Amy and Phoenix is set on a farm, which has a range of animals. It explores daily life and the realities of farm life.
What children will learn about farming in Amy and Phoenix:
1. Some of the difficulties such as predators attacking the stock e.g. foxes, and survival of the fittest.
2. Where food, such as milk, comes from (it doesn’t come from a milk bottle); also pork comes from pigs etc. In association with reading the story, children can be taught about production chains.
3. About the role of the farmer and the point that anything that is raised or grown on a farm depends on him or her. Many of the activities Mr Pringle does in the story relate to caring for the animals, feeding and watering, cleaning, building and fixing things. The chores the children have on the farm such as collecting the eggs are also highlighted.
4, Animals need food, shelter and proper care to grow healthy and happy. The story shows the role of a vet.
5. The story highlights the life cycles of farm animals. Being on a farm brings the joys of new life and the sadness of lost life.
6. Weather affects farming on a daily basis though farmers have no control over. Rain is extremely important but too much is never good. Extreme heat or extreme cold has it affect on everything and everyone on a farm.
In the story, Dad considers sending Phoenix to the RSPCA farm. This can lead to discussions and research on what animal welfare organisations or charities do.
The RSPCA’s mission is to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection. To achieve this, the RSPCA works to enforce animal cruelty laws and prompt new legislation where required. The RSPCA also operates animal care and adoption facilities, and seeks to raise community awareness regarding the humane treatment of animals. In addition, the RSPCA works with government and industry to establish standards for animal care.
The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) works closely with the farming sector to make a positive impact on the lives of farm production animals by providing an environment that meets their behavioural and physiological needs.
In the story Amy is adamant that she is going to save Phoenix from being put down and then once she achieves this she wants to save him from going to the RSPCA farm. With the help of her sister Amy is able to.
Children usually learn how to write a persuasive letter in English, but there are other ways children can advocate or stand up for an issue they are passionate about. The story lends itself to brainstorming methods and even trying some of them out in the real world.
Amy absolutely loves the animals at the farm. She can even talk to them like Doctor Doolittle. At the beginning of the story Amy has a bond with Kobie the working dog, and she then develops a very special bond with Phoenix, the newborn disabled lamb. Her dad says he doesn’t have pets on the farm which distresses Amy and she works to change this. The story highlights the benefits of children caring for animals or having pets.
Here are some of the benefits:
• Children who grow up in homes with pets have less risk of developing common allergies and asthma. • Playing with dogs may help lower blood pressure. • Kids with pets get outside more—to go for walks, run and play—and enjoy all the associated health benefits. • Pet owners require fewer doctor’s visits. • Emerging readers often feel more comfortable reading aloud to a pet. • Nurturing a pet is an acceptable way for boys to “parent play”—to practice being caregivers. • Feeding and caring for a pet encourages childhood responsibility. • Children with pets display improved impulse control, social skills and self-esteem. • Sharing the love and care of a family pet forges an additional common bond among siblings. • Cuddling a pet reduces stress, loneliness and anxiety. Read more: http://www.oprah.com/relationships/10-reasons-pets-are-good-for-kids#ixzz5cp3ya0iB
Like humans, animals can be born with disabilities. They can be born without limbs, or have facial differences, or skin conditions etc. If you google ‘disabled animals’ many photos will pop up. Having a lamb with three legs in the story, can enable discussions on difference, diversity and disabilities in humans as well as in animals.
Amy makes an interesting comment in the story where she says, ‘If I was born with one leg you wouldn’t have killed me.’ Children in the younger age would not need to be taught about what has happened to people with disabilities throughout history, but older students could touch on this topic.
Animals like people can cope with their disabilities and can thrive.
In Amy and Phoenix, Hannah who is Amy’s sister, uploads the video of Phoenix and the other lambs to YouTube, and it goes viral. The media then becomes involved. Having this element in the story allows for discussions on the pros and cons of YouTube. With the older children some discussions could be had on social media, instagram etc. and the positives and negatives of being popular. Discussions about how to remain safe on the internet should also be included when reading the story. There are many great resources on the internet to help.
I launched my third middle grade novel, Land of Britannica,, on Saturday the 16th of September, 2017. I decided to hold this launch at the local park and playground.
The afternoon was wonderful with lots of friends and family coming along to help me celebrate. The themes for the afternoon were dragons and hearts. The children who came along dressed up as superheroes and I had some activities for them to do .
Land of Britannica is based around the protagonist, Brittney, who isn’t coping with her parents’ separation. When her father, Jason, introduces the children to his new girlfriend, Brittney and her older brother, Hunter, do not cope well and the realisation that their parents are getting a divorce hits them. This problem and Brittney’s angst, is what plunges Brittney into the Land of Britannica.
