A Writing Workshop at St Clare’s Primary School!

May 9, 2019 at 10:31 am | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, St Clare's Primary School, Writing competitions for kids, writing workshops for children | Leave a comment
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Here are the fabulous girls of Grades 4 to 6 at St Clare’s Primary School in Sai Ying Pun in Hong Kong preparing to contribute their clever ideas in my How to Write a Riveting Story Workshop on Tuesday this week! They had some fantastic ideas for stories! They learned all about the vital elements in a story, and how to make a story plan that makes a perfect skeleton story. I also explained some of the current science about the extraordinary importance of reading for leisure and pleasure if you want to have a creative and successful life – and the very real problems for the brain if you spend your spare time on digital screens, especially social media and digital games. Thank you to lovely English Panel Head, Ms. Sandy (with me below right), and to School Principal Elsa Hui (below left), for inviting me. The girls were a delight and I look forward to working with them again! And, of course, to their entries in my Clever Competition!

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!

Two wonderful days at St Margaret’s Anglican School in Brisbane!

March 6, 2019 at 11:52 am | Posted in Brisbane schools, St Margaret's Anglican School Brisbane, Story Readings, Writing competitions for kids, writing workshops for children | Leave a comment
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What a lovely two days I’ve just had with the gorgeous girls (and some boys) and teachers of St Margaret’s Primary and Pre-Prep this week! I met everyone from the cute little Pre-Preps to the savvy Grade 6s, and we had everything from story-readings of my Chinese Calendar Tales (The Tale of Chester Choi, The Tale of Pin Yin Panda and The Tale of Ping Pong Pig) with all their juicy Chinese history and folklore thrown in, to workshops and talks about How to Write a Riveting Story, How to Become a Great Writer in the Digital Age, Books are a Brain’s Best Friend, and History is Geography! I even spoke at a big assembly of the Grade 4s to 6s about How I Became an Author and Publisher – including all the life-skills I learned along the way! Then at school pickup time I met some lovely parents when they purchased my books!

Thank you, everybody, for making me feel so welcome and for engaging so intently in all the sessions! It was a treat to work with you all! And do make sure that you click on my Clever Competitions link here for details of my latest writing competition for primary school kids – I hope to see lots of fabulous entries from the St Margaret’s girls!

Finally, warmest thanks to some very special staff members who looked after me so kindly throughout: Primary Principal Angela Drysdale (above and below centre), Head of Planning and Organisation – Primary Ms Mary Surtees  (above and below left); librarian Mrs Donna Jackson (to my second left above) and Administration Assistant Miss Elizabeth Hook (to my far left above). I had so much fun spending time with you all!

IMG_1157More photos to come! In the meantime, meet the dragon mascot of St Margaret’s – in tile above and in textile below!

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Ping Pong Pig visits Japanese International School in Tai Po!

February 11, 2019 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, Japanese International School, Story Readings, writing workshops for children | Leave a comment
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Today my plump little Ping Pong Pig and I dashed into Japanese International School in Tai Po, just up the road from my house! We met the gorgeous Grade 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s in two funny story readings, then the Grade 5s and 6s had two workshop sessions where we explored How to Write a Riveting Story! It was so great to see you all again! Many thanks to my lovely hosts below, Principal Simon Walton (who also fixed my car at lunchtime when the battery ran out!), and Cath Wan, librarian and PYP co-ordinator, to my right, as well as to the terrific staff including support teacher Angie Bilbow on the far right in the picture! I had a lot of fun!

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Another great visit to Stamford American International School…with an SCMP journalist!

January 23, 2019 at 8:32 pm | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, media articles, School visits, Stamford American School Hong Kong, Story Readings, writing workshops for children | Leave a comment
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Ping Pong Pig and I continued our funny and fabulous Hong Kong School tour on Tuesday afternoon with a visit to my friends at Stamford American International School in Ho Man Tin, where I am proud to be a Global Mentor. And this time I was accompanied by Fionnuala McHugh, a journalist for the South China Morning Post, who is writing a feature article for the Sunday Post for Chinese New Year!

After photos in the Activity Room, our terrific host Lisa Olinski introduced me to some lovely parents and younger kids who heard me reading my “youngest” book, The Tale of Chester Choi, and enthusiastically joined in with contributions as to how you chop off a dragon’s head, especially if it’s threatening your Dad! Then a lovely roomful of older kids and their parents heard my Tale of Ping Pong Pig, together with a whole lot of fascinating history about the third Ming Dynasty Emperor Zhu Di and his best friend the explorer Admiral Zheng He and his seven epic  journeys in huge Treasure Boats as far as Africa!

Lastly, I gave my popular How to Write a Riveting Story workshop to the hardy mums and children who stayed on after the story reading! It was a busy, fun day, and wonderful to see this lovely school again! More photos to come!

The Twins from Planet Zorg visit PLK CKY Grade 3!

October 9, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, PLK CKY School, Science fiction, writing workshops for children | Leave a comment
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It was Douglet the Cyberdog to the rescue of two feisty human twins, from the clutches of evil android scientist Andreas on the purple Planet Zorg, in three fun workshop sessions at the fabulous PLK CKY school in Piper’s Hill, when I worked with the Grade 3s on how to plan an exciting Sci Fi story! We all had loads of fun seeing how my Story Planner could be used to make a fabulous skeleton for a story, with special reference to settings, characters and especially plot! Thanks to lovely librarian Joli Moore for inviting me!

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!

Thank you Think International School!

November 24, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Posted in Hong Kong Schools, Poetry Workshops for kids, writing workshops for children | Leave a comment
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Yesterday I spent a happy day at Think International School in Cheung Sha Wan with the Year 4 to 6 students and their team of dedicated teachers. We started with a story reading of The Tale of Rickshaw Rooster, when the kids learned a LOT of history about the end of the Chinese Empire and the growth of nationalism and communism in China at the beginning of the 20th Century – and had fun cheering for their favourite team in the Shanghai Cup! We then followed with two Introduction to Poetry workshops for the Year 4s and Year 6s, and my How to Write a Riveting Story workshop for the Year 5s! It was a full-on day of learning and fun! Thanks to my hosts Melanie Bates, and librarian Christine Olsen and assistant CK Tam (both pictured above) for a fabulous day!

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