When Brisbane author Yvonne Mes introduced herself, she had some 100 year 3, 4 and 5 students putting their hands up wanting the glamorous life of a Picture Book author — on the red carpet with Justin Timberlake, a three storey mansion with giant playground, red Ferrari and private jet. One student was so convinced, he wanted to meet her bodyguard.
As Mes let them down gently, she explained to create her glamorous story, she had to use her ‘imagination’. She had nurtured her ‘imagination’ through story telling and reading lots of books. She would read about 80 picture books a week with her three boys. She loved being transported somewhere else through stories.
When writing a story, the students learned they needed to always ask ‘What if? questions to develop their story. eg., ‘What if you fell over or your underwear fell down? What happens next? And then what would happen… and then what would happen next… and then?’
The students learned that Mes’s Sidney Nolan is part of an Australian picture book series. During her research, she tried to find a connection between Sidney Nolan – painter, and Ned Kelly – bushranger. She showed students how the illustrator, Sandra Eterovic, left little clue ideas in the illustrations after studying Nolan’s paintings. Some of the symbolic clues showed the three stripes on Nolan’s left forehead as war paint with his paint pallet representing a shield — making him a warrior artist.
When researching settings, Eterovic was thorough in portraying the authenticity of the era. In the family sitting around the fireplace scene, students picked out the similarities and differences. The middle picture shows how Eterovic inserted the Sidney Nolan characters to the left of the black and white setting.
Sidney Nolan is also on Virgin’s airlines’ inflight audio and I anticipate will become an Australian favourite in the classroom.