at (PRIS) Pasir Ridge, International School, East Kalimantan, Indonesia
Plato, the Platypus Plumber (part-time)
written by Hazel Edwards & illustrated by John Petropolous
This international picture book launch was a ‘First’ in many ways.
Not only was the book launch held at Pasir Ridge International School (PRIS) in the Early Learning Centre of the Chevron Oil compound in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, it was a most imaginative scenario.
Meg Baxter, the Early Childhood teacher and her enthusiastic staff had organised a special ‘mud’ cake iced with a replica of the cover as well as ‘muddy’ chocolate milk. SFX of water noises. Charts of platypus facts, and even a story house, surrounded by recycled branches (in the spirit of the story) with an author chair for the ‘first’ reading. To the side was a ‘creek’ with platypus shapes.
The children had all created their own plumber tool kits in mini cases. Teachers had prepared the children well. Invitations. Craft work.
the platypus prints led into the room and up to the pile of Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time) books.
For an author, a launch is like a first birthday party for the book-child. And this concept of a platypus-plumber had a long journey. So I was especially delighted with the artwork by John P and the design of the hardback book, and the fact that it could be launched during my author visit to Indonesia. It was also illustrator John’s first book!
This book was a first in ‘Cassandra’ font, written as if in the illustrator’s daughter’s hand. Ironically one of the Pasir Ridge children was also called Cassandra and she was thrilled to have a special link to the book.
‘My name is Cassandra too!’
International school children have names from many cultures. And that can be a challenge when you are autographing. A first edition book should be dated as well as signed by the author and illustrator (but he was back in Melbourne).
So Indonesian teachers helped with typed slips of children’s names for autographing. Many are KTCs, Kids of the Third Culture, where parents may be nationals of different countries and the child born or schooled in a third. But stories cross all cultures.
Locally, orangutans, rather than platypus, are the local Kalimantan wildlife.
So we talked about where names came from and why Plato was called that: after a Greek wise man who had a few answers or could ask the right questions. Just like the fixer platypus who could solve watery problems or grumpy people.
‘Readers help make a book too.’
For me the special pleasure was that once I’d talked about how a book was also created by the reader from the clues given by the illustrator and the author, the children sprawled on the rug and all read the book for themselves.
‘Mine is the first Plato book signed in the whole world,’ said one little boy as he sat down to read.
So what’s the book about?
Plato is a platypus and a part-time plumber with a tool kit.
On call, Plato fixes watery problems like leaking taps, but he also fixes grumpy people. From his tool kit, he uses smile spray, a feather or a joke.
At Pasir Ridge, there were plenty of smiles. Even at 8 am in the morning. School starts early there. And a creative launch was no problem.
Publisher: Interactive Publications (Dr David Reiter)
www.ipoz.biz/IP_Kidz/Kidz.htm for free teachers’ notes, classroom play script and book trailer.
To buy copies: http://ipoz.biz/Store/orders.htm
Check Hazel’s website for book trailer, extra notes and photos http://www.hazeledwards.com/
2010 Astrid Lindgren nominee Hazel Edwards has written across media and her works have been performed and translated into Chinese, Korean, Tamil, Auslan and Braille. Platypus are her favourites, and after her Antarctic expedition, Hazel has great respect for Antarctic ‘tradies’ who can fix any problems.