Some wonderful Storm Whale reviews in the UK

August 15, 2017 at 11:40 am | Posted in Book reviews, Clever Competitions, media articles, Storm Whale | 2 Comments
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Hello my friends! I hope you’ve had a GREAT school holiday! It’s been a long, quiet summer holiday here in Hong Kong, and I’m feeling wonderful – especially when I read the lovely reviews Storm Whale has been getting in the UK, where UK publisher Old Barn Books released our beautiful story on the 1st August!

Here are two new reviews:

Best picture book of the year from Clare Zinkin at http://www.minervareads.com/storm-whale-by-sarah-brennan-illustrated-by-jane-tanner/

And five stars from Anne Thompson at http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/reviews/index.php?title=Storm_Whale_by_Sarah_Brennan_and_Jane_Tanner who says it its the most beautiful picture she’s read for a while!

And speaking of whales…I still haven’t received your entry in my Wonderful Whale Haiku Competition! So go to my Clever Competitions page on the link above, or here for all the information, and start writing!

 

Yay! The results are out in my Really Riveting Rooster Story competition!

May 14, 2017 at 9:49 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Rooster story, Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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Cockadoodle doo! I’m just about roostered out!!

I’ve had enormous fun judging all the fantastic entries in my Really Riveting Rooster Tale writing competition, but I’ll be quite happy not to see another rooster for a while! Rickshaw Rooster had better watch out – I might just put him in a cooking pot!!

Once again, the competition was truly international, with entries coming from 6 major cities around the world: Calcutta, Chicago, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney!

Special congratulations to Daniel Song, of Grade 3, Shanghai United International School, Hongqiao Campus, Shanghai, who came first in the Grades 1 to 3 Category, and Arjya Kanjilal, of Grade 6, Delhi Public School, Newtown, Calcutta, India, who placed first in the Grades 4 to 6 Category! Daniel and Arjya each win a free signed copy of one of my books!

Go to my Clever Competitions page (see link above) right away to read their winning stories, and the fantastic entries of the other 9 finalists, as well as two fabulous Special Mentions and a special treat from high school writers Hillary Lo and Winter Lau from Shatin College in Hong Kong!  

The deadlines have passed…and the judging begins!

May 1, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Hong Kong Minibus, Photo competitions, Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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Precious and Bright Idea

The deadlines in my Really Riveting Rooster Tale story writing competition AND our March Minibus Madness Photo Competition have passed – and now comes the really difficult part!! A big THANK YOU to all the fab writers from all around the world…and the brilliant Hong Kong photographers…who entered! It’s going to be tough but fun, choosing the winners! So hang in there – I’ll be posting the results soon!

A Cockadoodle Doo Reminder for TWO competitions…and some good news!

March 28, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Posted in Online Sales, Photo competitions, Rooster story, Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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REMINDER NUMBER ONE: MARCH MINIBUS MADNESS PHOTO COMPETITION!

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March is about to end…and there’s a big deadline looming! If you want to be in the running to win a COMPLETE SET of my Chinese Calendar Tales (including The Tale of Rickshaw Rooster) for YOU and ANOTHER COMPLETE SET for your SCHOOL, then click here https://www.chinesecalendartales.com/en/shop/ right away to register in our March Minibus Madness Photo Competition! Registration closes on 31st March – and remember:If you’re not in it, you can’t win it :)!

REMINDER NUMBER TWO: CLEVER COMPETITION NO. 30: A REALLY RIVETING ROOSTER TALE!

If you’re a primary school student, anywhere in the world, you still have FOUR weeks to enter my latest international writing competition for kids! Click on my Clever Competitions page here https://sarahbrennanblog.com/competitions-and-challenges for all the details! I can’t wait to read your entry!

AND SOME GOOD NEWS!

We’ve had a few problems lately with our online sales website at https://www.chinesecalendartales.com/en/shop/ and some of you have been unable to make your orders. But the great news is that everything is fixed and we’re up and running full speed ahead! So if you haven’t yet updated your Chinese Calendar Tales set yet, or purchased your copy of The Tale of Rickshaw Rooster, or horrified your mums and dad with my two funny and fabulous Dirty Stories, then you can go right away to https://www.chinesecalendartales.com/en/shop/ to make your purchase!!

Cock-a-doodle-doooooo!

Cockadoodle Doo! It’s time for a Really Riveting Rooster Tale writing competition!

February 27, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Clever Competitions, Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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rooster-posterlIt’s a brand new Year of the Rooster, and all the roosters in the world are crowing the news! So what better time to announce a brand new international Clever Competition, based on that very noisy bird!

If you’re a kid of primary school age, in school or home-educated, anywhere in the world, you are eligible to enter…for free!

