Time’s Up! And the judging begins…

May 18, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Beijing Schools, Chicago schools, Clever Competitions, Hong Kong Schools, Melbourne schools, Shanghai schools, Sydney schools | Leave a comment
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Time’s up in my Practically Perfect Pig Tale Competition, and it’s time to start judging your fabulous entries! I’ve had over 50 magnificent entries from schools in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Melbourne, Sydney and Chicago – so it might take me a little bit of time!

So please be patient, all you clever writers out there, and Ping Pong Pig and I will be singing out the results as soon as we can!

A Writing Workshop at St Clare’s Primary School!

May 9, 2019 at 10:31 am | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, St Clare's Primary School, Writing competitions for kids, writing workshops for children | Leave a comment
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Here are the fabulous girls of Grades 4 to 6 at St Clare’s Primary School in Sai Ying Pun in Hong Kong preparing to contribute their clever ideas in my How to Write a Riveting Story Workshop on Tuesday this week! They had some fantastic ideas for stories! They learned all about the vital elements in a story, and how to make a story plan that makes a perfect skeleton story. I also explained some of the current science about the extraordinary importance of reading for leisure and pleasure if you want to have a creative and successful life – and the very real problems for the brain if you spend your spare time on digital screens, especially social media and digital games. Thank you to lovely English Panel Head, Ms. Sandy (with me below right), and to School Principal Elsa Hui (below left), for inviting me. The girls were a delight and I look forward to working with them again! And, of course, to their entries in my Clever Competition!

A fabulous article in The Standard!

May 8, 2019 at 7:21 am | Posted in Book reviews, Hong Kong, media articles | Leave a comment
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Huge thanks to Simon Lau, Chief Sub-Editor (Education) at The Standard, for this fantastic book review about The Chinese Calendar Tales published on 30 April! To see the whole article, click on the link below:

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Ping Pong Pig finds seven more days for entries in my Clever Competition!

May 3, 2019 at 9:32 am | Posted in Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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Ping Pong Pig has been begging me to give everybody an extension in my latest Clever Competition. Finally, she’s dived into her feed bucket and found seven extra days hiding, right at the bottom!

So, courtesy of Ping Pong, the new deadline for my Practically Perfect Pig Tale Competition is extended to midnight EST on Friday 17th May!

That means that you now have 14 days to get your entries in – and with the fabulous first prize of a Boxed Set of the Chinese Calendar Tales, you’d better get going!

All the rules and special ingredients are here, so click on the link and start writing! I can’t wait to read your entries!

It’s Book Week at DBIS!

May 2, 2019 at 6:56 pm | Posted in Discovery Bay International School, Hong Kong Schools, Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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This week is Book Week at Discovery Bay International School, and I was honoured to be part of their celebrations today! The whole of primary school from Year 1 to Year 6 met my latest and last Chinese Calendar Tales character, the feisty Ping Pong Pig, not to mention the mighty Yongle Emperor and his crafty Minister of Most Important Things, in three funny and fabulous story readings of The Tale of Ping Pong Pig. Then I spent a fun twenty minutes during the lunch hour with the DBIS Battle of the Books team, who had just come back from the Hong Kong Semi-Finals, where they placed a very impressive Second! Well done to the DBIS BOBS!

You can see me with Head of English, Mr Jonnie Haines’, Class 5JH, above, and below, with my lovely host, school librarian Melanie Foti.

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And below, you can meet wonderful DBIS author and illustrator, Luka Van der Noord, creator of The Adventures of Sticko! He’s already written and printed eight books! Keep up the good work, Luka! You’ll be selling in bookstores soon!

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Last but not least, a message to all you DBIS writers – I’ve decided to extend the deadline for my story competition for just one more week to give you all time to get your stories in! So the deadline will now be midnight on Friday 17th May 2019! Just click here to find out all the rules and special ingredients for your entry!

Phew!! We’ve just packed all the boxed sets!

April 25, 2019 at 11:12 am | Posted in Boxed Set, Boxed Set of Chinese Calendar Tales, Online Sales | Leave a comment
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HOORAY! My lovely office manager Shilpa Patel and I have just finished hand-boxing all our beautiful sets of The Chinese Calendar Tales! It’s been a labour of love to get the right books packed, so that the fabulous red dragon logo sits just right on the spines!

So now all you have to do is click here to purchase your very own boxed set of all 12 Chinese Calendar Tales plus The Tale of Pin Yin Panda!

It’s our best online seller!

And it makes a FANTASTIC gift for birthdays, primary school graduation gifts and other happy celebrations!

Just 24 days left to enter my Practically Perfect Pig Tale story competition!

April 17, 2019 at 8:55 am | Posted in children's literacy, Clever Competitions, Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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Ping Pong Pig and I would like to remind you all that there are just 24 days left to enter your story in my Practically Perfect Pig Tale Competition! Now Easter’s coming this weekend, which gives you loads of lovely time to sit down and write your story! It’s got some fabulously fun ingredients this time – so grab that pen and get writing! All the rules and how to submit are here!

And if you still haven’t bought your copy of The Tale of Ping Pong Pig, just click on this link!

Hello International School of Panama!

