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“Thank you for sending your beautiful new children’s book “Magic Fish Dreaming” all the way from Australia, signed by you and the illustrator. She said “oooooh,” which means five star review from her. This book was lovely. The poems and the illustrations were beautiful. She was ooohing at the picture where the children are sitting under the moon and at the Tawny Frogmouth especially.”
*Thanks for permission from this little one’s mum to share this picture.
Our latest review went up at Reading Time the Children’s Book Council
Association Blog (CBCA) on January 11th.
“Helene Magisson’s gentle, whimsical water colour illustrations cleverly capture the essence and magic at the heart of this collection of poetry by June Perkins. Drawing from the natural world of northern Queensland, Perkins explores such topics as the spirit of the cassowary, the dance of the geckos, night hunting of the tawny owl, a child’s dislike of cane toads and the power of the elements using a variety of poetic styles.
Although Perkin’s language and analogies may be a little sophisticated for the younger reader her ability to bring to life the spirit of northern Australia is compelling.
I realized recently that I’ve been studying poetry for children, in one form or another, more than half my life—and I’ve been surrounded by the stuff since birth. I’ve read every book or piece I could find on the subject, and I’ve explored thousands of poems from at least five continents. Apart from what I’ve gleaned from my own reading and writing, I’ve also spoken at length with hundreds of others—grown-ups and kids—who have a stake in children’s poetry. From that concatenation of experiences, I’ve learned a great many lessons—sometimes clarifying, often contradictory—and in the interest of generating reflection and discussion, I thought I’d share with you a mere five.
Children’s Poetry is ancient and global and ever-evolving. It has its own distinct tradition at the confluence of the histories of Children’s Literature and Poetry-as-a-Whole. It’s a damned big subject…
My friend Mel is on an epic journey to become a full time mum who is able to live in the country she chooses with her currently, foster, but hopefully to one day be adopted son.
This journey actually began as a reaching out to voluntarily help people in the Philippines after a typhoon, this was motivated by the experience she had of Cyclone Yasi, something we share. Mel and I met at a song writing workshop provided to help locals process their cyclone experiences and find healing through music. Mel went to the Philippines to use her skills in music, and business to support the rebuilding after the typhoon.
Mel has shared the journey of meeting Jerry and his personal story on her website. From their first meeting, where she didn’t know anything about him except that, “He had cut, bleeding feet and no shoes and was crying. He had been following a group of kids she was taking to the beach and couldn’t keep up.”
To the moments where she learnt the full extent of his family, fractured and spread out, and that he had lost his own mother. Very early on Jerry just seemed to know that he wanted Mel to be his mum.
But for Mel it was a slightly longer realization, and not something she took on lightly and when he first asked to live with her she said ‘no.’ She was concerned about her ability to stay in the country with limited personal resources and didn’t want to assume he would not be better off with his own people and country. She did background research to see what his needs were and realized she could do a lot to assist him, but that the biggest assistance of all would to be a continual presence in his life.
Over time, she realized that both she and Jerry truly needed to be a family and she could make a big difference to him in his life by having a long term connection and commitment, and began to be his foster mother.
So despite the many challenges they will face, and already have had to overcome, Mel has given her heart, time and resources to make a difference in someone’s life. She is doing her best to create a sustainable situation and enable Jerry’s healing of his experiences in his life as well as to educate him.
Importantly she has the support of her family and of Jerry’s that remain (as his mother and father have both passed away) as well as many friends.
Mel is incredibly committed to this goal:
“In order to adopt Jerry I need to live in the Philippines until such time as our expatriate adoption application is accepted, reviewed and processed. Once that happens I can then apply to the Australian government for Jerry to become an Australian citizen. As you can imagine it’s a long and expensive process and is going to take up the next few years of our lives. Being only 8 years old, this is a critical stage of his development and I will not abandon Jerry.”
What can I say but that every time I am able to catch up with my friend Mel, I go away with a sense of the difference I can also make in the world. She teaches me so much about what to focus on, and is a mentor.
To love someone, who was once a stranger with cut feet, as her own child and to have the commitment to raise that child to have the best of opportunities is something Mel feels she has been called to. She has gone about this process sensitively and with respect.
I hope that if you feel moved by Mel and Jerry’s story YOU too might find as much as you can to help them become a full time family. Mel is in the process of also setting up sustainable ways of earning an income that are not tied to which country she lives in, and I am sure she will achieve this. She also spends time assisting with community development of both women and children often on a completely voluntary basis when she is in the Philippines.
For now there is an immediate need for assistance to lessen the time Mel often has to spend away from Jerry to raise more funds back in Australia to sustain living in the Philippines.
“Mel Irvine is an Australian writer, poet and musician living between the Philippine Western Visayas and Australia. Adopted/Foster mother to Jerry, an 8 year old boy whose parents died tragically, Mel spends her time in the Philippines helping the women and children of Jerry’s home purok (district): a fishing community deeply affected by poverty and seasonal typhoons. She provides free creative activities, art and craft supplies, music lessons and school tuition as time and resources permit. Mel is a freelance copywriter, daily blogger, busker and regular contributor to ABC Open.”