How have you been working with the Junior School students this week? How have the activities differed with the various age groups?
Matt: Each day we have been working with a group of 20 girls from Grades 4-7. We have been teaching them what our process is like and leading them through the steps to make a comic. By the end of the week they will have each made their own original comic.
Jenni: With girls in Junior and Senior Kindergarten we did an exercise called The Evil Princess vs. The Brave Knight, which is a spin off of our first original picture book. We improvised with the girls to create an original story and Matt did live drawing.
You spoke to the Junior School students about your upbringing and what inspired you. Can you share what you spoke about with us?
Matt: We talked about the things that inspired us to want to become writers and to work in comics. We are two out of five kids in the family -- all boys, except for Jenni -- and so as you can imagine there was a lot of boys’ stuff around, including a lot of comics. The kinds of comics that were available then really pushed us, especially Jenni, to make the type of comics that we make now.
From your perspective what was lacking at that time?
Jenni: There weren’t a lot of female characters back in the golden days of the last century. At the time there were Betty and Veronica from Archie, and Wonder Woman was enjoying a great revival. But when I was 7 or 8 I looked at Wonder Woman and to me it just looked like she was wearing her underwear. She wasn’t like a real girl. I wanted a comic to depict a real girl, just like Peter Parker from Spiderman is a real boy, who has some pretty deep problems. There was no equivalent of that. There were no normal female characters; they were either boy crazy or they were wearing their underwear.
Can you talk about how your work has stepped in to help fill that void?
Jenni: Babymouse is an elementary school mouse who is not perfect. She has messy whiskers. She has a really big imagination and is very dramatic. But her everyday life is regular elementary school-girl stuff. She’s tackling a lot of real-life situations like her first sleep-over or playing a sport. We wanted to create a girl character that an elementary school girl could relate to. I think what people like about Babymouse is her imagination. She has these really big dreams, which most kids do. But she is kept grounded by reality. She has normal kid frustrations with life and that contributes to kids feeling like they are Babymouse.
So there clearly was a need for that kind of real-life story for kids?
Matt: As Jenni mentioned, there had never been many girl comics around to begin with, and by 2000 there were also not many kids comics left at all. Most of the comics being produced at that time were really gritty and made for adults.
Jenni: The thing we kept hearing at the time was that girls don’t read comics. Meanwhile girls were reading thousands of different Manga comics coming from Japan because there wasn’t anything here for them to read. So there really was this niche that needed to be filled and not just comics for girls, but comics for kids in general.
I think kids want to see themselves in comics. Even though Babymouse is a mouse she is still dealing with realistic situations. Kids are looking inward and trying to figure out what their life is like and I think Babymouse reflects their own experiences. Our Sunny series is a New York Times best selling series about a girl who spends the summer with her grandfather at a retirement community. You can see that these are not the exciting fictional stories like Superman flying around. And today we have an equal amount of boys reading our comics because they love the format.
Please tell us more about the format you use.
Matt: The graphic novel is basically a comic book but it’s book length so 100-200 pages long. You can tell a full story just like you would with a novel or a chapter book. The graphic novel works for all different levels of readers. Strong readers can move through them really fast and go back to them over and over again. For kids struggling with reading, the graphic novel is approachable because they can figure out what is happening using the interaction between the words and the pictures.
Jenni: I think that visual storytelling is the state of our world now. Kids are growing up in an incredibly visual world and learning how to read visual cues is really important.
What is on the horizon for you now?
Jenni: We just had a book come out a couple of weeks ago, Sunny Rolls the Dice. It is part of another graphic novel series we do called the “Sunny” series, which is about a girl growing up in the 1970s.
Matt: Babymouse has been with readers all through their elementary school career and then as those readers started to get into middle school they were asking “what happens to Babymouse when she gets into middle school?" So we started writing a series where Babymouse is in middle school. It’s called Babymouse Tales from the Locker and it’s more of a hybrid book, a mix of comic and chapter book. We have three of those out and we just finished the fourth so that will be coming out next summer.
Thanks to Matt and Jenni for spending three fun and informative days with our Junior School students!
A message from Susan Hutchison, Director, Junior School
A small leak in the roof, an odd noise in the car engine, a sore throat, that pile of unopened mail, a misunderstanding with a friend - something about this list is important. Take care of problems when they are small!
It’s always obvious that the leaky roof should have been addressed when it was a tiny drip. We should definitely work it out with the friend right away before things escalate.
This week, we invited the girls to consider the sense of accomplishment and relief they would feel if they could address issues when they are small. When we avoid problems they usually grow and begin to affect other areas of our life. This practice of avoidance can increase stress and anxiety. Even the youngest students realize what avoidance looks like. They openly shared some of the ways it is expressed. “Someone else will take care of this; who cares; it’s just a small thing; it will go away; it’s not my problem; no one will notice; I’ll do it later; I’m tired right now; I’ll just do something else for a while.” These statements sound familiar even to adults.
How can we empower young people to have the courage and tenacity to step up when they observe a small issue? I am a strong believer in the power of adult modelling. When adults make the practice of taking responsibility for small problems visible, it becomes a learned behaviour in children. Young people also need to develop the capacity to observe and connect with their own problems to establish solutions.
