A wonderful visit to UISG in Guangzhou!

October 13, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Posted in Guangzhou schools, Utahloy International School of Guangzhou, workshops | Leave a comment
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This week I made the train journey up to Guangzhou to visit the beautiful Utahloy International School of Guangzhou! (Utaloy is the rough pronunciation of Great Virtue in Chinese, I was told). There I was hosted by the lovely Head Librarian Chrissy Erwin (above), and we started the day with a latte on the balcony overlooking a river beside a forest, in the prettiest setting I have EVER seen for a school, in China or anywhere! It also had wonderful open air playing space for the kids, including a fabulous Dr Seuss tree for the little ones, and a pirate ship for the older kids! Here it is, crammed with P3 and P4 pirates and me!

Year 3 and 4 students on the "Pirate Ship" with author, Sarah Brennan

Thanks Chrissy, and Kelly Phillips, her librarian colleague, for hosting me for a very special day of story readings from the Chinese Calendar Tales with all the primary school students, as well as the Grade 7 and Grade 8 students who learned How to Publish a Picture Book from Brilliant Idea to Final Product.

Above left, you can see me with Kelly Phillips, Chrissy Erwin, and the lovely new Primary Principal Michelle Jones to her right. On the right, you can see me with the fabulous library assistants team Betty Zheng, Haiqing Sun and Judy Li and “our” Chinese Zodiac animals! Below left, I am interviewed by the staff of the high school newspaper The Howl, while below  right, you can see the wonderful Dr Seuss tree playground for the younger students.

 

And finally, just a couple of fun photos with the P3s – we had great fun with a Tale of Desmond Dog story reading and swearing the solemn oath to look at my website!

 

A memorable visit to QSI Zhuhai!

September 29, 2018 at 11:00 am | Posted in QSI Zhuhai, Story Readings, workshops, Zhuhai schools | Leave a comment
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Thank you so much to fabulous primary school teacher Heather Domenico, for hosting me for two very busy days at QSI in Zhuhai on Wednesday and Thursday this last week! We had sessions for absolutely everyone from ages 2 to 18, as well as an after-school talk to the mums and dads!

The littlest ones met my crew of stuffed toys in a funny re-enactment of Lord Buddha’s Race – and proved they were extremely good at counting up to 12!

The 5 to 6 year olds proved they were old hands at the Chinese Zodiac when I read them The Tale of Pin Yin Panda while the 7 to 8 year olds became fearsome pirates as they heard The Tale of Desmond Dog!

The 9 to 11 year olds learned all about How to Publish A Picture Book from Brilliant Idea to Final Product and even got a sneek peak at my final Chinese Calendar Tale for the Year of the Pig, which is currently in production!

After school on Wednesday, I talked to a lovely group of parents about How to Create Bookworms in the Digital Age. Here are just a few of them, with their kids!

And finally, the 12 to 18 year olds and I spent almost the whole of Thursday together, in three different workshops: How to Become a Good Writer, An Introduction to Poetry and, finally, Nailing the Narrative Curve, where we had tremendous fun writing a story plan for the tragic story of three teenagers caught in a love triangle…in a paradise entered through a school locker portal!

And in between I met some fabulous kids, parents and teachers when I signed the books they bought from my wonderful distributor, Aaron Tearne at Obido Educational Services! If anyone missed out on buying a book, you can still do so, with some great discounts for multiple purchases here!

More photos to come!

A Book Week visit at MLC in Melbourne!

August 28, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Posted in Australian schools, Melbourne schools, Methodist Ladies College, Story Readings, workshops | Leave a comment
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The subject of this year’s Book Week in Australia was Find Your Treasure, and what better book to introduce to the fabulous girls of Melbourne Ladies College on 16th and 17th August than my latest Chinese Calendar Tale, The Tale of Desmond Dog, a story of pirates, treasure and an infamous Pirate Queen!  On the 16th, all the girls from Grade 4 to Grade 6 joined the crew for a story reading, followed by a hearty lunch with the Book Bugs (top photo) who heard some Top Secrets about my next (and final) Chinese Calendar Tale for next year’s Year of the Pig! In the afternoon I was delighted to meet wonderful Grade 3 student Hannah Thompson, the winner of the Grade 1 to 3 Category in my Dashing Dog Story Competition earlier this year (middle photo above), followed by a delightful Grade 1 student who is already writing lots of stories in her spare time (bottom left). The future of great writing from MLC alumni is clearly bright!

Then on the 17th, the Grade 6s took part in my brand new workshop entitled Geography is History: How topography shaped China’s remarkable history! We talked about China’s grasslands in the North (from which invaders came on horseback); its mountains and deserts in the West and North West (which formed a natural barrier both inwards and outwards); its fertile deltas in the East (which formed the first united China under Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi) and the seas beyond (from which trade came and went, and ultimately the incursion of foreign powers, and invasion of the Japanese navy, which together precipitated the End of Empire). I hope the girls found the subject as fascinating as I did!!

