So what are you up to these holidays?

July 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Posted in children's education, children's literacy, Favourite kids' books | Leave a comment
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It’s the summer holidays at last! YAY!!!! (Or the winter break if you’re down south of the Equator of course :)). School’s out, you’ve got time on your hands…so what are you up to?

Personally, I’m reading lots and lots of BOOKS! And not just because it’s my favourite way of passing the time! But also because BOOKS ARE BRILLIANT FOR YOUR BRAIN!

The latest scientific research shows that reading lots of books gives you:

  • a HUGE VOCABULARY
  • HUGE GENERAL KNOWLEDGE
  • GREAT WRITING STYLE
  • FANTASTIC FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION
  • BRILLIANT STRESS RELIEF
  • a SUPERB IMAGINATION
  • EXCEPTIONAL ORIGINALITY, CREATIVITY and IDEAS (so you can save the world!)
  • GREAT COMPASSION FOR OTHERS
  • not to mention THE BEST SCHOOL RESULTS (when you get back to school!)

If you don’t believe me, get Mum and Dad to take a look here at my talk to some Australian librarians last year – which sets out all the science they need to read!

So what are you waiting for! Put down that electronic tablet/gaming device/lap top (which only makes you good at playing games and manipulating a mouse) and pick up a fabulous BOOK!

And if you’ve read all your books, it’s time to go to your favourite library or bookshop to get some more! You can tell your Mum and Dad from me that it’s the best investment they’ll ever make for you!

HOORAY FOR BOOKS!

Not long to go now…

June 5, 2019 at 5:03 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Monkey story, writing competitions | Leave a comment
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Ming Kee Monkey being SUPER patient in The Tale of Ming Kee Monkey. Illustration by Harry Harrison

Thank you for your patience, all you fabulous contestants in my Practically Perfect Pig Tale Competition! My lovely helper is home from hospital and resting up, and I’m back to judging of your fantastic stories! I’m having so much fun reading them – you’ve all done a wonderful job! So it won’t be long to go now before I announce the finalists! Keep visiting my site, and I’ll be making the big announcement soon!

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!

Eight weeks to go in my Clever Competition!

March 16, 2019 at 10:46 am | Posted in Boxed Set of Chinese Calendar Tales, children's literacy, Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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Ping Pong would like to remind you that there are just eight weeks to go to get your story entries in to my Practically Perfect Pig Tale Competition! Now you might think that’s a long time…but even if you don’t think pigs can fly, I can assure you that time does, especially when you’re having fun! And with a beautiful Boxed Set of Chinese Calendar Tales on the table as first prize, you’d better get started! So take a look at the competition rules and ingredients here, and start planning your fabulous story today!

Hooray for the Room to Read Writer Ambassadors!

December 19, 2018 at 10:38 am | Posted in Australian schools, children's literacy, girls' education, Room to Read | Leave a comment
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Photo Credit: https://give.roomtoread.org/team/155100

Wow – what happy news from team leader Jodi Mullen today! The Room to Read Writer Ambassador Team (of which I am a very proud member along with Tristan Bancks and 22 other fabulous Australian children’s authors) has achieved its goal and EXCEEDED it!

With the support of many wonderful schools, teachers and parents we have exceeded our target of AU$18,250 and reached AU$21,003! So instead of the target of 50 girls, now 57 girls will be able to attend secondary school in 2019 who previously had no opportunity to travel this important route out of poverty! You can read more here.

YAY TEAM!!!

My Canberra Report!

December 10, 2018 at 11:46 am | Posted in Awards, Canberra, children's literacy, Prime Minister's Literary Awards 2018 | Leave a comment
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I’m back now from our trip to Canberra for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, and it was absolutely wonderful!

Day One

My husband Philippe and I were flown, courtesy of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, from Hong Kong to Canberra via Melbourne, and put up in the very glamorous Realm Hotel, just a short walk away from Australia’s Parliament House! Of course we had to walk up to it right away, and above you can see the extraordinary flagpole on top of the “new” Parliament House, built in 1988 to replace the “old” Parliament House! The design was by Romaldo Giurgola, a New York-based architect who won an international competition from over 320 other entries! Isn’t it stunning?

Parliament House Canberra

Photo credit Mark Broadhurst https://www.pexels.com/photo/parliament-house-canberra-australia-235428/

Just as we reached the back entrance, we were lucky enough to meet a very kind man called Jamie King, the husband of Madeleine King, a Member of Parliament from Western Australia, who offered to show us around inside the House, where the public isn’t allowed to go without a special invitation! I wish I could show you photos of the beautiful corridors we explored, where the members do their work in their offices when they’re not in session! And it was quite surreal standing directly below the flagpole, which was set into a glass pyramid roof!

Here I am below with Jamie in the fabulous public entry hall, whose stunning marble columns represent a forest of gum trees!

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We also saw a brilliant Lego design of Parliament House off the main entrance, with Lego members of both the Senate (red carpet) and the House of Representatives (green carpet)! It was such fun!

 

Thank you so much Jamie for your great generosity in giving up well over an hour of your time, as well as sharing all your expertise on the architecture and design of this splendid building!

Day Two

All my fellow authors and artists who had been short-listed for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards made our way to Parliament House again, where we were met by the PMLA’s team, and I was so delighted to meet the wonderful Aeshe Bennett, who made it possible for Philippe and I to attend all the way from Hong Kong! Thank you Aeshe from the bottom of my heart!

