Hooray! Storm Whale is short-listed for the Queensland Literary Awards 2018!

September 1, 2018 at 11:30 am | Posted in Awards, Book Awards, poetry, Queensland Literary Awards 2018 | Leave a comment
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I’m SO excited! Storm Whale has been short-listed, alongside four other wonderful Australian writers’ stories, for the Queensland Literary Awards in the Griffith University Children’s Book Award section! It’s such wonderful news for me, for illustrator Jane Tanner and our publisher Allen and Unwin! I can’t wait for the announcement of the winners in early October! Here’s what the judges had to say:

Judges’ Comments

During their seaside stay, three sisters work tirelessly to save a whale that has become stranded on the shore. Nostalgic and lyrical, Sarah Brennan’s sustained and perfectly nuanced verses ebb and flow seamlessly in this timeless narrative, while Jane Tanner’s combination of monochromatic and multi-coloured pencil and pastel illustrations reflect the text’s mood, pace and burgeoning sense of hope.

If you haven’t bought your copy of Storm Whale yet, you can buy it here!

There’s Monkey Business afoot at AISHK Book Week!

August 31, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Posted in AISHK, Book Week, Hong Kong Schools | Leave a comment
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Oh dear! That mischievous Ming Kee Monkey is on the loose at Book Week at Australian International School Hong Kong today! Thanks so much to Jean, who sent me this fabulous photo of her gorgeous daughter Maddie, all dressed up and ready to have fun as the main character in one of my and Harry Harrison’s Chinese Calendar Tales, The Tale of Ming Kee Monkey! Doesn’t she look fantastic?

A Book Week visit at MLC in Melbourne!

August 28, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Posted in Australian schools, Melbourne schools, Methodist Ladies College, Story Readings, workshops | Leave a comment
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The subject of this year’s Book Week in Australia was Find Your Treasure, and what better book to introduce to the fabulous girls of Melbourne Ladies College on 16th and 17th August than my latest Chinese Calendar Tale, The Tale of Desmond Dog, a story of pirates, treasure and an infamous Pirate Queen!  On the 16th, all the girls from Grade 4 to Grade 6 joined the crew for a story reading, followed by a hearty lunch with the Book Bugs (top photo) who heard some Top Secrets about my next (and final) Chinese Calendar Tale for next year’s Year of the Pig! In the afternoon I was delighted to meet wonderful Grade 3 student Hannah Thompson, the winner of the Grade 1 to 3 Category in my Dashing Dog Story Competition earlier this year (middle photo above), followed by a delightful Grade 1 student who is already writing lots of stories in her spare time (bottom left). The future of great writing from MLC alumni is clearly bright!

Then on the 17th, the Grade 6s took part in my brand new workshop entitled Geography is History: How topography shaped China’s remarkable history! We talked about China’s grasslands in the North (from which invaders came on horseback); its mountains and deserts in the West and North West (which formed a natural barrier both inwards and outwards); its fertile deltas in the East (which formed the first united China under Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi) and the seas beyond (from which trade came and went, and ultimately the incursion of foreign powers, and invasion of the Japanese navy, which together precipitated the End of Empire). I hope the girls found the subject as fascinating as I did!!

Huge thanks to my friend, and fabulous Junior School Head of Library, Tracey Ricchini, who you can just see at the back of the Book Bugs in the top photo! She made a fantastic Ching Shi, the evil (and real life) pirate queen from The Tale of Desmond Dog! More photos to come!

It’s time for a new Clever Competition!

August 19, 2018 at 6:15 pm | Posted in Book Week, Clever Competitions, Poetry competitions for children, Writing competitions for kids | 3 Comments
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Desmond saving catHello all my lovely followers out there! I’ve been away on summer holidays with my family, and have just had a fantastic time in Melbourne for Book Week, and now I’m back on deck here in Hong Kong! So it’s high time for another challenge for you budding writers!

This time you must write a poem about a Perfect Pet! It can be your pet, or a pet you’d love to have, or even somebody else’s pet! It can any sort of pet – from an ant to an elephant, so long as it’s a pet you’d love to have!

It can be any sort of poem too! Go to my Clever Competitions page here to find out how to enter and to check out all the rules!

The deadline is Sunday, 28th October, so get out your pen and paper, and start writing now! I can’t wait to read your entry!

Meet Harry, a HUGE book reader!