This time, I need you to write me a story about a Rooster – but you also need to add in: a Chinese setting, an inquisitive bulbul (look it up if you don’t know your birds!), a ball of string, the colour coquelicot (again, you’ll need to research what that looks like!) and a fire of some sort!

The deadline for your story is Sunday 30 April and your time starts NOW! So get ready, get set, GOOOOOOOO! (as the pig says to Rickshaw Rooster in my latest Chinese Calendar Tale :)!)

See the Clever Competitions button above for more information, guidelines and competition rules!

I’m back…

January 12, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Clever Competitions, Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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A big warm hello to all my lovely readers, with an explanation and an apology… I’ve been away from my desk for all of December, and some of November and January too, tending to my 90 year old Dad in Australia who’s been ill in hospital and my 86 year old Mum who needed help. It’s one of those times when family has to come first, but as a result I’ve let down some of you, and owe you an apology.

I especially want to say sorry to the fabulous kids who entered my Horribly Hilarious Halloween Competition, which I still haven’t been able to judge yet :(. I’m now coming up to the busiest time of my year, with Chinese New Year around the corner and a fabulous new book to promote (The Tale of Rickshaw Rooster – see Harry Harrison’s wonderful illustrations below and above) so I’m going to be extremely busy over the next few weeks and months, but promise you that I’ll be judging that competition as quickly as I can. Not just so that I can post the results, but also so that I can set a brand new writing competition for a brand new Year :)! So please accept my apologies, and be as patient as you can, and I’ll have those results out soon!

In the meantime, a Happy 2017 to all of you – I hope this year is your best yet!

The Results are out in my Sunny Summer Poem Competition!

September 7, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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Sun yawning

Phew! I’ve just finished the judging of my Sunny Summer Poetry Competition! It was tremendous fun, but exhausting… I think I need a good long drink of lemonade with ice!

There were a total of 79 fabulous entries this time, from 21 schools in 8 cities around the world: Calcutta, Chicago, Hong Kong, Perth, Seattle, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney! A big thank you to everyone who entered for your very hard work and wonderful creations!

Congratulations to the Top Ten entrants in each Category, whose winning poems have just been posted on my Clever Competitions page above!

Special congratulations to Madeline Painter of Dryden School in Chicago who won the Years One to Three Category, and to Aria Fafat of UWCSEA Dover in Singapore, winner of the Years Four to Six Category. Their poems are outstanding.

So if you want to soak up the last of the summer sun while reading some fabulous poetry, go to the Clever Competitions page right away to enjoy all the winning entries!

 

Time’s Up!

September 1, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Writing competitions for kids | Leave a comment
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Precious and Bright Idea

Thank you to all you fabulous poets from 21 schools in 8 different countries who sent entries in to my Sunny Summer Poem Competition! The judging starts today, and reading the quality of the entries, it’s going to be really tough to decide the ten finalists in each category. So please be patient with me and I’ll let you know the results as soon as I can!

It’s time for a Sunny Summer Poetry Competition!

May 30, 2016 at 6:22 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Writing competitions for kids | 3 Comments
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Sun yawning

(Image credit Harry Harrison, The Tale of Ming Kee Monkey)

It’s summer at last, and things are heating up on the happy downward slide towards the summer holidays! So what better way to celebrate the holidays…and to fill in some lazy summer hours – than by entering my Sunny Summer Poetry Competition! (And my apologies in advance to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere, where of course winter has almost arrived. You’ll just have to imagine that summer is coming :)!

This time I’d like you to write me an original poem about all the things you love about summertime. It can be any one of the five following sorts of poem:rhyming verse; acrostic; haiku; limerick; free verse.

There will be two categories: Grades/Years One to Three and Grades/Years Four to Six. Students currently enrolled in Grade/Year 6 are all eligible to enter.

The deadline for your entries is Wednesday, 31st August 2016! So pick up those pens and start writing! I can’t wait to read your Sunny Summer Poem!

 

 

How to become a Great Writer!

May 24, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Posted in children's literacy, Writing competitions for kids | 3 Comments
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As an author of children’s books, perhaps one of the most frequent questions I get asked by kids is “How do I become a great writer?”. Now anyone who knows me will know what my answer will be: “You have to read LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of books!”

But I thought it would be interesting to find out from kids your age, who are already great writers, just how they’ve done it themselves!

In this post, I’d like to introduce you to Jemma Julian, from Sydney in Australia, who regularly wins a place in the top ten in my Clever Competitions! Her writing is wonderful, full of original ideas, fantastic words and great imagination, and I encourage you to look at the results of my Clever Competitions over the last three years (see tabs on the right hand column) to see examples of her work!

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Here you can see Jemma posing with her signed copy of my Dark Horse Activity Book which she won when she came first in my Ode to my Favourite Tree Competition in 2014, when she was just 9 years old.

