Illustrations Melissa Daw
* as published in November 2010 Good Gabble Newzine
|photograph: Samantha Lo|
A story of love, family, friendship, growing up and loss, Zoe's Puppy by Joel Hart is sure to touch the hearts of children and adults alike. Colourful illustrations by Melissa Daw compliment a story with messages that are sure to heal.
“One beautiful Autumn Day” Zoe is born. Each birthday Zoe is given a stylish item that relates to a dog. On her third birthday she is given a real puppy that her mum and dad got from the pound. They name her Pooky. As Zoe grows so does Pooky, each enjoying the journey of love, friendship and family. Shortly after Zoe's eighteenth birthday Pooky becomes ill and dies thus beginning the journey of loss, memories and moving on. Zoe soon marries and has a daughter of her own, Kayla. On Kayla's third birthday she is given a dog. Pooky lives on in the hearts and minds of the family.
With the main message of Zoe's Puppy being that of loss I found this book to be of use in many area's. Hidden within is the message of love and the unity of family. The love of parents and a child and the love of a pet. On each page, as Zoe grows, the words and illustrations compliment each other to show the changes as we age and mature and a time line of events within our lives. Not just do Zoe and Pooky grow but the events within their lives and surrounding change with them showing the adventures and patterns of the change. A gentle way of dealing with the messages of life, Zoe's puppy helps children deal with changes around them and heal in times of loss.
Zoe's Puppy is the third book to be written and illustrated by the team of Joel Hart and Melissa Daw, following Joseph and the Magical Moose and Edward's Watch Mouse Experiment. With an Australian author, illustrator, publisher ( Watch Mouse Publishing ) and printer ( Copy Magic), Zoe's Puppy is sure to appeal to a large range of audience.
Review: Jennifer Deaves
An Interview With Joel Hart - Australian Children’s AuthorCompleting a teachers degree in at Flinder's University in South Australia, Joel Hart is using his love of literature and education skills to provide quality children's books. Teaming up with illustrator Melissa Daw, Joel's three books, Joseph and the Magical Moose, Edward's Watch Mouse Experiment and Zoe's Puppy, are sure to instill a love of books and reading in children of all ages.
Along with teaching and wtiting Joel, accompanied by Melissa, is spending time conducting writing workshops for children during the school holidays. During these workshops the children work in groups going through the process of planning drafting, illustrating and publishing their own picture book narrative. The next workshop witll be held in Fremantle WA during January 2011.
Good Gabble asked Joel the following questions:
Were did your teaching career first start and were have you taught?
I started my teaching career in Adelaide in 1991. Since then I have taught in Perth, Kalgoorlie, Coonana Aboriginal Community, Ravensthorpe and now Fremantle. I have been teaching in the Fremantle area for 6 years.
What would you say is the most rewarding thing about being a children's author?
I love watching children engaged in my books and telling me about their favourite parts and characters. That's the ultimate reward.
As you promote your newest book Zoe's Puppy has there been any single event that has left a memorable moment in your mind?
Zoe's Puppy is a little sad but quite uplifting at the end. A friend of mine read the story to her son who had recently lost his grandmother and thought the story had helped them both. It was quite satisfying to hear that because this is the intention of the book.
What gave you the idea for your first book?
I always thought that one day I would write a book and probably a children's book. Mem Fox was one of my lecturers at Flinders University in the late 80's and looking back, I can see that she was the one who planted the seed. It wasn't until my first son was born in 2002 that the inspiration came. My first book is called Joseph and the Magical Moose. My son's name is Joseph and the moose idea came from a little stuffed moose that sits in a ceramic bowl at our house. That moose has been there for 12 years!
What lead to you becoming a published author?
A lot of determination and a belief that the material was good enough to be published. It's important to get feedback, particularly from people who aren't your friends because friends will often say what you want to hear, or at least a watered down version of what they really think. A good editor will give you the honest feedback that you may not want but need. Sue Moran from Dramatically Correct is my editor and she is fantastic!
What do you hope your books achieve?
I just want my books to be read and enjoyed by as many children as possible. There are a lot of laughs in the first two and I hope Zoe's Puppy can assist children that have experienced loss and help them move on.
What words of wisdom would you give to another who hopes to one day become a published children's author?
Don't be disheartened with knock backs from publishers. It doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have good material. Publishers have quotas, text lengths and genres they're looking for and there is a good chance that your story just doesn't fit the criteria. Get feedback from your target audience and make sure you are writing for a target audience. Ask yourself, 'Who's going to read this?' You might be interested in albino yaks from southern Mongolia but the audience might be thin. If you're writing children's books, make them fun, dynamic and with no boring bits. You have to keep children turning the page. Create plenty of visuals in the text, even if you are using illustrations. Roald Dahl did this well. Also, treat children like intelligent human beings. They are capable of understanding a lot more than adults often give them credit for.
Is there an author you admire and who keeps you motivated?
Well there's a lot more than one, but Roald Dahl is definitely my favourite. I also love Paul Jennings, Mem Fox, Graeme Base and Rob Scotton.
If you had to give a message of positivity to someone else what would it be?
Believe in yourself and take any advice as an opportunity to improve.
For further information on the workshops and to get the latest news on Joel visit him at: www.joelhart.weebly.com
article: Jennifer Deaves