This week I have great pleasure in introducing you to Sonia Bestulic author of Reece, Give Me Some Peace. While interviews with authors and illustrators have featured regularly on the readilearn blog, this interview marks a new collaboration with Romi Sharp and the team from Books on Tour. This post is but one of several celebrating the launch of Sonia’s beautiful picture book. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Sonia’s work.
About Sonia Bestulic
Sonia grew up in Sydney Australia enjoying a childhood filled with wonderful books, a passion for writing and music entwined. She played the violin until her late teens, including performances at the Sydney Opera House. Sonia is Founder of Talking Heads Speech Pathology established in Sydney in 2006. A long-term advocate for children’s learning and literacy, Sonia continues to write and speak about all things children.
About Reece Give Me Some Peace
Reece Give Me Some Peace is a fun-loving book about the wonderful world of music and noisy play. Reece is a very cheeky and curious boy who loves making noise. His mother’s requests for him to be quieter only seem to make him louder. As his exuberance grows, so does his mother’s exasperation. Will she ever get any peace?
The simple rhythmic text combined with delightful illustrations by Nancy Bevington reminds us of the power of learning through play and exploration. Children will love to join in making the sounds and adults will identify with the challenge of being able to enjoy some quiet.
Now, let’s meet Sonia.
Hello, Sonia. Welcome to readilearn.
Thank you for inviting me.
Sonia, today we will discuss your beautiful new picture book Reece, Give Me Some Peace, but first, can you tell us what inspired you to be a writer?
Books and writing have always been an integral part of my life. Since early childhood, I loved the experience of new worlds books immersed me into, as well as the joys of sharing books that were read to me. Since childhood I have relished in writing in its various formats, and always had a particular passion for rhyming and the creative fun you could have with language.
My love of language and drive to help others succeed led me to a career as a Speech Pathologist. My work has predominately been with children who have difficulties with their speech, oral language and literacy. Within my work as a Speech Pathologist I heavily incorporate books as a tool to build and foster oral language development, and getting children ready to read, spell and write.
Working so dynamically with books and with children, I have been privileged to experience time and time again the wonders that a book can create in young people, and so honing my writing within the children’s picture book genre seemed a natural pathway of evolution.
Reece, Give Me Some Peace is your first picture book. Do you have any others planned?
I sure do, I have another picture book in the making, due for release mid 2019 with Big Sky Publishing. Nancy Bevington is also illustrating that one. It is looking so beautifully amazing so far!
What gave you the idea for Reece, Give Me Some Peace?
The idea stemmed from the period of my life I was in with my three young children being 2, 3 and 4 years old at the time! Life was certainly hectic, and there was always activity happening! Having three children so close in age brought with it a strong reminder to live in the moment and be playful. Reece Give Me Some Peace! reflects that, as as well as the difficulties parents often experience in trying to enjoy moments of peace and quiet in a noisy child inhabited household!
I notice a dedication to Reece in the front of the book. Is the Reece in the story based on a real Reece?
In general terms, the story is based on a combination of my three children and overall characteristics of my nephew Reece whose name just happened to rhyme with ‘peace’! He is a curious and clever boy who loves to learn through exploration, and that is exactly what the Reece character in the book is doing.
Did you think of the story in your head before you wrote it?
Yes, the idea of the story very much came to me as a whole – like a piece of classical music, building to a crescendo before tapering off to a quiet finale.
What do you like best about Reece, Give Me Some Peace?
That it is a lot of noisy and energetic fun! It represents the dynamics of so many children and their parents and carers; so the characters and the story itself is certainly a relatable one. I also love that children are introduced to the world of instruments through play; as play is how children learn best!
How did you feel when you were writing it?
I had so much fun writing this book; it flowed rather easily, and I loved creating the sounds that the instruments made. I felt the crescendo of frustration with the mother in the story, who I could identify with in my moments of motherhood exasperation!
How do you hope readers will feel?
I hope readers feel the fun that Reece is having, and really connect with him, immersed in his world of musical play. I know many parents and carers will feel for Reece’s mother as they identify with her frustrations; but at the same time, acknowledge the humour in it all, as they share in the dynamics of someone else’s household!
Do you like the way Nancy Bevington has illustrated the story?
Absolutely! Nancy is certainly a talented illustrator; she has depicted the characters perfectly, added some humour with the family pet cat and created such a vibrant visual experience that beautifully complements the auditory experience of the text. It has come together so wonderfully!
How would you like teachers to present the story to children?
With a lot of enthusiasm! There is so much fun to be had with the rhythm, rhyme and repetition of the text, it is a great auditory experience, and easy to build anticipation and engagement from children.
Overall the teaching and learning experience can be themed on music and musical instruments, and reinforcing auditory and listening skills
The book builds anticipation as the sounds are heard before the instruments are revealed; so get children engaged in joining in with the sounds and guessing what the instrument may be that is making the sound.
Discuss the various instruments:
- what they are
- how they are played
- what category they belong to e.g. flute is a wind instrument, drums are a percussion instrument, violin is a string instrument etc.
Extension activities can include:
- Draw feelings of how different pieces of music evoke different emotions
- Listen to and watch the actual instruments being played on YouTube to extend the experience
- Listen to an orchestral piece of music and play ‘spot the instrument’ naming various instruments as they are heard
- Grab some instruments you may have or create some (upside down empty bucket and sticks make for an easy to assemble drum!)
Are there any messages you would like them to discuss?
Mainly to keep learning through play and exploration.
What time of day do you mostly write?
It varies depending on the day – everyday my schedule is a little different; so my writing patterns are somewhat unpredictable.
Where do you write? Do you like to be by yourself in the quiet, or do you prefer a noisy space?
I like brainstorming ideas in any space really, whether it is a noisy café or the quiet time when my children are sleeping. I usually enjoy longer periods of writing at home by myself- it makes it easier to talk and read out aloud too whilst experimenting with the text.
What do you use to write – pencil and paper or computer?
All the above!
What advice do you have for children as writers?
Have fun with imaginative play, and storytelling.
Keep listening to and reading lots and lots of different types of books.
Just enjoy writing – have fun with it, and keep at it!
Who is your favourite author? What do you like about his or her work?
I have always enjoyed the cleverness of rhyming books, so Dr Seuss books have always been a strong favourite. There is such an element of fun that is created through the rhyme and rhythm of the text; and his books just have an inspiring timeless quality to them!
Thank you, Sonia, for sharing these insights about your book Reece, Give Me Some Peace and your writing process. We wish you success.
Thanks for having me.
Find out more about Sonia on her website: www.soniabestulic.com.au
Or connect with her on social media
This interview is now available free, in a ready-to-print format, in Literacy Resources Author Spotlight Author Spotlight – Sonia Bestulic. The information may be displayed in your classroom or included in a class book about authors and illustrators.
To find out more about Sonia and her book, check out these other posts in Books on Tour.
Monday Sep 3 – Sunday Sep 16 www.justkidslit.com/blog
Monday Sep 3 mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com
Tuesday Sep 4 educateempower.com.au
Wednesday Sep 5 blog.boomerangbooks.com.au
Thursday Sep 6 kelliebyrnes.com
Friday Sep 7 intheirownwrite.wordpress.com
Monday Sep 10 sharingyourstory.com.au
Tuesday Sep 11 telltalestome.wordpress.com
Wednesday Sep 12 missielovesbooks.com
Thursday Sep 13 readingtime.com.au
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