I wrote to Jemma last week to ask her some questions about what she does in her spare time, and I thought you’d be very interested to read her answers! Here, with Jemma’s permission, is what she told me, and I think it’s worth reading EVERY WORD of what she says :). I’ve highlighted in bold the bits I think are most important:

“In answer to your questions:

I write my current stories almost every few days, often on the weekends as I don’t always get enough time during the week. For just general writing, I mostly just to write back to emails and letters from my penpals and aunt, who I correspond with regularly.

 I mostly just write on the computer, as I find that typing is easier to read for me. I make my writing neat for letters to people, so that they can easily read them, but when writing stories I often have heaps of new ideas, thus my writing gets spikier, my letters not fully- formed, which makes it harder to read…

Yes, I keep a diary, and also a scrapbook diary, where I stick and paste things cut out of magazines, newspapers, or drawings I’ve done.

I suppose I have a writer’s notebook. I’ve actually never heard the term before, but I have a notebook which I’ve had since I was eight in which I’ve written stories, looked up words, written sentences for words, poems, written answers to questions for schoolbooks which don’t give space for answers and various other things I’ve done.

My other hobbies apart from writing stories are writing songs, (only just today I wrote music to a song I’ve written- the first time ever!), writing poems,writing letters, feeding the many birds which come to eat sunflower seeds in the backyard, playing the piano, drawing, dancing, swimming, reading as many books as I can, typography, calligraphy, ornithology, and climbing trees.

Here are my tips for other children to improve their writing:

  1. To write something everyday– it doesn’t even have to be a story! It could be an essay for school, a project about something you’re interested in, an email to a friend, even a letter to a relative long overdue!
  2.  To read whenever you can! I love reading, and even read at lunchtime, despite my parents’ not liking it! Books can give you the foundations for your own stories, ideas to weave into your stories, fantastically interesting words to use, (I need to thank you, Sarah, your word ‘splendiferous’ features regularly in letters, and I use ‘idiosyncrasies’ occasionally during speech), and much, much, much more.
  3. To edit, revise, and rewrite your stories again and again and again. Editing can be a bore, especially when you’ve put your heart and soul into a scene but then find it doesn’t work with the rest of the story, but still essential. Revising too, but still, finding a word miss spelled and correcting it makes me feel like I’ve saved the story from badly written words. Rewriting is fun! I love looking back into a story I wrote a while ago and thinking about all the things I’d like to change about it. 
  4. To ask for feedback. Writing a story on your own can be a bit monotonous as you can’t get other people’s views on your stories! You don’t have to ask only other writers for feedback- you could ask your parents, (if they’re not too busy), your friends, your school teachers, the kids in your class at school.
  5. To always jot ideas down, however silly you think they are. Some of the stories I consider masterpieces began from some crazy idea I had a year ago, which I wrote down in a notebook, to be discovered later and turned into a story.
  6. I also think that grammar is important too! A grammatically imperfect story isn’t always a good one. Read through your stories every once in a while to check them, and also experiment with little letters, colons, or even the odd bracket. I’ve found that just adding a comma in some cases fixes up a whole sentence!

 The answer to your question of ‘how much time do you spend reading books for leisure’ is WHENEVER POSSIBLE! As I said before, I read even at lunch!

I don’t play any computer games, though I used to once a week for an hour… Our television isn’t wired up to any stations, so I don’t watch it. Occasionally I will watch a movie with my family. I do use some social media. Since the national postage rate went up to a dollar- the slowest postage- I have mostly been emailing my penpals. I do also have Google+, but I mostly don’t really have any time to post things on it. All in all I mostly spend, (excluding writing stories), up to half an hour on the computer a day. I don’t often get emails though, normally about one or two a week, so that makes the time I spend on the computer shorter.  When I’m writing a story, the time spent on the computer gets larger, up to about two hours. I normally don’t just write though- I look up words I think could be used in my story, I research things to do with my story and check my emails.”

Soooooo….in a nutshell, the way Jemma has become a Great Writer is by:

  • writing something every day
  • having penpals
  • reading as many books as she can get her hands on
  • limiting the time she spends on digital screens to half an hour a day, except when she is writing a story, when she might spend up to 2 hours a day doing research, using her computer as a TOOL but not a toy
  • keeping a diary
  • keeping a writer’s notebook to jot down ideas for stories, special words etc
  • enjoying lots of different hobbies outside and inside the house
  • editing and revising her stories over and over again
  • practising her grammar!

So now you’re heard it from an expert who is still just 11 years old! If you can follow her advice, your writing is just going to get better and better! Thanks Jemma for all the fabulous tips! One day, I just know that we’re going to see your name up in lights!

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