In 2015, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 48,517 divorces were granted in Australia – an increase from the previous year. This means many children are being affected. One statistic I read said, 1 in 5 children under the age of 20 years, are affected. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3310.0
A marriage breakdown affects children in a variety of ways. Some cope but others can be adversely affected.
Parental separation is said to be more important in children’s lives than the legal divorce. The breakdown of the marriage and subsequent adjustments such as custody and future step-parents
How children adjust in the short and medium term to their parents’ separation is linked to several aspects of their psychological wellbeing. Self-esteem has been associated with family dynamics and family type in the period after separation (Ochiltree 1990), and may be associated with more positive approaches to educational and occupational endeavour. The emotional state of the child, whether depressed or cheerful, anxious or calm, may also be associated with their wellbeing and future achievement. Collectively, indices such as these may provide a glimpse of how well children will adapt to life after their parents’ divorce.
Children’s psychological reactions to their parents’ divorce vary in degree dependent on three factors:
(1) the quality of their relationship with each of their parents before the separation, (2) the intensity and duration of the parental conflict, and (3) the parents’ ability to focus on the needs of children in their divorce.
Behaviours that are displayed are caused by the child trying to feel secure. Some typical reactions of children are:
a) Denial b) Abandonment c) Preoccupation with information d) Anger and hostility e) Depression f) Immaturity/Hypermaturity g) Preoccupation with reconciliation h) Self-blame and guilt i) Acting out
In Land of Britannica, we see Brittney experiencing a few of these reactions. She is in denial, she is angry, and wants her parents to get back together and she blames her own behaviour for the separation of her parents, even though she knew Dad left because he hurt Mum.
Some signs of stress in children affected by family breakdowns are:
1) Infants and toddlers: A. Regression in terms of sleeping, toilet training or eating; slowing down in the mastery of new skills B. Sleep disturbances (difficulty going to sleep; frequent waking) C. Difficulty leaving parent; climginess D. General crankiness, temper tantrums, crying
2) 3-5 Years A. Regression; returning to security blankets and discarded toys, lapses in toilet training, thumb sucking B. Immature grasp of what has happened; bewildered; making up fantasy stories C. Blaming themselves and feeling guilty D. Bedtime anxiety; fitful/fretful sleep; frequent waking E. Fear of being abandoned by both parents; clinginess F Greater irritability, aggression, temper tantrums
3) 6 – 8 Years A. Pervasive sadness; feeling abandoned and rejected B. Crying and sobbing C. Afraid of their worst fears coming true D. Reconciliation fantasies E. Loyalty conflicts; feeling physically torn apart F. Problems with impulse control; disorganised behaviour.
4) 9 – 12 Years A. Able to see family disruption clearly; try to bring order to situation B. Fear of loneliness C. Intense anger at the parent they blame for causing the divorce D. Physical complaints; headaches and stomach aches E. May become overactive to avoid thinking about the divorce F/ Feel ashamed of what’s happening in their family; feel they are different from other children
5) Adolescents A. Fear of being isolated and lonely B. Experience parents as leaving them; feel parents are not available to them C. Feel hurried to achieve independence D. Feel in competition with parents E. Worry about their own future loves and marriage; preoccupied with the survival of relationships F. Discomfort with a parent’s dating and sexuality G. Chronic fatigue; difficulty concentrating H. Mourn the loss of the family of their childhood
Children who are in the midst of a separation and an impeding divorce will often go through a cycle of grief or mourning. It is much like a death in the family. Each child will experience the grief in their own way. There are five steps in the grief cycle. Sometimes the steps are steep, sometimes steps are repeated, and sometimes a child may take longer on one step than others.
Step One: Shock and Denial Stage The children have a family life that to them is normal, even if there is conflict. As the family moves from ormal functioning through divorce or separation the children first move into a shock and denial stage. They have to work to understand the divorce and what is gong to happen as a result of the divorce. Parents can help by explaining the reality of the divorce and emphasising that some things will not change – such as the love for their child and that the parent will be there for the child
Step Two: Anger Stage Next the children move into a stage of anger. In this stage parents need to provide support and be there for the children, but understand that thi is just part of the grief cycle. Children need time to work through their anger and guilt. They will sometimes pick one parent to be mad at and not at the other parent This is normal. Let them know that the parent understands they are angry and continue letting the child know they are loved.
Step Three: Depression Stage As the children sense that their life is falling apart, they may withdraw and feel sad and detached from their family and friends. The parent needs to differentiate between sadness and depression. If the parent is concerned that the child is truggling they may need to seek professional help.
Step Four: Dialogue & Bargaining Stage As the children move into the dialogue and bargaining phase, they will try to get the family back together. They will fantasise bout reconciliation and will promise to be good if they parents will just reconsider. They may even devise ways to get their parents together such as being sick or getting into trouble at school. This is thier way of working through the guilt of feeling that they were the reason for the divorce or separation. The parent needs to remind them that they did not break up the family, and it is not likely that they can get the familly back together. This too is part of accepting the permanence of the situation.
