Primary teacher and language specialist, Amelia Trompf, is now the debut author of gorgeous picture book, Who is Fitzy Fox? (see my review). We are excited to be included on the Fitzy Fox blog tour as Amelia introduces us to the world of her curious four-legged friend. Thanks for sharing your experiences of creating your book with us, Amelia! 🐶 🐺
Sitting in front of my Grade 1 class in my first year of teaching with a book in hand and 28 children desperate for the story to begin was my dream job. Putting my creative talents into practice, my classroom was draped in Miss Lily’s Fabulous Pink Boas one week and transformed into Uno’s Garden the next. Through stories we learnt about sharing, accepting difference, making friends, multiculturalism, the environment and much more. That was when I decided I wanted to write stories for children.
For many years, I wrote and illustrated stories for my students mostly about different issues in the playground but when my husband was transferred to the UK with work, I found myself living in Scotland without a job so for a little while the stories stopped. Then one morning I saw the Number 5 bus go past and on it was the beloved Scottish Maisie of Morningside (Morningside being a suburb in Edinburgh and Maisie being a little Scottish cat) and I thought to myself, “I want to write a book that Melburnian children and parents adore just like the Scottish people treasure Maisie. I want to write a story that it has its own bus!” Fitzroy being my home suburb was a natural choice and with alliteration in mind, I created the character Fitzy Fox.
Who is Fitzy Fox? is about a furry animal who is feeling befuddled. He always thought he was a dog … but everyone calls him ‘Foxy’. To solve this existential crisis, Fitzy sets out on an expedition that journeys from Melbourne to London, to uncover the truth of his furry identity. The story is about the uniqueness of each individual and being valued for who they are. It’s about having the courage to identify and solve a problem and being willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do so. Set in Melbourne’s Fitzroy, I hope local children will love the familiar streets and landmarks. I know they will love the beautiful illustrations by Jennifer Bruce that capture the cosmopolitan culture of Melbourne, as well as some familiar icons of Britain.
I wrote the story because I wanted to explore the themes of belonging and feeling connected, which are integral to human existence. Fitzy Fox’s journey enables him to come to understand who he is and find confidence himself – a message I wanted to share with all children. My dear mum says it reminds her of a T S Eliot quote “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”. She says you could almost describe Who is Fitzy Fox? as a children’s version of his very philosophical quote. I personally would not dare put my book in the same sentence as T S Eliot!
Being a trained primary school and language teacher, I am passionate about education so I wanted my book to have educational value. After years of working in primary schools, I came to realise that one of the most powerful ways of connecting with children is through story. My hope is that children who might feel a bit lost like Fitzy Fox can benefit from identifying with the story and realise the importance of sharing worries and fears. To accompany my book, I have created a range of comprehensive lessons linked to the Australian Curriculum. Teachers are often flat out so I wanted to create resources that are useful and immediately applicable to a classroom situation. Recognising the increasing need for teachers to address the social and emotional needs of their students, I also commissioned a trained social worker/teacher to design a Social and Emotional Learning package for teachers and counsellors with topics such as belonging, dealing with worries and building resilience.
I have dreamed for a long time about publishing a picture book but I had no idea how exciting it would actually be. One of the loveliest surprises is the creative collaboration that my little story has created. It started off as just mine but handing it over and working closely with Little Steps Publishing and Jennifer Bruce has made it something that is much bigger than me. With improvement to the text and the evolution of the illustrations, my little Fitzy Fox has developed into a character who now has a life of his own. I love the fact that the editor was so excited about Fitzy being so ‘Fitzroy’ while keeping his innocence and quirkiness. It was her idea that Fitzy should wear clothes and walk on two feet. It took him in a slightly different direction but he remained my little Fitzy. Yes, I think of him as one of my children!
Amelia Trompf spends her days busy working as a part-time teacher, writer and mum to a young book-loving son. Jennifer Bruce grew up in Dunblane, Scotland, with Who is Fitzy Fox? being her first illustrated book.
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#WhoIsFitzyFox #TheSearchForIdentity #TravellingFoxTerrier