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During fire season, we are all in this together

Mark Knight, December 3, 2020 6:30PM Kids News

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A famous photo of volunteer firefighter David Tree of Mirboo North CFA sharing a drink of water with a koala he’d rescued on February 9, 2009. media_cameraA famous photo of volunteer firefighter David Tree of Mirboo North CFA sharing a drink of water with a koala he’d rescued on February 9, 2009.

arts

Reading level: green

Summer is approaching and that means school holidays, the beach and sometimes bushfires. I’ve drawn many cartoons on bushfires and the toll they take on rural communities. I’ve also drawn many on the brave men and women who volunteer for our country fire services such as the CFA in Victoria and the RFS in NSW.

During summer a lot of us are in our swimwear either swimming in a pool or at the beach. But there are some who, when the temperature gets up in the 40s, put on heavy overalls, helmets, boots, gloves and go and stand in front of a fire! They are true heroes!

Bushfires around Australia not only threaten lives and property but they have a major impact on livestock and our native animals.

We see news reports on bushfires and a lot of the time there will be film of homes on fire and we feel great sorrow for the families that have lost their homes. When we see forest fires with eucalyptus trees ablaze* we sometimes forget that this is the habitat of hundreds of different types of native wildlife. It’s their home.

So I wanted to draw a cartoon on a theme we have heard a lot lately and it could be used for bushfires: “We are all in this together!”

My idea was to show animals and humans equally affected by bushfires in Australia.

I wanted a simple, strong image.

I had seen fire crews when they came off the frontline of fighting a fire. They are exhausted, covered in ash and in need of a drink of water. They lay beside their fire truck like soldiers resting after a battle.

During Black Saturday’s bushfires in Victoria in 2009 I had seen a firefighter help an ailing koala by giving it a drink of water from a bottle. There was a sense of connectedness* between the animal world and the human world in that picture. I felt I could use that in a drawing, but instead of the koala being helped by a human, it would be laying back in collaboration with the exhausted fireys and tipping back a cold H20* itself. The koala would be identifying with fellow fire-affected beings by expressing the same behaviour. And I would draw them around the firetruck because who doesn’t love drawing fire trucks!

media_cameraMark Knight’s cartoon. Right click to open in new tab and view full size.

The cartoon illustrates that when it comes to Australia’s bushfire season, whether you are a koala, kangaroo, farmer, firefighter or a country school kid, we are all in this together!

GLOSSARY

  • ablaze: alight, burning
  • connectedness: feeling or being connected to others by common purpose or circumstances
  • H20: the scientific name for water

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Hell on Earth as weather giants collide

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Who is the cartoonist?
  2. What was his main idea?
  3. What year was Black Saturday?
  4. Who and what is sitting by the fire truck?
  5. In bushfire season, who is all in this together?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Caption it!
Cartoonist Mark Knight has not used a caption on this cartoon, letting the imagery speak for itself.

Read Mark’s explanation of what the cartoon means again and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Using your sentences to help you, write a caption for the cartoon or some thought bubbles or quotes from the person or animal in the cartoon that will make Mark’s meaning clearer for children or people who haven’t been reading the news this week.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity Curriculum links: English,
Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about.

Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

What is my subject?

What do I want to say about this issue?

How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Stretch your sentence
Find a ‘who’ in the cartoon. A person or animal.

Write it down.

Add 3 adjectives to describe them better.

Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?

Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.

Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.

Extra Reading in arts