Author: Adrie le Roux
Published by Bumble Books
Available in English and Afrikaans
Poor Farrah; she is a small dog with a big problem. Everyone thinks she is a Dalmatian and all she wants is to be recognised for what she really is … an English Pointer. What happens when no one notices you are different?
From the popular author/ illustrator Adrie le Roux, Farrah is NOT a Dalmatian was inspired by her sister’s dog, an English Pointer, who people often mistook for a Dalmatian.
Adrie’s talent as an illustrator brings this delightful character to life and takes the young (and older) reader on a journeythat reinforces that no matter how different we all seem to be, we are in fact all the same.
Farrah is NOT a Dalmatian is the newest release from award winning Bumble Books and is now in major bookstores in English and Afrikaans.
Adrie le Roux recently completed her PhD in Visual Arts at Stellenbosch University, with a focus on the feasibility of the use of wordless picture books with the aim of developing a culture and love of reading within the South African context, approached from her viewpoint as an illustrator. She currently works as a freelance illustrator and research supervisor in Pretoria, South Africa, and has recently published two children’s books. (see below for Q&A with Adrie)
A portion of the proceeds of this book will be donated to The Underdog Project in Cape Town. Shelter dogs are used in animal assisted therapy for children from Imizamo Yethu and other at-risk communities. The children learn to care for and train the shelter dogs so that they can be re-homed.
Q and A with Adrie le Roux
- Q. What inspired Farrah? And is there a message in this book?
A. Farrah was inspired by my younger sister’s dog (also named Farrah). When my sister took her for walks, people often mistook her for a Dalmatian. This of course upset my sister to no end, to the extent that she felt it was her duty to correct them. The title “Farrah is NOT a Dalmatian” is probably something we heard in the house a lot.
I think if there is a message it’s that we are all different, but, at the end of the day we are all the same. And we should all give and receive love, despite these differences.We all belong to the human race, just as Farrah belongs to the dog race (which in some people’s opinion is far superior).Farrah still lives with my parents. She’s now at the good old age of 13, but still goes for walks, and probably still gets called a Dalmatian. But she’s a happy old gal.
2. Q. Why do you prefer children’s books?
A. I think children’s books can be enjoyed by both children and adults, and appreciate them as a crossover genre. I also love the simplicity of the messages in children’s books – sometimes us
grown- ups forget the basics – like being nice, having manners, loving unconditionally, being kind to animals, accepting and embracing each other’s differences.
Children’s books communicate these types of messages in such a non- patronizing, kind manner.
3. Q. The importance of illustrations in Children’s books?
A. The role of a children’s book illustrator isn’t only to bring the authors text to life, but to add value to the text. We capture the character, the mood, the setting in our illustrations, and try to make the end product something greater than the sum of its parts. Visuals play an important role in involving young readers in a book, for them to read beyond the written word and to engage with pictures in a way that they define. As an artist and illustrator, I feel the importance of visual literacy in children’s books should never be underestimated.
That said, the writer provides us illustrators with a vision to work with, characters to dream up, settings to portray, emotions to work with. Their artistry makes it possible for us to do our work.
4. Q. Your PhD revolves around wordless reading – why?
A. Numerous studies show that early language development (from birth to three years) should focus on developing a strong language base in a child’s mother tongue. Shared book reading specifically provides opportunities for developing language and, more importantly, a love of books from an early age. However, with the consideration of the cultural appropriateness of literacy programmes in South Africa, comes the consideration of culturally appropriate reading material for families to make use of in their homes. This includes language considerations. South Africa has 11 official languages, and producing economically viable, but relevant reading material in all 11 languages has proved challenging to the South African publishing industry.
Theoretically, wordless picture-books can be used in the home and at school; in both mother tongue and the English language; by parents and children, regardless of their literacy levels. This concept is not new – numerous studies have been conducted overseas on the benefits of the genre, but, very few wordless books exits locally, and not much has been written about their use in South Africa.
Wordless books have no right or wrong explanation (they are guided by a concept but not grounded by text), and the reader can interpret the illustrations in a way that is relevant to their personal context and interests. Parent and child can also work together to tell a story – so both become equal readers, and children can explore language and books in a non – threatening, safe and loving environment. The books present an opportunity for creative storytelling.
My study was conducted on a small scale, and focused specifically on a culture of reading at home, rather than literacy development. But, after the implementation of wordless picture-books in a home based reading project, we had wonderful feedback from the parents. Their preschool children were reading more often, they engaged with the books, and the parents felt that the reading activity had become more meaningful.
5. Q. The future of children’s books in SA?
A. South Africa has such a rich heritage, with so many stories that can capture the imagination of its children, that I can’t imagine anything but good things for the children’s literature in South Africa. It is however tragic that so few own children’s books …in many cases, books are a luxury that families simply cannot afford, and they are then simply not part of daily life. I believe that this is something that needs to be addressed –how can we get books into people’s homes? Even more importantly, how can we get age appropriate books for use with preschool children into people’s homes. South Africa is lucky to have a number of amazing literacy and reading for enjoyment campaigns that do incredible work to address this.
6. Q. The influences that led you on this path
A. I studied fine art, and I think that illustration was just a natural progression from my interest in the narrative qualities of fine art. I’ve also always loved reading and children’s books, so this seems to be a good fit for me – I get to enjoy other people’s writing and then dream up the visuals to go with that!