Tag Archives: Fifi Colston

The Gecko Press Annual is a sumptuous swirl and it got me puzzling (and there’s a challenge with a book voucher for you!)

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Annual edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris, Gecko Press, 2016

 

(pitched at 9 to 12 year olds)

 

If I had opened the Gecko Press Annual when I was ten I would have jumped a jig of joy under the Christmas tree.

I would have loved the bright orange cover, the gold floating leaves and bird.

I would have loved the sumptuous swirl of words and illustrations inside that meant before I read I would have to do an awful lot of looking.

 

When I was ten, I would have wanted the Annual to last and last for a whole year. I wouldn’t have known what to read first. Probably the poems first and the activities second.

 

Now that I am way-old, I still need to look at the Annual for ages before I start reading it.

This is because the Annual is very very beautiful. It is a very special book.

 

There are three poems written by poets (Jenny Bornholdt, Tim Upperton and James Brown) who usually write adult poetry books. I am a big fan of their poetry. There is also a handful of ninja-rhyme poems by Michael Petherick. The poems are like chalk and cheese. They give you  different feelings as you read. One is thoughtful and slightly mysterious, one is madcap crazy and one is like a wonky funny found poem that is all made-up.

I find the whole question of children’s poetry fascinating -as you know! Some people say when you write a poem it should be for anyone – child or adult. This is a very popular point of view. Most poets I know think like this. I guess I feel like a fish out of water because when I write poems for children, my head fills with all the children in all the schools I visit and I feel like I am writing for them. As I write, I am wanting the words to be so infectious that children will want to jump for joy and race out and read and write poems. They feel ALIVE with poetry.

 

p o e t r y   is a   wan   der     playground for children

 

When I write poems for adults, I write for myself first. I am not writing because I want adults to jump for joy and race out and read and write poems. I don’t think about the reader at all. It all seems very different and mysterious and puzzling.

… so the Annual got me thinking about writing poems … and where I fit as a poet

 

For the annual, the poets were given starting points for their poems – as everybody in the Annual was (a bit like I do on Poetry Box!). This what happens now for School Journals.

So it’s not a book where people send in what they have written – but a book where authors  (and comics, and illustrators and all the rest) are commissioned to do something in particular. I think that gives the Annual a particular feel. A special feel. Like an exhibition with a curator. Not a lucky dip.

 

There are so many different kinds of things in the Annual, it is like a magnificent magic box. You might fall upon a painting or a photograph or a comic strip or a very cool craft idea from the fabulous Fifi Colston.

 

My favourite story is from one of my favourite NZ children’s authors, Barbara Else: ‘Tingirl and the Crying Time.’ The story features Assistant Squint with apple stuck in his teeth, Madam Upright with a tooth that glinted silver and Tingirl who yearns to turn into a Realgirl. Oh so imaginative and deliciously written, it will make you think about robots in a whole new light. Wonderful! Gorgeous illustrations by Kieran Rynhart.

 

I also loved Paul Beavis‘s guide to visual storytelling. Do I want to give it a go? Yes!!!!

 

….. have I read the whole Annual? No! Have I tried all the activities? No! I am like that ten year-old girl because I want to make the Annual last and last.

 

 

I would love to post some reviews by children of the Annual.  Give it a go! send your review to paulajoygreen@gmail.com.

Include your name, year, age and school

Put Annual review in email subject line

I will have a book voucher for my favourite review and a copy of The Letterbox cat for another reviewer.

Deadline :  November 1oth

The Treasury Interviews: Giselle interviews Fifi Colston

Fifi Head shot 2014   Wearable-Wonders-pages-and-cover

Fifi Colston Fifi Colston was born in Yorkshire, U.K and came to New Zealand in 1968. She left to go to England for two years, then came back and settled in Wellington. Fifi writes and illustrates books and has illustrated over 33 books and her illustrations can be seen in NZ School Journals, as well as on book jackets for publishers including: Scholastic, Learning Media, Shortlands, MacMillan and Longman Paul. Fifi’s book, Wearbale Wonders, won the LIANZA Elsie Locke Medal for Non Fiction this year. She has a blog called Fifi Verses the World.

About Me My name is Giselle. I’m a 10 year old, in Year 5 and I love to read and write. I live in Queenstown, New Zealand. I have a great imagination which can come in handy in writing.

The Interview

Who was your inspiration, that made you want to become a writer ?

If I look back a long, long way, it was the first book I can remember being able to read ‘all by myself’. I was 5 and the book was The Silver Thimble Storybook by Rie Cramer who was a Dutch illustrator and writer and the book was her retelling of fairytales like ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Cinderella.’ I loved her pictures and I wrote and illustrated my own stories when I was a kid.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing poetry for a magazine called Next after I went to a flash dress up ball and wrote a funny poem about making the dress. The magazine liked it and I ended up writing and illustrating a poem once a month for 8 years for the magazine. That’s 96 poems! After that I thought it would be fun to write a novel, so I did and it got published. Then two more after that and two non-fiction books too.

Do you use family experiences in your books? And if so, could you give me some examples?

The first book, Verity’s Truth, used lots of experiences of family camping holidays, from the house-bus fairs we’d go and visit, to the adventure playground in the camping park. The second book, Janie Olive, drew lots of inspiration from my son’s experimentation with fireworks!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m always busy with something; wearable art, running workshops, doing school visits, drawing, painting and making things. My work is also what I choose to do in my spare time, I love it so much. I also make myself go for long walks because if you don’t exercise your body even just a little bit your mind gets flabby. I hate sports so walking is great for me- and you see so many interesting things to write about on the way.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

It’s how many people are involved. It’s not just me- there’s a publishing manager, an editor, a book designer, sometimes a photographer, printers, the sales team, bookshops…when I think I’m working by myself, I’m actually working with a lot of people to create a book.

What does your family think of you being a writer, illustrator, poet, Wearable-Art designer, film costumer, television presenter and occasional columnist?

They are really proud of my work and they have learned to live with a LOT of mess! They also make me feel better when I’m feeling my hard work isn’t noticed for some reason. They believe in me and that’s about the best thing your family can do.

Do you tend to read your published books over again? And if so, which books do you do it most to?

Not really, but every so often I need to go through one to pull out examples of things to talk to a school about and I’m always surprised that I still like what I’ve written. And quite often I think ‘Hey, that’s actually pretty good!’ which it probably should be if it’s been published!

We are doing a wearable art show at the end of the year, do you have any tips for us?        

Don’t just try and make a pretty dress. Wearable Art isn’t a fashion show, it’s about you trying to tell the world a story, but instead of writing, you tell your story through a piece of art that is worn. It doesn’t have to be really complex, sometimes simple ideas and shapes look the best. But make it a really, really good story…and hold it together with sewing or cable ties, not a hot glue gun!

 

Thanks for a great interview Giselle and Fifi. Fifi has a longish poem in A Treasury Of NZ Poems for Children called ‘The Schoolbag.’ It is a funny poem that tells a story.