Sunderland primary school children have teamed up with a professional author and illustrator to create a book celebrating Sunderland’s maritime past.

The book – based on the life of Sunderland sailor Jack Crawford – is packed with fun facts and features a colourful array of characters including pressganged villains, washer women and sharks.

The book – entitled Jack Crawford: Hero of Camperdown – has been designed by pupils from Grangetown Primary School in partnership with author and illustrator Liz Million.

Jack Crawford served on the HMS Venerable during the British naval victory in the Battle of Camperdown, 1797.

The book was produced as part of a Sunderland City Council Libraries Services project. The aim was to give the children the chance to see how an illustrated book is created while also educating them about Sunderland’s maritime heritage.

Liz popped into the school to give the children a number of drawing workshops and some of the children’s artwork can now be found inside the book.

The collaboration between Liz and Grangetown Primary School is one of a number of programmes taking place in the build-up to The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018.

Cllr John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for communities and culture, said, “This has been a fantastic project and I hope everyone will support this new illustrated book about one of Sunderland’s greatest national heroes which Liz and the children at Grangetown Primary have worked so hard together to produce.”

“It gave the children the chance to develop their own creative talent with help from one of this country’s leading authors and illustrators while also discovering more about the heroism of Jack Crawford and our shared maritime heritage.”

Liz Million said, “It was fantastic fun to create this fact-tastic book, funded by Sunderland Libraries Services and with the help of Grangetown Primary kids.”

“The budding illustrators took part in a short draw-along workshop and managed to produce some great characters like sailors, pressgang villains, washer women, even sharks!”

“I’ve always loved ships and all things nautical so making this book was a real treat for me! I often get asked to illustrate books about sausages and trumpet-playing rhinos so this was a breeze.”

“I am now so knowledgeable about Jack Crawford and life on the open waves and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the Tall Ships next month for the first time.”

“The kids’ drawings and my own were blended together with the narrative running throughout. Sunderland Libraries Services and myself were keen to make it fun but factual and it’ll be a keepsake for years to come.”

Grangetown Primary School’s headmaster, Les McAnaney, said, “Our children were thrilled to get the opportunity to work with Liz on the drawings.”

“They had a lovely morning learning about seafaring characters from Sunderland’s past and bringing them to life.”

“These workshops with Liz helped our children to understand just what a colourful maritime history we have here in Sunderland and they also served to raise awareness of the forthcoming visit of the Tall Ships – we can’t wait to join in with the celebrations!”

Jack Crawford: Hero of Camperdown is available in two sizes costing £3.00 and £4.50. The book will be on sale from Saturday 30th June at City Library, Houghton Library and Washington Town Centre Library.

Copies can also be picked up from the Libraries Stand at the Ships Ahoy! event in Barnes Park on Saturday 30th June and at the Family Zone at The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018 on Saturday 14th July.

(The featured image shows Liz Million with pupils from Grangetown Primary School at the book launch for Jack Crawford: Hero of Camperdown.)

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