Huge thanks to my friend, and fabulous Junior School Head of Library, Tracey Ricchini, who you can just see at the back of the Book Bugs in the top photo! She made a fantastic Ching Shi, the evil (and real life) pirate queen from The Tale of Desmond Dog! More photos to come!

A fun day at Green Oasis School in Shenzhen!

May 21, 2018 at 8:32 am | Posted in Green Oasis School, School visits, Shenzhen Schools, Story Readings, workshops | Leave a comment
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On Wednesday last week I took a train ride across the Chinese border to Shenzhen, where the lovely Rachael Taylor (photo above left) hosted me for a fabulous day at Green Oasis School! The Year 1s and 2s met my dashing Desmond Dog in a fun story reading with some fantastic pirate faces and growls from the kids and teachers too! Years 3 and 4 heard all about The Making of a Story Book as I took them on a step by step journey through the writing and publishing of The Tale of Desmond Dog. Then Years 5 and 7 learned all about How to Become a Great Writer – with a bit of a challenge to the Grade 7s to get OFF their digital screens and INTO reading lots and lots of books in their leisure time! And lastly the Year 6s learned all the tricks and tools in my popular workshop How to Write a Riveting Story. And after that I met some gorgeous fans when I signed books for a whole lot of kids, mums and dads! Thanks Rachael – and all the students and staff – for another busy and memorable day at Green Oasis!

Two fun-filled days at Shatin Junior School!

March 2, 2018 at 11:03 am | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, Shatin Junior School, workshops | Leave a comment
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Thank you to my dear friends at Shatin Junior School for two fabulous days on Wednesday and Thursday as part of their Book Week celebrations! You can see three fab teachers above, getting into bossy, huggy trouble!! Desmond Dog and I met the whole of primary school in two BIG story reading sessions, then I worked with all the Grade 4s in 5 fab How to Write a Riveting Story sessions! I hope to see LOTS of great entries in my Dashing Dog Story Competition – details here! And an extra big thank you to my wonderful host, and friend, Karen Hubbard! More photos to come!

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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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!

Thank you Stamford American School of Hong Kong!

January 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, Stamford American School Hong Kong, workshops | Leave a comment
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Today I spent a fantastic day at the brand new Stamford American School of Hong Kong in Ho Man Tin! It’s a wonderful place and I really enjoyed meeting all the terrific kids and teachers! The Kindies and Grade 1s learned some fun environmental lessons with a story reading of A Dirty Story, and at the end of the session promised me hand on heart NOT to become Grots! The Grade 2s met my latest Chinese Calendar Tales character in The Tale of Desmond Dog and the Grade 3s enthusastically answered all my questions in my How to Write A Riveting Story workshop! Many thanks to the lovely Lisa Olinski (with me above) who was the perfect host! I look forward to seeing you all again tomorrow!

Desmond starts his Hong Kong tour early!

January 16, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, Story Readings, workshops, Writing competitions for kids, writing workshops for children | Leave a comment
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Front cover image without textDesmond Dog got off to an early start (a month before his official year begins!) yesterday when I visited one of my favourite Hong Kong schools, Kingston International School in Kowloon Tong! The Grade Ones met Desmond first, and as such, had naming rights for the two little creatures that Harry Harrison always adds in to his wonderful illustrations! See my next post to find out what they called them! The Lower Primary school all had fun pretending they were pirates, like the infamous baddie in the story, Ching Shih, with many a ferocious “Aha, me hearties!” but were reminded at the end of the story that Crime Doesn’t Pay! They also learned about Hong Kong’s early history! Then the Grade 4s to 6s all took part in my How to Write A Riveting Story workshop! I can’t wait to see their entries in my new Dashing Dog Story Competition! Warm thanks to Jade Englebracht who hosted me – I had a ball! More photos to come!

A Fabulous Friday at St Stephen’s Preparatory School in Stanley!

November 21, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Posted in workshops | Leave a comment
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Last Friday I had a fabulous time at the famous St Stephen’s Preparatory School in Stanley, where I was hosted very warmly by Yolanda Chong (above left) and Claire Braithwaite, and also had the pleasure of meeting the principal Dr Agnes Wai (above right) and deputy principal Mr S. T. Wong. I gave all the students from Year 1 right up to Year 6 my talk about why Reading is a Brain’s Best Friend. We explored how the human brain changed as reading and writing developed over millenia, until it became the sophisticated brain it is today. I told them all about the latest science, which indicates that as children (and adults!) stop reading lots of books in their leisure time in favour of digital games and social media, their brains simply cannot develop in the same way, resulting in a tragic loss of imagination, sophisticated vocabulary, empathy, general knowledge, and the ability to focus and concentrate. These five essential qualities develop naturally over time in the brains of people who read books constantly for leisure and pleasure, but cannot thrive when people spend lengthy periods on digital screens. And to my great pleasure, just about everyone agreed by the end but we must switch OFF our digital screens as much as possible, and read LOTS and LOTS of print books instead! Here are some more great photos, with a big thank you to the St Stephen’s Prep photographer!

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