Recognizing the problem and taking responsibility are some first important steps. When parents rescue their children, they are actually limiting the opportunity for their daughter to develop a solution for everyday problems. Did she forget her running shoes at home? Allow her to embrace the courage to speak with the teacher. Did she forget her snack? Again, teachers will help her find a solution. Did she fail to study sufficiently for a test? Allow her to experience the natural consequences of poor preparation. Young people need to experience the outcomes of a situation; practice solutions to small problems, and understand that solutions are possible.
Everyone has problems in life. Let’s help the girls to adopt an attitude that avoidance is not an option. This approach is a positive building block to success and a compelling pathway to help minimize stress. At home, search for small problems and solve them in a timely way. You probably won’t need to look very far; I’m sure they are quite recognizable! Make your actions obvious to your daughter so that she can learn from you as a strong role model. And finally, ask her to share this week’s Assembly story. It’s something about honey, a fly, a lizard, a cat, a dog and a huge commotion in the street. Try to extract the theme of ‘taking care of problems when they are small’. I often wonder how these stories are retold at home!
CHS Career Education is looking for your support - there are several ways to get involved and help Crofton House Senior School students gain valuable work experience and career insights! Please consider participating in one or a few of these opportunities:
Host a Student for the Work Experience Program
The CHS Work Experience Program is an invaluable way of sharing your knowledge of an industry with up-and-coming future job candidates. Join this exciting initiative by hosting a CHS student for the week of January 6 to 10, 2020. We are currently seeking work experience opportunities in all fields, but in particular: Psychology, Business, Technology, Engineering, Medicine, Law, Politics, Accounting, Film, Gaming, Graphic Design, Marketing, Computer Sciences, Commerce, Communication, and Veterinarian Clinician.
Please contact Janelle Caballero, Work Experience Program Facilitator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-263-3255, ext. 7524 to get involved.
Professional Speaker Mentorship Series
As part of our Career Education initiative to have more girls involved with professional mentors in a diverse range of professions, we are seeking volunteers to speak as part of our Professional Speaker Mentorship Series. Held at lunch hours, Grade 10-12 students are invited to participate in listening to a speaker discuss their field of work, followed by a Q&A/Discussion Session. The time commitment is from 12:00-12:35, addressing a group of approximately 40 students. In particular, we are looking for speakers in the fields of: Law, Medicine, Business, Sustainability, and STEM. Students look forward to networking with you as a professional, and earn a certificate for the hours which they commit to career exploration through participating in the speaker series.
If you are interested in being a speaker for this valuable sharing session, please contact Martina Hannigan, Capstone Coordinator, at email@example.com or 604-263-3255 ext. 7222.
Professional Mentorship Registry
At many junctures throughout high school, young women have questions about careers, job fields, and expectations. The Career Education department is seeking a list of parents, alumni, and community members who would be willing to act as mentors who can provide dialogue and insight into the questions our students have. The time commitment would be up to 10 hours throughout the year, to informally answer emails, Skype, or meet in person to discuss areas of growth, forward direction or to constructively bounce ideas and create an action plan. If you could offer time throughout the year to act as a point of contact for our Grade 12 Capstone students, we would be most appreciative.
Interested? Please contact Martina Hannigan, Capstone Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-263-3255 ext. 7222.
KidSafe serves Vancouver's most at-risk youth and families by providing a safe space, developmental care, and nutrition to children ages 5-12 when school is not in session. KidSafe participates in the Crofton House Senior School's annual Service Fair that connects students with volunteer opportunities, and is the recipient of the proceeds from the Crofton House Winter Bazaar.
The following is a guest blog by KidSafe.
Who is KidSafe?
Our programs keep school doors open at nine schools for over 450 of Vancouver's vulnerable kids during winter, spring & summer break and support them to feel safe, happy, and engaged. Each year, we provide:
- Over 75,000 delicious meals and snacks;
- Approximately 185,000 hours of care from supportive adults;
- More than 200 field-trips for our kids to explore their communities and widen their horizons!
Did you know?
Over the summer, Crofton House School generously donated their space as a pivotal KidSafe 'food hub'. This partnership allowed us to serve four of our sites from one central location every day and prepare over 3,000 food packages full of fresh produce to help combat food insecurity!
Volunteers are what make KidSafe great! We are so grateful to receive support from a range of volunteers including incredible students from Crofton House to help deliver our programs. We are always welcoming volunteers to join our team - learn more at kidsafe.ca/volunteer.
Crofton House Winter Bazaar
From the bottom of our hearts, we truly thank the parents and students of Crofton House School for their tireless work on the Winter Bazaar and throughout the year! Since 2017, you have raised over $130,000; a staggering amount that has kept hundreds of vulnerable kids' hearts and bellies full over the school breaks. We are so grateful for this partnership & all the support we receive from the Crofton School House community!
TAP IN! a podcast that explores topics that are important to Teachers And Parents - making it easy for you to be part of big conversations. Hosted by Susan Hutchison, director, Junior School, and assistant director Wendy Macken.
With the introduction of a new CHS website in April 2019, the 'read more' links found in previous issues of the newsletter will no longer work. However, the full articles can be read on this page.