'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Guest Post: Debra Tidball on the Scared Book

This week marks the release of Debra Tidball's new picture book, The Scared Book. Here she shares a few of their first times together in public.

I take my new book out of the packaging in trembling-with-excitement hands. It's a little part of me that I am about to share with the world. But how will it behave? And how will others respond to it?

Well, I'm relieved and thrilled to say that The Scared Book has behaved very well indeed!

A friend's child was the first to be introduced to The Scared Book, and it didn't have the child screaming in terror or (even worse) yawning with boredom, much to my relief. Rather, the child was rubbing and flicking and fanning the pages in a quest to help the poor book feel better. Turns out, the book has perfect manners, and a charming propensity to entertain and delight its young reader. The book may have had its tingling spine eased by the child but my spine was tingling with pure pleasure.

The question then became - how would it behave in a crowd? I was soon to find out on a KinderFest visit to Western Sydney. As I read the book in front of three classes of 150 children each, I scrutinised the faces in each audience - were there any children trembling in terror in the corner? No! From Kindergarten to year two they were rubbing and tapping and flicking their hands in the air as though conducting a choir. The only hair raising moment was when they nearly blow me off my chair when blowing away the monster butterflies!
As you may have realised, The Scared Book is actually character itself. It asks the reader to help it not be scared and to chase way the monsters that start appearing from out of the book's gutter. But shhhh! Don't tell anyone - The Scared Book is sneaky too, because while they're having oodles of fun, the children are learning about their emotions and how to deal with them!

Whilst the book is an event in itself, it also partners well with other activities to multiply the fun. One of the activities that I have found complements The Scared Book is 'Roll the Dice Monster.' It's a game along the lines of one of my childhood favourites - Creepy Critters. Each number on the dice corresponds to a body part that allows you to place that part on the outline of a monster’s body. So rolling a six allows you to place a mouth, rolling a three allows you to place an eye and so on. If every roll is a three, then the monster is all eyes! So each time it's played a new and unique monster is generated.  Then the children are asked to make up something about it, like its name or its favourite activity etc. - a sneaky way to get children stretching their creative and imaginative muscles.

The Scared Book also lends itself to rhymes and jingles and adapting classic finger plays for younger children, so 'dicky birds' and 'little Indians' are given a much needed 21st century make-over - replaced by monsters.

So now I know I can take The Scared Book out in public with confidence. I'm so excited about the possibilities that it has to engage children with books and learning and I'm looking forward to sharing it with many, many more.

Debra’s first picture book When I see Grandma, was shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Book of the Year and won the children’s section of the CALEB award. She reviews for the CBCA Reading Time and was a reviewer for Creative Kids Tales. She blogs regularly at Just Write for Kids and you can find her tweeting @debratidball. Debra is a qualified social worker with a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature. She is the wife of one, mother of two and caretaker to a menagerie of furry (and sometimes feathery) friends in suburban Sydney. Visit Debra’s Website at: http://www.debratidball.com