Luscious, richly detailed artwork provides the perfect backdrop for this beautifully written story of friendship, perseverance and the power of taking a chance.
Julie Hunt and Sue Moss are great collaborators. Some of their projects include Brave Arts - the Art of Healthy Community, a CD for the Department of Health and Human Services, a public art commission for Sorell District School library, and poetry and images for the exhibition 'Will the Real Australia please stand up?'.
Julie Hunt is the author of the Little Else series and The Coat, which is being illustrated by Ron Brooks. Sue Moss is a poet, performer and reviewer. Precious Little is her first children's book. Both live in southern Tasmania.
Gaye Chapman is a fine artist who uses various techniques in her artwork. She used sepia ink line drawings, acrylic ink and collage to create the Precious Little's world. Gaye's picture book, Little Blue, was the winner of the Children's Book Award in the 2009 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards. She has illustrated other picture books including Kaito's Cloth by Glenda Millard, which was shortlisted in the 2007 Qld Premier's Awards and was selected in The 2007 White Ravens Outstanding International Books for Children.
Have you ever wanted to fly? To soar among the stars and do triple-twist, star-bursting somersaults? If so, then Precious Little, by Julie Hunt and Sue Moss, is a book for you. It is a charming tale of a little circus hand who dreams of flying and with the help of two friends, does just that. While the story is heart-warming and inspirational, it is the design and illustrations that make it so much more than a lovely picture book for children. Before you even open the book, you will know it is special from its beglittered cover. Illustrated by Gaye Chapman, it is an intriguing celebration of colour and pattern and all the glamour and excitement of the circus. But best of all, this book will do a running somersault. Yes, it's true: as the story unfolds, the direction of the pages and text will force you to rotate the entire book into a complete somersault. This book is suitable for a range of ages from early childhood into middle primary and will engage the linguistic, spatial, kinesthetic, and intrapersonal learners in your classroom. Precious Little is a book to be enjoyed.
Jo McDougall, NT
Under a big, bright and colourful circus tent there are a great many wonders and attractions to see. There are exciting contortionists who twist and tumble, there are thrilling fire-eaters who shock and amaze, and there are fun games on the sideshow such as the lucky dip. But the most spectacular of all things found under the Big Top are the acrobats who fly through the air. On the very fringe, way down on the ground, in the shadows is found a little girl. This is Precious Little. She watches as the acrobats fly and dreams of one day flying herself. But she is no more than their assistant, cleaning their shoes and sewing stars onto their costumes. However, that all changes one day when Precious Little takes a chance, risking all for her dream.
Precious Little is a beautiful and endearing character who has big dreams and high hopes for a future that seems out of her grasp. She learns that sometime it is worth the risk to go for your dreams, for without trying no dreams will come true. A beautiful, bright and precious book that shows some dreams really do come true.
Larissa Chapman, NSW
Immediately, this book draws the reader in with its sparkly cover and unusual feel. It is the story of a young girl, Precious Little, who works at the circus but dreams of being a performer in the air. She has offers to become a circus performer but not from the Light Fantastics and her heart is set on flying. She continues to practice on her own with the support of friends Fat Chance and Tough Luck. It is their encouragement and support which allows her dreams to take shape.
The text may be overshadowed by the brilliant illustrations but they contain a lot of the story which is not to be overlooked. Friendship features strongly and it is also in the words that we learn of her choice to take a chance. Students will love the fact they need to turn the book around and around to be able to access the text.
The illustrations themselves will take a lot of time to explore, with every reader bringing their own interpretation and experience. The illustrations encourage the reader to touch them and explore every corner of the page. They showcase the magical nature of a circus, allowing each person to dream about being part of it, just as Precious Little dreams of performing. This book can be used with many age groups. It would provide a good basis for talking about confidence in oneself and how self-talk can help us reach our dreams. The words of wisdom and advice are gently put and support the journey to reaching your dreams by taking a chance.
Roxanne Steenbergen, Claremont Primary School, TAS
This book is exploding with surprises for the reader. The captivating cover with its glittery title embedded into the stage design immediately rewards the reader with its intricate drawings and Precious Little standing centre stage with the look of hope and longing. The pages hold more surprises as we are magically transported into the wonderful world of the circus with contortionists, fire eaters, acrobats and clowns. The mystique of the show is wonderfully portrayed in the amazing illustration by Gaye Chapman, where the eye can feast on ‘sepia ink line drawing, acrylic ink plus tea-stained paintings, and collaged metallic papers to create Precious Little’s world.’
Precious Little is a simple stage hand whose job it is to pick up the fallen sequins and sew stars on to the performers’ costumes. But she dreams that one day she will fly like the acrobats on the high trapeze. It is a story about dreams and daring to take a chance as Precious Little trusts her friends, Fat Chance and Tough Luck, who encourage her to follow their directions and take a lucky dip. With determination and a heart full of hope, a brave Precious Little steps out onto the rope. She hesitates and then wobbles as she plunges into the lucky dip. As the text does a somersault and the books is turned around, the reader is once again taken on a surprising journey as they feel the impact of Precious Little losing her nerve as she dares to follow her dream.
This book would be an invaluable aid to highlight the importance of risk taking and the necessity of being willing to take a chance to achieve the things that we desire in life. The illustrations would be an inspiration to explore new and exciting forms of artwork, encouraging the use of varied materials to achieve an original outcome.
The different style of text used in the book would also be great to show how text can enhance the story as it moulds with the illustrations so that the reader can feel the movement in the story. Lower primary school children through to adults will be intrigued by this book, not only Precious in title, but in content and presentation.