April 9, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Posted in Fabulous fans!, International School of Panama, Panama schools | Leave a comment
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A big HELLO to my friends at the International School of Panama: Director Ms. Viki Stiebert and Franco, Renzo and Leire Cobo, three of my lovely fans who have been keeping their collection of Chinese Calendar Tales up to date ever since they went home to Panama after living in Hong Kong! The Cobo family have very generously donated a complete Boxed Set of my Calendar Tales to their school – and Ms Stiebert has very kindly invited me to come and visit should I ever be in the vicinity! Thank you, Ms Stiebert, I will most certainly try to visit you all one day! And thank you, Franco, Renzo and Leire and dad Luis for keeping in touch! Espero verte pronto!

Four fabulous days with the Bookworm International Literary Festival in Beijing and Hangzhou!

April 8, 2019 at 8:00 am | Posted in Beijing Schools, Books about Chinese Zodiac, Bookworm Cafe Beijing, China photos, Dulwich College Beijing, International School of Beijing, Storm Whale, Story Readings, writing workshops for children | Leave a comment
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With Antoinette Portis and Sandra Greenwell at the Bookworm International Literary Festival

Huge thanks to Peter Goff, David Cantalupo, Karen Tong and the team at The Bookworm Bookshop in Beijing for inviting me to take part in The Bookworm International Literary Festival 2019! Sadly I wasn’t able to appear at my scheduled event at the Bookworm featuring The Tale of Ping Pong Pig on the Sunday due to illness…but by Monday I was ready to fly up!

On Tuesday 26th March: I visited Dulwich College where I spent three fun sessions with Years 3 to 5, introducing the Year 3s to my hungry, lonely dragon Chester Choi; the Year 4s to Ping Pong Pig and the Yongle Emperor, and the Year 5s to Desmond Dog and the infamous pirate queen Ching Shih! Many thanks to the lovely Sandra Greenwell who was my host for the day, and to Lit Fest helper Inna Gafurova who looked after me and sold lots of my books after the sessions!

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With some of my fabulous Junior School audience!
With my lovely host head librarian Sandra Greenwell (left) and library assistants Imee Acosta and Lita Tupaz (right)
Bookworm Festival helper Inna Gafurova and Sandra at the aptly named school coffee shop (right) and with some fabulously inventive pigs made in art class (right)

On Tuesday evening: New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Antoinette Portis and I spoke at The Bookworm with journalist Wendy Tang about the enormously important subject of Raising Kids to Read in the Digital Era. We had a full audience of very interested parents who were keen to hear all the recent science on the subjects of the huge benefits of reading for the brain, and the correspondingly huge problems with kids being overexposed to digital screens (and it doesn’t take much…). If you want to read more about this, take a look at my other blog,

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Just because the subject was serious didn’t mean we couldn’t have fun! Here I am with Sandra Greenwell (from Dulwich College) and the lovely Antoinette Portis, my fellow panel member, with Sandra’s very naughty husband behind us!

On Wednesday 27th March: I visited my old friends at International School of Beijing, which I visited last year for a week in residence! This time I had 3 noisy sessions reading The Tale of Ping Pong Pig  to Grades 3, 4 and 5. Echoes of “Run Pig, Run!” and “Stay Pig, Stay!” could be heard echoing around the playground at lunch time as the kids re-enacted Ping Pong’s mad dash around the Forbidden City, pursued by the cunning Minister of Most Important Things!

It was wonderful to catch up with my librarian hosts, and friends, Bec Taylor and Paul Wong (right). And thank you Hunt Liu from the Bookworm for looking after me!

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We all had great fun, kids included!

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It was lovely to be in such great company with other author visitors including famous Australian author Morris Gleitzman and New York Times best-selling Antoinette Portis!

That night I flew down to the pretty city of Hangzhou, 175 km south west of Shanghai, to stay at the aptly named Blossom Water Museum Hotel, seen in the photos below. Aren’t the gardens and the pagoda lovely?

 

On Thursday 28th and Friday 29th March: I visited Wellington College International Hangzhou, a new school with a very beautiful campus! We had workshops galore, with the Grade 5s learning the science behind why Books are a Brain’s Best Friend; the Grade 6s finding out How to Write a Riveting Story and the Grade 7s and I getting stuck into rhyming verse, haikus, acrostics, limericks and free verse in An Introduction to Poetry! I look forward to receiving some fabulous stories from lots of WCIH students in my latest Clever Competition! A big thank you to head librarian Bethan Amena for all her hard work hosting me and for the magnificent book sales!

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Here I am with Bethan Amena (Head of Library, to my left), Piers Matthews (Director of Marketing and Admissions) and Lizzie Yang, librarian. Thanks for a lovely two days!
Workshops galore with the Grade 5s to 7s

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Many thanks to WCIH’s official photographer July Qi for these lovely photos!

Making the world a kinder, safer place

March 19, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Posted in children's education, girls' education, Room to Read | Leave a comment
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We all want the world to be a kinder, safer place. And the most effective, most permanent way to achieve that is bringing literacy and education to children. That’s why I’m so proud of being a Writer Ambassador for Room to Read.

Just take a look at the fantastic 2018, Room to Read Year in Review and 2019, Room to Read global fact sheet ! You’ll see just how effective Room to Read has been in lifting children, especially girls, out of illiteracy and into a world of opportunity and possibilities by the end of 2018 – which means that we will all be happier and safer in the future!

If you’re a kid reading this post, please show it to your Mum and Dad. And if you’re a Mum or Dad, please take a look here to find out what you and your family can do to help this fundamentally important cause.

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