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!

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!

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