I'm Still Awake Still by Elizabeth Honey and Sue Johnson
If you enjoy Elizabeth Honey's writing, you or a family member might be interested in the picture book I'm Still Awake, Still!
Writing To the Boy in Berlin, Elizabeth collaborated with a co-author, Heike Brandt. For this picture book, she collaborated with a musician, Sue Johnson. Read more about the collaboration, below.
A warm, affectionate bedtime story for children
Little Fiddy is busy and quick, and at bedtime he's still wide awake. So his family, the animals, the flowers, and even the big friendly bear give him advice on how to fall asleep.
'A loving celebration of sleeptime through story, pictures and music.' Margaret Wild
'Children will love to hear the bass and percussion, the cello, piano accordion and the very catchy rhythms and vocal sounds. How inspiring! A gem of a package!' Judy Jacques
Sue Johnson had set a couple of my poems to music and one of them ‘All the Wild Wonders’ was recorded by the Melbourne a capella group, Coco’s Lunch on their CD ‘A Whole New Way of Getting Dressed’. Our song received airplay and was a finalist for the Most Performed Jazz Work, APRA Music Awards, 2003. When Rosalind Price, publisher at Allen and Unwin, suggested Sue and I work on a picture book/CD of lullabies together I couldn’t believe my luck!
Waking early I’d slip a pen and paper in my pocket and head for the Botanic Gardens to think. Walking along in the fresh morning air, an idea for a song would grow. I’d sing the words to a simple tune, then, when I felt they were right I’d email them to Sue. Oh, the anticipation!
A couple of days later I’d get a phone call from Sue. Accompanying herself on the piano, she’d sing the new song to me over the phone. The songs sounded new and strange. Mostly I loved them instantly. I’d passed her a twig and here it was in full flower! The ideas flew back and forth. I loved Sue’s fresh unexpected take on the songs, the clever rhythms and sense of humour.
Sue Johnson at the recording studio
Hadyn Buxton, the sound engineer with Gabrielle MacGregor (L) and Sue Johnson (R)
Running the lunch time sing/choir at Allen and Unwin has led to a fertile collaboration with Liz Honey. When writing this book together I would often come home and find messages on my answer phone that were Liz singing ideas about hybernatin’ bears!
The recording engineer on this project Hadyn Buxton usually records top jazz artists and Australia’s best rock bands so when he got this project – a children’s album - it was very funny to see him get involved in making it fantastic. After hours when mixing he would sneak sound effects in like dripping water in the caves with howling winds and doors slamming with the bear huffing and puffing into the cave – we had to take them out because they weren’t exactly comforting for children to go to sleep to!
I found an Italian grandfather who I picked from a community choir. When we got to recording ‘I Pianeti’ in the studio he wasn’t quite getting the rhythm, so Liz Honey, myself (and even the engineer) was waltzing or swaying our hands in the air to egg him on, singing along in time in the control room. He got it!
I think this music has had a strange effect on the musicians involved in the project The double bass player Liz Frencham fell in love with the hybernatin’ bear song and now sings it as a solo at her gig accompanying herself on double bass.
Sue Johnson on accordion
Liz Fencham playing double bass
Sebastiano Lo Bartolo singing in i pianeti