Author interview Blue Balliett

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By Huw Thomasheadteacher and writer

Exclusive interview with Blue Balliett — author of Chasing Vermeer

Blue Balliett

Can you tell us a bit about your experiences as a primary school teacher and how it contributed to this story?

I have three kids of my own, but I was also a classroom teacher for eight, nine and ten year-olds for ten years, and I do know that Ms Hussey and I have lots in common – although I would probably have been fired if I’d done everything she does in the book! But seriously, my teaching years left me with a tremendous and genuine respect for all kinds of thinkers, and because I had lunch with my kids in the classroom every day and also took them out for recess, I overheard lots of secrets. Many of those found their way into Chasing Vermeer, such as the baba ghanoush (baby gush) comment made to Petra, or the sorts of associative thinking Calder does with his pentominoes. In addition, the assignments Ms Hussey gives her kids in the book are ones I dreamed up for my class; pentominoes were a tool I used every year for teaching mathematics and spatial reasoning (each one of my students had their own set to keep, sound familiar?); and Calder, Petra and Tommy are composites of real kids, kids I taught and knew well.

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