Wide Angle is a new segment at continnect. Here we discuss one film or book every week that is by or about women. The segment aims to look at films and books, encourage you to look them up as well, that are about the daily battles, the small wins, the big losses and the immense courage of women from across the world. Prajwal Shali, our Wide Angle Editor takes a look at the book- A Fish In Foreign Waters- by Laura Wickham.
A Fish In Foreign Waters
A Fish In Foreign Waters – a Book for bilingual Children by Laura Captuo-Wickham. First published in June 2015, this book makes for an enjoyable read for kids of age 3 to 7 years old. But parents too can have a nice time reading this book to their children.
It’s a delightful story about a little fish named Rosie Ray ‘Who lived with her family, In Sunny Green Bay’. But one day Daddy gets a new job offering and they have to move to ‘the cool foreign waters of Indigo Bay’. The new place seems different because the people are different and ‘the language was strange’. This makes ‘poor little Rosie’ feel ‘slightly queasy’. Rosie faces many challenges that leave her feeling different and lonely but on the day of her birthday she makes an amazing discovery that helps her understand that more languages means more friends!
Born in Rome, Laura and her brother were raised bilingually (Italian-English) by their mother (who herself grew up in South Africa). She graduated from college in Languages and Foreign Cultures. She moved to U.K where she met her husband. Mother of two daughters, Laura says ‘I am raising them bilingually, trying to pass on to them the same passion for different cultures.
Since its launch in July 2015 the book as sold over 300 copies worldwide. To know more about the book and the story behind it, continnect caught up with Laura Wickham
continnect: How did the idea of this book evolve?
Laura: I’ve always known that I was going to raise bilingual children and this fascinating journey started with the birth of my first daughter. I enjoyed watching her learn new words and being able to understand both languages. But when she turned three, there was some hesitation in speaking the minority language, and it was the same with some of her bilingual friends. While doing a bit of research, I came across a quote from Professor Colin Baker, who writes in his book, A Parent’s and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism (Multilingual Matters, Third Edition): “Children often don’t want to appear different. They want to conform to the status-giving behavior of the peer group. This may entail a temporary non-use of one of their languages.” Children are very aware of what language they should invest energies in learning and often this ends up being the majority language. This made me feel quite sad. They are not aware of the great benefits that speaking two languages brings. Something needed to be done! And this was the inspiration for my book.
continnect : Has your book helped parents who have moved to different countries with their children?
Laura: I have received many messages from very grateful parents who found in my book an excellent tool to talk to their children about the benefits of speaking bilingually. Many shared that the book quickly became one of their children’s favourite as they can identify themselves with the lovely character of Rosie Ray. I even had parents who confessed to have shed a tear or two while reading it as they could remember going through the same growing up.
continnect: How does this book help in a multilingual environment?
Laura: The book helps parents explain to their children the benefits of being bilingual. It can be used to encourage them if they ever feel conspicuous or out of place for being different. It is also an excellent tool to promote culture in classrooms.
Continnect: What makes the book so memorable?
Laura: The rhyming language makes it a very enjoyable reading and soon you’ll find your children finishing the sentences while you’re reading it to them. I also think that the watercolour pictures (by Pamela Goodman)are real works of art. The children will enjoy looking for a crab hiding in every page!