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!

 

 

A warm return to NAIS Pudong!

March 21, 2017 at 4:21 pm | Posted in China photos, NAIS Pudong, Shanghai schools | Leave a comment
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My Shanghai adventure started with a full-on, fun day at Nord Anglia International School, Pudong, where I was expertly hosted by the lovely Kym McCullough, librarian and fellow-Aussie! Here we are in the beautiful lobby of this outstanding school! The Year 2s met my feisty Pin Yin Panda and revised the order of all the animals in the Chinese Zodiac; the Year 3s heard my fabulous new Chinese Calendar Tale, The Tale of Rickshaw Rooster, and learned some fascinating modern Chinese history, while the Year 4s and Year 5s both did my fun Poetry Workshop! We all had a ball!

Rickshaw Rooster is flying home – to Shanghai!

March 15, 2017 at 6:17 am | Posted in children's literacy, China photos, Shanghai schools | Leave a comment
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Yippee! Rickshaw Rooster and I are flying to Shanghai today for 3 fabulous school visits and a special appearance on The Bund!! Which of course is where that feisty rooster runs THAT race!! I can’t wait to see my old friends in Shanghai – and to make some new ones too! – and to see my lovely fans at the Shanghai International Literary Festival at 10am at M on the Bund on Sunday!

The Tale of Rickshaw Rooster is my homage to a city that I love, that has made me very welcome over the past 9 years, and my homage also to its remarkable history that made it The Paris of the East!

And if you haven’t already booked for my session at the SILF, here’s the link! http://www.m-restaurantgroup.com/event/sarah-brennan-rickshaw-the-rooster-childrens-session/

Do make sure you see some of the other exciting sessions too – it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet authors from around the world, for both adults and children, and to hear them talk in person about their work. Not to mention having your books signed by the authors themselves!!

See you soon, Shanghai, with a great big COCKADOODLE-DOOOOO!

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Temujin goes to Beijing, and Tarini and I explore the Forbidden City in Beijing – it’s amazing!

November 11, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Posted in China photos | 2 Comments

Temujin and I roared up to Beijing for a quick visit last week for a wonderful event at Capital M on the Sunday and a terrific school visit to Daystar Academy on the Friday!  So of course, on Saturday, what better thing to do than to take Temujin’s favourite cousin Tarini to check out the extraordinary Forbidden City, which many of you already know was Harry Harrison’s inspiration for the Grand Imperial Palace in The Tale of Temujin! Here are some photos of this momentous visit!

The Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace in China during the Ming and Qing dynasties and is the largest palace complex in the world! Building began in 1407 and ended in 1420, and it was the home of the Emperors of China right up until Puyi, the last Emperor of China, was expelled from the palace by the Republicans in 1924.

Tarini and I outside the Forbidden City in Tiananmen Square.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarini and a real life Princess Precious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the first courtyard leading into the Forbidden City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very impressive lion guarding one of the palaces – but Tarini wasn’t at all scared!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guess who’s the Queen of the Castle (or should that be Empress?)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The eaves of the Hall of Supreme Harmony. You can tell how important a building is in the Forbidden City by counting the number of small animal sculptures on the eaves! This hall is the most important of all, so it has eleven animals!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exquisitely ornate and colourful painting under the eaves of one of the palaces in the complex.

 

 

 

Two great Imperial symbols: The crane and the tortoise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hall of Central Harmony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gorgeous golden throne in the Hall of Preserved Harmony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarini and I in front of an extraordinary, gigantic stone carving, which was transported from the quarry where it was made to Beijing during the Ming dynasty in the middle of winter, by sliding it along roads which were flooded and then frozen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful palace gardens behind the royal palaces where the Emperor and his family and concubines would stroll in the evenings.

These entwined cypress trees are said to symbolize loyalty and love. The last Emperor Puyi and his wife Wanrong had their photos taken in front of it on their wedding day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A minor pathway in the palace complex.  Can’t you just imagine old scholars walking down the path in their long gowns back in the days of the Ming dynasty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell to the Forbidden City –  a worthy memorial to the great Emperors of China!

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