26 July 2022

'Living' e-book looking for community to add colour

| Aiden Rothnie
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Hands colouring in

Jackie Neill and Woden Community Service have created a one-of-a-kind community e-book. Photo: WCS.

Starting out as a project to connect Canberrans through art, creative writing and story telling, “Let’s Write” has now morphed into a live e-book making project open to any one, of any age or ability who likes to draw or paint.

An online children’s book in the making, The Song of the Animals was started by ex-teacher Jackie Neill. As a “living book”, it is updated every fortnight with all new illustrations gathered and sent in by the community.

Jackie said she got the inspiration for the book after finding the Woden Community Service Let’s Write project online.

“I saw a Facebook post about the Let’s Write project, so I reached out and submitted a piece of creative writing I’d made for children to use at The Canberra Hospital,” Jackie said.


The e-book includes riddles for kids to work on and solve. Photo: Supplied.

With the support of Emily McNamara from the Woden Community Service Community development team, the digital flip book has been online for a few months but it’s now starting to gain some traction in the community.

“It’s been a bit of a slow burning project to see what could come out of this piece of work with a community of people helping to illustrate it,” Jackie said.

The e-book has been made with a broad audience in mind with rhymes and riddles that can be worked on by children and their parents. After each page of rhymes, there’s a page filled with illustrations submitted by the community.

Jackie encouraged everyone and anyone interested to submit their drawings and illustrations for this living book. She’s excited to see where it goes.

“The pages with the answers to the rhymes need lots of different illustrations of the same animal, and there are landscapes to draw as well, so there is plenty of opportunity for contributors’ work to be included,” Jackie said.


The Song of the Animals includes community-created drawings and illustrations. Photo: Supplied.

“It’s really for anyone and everyone, young, old, teen, middle-aged. Anyone who wants to send in a drawing is welcome to, it could be detailed, water-coloured, or painted by a toddler, all are welcome.

“The intention is to value the diversity of how people see the world, and how they represent that through drawings, sketches, illustrations. The world can be seen in many different ways, no matter the age, and the book seeks to show that.”

Jackie and Emily are open to the evolving options for their e-book and hope more people are encouraged to start their own projects through Let’s Write.

“I’m happy to see where it goes. The beautiful thing is I don’t know, it’s community created.” Jackie said.

“If there was funding we could consider making some hard copy versions that could be donated back to the community.”

The Song of the Animals is currently available on the Let’s Write website for anyone to contribute, all you need is a little time and imagination.

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