Kate & Jol Temple
TAKING 5 WITH KATE & JOL TEMPLE (Authors - Room on our Rock)
1/ How did you come up with the idea to create a book that could be read front to back and back to front?
We had the idea of a back-to-front book for a few years but we didn't have the right narrative for it. So we sat on it. Then we started work on a story inspired by the refugee crisis and the two came together. We're really pleased that we found a way to use the technique to it supports the story and meaning and is not just a gimmick.
2/ The book donates funds to the Refugee Action Support Program. Was this a fund you were already involved in, or became involved with when creating the book?
We always intended for this book to make a contribution beyond the message and story. We were particularly keen to support a charity that made a positive impact on refugee children's lives. Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation has this great initiative called the Refugee Support Program and they help refugee kids in the classroom get the help they need in terms of getting their literacy skills up to the standard they need to be so they can be their best at school. Each copy of Room on Our Rock donates a dollar to the program and that comes directly from us, from Terri the illustrator and Scholastic. It's a team effort!
3/ Why did you choose seals as the animal within Room on our Rock?
Ahh the seal conundrum! At first it was iguanas actually... but our very talent publisher made the suggestion that maybe they shouldn't be reptiles. She was right! reptiles are cold blooded and this book is about building empathy, so we landed on an animal that we all relate to. Terri brought such gentle humanity to their form and their faces.
4/ What was your motivation to write a children's book with such a wonderful message?
Usually we write funny books like our junior fiction series Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers Third Grade even our other picture books I Got This Hat and Mike I Don't Like are pretty light hearted, so this one was a change of pace for us. We have two little boys and they're growing up in this world with many social problems so we felt that this message of humanising others and building empathy is one that we need to keep telling. What works well about this book, is that although you can read it as an allegory about refugees, it's also just a simple story about sharing that's appropriate for little kids.
5/ What’s your current, favourite, children’s book (from the early childhood / picture book sector)?
I guess it's no surprise that we love children's books! At the moment we're loving Macca The Alpaca by Matt Cosgrove and we're still reading Snow Wombat by Susannah Chambers. It came out last year but our five year old won't go to sleep without it!
About Kate & Jol:
Hello to you! We are Kate and Jol Temple and we write silly books for kids. Some of them love to rhyme and others do not at all but all of them have pictures, because pictures are cool and anyone who says they're not is a two headed yeti. We live in Sydney with our human sons and a dog that thinks it's a raccoon.
We love to visit schools. We talk about and read picture books to little kids preschool through to junior primary. We also love to talk to bigger kids about our chapter books and what it's like being a writer.