Four fabulous new friends in Taiwan!

February 28, 2023 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Taiwan Schools | Leave a comment
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I was so excited to visit Taiwan on my first post-Covid Schools Tour this month! After a great week visiting schools in Hong Kong, I flew to Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport, where I was met by the lovely Charles and Di Farrell, Library Media Specialist and Library Assistant at Morrison Academy Taiwan, Tai Pei Campus, who very kindly drove me to my hotel!

Monday 13 February: Morrison Academy Taiwan, Tai Pei Campus

We commenced the visit with a fun reading for the Grade 2 and 3s of – you guessed it – The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit, book du jour, or should I say année, for the new Year of the Rabbit! The kids were fascinated to learn about the mighty Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, who united China over 2,000 years ago, but at a rather horrible cost to the people who stood in his way!

Next, I met the Kindergarten and Year 1 students, reading them my story Storm Whale. I have never been asked so many questions about whales afterwards, including some VERY tricky ones about, for example, “How high is the water spout of sperm whale?” for which I had NO CLUE of the answer! Thank you Charles for rescuing me with a wonderful book about whales from the library!

After a tasty lunch, I met the Grade 5s and 6s with my workshop How to Write a Riveting Story, then capped off the day with a fun session with the Grade 4s, An Introduction to Poetry, in which the kids narrowly escaped a fate worse than death (aka horrible school reports) as they used the first letters of Mr Farrell’s name to describe him in the Acrostic exercise!

My warm thanks to my hosts Charles and Di Farrell for their welcome and for hosting me in one of the most beautiful, artistic school libraries I have ever seen! Photos below!

Tuesday 14 February: Morrison Academy Khaosiung Campus

After my very first High Speed Rail trip from the top to the bottom of the island, I spent the next day with the lovely Christine Stowers and her support staff, visiting the kids of the Khaosiung Campus of Morrison Academy.

After an excellent opening session with Grades 6 to 8, explaining How to Publish a Picture Book from Brilliant Idea to Final Product, the Kindies to Grade 2 heard my story Storm Whale, then after a fabulous lunch, I met the Grades 3 to 5 students who heard…da da da…The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit! Finally, the fabulous teens in Grades 9 to 10 heard all about my path to becoming an author and publisher, followed by a serious talk about why reading print books is not just the most important tool for a writer, but also the way to ensure the very best life, in my presentation The Writing Life.

Thank you Christina for sending me the wonderful photos below!

Wednesday 15 February: Morrison Academy Taichung Campus

On Wednesday, at long last, I met Scott Pagel, the reason for my trip to Taiwan!! Scott and I have been in contact ever since he sent his students’ entries into my Clever Competition many years ago, and we’ve always thought it would be great for me to come and visit! We even planned a trip to all three campuses back in 2020…which sadly had to be cancelled due to…you guessed it…the dreaded Covid 19! So it was amazing to meet him in the flesh at last at the Morrison Academy Taichung Campus!

We kicked off with a story reading of Storm Whale for Kindergarten and Grade One, followed by my workshop on How to Write a Riveting Story for Grades 6, 7 and 8. I included a very serious talk on the huge benefits of reading print books for leisure and pleasure in order to write well – as well as to live your best life! And, of course, how vitally important it is for the brain to limit time spent on digital games and social media.

After lunch, Grades 3 to 5 had a fun Introduction to Poetry, where we had a lot of laughs as they completed a poem called “Let’s Destroy the School” in perfect rhyme and verse! Parents and teachers beware!!

The day ended with my popular talk about How to Create Bookworms in the Digital Age, for the MAC parents and teachers, where we discussed the latest scientific research on reading print book and the brain.

Thank you Scott for a fabulous day at Morrison Taichung…at last!! Photos to come!

AND FINALLY…

Thursday 23 February: Zoom visit to Hsinchu International School

Sadly I was not able to visit Hsinchu International School in Taiwan during my trip, but I WAS able to visit them by Zoom a week later, which just happened to be their Book Week! We had two fun sessions!

The first, for the little ones from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 2, was a reading of The Tale of Pin Yin Panda, to meet my cheeky panda character Pin Yin, to find out how all the animals got into the Chinese Zodiac, and to discover why pandas aren’t in the Zodiac!

For the rest of the school, I spoke about How I Became an Author, then explained all the latest science about why Reading is Good for the Brain.

Huge thanks to Grade 4 teacher Eddie Costello, who invited me in, and librarian Isabel Slabbert who expertly hosted me for the visit! Eddie and I first met when he sent in his students entries into my Clever Competition some years ago. I can’t wait to see entries from Hsinchu International in my current Competition!

