Say hello to Therese, a worthy prize winner in my Clever Competition!

June 19, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Posted in Arden Anglican School, Beecroft, Chinese Calendar Tales, Clever Competitions | Leave a comment
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I’ve just received these lovely photos of the talented Therese Li of Arden Anglican School in New South Wales, Australia, who at just 7 years old was the winner of the Years 1 to 3 Category in my last Clever Competition! Here she is presenting the Boxed Set of Chinese Calendar Tales which she won for her school to the junior school librarian, Mrs Maren de Rijk! You can read Therese’s brilliant story here!

Watch our fab session at the HK Young Readers Festival today!

June 10, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Bookazine Princes Building, Chinese Calendar Tales, Events, Harry Harrison, Hong Kong events, Hong Kong Young Readers Festival 2020, Shatin Junior School, Video, Virtual visits, Zoom visits | Leave a comment
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If you just missed Harry Harrison and my fabulous video and Q and A session with the kids of Shatin Junior School Grade 3 today, you can listen here! It was so much fun! You can find out all about why and how we created the Chinese Calendar Tales, from first idea to final Boxed Set! You can even watch Harry as he draws from preliminary sketch to final painting! Thanks to Catherine Platt, director of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, for this fantastic event! And to lovely moderator Julia Kuehn; James Ryan, cub reporter, for his fabulous questions on our video; Annabel Cohen (my daughter!) for the fantastic filming and editing; Bookazine for their brilliant offer of 15% off all the Chinese Calendar Tales this June; Hugh Beames and Karen Middleton of Shatin Junior School; and Joseph, our tech advisor and supporter!!

It’s Leap Day!

February 29, 2020 at 10:29 am | Posted in Chinese Calendar Tales, Chinese customs, Chinese Zodiac, Leap Year | Leave a comment
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Illustration credit: Harry Harrison, The Tale of Run Run Rat

And how fitting that Leap Year 2020 is the Year of the Rat! Or that’s what Run Run Rat thinks, anyway! Because that’s how Run Run won the Olympics Marathon in The Tale of Run Run Rat, by leaping over the shoulder of the lead runner, who was built like a buffalo! (And of course quite coincidentally 🙂, the Rat won Lord Buddha’s Race, to place first in the Chinese Zodiac…by leaping over the Ox’s shoulder!).

So to celebrate this special day, 29th February, I thought it would be fun to find out some fascinating Leap Year facts! Here we go:

  • Leap Years contain one extra day, of 24 hours, because the Earth takes 365 days PLUS 6 hours to orbit the Sun! (This is known as a Tropical Year). So by adding (4 x 6) hours to the calendar every four years, our Gregorian calendar keeps pace with astronomy!
  • So they occur every 4 years – or, to put it another way, every year that is an integer (ie can be divided by to leave a whole number) of 4. Thus this year, 2020, can be divided by 4 to equal the whole number 505!
  • BUT you have to leave out the “century” years eg 1800, 1900, 2100, EXCEPT those that can be divided exactly by 400 (eg 1600, 2000) because a Tropical Year is just slightly shorter than 365.25 days (365.242190 days long, to be exact)! Phew that’s tricky!
  • If you are born on a Leap Day, you are called a leaper or a leapling! Technically, this means you can only have a true birthday every 4 years, which is rather sad when you’re young, but on the other hand, when you are 84 years in physical age, you can justly claim to be just 21 years old! Now I can think of a few adults who would be happy with that!
  • But never fear, the law says that if you are a leapling, your annual birthday is deemed to be either February 28 or March 1, depending on where you live. So you can still get birthday presents and a cake each year!
  • The comic super-hero Superman is a leapling! DC Comics, publishers of the Superman series, thought of this clever device to explain why Superman apparently never ages!
  • On Leap Day in Ireland, called Bachelor’s Day, women have traditionally proposed marriage to men, rather than the other way round. And if the man refused, he had to give the woman a new silk dress (or, by the middle of last century) a fur coat! Now that’s a handy way to get a new wardrobe!
  • In the Chinese and Jewish Calendar, which are lunar calendars, Leap Year adds on an extra month to the calendar! In the Chinese version, the extra month has the same name as the previous lunar month. In the Jewish version, it’s called Adar, and is extra-lucky!

So if you are a leapling, I wish you an incredibly happy Birthday, worth four times as much as a normal birthday!

But remember, always look before you leap!

Ram pagespread #2

Illustration credit: Harry Harrison, The Tale of Rodney Ram

Prizes galore to be won in The Great Year of the Rat Challenge 2020!

