Walking to School Along the Beach Birthed PeliCAN’T Do It

PeliCAN’T Do It is the story of twin pelicans growing up: sibling rivalry, self-identity, growth mindset are themes.

Front cover of Pelican't Do It

‘As a kid, I walked to school along Margate Beach at Redcliffe,’ said author, Cate Sawyer.

The school she talks of with happiness is Humpybong Primary School. Humpybong is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘dead houses’, as our nation’s first inhabitants referred to the empty houses that European settlers left behind in 1824 when they could no longer cope with the area’s mosquitoes and water supply.

Over the years the mosquitoes must have become less aggressive because there’s no doubt watching the author’s eyes sparkle that she enjoyed her childhood, with walking to school along the beach with her friends up there with her happiest memories.

Pelican’t Do It is fifth in line

Cate Sawyer is a five-book veteran of children’s picture books. With a love for words, phonetics, and instilling an early joy in reading to kids, it made her day when a year 5 student quoted a line from Discombobulated to her. ‘To know that the words in Discombobulated had such an effect that he remembered them was a thrill.’

‘The Pacific Ocean is in my blood. The storylines for all five of my picture books have come to me while I’ve been walking along the coastline at Redcliffe or Brighton near Brisbane in South East Queensland. The ocean is where I go to relax, think, re-energise, or encourage creativity.’

Author Cate Sawyer with her husband and kids.

Author Cate Sawyer with her family overlooking Brisbane River, says she’s most energised and creative when she’s near water.
Photo by Adnic Photography.

‘The power in the ocean is healing. Have you ever noticed how energised the people who live in coastal towns are?’ she queries me.

It was early on a Sunday morning walk at Brighton that the wordplay Pelican and Pelican’t came to mind. ‘Pelicans and giraffes are my favourite animals. I was quite chuffed with myself when I thought of that particular word play and could then devote a whole book to my favourite animal.’

Cate’s books include:

  • PeliCAN’T Do It – for 4-7 year olds to consider self identity. Early reviews indicate it’s hitting the mark for parents of siblings because jealousy is touched on positively.
  • Discombobulated – phonetics fun for 4-7 year olds. Recommended by a teacher librarian for gifted children.
  • Places to Poop – one of her bestsellers – helping parents and kids relax about toilet training – for 1-3 year olds.
  • The Umbilical Family – phonetics fun for 4-7 year olds to explore family origins including adoption, fostering, IVF, step parents, grandparents. An ode to all the umbilical cords of love around a child.
  • It’s Raining Shoes – imaginative play for 2-4 year olds.

To celebrate the launch of PeliCAN’T Do It, the publisher, illustrator and author are giving away a Kids Learn to Draw Pelican’t Party. Details here. Cate will read Discombobulated and PeliCAN’T Do It at the event, and Kyle Tweed will teach the kids how to draw PeliCAN’T.

PeliCAN’T Do It is reviewed as ‘surprisingly re-readable.’ Full review here.

Helpful links:

PeliCAN’T Do It can be purchased here for $16 in softcover.

Click here for an interview with the illustrator, Kyle Tweed.

Purchase Cate Sawyer’s first four books here. They’re available individually, or as a discounted 4-pack bundle.

Silvana Nagl

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