Lemur Dreamer by Courtney Dicmas

posted in: Courtney Dicmas | 5

Last year was (unofficially) the Year of the Sloth.

There was Sloth Slept on by Frann Preston-Gannon, Sparky! by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans, The Power of Sloth by Lucy Cooke and The Lazy Friend by Ronan Badel to name but a few.

I wonder, however, if perhaps 2015 will be the Year of the Lemur

lemurdreamercoverLemur Dreamer by Courtney Dicmas (@CourtneyDicmas) stopped me in my tracks when I first saw it; the bold beauty and energy of its cover, with a silver foil moon is genius. I immediately wanted to know where the lemur is off to, and then I noticed that actually he was in a rather perilous situation (can you see the board he’s stepping off?)…

We all know the power a good opening line to reel us into a story, but with picture books, front covers can have the same task; a single snapshot to seduce us, to pique our curiosity and get us to turn inside. And Lemur Dreamer manages to do that perfectly, drawing us into a tale of an innocent lemur whose habit of sleepwalking takes him on all sorts of adventures but also puts him in danger. He’s got some great friends, however, who keep an eye out for him and come up with an ingenious solution to the trouble he finds himself in.

Dicmas believes her superpower is “drawing crocodile eyebrows“. She certainly has a real knack for fluid, expressive and joyous animal illustrations, drawn with simple outlines and filled with washes of colour, reminding me at times of the brilliant Polly Dunbar. Dicmas also has a self-confessed addiction to the the colour blue, and this gives the book a perfect soothing tone, ideal for a giggly yet calming and reassuring bedtime read.

Harold Finds A Voice, Dicmas’ début picture book, was shortlisted in the UK for the 2014 Waterstones Book Prize and I suspect more official recognition of her work will follow swiftly. I certainly will be on the look out for future books by this talented artist.

Inspired in particular by the shiny cover and one of the interior spreads we turned our hands to creating a Dicmas inspired picture.

lemur1

First the girls gave their paper a watercolour wash and once dry, they stuck tissue paper on in the shape of simple buildings. On a separate piece of baking paper (tracing paper would have worked too), they drew another row of buildings, in outline with a few windows and other details.

lemur3

M and J stuck the baking paper over the watercolour-washed paper, and then cut out a moon from silver foil, a length of string for a washing line, and copied the lemur’s legs and a pigeon to stick onto the top layer of their image.

lemur2

These are the latest additions to our home gallery, alongside last week’s printing and fishing nets:

bakingpaper2

bakingpaper1

Whilst painting, drawing and sticking we listened to:

  • I like Blue Lemurs by Baby Loves Jazz
  • The REM-esque Walking in My Sleep by Sierra Lion
  • You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Randy Newman

  • Other activities which could work well alongside reading Lemur Dreamer include:

  • Drawing on silver foil. The front cover of this book is so alluring with its big silver moon, and that reminded me there’s something quite magical about drawing on silver foil. You’ll need permanent markers (eg Sharpies), and could use foil baking cases instead of sheet foil paper. Here’s some lovely silver foil bunting from Along Came Cherry to give you some ideas to get started.
  • Playing ‘Follow the leader’. Choose a leader and then get the family/group of children to all line up behind the leader. As the leader moves around everyone behind the leader has to mimic the leader’s actions. Anyone who fails to copy the movement is “out”, continuing until just one person is left behind the leader. This person then becomes the new leader. This could merge into one of my favourite games, doing The Ministry of Silly Walks.
  • Making your own lemur with a fluffy, stripy tale, using black and white pompoms and a pipecleaner, just like we did here.

  • What book cover has recently made you stop in your tracks?

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Lemur Dreamer by its publisher.

    5 Responses

    1. SIMONE FRASER

      Aardvarks, now lemurs. Does it get any better than this? The eactivity with the girls is looks very engaging, thanks, Zoe.
      A fun post.

    2. Well we had Sloths in our Pojo Saves the Rainforest book last year perhaps we will have to write one with Lemurs this year. Not on the horizon at the moment as we are writing about the Romans and the Vikings – but you never know in this strange land of children’s fiction.

    3. I really like the effect of the baking paper rows of houses. We will experiment with that technique.

      Meanwhile, I’ve been discovering quirky ways to showcase children’s art – other than just sticking it on the wall:
      http://thequirkyparent.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/cut-it-up-stand-it-up-hang-it-up-3.html
      Claire Potter recently posted..Cut it up, stand it up, hang it up: 3 quirky ways to showcase your children’s art

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