Four fabulous old friends in Hong Kong

February 25, 2023 at 11:40 pm | Posted in Hong Kong Schools | Leave a comment
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Tuesday 7th February: Glenealy School, Mid-Levels

My tour of Hong Kong schools kicked off with a morning at my old friend Glenealy School, with two fun sessions with Years 1 to 3, then Years 4 to 6, reading The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit and explaining all the scrumptious Chinese history behind the story, of Qin Shi Huangdi, the raiding Xiong Nu tribes to the north and why the Great Wall of China was built! My huge thanks to librarian Gisele Stones for inviting me, and for the fabulous pictures below!

Wednesday 8th February: Kellett School, Pok Fu Lam Campus

The next day, I visited Kellett School’s Pok Fu Lam Campus, where the Receptions to Year 2s heard my Tale of Rhonda Rabbit, the Year 3s to Year 6s learned How to Publish a Picture Book from Brilliant Idea to Final Product, and I spent a fantastic hour with a lovely group of Kellett parents discussing How to Create Bookworms in the Digital Age. We had fabulous Q&A throughout all three sessions. Prep librarian Emily Wong was a superb host – thank you for your warm welcome Emily!

Thursday 9th February: Kellett School, Kowloon Bay Campus

The next day, I repeated the same fun program at Kellett School’s Kowloon Bay Campus. We had fabulous Q&A throughout, and I can confidently say that I have never fielded so many questions about ISBNs in my How to Publish a Picture Book session before! What an outstanding lot of enquiring young minds! Thank you so much Teacher Librarian Jamie-Lee Wedderburn for being such a wonderful host!

Friday 10th February: Stamford American School Hong Kong

The week ended with a lovely afternoon with my old friends at Stamford American School Hong Kong in Ho Man Tin, with an all-ages-welcome story telling session of The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit, and a great session on How to Publish a Picture Book with a lot of students AND their parents! That was great fun, and we had a very interesting Q&A afterwards! Director of Marketing and Admissions Lisa Olinski was a fantastic host – thank you as ever, Lisa, for your warm and enthusiastic welcome.

At last, a report on my Hong Kong/Taiwan Schools tour!

February 25, 2023 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, Taiwan Schools | Leave a comment
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I’m back home in France after two fantastic weeks in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and after battling off the inevitable post-tour cold virus, I’m very excited to report on my trip!

But first, a eulogy for my old home Hong Kong! It was so wonderful to see it again, after 2 and half years absence, not to mention the inability to travel due to that old enemy of ours, Covid 19! Hong Kong was my home for 22 years, and the place where my two girls grew up, and I’ve missed it dearly. It was such fun to be back in the bustle of the Island and the New Territories, and while it was clear that many expats have left in recent years, the spirit of Hong Kong, with its energy, inventiveness and drive, still lives on. So here I blow it a kiss, send it a hug, and promise that I’ll be back again soon! Read the following posts to find out what I did over the last fortnight and see some fun photos!

Alas! I’ve finished my school visits in Taiwan!

February 16, 2023 at 9:48 am | Posted in Taiwan Schools | Leave a comment
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I’ve had another WONDERFUL WEEK this week, visiting Taiwan for my very first time! I’ve criss-crossed the country, visiting all 3 campuses of the outstanding Morrison Academy, over 3 busy days. And today, I have the very special opportunity to visit the National Palace Museum here in Taipei – a wish that’s been sitting on my Bucket List for YEARS! I cannot wait to see some of the imperial treasures of China, from the ancient dynasties which feature in my Chinese Calendar Tales! I’ll make sure to post some pictures soon!

And as soon as I get back home to France, I’ll be posting a full report, with photos, of my fabulous two weeks back here in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Watch this space!

Oh what a week that was! And a fun event up ahead!!

February 12, 2023 at 7:31 pm | Posted in Events, Hong Kong events | Leave a comment
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Well, I’m officially EXHAUSTED but so HAPPY! I’ve had the most wonderful week visiting schools in Hong Kong, and am absolutely overwhelmed with the warm welcome back, and the amazing book orders! In fact, there were so many book orders to pack that I haven’t had a moment to post about my visits…and now I’m in Taiwan to visit three more schools!

I’ll be posting as soon as possible with some great photos of each visit. But in the meantime, here’s a fun event you can come along to, just before I fly back to France! I’ll be reading from The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit, then my friend Suzanne Younan, who writes the fabulous Green Dragon series, will be launching her latest book, and then we’ll BOTH be teaching you how to make some pop-up animal puppets … which can be rabbits or dragons or monkeys or a bit of them all! How very confusing!

And Harry Harrison will be there too to say hello! He might even have a fabulous colouring-in sheet for you to take home!

I look forward to seeing you there!

Hellooooo Hong Kong!!

February 6, 2023 at 10:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m back – sadly just for a week to visit 4 fabulous schools before heading off to Taiwan for a week, but don’t worry, I’ll be back again :)! It’s SO wonderful to be here again – Hong Kong was my home for 22 years, and was where my daughters spent their entire childhood! Walking the old familiar streets and passing so many familiar places is so bittersweet. I LOVE HONG KONG!!

