Title: Mrs.T and the Magic Pencil
Author: Elizabeth Mary Cummings
Illustrator: Johanna Roberts
Publisher: Elizabeth Cummings
Genre: Picture book
Age Group: 4-7
What kinds of themes / issues are raised in this story?
The idea that someone can make a lasting impact on a child’s life is the core of this story. Themes such as self-esteem, caring, childhood memories also feature.
How are these important to you in raising awareness to your readers?
For readers of this story I hope teachers might consider how they nurture their students. For children the idea that learning is fun and your teacher is an important person in your life and for all adults the chance to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane of one’s own school experiences.
Who or what inspired you to write this story?
Mrs. T herself – a real teacher in New Zealand who taught both my daughters when we lived there. She also supported me as a relief teacher in the school and was of collegial support when I was on the school board.
What is your favourite part of the book?
All of it! I especially love the images when the magic pencil comes out and I actually get emotional when I think about how her behaviour makes me want to be my best so my reflections on the last page of the story.
How would you describe the publishing process? Were they supportive? How long did it take?
Lol! I’ve self-published four books now and I contract out parts of the process. The cover and book layout – I use SPIFFING COVERS based In UK. I can not say exactly why or how I can upon them and decided to use them initially but I know they are well thought in UK and worked on various mayor projects with TV series as well as with newbies like I was. Being from UK originally I am used to having to communicate with people over cyberspace and dealing with time zone boundaries so I was not afraid to just pick up the phone or sending emails. I used Ingram Spark for the upload and with some marketing and although a huge company have a Melbourne based office are easy to contact and really try to help.
Dennis Jones distributes some of my work and he is very open and clearly a popular choice here in Australia.
What was the collaboration like between author and illustrator? Juicy gossip, please!
Johanna Roberts is so clever at taking my demands as to the look I want to create. She juggles her work for me round a full time degree course and over the four books I have seen such development in her confidence and approach. She is a rising star! I am so lucky to have had her and be part of her growth.
What has the feedback / audience response been like so far?
I actually got to have a little ‘creative team’ mini launch of the story as Mrs. T herself was in town visiting her family the other week – she had known I was making the book and was quite overwhelmed at my tribute to her. Those who have read it love the nostalgia and the idea that the magic comes from the teacher and students themselves.
What teaching and learning ideas would you suggest to complement this book?
I like to see this story being used to discuss relationships, jobs, memoirs and how we treat others.
Do you have a book trailer for your book?
Yes! I did a simple one on Powtoon one it was fun.
Click to watch.
Any details on your book launch you’d like to tell us about?
The Australia Launch will be at Laugh and Learn toyshop in Randwick and the date is yet to be confirmed. I am planning a NZ launch too!
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Elizabeth! 😊
Formally a primary school teacher from UK, Elizabeth now lives in Sydney writing for children and adults alike. Her works often take a child’s perspective to explain the world and to reflect on important life experiences. Elizabeth’s poetry is aimed at general audiences and as well as working on some collaborative ventures and YA projects.
Find out more on Elizabeth Cumming’s website and facebook page: Mrs. T and the Magic Pencil.