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Wonder Ponder, Visual Philosophy for Children, is an imprint specialising in products for fun and engaging thinking. This website provides accompanying material to our Wonder Ponder boxes, including guides for children, parents and mediators, ideas for wonderpondering and fun games and activities. It is also a platform for sharing your very own Wonder Ponder content and ideas.

Wonder Ponder Blog

The Wonder Ponder blog includes posts on the creative processes behind our Visual Philosophy for Children material, as well as workshop experiences, guest posts on a variety of topics and generally interesting, eye-catching or mind-bloggling stuff we feel like sharing with you. 

Filtering by Tag: Daniela Martagón

Cruelty declared apt for children

Ellen Duthie

Yesterday this fantastic review by Kim Kindermann of the German edition of Cruelty Bites published this month by Moritz Verlag (Grausame Welt?) was aired on German public radio Deutschlandfunk Kultur.

Here is a translation of the review. Long live Grausame Welt?!

Far from your typical read-aloud book for children:  Cruelty Bites , by Ellen Duthie and Daniela Martagón, approaches the subject in a playful way. (Moritz Verlag / imago / Westend61)

Far from your typical read-aloud book for children: Cruelty Bites, by Ellen Duthie and Daniela Martagón, approaches the subject in a playful way. (Moritz Verlag / imago / Westend61)

Deutschlandfunk Kultur

 LESART. 26.02.2019

Kim Kindermann

 Cruel situations and scenes, described and illustrated by two authors: Cruelty Bites invites children to think about good and evil. A very successful book about a very difficult subject, in our reviewer’s opinion.

"Let’s try pinching very hard. Any reaction?” says the card, showing a boy tied down to a table. The scientists experimenting on the child are rats. On another card, a man has been locked up in a cellar by a group of children. "Now you stay down here and think very carefully about what you’ve just done!" they say. And on another card, a girl is biting her own arm.

Three scenes, three cards. Three of a total of 20. All of them are square. On one side, we see a cruel situation: a girl kills an ant, some lions eat a goat, a mother and father serve a stew made with cat meat, some children pull a girl’s hair, a father holds down his son firmly to give him a shower. On the back of each card, lots of questions on the theme.

 Off with the rose-tinted glasses!

Philosopher Ellen Duthie doesn’t actually offer any answers as to what cruelty is. She asks where cruelty starts, what about the victims, what about the perpretrators, and whether an act might be less serious if it doesn’t last too long.

 Step by step we are invited to analyse the situation. The focus is always on the questions. What do you find cruel about it? Have you ever experienced a similar situation?

It is demanding. Ellen Duthie does not only ask children to deal with this difficult problem; she also tells them cruelty exists. So off with the rose-tinted glasses"! The world isn’t all pretty.

But should we ask children questions? Yes, we should! Because children live in this world, with all its shadows too; children see and also experience situations that are not easy. The sooner they learn to classify situations, to give them a name and understand their own feelings, the sooner they might try to avoid being cruel. Here, that happens because they are allowed to experience different situations playfully.

 Dialogue and reasoning about violence

But also because these cards invite readers to comment. Unlike your typical read-aloud book for children, here exchange and reasoning occurs. That is good. The format also contributes to this.

The cards allow several children at the same time to engage in dialogue about different aspects of cruelty and to reason with each other. Duthie manages to make you want to speak about a subject that many would rather avoid altogether.

Daniela Martagón’s illustrations are also a great success in this regard. On the one hand, they are simple, in black and white on a colour background, and reminiscent of cartoons. On the other hand, they play with the absurd as a mechanism of distance. Like the rats, that keep the children in cages as test subjects. Or the girl who bites herself, and whose enormous sharp teeth seem to belong more in the mouth of the cat that is standing opposite her, with its hair standing on end.

 Illustrations that don’t miss a beat

There’s nothing pretty or cute about the illustrations, which clearly hone in on the cruelty of the content. This is stressed further by the bright background colours: pink, orange, blue, green and yellow. They act like a flag: Attention! This is important!

And yes, this book of cards is important. Let’s state it clearly: children ought to be taken seriously. We can and should speak about subjects such as cruelty with them, philosophise with them.  

