My Storee, by Raul Russell & Aśka

Just because you can’t spell doesn’t mean you can’t write.

With a head full of fabulous story ideas, the young hero of this story loves to write and create – but only at home. At school, his writing efforts come back covered in corrections – his teachers tell him his spelling is wrong, and they can’t understand his work. Then a new teacher arrives at school, and sees past the spelling to the creativity beneath. Mr Watson tells the boy – and the whole class – that ideas an creativity come first, and spelling can be fixed later.

My Storee is a delightful look at the importance of creativity, and the problems faced by many writers around spelling and grammar.  the message is not that spelling never matters, but that creativity is needed too – and should be valued by creator and teacher alike. While being a good message for youngsters about taking risks, it is also a good reminder for teachers and parents that putting technical correctness ahead of creativity can stifle the latter and thus lead to students not writing at all.

As with the title, the text is riddled with ‘misspellings’, presented in a different font, so that readers can identify them, yet see that the meaning of the story remains clear. There are lots of learning opportunities here for students to practice editing, though it would be a shame to see the message of the story overshadowed by this.  Illustrations are filled with whimsy, with words and story snippets scattered throughout.

My Storee, by Paul Russell & Aśka
EK Books, 2018
ISBN 9781925335774

The Magnificent Tree, by Nick Bland & Stephen Michael King

Pop liked Bonny’s ideas because they were simple, clever and properly made.
Bonny liked Pop’s ideas because they were big, brave and brilliant with bits sticking out.

The Magnificent Tree

Bonny and Pop have lots of wonderful ideas, for all kinds of things, but so far they haven’t had an idea for the birds. Every day the birds fly over them and away. When Bonny decides they need a tree to attract the birds, Pop agrees – and each sets out to make one. Pop’s idea is big and brave, but Bonny’s is simple. It takes a whole year for their ideas to come to fruition, but in spring the birds come – and stay.

The Magnificent Tree is a wonderful celebration of whimsy, creativity and simplicity, as well as the bond between grandparent and grandchild. Coming from the combined talents of two of Australia’s leading picture book creators, this is an absolute treasure of a book, with text that sings its way cross the pages and a pair of lovable characters shown revelling in life – and each other.

Youngsters will giggle at the silliness of some of the ideas and images, and will find satisfaction in the resolution.

Truly magnificent.
The Magnificent Tree, by Nick Bland and Stephen Michael King
Scholastic 2012
ISBN 9781742832951

Available from good bookstores or online.

Luke's Way of Looking, by Nadia Wheatley and Matt Ottley.

Whenever Mr Barraclough saw one of Luke’s pictures, he went off his brain.
“Why do you do this, boy?” he yelled.
Luke didn’t know. So he said nothing.

Luke's Way of Looking (Walker Classics)

All the boys in Luke’s class see things the same way – except Luke. So every Friday in Art class, all the boys paint what is in front of them – but Luke paints things the way he sees them, with bright colours, or noses and ears in the wrong places. When he does this, Mr Barraclough goes ballistic. Even Luke’s class mates think he’s odd, and Luke feels like he does’t fit in. Until he visits an anrt gallery and feels right at home. Suddenly his whole world changes.

Luke’s Way of Looking is a celebration of difference and of creativity from the award-wining pairing of Nadia Wheatley and Matt Ottley. First published in 1999 and now re-released as part of the Walker Classics series this is a beautiful and important picture book offering.

Luke’s Way of Looking , by Nadia Wheatley & Matt Ottley
Walker Books, 2012
ISBN 9781921977725

Available from good bookstores or online .