June 3, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Australian schools, children's literacy, Hobart, The Hutchins School | Leave a comment
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Harry and I at Hutchins

Meet Harry from The Hutchins School, who I met in the Junior Library during my Tassie visit a fortnight ago! Harry has such a huge smile on his face because he LOVES READING BOOKS! And he told me that his bedroom at home is so full of books, there’s hardly any room for his bed! Now THAT’S what I call a great reader! I bet Harry is a fantastic writer and thinker too, because that’s what you become when you read lots of books for leisure and fun! Well done Harry!

ps Harry was born in the Year of the Tiger and I was born in the Year of the Rat – hence the books we are holding!

Monday: A fabulous morning at Fahan School!

May 30, 2018 at 11:01 am | Posted in Australian schools, Fahan School, Story Readings | Leave a comment
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And finally, on Monday, I spent the morning with my friends at Fahan School! We had two story readings of Storm Whale for Upper Primary, and some great time for Q and A about whales, how I write, and why reading books is so important to a successful future! Here I am above right with my wonderful host, Junior School Teacher Librarian Megan Denman, and at right with some of the gorgeous Grade 5 to 6 girls! Thank you so much for having me again!

Sunday: Event at Petrarch’s Bookshop, Launceston!

May 30, 2018 at 10:49 am | Posted in Being an Author, Bookshop event, Launceston | Leave a comment
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On Sunday I jumped in my car and drove for two and half hours up to Launceston, Tasmania’s northern “capital”. It was the most glorious drive, and brought back so many memories of childhood drives with my parents and siblings so many years ago! In Launceston, I spent a wonderful afternoon at the famous Petrarch’s Bookshop, doing readings of Storm Whale and signing books! Above is the lovely Murphy family, who bought a whole stack of my Chinese Calendar Tales and who fell in love with Storm Whale! Below you can see me (top left) with friendly and helpful staff Kristine Hudson and Holly Cooper to my right and left, and me with Ros Sydes, a Launceston writer to the right! Thank you Marcus and Karen, owners of Petrarch’s, for inviting me!

 

Saturday: Keynote Speech at the ASLA Mini-Conference, Hobart 2018

May 30, 2018 at 10:31 am | Posted in ASLA, Australian schools, children's literacy, Conferences, Hobart | Leave a comment
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On Saturday I was very honoured to give the Keynote Speech at the ASLA Mini-Conference in Hobart. The theme for the day was School Libraries – Be Passionate! Now anyone who knows me knows that the thing I’m most passionate about in my LIFE (after my family of course!) is CHILDREN’S LITERACY. So this was a theme right after my own heart, and I addressed over 60 Tasmanian librarians with a Powerpoint presentation that gave them the latest science on the importance of reading books for the brain – and for the world! And I proved using scientific studies that book-reading – and I mean reading LOTS AND LOTS OF BOOKS – for leisure and for pleasure – can quite literally save this troubled world! And the only way to ensure this – as well as high academic performance in schools – is to have a well-funded library full of real books, run by a teacher librarian with support staff, in every single school! I’ll be writing more about this on my other blog soon, so I’ll keep you posted!

I was also delighted to meet wonderful Tassie author Christina Booth, author and illustrator of many beautiful Australian children’s books, who treated us all to a fantastic talk about her method in creating picture books! It was fascinating to get insight into such an amazing creative mind!

Huge thanks to the lovely Ailsa Hill and Kate Reid for inviting me, and to the ASLA Committee who hosted the day! More photos to come!

Friday: Hutchins School Visit!

May 30, 2018 at 9:33 am | Posted in Australian schools, Hobart, The Hutchins School, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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My Hobart visit kicked off with a fabulous morning with the boys at The Hutchins Junior School! It just happened to be National Simultaneous Story Time that very morning, so we started off with a fabulous story from the Headmaster, Dr Rob McEwen! He was a spectacular story-reader! Then the Grade 1 to 3 boys listened to me reading Storm Whale and simply didn’t stop asking questions and making some great observations about whales afterwards! Before my second session, the Grade 4 to 6 boys and I listened to the Deputy Principal Alan Jones (wearing a very interesting hat!) reading yet another story to the kids, after which I introduced them to the evil pirate queen Ching Shih and some fabulous Chinese history with The Tale of Desmond Dog! Many thanks to my dear friend, and head librarian, Kate Read, for inviting me again! More photos to come!

Another wonderful Tassie trip!

May 30, 2018 at 8:29 am | Posted in Australian schools, Bookshop event, Radio interviews, Talks to teachers | Leave a comment
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Hello everyone! I was back in my beautiful childhood home Tasmania last week, to give the keynote speech for the ASLA (Australian School Librarians Association) Mini-Conference 2018, two wonderful school visits, a radio interview and a fabulous bookshop event! See my next posts for all the news and fun!

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