What is more, we can start early on, with no rush: Cruelty Bites is perfect for preschoolers and primary age children. What is ok and what is not? Where are the limits and to what extent can they shift? It is never to early to start talking about all of this.

Ellen Duthie, Daniela Martagón: Cruelty Bites / Mundo cruel
German edition translated from the Spanish by Paula Peretti 
Moritz Verlag, Frankfurt / Main 2019 

 

Original German review here.

"PINCH ME!" is here! Take a peek! The fourth title in the Visual Philosophy for Children series invites readers to explore reality, imagination and dreaming

Ellen Duthie

PinchMe_Magia_escena.png

Pinch Me! [together with its versions in Spanish (¡Pellízcame!) and Catalan Pessiga’m!], the latest title in the Wonder Ponder series of Visual Philosophy for Children (and adults) has just arrived from the printers.  

pinchMe_portada_RGB.jpg
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In this fourth title in the series, authors Ellen Duthie (writer) and Daniela Martagón (illustrator) invite people of all ages, small, medium and big,  to wonder and ponder about reality, imagination and dreaming in a way that is both playfully serious and seriously playful. What is real and what is not quite so real?  

Pinch Me am I dreaming.png

Containing fourteen illustrated scenes designed to prompt wondering and pondering, Pinch Me! invites younger and older readers to explore a range of intriguing aspects about reality, imagination and dreaming, including the differences between real and pretend, real and alive, our senses and what they can (and can't) tell us about the world, and to wonder whether we could be dreaming or not. It also contains scenes that are likely to spark wondering and pondering about magic, virtual reality, fiction and reality, fake news and representation in selfies, in a way that is both relatable and destabilising, as well as riveting for a very broad age range, from age 6 to adults. 

As all Wonder Ponder fans out there know, every box contains a poster. This is normally a chance for illustrator Daniela Martagón to explore the theme of the box freely and sometimes wildly. This time both authors, writer and illustrator, have joined forces and gone wild, to create what is effectively a book within the book: Little Remo in Pinchmeland. A tribute to Sendak's' In the Night Kitchen ,which was in turn a homage to Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strips, this read-aloud comic on a poster takes Little Remo through dreamlike scenarios made up of elements from the 14 scenes in Pinch Me! and other literary scenes, making readers wonder whether or not he's dreaming and, perhaps, whether they are themselves dreaming. 

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After Cruelty Bites (2014), I, Person (2015) and Whatever You Want (2016), and the success of the Wonder Ponder Visual Philosophy for Children's project not only in Spain, where the books are published originally, but also , thanks to the sale of foreign rights, in South Korea, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Germany, we took some time to digest everything that had happened since the launch of the Wonder Ponder imprint in November 2014. We took the time to step back and make sure that we knew where we were and where we wanted to go.  The pace of our project does not need to follow and would not benefit from following the pace of the publishing market. The research requires time, the creative process requires time, the testing with different age groups and ensuing reconsideration takes time. Slow publishing? That's us!

We are working to create a lasting collection, one that reaches other countries and languages and one which several generations of children and adults might hopefully enjoy. 

At a time where most of the voices we hear boom out answers and statements about the ways things are and the way they should be, it is more urgent than ever to develop the habit of owning, sharing and exploring our uncertainties. 

That is part of what we aim to do, with both a literary and a philosophical interest at heart, in the Wonder Ponder series of Visual Philosophy for Children. That is what we have done, with equal measures of rigour and playfulness in Pinch Me!

We hope you enjoy it! 

Readers outside Spain can purchase a copy online

More about 

PINCH ME!

What if life is a dream? 
An illusion?
Or a good old story?
When you pinch yourself, does it hurt?
And does the pain prove you are not dreaming?

 Can we trust our senses?
If our eyes sometimes trick us, might they always trick us?
How do we know that the world is as we perceive it and not as a fly or a dog sees it?

If you could connect to a machine that made you live and feel only good things, would you want to connect to it forever?

What is real? And what is not so real?
What do you think?

