Authors Aloud! Eileen Browne visits Years 1 and 2

Eileen Browne with Years 1 and 2Eileen Browne, author and illustrator of the classic children’s picture books Handa’s Hen and Handa’s Surprise, visited Years 1 and 2 on March 25th.

A ‘hands-up’ in the audience showed that almost all of our children had read the Handa books and remembered her stories. Following Eileen’s reading of Handa’s Hen,  we helped her to draw a very special character – the St. Elizabeth’s spoonbill! Eileen emphasised to us that he is our spoonbill, and so we could make him any colour that we liked, give him any name that we liked, and spell his name any way that we liked. This artistic freedom is partly what makes being an author – or an illustrator – so special!Eileen Browne and the St Elizabeth's spoonbillEileen also led us in a very exciting dancing session, in which we moved like the birds and animals that Handa sees every day – Years 1 and 2 enjoyed this very much, and were particularly skilled at sticking out their tongues like lizards!Eileen Browne leads a lively dancing sessionEileen also showed us how a picture book is put together by the publishers.  Eileen drew and painted her pictures for the Handa books, mixing hundreds of colours to create Handa and her home in Kenya. Eileen’s original paintings were then photographed by the publishers to create the Handa picture books. Eileen explained to us that although there are hundreds of different colours in picture books, they are created using just four different inks: cyan (a bright blue), magenta (a pinkish-purple), yellow, and black; and from these four colours, all the others can be made.

Our action-packed hour with Eileen was very exciting, and full of surprises, but perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that Eileen didn’t live in Kenya when she wrote and drew the Handa books: she lived in North London! This goes to show how powerful imagination and inspiration can be, and what beautiful images and stories we can create when we allow ourselves the freedom to enjoy and explore our ideas.Eileen Browne and Nursery pm

An ENORMOUS thank you to Eileen Browne for such an action-packed and inspiring visit to Years 1 and 2. St. Elizabeth’s must also give a special thanks to Eileen for the visit that she made to Nursery before meeting Years 1 and 2. This was particularly kind of Eileen, as she had some free time in a busy schedule and offered it to our children. Nursery pm enjoyed Eileen’s stories In A Minute, and Boo Boo Baby and the Giraffe, and then drew some beautiful patterned babies and giraffes with Eileen’s help.

Can you guess what name Years 1 and 2 gave to the St. Elizabeth’s spoonbill? It is written on Eileen Browne’s original drawing, which will be displayed in the Library, so look out for it next time you visit!