My Canberra Report!

December 10, 2018 at 11:46 am | Posted in Awards, Canberra, children's literacy, Prime Minister's Literary Awards 2018 | Leave a comment
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I’m back now from our trip to Canberra for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, and it was absolutely wonderful!

Day One

My husband Philippe and I were flown, courtesy of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, from Hong Kong to Canberra via Melbourne, and put up in the very glamorous Realm Hotel, just a short walk away from Australia’s Parliament House! Of course we had to walk up to it right away, and above you can see the extraordinary flagpole on top of the “new” Parliament House, built in 1988 to replace the “old” Parliament House! The design was by Romaldo Giurgola, a New York-based architect who won an international competition from over 320 other entries! Isn’t it stunning?

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Photo credit Mark Broadhurst https://www.pexels.com/photo/parliament-house-canberra-australia-235428/

Just as we reached the back entrance, we were lucky enough to meet a very kind man called Jamie King, the husband of Madeleine King, a Member of Parliament from Western Australia, who offered to show us around inside the House, where the public isn’t allowed to go without a special invitation! I wish I could show you photos of the beautiful corridors we explored, where the members do their work in their offices when they’re not in session! And it was quite surreal standing directly below the flagpole, which was set into a glass pyramid roof!

Here I am below with Jamie in the fabulous public entry hall, whose stunning marble columns represent a forest of gum trees!

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We also saw a brilliant Lego design of Parliament House off the main entrance, with Lego members of both the Senate (red carpet) and the House of Representatives (green carpet)! It was such fun!

 

Thank you so much Jamie for your great generosity in giving up well over an hour of your time, as well as sharing all your expertise on the architecture and design of this splendid building!

Day Two

All my fellow authors and artists who had been short-listed for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards made our way to Parliament House again, where we were met by the PMLA’s team, and I was so delighted to meet the wonderful Aeshe Bennett, who made it possible for Philippe and I to attend all the way from Hong Kong! Thank you Aeshe from the bottom of my heart!

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After morning tea and official photographs, we all filed into the presentation room, where we sat with bated breath for the final results in each category!  After a speech from the Prime Minister, the results were finally announced!

Sadly, Storm Whale didn’t win the Children’s Book section, but all five books in the category were so wonderful that it was quite simply an honour to be up there on the list with them! The winning book, Pea Pod Lullaby, written by Glenda Millard and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, is a beautiful book with a wonderful heart and soul, and thoroughly deserved first place.

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My huge congratulations to its two marvellous creators, as well as the publisher Allen and Unwin (who also happened to be the publishers of Storm Whale!).

It was a huge thrill to meet the four other Australian children’s authors including Glenda herself, the lovely Phil Cummings, the talented young Tamsin Janu and the very funny Lisa Shanahan. As well as adult writers like Richard McGregor, who won the Non-Fiction award for his book Asia’s Reckoning, and the wonderful Stuart Kells, author of The Library, who like me considers libraries the most important rooms in the world! And the charming Ivor Indyk of Giramondo, a small specialist press which published the winners of the Fiction and Poetry categories, Gerald Murnane and Brian Castro respectively! Wow!!

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Photo Credit – from Jane’s website (see link below)

But best of all was spending time with my dear friend Jane Tanner above, illustrator of Storm Whale, who is the greatest “poet in paint” that I know, and who is one of the greatest of all Australian children’s books illustrators of all time. If you want to find more about Jane and all her famous books, you can click on this link!

After the lunch, we were taken to the National Library, where we signed copies of our books! What an honour to have Storm Whale in such illustrious company!

Finally, my darling husband and I spent the night at the famous Canberra Hotel, where all the great and the good of Canberra stayed from the 1920s. It’s an art deco masterpiece! Here I am in front of the hotel, and my husband Philippe is smiling in front of the old cricket green!

 

Day Three

We sadly said goodbye to the capital city of my home country, to which we would love to return one day soon! To finish my report, below is a Canberra gum tree – which I’ve included because I love gum trees more than any other tree on earth! Isn’t it simply beautiful?

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I’m off to Canberra tonight – and I’m SO excited!

December 3, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Book Awards, Canberra, Prime Minister's Literary Awards 2018 | Leave a comment
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Tonight my husband and I are flying down to Canberra in Australia for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards ceremony on Wednesday morning! I’m SO excited to meet all my fellow authors and artists who have also been short-listed in the awards! Please cross your fingers for me and artist Jane Tanner who illustrated our beautiful book Storm Whale – it would be amazing to win the Children’s Books section, though I’m very happy indeed just to be on the Short List!! I’ll let you know how we get on!

