If you've not met Spiggie, allow me to introduce this adorable Atlantic puffin. On the cover of my new children's picture book you will find Spiggie standing at the rockpool edge, shaking his wings with new importance. Read the story behind Spiggie, The Story of a Puffin, new to the 2007 NSW Premier's Reading Challenge List.
Spiggie, is in training for the Great Trip North, his first migration. He is left guarding the burrow. Mother struggles through a fierce storm to bring fish to her puffling. Father checks how many sunsets before the colony must leave their burrows for the open sea. Spiggie wants to be brave. He wants to be able to fly, paddle and swim like the older puffins. He tries very hard, but will he be ready in time?
The visual character for Spiggie was developed by Sally Milne, illustrator of Spiggie, The Story of a Puffin, a 32 page full colour picture book 297mm x 220mm, soft cover with fold in flaps. A post-script on the last page gives interesting facts about the Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) and makes this picture book an attractive addition to any young child's bookshelf.
My dream is that many children will persevere, will indeed learn to fly, in the truest sense of the word, through reading this book. The underlying theme of Spiggie, The Story of a Puffin is increased self worth and belief in one's abilities. Spiggie had a great deal of encouragement from others, but it was only by flapping his own wings that he could achieve his very best.
What's in a name? Why Spiggie? When deciding on a name for the main character, my small puffin friend, I unfurled my Shetland Islands map. “Spiggie” is the name of a village or loch quite close to Sumburgh Head, Shetlands' Mainland, Scotland . That's how Spiggie got his name.
WHERE CAN YOU PURCHASE SPIGGIE?
Delphian Books of Epping, NSW printed Spiggie, The Story of a Puffin and Dennis Jones and Associates of Melbourne, Victoria are the distributors. The ISBN is 9 0775491 1 9. If you have trouble sourcing the book, please email me and I will post you a copy at AU$14.95 plus postage and handling ($4.55 within Australia). Overseas postage will be quoted by return email. (Price for multiple copies obtained by negotiation.)
THE STORY BEHIND SPIGGIE
The backdrop for Spiggie is the towering cliff face at Sumbrugh Head on the southern tip of Mainland, Shetland. Having observed the comical puffins at Sumburgh during that magical year of 2000, I believed an engaging puffin story with bold illustrations would form a springboard to imagination and a trigger to learning. Sprawling on the velvet green of Sumburgh, watching the antics of the puffin colony was a breathtaking experience for me. I determined right then to bring these ‘clowns of the sea' to children on the other side of the globe.
The story for Spiggie emerged and bubbled to the surface every now and then. A letter from a friend living interstate gave me the reason to press ahead with publication, sooner rather than later. With permission I share a few paragraphs of her letter here.
‘I don't talk about this much, but I have found life, particularly in the last 2 or 3 years, to be chronically difficult....He never tires! He also has a speech condition called Verbal Dyspraxia and we have been working one-on-one with a speech pathologist since he turned 2 years old. It's a fairly serious and sobering condition. Verbal Dyspraxia is on the Disabilities List and threatens learning difficulties at school (as well as prolonged unclear speech), so I spend much time with him trying to ensure that he won't have learning difficulties at school, and need Speech Pathology for years, as is expected.'
‘…The challenging times continue to test my ability to be the mum I yearn to be.'
The last phrase ‘the mum I yearn to be' had a great impact on me, for it was so close to my own heart.
My heart went out to Michael, his parents and to all parents who suffer when they discover they have embarked on a journey not only of parenthood but of special parenthood.
Why not me? Why not my children? We all ask the questions. Initial shock, enlightenment, education, sadness, pity, empathy – the roadway of our thoughts pave a way towards the question, ‘What can I do to help?'
The book was written in celebration of one young boy's perseverance and outstanding achievements. Spiggie, The Story of a Puffin is dedicated to Michael. No mention of Verbal Dyspraxia is made in the book, but it is for Michael, and all the Michaels who struggle daily with unimaginable difficulty to communicate and interact with those they love, with the world at large. I am passionate about encouraging children and young adults to achieve their full potential through programs which develop self-esteem and positive outcomes.
|Maureen presenting Michael
with a copy of Spiggie
|Maureen with Michael, his Mum Jenny
and sister Jessica
In subtle ways, Spiggie, The Story of a Puffin points to perseverance, small victories, encouragement in present difficulties, buoyant attitudes about tomorrow. Spiggie, the adorable colourful puffin, is the teacher.
Sally Milne caught my vision for Spiggie, The Story of a Puffin. She gave Spiggie his distinctive curl and brought the story to life with her vibrant acrylic illustrations.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SALLY?
Originally from bonnie Scotland, Sally Milne loves life and new experiences. She has a degree in Neuroscience, has taken up some strange hobbies in the past, such as fire breathing. She has lived and worked in various countries and is continually fascinated by other cultures. Now settled in Australia, her ultimate travel ambitions include snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, safari in Africa and expeditions to remote regions of South America.
Sally also has two small terriers, Chocco and Jelly.
In October 2010 Sally Milne launched a new venture, ‘Clothing by Lily’. Check it out at www.clothingbylily.bigcartel.com/
Spiggie, The Story of a Puffin is very reasonably priced at $AU14.95 + postage. Multiple copies may be purchased at a cheaper rate by contacting the author. Copies are available from …
Spiggie, The Story of a Puffin is gaining very favourable recognition. Children are painting puffins, reading and re-reading the book and packing it in their holiday luggage. This self-esteem builder has become a favourite overnight. Preschool and Infants School author talks are booked well ahead.
Spiggie,The Story of a Puffin was featured at the Australian Publishers and Authors Bookshow on 25-26 November 2006 held in Leichhardt Town Hall by the NSW Writers' Centre www.nswwriterscentre.org.au
Maureen Bartlett gave an author talk during one of the sessions on that weekend.
In November 2006 Cheryl Wright from the Aussie Authors website chose Maureen Bartlett as their featured author. You can read the feature article and interview on www.aussieauthors.com
The photograph below of Maureen Bartlett and Sally Milne appeared in a local press article which resulted in widespread interest and sales.
Author talks at local Playgroups, ABC Preschools and Infants Primary Schools enable lively interaction, with rounds of chickens chirping and wind blowing through the spiderwebs etc. Teachers have been supplied with PDF files ahead of the visit which enables a seabird theme to build interest and learning.
A Christmas fundraiser event for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation featured Spiggie, The Story of a Puffin.