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!

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!

My Brilliant Week in China!

March 23, 2018 at 5:13 pm | Posted in Beijing, Beijing Schools, Bookworm Cafe Beijing, Changzhou, Changzhou schools, China photos, Montessori School of Beijing, Suzhou, Suzhou schools, Suzhou Science and Technology Town Foreign Language School, Tsinghua International School Beijing, Wycombe Abbey International School Changzhou, YCIS Beijing | Leave a comment
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Hello everyone – I’m back in Hong Kong, and now I can update you about my fantastic week in China last week!

Day One: Wycombe Abbey International School in Changzhou

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On Monday I met the fabulous kids and teachers at Wycombe Abbey International School in Changzhou! Here above I’m standing with the lovely librarians – Betty Ton, my host for the day (who kindly let me stay in her flat!), and her library colleagues Lesley Kelly and Marianne Booth.

We had a fun day of 4 story readings where the kids met my Chinese Calendar Tales characters from The Tale of Desmond Dog, The Tale of a Dark Horse, and The Tale of Chester Choi. Then just a few days ago I received a lovely list of questions from the school magazine – the questions were so interesting, I’ve added them and my answers to to my FAQ list on the tab above! Do take a look! And here are some more photos!

 

That evening I flew to the ancient city of Suzhou, where I met up with my Bookworm Festival Minder Elaine and her friend Zoe, who took me out for a dinner of black carp soup at a local restaurant. It was delicate and absolutely delicious!

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=Afterwards, we took a walk along the canal which runs around the old city, seeing some wonderful landmarks below:

 

 

Day Two: Suzhou Science and Technology Town Foreign Language School

After staying in the very elegant Pan Pacific Hotel in Suzhou overnight,

Elaine and I were driven an hour into the countryside to a local private high school in Suzhou’s Science and Technology Town, the Suzhou Science and Technology Town Foreign Language School.

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I met some remarkable, forward-thinking teachers and the students of Grades 5 and 7, who impressed me hugely with their creativity. I gave two hour long sessions about How to Become Writers in the Digital Age, to a great response from the students and staff. Below top left, you will see me with Vice Principal Wang Haiyan to my left, the lovely Zhang Chen, Director of the Principal’s Office to her left, and my helper Elaine to my right!

In particular I met a delightful young lady at lunch, Rose Yang, just 11 years old, who later sent me a very accomplished and lovely sonnet she had written – I’ll write about it in my next post!

That night I flew to Beijing, where the Bookworm Festival kindly accommodated me and the other Festival writers in the very modern, stylish and minimalist hotel The Opposite House. Here are some pictures – though I’m not sure how much I appreciated the terracotta soldiers in the foyer…!

 

 

Day Three: Montessori School of Beijing

On Wednesday I visited my old friends at Montessori School of Beijing, where I gave two story reading sessions to the younger students, and two Riveting Story workshops to the older students. It was great to see the school again, to meet its new Principal Laura King (to my left) and its marketing director Wairimu Wanjau (Nimo) to my right! I also made a wonderful new friend Yun (below far right) who was my Bookworm Minder for the day – thanks Yun! More photos to come!

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Day Four: Yew Chung International School Beijing

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On Thursday I visited YCIS Beijing, where the Year 1 and Year 2 kids heard my latest Chinese Calendar Tale, The Tale of Desmond Dog, while the Year 4s took part in my How to Write a Riveting Story workshop and the Year 5s learned How to Publish Your Own Picture Book! We had a lot of fun! Many thanks to my hosts Anna Esposito and Landy Hwang, and to my wonderful Bookworm Minder, Gary Fang.

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Day Five: Tsinghua International School Beijing

IMG_0369The final school in my busy tour was the wonderful THISB, set in the middle of the Olympics Tennis Center! With workshops and story readings for everyone from Grade 1 to Grade 5, we had so much fun together in this energetic, enthusiastic school. Many thanks for inviting me to the lovely Principal Mandy Zhang and my host for the day, librarian Christine Wedge. Here we are below in a fun selfie!

