Review Blog

Oct 02 2012

Travelling suitcases (DVD series)

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BookLinks and Queensland Government production, 2009. DVD. 10 mins each.
This is a series of DVDs about Australian authors and illustrators, exposing their working lives to the viewers. Each author/illustrator introduces him/herself, then takes the reader through their writing and illustrating, from the initial impetus and ideas, to the research and then the work. Each DVD is a brief but interest filled introduction to the artist and his/her work.
An example which outlines the extent of each DVD is that of Michael Gerard Bauer. He wrote the Ishmael series and in the DVD gives a wholly personal account of his life, inviting the student into his house and the two areas in his house where he works. He displays the range of objects (pictures and found objects) that spark an interest and then lead into a story. For example the Ishmael books began when he was looking at a picture of Captain Ahab from the novel, Moby Dick. The opening line of this story is 'Call me Ishmael', so Michael began to think of the opposite, 'Don't call me Ishmael' and the story grew from there. He tells more about the writing process and this leads to the editing and publishing process as he sits in one for his studies.
This series of DVDs accompanied the Travelling Suitcase Project, where suitcases were packed full of information about the authors/illustrators, Kerry Argent, Michael Gerard Bauer, Gregory Rogers, Narelle Oliver and James Moloney. Each suitcase included display ideas, the author's published books, interesting items from the author's writing and illustrating life, and drafts and story boards.
Booklinks, along with the Queensland Writer's Centre and the Ipswich Children's Literature Festival, produced these suitcases with a grant from CBC which allowed schools to borrow them for free.
(The website at gives more information about this series of DVDs, along with an order form).
For an introduction to the work of these people, these DVDs are a short, energetic and engaging way to introduce these authors and their work, either as a study in the classroom, or simply to give students a wider view of that person, or help students with ideas for their own writing or illustrative work. I can imagine these being used in English or Art classes, as well as in the library to great effect.
Fran Knight

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