Corey's Rock: Get inspired to create your own beautiful illustrations and writing

Published on: 02 November 2018 Author: Sita Brahmachari and Jane Ray

Sita Brahmachari's touching new book Corey's Rock tells the story of Isla, who moves to Orkney with her parents after the death of her brother.

This short, tender tale is brought to life with beautiful illustrations from Jane Ray - and now Jane and Sita want to encourage you to get creative too, as Sita explains...

Corey's Rock by Sita Brahmachari and Jane Ray

Jane Ray and I work together at the Art and Writing Class at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. Our first collaboration for a children's book was Worry Angels (Barrington Stoke), in which Jane drew a perfect space for free creativity.

Now, with Corey's Rock (Otter- Barry Books), it feels as if we've taken up residence in that art room. The first page of the book is a beautiful wide, clear horizon - perfect for the imagination to roam. And now we have commissioned a short film from Barry Lewis as a resource to help share our process.

The art room in Worry Angels, illustrated by Jane Ray, and the cover of Corey's Rock

Corey's Rock is set on Orkney in Scotland, but we don't have to go to the seaside to experience a beautiful sunset - the photograph below was spied over the rooftops of a London street!

In fact, for the book, we used magical powers that should belong to all of us: a paintbrush, a pen, observation, a love of words and stories, and the transformative power of the imagination.

A photograph of a London sunset and an illustration by Jane Ray

A photograph of a London sunset and an illustration by Jane Ray

The film is an invitation for viewers and readers of the story to step inside our art room to explore our universal need for myths, legends and fairytales. We hope that it might also inspire young readers to discover other myths and legends and write and illustrate their own!

Now, a refrain from the magic pen!

Wrap yourself in selkie skin
Listen to the call within

Get inspired

In Corey's Rock, Isla is inspired by her Papa's reading of the legends of Selkie folk. She discovers that seals shed their pelts to live on land with humans for a while, although they always long to return to their natural habitat.

Isla reading selkie tales in Corey's Rock by Sita Brahmachari and Jane Ray


Wrap yourself in a snug blanket (or mime!)

The refrain of the story is, 'Wrap yourself in Selkie skin, listen to the call within'.

Repeat it a few times. Experience the rhythm and guess at the meaning of the words. Imagine you're on the beach...

Before watching the film prepare yourself to:

  • Find pieces of word treasure connected to each of your five senses. Write them down and form them a poem refrain.
  • Why do you think humans in many different cultures have created stories about magical sea creatures?
  • Imagine what Isla or one of the other characters is feeling at different points in the story.
  • Take it in turns to wrap yourself in the storytelling blanket and speak the lines you've written.

Time to paint!

Corey's Rock paintingLook at the illustrations in the book of the sky and the sea.

Wet your paper.

Create a sunset by mixing oranges, yellows, reds and pinks and letting the colours blend. Paint sky above and sea below.


Paint a seascape of blues, greens and greys.

Look at the images of shells, starfish, and pebbles in the story. If you have your own, look at them carefully using magnifying glasses and then make detailed, textured drawings.


Explore the possibilities of mythical creatures in the water or sky -  human and fish, mermaid, star child/fish, sea-bird, or flying fish! 

When it's dry, add a two-line refrain to your painting. Position your words carefully on the page.

Hold an exhibition. Act as a tour guide to your own painting and words, sharing with others the experience of painting and writing as Sita and Jane have done.

PS. Don't forget to wash your brushes ready for next time!

Read our review of Corey's Rock

Topics: Features

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