The great escape

By Sarah Bakker

In 2017, the CBCA's Book Week theme is 'Escape to Everywhere'. Sarah Bakker offers suggestions for using the shortlisted books to inspire creative writing activities.

‘If you truly want to escape this reality all you have to do is open a book and your imagination.’ — Unknown

This idea that reading can magically transport you somewhere else is at the heart of this year’s Children’s Book Week theme, Escape to Everywhere.

With Book Week fast approaching, what better time to encourage students to explore this idea further by using creative writing as another form of escape?

‘Writing helps me create a different world that I can escape to’ — Ashwin Sanghi

Here are some ideas on how three of the shortlisted books can be used to inspire students’ creative writing and facilitate their escape.

Sizzling starts

The start of this trailer for Ross Watkins’ beautiful and heartbreaking picture book, One Photo, instantly makes the reader curious.

‘Dad came home one day with one of those old cameras, the kind that use film. But Dad didn’t take photos of the regular things people photograph.’

Ask students to form groups and brainstorm ideas on what might be so unusual about the photos that the narrator’s dad takes. Get students to use the ideas from the group brainstorm to write an engaging start to their own story and share some of the best examples with the class.

Show, don’t tell

All I Want for Christmas is Rain by Megan Forward is a great example of how a simple picture book can give readers insight into the plight of Australian farmers. The beautiful scene in which the rain starts pouring and the whole family dance in the mud shows just how important the rain is to the farming community.

Ask students to form groups and think of an issue that affects their community. Get students to brainstorm ideas for a ‘show’ scene based on their chosen issue using six senses (see, hear, touch, taste, smell, feel). After students have written their ‘show’ scene, get them to act it out and present it to the class.

Exciting endings

Leila Rudge’s Gary is a wonderful example of a circular ending. Unlike the other racing pigeons, Gary can’t fly so he has to stay at home on race days. He dreams of great adventures, but has never been anywhere until one day when he accidentally falls into the travel basket and has to find his way home. The end of the story links back to the beginning, but this time the other pigeons want to be like Gary.

Ask students to look at a range of different picture books and find examples of different types of endings: surprise endings, humorous endings, moral endings. Get students to pick their favourite example and write an alternative ending.

Read, inspire, create

Encouraging students to see reading and writing as a form of escape is a great way to increase their engagement and inspire creativity. Read some of the other shortlisted picture books aloud with your students and then get them to explore new places and possibilities in their writing.

To access a list of this year’s shortlisted titles for ‘Book of the Year’, please visit the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s website.


Chakravorty, S 2011, ‘Revisiting history’, The Hindu,

Sarah Bakker

Sarah Bakker

Publishing and Content Manager

Seven Steps to Writing Success