A new picture book, entitled The Day The Wind Blew, brings together drawings and paintings by young readers in response to the effect of natural disasters on local communities.
The new book, published on 9 December, is the culmination of a UK-wide illustration competition jointly launched by our Chatterbooks network of children's reading groups and disaster relief charity ShelterBox. The book has already enjoyed endorsement from top authors.
The Day The Wind Blew, unveiled at a special event in London at the Free Word Centre, is the latest in a series of books that vividly bring to life natural and man-made disasters, helping primary school age children to express their feelings and explore their responses to world news. 27 children's illustrations are included in the book, coming from all around the UK and from children of British service personnel posted in Germany.
This is the fifth annual illustration competition organised by the two charities, which each year has focussed on a different type of disaster that ShelterBox has responded to: this year's theme is 'hurricane'. After Typhoon Hagupit made landfall last Saturday, and over a year after Haiyan, ShelterBox is working in the Philippines to help make vulnerable communities more resilient to such violent and destructive weather.
This year's illustration competition has been spearheaded once again by renowned author and illustrator Michael Foreman, who created his own evocative image to publicise the competition and selected the winning entries along with author Claire White.
The Day The Wind Blew tells the story of children who battle their way to school through strong breezes that grow into a hurricane, finally leaving them trapped in their classroom and destroying their village. Ingeniously, the children use debris from the storm to make kites to attract help, and as their community is slowly able to rebuild their homes, the kites become a symbol of hope.
We promoted the competition actively across our Chatterbooks network. We challenged teachers and children to explore a story about the devastation that a hurricane can wreak, and bring it to life with their pictures, giving them a unique opportunity to understand how a disaster like this might affect families and communities involved.
Michael Foreman, who treated the young winners to a unique illustration workshop at today's book launch event, said:
Yet again, the results of our competition show that young people's imaginations are boundless. They capture the fear, the thunder and power of an immense storm, but also the community spirit that gives families the strength to rebuild.
At the event, Rebecca Swist, a Shelterbox response team volunteer, described working with local volunteers to help put up 500 tents in just six days to house people in the Philippines who had lost their homes, including a woman called Gina, whose total worldly possessions following the storms fitted into a single plastic bag.
Former British Children's Laureate and War Horse author Michael Morpurgo OBE, in a special message for the endpaper of The Day The Wind Blew writes:
ShelterBox reaches out across the world to care and comfort, to protect and shelter, those who need it most, from war and wind, flood and famine.
"I've always loved to draw"
Becky Taylor, a teacher at Westrop Primary School in Swindon, said of her Chatterbooks group:
The children really enjoyed taking part in the competition and it was very interesting to see the different ways they interpreted the story. The fact that it was a national competition created a lot of excitement!
Abbie Simpson, 12, and Sam Haddow, 9, belong to the Chatterbooks group that meets at Troon Library in South Ayrshire, and both have illustrations in The Day The Wind Blew. Sam said: "It was super fun and I'm overjoyed that my picture got highly commended". Abbie said: "I'm really happy because I've always loved to draw."
Lynne Taylor, Chatterbooks programme manager at The Reading Agency, says:
We are proud to support the publication of The Day The Wind Blew. It's wonderful to see how children in schools and Chatterbooks groups have responded to the ShelterBox competition with their striking illustrations. Reading about tropical storms, and talking about how they have affected people's lives, helps children to understand the importance of ShelterBox's work.
Alison Wallace, chief executive of ShelterBox, says:
In all the work we do across disaster relief, it is important never to lose sight of the child's perspective. Young people are among the most vulnerable in any disaster zone, and they have particular needs that we make every effort to meet. So, it is both relevant and refreshing to get an insight into how children here in the UK look at such events. These drawings and paintings capture a range of emotions, but the one that shines out to me is compassion - an important emotion to develop early in life. This co-operative venture with The Reading Agency, Chatterbooks, and Michael Foreman is worthwhile in so many ways. It is all about visual literacy, but above all it gives adults real pause for thought by looking at humanitarian aid through a child's eyes.
Photos by John Jones for ShelterBox.
Find out how to set up a Chatterbooks group at your school or library
Take a look at some of the illustrations and photos from the event on our Facebook page.
You can buy The Day the Wind Blew from the ShelterBox online shop