Half-way between a book and a game, Pinch Me! comes in a box and invites readers aged eight and over (adults too!) to think about reality, imagination and dream in a way that is both serious and seriously fun.

Part of the critically acclaimed Wonder Ponder, Visual Philosophy for Children series, Pinch Me! is designed for children to look at, read and think playfully about by themselves, accompanied by an adult or in a group, in educational, play or family contexts.

Themes:  reality ·  imagination ·  dream ·   memory ·   the five senses ·   perception ·   fiction/reality ·  real/pretend  ·   reliable information ·  real/virtual ·   philosophy for children.

Content
·   14 illustrated scenes.
·   More than 100 carefully worded questions designed to spark a rich and well-oriented reflection without leading it to pre-established conclusions.
·   3 blank cards for readers to design their own philosophical scenes and pose their own questions.
·   Brief guide for children and adults.
·   Ideas for wonderpondering. Suggestions for use.
·   A-3 thematic poster: Little Remo in Pinchmeland

About The Wonder Ponder Visual Philosophy for Children series
Wonder Ponder introduces readers to philosophy’s big questions in a way that is playful and appealing. Engaging scenes and intriguing questions prompt reflection and discussion, encouraging children to develop their own thoughts and arguments and to build a visual and conceptual map of the issue addressed in each box.

Interested in learning more about the Visual Philosophy for Children series by Wonder Ponder? Check out our website and our online shop

The Search for the Right Tone: The Story Behind a Cover

Ellen Duthie

At the launch of the third title in our Visual Philosophy for Children series, Whatever You Want (an invitation to wonder and ponder about freedom), Wonder Ponder illustrator, designer and co-author Daniela Martagón told the audience about the creative process from her point of view. She focused on the fascinating search for the right tone.  

Daniela presentando. Foto: Miki Hernández. 

Here is what Daniela shared: 

The first idea was very different from the final result. This first approach was based on the concept of cages and confinement in different variations as a means of exploring degrees and possibilities of freedom, 

This 'first dummy' was shown to a group of children of different ages (5 to 12) in the form of an exhibition during a series of workshops. And it worked very well. It contained powerful scenes that led to very interesting reactions and dialogues but after working with the scenes, we felt that as a whole the concept was rather fatalistic and oppressive. We felt we needed an approach that would allow room for freer or more liberating examples.   

The second attempt was tied to the working title we had for the box in English: Freedom in a Box. We loved the title and we also liked the possibility of finding freedom in confinement represented by the image, but we could not find a way of translating it into Spanish that sounded good.  The literal translation "La libertad en caja" created an involuntary pun with "en caja" (in a box) and "encaja" (to fit in) that did not make us happy. We didn't want to have titles in Spanish and English that were too dissimilar from a conceptual point of view, so we looked for another title. 

After finding one we were happy with in both languages (Whatever You Want / Lo que tú quieras), we continued to experiment with the idea of freedom in confinement, again playing with cages. But here we found again and again, that the meaning of the title and the meaning of the image clashed. It just wasn't working. We were starting to feel imprisoned by our own cage idea.  

We removed the cage and tried with a gag and rope. But it still wasn't clear. Some people even pointed to possible innuendos we had never even thought of (really!). 

And then came a second phase, where I veered to the other extreme: life with no supervision or rules of any kind. Children playing with fire. 

A power-intoxicated baby. Driving, smoking. 

But we didn't like the moralistic tone of it, whereby if children are given freedom, they don't know how to handle it. That was not the route we wanted to follow either.  I decided to keep the baby, but I swapped the unchecked will for desire. I tried with the idea of a genie. 

It wasn't bad, we like it. We were almost there... But we felt the cover elicited only the desire aspect of freedom, when inside, the book was about so much more. Still not quite convincing. 

And then I drew this girl in full, ecstatic explosion of freedom. 

Free! We liked the celebratory feel of it. 

I continued to try it out, until I hit upon the idea of a loudspeaker. 

Here, not only is she in full ectasy of freedom, but she is also asking us readers to join her. We felt we had reached the end of our fascinating journey from fatalism to celebration. This was it! 

A few changes, a bit of colour. and voilà!

All the illustrations from this post by Daniela Martagón.