Room To Read needs our urgent help!

April 27, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Hello my friends. As you may already know, there was a big earthquake in Nepal on Saturday. Nepal is where everything started with Room to Read, and since they started work there, they have built over 1100 schools! They estimate that up to one quarter of these may have been destroyed in the earthquake. This is terrible news for all the kids, who now have no school, no libraries, and no books. Imagine how horrible that would be! So please ask Mum and Dad to go to the Room to Read website at to see what you and your family can do to help, and please tell all your friends about it.

It’s World Book Day tomorrow!

April 22, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments


Tomorrow, 23rd April, is the day the whole world celebrates those marvellous, mind-stretching, endlessly entertaining friends we call BOOKS! So go and buy a book from your favourite bookshop, or borrow a book from the library, and celebrate by reading a lovely book!


April 17, 2015 at 12:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Cute Ram

Wow! I’ve just finished judging a grand total of 175 fantastic entries from 32 schools on 3 different continents in my Shaggy Sheep Poem competition! If I read about one more sheep or ram or goat. I’m going to start bleating VERY loudly! The entries ranged from knock knock jokes to riddles to haikus to limericks to cinqains to rhyming couplets to some really good free verse! And I really loved all your sheep, rams and goats – they were a hairy, noisy lot on the whole but quite adorable, just like my handsome Rodney Ram! Special congratulations to Nicholas Ng from Shanghai United International School in Hongqiao, Shanghai, who won First Place in the Grade 1 to 3 Category, and Ivana Wong from Kowloon Junior School in Hong Kong who won First Place in the Grade 4 to 6 Category. Go to my Clever Competitions page right away to read all the winning entries, as well as some fantastic Special Mentions!

Have patience my friends!

April 16, 2015 at 9:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Precious and Bright Idea

I know that you’re all waiting to find out the results of my Shaggy Sheep Poem Competition, and I promise you that I’m judging them all as fast as I can! So please have patience! I hope to have all the results published, and all the schools notified, by the end of this weekend! Hang in there!

A Fascinating Find! Chinese typesetting blocks in Paris!

April 16, 2015 at 9:02 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Just look at this photo which I took last week in Paris in a bookshop window! It was a display of typesetting (the way type used to be printed onto paper before the whole system went digital) in the East and the West. Behind the samples of woodblock printing, you can see a photograph of the very sort of blocks, carved with different Chinese letters (or pictograms), which were originally invented in China by Bi Sheng between 1041AD and 1058 AD, five centuries before Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing machine, using the same moveable type printing, in the West! And guess how that invention travelled from China to Europe? Along the Silk Road, of course! You can read more about Bi Sheng and his amazing invention on the Meet Some Fabulous Chinese Heroes page above – just click on the link!

Wow! 174 entries from 32 schools around the world! That’s a WHOPPING BIG competition!

April 12, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Hello everyone! I’m back home again in Hong Kong, and just starting to judge my Shaggy Sheep Poem Competition, with my dog Bobby snuggled at my feet! Today I’ve collated all the entries and GEE WHIZZIKINS it’s a biggie! 174 fabulous entries from kids in 32 different schools in Beijing, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore, Sydney, Taiwan and even Seattle in the USA! So have patience, my friends! It’s going to take me a little while to read them all and decide on the ten best entries in each category. It’ll be hard work, but great fun too! I just love reading all your poems, and so does my dog Bobby too! So thanks a million for sending them all in!

Rodney Ram’s Literary Tour of Paris!

April 10, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As we all know, Rodney Ram is a very artistic sheep who loves writing rustic airs, especially when he’s wearing those dainty flowers. So, being on holiday in Paris with my family as I – and my toy sheep – have been this Easter, what could be more natural than to take my sheep on a literary tour on the Left Bank in Paris?

Paris between the wars (@ 1919 to 1939) saw the flowering of many great artists and writers (especially American writers), who congregated there to live in small, damp rooms where they wrote their stories, and to spend their evenings in warm cafes and bars where they met all manner of European writers, artists and musicians, as well as each other, of course! It was here that Sylvia Beach founded Shakespeare and Company, the first English language bookshop and lending library in Paris, which became a home away from home for her American writer friends. So Rodney Ram and I, and my very forbearing husband and girls, set out yesterday to track down some of their haunts. This is where we went!

(1) ERNEST HEMINGWAY – No. 74, Rue du Cardinal Lemoine – where the great American writer wrote his first famous novels. We found the address, and rang on the door, but nobody opened. So then Rodney decided to wait on the door handle, then on the window sill. We even looked way up to the 3rd floor to see if Hemingway was in…but no one was home 😦 …so we moved on!

Hemingway #1Hemingway #2Hemingway #3Hemingway #5Hemingway #4

(2) JAMES JOYCE – No. 71 Rue de Cardinal Lemoine – the great Irish writer was a close neighbour of the Hemingways for three months whilst finishing his masterpiece Ulysses, before he became rich and lived in more fancy neighbourhoods! We rang the bell…and waited and waited…but nobody came so we moved on again!

James Joyce #1 James Joyce #2James Joyce #3

(3) GERTRUDE STEIN – No. 27 Rue de Fleurus – another great American writer, who lived in Paris between the wars and there wrote her books and held wonderful literary salons for the writers and artists of the time. How I wish I could have been there (Rodney thinks the same thing :)! ) We rang the bell, and waited – but she must have been out! So we moved on…

Gertrude Stein #3 Gertrude Stein #2 Gertrude Stein #1

(4) WILLIAM FAULKNER – No. 26 Rue Servandoni – William Faulkner was another giant of American literature, who lived briefly in Paris in 1925 and often saw James Joyce sitting in cafes near the Jardin du Luxembourg, but never mustered up the courage to speak to him! Here my shaggy sheep and I pay tribute to the author of “The Sound and the Fury” and other wonderful stories.

William Faulkner #1

But alas, not even Faulkner was home…so after an hour spent sitting under the blossom trees in Jardin du Luxembourg, we high-tailed it down to the Eiffel Tower, before sailing down the Seine for dinner on a Bateau Mouche! Farewell, beautiful Paris in the Springtime! Au revoir and a bientot!

Rodney Ram in Paris #1

Tick tock, tick tock, today’s the deadline date in my Shaggy Sheep Poem competition!

April 10, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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A big hello to everyone out there who has already sent in their wonderful Shaggy Sheep Poem for my competition! Now for those who haven’t yet, you’re VERY lucky that I’m writing this blog from Paris, especially if you live in a different time zone, as I’m going to give everyone till 12 midnight Paris time to get their entries in! But after that, my friends, your time is up! So if you still haven’t sent it, you have just a few hours left – hurry hurry! And for those who have sent theirs in, join me in my next post on Rodney Ram’s Literary Tour of Paris!

HAPPY EASTER! And it’s time to get that Woolly Poem Written!

April 5, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A very Happy Easter to you, wherever you are! Now Easter was a time of rebirth, when Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  And it’s also a time for all things new, because, of course, it’s Spring (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere :))! The trees are blossoming, the daffodils are nodding their golden heads, and everywhere there is new life: baby birds, fluffy golden chicks, new kittens and puppies, colts and calves, and lots of lambs gambolling in the meadows…. speaking of which…

There are just FIVE days left in my Shaggy Sheep Poem Competition!  And there’s no better way to spend a beautiful Easter holiday than writing a fun poem about a ram, a sheep or a goat! So if you haven’t got your entry in now, you’d better get cracking! See my Clever Competitions page above for all the rules! The deadline date is Friday 10th April!

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