Sunday, September 13, 2015

Our school fete by Louise Pfanner illustrated by Kim Gamble

I actually can't believe I haven't talked about this book in a previous post.  Our School Fete is actually about the fete held at my school.  With nearly 900 students our fete is a huge affair which involves our whole school community in months of preparations and of course one huge day of fun!

Today was the day for our school fete.  In the week leading up to this event we love to re-visit this special book Our School Fete by Louise Pfanner.  Louise was a parent in our school and she experienced many school fetes first hand.  I think this is why this book has such authenticity.  In past years Louise has visited our school to share her book and when it was published in 2004 our library hosted a magical book launch where we set the whole library up as a fete complete with meringue mice and helium balloons.

The story opens with Charlie, Shen and their grade five teacher Mrs Flowers as they start work on their class stall - The Haunted House. An added layer of fun for the students at my school is the discovery that Mrs Flowers, Mr Beard, all of the children and the librarian in this book are all modeled on real teachers.

In a lovely sequence we watch as the fete preparations count down from three weeks, to two weeks, to one week and finally the day of the actual fete.  The opening pages show the fete map (drawn by mum) which is a little worse for wear after languishing for a few weeks on the kitchen bench.  Look closely and you can see juice spills and cup stains along with fold lines.

Mum is so busy for the fete - she is making things for the cake stall, the dress up stall, the craft stall and the sweet stall .  She has also sent in a collection of old toys and other household items for the white elephant stall.  One of my favourite pages is on the morning of the fete when mum stands back to admire her lovely empty, clean house.

Meanwhile dad is "taking a long time" over his chutney and tomato sauce.  Growing the tomatoes, making the sauces, washing the jars and adding labels and little fabric hats.

There are so many visual jokes to enjoy in Our School Fete.  Compare the empty house page with the final spread.  "We no longer have a lovely, empty house, but mum can't complain because she bought: a rainbow rug for Baby, a mini trampoline for Ruby, a boules set, an ice-cream churn and a special present for Dad."

Louise Pfanner uses repeated phrases such as "Baby and Ruby are helping too."  while on each page we see Baby and Ruby are not helping at all.  Zoe and Kitty keep practicing their duet which they perform perfectly on fete day and haunted house is a huge success.

When you sit down with this book make sure you look for the purple elephant, the tennis ball, the different clothes the school kids wear each day and the purple toffee apple from the title page.  You can see some of the pages here.

You can see some photos from our fete today - Games Alley, lucky dip bags and a spider from our Haunted House. We had a special day made even better by the sharing of this very special book with over 450 students in our school last week.  A big thank you goes to Louise Pfanner for writing about our school fete!

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