Jill Howard, Children’s Librarian, ACT Public Library
I loved this book! Its appearance alone captivated me and the girls in my grade. The boys...they initially weren’t so keen: ‘it’s a girls’ book!’ But once we started reading they were captivated! The addition of glitter on the front page adds to the wonder of the magical circus world.
This is a story of dreams and great friends. Precious Little dreams of flying with the Light Fantastics, but she is no good. Instead she sews stars, cleans shoes and sifts through sawdust. She has opportunities to learn other skills, but her heart is set on flying. Her friends encourage and believe in her and give her the one chance she needs to walk across the lucky dip on a rope. But what if she falls? What if she can’t do it? “I must be brave” she whispers. This story is about bravery, taking that first step, taking a chance, taking a risk and seeing what happens. Precious Little flies more than she could ever have imagined.
Use in the classroom:
• Enjoyed purely for its entertainment value.
• As an introduction to encourage a class to take chances to be better and to dream.
• Use the illustrations to stimulate conversations and enhance imagination.
• Use the illustrations and have students write a story to match.
• Students could write their own story about when they have been scared and had to be brave and take a risk – did it pay off?
• Do a comparison with a similar text such as: The Princess and her Panther which is also about being brave.
• Students could draw pictures based on a circus theme, filling them with images.
The biggest test was the kids, and my grade 1/2’s loved it, they got a lot out of it and it stimulated lots of discussion for many days afterwards. It is still a favourite in reading time.
Adele Henderson, Grade 1/2 Classroom Teacher, Victory Christian College, Bendigo, VIC
A beautiful book as soon as you open the first page. The pages come alive with colour, magic, acrobatics, clowns and the fun of the circus big top. My class was so engrossed in the illustrations we just looked at the pictures first. Precious Little is the story of a little girl who wants to learn the trapeze and high wire. She is thought of as precious little however her courage is strong and big. This little girl takes you on a story of adventure, high flying and introduces us to two characters, Fat Chance and Tough Luck. Better known as clowns, they help her through her journey and are part of all the fun and magic of this book.
The book’s story is spread all over the page and you find yourself turning the book upside down and on its side to read. The class thought this was great and it kept them interested in the story. We read this book as part of our circus focus for the month. We also talked about how Precious Little was brave and strong and how we all could be brave and strong too. We each had a turn talking to the class about what we are good at. This was fun because even the really quiet students were soon very loud and excited about what they can do. We also turned our room into a big top with lions, clowns and a trapeze made from a broom. I recommend this book to children aged 5 and up. Precious Little is a fantastic resource for encouraging confidence and courage. It is also very useful for circus related themes too.
Claire Evans, Chancellor Park World of Learning, QLD
Precious Little is a beautiful story told in fairytale-like fashion, that captures your heart and pulls on its strings. The plot is very similar to Cinderella’s dilemma: a young girl stuck in a miserable life of cleaning duties when all she has ever dreamed of is to be centre stage. But in this story, Precious Little is part of the circus performers called the Light Fantastics, her dream of being an aerial performer seems a distant memory as she is stuck cleaning shoes, sewing costumes and retrieving fallen sequins. Yet, her good friends, Fat Chance and Tough Luck have faith in her ability and offer her the opportunity to try out her skills on a rope stretched across the top of their lucky dip and her world as she knows it begins to change.
The prep children of my class loved how as Precious Little tumbles, Gaye Chapman’s illustrations are spun around sideways and upside down, making the reader turn the book this way and that, spinning and twirling like the best circus act. The text is also magical, arranged in swirls and curls, dancing along ribbons and galloping through the sky. On every page there is an explosion of colour and movement reminiscent of a candy striped carnival. A lot of the children also commented on how they would love to be part of a circus. With many discussing what they had witnessed when they had visited a circus with their family members, I was able to draw on their prior knowledge and brainstorm with them the various people involved with the circus and their different job responsibilities. I also engaged the children in their five senses (touch, taste, smell, sound and sight). I played some circus themed music and asked the children to close their eyes and imagine that they were at the circus. What could they see, hear, smell, taste or touch? This lead to discussion about what types of animals they could see, hear and touch, the different shapes of the circus tent, cages and stage and the various foods and drinks that they could taste and smell and purchase.
I would highly recommend this delightful, whimsical book for young children who dare to dream and dare to fly. The moral of Precious Little: if you believe in your dreams, are willing to try your hardest, take a risk and never give up, you can succeed with stunning results.
Rhiannon Neate, Don Bosco Primary School, Narre Warren, VIC
Precious Little is a young girl, a circus hand who wants to become a trapeze artist. Unfortunately but she is discouraged by most of the circus folk except for her friends from the lucky dip stall – Fat Chance and Tough Luck. Precious Little shows the reward of perseverance as she keeps practicing her skills and then takes a risk so she can achieve her dreams.
I read this story to a Grade Two class and they appreciated the interesting and detailed illustrations and they liked the pictures and writing being presented at different angles. They also found the names of the characters amusing and laughed quite a lot. The sparkly cover also intrigued the class. Reading the book aloud to the class I found the font and the changing presentations of each page very difficult to read. The story seemed disjointed with some children not able to follow the storyline. I also felt that some of the clown characters appeared a bit scary.
I think this book is most suited to reading one on one with an individual child and then you would be able to discuss the text in more detail and check for their understanding before moving on to the next page.
Anne Lewis, QLD