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The first of the October PEPELT posts on picturebook creators who have been Children’s Laureates is by Sandie. She talks about Quentin Blake and shares three picturebooks: ‘Clown’ (Red Fox, 1995), ‘All join in’ (Red Fox, 1990) and ‘Mister Magnolia’ (Jonathan Cape, 1980). Her message is that Quentin Blake’s books are for taking into the classroom to be shared for their wildness… because ‘children need to learn to be wild with English!’ Do let us know in the chat which is your favourite Quentin Blake picturebook.

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To continue our October theme, I (Gail) present Lauren Child who was the 10th Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate from 2017 – 2019. Lauren Child has a unique ability to understand how children see and understand the world and her creations include the picturebook series Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean as well as the Ruby Redfort books for older readers. She declared that her aim was to forge ‘stronger links between the world of children’s literature and other art forms such as fine art, film, music, television and design and she collaborates with artists across different fields. She is a passionate advocate for visual literacy and the importance of quality picturebooks for children. Her humorous illustrations contain many different mediums including magazine cuttings, collage, fabric and photography as well as traditional watercolours.

She began her picturebook career in 1999 with the publication of ‘I Want a Pet!’and ‘Clarice Bean’, That’s Me’, the latter being shortlisted for the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In 2000, she won a Kate Greenaway Medal for ‘I will not ever NEVER eat a tomato’ featuring Charlie and Lola who went on to become a global television brand, and a second Nestlé Smarties Book Prize in 2002 for ‘That Pesky Rat’. Not all her picturebooks are suitable for the primary ELT classroom as the vocabulary can contain many low frequency words and the typeface is often set out in creative formats such as swirls and drifts and changes in font size which could make it difficult for teachers to read aloud or for children to read. However, I have successfully used ‘I will not ever NEVER eat a tomato’ in the primary ELT classroom because of its accessible and humorous content, creative use of language and innovative use of different fonts and illustrations: collage mixing drawing and photography, all of which I considered would be appealing to the children.

This story lends itself to a number of read-aloud techniques to involve children and encourage them to participate and to relate the story to their own lives. It tells the story of a familiar event in children’s lives when Charlie has to look after his little sister Lola who is a very fussy eater. She doesn’t like most things, or she thinks she doesn’t, until Charlie manages to cajole her into thinking that ordinary everyday things can taste wonderful if they are given exotic, appetising names. Carrots become orange twiglets; peas – green drops; mashed potato – cloud fluff; fish fingers – ocean nibbles, and tomatoes moonsquirters. As a follow-up activity, children made up their own appetizing names for other foods from the story. Mushrooms became ‘baby umbrellas’ and ‘magic fairy hats’, spaghetti became ‘long hair’, eggs became ‘flying saucers’ and cauliflower became ‘snow flowers’.

To find out more about Lauren Child and her varied projects visit her website

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Tatia (I) continues with our third Children’s Laureate, the current 2022-2024 Children’s Laureate Joseph Coehlo.

Joseph Coehlo is a British award-winning poet, play writer and children’s book author. He has won various awards for his work and has worked with well-known, often award-winning illustrators such as Kate Milner, Fiona Lumbers and Sam Usher. You might be familiar with his picturebook series Luna: ‘Luna Loves Art’, ‘Luna Loves Dance’ and ‘Luna Loves Library Day’. Before the summer, Gail refers to his debut picturebook ‘Luna Loves Library Day’ in a post for PEPELT (July 2022) and mentions that it ‘gives space to a non-traditional family setup in a narrative that was both celebratory and magical’.

What makes Joseph Coehlo stand out as a Children’s Laureate is his love of poetry, his desire to celebrate poetry and share his love with his young readers. In 2022, Coehlo launched a campaign for the BookTrust called ‘Poetry Prompts’. Since the start of October, Coehlo shares a weekly ‘Poetry Prompt’ video which he hopes will ‘inspire the nation, young and old, to write poems and to become poets.’ Coehlo’s videos are no more than 10 minutes long and, in an easy-to-follow and engaging way, he has so far covered: #1:The Sounds of the Environment, #2: Make a Mini Notebook and # 3: Take Your Pen on a Journey. Every video is accompanied by a printable teaching / learning resource. For example, the resource for #3 is called Free Writing and begins with an activity to let your imagination run free. The task includes a poem called ‘Imagination Running Free’:

Imagination Running Free

Close your eyes

what do you see?

Imagination running free.

Imagine your toes

in a gentle sea.

Imagination running free.

Imagine your knees

are stripy like bees!

Imagination running free.

Imagine you’re running with:

toes wet

legs wooden

knees stripy!

That’s your imagination

running free.

The readers (the children and teacher) are first asked to read the poem aloud to each other. Then, the reader is asked to think about the poem with help of some guiding questions which take emotions, imagination, experience and language into consideration. The teaching resources also includes tasks to perform and write a poem.

If you now feel inspired to include poetry in your class, check Coehlo’s picturebook called ‘Thank You’. It was illustrated by Sam Usher and published in 2020. It is short in text and the choice of verbs include possibilities to add movement during the read-aloud. ‘Thank You’ is a tribute to the people who worked during the global Covid-19 pandemic and is the story about a boy called Tatenda who says thank you to his teacher for looking at his work, to the shop assistant filling the shelves, to the postlady and to many others. Hence it offers opportunities to discuss different jobs, action verbs and adjectives to describe the job or the person working.

And, if you are looking for some general tips for teaching poetry in the EFL classroom, check this link by TeachingEnglish – British Council :

Videos & Resources:

Resource # 1

Resource # 2

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In the last of the PEPELT posts this month, Anneta has shared her passion for Chris Riddell, who was Children’s Laureate from 2015-2017. She prepared lots of information for us and showed picturebooks for children from 6 to 15 years old. Do sit down and watch Anneta, you’ll need 30 minutes, but you won’t regret it … her passion is contagious, and you will reconsider what you give children credit for.

The picturebooks she mentioned that were created or illustrated by Chris Riddell included:

1‘Platypus’ (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2022), to read with 6 – 7-year-olds, suggesting that it is useful to talk about holidays by the sea;
2‘Rabbit and Hedgehog’ series by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell – ‘Rabbit’s Wish’, ‘A little bit of winter’, ‘What do you remember?’ and ‘The birthday presents’ (Penguin Books), to read with 8 – 9-year-olds and suggesting its useful for discussing friendship and developing CLIL activities;
3‘Something Else’ by Kathryn Cave and Chris Riddell (Puffin, 2011), to read with 9 – 10-year-olds and suggesting it’s perfect for talking about similarities and differences and values education (see also…/tell-it-again…)

… and her contribution to being ‘unconventional’ was all about reading ‘Mr Underbed’ (Andersen Press, 1986) with 12 – 15-year-olds, to discuss and understand plagiarism… the films she referred to in this last example include:

10 reasons why plagiarism is wrongRead More
John Lewis Advert ‘Moz the Monster’ (2017)Read More
How John Lewis helped himself to Riddell’s bookRead More
‘Good Morning Britain’ – a breakfast TV programmeRead More
Result in sales of the bookRead More
Melanie Trump / Michele Obama speechesRead More