Janeen Brian’s enthusiasm for children’s literature is simply contagious. Today I had the pleasure of meeting Janeen at the Noosa Library, as part of the First 5 Forever program.
The large crowd of children gathered there, were engrossed with her fun-filled story, “I’m a Dirty Dinosaur.” Together the children got to, “sniff and snuff about… shake about the place… tap… stamp,” and slide in the “mud!” And the parents were delighted that all this excitement happened without any of the children getting dirty at all!
I was particularly fascinated to learn how when creating the illustrations for, “I’m A Dirty Dinosaur,” the wonderfully talented Ann James had in fact, used real mud to paint the mud scenes. The effects she has created are evocative of the very qualities of mud, and have quite a textural beauty with the effects of leaf prints, brush and line work, scratch reveal and the irresistibly fun splatter technique.
Janeen went on to describe how in her following book, “I’m a Hungry Dinosaur,” she once spotted a curious child testing if the sprinkles and chocolate overlaid in the book were actually edible.
While the children engaged in activities, Janeen talked further about her career as a writer and her passion for child development. As a young child she remembers with great sorrow the lack of books available to her. She recalled crying at the conclusion of, “Ping The Duck,” as she correctly feared it would be the last book ever read to her as a young child.
It is this innate longing children have for stories, and the multitude of benefits that flow from them, that has spawned the First 5 Forever program. This program recognises the developmental benefits towards self-esteem, communication, learning preparedness, imagination, and bonding that children derive from having books and stories read to them – particularly in their most receptive first five years.
Janeen’s book, “I’m a Dirty Dinosaur,” has been chosen as one of the books in this program, as well as winning the accolade of Speech Pathology Book of the Year in 2014.
Janeen spoke of her life experiences that led her to her love of rhyme, rhythm, and meter. She spoke of the wonderfully rewarding moment when the rhythm, pulse, resonance and pattern of a piece is absolutely right.
Janeen recalled how in her most recent novel, “Yong, The Journey of an Unworthy Son,” Janeen urgently rang her publisher for a last minute edit when she decided the word, “he,” simply had to be removed from a sentence.
So a big thank you to Janeen Brian for her beautiful, rhyming, rollicking, and rhythmic words, that delight the young, and the young of heart.