It's actually good to be a turtle

22 November 2011

Room 20 know that it is good to be a turtle, but it took some hilarious discussion facilitated by their teacher to really learn the lesson.

It's actually good to be a turtle - Imported from Legacy News system

UC lecturer Nikki Evans (Social Work and Human Services) and her son Reuben Pollock-Evans with their new children's book "Eloise, Manu and Room 20 know ALL about Turtles".

Room 20 know that it is good to be a turtle, but it took some hilarious discussion facilitated by their teacher to really learn the lesson.

University of Canterbury lecturer Nikki Evans (Social Work and Human Services) has just published her third children’s book Eloise, Manu and Room 20 know ALL about Turtles.

After the February earthquake Ms Evans saw the need for a book that validated children’s experiences and that acknowledged the reality of returning to school in an environment shaped by continued seismic activity.

“It was very terrifying for all of us, but after the 22 February quake a different sort of community connection has been evident across Canterbury,” said Ms Evans.

“People have felt the need to talk more and this is a book that has come from these shared experiences.”

While Ms Evans acknowledges that for some children and adults the repetitive and sustained nature of the earthquake sequences in Christchurch have lead to varying degrees of chronic traumatisation, she believes that the book can be helpful to people without addressing the sequelae directly.

“Living in an environment of sustained seismic activity has undoubtedly impacted on people’s sense of safety, their beliefs about the world, and hyper vigilance and fear have commonly featured in people’s reactions and responses. However, writing a children’s book about these things may not have been very helpful.”

So the book does not focus on specific emotional or behavioural sequelae that have developed for people following the earthquakes, but it certainly provides a platform for these to be discussed.

“The book acknowledges that we all have different reactions to the earthquakes and is broad enough that children can identify with some part of the story,” she said.

The story follows Eloise, Manu and Room 20’s response to the recent earthquakes in Christchurch. The children know that they should turn into a safe turtle position during an earthquake, but one day Manu tells Miss Laughalot, the class teacher, that he doesn’t want to anymore, he’s tired of being a turtle. Miss Laughalot takes the children on a journey of new learning experiences that shows their resilience through the aftershocks.

Although the book has a serious subject, Ms Evans wanted a sense of “playfulness” to come through in the story.

“By adding the collective nouns for animals in the story theme it has made it more accessible and gives people an emotional reprieve whilst reading a story about earthquakes.”

When Ms Evans set about writing the story her 16-year-old son Reuben Pollock-Evans offered to help and she says he added a depth to the book that she would not have considered.

“I probably would have said Manu was flittering with some dolphins. Rueben said that a boy probably wouldn’t want to flitter with dolphins, so he added more appropriate adjectives and imagery throughout the story and made significant contributions to the storyline.

“I’m really pleased with this book. People can connect with the book on a variety of levels; it’s not just about the earthquakes. This book builds on our other titles which also focus on developing resilience in children. We have even more planned, so watch this space.”

Ms Evans has sent the book out to a number of kindergartens, libraries and schools in Christchurch and hopes that it will be picked up as a resource throughout New Zealand. The book can be bought at select Paperplus outlets and retails at $20.


For more information contact:
Jane Lucas
Communications Officer
Ph: (03) 364 2987 ext 8807

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