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An unusually wet spring in Barbados proved to be the inspiration for Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle, an epic verse that has been adopted by Taxal and Fernilee Primary School PFA as a fundraiser and a useful learning tool. Inspired by the Caribbean theme of pirates, as well as the rhyming books of Dr. Seuss, it tells the tale of two small boys who set off on an adventure in search of treasure. The PFA interest came once the words were in place, as to truly bring the story to life it needed pictures or illustrations, and as the finished book will be approximately fifty pages in length, somewhere between 100 and 150 pieces of artwork would be required.

Just before Christmas the school launched a competition, encouraging all of the children to choose a scene from the book as a setting for their artwork. The best pictures would appear in the printed edition of the book, along with the artists’ names, and all of the winning artists would receive a free copy of the book. In addition, the PFA are to receive a donation from every copy of the book that is sold. Pictures came in thick and fast, with pirates, turtles and seascapes being the most popular subject matter. The artists ranged in age and ability, from five year old reception children, to Victoria Keen, the headmistress. The quality of the artwork also varies greatly, but this is not important, as each contribution is treated equally to make up the whole, which will be a book that can be treasured as a memento of being at the school in 2009/10.

Mrs Keen has also used the project to run art workshops at lunchtimes, a valuable addition to the artistic curriculum of the school. As soon as the pictures are complete the next stage will be to get the book published. The project has very little commercial value outside of Taxal and Fernilee, and other local schools such as Chinley that have also provided some illustrations, so mainstream publishers would not be interested in it.

In the past, the possibility of self publishing would be out of the question, with vanity publishers charging many thousands of pounds to produce minimum orders of several hundred copies of a book, the majority of which would remain unsold. The advent of print on demand (POD) technology has changed all of this, however. Now the author can be in full control of the publication of his book, from start to finish, and the POD technology allows for copies to be printed only when they have been ordered.

Most POD publishers offer a basic package, which includes printing and depositing legal as well as the author’s copies, and enabling the book to be sold on the internet. The POD publisher will also charge for additional services, such as cover design, editing, and typesetting, however, modern word processing packages make it possible for the computer literate author to achieve all of this himself, thereby significantly reducing the cost.

The marketing of the book is also the responsibility of the author, though POD publishers do offer this service. Taxal and Fernilee have taken a different approach, leaving this aspect of the project to the class six pupils once their exams are out of the way. The cost of the project will be around £400, which means that the school needs to sell just 150 copies to break even.

It is a very exciting time for the school in seeing the project through to completion, and it is a project that could be repeated in years to come with different illustrations, or even a completely different story if the school so desires. Fore more information please visit http://tumbattle.blogspot.com.