Visit to Lalor Primary School
Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting Lalor Primary School to talk to the students (and staff) about Queenie the elephant and my research behind the writing of my picture book ‘Queenie One Elephant’s Story’ published by Black Dog Books, now an imprint of Walker Books and illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe.
The paperback edition of the book was launched at the Melbourne Zoo in January and a US edition will be released early next year.
Lalor Primay School was one of 50 Victorian schools to be given a sculpture of Mali the elephant calf to decorate. All students at the school have been involved in elephant making craft including elephant masks, plasticine modelling, drawing and painting of elephants and they have also been looking at how elephant environments have changed both in the wild and in the way these beautiful creatures are housed and cared for in zoos today.
Which is exactly where I came in with my presentations on Queenie, sharing research photos of past residents of the Melbourne zoo and talking about the contrasts between what the zoo was like when Queenie walked the circuit from 1905 to 1944 and what it is like today. To older students I posed the question, ‘How different is it for an animal born in the zoo to one who has been captured in the wild?’
The younger children surprised me by donning their elephant masks and my biggest challenge was convincing the children that my ‘Queenie Cake’ was for display purposes only and not for eating!
My thanks must go to the children who are so involved and committed to this project and to Penny Allibon who is leading them through.