06 November, 2007

Reviva Schermbrucker

Reviva Schermbrucker will be presenting a Writing Course in Johannesburg from 10 to 14 March 2008. See right-hand side for course details and how to register. Born in Israel in 1954, Reviva arrived with her family in South Africa aged 5 and a half. Reviva became a South African in Johannesburg in the 60’s. After matriculating, she attended WITS (the University of Witwatersrand) and began a Fine Art degree. She completed her undergraduate degree in Philadelphia ,USA and followed it up with a Masters in Fine Art from the University of Wisconsin. She returned to South Africa to a life in Cape Town, married to Peter. Before and in between raising their two sons, she taught art at what was then known as the Cape Technikon and at various schools. But teaching has always been a second choice. Her real passion is making books. Her first foray into children’s books was as a writer. Charlie’s House ( Songololo Books, David Philip) was illustrated by Niki Daly and first appeared in 1989. A Child’s Garden (Tafelberg, 1992) is a practical book with a dual audience. It is chock full of fanciful ideas to be experienced in the garden by both children and their parents. Reviva worked as a materials developer for ELRU (the Early learning Resource Unit) for 10 years producing children’s picture books and readers - including some that fit into matchboxes! (The Matchbox Library) - picture packs, an unique set of alphabet cards (Ah Bekutheni?), innovative games including updated card games (Snap! and Happy Families in South Africa) and a foundation phase numeracy kit (We all count!), award-winning posters and even the lyrics for a musical tape. Cindy ( ELRU, 2001)is one of the five books in the Keteka series of readers which gives voice to actual children living in situations or communities which rarely make it into the world of children’s books. Am I a Lion that Eats People? ( ELRU, 2004) is one of four books in the Mielie Book series which addresses tough issues such as poverty, prejudice and stereotyping in fresh and child-friendly ways. Lucky Fish! ( Jacana, 2003) is a full-length novel for teenagers and adults based on fact. It is set in Johannesburg during the 1960s, and is told by a 13-year old boy named Steven whose parents, Ivor and Lucy, become political prisoners. Alongside her work for NGO’s and educational publishers such as ELRU, PRAESA (Project for Alternative Education in South Africa) Maskew Miller Longman, Shooter and Shuter etc.– what she calls her ‘bread and butter work’-- Reviva has continued to write and illustrate children’s picture books for the general market The Jam Tin and the Teacup ( Songololo Books, New Africa Books, 2002) follows the conversation between an endearing orangutan that emerges from the label of a jam tin (APE !– ricot) and a rather uppity damsel who is painted on the side of a porcelain teacup. An African Christmas Cloth, an advent calendar for children in Calendar form, was published by Jacana in 2005. The works above are a sample of all she has produced. There is a novella for newly literate adults, a number of teachers’ guides and a whole lot of early readers. As Reviva says, “One has to keep producing in this field if one is to keep the wolf from the door.”

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