When does a week have 56 days?

When it’s Children’s Book Week.

My author/illustrator friends and I call it Children’s Book season as the celebrations and events cannot be contained in a single week, and usually spread out across term 3 and term 4. My 2016 Children’s Book ‘Week’ went from August 4th to September 26th, a solid 8 weeks of talks and workshops across WA. It’s my busiest time of year but also my favourite, as I get to travel and meet lots of hilarious kids.

Here’s some photos showing my highlights of those 8 weeks.

Thanks to the following schools, libraries, bookshops and festivals for inviting me to visit:

Dardanup PS; St Mary’s, Bunbury; BHP Billiton Family Day; St Damien’s Catholic PS, Dawesville; Marmion PS; Goollelal PS; Southern River College; Beaufort Street Books; Trinity College; South Perth & Manning Libraries; CBCA WA; Tuart Forest PS, Dalyellup; Warnbro and Mary Davies Libraries; Willetton Library; Cambridge Library; Kalamunda PS; South Lake PS; City of Perth Library; Palmyra PS; City of South Perth; Derby Library; Derby District; Holy Rosary School; Looma School; Bayulu School; Kulkarriya School; Kimberley School of the Air; Magabala Books; Aubin Grove PS; Kapinara PS; Rockingham Writers’ Centre; Dampier PS; Children of Malaysia Engage in Literature (COMEL) Festival, Kuala Lumpur; Murray Library, Pinjarra; Fellowship of Australian Writers WA & Fremantle Library.

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)

Just a typical Children’s Book Week session (with zombie animals)

thumb_IMG_5387_1024 adjusted

Last week was Children’s Book Week, my busiest week of the year. It’s the time when schools and libraries across Australia invite children’s authors and illustrators to speak to their students. For me it’s become more of a Children’s Book Month: between July 30th and September 16th this year I’m giving 93 talks and workshops to schoolkids. Each session with grade 4s and up is featuring at least one zombie animal. Here’s how a typical session looks.

Continue reading “Just a typical Children’s Book Week session (with zombie animals)”

Make-your-own Viking god or goddess

One of the best parts of school visits is seeing the great ideas that schoolkids come up with. Here’s a bunch of viking god and goddesses, designed by students during children’s book week this year. God of Wind, by Tom Isabella the Goddess of Patterns, by Maddy Bothgolong, God of Fire, by Rohan A portrait of Thor that also folds up into a paper plane, by Christian This guy looks familiar… The God of Literature, by Catherine And finally, Optimus Prime, by Brayden. It’s not a viking god but it looks really cool.

Award-winning Viking display by young berserkers

Norm and I were stunned to see the following Viking-inspired artwork from year 2s at Guildford Grammar in Western Australia.

There’s Viking helmets, self-portraits with rune-encoded titles, and longships all over the place! It’s no wonder they won an in-school Children’s Book Week competition for best classroom decorations.

Well done year 2s. This really made us smile 🙂

guildford grammar display 1

guildford grammar display 2

Children’s Book Week, Cocos style

As part of my Children’s Book Month, I was invited to the Cocos Islands.

cocos

Yep. You heard right.

I was flown out to the middle of the Indian Ocean, to a beautiful tropical atoll, a ring of 26 islands of which only 2 are inhabited, and I was paid to be there and draw with groups of schoolkids.

My job is tops.

Continue reading “Children’s Book Week, Cocos style”

Children’s Book Week, Kalgoorlie style

I spent the last week of August in Kalgoorlie, an old mining town in Western Australia’s goldfields. The Library hosted me, and I saw three school groups a day for 5 days.

I’d been to Kalgoorlie twice before but only ever briefly (my first visit was for year 7 camp back in 1994). This time around I got to explore it more, and also see the nearby towns of Coolgardie and Kambalda.

Out there I was struck by how big the sky was. Sometimes you can see all the way to the horizon with nothing in the way.

IMG_0071
They’ve got big trucks too.
IMG_0122

 

And a big pit- a superpit, in fact.

IMG_9879

Continue reading “Children’s Book Week, Kalgoorlie style”

Children’s Book Week 2012

Children’s Book Week has become Children’s Book Term for me this year.

Thank you Mt Hawthorn Primary, Rockingham Library, Tranby College, Melville Libraries, Clarkson Library, Kwinana Library, South Perth Library, Manning Library and Subiaco Library for inviting me.

workshopping under Shaun Tan's mural at Subiaco Library
workshopping under Shaun Tan’s mural at Subiaco Library

Some feedback from the sessions so far:

“Inspiring!”
“James’ wonderful storytelling captured everyone’s attention, great research and great activities.”
“Best Book Week session I have ever attended… Subiaco Primary School”
“The combination of drawing, history facts about Vikings and storytelling was fantastic and really captured the children’s attention and engaged them.”

Here’s some pieces of work that students gave me after the sessions. In one activity, I ask students to design their own viking god or goddess.

Continue reading “Children’s Book Week 2012”

Prepare your classroom for a Viking invasion

Viking boat display at heARTlines Festival 2011
Display by Gidgegannup Primary School students at heARTlines Festival 2011. Teacher: Trevor Dent.

It’s August, which means Children’s Book Week is fast approaching. If you’re a teacher, maybe you’d like to use The Last Viking for one of your classroom displays. Here’s some examples that Norm and I have seen since the book came out.

In the example above, teacher Trevor Dent guided his students from Gidgegannup Primary in making a Viking ship display for the heARTlines Children’s Literature Festival 2011. The centrepiece is a ship painted on to card with a cloth sail. Students have illustrated characters from the book and their own original Viking warriors.

The picture below is a display from Year 1/2 H at Penrith, NSW. They coloured viking ships, swords and shields, and translated their names into runes along the bottom of the display.

Viking artwork display by year 1 and 2 students at Penrith NSW

Below are two photos from a year 3 classroom at Rosalie Primary School. I visited them for their biennial writers’ festival and contributed some drawings. The foam lettering and cardboard viking ship were used in their assembly item (seen playing on the smartboard), in which they acted out the entire book! They performed an inspired closing number- ‘One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater’. Odin and Thor would be proud of their stellar efforts.

Rosalie Primary School display

Rosalie classroom display 2
Rosalie Primary School display- detail of their cardboard Viking ship

And finally, here are some illustrations by the same talented Rosalie Primary School year 3s. These are pasted to the front and inside of a thank you card the students presented to me. Norm got one too. We were gobsmacked at the creativity in this classroom (which probably has a lot to do with their fantastic teacher, Mrs Goods).

Rosalie Primary students artwork 1

Rosalie artwork 2

One other activity I like to do with students is Viking character design. I talk a little about the Viking gods and what each god or goddess was in charge of. Then I ask the students to imagine that if they were a Viking god or goddess, what would they be in charge of? Then I ask them to draw that character.

There’s more Viking-themed classroom resources on our Resources page. There’s blackline masters for colouring in, a ‘How To Read Runes’ worksheet, and links to activities on the web.

The Teachers page gives you some ideas about how to link The Last Viking in with curriculum, and provides a handy overview of this blog and sorts some useful posts into ready-made lists for you.
Norm and I love seeing the work that students make in response to The Last Viking. If you have any pictures of your own Viking displays or artwork and would like to share them with us via your blog, we’d love to see them- send us a link!