February 22, 2020 at 10:07 am | Posted in Asia Society Hong Kong, Challenges and activities, Chinese Calendar Tales | Leave a comment
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Here is Run Run Rat, racing home to his family (and his forty seven cousins) after winning the Olympics Marathon! Now Run Run won a fabulous Gold Medal…but I wonder what YOU could win in The Great Year of the Rat Challenge 2020?

I’ll let you know on Monday, when Asia Society Hong Kong and I launch the challenge! Make sure you visit this page again on Monday to find out all about it!

Kung Hei Fat Choi! It’s time for a Rascally Rat Tale writing competition!

January 24, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Chinese Calendar Tales, Chinese New Year, Clever Competitions | Leave a comment
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village - family

Picture credit: Harry Harrison, The Tale of Run Run Rat

Kung Hei Fat Choi! It’s Chinese New Year! My feisty Run Run Rat is telling his family all about his adventurous plans for his trip around China. His mum is busy baking some delicious steam buns for a Chinese New Year feast! His dad is taking a break from his hard work as a miner, and his big sister is STILL filing her claws!! As for Run Run’s little brother – he’s wondering how many egg tarts he can gobble up before his mum notices!

So it’s high time we had another writing competition!

It’s open to anyone, anywhere in the world who is:

  • a primary or elementary school student from Grade 1 to Grade 6
  • or home-educated students of equivalent stage

This time I want you to write me a story about a rascally Rat, set in China, with the following further ingredients:

  • a Chinese emperor
  • a brainy princess
  • three magic tangerines
  • an evil talking dumpling
  • the colour malachite (if you don’t know what that is, then look it up!)
  • a long drought

Click on my Clever Competitions page right away to find out what I’ll be looking for, and all the competition rules!

The deadline date is Friday 17th April, so you have 3 months to write your story! And with a fabulous Chinese New Year holiday just starting, you could begin your story plan right away!

What a fabulous way to start your celebrations for the Year of the Rat! Run Run Rat would surely approve!

And if you don’t have your copy of The Tale of Run Run Rat yet, click here to purchase right away!

The Chinese Calendar Tales in a Quilt!

August 19, 2019 at 5:32 pm | Posted in Chinese Calendar Tales, Room to Read | Leave a comment
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This afternoon I was so excited to collect my very own Chinese Calendar Tales quilt!! My dear friend Jodi Mullen is not only the Students Helping Students Team Leader for my favourite children’s literacy charity Room to Read but is also a very talented quilt-maker! So I asked Jodi if she could make me a quilt featuring all the Chinese Calendar Tales beasties, and here it is! Isn’t it wonderful?

Jodi has very generously donated my payment for the quilt to the Room to Read World Change Challenge. If you’d like to find out more about this fantastic fund-raising challenge to educate girls just click on this link!

Thank you Jodi!!

Oh what a lovely Launch!!

January 31, 2019 at 9:53 am | Posted in Book launches, Bookazine Exchange Square, Books about Chinese Zodiac, Bookshop event, Boxed Set, Chinese Calendar Tales, Chinese New Year, Fabulous fans!, Hong Kong events, RoomtoRead, Writer Ambassador | Leave a comment
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reading my story! bookazine launch jan 2019

Phew is it busy at the moment!!! I’m so busy with lots of lovely school visits and book orders that I’m very late with my blog-posts! So, my lovely followers, you are going to receive quite a number today!

my little pig paavo with our beautiful new boxed sets!

First and foremost, I want to tell you about last Saturday, and the wonderful launch of The Tale of Ping Pong Pig and our beautiful new Boxed Set of Chinese Calendar Tales at Bookazine Exchange Square! We had a fabulous crowd of fans there, old and new, including many old friends who had come to our launches at the very beginning of the series!

First we had speeches from Shonee Mirchandani of Bookazine, who with her sister Arti has hosted ALL my book launches ever since A Dirty Story back in 2004; then from my dear friend Jennie Orchard, who spoke about RoomtoRead, the wonderful children’s literacy charity for whom I am a very proud Writer Ambassador. 20% of the proceeds of sale at the launch is being donated by me and Bookazine to the RoomtoRead library in India that Bookazine is generously funding! You can find out more about RoomtoRead’s fantastic work in India here.

harry harrison takes the stage! bookazine launch jan 2019

Then I was very pleased to talk about the series and all the wonderful people who have contributed so much to its success. First and foremost, that had to be Harry Harrison, our fabulous illustrator!

