Friday, February 19, 2010

21st February Sally Rippin (1970) International Mother Language Day

Sally Rippin is a fabulous Australian author/illustrator who has a wealth of books, some written by her, some written by others, which give children a very positive view of Asia, children of Asian appearance and Chinese celebrations. I wondered why so many of her books had this influence so I went searching for information about her and found her website. Wow, what a fountain of information! Here I learned that although she is not Chinese herself, she has lived in South-East Asia and studied art in China, so no wonder her work feels so authentic. In the last fortnight I have purchased two new books for the library that she has illustrated. The first, The Race for the Chinese Zodiac is written by Gabrielle Wang and illustrated by Sally and Regine Abos. It tells the story of the Chinese zodiac in much the the same way as many other picture books have done before, but the illustrations and the layout of this book set it above the rest, with perhaps the exception of Ed Young's Cat and Rat. The large white text on olive green provides the perfect background for the orange, rust and yellow characters. You feel as if the Chinese block stamps of the twelve animals are raised and textured, and the explanation of each at the end of the book adds to the reader's overall satisfaction.

The second book, Peeking Ducks, written by Krista Bell and illustrated by Sally, has lovely wash paintings with black ink outlines. Like other duck stories before it, here there are enterprising ducklings who do not always do what their parents suggest. Luckily they escape all the dangers upstream and learn from their adventure, just like Ping. But just in case you think you have enough duck picture book stories in your library for very young children, buy this one for the illustrations! Then use it too, to encourage children to make text-to-text connections . How is it like The Story of Ping; Borka: The Adventures of a Goose Without Feathers; and Make Way For Ducklings?

As well today is International Mother Language Day, a day when we should revel in our mother language and for many children that we teach that is not English. As Hillary Clinton said in her remarks about the Day,

"It is a time when we remember the power of language—to tell us where we came from, to share our story with others, to persuade, to educate, and to preserve our cultures. Let us take this opportunity to reaffirm our respect for the great diversity of languages and cultures we see around the world and to working together to promote mutual understanding and cooperation."

My library has a very small collection of picture books that are written in a language other than English, but they will be on display and this week children will be encouraged to borrow them. We have more books where there are two languages in the book, be it French and English as in Diane Goode's Mama books, or Spanish and English as in some of Pat Mora's books. As well there is a small collection of titles written in an Aboriginal language and English. Many authors who write in English or whose books are read in English have another language as their mother tongue. The children I teach are always fascinated to know that Marcus Pfister's books were written firstly in German, Dick Bruna's in Dutch and even Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales were in Danish.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Thanks for the lovely comments about my books. I just stumbled across your blog this morning and it's always lovely to find people saying such nice things about my work.