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And here I am in my sessions with the kids!

 

 

And meeting some of my new fans!

 

 

 

Friday evening and Saturday at The Bookworm

Finally, I spent a wonderful evening and day at The Bookworm International Literary Festival listening to three fabulous Australian authors, Booker Prize Winning Richard Flanagan from my home State of Tasmania, and prize-winning Sydney poet and author Fiona Wright and multi-award winning author Alexis Wright. It was a rare privilege to hear them talk about their writing, their inspiration and their craft.

 

Huge thanks to Peter Goff, owner of The Bookworm Cafe and Festival Director, for inviting me to participate in the Schools Program for the Festival this year, to Zoe for her fantastic organisation of the tour, and to my fabulous minders. And for the splendid accommodation, and always warm welcome at the unique and beautiful Bookworm Cafe!

Farewell Beijing!

And finally, a fond farewell to misty late-winter Beijing, a magnificent city with a magnificent history! I can’t wait to return!

 

 

Desmond and I take part in the Bookworm Literary Festival this week!

March 12, 2018 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Beijing Schools, Bookworm Cafe Beijing, Changzhou schools, Literary Festivals, Suzhou schools, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Desmond Dog and I are visiting 3 different cities in mainland China for 5 fun days this week as part of the Bookworm Literary Festival! Today we’ve been in Changzhou, tonight and tomorrow we’re in Suzhou, then from Wednesday to Friday we’ll be in Beijing! Keep following this blog to see all the photos and fun!

 

 

Yum! Learning how to make Jiaozi with ISB!

February 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Posted in Beijing Schools, International School of Beijing, Video | Leave a comment
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This week Rebecca Taylor, Upper Elementary School librarian and my lovely host at ISB, invited me home with Upper Elementary School librarian Paul Wong, her husband Douglas and children,  and her friend Li Ping, to make the delicious Beijing treats called Jiaozi (you say “djow-tzi”)! Here is a fun video of our evening – it was such fun! Thanks Rebecca and Doug!

Some scrumptious ISB kids!

February 1, 2018 at 9:50 am | Posted in Beijing Schools, International School of Beijing, Week in Residence | Leave a comment
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UnknownMy week with ISB has been continuing apace, with such a lot of fun with so many scrumptious kiddies! Here I am with the gorgeous Grade 1s and my lovely ES librarian friend Rebecca Talyor (to my left) and Grade 1SD teacher Stephanie Dracz!

 

I begin my Week in Residence at ISB!

January 29, 2018 at 8:17 pm | Posted in Beijing Schools, International School of Beijing, Week in Residence | Leave a comment
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Today was the first day of a whole week of fabulous fun at the wonderful International School of Beijing, with the kids of Pre-Kinder 3 right up to the big kids of Grade 2! Today my Chinese dragon Chester Choi and I met some delicious four year olds in PreK4, then two Grade 1 classes learned all about the Chinese Zodiac when they met Pin Yin Panda, and the Kinders acted out my new story The Tale of Desmond Dog, with lots of “Woofs!” from the dogs, “Aha me hearties!” from the wicked pirates and “EEEKs!” from the scared villagers of Hong Kong! It was SO much fun! Then some gorgeous 3 year olds in PreK3 met all my stuffed toys! Here are my toys, sitting in a Chinese Zodiac row (except the Big Cat and the Panda, who didn’t make it into the Zodiac, and Desmond being Top Dog on my dragon, because it’s HIS year in 2018!

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Huge thanks to my lovely host Bec Taylor, librarian for Lower Primary, here with my friend Paul Wong, who is librarian for Upper Primary!

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Small is Beautiful at BIBS in Beijing!

