a thesis on the development of the Australian children’s publishing industry. Her latest publications are Paper Empires a History of the Book in Australia 1946-2005 (co-edited with Craig Munro) (UQP, 2006) and Kookaburra Shells Port Curtis Literature (justified text press, 2006).