The art of making fiction into a fact

26th August 2011 at 01:00
Chris Small reports on a picture book project that taught children about all stages of the storytelling process

A picture book project drawing on the skills of P6 and 7 pupils from St Joseph's Primary in Dundee combines student-pupil collaboration, inspiration from local artists and the study of Braille.

The composite class of 22 worked with the library service, a children's illustrator and art students at Duncan of Jordanstone College to devise Found You!, a vividly illustrated depiction of the escapades of a pig, a dog and a budgie.

Lindsey Gardner, who has written 16 books for children, held workshops with the class to discuss the tricks of picture book layout, use of text, and how to make storylines as engaging as possible.

Art students from Duncan of Jordanstone then worked with the pupils on collage, printing and creating booklets. Suitably inspired, the class went on to produce every page of the book as a collage.

"All the children were involved from the beginning," says teacher Marion Given. "They were responsible for coming up with every aspect, from the characters to the storyline to creating the settings, writing the blurb and coming up with the title."

The project is a "fantastic example" of Curriculum for Excellence, she feels. Its multidisciplinary nature means it can be easily extended to include other issues, such as accessibility.

In June, Helen Budge, a blind, former secondary school music teacher, visited the class to talk about visual impairment and the potential for the book to be made available in different formats.

"She introduced the class to Braille and how to decode it," says Mrs Given. "She had prepared activities so the children could look at the alphabet in Braille - they all got their own copy and she had taken phrases from the picture book and gave them to the children to translate."

Twenty-five hardback and 25 paperback copies have been produced, and the title is now available in local libraries.

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