To mark the International Year of the Salmon in 2019, Eden Rivers Trust enlisted the help of pupils from Robert Ferguson Primary School, Carlisle to create illustrations for The Adventurous Salmon, a brand-new children’s picture book.
The book follows the epic 3,000 km journey undertaken by an intrepid wild Atlantic salmon; from Cumbria’s tiny becks, down Eden’s rivers and out to sea … and then back again to the beck where it was born. Along the way, it introduces young readers to native wildlife found in the Eden, Copeland and West Cumbria areas.
The Adventurous Salmon also meets endangered species such as white-clawed crayfish and freshwater pearl mussels on his travels. Yet, wild Atlantic salmon themselves are also under threat, with numbers dropping fast. The story raises awareness of a number of challenges salmon face in their fight for survival in our rivers.
The story was written by Rebecca Neal (West Cumbria Rivers Trust) and Tania Crockett (Eden Rivers Trust).
Thanks to support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Eden Rivers Trust were able to embark on a project with two year 5 classes from Robert Ferguson Primary School in Carlisle. The project combined learning about the river with creative workshops to develop a book that would be given out free to schools that the two rivers trusts work with.
Bringing the Adventurous Salmon to life
Each of the two classes spent three days working on the project. This included time at their local river, the Caldew, with Tania, the Trust’s learning and Outreach Manger, where they carried out river dipping activities – meeting some of the species to be featured in the book and learning about them first hand.
They found out how changes to the river and surrounding land affect the river’s ability to be a healthy home for wildlife, and the salmon’s ability to swim back to the beck where they were born.
Back in the classroom, the pupils learnt drawing techniques from the book’s illustrator, Clare Waring from Custard Design. Using their newly-acquired skills and knowledge about the river and wildlife, they created their own creatures and gave Clare ideas for the page backgrounds.
Tania Crockett, Learning and Outreach Manager, Eden Rivers Trust said: “The story was initially created as a fun and interesting way to recap and reinforce some of the key learning points of the ‘Rivers for Life’ primary school programme which was jointly developed by myself and Rebecca Neal from West Cumbria Rivers Trust.
“The original Adventurous Salmon poem was devised by Rebecca and myself and really lent itself to be made into a book. We were keen to involve a school to bring the characters to life – creating designs by children, for children. It would also give them a rare opportunity to work with a professional illustrator and graphic designer.
“The finished book is wonderful, we love Clare’s playful, colourful and contemporary style and she has incorporated the children’s ideas and illustrations throughout.”
Clare Waring, Illustrator said: “They really grasped the concept and understood the process that a professional designer and illustrator goes through to get from brief to finished book.
“The children developed some very imaginative illustrations from the story and it was great to see their interpretations of the characters. After the workshop I had the task of incorporating their drawings into one consistent style. I was delighted to go back into the school to present them with the finished book so they could see the rewards of their hard work and identify their illustrations. I feel both the children and I learnt a great deal from this experience and I hope they will be inspired to continue to draw.”
Jodie Mills, Operations Director, West Cumbria Rivers Trust said: “The Adventurous Salmon will form a key part of the free nature education programme we offer local schools. We’ve recently used the book in the classroom for the first time and had a fantastic response from pupils, who really engaged with the book’s lessons about Cumbrian wildlife.”
A year 5 pupil at the school said: “We enjoyed learning about the salmon and the journey they go on to lay their eggs. Working with the illustrator was cool. Clare showed us how to turn our drawings into graphic illustrations! I read the book I was given to my family, they really liked it too!
Mrs Carrie Cannon, Deputy Head teacher added: “Clare and Tania were fantastic with our Year 5 children, who loved creating the illustrations for the published book. The project enriched our river topic and the story is informative, whilst telling the journey of a salmon in a fun, engaging way. The questions and non-fiction section at the back are a great tool for teaching and learning. All of the children were excited to receive their own copy of the book and have enjoyed sharing them with their families.”
Copies of the 28 page book are for sale via Eden Rivers Trust website for £5.50 plus P&P, from West Cumbria River Trust’s visitor centre at 32 Lake Road, Keswick, and from the Carlisle and Keswick branches of Bookends.