This week I have great pleasure in introducing Elizabeth Cummings author of The Forever Kid. This post is but one of several celebrating Elizabeth’s beautiful picture book in Romi Sharp’s Books on Tour. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Elizabeth’s work.
About Elizabeth Cummings
Elizabeth Mary Cummings is a British author based in Australia. She writes, advocates for and speaks about storytelling and health matters for families and youth. She is a qualified Primary School teacher and has worked in many schools in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. She is a member of the American Psychology Association and studied psychology and business studies at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland before training to be a Primary School teacher and travelling around the world with her family.
The topics in Elizabeth’s books are of both local and global significance. Elizabeth travels globally to talk about family and mental health matters as well as creative writing.
About The Forever Kid
The Forever Kid, a sensitively written picture book about life after the death of a sibling, is a culmination of four years’ work. Beautifully illustrated by Cheri Hughes, it is published in Australia by Big Sky Publishing.
It is Johnny’s birthday and, although Johnny is no longer with them, his family gather to celebrate. Johnny’s brother explains to the reader how much Johnny meant to every member of the family and how the family feel closest to him when they remember him on his birthday. The story finishes with the family lying together on the grass telling each other cloud stories, just like they used to with Johnny.
Welcome to readilearn, Elizabeth.
Thanks for inviting me.
Elizabeth, what gave you the idea for The Forever Kid?
I got the idea for this book when I was thinking about my uncle who I never met. He died when he was a teenager before I was born. My father often spoke about him and described how sad the family was that he had died, even though he had been ill for a long time before then.
What is the most important thing you want readers to take away from their reading of The Forever Kid?
My hope is to not only share this story but to facilitate a greater awareness in society of grief from a child’s perspective and to start a dialogue with families and their support networks on the matter of death and grief.
What things would you like parents and teachers to help children notice about The Forever Kid?
The story is about a family celebrating a birthday.
How did the children feel about celebrating even when their brother is no longer with them? Talk about what it might feel like when it’s somebody’s birthday and they’re not with you because they live far away. Explain that death is another way that takes people far away from their loved ones.
Just as we cannot always be with our loved ones when they are alive, we are also separated from loved ones by death. This does not mean we do not care about that person anymore. In fact, having a chance to think about them and to remember and celebrate their lives is a way of feeling close to them when you cannot be physically close to them.
What do you notice about the way the illustrations show that the family is celebrating despite this also being a sad day as their brother is no longer with them? Did you notice the clouds in the background and the sea and ship images?
In one illustration, the family are pictured in the ship looking out onto the horizon. Discuss with the children what they think this means.
Explain that the passing of someone from this life through into death is often described as a journey.
Over the centuries, many cultures from ancient Egyptian to contemporary elegies have used the analogy of a ship on a journey in describing someone’s passing from this world.
Ask the children what they think about this use of imagery and whether they have their own ideas about how death might be conceptualised.
What suggestions do you have for children as writers?
Young people should be encouraged to express what it is inside them. They should not feel they have to always follow the rules in the way they express themselves. It is through the innovation of new writers that literature can evolve and reach out to touch others.
When a child is writing, I think it is important that they express their ideas before structure, language conventions, and things like grammar and spelling are focused on, as children can often be inhibited by hearing that they will get it wrong. As a teacher, I have seen this as very prohibitive to students’ ability to express themselves, and the quality of the writing can be lost when the focus is placed on these language conventions rather than on what they say.
Thank you, Elizabeth. I enjoyed meeting you and finding out a little more about your lovely picture book The Forever Kid. It deals with a sensitive issue affecting many families and children, and I appreciate the warmth and understanding with which you have approached it. The underlying feeling that love lasts forever is very strong and enhanced by the delicate beauty of Cheri Hughes’s illustrations.
To find out more about Elizabeth, visit her website: Elizabeth Mary Cummings
Or connect with her on social media:
Facebook: Elizabeth Mary Cummings
Linkedin: Elizabeth Mary Cummings
Instagram: Elizabeth Mary Cummings
Your own copy of The Forever Kid can be purchased from Big Sky Publishing.
Elizabeth’s other books may be purchased from her shop:
To find out more about Jacqueline and her book, check out these other posts in Books on Tour.
Monday Oct 1 – Sunday Oct 14 www.justkidslit.com/blog
Tuesday Oct 2 educateempower.com.au
Wednesday Oct 3 missielovesbooks.com
Thursday Oct 4 thebottomshelf.edublogs.org
Friday Oct 5 intheirownwrite.wordpress.com
Saturday Oct 6 blog.boomerangbooks.com.au
Monday Oct 8 sharingyourstory.com.au
Tuesday Oct 9 telltalestome.wordpress.com
Thursday Oct 11 mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com
Friday Oct 12 karentyrrell.com
readilearn: teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.
I appreciate your feedback and comments. Please share your thoughts below.