#InterviewByBook with June Perkins

Title: Magic Fish Dreaming
Author: June Perkins
Illustrator: Helene Magisson
Publisher: Gumbootspearlz Press
Genre: Poetry
ISBN: ISBN 9780980731187
DETAILS ON BOOK: Paper back. 17 poems, 48 pages in total, title index, 2 sections, 210mm X 284mm, extensive educational notes and suggested activities available.
Age Group: 4 and up, for independent readers 8 and up

Please tell us a bit of what your book is about.

It is a poetry quest set in Far North Queensland; encouraging readers to go hunting for poems and to celebrate and explore that environment and its people in all its rich diversity.

What kinds of themes / issues are raised in this story?

Some of the central themes are creativity, imagination, caring for people and the environment, diversity, and dealing with challenges like cyclonic weather, fish that won’t take the bait and hungry cassowaries.

How are these important to you in raising awareness to your readers?

I take a subtle approach to this, by just presenting poetic narrative about how people interact with their environment (such as pesky toads, fishing, rain and storms) but I add an element of imagination by asking what if questions and giving nature a voice to speak back to people and children the joy and challenge of speaking to nature too. I also requested that my dear illustrator show a diversity of cultures of the area in the illustrations, something I already knew from her folio she would be wonderful at.

Who or what inspired you to write this story?

There were four main inspirations for the book. First, my family, friends and secondly experiences in the environment of Far North Queensland. Thirdly. growing up with stories of Cassowaries from my Papua New Guinean mother and fourthly, great poetry writing mentors. You can actually find out more in the kickstarter video.

What is your favourite part of the book?

I like the whole journey and don’t like to single particular poems out, however the ones that I love to read out loud to children presently are ‘Discovering Magic’, and ‘River Song’ at the very end. ‘Discovering Magic’ is such a lot of fun, but it is also empowering. What would you do to change the world if you were granted magic from a fairy’s tooth? ‘River Song’ I like because it is lyrical and slightly mysterious, so you have to think about it a little more.

How would you describe the publishing process? Were they supportive? How long did it take?

I funded this book through a kickstarter and had creative control of printing, publishing, editing, designing, and illustrating. We had so many wonderful supporters who are all listed at the project blog.

I employed a professional editor, designer, illustrator and worked with a local printer to make the book the best it could possibly be. The book took a year to publish from the kickstarter, but I had been writing it for over eight years, almost from the moment I lived in Far North Queensland about ten years earlier and the editing process was almost complete prior to the kickstarter. I really loved what our designer Heidi Den Ronden added to the book. She made the words dance on the page!

What was the collaboration like between author and illustrator?

Helene Magisson was a delight to work with. I gave her as much freedom as I could but worked to ensure environmental accuracy as I had lived in Far North Queensland and advised Helene through videos and photographs what it was like. Although the book has a little bit of magic in it for fun, I still wanted it to be environmentally accurate. Some of the poems we had a little more discussion about, and she would give me a few options to consider so I could decide which one I liked best.

Helene wrote a wonderful article about our team work on this project. Read it here.

What has the feedback / audience response been like so far?

We have had an excellent response, with positive reviews in Kids’ Book Review, the CBCA Website, Just Write for Kids, and from junior reviews on Alphabet Soup, and Junior Book Worm. You can find all the reviews at our site. We were also lucky enough to have Felicity Plunkett, the poetry editor from University of Queensland Press, write the blurb for the back of our book, and review the book prior to us publishing it.

Avant Card, featured ‘River Song’ on one of their artist post cards, and that was wonderful to have that art work sharing that the book existed.

The response from young audiences when they hear the poems has been fantastic and we hope to reach many more of them soon as June begins library and school visits.

What teaching and learning ideas would you suggest to complement this book?

I have designed a comprehensive set of activities based on this book encompassing areas of environmental studies, creative writing, and maths concepts. These will be up on my website soon. You can check the following link in the meantime for samples.

It is a book to encourage anyone using it to encourage others to use their powers of observation, reflection and imagination to be creative in their writing and thinking about the world.

Do you have a book trailer for your book? Please share.

Yes.

Any details on your book launch you’d like to tell us about?

The launch was held last October at Magda Community Artz, and featured a wonderful cake, that was itself a piece of art. We also had music, speeches, and an art exhibition. My mum very kindly sponsored the launch as a birthday present as she was unable to make the event and so we tried to make it a super special celebration and many kickstarter supporters were able to attend and pick up their books. More on the launch here.

Please let us know where we can find more on you and your book.

You can visit the project website and facebook page and we have all our social media links and interviews there. Presently the book is in quite a few Queensland and Tasmanian bookshops (as I started reading my poetry at festivals there as a youth). You can also subscribe to a newsletter/ mail out if you wish via the blog.

You can also visit my website http://juneperk.wixsite.com/gumbootspearlz

And the following interview is one of my favourites!

Thank you for sharing your story, Magic Fish Dreaming, with us! 🐠 🐟 ❤️

June has been writing, publishing and performing poetry since she was six. She has created two books previously, Under One Sky, the first anthology of the Licuala Writers, and After Yasi, finding the Smile within, a photo story book for community about the recovery from Cyclone Yasi.

More on the story behind Magic Fish Dreaming can be found in June’s wonderful guest post here.

#InterviewByBook #MagicFishDreaming #Diversity #Nature #Poetry

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