Flip, Flippie and Friends is a series of early-learning children’s books that introduce concepts to South African children in a way that is interesting, fun and as far as possible in their mother tongue. Flip, the mother or teacher figure, takes Flippie and his friends through twists and turns as they learn about counting, the alphabet, shapes, colours, seasons and opposites. Time and health are our current topics under development.
The series has been designed to enchant children using fantasy settings with an underpinning of joy – always! Learning is part-and-parcel of the experience and the series has a place in the classroom, the library or for parents to enjoy with their children. Children learn through repetition, enthusiasm and participation. The series engages with all these learning principles. The titles are available in the standard format and we are rolling out the Big Book editions. We are also busy with electronic versions of the books, some of which are already available on Overdrive. (Overdrive is a free service offered by a library or school that allows you to borrow digital content).
The books support topics covered in the CAPS curriculum for foundation phase and offer rich and interactive learning activities while engaging with a story-type reading experience. Educators have found them useful in multiple classroom settings and they are used across first and additional language learning.
As a very small entrepreneurial team we expand title by title, language by language with sales being reinvested into further development each time. The authoring process is work-shopped and interrogated as the illustrations unfold and the ideas are discussed, researched and tested in their learning context to ensure that they achieve their objective.
Working with the African language adaptations is without a doubt the most exciting yet perilous part of the journey. Great care is taken with each publication working with the respective language practitioners whose drafts are cross-referenced and proofed by a second set of experts and then again by an objective third. We often encounter dialect issues which are debated and conferred before the language adaptation is decided upon and signed off. Even given this it is still a bumpy road. It requires vigilance, commitment, an acceptance that opinions may differ dramatically in certain languages (and that this will come with contention) and the courage to persevere despite the obstacles. We enjoy rich and on-going dialogue with people within the various Departments of Arts and Culture on the subject of language and content relevance who offer support, encouragement and interest in the development of the series as it unfolds.
We are fortunate to have Xolisa Tshongolo and Nzuzo Mkhulisi, both established and experienced language practitioners, as on-going members of our consultancy team. Xolisa and Nzuzo edit and advise on publications as they develop and as importantly, they assist with wise perspective and direction around the complex calls we are often faced with.
It is our intention to develop support resources in the African languages that we will make freely available on our website to aid teachers and parents. The aim is to maximise the benefit and bigger picture in terms of what we are trying to offer, namely – materials which allow children to learn and engage in their mother tongue in a fun, bright and imaginative way.
Without the finance or infrastructure of a corporate company we endeavour to market and promote the books ourselves. We rely on their merit based on the affirming feedback we have received along the way, networking and leads from people who support and endorse our vision. We are always open for conversations and looking for ways to engage.
We donate hundreds of books along our journey and the project continues to unfold in a magical way. I hope if you have read this far you will be sufficiently interested to get in touch with us. We would love to hear from you.
Why a Red Kangaroo? That is a story for next time…
The series has been procured by the DBE, the Gauteng and KZN departments of education, provincial libraries nationally and leading literacy organisations such as Shine, Biblionef, the Early learning Research Unit (ELRU) and Centre for the Book in Cape Town. We always offer substantial discounts to NGOs and educational institutions to ensure affordability.
The books were developed with much liaison with learners and educators. The main features are:
- Bright and appealing to children
- Aimed at a range of age groups where children will relate
to them in different ways
- Interactive and use rhyme for rhythm and repetition
- The content aids with language and concept development and can be used for vocabulary building and interesting visual detail identification
- The translations further support learning for a slightly older age group when learnt as a second or third language. At this level they help enormously with new language and concept recognition in a non-threatening way
Hi, I’m Charlotte. I am the author of the Flip, Flippie and Friends Series and I spearhead the developmental collaboration. Developing this series in South African Languages has become my vocation. It brings together everything that I am passionate about – children, education, people and South Africa – all with a twist of joy.
I work with two talented illustrators. Riaan Retief and Lindsey van Heerden. Riaan roughs out the sketches bringing joy and magic to the characters while Lindsey works on the colour, depth and adds delightful detail. (Check out Lindseys other work at www.behance.net/lindsv161edc2.)
Joanne Webster, my business partner brings it all together designing each book and working to accommodate the languages page by page. My family (son, Siyahluma Ewins and his grandmother, Ntombokuqala Bantatwa) are my on-going source of inspiration and courage on this path.
We are proud and grateful to have Xolisa Tshongolo as part of the team. Xolisa is an isiXhosa author who is most respected in his field and he sits on the PanSALB in the Eastern Cape. Xolisa edits and advises on the isiXhosa publications but as importantly, he assists with wise perspective and appropriate direction around complex calls we are often faced with as we venture forward.
The journey with the South African language adaptations is complex and challenging as there is much debate and ongoing discourse around the subject in general. Furthermore, when I ask people – and I have asked many in a variety of contexts – whether they would like a gift of children’s books in their mother-tongue, 80% of the time they request the English books as a preference. I always, however, send them both the English editions, as well as titles in their mother-tongue and I encourage them to use and enjoy the books in their own language.
I sincerely believe that we, as publishers, have a responsibility to our children to promote South African languages and mother-tongue learning in every way we can and to persevere despite the challenges. The children for whom these books have been created deserve rich and engaging experiences in the language that they relate to. I have made friends with many people along the way who share this value and they are excited by the books in their respective languages and what they have to offer.
I am seriously blessed. I travel this fantastic country and meet incredible people with a common interest wherever I go.
I am one of the Illustrators for the Flip, Flippie and Friends series. In collaboration with Charlotte and Lindsey, I try to bring these characters and their adventures to life. It is a challenging but rewarding journey, taking the stories from pure ideas to working concepts that we as a team refine to completion. I’m a web developer by trade, dealing with more mundane technical problem-solving in my day job. This project has helped me revive my childhood passion for drawing and get in touch with a more creative aspect of my personality.
Lindsey van Heerden
I work alongside Riaan illustrating the books as they are developed. I love my part of the illustration which is the inking and colouring of Riaan’s drawings, adding little embellishments and fine tuning as we go. Charlotte’s dedication to the books and her vision for them is what keeps us all inspired. I love the idea that I am part of an on-going project that can bring early-learning in such a fun way to so many South African children that need it!
Hi, I’m Jo – the designer of the Flip, Flippie and Friends series. I’ve had the privilege of working with and being great friends with Charlotte for over two decades. I have been part of the creative process from the start and continue to have many hours of delight being integrally involved in the growth of the series. There is always a great sense of joy in being able to put everyone else’s hard work and talent together to create the final product, as well as creating the marketing material to support the books.
These books are so helpful for children who have just started school. They give them power and wisdom and create dignity for our children as they feel important. Even though they are learning, they view themselves as if they are playing because they have such fun.
For me it is like a dream because I didn’t know it was possible to have such lovely books in our languages. The books are available in some libraries here in South Africa but as time goes I hope they will be found everywhere. Parents must try to even just get one of these books for their children. Forward Flippie forward. Enkosi
I like the books because they are made with love and teach children good things. My teacher uses them in our isiXhosa lessons. I know that the character Fred in the books is really me. He is a bit naughty and does the things I do. I want to continue with these books when I am grown up.