Monday, July 29, 2013

30th July Peter Gouldthorpe (1954)

Today is author illustrator Peter Gouldthorpe's birthday and although I have written about it before I want to 'sell' three of his books that have been published since then. Peter seems to be having a 'love affair' with Antarctica. While on holiday in Tasmania I went to an exhibition of his paintings and felt so in awe of the way he could make snow look so appealing, even if scary, and different in every painting and I feel this way too about his illustrations in No Return and Ice, Wind, Rock. The first tells the story of English explorer Captain Robert Scott's quest to be the first to reach the South Pole.  The second, in a way a companion book,  is the story of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's journey to the pole. Mawson is important in Australian history as he is on the $100 dollar note. He was firstly a lecturer in geology at Adelaide University. His interest in rocks led him to join Shackleton, an English explorer who had gone with Scott on his first expedition when he went to Antarctica. Gouldthorpe has managed to show these men's courage, strength and heroism in a very inhospitable place. His illustrations are powerful and very detailed. There are teachers notes to accompany Ice Wind, Rock  and there is a biography of Sir Douglas Mawson here.

Another book,  Lyrebird! A True Story  illustrated by Peter and written by Jackie Kerin is another Australian story that brings the past to life for young children.

Lyrebird! A True Story is based on the real tale of Edith Wilkinson and a a lyrebird she called 'James' who danced in Edith's Dandenongs garden in the 1930s. At the time, Superb Lyrebirds were believed to be shy and elusive, but James tolerated human audiences and performed for bird-watchers and ornithologists who arrived from around the globe. Upon a platform built on Edith's verandah rail, he became one of the first lyrebirds to be captured on film, and helped spread the reputation of these birds as uncanny imitators of the sounds around them.

This book is on the shortlist this year for the Eve Pownall Award and well worth sharing with children. Museum Victoria has footage of Edith and James and information here that will help when planning lessons to share this wonderful story.

Peter Gouldthorpe successfully brings true stories and history to life for young children in a way that no history textbook will ever manage.

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