September 7th, 2021

Celebrating author illustrator Jo Empson

Welcome back! We hope you all had a lovely summer holiday and wish you a great start to the new term.

This week are focussing on a magnificent picture book by author illustrator Jo Empson. Rabbityness is a delight - a celebration of creativity and how art endures even when life has ended. All done with the lightest, most joyful touch!

Calling all Manchester Primary schools - don’t miss out on the chance to see Jo Empson live at Home on Thursday 14th October at 10.30am! Every child attending gets a free copy of Rabbityness to take home and keep!

Find out more and book tickets!

Book of the Week: Rabbityness

Rabbit enjoys doing rabbity things, but he also loves un-rabbity things! When Rabbit suddenly disappears, no one knows where he has gone. His friends are desolate. But, as it turns out, Rabbit has left behind some very special gifts for them, to help them discover their own unrabbity talents! Rabbityness was Jo’s first picture book and it was nominated for 8 awards, including the Kate Greenaway Medal and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and UKLA award.

Author in focus

Jo's background as a graphic designer has had a great influence on her work. Her illustrations are inspired by nature, with a strong sense of shape, colour and design. She loves playing with colour in the form of a visual narrative. Her abiding wish is to produce beautiful books with depth and meaning, along with a sense of fun and surprise!

She is never happier than when she is swept away in storytelling – in all its aspects – whether it be writing, illustrating or just reading a favourite picture book (which she still does every night!)

Jo's other books include Jungle Jamboree and Little Home Bird.


Paint along with Jo

Splodgy Self Portraits

Create a self-portrait inspired by the front cover of Rabbityness. Use the technique which Jo demonstrates in her video but, instead of drawing a picture of Rabbit, draw a picture of yourself!

Make Music!

Raid your recycling bin and turn discarded containers into colourful musical instruments. You could use old plastic bottles or tin cans to make maracas and shakers; plastic tubs to make drums; corrugated cardboard to make scrapers and cardboard tubes to make rainmakers or didgeridoos. Make them bright and colourful, just like those which Rabbit left behind for his friends.

Make A Kitchen Roll Tube Rainmaker

What you need:

  • 1 Kitchen roll tube
  • 1 Piece of thin card
  • Masking tape
  • Rolling pin
  • Scissors
  • 3 Teaspoons of dried rice
  • Glue
  • 30cm x 60 cm sheet of foil
  • Something to decorate the tube such as wrapping paper, felt tips, paint, washi tape or stickers.

What to Do:
Step 1
Draw around a cup or a tin can to create two circles which are bigger than the circumference of the kitchen tube. Cut them out and inside each circle, draw around the circumference of the kitchen roll. Then cut a series of short tabs from all around the outside edge.

Step 2
Attach one of the cardboard discs to one end of the tube. To do this, fold and glue the tabs around the edge of the tube and secure with masking tape.

Step 3
Roll the sheet of foil, lengthways. Pinch it together to strengthen it, then twist it around the rolling pin to make a coil. Insert the coil into the tube.

Step 4
Pour in the rice and seal up the other end of the tube with the remaining disc. Decorate the tube with bold, bright colours and patterns, or simply cover with wrapping paper.

Play your rainmaker by slowly tipping it up and down, so that the rice gradually moves and falls down the length of the tube.

You could also try making these simple instruments

We’d love to see your musical instruments and self-portraits! To send us your work to display in our gallery use the link below, or upload to twitter with the hashtag #BookshowA-Z.

Email us your work for our gallery

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