With over 100 fiction and non-fiction books published worldwide as well as Australia, Helen Chapman is a popular established writer. She sees her future as one in which she will strive further to develop her skills. Especially in the immediate and forceful communication to students and young people of her ideas and research.
Younger readers love her books. Why? Because Helen writes fun and informative books and books packed with exciting adventures. This quality turns hesitant children onto reading, as well as providing a great read for keen readers.
Helen is meticulous in her research, so that her readers may learn to trust the information they find in books. Her mission is to inculcate a love of reading as great as that which she remembers from her own childhood.
As a private collector of first editions, Helen has the classics of children’s literature always before her. It is to their achievement that she aspires, while never forgetting the crucial importance, in today’s world, of writing in an accessible way.
Favourite Historical Fiction
This would have to be Helen’s latest book ‘Deadly Waters’. This juvenile fiction is a teenager’s account of serving in the Royal Australian Navy during WWII. As a work of fiction it’s meant to be read and enjoyed as such – a ripping adventure!
But it might interest teachers and librarians to know that the narrative is based on firsthand accounts from her father Cliff, his navy mates, as well as documented experiences from other sailors. For authenticity, Cliff’s war recollections were corroborated by historical records, government web sites, books and testimonials.
‘Deadly Waters’ has many creative elements too – for example Cliff served on many ships but this was reduced to three. Accordingly some events and experiences on board didn’t happen on just one ship, but several and at different times. Also, events and stories were not all Cliff’s but adapted from the written accounts from other seamen.
The series that gave Helen the greatest satisfaction was ‘Australia’s Heritage’. Until the publication of these 4 books not much was available to young readers that exposed them to their historical and cultural heritage. Helen’s approach was creative and appealing. She demonstrated that heritage includes not just old buildings, but amazing places too such as the indigenous Brewarrina Fish Traps, considered as one of the oldest human-made structures in the world and made objects including Ned Kelly’s armour. One title, ‘Heritage and Places’ was shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award and was on the Premier’s Reading Challenge List.
The Most Fun!
Helen loved being in character as ‘Harold’ the giraffe! Harold is the national figurehead for ‘Life Education,’ a comprehensive drug education resource at work in Australian Schools. In Darwin between 1988 – 1991, Helen wrote a magazine and monthly newspaper feature spread in the NT News as ‘Harold’. Another aspect of this involved Helen reacting and responding in ‘character’ through her writing, to letters from primary school children throughout the Territory.
The Best Seller!
Ten weeks on the Australian best-seller lists confirmed what teachers, librarians and students had long known: that Helen Chapman was a writer to be reckoned with. ‘101 Cool Science Experiments’ jumped the classroom walls and found its way into vast numbers of homes worldwide. Parents as well as children delighted in the book: in its clear instructions, its intriguing experiments, its humour and Helen’s zany rat character. Most of all they relished not being talked down to. The quality of the information the book offered in its explanations of the science behind the experiments was outstanding. Even adults who had no direct involvement with children or with teaching bought the book for pleasure – and found themselves unable to put it down.
ACER, Barrie, Five Mile Press, Ginn UK, Harcourt America, Harcourt UK, Harcourt Education, Harper Collins UK, Heinemann, Heinemann Library, Heinemann Primary, Hinkler, Macmillan, Macmillan Education, Macmillan NZ, National Geographic, Omnibus, Pearson Education Australia, Canada and UK, Rigby Reed Elsevier, Rigby Heinemann US, Rigby Reed Heinemann, Rising Stars UK, Scholastic, Wendy Pye NZ.