January 25, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Posted in Beanstalk International Bilingual School, Beijing Schools, Being an Author, Clever Competitions | Leave a comment
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What a happy day I had at Beanstalk International Bilingual School Shunyi Campus today! Although it was FREEZING outside, the welcome inside was warm and very friendly from everybody, from the gorgeous kids to their lovely parents to the dedicated staff! The Grade 1s met my hungry, lonely dragon in The Tale of Chester Choi; the Grade 2s screamed like spoiled princesses and roared like tigers very convincingly as I read them The Tale of Temujin; the Grade 3s and 4s learned about the world’s most successful pirate Ching Shih and about Hong Kong too when they heard The Tale of Desmond Dog, and the Grade 5s asked some fabulous questions after I told them all about my journey to becoming an author, why I wrote The Chinese Calendar Tales and that very important question – what is my writing process? I was delighted to find out that, like me, they were all firm fans of making story plans before they wrote their first draft of a story! So I’m really looking forward to some great entries from the BIBS Grade 5s in my current Dashing Dog Story Writing Competition (details on the Clever Competition page here).

Warm thanks to wonderful librarian Heather Wright (with me above) who expertly hosted me today, and thank you to the mums and dads and kids who bought over 100 books! I hope to see you all again soon!

Another great day at Keystone Academy!

January 24, 2018 at 10:41 am | Posted in Beijing Schools, Keystone Academy, workshops | Leave a comment
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Some fabulous Grade 4s!

Thank you to the fabulous library team for another great day at Keystone Academy! I met more of the fantastic Grade 3s and 4s, as well as the Grade 5s, and we talked all about the historical figures in my Chinese Calendar Tales – it was wonderful to find that the Keystone kids know a LOT of Chinese history and I learned some really interesting new facts…like, for example, that the name of Genghis Khan (who is represented by Temujin in The Tale of Temujin) can mean not just “mighty leader” but also “leader of all from  the skies to the earth“. One of the primary librarians Lizzy Wong did some more research and found that “genghis” can also mean “powerful“, “gift of the gods” or “ocean“. I think it’s fair to conclude that whatever it’s meaning, “genghis” means something rather magnificent! Then to conclude we had a fun book signing! Thank you to all the fabulous parents, teachers and kids who bought my books!

With Grade 9 student Tori Gu

Here is Tori Gu, the Grade 9 student and library helper who helped pick me up at the airport. During my visit, Tori and I became firm friends. Tori is a remarkable young woman with ambition and great poise, who I’m sure is going to go far! Tori told me that her ambition is to study medicine at John Hopkins University in the United States – and I’m quite sure she’ll make it! She also introduced me to one of her friends, a young man from Afghanistan who has great ambitions for his country – especially for elevating the status of women. I think the future is in safe hands!

Finally, I would like to thank Primary Principal, Mary Jew, for her warm welcome and conversation at dinner, and for my very comfortable accommodation in the guest room in Keystone’s beautiful boarding house.

Hello Keystone Academy!

January 22, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Posted in Beijing Schools, Keystone Academy, Uncategorized, workshops | Leave a comment
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Keystone Academy

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I’ve just spent the first of two fun days at Keystone Academy! From its huge campus to its Hogwarts-esque buildings, its stylish boarding house to its stunning primary library, it’s a very impressive school indeed! This morning I met the Year 4s, telling them all about how I weave Chinese history, folklore and culture into my Chinese Calendar Tales, then spent a session after lunch with the Year 3s, walking them through the making of my latest book The Tale of Desmond Dog! Then it was off to the middle school lecture hall, where students from primary and upper school and some lovely mums and dads came to hear me reading Desmond Dog’s story! Here’s some of my audience above! To my right is my lovely host, primary librarian Jennifer Fuentes, together with Lizzie Wong to her right. To my left is Year 9 student Tori Gu, who was kind enough to collect me at the airport with Carlie Spruill (to her left) and who is a fantastic ambassador for the school! And to the left of Carlie is Elaine Yin. A big thank you to Jennifer, Carlie, Lizzie, Elaine and Tori for making me feel so welcome – not to mention all the wonderful teachers, students and parents! I look forward to seeing you all again tomorrow!

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