Sunday, September 20, 2015
Newspaper hats by Phil Cummings illustrated by Owen Swan
Don't rush to open Newspaper Hats. Take your time. Explore the collage end papers first where you will see headlines through the decades. Some are tragic such as the Challenger disaster and some heroic - the conquer of Mount Everest. Some will make you smile - Nelson Mandela free and some are nostalgic - The groovy ladybird portable record player. Most importantly these clippings help establish the mood of a long life filled with memories.
Wait a minute - don't rush into this book. Next stop is the dedication statement. Have you ever noticed these? Phil Cummings dedicates this deeply personal and fragile story to his Nanna Luce and "our newspaper hats". I don't know for certain but this makes me think Phil made hats with his own Nanna.
Hold on a little longer. Go and find a copy of Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge because after reading Newspaper Hats I want you to share this book with a young reader too.
Each week I visit two special older people in a care home. Both still have strong memories but around them I see people like Georgie's Grandpa and I understand her repeated concern :
"Grandpa,' said Georgie, 'do you remember me?"
"But do you remember me?"
"But Grandpa, do you remember me?"
Oh so gently Phil Cummings takes us into Grandpa's room and his memories. His room is full of sunshine and old newspapers. The newspapers are perfect for making newspaper hats. Sharing this moment between the three generations it does not matter if Grandpa doesn't know Georgie. The moment is all that matters - this time together is what really counts.
One of the most special images in this book for me comes from the opening line :
"Georgie walked through the doors that opened like curtains."
I have been a Phil Cummings fan for a long time. Many decades ago he visited my rural school and shared his first books - Goodness Gracious, Midge mum and the neighbours and Marty and Mei Ling all of which are still in my school library and all of which are still used each year. Phil was once a primary teacher and so his visit was perfect for my youngest students. Now all these years later Phil has published more than forty books.
Here is the web site for the illustrator. His work can be seen in Anzac Biscuits also by Phil Cummings and you can read more about this wonderful book here. You can read a review of Newspaper Hats from Reading Time.
Here is a simple video which will show you how to make a slightly more complex newspaper hats. Finally I am going to make another of my wild predictions and say surely this book will be short listed by the CBCA for the 2016 awards - fingers crossed for Phil.