By Christopher Cheng and Illustrator Sarah Davis
Imagine sitting up in bed late at night and hearing strange, creaking, tinkering noises or the sound of something crashing (which probably woke you up in the first place) and you tiptoe out through the door and across the landing to find out what it is….. Doesn’t that send shivers down your spine at the mere thought. I know myself, I would dive back under the covers and try to drown out the sounds and hope sleep will come quickly. Sounds Spooky is cleverly written from a young ghosts view point. She hears strange noises and on every fourth page tells herself “I’m not scared,” until she comes face to face with a group of young children who have dared to enter her haunted house.
Chris’s lyrical text, curved or swept across the page give way to repetition and erie sounds makes this a great read aloud, on beautiful, (yes beautiful), full-page pictures. Sarah has worked magic in not only using dark colours to create that spooky feeling, but has you looking into the pictures for intricate details as the cute porcelain faced children creep through the house, gives the book a rich glossy look. Aged for 6 – 12 year olds children will love reading this both in a class room and at home.
I have been surprised of late of the number of picture books I have come across where authors have used sounds to convey, bring to life, their story. Even at the recent local SCBWI meeting two picture book authors used sound to give their story depth and create participation from the reader.
Chris Cheng, a Co-Regional Advisor (Australia and New Zealand) of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, has been involved from 2004 – 2008 with the Federal Government’s National Literacy and Numeracy Week campaign as a National Ambassador, and holds a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature, I met him briefly at the 2011 LA Summer SCBWI Conference, and unfortunately never got to have him sign my copy of this wonderful book, (noted a trip to Australia to rectify this in my to do list). He has recently been named Ambassador of National Year of Reading 2012. With some 21 plus books to his name it is not surprising he loves to write. Chris does not believe, for one minute, that a writer’s life is a solitary one stuck at a computer or with paper or pencil trying to come up with an idea. His well designed blog gives insight into his colourful life, his thoughts as a writer, along with Teacher notes, Writing ideas, Book Trailers, Articles, News, Links and even hilarious Question and Answers. It is obvious he loves being a writer and passionate about writing for children. In fact reading his blog http://www.chrischeng.com/ one cannot help feel the connection he has with children whether through his books or in person during his many school visits. He is a natural.
Sarah Davis is an illustrator and usually paints or sketches, but for Sounds Spooky she built and entire haunted house from cardboard along with plaster models of the characters. So passionate about her work she can be found working late into the wee hours in her tiny room she calls her messy office. “They have had to send dogs to find me” she has been heard to lament about her place of work. I briefly shared a few words with Sarah while sitting on the steps during one of the 2011 LA Summer SCBWI Conference keynote speeches, she was sketching away as she often does (it helps her listen more intently, apparently). I had been watching her for sometime not wanting to interrupt, it brought back memories of my dabbling in sketch work as a young teen at school. I loved drawing animals and once sketched portraits of the kids in my class. I guess I caught the bug after pouring over my Dad’s house sketches (he was a builder) which I especially loved reinventing, (maybe I should have taken up a career as a designer, anyway nothing came of it and now it seems like a hundred years ago). Sarah had always wanted to draw and it has only been now that I ventured to her magical website. Oh I feel as though I have stepped into another world, my kind of world, so pretty, pink and whimsical, http://www.sarahdavisillustration.com/ . Here one steps into her world of creative sketches, writers and illustrators she has collaborated with and realise we have been privileged to view a very clever artist at work. Any one of her portfolio pieces would make a magical screen saver, her Teaching Resources, with literacy visuals, and the way she involves the kids in creative artwork at schools she visits would be a joy to watch, if only one could be a spider on the wall. It’s only now I wish I had spent more time getting to know Sarah and watch her do what she loves doing best.