Teacher resources for My Dead Bunny

Children’s Book Week is coming up fast: this year it’s August 22nd – 26th.

My latest book My Dead Bunny is shortlisted in the 2016 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, in the Picture Book of the Year category.

A lot of older students will balk at the mention of picture books because those are just for babies.

But this book is different.

While it is technically a picture book, it’s definitely not a bedtime story for little ones – it’s for older readers, 8-ish and up (teenagers and adults especially seem to love this one.)

Older kids take one look at this book and know it’s not for babies, so they don’t feel like they’re being talked down to. It’s a great book for looking at rhyming texts, visual narrative/visual literacy and generic conventions. Plus it has zombies in it. Kids love zombies.

In preparation for Children’s Book Week, Walker Books and I have put together some free teacher notes for My Dead Bunny.The notes include heaps of discussion points and activity ideas, with links to relevant behind-the-scenes posts from my blog. It should all make studying the book in class super easy.

Download ‘My Dead Bunny’ Teacher Notes (pdf)

Behind-the-Scenes blog posts

My blog has heaps of posts about the making of the book; each post is tagged with ‘My Dead Bunny’.

View Behind-the-Scenes blog posts

Craft Activity – make your own zombie rabbit softie

Shannon at OhCreativeDay.com has put together this brilliant tutorial on how to create your own zombie rabbit softie.

Blackline Masters

Here’s some fun activities for early finishers – two word searches and two colouring-in sheets. Feel free to download these for use in your classroom.

– My Dead Bunny word search –
Download word search (pdf)
Download solution (pdf)

My-Dead-Bunny-word-search-600px– Zombie vocab word search –
Download word search (pdf)
Download solution (pdf)

My-Dead-Bunny-zombie-vocab-word-search-600px– Mindlessness colouring sheet #1 –
Download now (pdf)

MDB-mindlessness-colouring-1-600px– Mindlessness colouring sheet #2 –
Download now (pdf)

MDB-mindlessness-colouring-2-600px

If you choose to use the book in class, I’d love to hear about how you use it! Please leave a comment below, or send me photos of displays/student work via james(AT)jamesfoley.com.au   [replace the (AT) with an @].


MDB_cover-400pxBuy ‘My Dead Bunny’ now

Booktopia (Australia)
Readings (Australia)
Angus & Robertson (Australia)
Book Depository (UK)

How I use texture in illustrations (plus 4 free texture sites)

Today I’m going to show you how I used photographic textures in the illustrations of My Dead Bunny.

Photographic textures are great for whenever you need a realistic-looking texture, or when it’s going to be too hard ot time-consuming to draw a texture by hand.

I’ve used photographic textures in all my books so far, but only sparingly.  The creepy, cinematic style of Dead Bunny called for the use of lots and lots of textures, and it was heaps of fun to let loose.

Example 1: title page

Here’s a little excerpt from the title page illustration. It uses the three three texture samples you see below it.

IMG_7295

Continue reading “How I use texture in illustrations (plus 4 free texture sites)”

Colour schemes for My Dead Bunny

mdb-colour-test-3-vignette

My Dead Bunny is my latest book. It’s a tongue-in-cheek picture book about a zombie pet rabbit. My illustrations took a lot of inspiration from movies.

I’ve already written about how one scene was almost an homage to The Shining, how the family home was inspired by a farmhouse from The Walking Dead and how a lot of the images use camera angles and clichés from film.

Today I’m writing about why the illustrations use a black and white (plus green) colour scheme.

Continue reading “Colour schemes for My Dead Bunny”

Movie clichés and camera angles

dead-bunny-raised-hand-vignette My Dead Bunny is my latest book. It’s a tongue-in-cheek picture book about a zombie pet rabbit. My illustrations took a lot of inspiration from movies.

I’ve already written about how one scene was almost an homage to The Shining, and how the family home was inspired by a farmhouse from The Walking Dead.

Today I’m writing about how some illustrations were inspired by clichés and camera angles used in film.

Continue reading “Movie clichés and camera angles”

Which spooky house influenced My Dead Bunny?

dead-bunny-final-pg16-vignette My Dead Bunny is my latest book. It’s a tongue-in-cheek picture book about a zombie pet rabbit. My illustrations took a lot of inspiration from scary movies.

The book features a spooky house. If it looks familiar, that’s because it is – most American films about ghosts and ghouls take place in a house that looks pretty much like this. But which house is it inspired by?

Continue reading “Which spooky house influenced My Dead Bunny?”

Designing the cover for ‘My Dead Bunny’

Cover-rough-1-colour

One of my favourite parts of illustrating a book is helping to design the cover – you get to sum up the whole story in one image.

Here’s how the cover for My Dead Bunny came about.

Continue reading “Designing the cover for ‘My Dead Bunny’”

Early sketches for My Dead Bunny

early-sketches-MDB-header

I love seeing early sketches for a project. You can see how much work goes into a project before the final images are created, and it’s fun to spot glimpses of the final characters showing through in those first designs. I also like to imagine how different a story might have looked if the creators went with different designs to start with. It’s as if you’re seeing the story as it appears in a parallel universe.

Here are some early sketches for My Dead Bunny. Some spoilers below.

Continue reading “Early sketches for My Dead Bunny”

How ‘The Shining’ influenced ‘My Dead Bunny’

dead-bunny-final-pg19-the-shining-header

My Dead Bunny includes a scene in a hotel lobby. It seemed like a natural opportunity to reference the classic horror film The Shining. My idea was rejected.

Continue reading “How ‘The Shining’ influenced ‘My Dead Bunny’”

Drawing on body language

dead-bunny-body-language

Body language is very important in my books. While a facial expression can easily hint at the emotional state and thought processes of the characters, body language gives the reader extra clues about how the characters are feeling and thinking. This makes it easier for the reader to understand the images and the story. I would argue that accurate and expressive body language also makes the characters feel more real, more human – which helps the reader to engage with the story.

Continue reading “Drawing on body language”