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After morning tea and official photographs, we all filed into the presentation room, where we sat with bated breath for the final results in each category!  After a speech from the Prime Minister, the results were finally announced!

Sadly, Storm Whale didn’t win the Children’s Book section, but all five books in the category were so wonderful that it was quite simply an honour to be up there on the list with them! The winning book, Pea Pod Lullaby, written by Glenda Millard and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, is a beautiful book with a wonderful heart and soul, and thoroughly deserved first place.

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My huge congratulations to its two marvellous creators, as well as the publisher Allen and Unwin (who also happened to be the publishers of Storm Whale!).

It was a huge thrill to meet the four other Australian children’s authors including Glenda herself, the lovely Phil Cummings, the talented young Tamsin Janu and the very funny Lisa Shanahan. As well as adult writers like Richard McGregor, who won the Non-Fiction award for his book Asia’s Reckoning, and the wonderful Stuart Kells, author of The Library, who like me considers libraries the most important rooms in the world! And the charming Ivor Indyk of Giramondo, a small specialist press which published the winners of the Fiction and Poetry categories, Gerald Murnane and Brian Castro respectively! Wow!!

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Photo Credit – from Jane’s website (see link below)

But best of all was spending time with my dear friend Jane Tanner above, illustrator of Storm Whale, who is the greatest “poet in paint” that I know, and who is one of the greatest of all Australian children’s books illustrators of all time. If you want to find more about Jane and all her famous books, you can click on this link!

After the lunch, we were taken to the National Library, where we signed copies of our books! What an honour to have Storm Whale in such illustrious company!

Finally, my darling husband and I spent the night at the famous Canberra Hotel, where all the great and the good of Canberra stayed from the 1920s. It’s an art deco masterpiece! Here I am in front of the hotel, and my husband Philippe is smiling in front of the old cricket green!

 

Day Three

We sadly said goodbye to the capital city of my home country, to which we would love to return one day soon! To finish my report, below is a Canberra gum tree – which I’ve included because I love gum trees more than any other tree on earth! Isn’t it simply beautiful?

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Give children the most precious gift of all – today and Wednesday only!

November 27, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Room to Read | Leave a comment
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How is all that Christmas shopping going? Have you finished your list for the kids? I’m quite sure they’re going to be spoiled rotten again! I HOPE you’re getting them lots of fabulous books this year, to keep them happy and entertained, and above all, to keep their brains in fantastic shape!

But what about the kids who aren’t as lucky as yours, who don’t have access to books and who can’t even read?

I just LOVE being a writer ambassador for my favourite charity, Room to Read, because it makes wonderful futures possible for children all over the world who might otherwise have a very bleak future indeed – and who almost certainly won’t be getting Christmas gifts this year.

So what can you give them? You will be so excited to find out here!

So today, if you can spare a moment, and a dollar or two, for the kiddies that won’t be waking up in your house this Christmas to bulging Christmas stockings, please give on the link above, and Room to Read’s partner Sensato, will TRIPLE your gift!

Happy Tuesday Giving Day!

The Results are out in my Perfect Pet Poem Competition!

November 18, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Clever Competitions, poetry, Poetry competitions for children | Leave a comment
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Desmond Dog rescues a cat in The Tale of Desmond Dog! Illustration by Harry Harrison

Thank you all so much for your wonderful entries into my latest Clever Competition! And what a lovely time I’ve had reading about your Perfect Pets! There were 48 fabulous entries this time, from 15 different schools in 7 cities on 4 different continents! There were entries from Melbourne in Australia; from Shanghai and Zhuhai in mainland China; from Hong Kong; from Chicago and San Diego in the United States of America, and, for the first time, from Colombo in Sri Lanka! There were real pets, like cats, hamsters, pigs and a red panda! There were fantastical pets, like dragons, seahorns and snickerdoodles! Most were cute and cuddly, some were downright scary! But most of all, there were DOGS – to which, as a dog lover myself, I can only say of course!

Special congratulations to Hannah Thompson, of Grade 3, Methodist Ladies College, Melbourne, Australia, who won the Grade 1 to 3 Category in the competition, and Madeline Painter of Grade 6, South Middle School, Illinois, Chicago, USA, who won the Grade 4 to 6 Category. They each win a signed copy of one of my books sent to their school for presenation in assembly. Well done girls!

Go to my Clever Competitions Page right away to read all the fantastic place-winning entries!

The deadline’s on Sunday!

October 26, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Clever Competitions, Poetry competitions for children | Leave a comment
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Desmond saving cat

Woof! You have just two days to go to send in your poem in my Perfect Pet Poem Competition! So if you haven’t sent it yours yet, take a look at all the information and rules here, and GET WRITING!!!

Long live libraries!

October 26, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Posted in children's literacy, libraries, school libraries, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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pexels-photo-256541Photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/row-of-books-in-shelf-256541/

If you’re anything like me, you just LOVE libraries. In fact, in my opinion, in any school, the library is both its heart and its soul, and should be treasured accordingly. And placed accordingly too! Not in a far distant wing of the building, or in the basement, or up under the roof – but RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the school’s ground floor, where kids can see it, and use it, every single day.

So take a look here, in this wonderful piece from The Atlantic on Wednesday, at photos of some of the most extraordinary libraries in the world, in countries where, clearly, the real book is still cherished and promoted to its citizens! And ponder if your country and your school cherishes books the same way. And if not, do something about it, FAST!

After all, as the great American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author and thinker Carl Sagan once said: “I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture, and our concern for the future, can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.”

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