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Andrew Plant: The Poppy – the Villers-Bretonneux story and the creation of a picture book

Session Info:

The story of the French village of Villers-Bretonneux, and the link between it and Australia over nearly a century, is one of the greatest and most moving to emerge from the First World War.

As the centenaries of the outbreak of war, Gallipoli, and the battle of Villers-Bretonneux (which occurred on Anzac Day, 1918) approach, this session introduces students to a pivotal time in our nation’s history. Andrew’s new picture book, The Poppy, outlines the story in a non-confronting way for younger students, focusing on the village and Australian National Memorial.

Through a discussion of the book, Andrew explains how it was created, and leads students through the process of creating their own silent picture book.

In 2011, Andrew lived in France for three months researching The Poppy, and spent a week teaching at schools in Villers-Bretonneux. The Poppy was released in March 2014, and the first edition was sold out in 7 weeks.

Topics:

  • The story of the battle and reconstruction
  • The continuing association between Villers-Bretonneux and Australia. This links in with AusVELS History component levels 3 and 9.
  • How to create a silent picture book. Story arcs, character development, and design are discussed, and a short story created in class.

Longer sessions would be suitable for older students with a particular interest in graphic novels. ‘Artist-in-residence’ formats over a full day or two are available to work intensively with older students.

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