Marg Gibbs, author of Arriving Home, with Mapleton Art, the eight artists is delighted to announce a companion story featuring Maggie Magpie Goose and Eric Echidna. Released in time for Christmas, and for families who love Australian animals, A Very Mapleton Christmas has a festive feel to the cover with its natural bush bunting and extra character in Pete the Possum, who makes mischief throughout.
Marg shares, “I am inspired by the natural beauty along the Blackall Ranges, in particular, my home town of Mapleton. Around at The Lilyponds, visitors come, families barbecue, children enjoy the freedom of cycling the pathways and playing on the swings. If you wander the park, you will find the swamp hens, their tails flicking up and down near the water’s edge. You will also see the wood ducks feeding on the grasses and herbs. These ideas came to me as I wrote the story.”
Set in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland town of Mapleton, this story explores the celebration of a bush picnic at the Lilyponds on Christmas Day. Pete the Possum is naughty and just wants to play. When Maggie organises a treasure hunt for the animals, Pete sneaks a look at the gifts. He even finds an old sock in the lake. Music, food, fun and friends make this Christmas story memorable.
‘SCRAPE, SCRATCH, SCRATCH! Eric raked and burrowed.’
“My inspiration and connection to the story is about the beauty and wondrous state of nature. I enjoy walking and taking photographs, paying attention to colours and smells as I circle the lake. For this reason, I wanted to capture the region’s attractions.”
“Originally known as ‘The Swamp”, Lilyponds is a grassy area with a large pond full of water lilies and birds that attract tourists. This became part of the setting for my Christmas story.”
The mystery of hiding natural objects outdoors is one of the festive games the animals play out under the Cypress trees. Even though the story is set in Mapleton, a small Hinterland village, readers will respond to the ideas of sharing gifts and time with friends; a universal message for all settings.
“Adding the possum was really about adding mischief. The Kookaburra and Rainbow Lorikeet are seen frequently in the trees around here. I liked the idea of the animals playing a game to create fun and mystery to the story. My hope is that families will draw themselves out from the living rooms and kitchen into the spaces and places like parks and forests to enjoy an Aussie Christmas. Perhaps Maggie and Eric can wander down to the beach for the next publication!”
Jacqui A’ Court, an illustrator from WA used a combination of watercolour, gouache, ink, pastels, pen and paper collage on watercolour paper for the illustrations of this book.
Marg says she found Jacqui’s art style to be imaginative and perfect for this book. She liked the story and agreed to take it on. “Her ideas, mud map, rough sketches and emails kept me in the loop at all times with the art process.”
Jacqui has had a passion for painting and ceramics since she was a young girl and has a background of study and practice in Fine Arts and Ecological Science. She currently balances her art practice with raising (and painting with) her young daughter, part time work and caring for a small menagerie of animals in suburban Perth.
Marg Gibbs loves to write stories about home, memories and community. Her book of poems, called ‘Goose at the Gate’ appeals to children 3-10 years. Both self- published and traditionally, Marg finds the time to explore themes in her writing related to family, communication and love.
A Very Mapleton Christmas is on sale for $20, via Marg’s website, www.mjgibbs.com.au
Available at the Mapleton Post Office and The Barn at Flaxton.
BONUS! Art Activities for Christmas
Here is a wonderful range of art activities to try with your little ones this Christmas, courtesy of Marg Gibbs:
- Write and draw your favourite recipe for Christmas.
- Paint and decorate a bush Christmas tree with its own unique decorations.
- Stencil a Christmas tree using sponges and brushes for different effects. Add stickers.
- Make a collage of a pond with water lilies and grasses. Use tissue papers and paint.
- Draw an echidna. Give him some happy festive charm – a hat or gold and silver spines.
- Take your favourite Aussie animal – kookaburra, wombat, possum and cut out their shape to add to a mural or bunting for Christmas day lunch.
- Using ink and watercolour, choose your favourite illustration from the book and get inspired to make your own picture.
- What does Christmas mean to you? Create a landscape scene or portrait showing this.