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!

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!

A Riveting Story Time at PLK CKY!

November 3, 2017 at 9:23 am | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, PLK CKY School, workshops | Leave a comment
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A big hello to two of my favourite Hong Kong librarians Tammy Ng and Joli Moore, at Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School in Piper’s Hill, Kowloon, pictured with me above. Joli (to my left) was my wonderful host yesterday for 3 fabulous workshop sessions with the gorgeous Grade 3s, who enthusiastically joined my How to Write a Riveting Story workshop! We had lots of fun thinking working with our five senses to describe different settings and imagining great characters, and the kids all enjoyed my famous adventure story (about the missing dog and the alien abductors) and mystery story (about the missing teachers at PLK CKY :)) as we talked about correct story structure! And I showed them all my latest Chinese Calendar Tale, The Tale of Rickshaw Rooster, and my beautiful new book Storm Whale I can’t wait to meet the Grade 4s with my Poetry Workshop in 3 weeks’ time! More photos to come!

A short but wonderful visit to Beijing!

September 8, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Beijing Schools, Story Readings, workshops | Leave a comment
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Many thanks to the lovely Kelly Miller (head of library) for hosting me to two fabulous days at Beijing World Youth Academy on Tuesday and Wednesday this week! I gave story readings for all the students, from Kindy to Year 5, and two parent sessions where BWYA’s very dedicated and caring parents heard my top tips for creating Bookworms and Readers in the digital Age! I had a lot of fun, and signed a LOT of books for the many kids and teachers who bought my Chinese Calendar Tales and Dirty Stories!

 

Helloooo St Michael’s Collegiate girls!

May 25, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Posted in Australian schools, Hobart, Story Readings, workshops | Leave a comment
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Today I spent a fabulous morning at St Michael’s Collegiate Middle School and a fantastic afternoon at Collegiate Junior School in South Hobart! The Grade 5s and Grade 4s worked very hard – with a lot of fun thrown in – in two Introduction to Poetry Workshops, with some excellent work in rhyming words, solving limerick puzzles and writing a group haiku about their teachers :). The Grade 6 girls learned all about Publishing a Picture Book from Brilliant Idea to Final Product:- I do hope you find it helpful when you make your picture books later this year girls! And the gorgeous Grades 2 to 4 heard my Tale of Rickshaw Rooster and learned some fascinating Chinese history! And afterwards I signed lots and lots of books for my new fans! It was such fun to meet you all and I’m sure I’m going to get some terrific entries from you all in my upcoming Clever Competitions! Huge thanks to the lovely Jodie Heath for inviting me and being such a stellar host! More photos to come!

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A Serious Session at PolyU, Hong Kong

May 22, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Posted in children's literacy, workshops | Leave a comment
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On Friday 19th May I was very honoured to be one of the invited speakers at the PolyU Writing Round Table 2017, focussing this time on Writing for Readers. I had the great pleasure to meet some fabulous PolyU students and staff, in my session about How to Create Bookworms in the Digital Age. It’s SUCH an important topic, and I was very grateful to my host, Shari Lughmani, for giving me the opportunity to share my research and views!  My top tip for parents? Strictly limit your child’s time on digital screens, read aloud to them every night, and read lots of books yourself in front of your children!

A brilliant day at AISHK!

May 18, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Posted in AISHK, children's literacy, Hong Kong Schools, workshops | Leave a comment
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With Nicole Atkins, primary library AISHK

A big thank you to the lovely Nicole Atkins, primary teacher librarian at Australian International School Hong Kong, for hosting me for a fabulous day of story readings and workshops on Tuesday! The Preps up to the Grade 2s met latest Chinese Calendar Tales character in two noisy story readings where they cockadoodle-dooed and cheered on the national team of their choice in The Tale of Rickshaw Rooster, and learned a little bit of Chinese history about Shanghai and the international concessions in China in the early 20th Century along the way! Then I met with the fantastic students of Grade 3 to 6 in two sessions of my very serious workshop, Books are a Brain’s Best Friend, where they learned all about the importance of reading print books to the development of the brain – both historically and right now, in this increasingly digital age. The kids were so impressive, coming up with some fascinating questions and observations, and I’m quite sure we all – me included – came away from these two intense sessions firmly resolved to limit our time on digital devices to a minimum, and to read more books in our leisure time in order to maximise our chances of a fulfilling, creative and happy life. Please do keep up the great book reading, my friends at AISHK, and make sure you enter my next Clever Competition!

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