In the world of children’s books, there are those primarily filled with pictures and others filled mainly with text. This makes the progression from picture storybooks to text-heavy books a struggle for some children aged five to seven.
To help children make the transition, author Lynette Morrison joined forces with children’s book illustrator Lee Kowling to produce The Pittodrie Pirate series.
With beautiful watercolour illustrations accompanying the text on every spread, the Pittodrie Pirates Series consists of seven books that revolve around the journeys of a band of five young pirates who roam the islands in search of adventure.
Little Day Out joined a group of parents and children for a delightful day out at the official launch of the series on 7 July 2013 at The Arts House.
Author Lynette Morrison introduced the book series and shared how she incorporated a tinge of local flavour, including a representation of “char siew pau”.
Children were treated to two storytelling sessions by The Journey Man or Johnny Gillett, one of the most dynamic storytellers in the United Kingdom.
“Don’t be afraid. Everyone can draw,” says Lee Kowling. She is a children’s book illustrator from Singapore and mother of a girl and a boy who love to read. Kowling has illustrated more than 30 children’s books and has worked with major publishers such as Times, MPH, Federal and Landmark Books. She believes that art is important to children and it makes our lives easier.
Here, Kowling leads the children in an art workshop.
Author Lynette Morrison signs the books for her young fans.
Little Day Out caught up with author Lynette Morrison, who has a PhD in Film Studies, and has lectured at universities in the UK and in Singapore for more than 12 years. She is a mother of three young children, who inspired her to begin writing creatively.
Little Day Out (LDO): What is the source of your inspiration for the Pittodrie Pirates series?
Lynette: The inspiration for the books stems from my children, nieces and nephews. To entertain the children on long journeys in the car, I would tell them stories that I made up as I went along. My husband, Fraser, thought the stories were good enough to be published, and that was the catalyst for the Pittodrie Pirates series. Some of the journeys included the long rides to Pittodrie House in Aberdeenshire, where we were married, and this partly explains the name of the series.
LDO: Which is your favourite character in the series and why?
Lynette: It’s hard to pick a favourite because I am drawn to all the characters. They are all varied and lovable. However, if pressed, I would choose Lilian. She’s on a voyage of discovery in the stories, and her reactions to the adventures can be very amusing. She’s also based on my daughter at around 3 years old, and I find that to be a delightful and fun age to be at!
LDO: What do you hope that children will learn from reading your books?
Lynette: I hope, first and foremost, that the books will instill a passion for reading in the children. The love for reading is the foundation for doing well not only academically but also in life, and the series helps children in their reading journey particularly at age five to seven when things get challenging as they move onto text heavy books. The Pittodrie Pirates series is a bridge to make this transition easier. The books also celebrate a spirit of adventure, courage and kindness, and these are great values for our kids to have.
LDO: To entertain or to educate – what is the main purpose of children’s fiction?
Lynette: Good children’s fiction does both — and the best kind of education in reading occurs, I believe, when it is not blatant. The series uses an extensive vocabulary sweetened with beautiful illustrations and an exciting narrative in order to both entertain and educate.
LDO: What does it take to be a good children’s writer?
Lynette: I think it takes a lot of drive and passion, as well as the discipline to write and learn from those who have already achieved the status of being good in the field. It also takes inspiration and knowing what will interest your audience.
LDO: Who are your literary heroes?
Lynette: C.S. Lewis and Tolkien for the depth of their writing, and Enid Blyton for the sheer breadth of what she has published.
LDO: What are you planning to write next?
Lynette: The rest of the Pittodrie Pirates series, as well as another series that is more localised in context, and perhaps some poetry as well!
The Pittodrie Pirates Series is published by Armour Publishing. The first three books of The Pittodrie Pirates Series are available at Popular, Kinokuniya, Times and other good bookstores.