Tomorrow I start my school visits. I can’t wait! See you all soon!

Are you at primary school? Do you like writing stories?

January 23, 2023 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Clever Competitions | Leave a comment
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Are you a primary school-aged student? Do you like writing stories? And do you like RABBITS??

Then it’s time for you to enter my new Clever Competition: The Tale of a Rogue Rabbit!

Now before I say anything else, I know that Rabbits in the Chinese Zodiac are a very civilized, polite and law-abiding! But as we all know, that naughty Rhonda Rabbit is a rebel from north of the border, who spends her time being extremely UN-civilized, IM-polite and breaking every law Qin Shi Huang puts in her way! She is NOT a Chinese Zodiac type of rabbit at all, but she’s a great reminder to put a rabbit-proof fence around our vegetable gardens!

So for this Clever Competition, I’d like you to write me a story about a rogue rabbit! Go to my Clever Competitions page right away to read all the rules, as well as all the tasty ingredients you must include!

The deadline’s at the end of April, so you have lots of time to write a RAVISHING story! I can’t wait to read it!

Kung Hei Fat Choi from me and Rhonda Rabbit!

January 23, 2023 at 5:31 pm | Posted in Chinese New Year | Leave a comment
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HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!! It’s time for THAT RABBIT to visit again!! Rhonda Rabbit, cheeky vegetable thief and sneaky wall-builder, is SO excited to be hopping about once more! And I’m 100 per cent with her!

So in order to celebrate a brand new year of mischief and fun, I have two fantastic pieces of news!

First up, I’m very excited to announce my upcoming tour of Hong Kong and Taiwan schools from 6th to 17th February! And this time, it’s IN PERSON! Hooray! I can’t wait to see all my lovely Hong Kong fans again, and to meet some new ones in Taiwan! I’ll be posting news and photos daily, so you can read all about it!

Secondly, it’s high time for a new Clever Competition! Read my next post to find out all about it!

Methuselah, Charly and me zoom in to Discovery Bay International School last Thursday!

November 22, 2022 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Huge thanks to librarian Melanie Foti and Year 4 Co-ordinator Richard Tinning for inviting me and artist Charly Cheung to Discovery Bay International School for a joint Zoom session about our book The Marvellous Adventures of Maggie and Methuselah last Thursday with the fabulous Year 4s! We had SO much fun!

The Year 4s have been studying our book in depth for the last few weeks, reading a new chapter every day, which is such a thrill for us both! Authors and artists LOVE having their books studied :)! We were then invited in to talk to the kids about the book, and I think that Charly and I enjoyed our session just as much as the students!

First I told them all about the fascinating history behind the book, including Hong Kong’s early years when Sir Catchick Paul Chater arrived in the then British Colony, and proceeded to transform the city with his huge building projects, including the very first reclamation of land from the harbour which gave us Statue Square, and all the land under Princes Building, the old Star Ferry terminal and Chater Road! Then we talked about Sir Chater’s rare and valuable art collection of over 430 pieces which was hidden when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong, of which only 90 pieces have been found since, and whether they might be hidden in the many WW2 tunnels still existing under Hong Kong today! And we finished with me reading Chapter 6 – you can see me reading below:

After a 10 minute break, it was Charly’s turn – and what a fantastic learning session that was! First Charly showed everyone pictures of the main characters in the book, and how they developed during the drafting process. They were fascinated to learn that Maggie’s dad Trevor was based on a rather eccentric relative of mine and that Ursula, Maggie’s mum, owes a great deal to actress and comedienne Bette Midler! Then the really fun part began, when Charly taught everyone how to draw their very own African Grey parrot (a.k.a. Methuselah!).

First they learned to draw the basic features of a parrot, by observing each of its body parts…

Then Charly taught us how to use the model we’d just drawn as the basis for a fun character drawing of our parrot, at a Christmas party!

And here are some fabulous results…

And then there was mine….oh dear! As Methuselah would say:

“Hold your crayon! Keep your pen!

Try, try and try again!”

A big THANK YOU to everyone who took part in our fun workshop, and especially to the teachers of Year 4, Mr Tinning and Ms Foti! We hope you enjoy finishing our story!

The results are out in my Terrific Tiger Tale Competition!

May 6, 2022 at 4:57 pm | Posted in Clever Competitions | Leave a comment
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From The Tale of Temujin, illustrated by Harry Harrison

Hooray! The results are out in my Terrific Tiger Tale writing competition for primary school students! A big THANK YOU to all the students who sent in their stories; I had so much fun judging them! And special congratulations to the writers of the top ten stories, plus two Honourable Mentions, in the two age categories! Just click HERE to find out who the winners were, and to read their Terrific Tiger Tales!

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