Then our designers e5 and printer KK Mok at Zhongtian Colour Printing HK Ltd, who sadly could not be with us.

me with arti and shonee mirchandani, bookazine launch jan 2019

Then Arti and Shonee of Bookazine of course!

Then my beautiful family – my daughters Bea and Annabel (who surprised me with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers so I cried :))

with my beautiful daughters...who gave me flowers! bookazine launch jan 2019

And my darling husband Philippe who has supported me in every way, through thick and thin, during the 13 years of writing and publishing the series. Here he is on the right with me, Jennie Orchard and Harry!

sarah, jennie, harry and philippe toast the books!

And last but never least, my fantastic fans, including kids, mums and dads, teachers and librarians, all over Hong Kong!

Next came my story reading of The Tale of Ping Pong Pigour very last Tale in the series, out just in time for The Year of the Pig! The kids in the audience were such fun to read to, and they and their mums and dads enthusiastically joined in whenever poor little Ping Pong ran into trouble from her nemesis, the Minister of Most Important Things! Then Harry’s annual quiz for everyone from 2 to 102, with prizes of tiny pandas for the right answers…

harry's quiz! bookazine launch jan 2019

And then a real treat! Harry showed everyone how he draws his characters…and then the kiddies joined in!

And finally, our traditional book signing, when it’s such a pleasure to meet our lovely fans!

My daughter Annabel got her annual finger signing from Harry and me of course!

annabel's annual finger signatures!

It was such a happy, exciting and colourful event, and I’d like to give my warmest thanks again to Clemence Robine, who organised the event for Bookazine and who generously allowed me to borrow some of the photos on Bookazine’s FaceBook page. You can see more here!

what an achievement!

It’s time for a Dashing Dog Story Writing Competition!

January 14, 2018 at 5:17 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Chinese Calendar Tales, Writing competitions for kids | 5 Comments
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Desmond holding child

Are you a primary school student anywhere in the world? Do you love DOGS? Do you love writing stories? Then it’s time to enter my latest international Clever Competition, The Dashing Dog Story Competition!

Introducing Desmond Dog, the latest loveable character in the Chinese Calendar Tales series! Like all Chinese Zodiac dogs, he’s brave, noble and kind, and he LOVES protecting his little village, keeping everybody safe from harm! And of course, his Year of the Chinese Zodiac is just around the corner!

So it’s about time that we had a story writing competition all about DOGS! This time I want you to write me a story about a typical Chinese Zodiac Dog, like Desmond. I want him to be brave, kind, honourable and above all, DASHING!! You also must have

  • a title for your story, the more interesting the better!
  • a Chinese setting – be that a village, a city, a river, a lake, a mountain or even a Chinese planet in the future! So you’ll have to do a bit of research, and make sure to include lots of details which make the setting typically Chinese!
  • a scary typhoon!
  • a flying fish with golden scales
  • a wise philosopher
  • an evil cat
  • the colour mikado – and if you don’t know what colour that is, you’ll have to look it up!

Go to my Clever Competitions page here for all the details, rules and information.

The deadline date is Friday 23rd March, so pick up that paper and pen and get ready…get set…WOOF!

Bring Me a Book thanks Ema Popovska, joint winner of our March Madness Minibus Photo Competition!

July 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Chinese Calendar Tales, Hong Kong Minibus | Leave a comment
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Thanks Ema Poposka.jpg

Readers will remember Ema Popovska’s fabulous winning photo (below) in our March Madness Minibus Photo Competition back in May! Well Ema decided to donate her school set of Chinese Calendar Tales to wonderful Hong Kong charity Bring Me A Book, and they were very happy to receive them! Here’s a photo of Angela Leung, one of their dedicated officers, with our books! We hope that all your community partners enjoy them!

And if you want to know more about Bring Me a Book, whose vision is to create a Hong Kong in which “every child is read to, strengthening family and community bonds, and creating a love of learning”, just click on the link here.

Come and Cockadoodle Doo with Rickshaw Rooster and me today at The Repulse Bay!!

March 26, 2017 at 10:26 am | Posted in children's literacy, Chinese Calendar Tales, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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17553990_1520514737981037_6367927819699384240_nWe’re telling tales tall and terrific at the Bookazine Children’s Bookfest today at The Repulse Bay!! So if you feel in need of a magical story from 5 fabulous authors and the wonderful Talespinners – come and join us from 11am to 5pm! You can even buy signed copies of our books – yay!! See you there!

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