This week at school I showed Year 1 an old episode of the ABC television series Book Bug, a dramatised version of Libby Gleeson's junior novel, Skating on Sand. The children sat transfixed except for the odd giggle at Hannah struggling to skate. When it was finished there was considerable discussion about how Hannah was treated by her older sisters. The viewers empathised with Hannah. They knew what it was like to be scared. They listed words to describe Hannah and came up with stubborn, determined, brave and persistent. We also had fun listing palindromes, an aside initiated by the children. When I showed them the novel and its sequels, they expressed surprise that it was by the same author who wrote Amy and Louis and Clancy and Millie and the Very Fine House which they know much better. Someone said, 'I didn't know she wrote chapter books!' This would have been the ideal time to look at the catalogue and make a collection.
Libby Gleeson is a very versatile writer, writing right across the age spectrum. In the past I have enjoyed Eleanor Elizabeth and I Am Susannah with older classes and I would love to be teaching older children now so that I could share Mahtab's Story. Instead with my Year 2 classes next term I will get to share my favourite of Libby's picture books The Princess and the Perfect Dish. Each of her picture books is a delight, made very different by the choice of illustrator. Armin Greder, Julie Vivas, Ann James and Freya Blackwood, are so different in style that each book is fresh, and a new experience to be savoured.