Family, Focus, Futures

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(c) June Perkins

I love making books for family members.  I have just produced my fifth book.

I think the latest one may end up being for more than family one day due to its themes of cultural transmission and empowerment of young people, but it gave me such  satisfaction to take what I’ve learnt about writing picture books, photographs and a family experience and make it into a special thank you gift.

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(c) June Perkins

These limited edition books are so much fun to make because I can send them to someone who I know will  definitely appreciate and enjoy them.

I often add poems, or a story I may have written for that person, and some like the 50th anniversary book for my husband, were very involved and many others contributed, that was the most ambitious project to date.

Something about making these books for future generations motivates me, and I’ve long since neglected keeping family albums in favour of making story and memory books.

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(c) June Perkins

I realise now sometimes with the photographs I select I don’t need many words to make these books powerful for those they are about.

I remember reading that Anthony Quinn the actor often made gifts for friends and family – unique pieces.   He was a talented artist, actor and writer but is more known for his acting.

What a wonderful thing to do!  And they are especially special gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas.

I don’t know how many more books like this I will manage, but I know that there is always a special reason that each ones comes into being.

I will keep making them as I work on novels, blogs and poems, and perhaps they will be the most precious of the works I leave behind.  Who knows what future generations of my family will make of them but they will convey if nothing else my feeling about the people who were with me through the journey of life.

(c) June Perkins

Celebrating Half a Century


The last few months I have had a special top secret project.  I have been making a book to celebrate my dear husband’s 50th birthday.

But I haven’t been making it alone.  His friends, family, students and more have been emailing and sometimes telephoning me stories, and photographs.  There have been poems, telegrammatic messages,  a caricature and anecdotes from those who know him and appreciate him for who he is.

His sister did some editing for me as well as tracking down networks I couldn’t.  Just brilliant and so helpful.  His friends, many of whom don’t consider themselves writers, dug deep and put into words what he has done for them as a mentor and friend.

What emerged from this process was a very special book, which was full of tributes and jokes, photographs I had never seen before, and his friend’s versions of stories which our children have often heard him tell, but which they can now also read, and which have shown him just how special he is to all of us.  He was incredibly moved by the stories.

In addition to this I included certificates, photos, letters, card excerpts, and some of his own writing, as he used to send me the most beautiful poems about life, and my own account of our lives together which referenced people who have made a difference to our lives.

As the book is done through blurb, there is a pdf that any of his friends  and family may request from me if they want a copy.  As well as that I can order physical copies for the children to share with their own familes when they are older.

As for my husband’s response to this book, he truly loves his present; it is the best one I have ever given him.  He has been especially impressed by the tribute from former student, Dan and his dear friend Johana.  He has had a good old giggle at some of the stories and been completely humbled, even floored, by the esteem many of us have for him.

I think the book has shown him that he has made a difference to a lot of people in his life, something teachers and parents don’t often have said to them.  On top of that I hope it has shown him it is never too late to achieve other dreams he may still wish to.

In making this book, I did my best to lay it out as beautifully as I could and edit the text submissions.  I thought about my husband’s many loves like: Afl football, cricket, teaching, family, science, study,mentoring, and his faith.  All of this was going to need to be represented in the book.  Sometimes I just let photographs do the talking.  I captioned images where I could, because well one day, someone other than us or our children will be looking at the book and might like to know who the people are. In all, it took 192 pages to achieve what I wanted, 300+ photographs, countless friends and family, and nearly 5 months of work, including waking in the middle of the night towards the end to finish it on time,  and yes, there could have been much more.

A huge thank you to all of the people who helped me make this book.  We do hope to visit many of you soon.

Inspired by this project I am now planning my next family book, but for now I have a few other writing projects of a very different kind in the works.

Have you ever made a special family book?  What was the response to it?  Who helped you make it?

Dan’s Tribute
From Johana
First page of account from David’s Mum
From our dear family friend Owen

(c) June Perkins