Recently I had the great pleasure of attending the launch of Coral Sea Dreaming, the eleventh picture book by award-winning Australian author and illustrator Kim Michelle Toft.
Like her other books, Coral Sea Dreaming focuses on the underwater world and the importance of preserving it. One can’t help but be filled with wonder by the magnificence and beauty of her silk paintings with which she illustrated it.
Check out Kim’s home page for videos of her process of painting on silk, including this one of her painting the cover for Coral Sea Dreaming.
This latest book was written in collaboration with David Hannan, a world famous and award-winning cinematographer, film producer and conservationist. He is the founding director of Ocean Ark Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation “dedicated to supporting, sponsoring and promoting marine education and the conservation of oceanic environments”. If you have viewed any documentaries about marine life, who have probably already seen some of his work.
Written in rhythmic rhyming prose, the narrator dreams of a passing parade of stunning nocturnal reef creatures. As dawn arrives, the dream ceases and the narrator shares an important message,
“We can no longer sleep or continue to ignore
The importance of what we must urgently restore
This coral sea world, this coral sea dream
A vital ingredient in life’s precious scheme.”
The book includes eight pages of information about the animals illustrated, human impact on our oceans, and the importance of marine conservation.
“The future is up to us. We all have a role to play and with people-power we can turn the tide of destruction and help preserve this complex and multi-coloured marine environment for future generations to cherish.”
On her website, the free teaching notes provide suggestions for science, the environment and each of the arts. The book can be used as a springboard to discussion about important topics such as climate change, human impact on the reef including coral sea bleaching, and sustainability. Discussion of topics such as these helps develop an interest in and concern for the world, and at the same time develops language and literacy skills. Some of the pages provide opportunities for finding and counting, and research of associated topics may involve data collection and interpretation.
Kim based her illustrations for the book on videos and photographs taken by David. Together they have created a special bonus channel of underwater videos that are available to purchasers of the book. The channel includes 2-minute snippets of the videos that inspired each of the book’s illustrations as well as a huge range of multimedia educational resources and videos suitable for children, families, everyone.
In addition to bringing this treasure into your home or classroom and heart, purchasing Kim’s beautiful book helps ensure that coral reefs are preserved and not relegated to dreams of the past. With 35% of all sales donated to Ocean Ark Alliance’s Global Educational Outreach initiative, you too can help make a difference.
Hannan’s videos are magnificent. He suggests using them as ‘virtual ocean aquariums” for homes, offices, hospitals, dental surgeries, anywhere. Why not display the videos on your whiteboard in the morning as the children enter the classroom, during transition and wait times, or when you are having quiet time? What a difference these virtual aquariums could make to your classroom environment. Since Hannan has made all his videos free in the interests of education and conservation, why not give it a try?
Be sure to look out for an interview with Kim about her picture book The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas to be featured in Author-Illustrator Spotlight in November.
Kim and David are both passionate about education and spend much of their times visiting schools and talking to children about the underwater world and its conservation. Perhaps they have been to your school, or would be happy to arrange a visit. You can only ask.
When you read on websites like Save our Marine Life about cutbacks to our sanctuaries, you realise just how important it is to take action and for a positive change to occur. Educating our children and the public, as Kim and David do, is a great place to start.
Please note, as there is much for you to explore on Kim’s website, The Ocean Ark Alliance and the bonus channel with your purchase of Coral Sea Dreaming, I have not uploaded any new resources this week. However, you could check out the free interactive resource Let’s find out about sea turtles and the special subscription discount that closes in just 6 days!
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