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Children’s book explores Jersey’s Stone Age past

26 April 2022

A new book launched today will teach children about Jersey's history. Charlie and Spud in the Stone Age - by Penny Byrne - aims to help children learn more about Jersey's Neolithic past.

Charlie and Spud in the Stone Age tells the story of Charlie's journey through time into the Neolithic era, where he meets the inhabitants of a Stone Age village and discovers a variety of prehistoric artefacts. The book is the first title in the series of children's books about Jersey's history written by Penny Byrne.

It has been commissioned by the Minister for International Development, Deputy Carolyn Labey, as part of the Island Identity Project. The project identified an opportunity for further accessible ways for children to learn about their local history.

The author has worked alongside Jersey Heritage and Jean Treleven, local historian from Société Jersiaise, to ensure that Charlie and Spud in the Stone Age is historically accurate and closely aligned with the primary school curriculum.

From the end of April, the book will be available to buy from Penny's website  and across the Island at heritage sites and local businesses, including The Trading Point, The Harbour Gallery, and at Jersey Post office at Rue des Pres and Broad Street. All profits from sales of Charlie and Spud in the Stone Age will be reinvested into the next book in the series.

To celebrate the launch, author Penny Byrne will take part in four readings, where books will be available to buy:

  • On Wednesday 27 April, Springfield School will visit La Hougue Bie for a reading, and to watch Dr James Dilley (experimental archaeologist and craftsman who specialises in prehistoric technologies) create Neolithic axe heads
  • On Saturday 30 April at 10.00am, members of the public can attend a reading at Jersey Library, free of charge
  • On Saturday 30 April at 12.00pm, Penny will do a reading at The Trading Point Spring Fair at Carrefour Selous
  • On Saturday 30 April at 2.00pm, members of the public will be able to attend a reading at La Hougue Bie, at the 'Prehistory Weekend – Loving Your History'

To reach as many local children as possible, multiple copies of each book will be donated to each of the Islands' primary schools, who will also be offered a reading from Penny.

Charlie and Spud in the Stone Age carries the Genuine Jersey stamp: it has been conceptualised in Jersey, illustrated by local artist Erin Brown, and made ready to print on-Island.

Author Penny Byrne said: "This book is designed to be an accessible and fun way for primary school children to learn about their community's unique history, heritage and culture.

"We have absolutely loved bringing the Neolithic period of history to life: it is an age I have always been fascinated by, and we are lucky to have so many dolmens dotted across the Island that children can visit and see for themselves.

"We worked hard to ensure the book links directly into our primary school curriculum, and have really appreciated the incredible help of those at the Jersey Heritage, who have given their time and expertise to make this the best it can be. We hope our readers find it both a lovely story but also full of interesting information. And we are so grateful to the Island Identity project for supporting this initiative."

The Minister for International Development, Deputy Carolyn Labey, said: "I'm thrilled to have worked with Penny and Erin to produce this wonderful, educational children's book. Jersey has such a rich history, from the Stone Age right up to the present day.

"Charlie and Spud in the Stone Age is a wonderful way of introducing children to some of this history, and I hope it will help inspire them to learn more about their Island. Understanding our Island's varied and unique past helps children to make sense of where they live and grow up, fostering a strong sense of place, identity and belonging."

Helen Otterwell, Head of Education at Jersey Heritage said: "The Neolithic period played a significant role in shaping Jersey's identity. One of the oldest buildings in the world, La Hougue Bie dolmen, was built around 6,000 years ago by the Neolithic people — the Island's first farmers and settlers.

"The Neolithic age began when the stone axes that were being used were polished, meaning that trees could be cut down, resulting in more space being available for framing and for the construction of houses.

"The people who settled in Jersey created new communities with new stories and ideas, which led to the building of dolmens and other stone monuments that can still be seen today. Because all schools in the Island will learn about life in the Stone Age at some point in their learning journey, telling the story of the Neolithic people and life is a vital way of bringing this pivotal moment in history to life for local schoolchildren."

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