Step Five: Acceptance Stage Reaching the acceptance stage means that the child has adjusted to the reality and permanence of the divorce and separation. It may also mean, especially for older children, they are ready to take a chance on love. The entire grief process is one of dealing with loss and requires that children overcome the sense of rejection, humiliation, feeling unloved, and powerlessness that they feel.
In the story, Brittney is plunged into the fantasy world, Land of Britannica. It is in this world that she travels through the grief cycle. Each of the characters she rescue, and then the acceptance parcel, are representative of each stage: • Shock and Denial – Mr Wolf • Anger – Terry • Depression – Billy Goat • Bargaining – The guards at the wall • Acceptance – The acceptance parcel
The philosopher Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.”
For children, making friends is a vital part of growing up and an essential part of their social and emotional development. Attributes such as social competence, altruism, self-esteem and self-confidence have all been found to be positively correlated to having friends. Studies have found that friendships enable children to learn more about themselves and develop their own identity. And, as children mature, friends are able to help reduce stress and navigate challenging developmental experiences, especially during teenage years.
Friendships develop life skills that will increase a child’s wisdom, confidence and self-esteem. A good friend is someone who has your best interests at heart and they have their friend’s back. A friend provides someone to communicate concerns, dreams and fears with. This allows a child to feel less alone and isolated.
The opportunity to develop leadership skills can increase as children play with other children. They are also provided with opportunities to make decisions. Imagination skills are developed.
In Land of Britannica, Brittney has a best friend Kallie. We learn throughout the story that Kallie lives in a divorced family, which Brittney is faced with the reality of. Brittney knows that Kallie understands what she is going through. Brittney is also excited about going to her best friend’s thirteenth birthday party which they have planned together. When her father says she can’t go, Brittney is devastated and tries hard to change his mind. She is ecstatic where at the end of the chapter, he changes his mind. The book starts and finishes with Brittney texts Kallie.
When Brittney enters the Land of Britannica she is met by Marmalade, the clone of her pet cat also named Marmalade. In the Land of Britannica, Marmalade is a fur friend. He becomes Brittney’s constant companion and gives her advice and comfort, he encourages her to keep on going and she uses him as her confidante. Marmalade is with Kallie for the majority of the journey. They become separated right at the end then are reunited. Carly-Anna is the first person Brittney meets in the Land of Britannica. She is a representation of Kallie, and comes and goes throughout the story. Carly-Anna provides comfort, wisdom and direction for Brittney.
Courage is an essential ingredient in growing up. It’s what propels us to each new milestones – from learning to walk to learning maths – even though the effort seems hard or painful. Courage can be physical, like jumping from a diving board, or moral, like doing the right thing in the face of possible ridicule.
Courage can be built by: • self-confidence • overcoming fear • facing the unknown • doing the right thing
Having courage means that children will be brave as they meet new experiences, difficult situation and/or dangerous encounters. Also courage may involve being firm because of strong moral convictions In either case, there may be feelings of fear, anxiety or apprehension that must be dealt with.
As Brittney travels through the Land of Britannica she continually shows courage to face obstacles. Sometimes these obstacles are animals, the queen’s guards, Storm Queen herself, and at other times she shows courage in the face of problems that she must solve to be able to rescue the Odinarians and Terry.
When Brittney enters the Land of Britannica and begins her travels, she is very scared and apprehensive. As she overcomes more and more obstacles, her symptoms of stress (feeling sick, sweats, shivers up and down her spine, shaking etc) lessen and at the end of the story Brittney is self-confident, strong and sure of herself. She is able to face the unknown and due to her courage she saves the land and its people.
In the Land of Britannica, Brittney is transformed into a superhero. Carly-Anna initially dresses her in black leggings, a long sleeved green top with a silver crown motif, and a silver studded belt with a silver satin bag attached to it, and black boots. Her hair flew up into a bun. Along her journey, Brittney acquires a range of items which give her extra powers to fight her enemies. These are:
• Sword of strength • Shield to protect the heart • Fire Torch to light the way • Crown of power • Bag of capture powder • Cloak of invisibility
With Brittney’s inner-strength and determination to save the cracked heart from falling out of the sky, combined with her added powers, she is able to fulfil her desti
Twelve-year-old Brittney is upset her parents have split up and she wants them back together. After Dad introduces his girlfriend to Brittney and her brothers, she is plunged into a strange world… the Land of Britannica. This kingdom is ruled by the evil Storm Queen and it is Brittney’s mission, as stated in the Book of the Kingdom, to defeat the queen and restore the cracked green heart that hangs in the sky. She must face many perils and dangers. Will Brittney be able to fulfil her destiny?