Magic Fish Dreaming is a children’s picture book project written by my friend and crit-buddy June Perkins and illustrated by Helene Maginsson. Today, I interview the author about her beautiful work and her dream of bringing the project to fruition.
A Dreamy Book for Youngsters
Ali: “A dreamy book for youngsters” is my five-word description of your book. How about you describe Magic Fish Dreaming in five words?
June: Poetry celebrating Far North Queensland.
A: *Sigh.* You had me at ‘poetry.’ What age group is the book aimed at?
J: We are hoping it will appeal to every age group, but it is especially useful to primary school aged children and their teachers or parents to explore poetry together.
A: I hear thunderous applause from poetry-loving parents and teachers everywhere! Is there another book that you could compare it to?
J: Perhaps Forest Has A Song, which has similar themes, target age group, and choice of illustrative medium (water colour). Although this book differs in that it is very specifically set in Far North Queensland, with very different creatures and trees.
A: Where does the title come from?
J: The title comes from a long narrative style poem in the book called Magic Fish and the fact that many poems in the book are about the power of dreaming. The title became a combining of those two things.
A: What themes are explored in the book?
J: The poems are about looking at the challenges in and for nature, how imagination can transform natural settings into places of magic, and the power of dreams to change the world and give belonging.
For example, a rainstorm can bring both happiness and sadness. When I was a child, my mother would take me for walks and tell me there were kind spirits watching from the bush. I wanted the book to help children feel they could belong to that place, and connect with people of all backgrounds.
A: The illustrations are quite magical and very appealing. I feel they perfectly create a dreamy quality that supports the title. Tell us about the collaboration between you and illustrator Helene.
J: Helene is a truly wonderful illustrator to work with. She reads the poems, thinks about them, researches the environment I am describing (sometimes from my photographs and videos), and then something magical happens. With ’Hunting for a Poem’ she came up with the idea of a poetry net catching things, which is a lovely visual metaphor for what I was trying to convey in the words. I try to give her as much space as she needs to imagine and dream.
A: How do people, young and old, respond to the work?
J: Well, this is hard to comment on, as the full book is not yet out. But our two sample page have been widely commented on as being dreamy, musical, beautiful and one in particular, ‘Hunting for a poem’ fun to read aloud and very useful potentially for primary teachers to get across that concept that you can hunt for ideas in your surroundings and then write about them.
There is a variety of poetic styles in the book that we hope people will enjoy. Poetry is such a subjective thing, but this book tries to convey some diversity of style and concept to lead children into many kinds of poetic approaches.
Some of the feedback I have received is, this is going to appeal to adults as well, especially parents, and people who love nature.
From Dream to Reality
A: Congratulations on your achievement so far. The next step is publication, an exciting and challenging stage! You’ve decided to self-publish and to crowdsource funding to do so. For readers who don’t know about this method of funding, tell us a little about Kickstarter, the platform you’re using.
(N.B. Crowdsourcing refers to a process of collaboration (often via the Internet)—seeking support, information or funding—to bring creative projects to life. An example is Wikipedia, who uses crowdsourcing for content creation among other things. In other words, they outsource content from the crowd.)
J: Kickstarter requires you to aim for a basic level of funding and sets a time frame in which to reach the goal. Backers pledge what they would like to give to your project, and in return they receive the product (e.g., a copy of the book) and other special rewards after the campaign is completed and the products are produced. Supporters are charged only if the basic level of funding is achieved, after the kickstarter is complete.
Creators also set “stretch goals,” which state what they can do if they surpass the basic funding target. The aim is to raise as much as you can to make the project super special.
A: I’ve put links to the Magic Fish Dreaming Kickstarter Page below so readers can back the project. What is the publication schedule?
J: We hope to have the book ready to distribute between October/November.
We are planning workshops for 2017, which can either be selected within the kickstarter page, or by a query to myself and Helene about the costs. This allows schools or festivals to plan for it in their budgets and apply for grants.
Support Magic Fish Dreaming
Your support is needed to bring this worthy and beautiful project to fruition. The Kickstarter campaign’s target must be achieved by 15 March 2016.
Check out the Magic Fish Dreaming Kickstarter page to learn more about the project and the gorgeous rewards for supporters. and don’t forget to click the green Support This Project button. Remember, you won’t be charged unless the target is achieved.
I am a proud supporter, and I hope you will support it, too. Personally, I can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands and read it to some children. Another way to help June is share this post and links to the book’s website on social media. Talk to school librarians, too! Best wishes to June Perkins!
More about the Author & Illustrator
Dr June Perkins, poet
Helene Magisson, artist