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A fabulous time at the AISHK Fair!

November 14, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Posted in AISHK, Australian schools, Christmas Fairs | Leave a comment
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On Saturday I felt right at home with the Aussie kids, parents and teachers at the fantastic Australian International School Fair at Kowloon Tong! I sold lots of  books, met lots of fans, young and old, and all in all had a great time!

Hello Brisbane!!

October 24, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Posted in Australian schools, Awards, Brisbane schools, Poetry Workshops for kids | Leave a comment
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new-farm-park-with-brisbane-skyline-in-the-background_photosbyfarrPhoto credit https://blog.queensland.com/2017/10/26/jacarandas-south-east-queensland/

I’ve been in Brisbane this week for a wonderful 5 days to attend the awards ceremony for the Queensland Literary Awards, to visit some of my favourite Brisbane schools, and to visit my family! It’s jacaranda time in Brisbane, when the beautiful blue blooms on the jacaranda trees mean that students should be studying hard for their end-of-year exams!

On Tuesday morning, I visited my old friends at Churchie (Anglican Church Grammar School) in East Brisbane, where the fabulous Grade 3 boys identified haikus, unscrambled limericks and did some rapid rhyming exercises in my Introduction to Poetry Workshop! Many thanks to lovely primary teacher librarian Alison Findlay for expertly hosting me! We had a lot of fun!

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On Tuesday evening, my lovely daughter Bea, my brother and sister-in-law accompanied me to the Awards Ceremony for the Queensland Literary Awards 2018! You’ll remember that Storm Whale, my beautiful book with artist Jane Tanner and published last year by Allen & Unwin, was one of the 5 children’s books short-listed for the Griffith University Children’s Book Award. Here it is, displayed at left on the screen above! The Elephant by Peter Carnavas won the award in our section. It was such an exciting event, and I got to meet some of my amazing fellow authors and judges afterwards! Below you’ll see Storm Whale sitting very happily on the sales table with other fabulous short-listed titles!

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Today I dropped into two great Brisbane schools to say hello and to introduce them to my Chinese Calendar Tales. Below you’ll see me with some cuties at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School, sitting astride their famous dragon mascot with a copy of The Tale of Chester Choi! See you all next year girls! Many thanks to their lovely primary principal Angela Drysdale and librarian Donna Jackson for the warm welcome!

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Finally, I met the fab team at my new Australian distributors, Novella Distribution in Capalaba! Below, the lovely Rochelle Manners is standing with their wombat mascot, and a very special small wombat which appears to have learned how to climb trees! Thanks girls for a great meeting, and for my new baby wombat, which I’ve christened The Barefoot ‘Bat!

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Storm Whale is short-listed for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards!

October 17, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Book Awards, Book reviews, Buying my books, Prime Minister's Literary Awards 2018, Shortlist Book Awards, Storm Whale | Leave a comment
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I’m sooooo excited! Storm Whale, my beautiful children’s book illustrated by Jane Tanner and published by Allen and Unwin, has just been short-listed with five other books for the Children’s Literature category of the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2018! I’m so grateful to Jane for her stunning paintings, and the work of Allen and Unwin’s children’s team, led by Erica Wagner, and to my agent Julie Watts, who all made the book possible! We find out who wins in each category some time in November! Cross your fingers for me! If you want to read the lovely comments made by the panel, just click here! If you’d like to see one of the pages in our lovely book, here it is below:

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And if you’d like to buy a copy,  you can purchase here!

Hooray! Storm Whale is short-listed for the Queensland Literary Awards 2018!

September 1, 2018 at 11:30 am | Posted in Awards, Book Awards, poetry, Queensland Literary Awards 2018 | Leave a comment
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I’m SO excited! Storm Whale has been short-listed, alongside four other wonderful Australian writers’ stories, for the Queensland Literary Awards in the Griffith University Children’s Book Award section! It’s such wonderful news for me, for illustrator Jane Tanner and our publisher Allen and Unwin! I can’t wait for the announcement of the winners in early October! Here’s what the judges had to say:

Judges’ Comments

During their seaside stay, three sisters work tirelessly to save a whale that has become stranded on the shore. Nostalgic and lyrical, Sarah Brennan’s sustained and perfectly nuanced verses ebb and flow seamlessly in this timeless narrative, while Jane Tanner’s combination of monochromatic and multi-coloured pencil and pastel illustrations reflect the text’s mood, pace and burgeoning sense of hope.

If you haven’t bought your copy of Storm Whale yet, you can buy it here!

Monday: A fabulous morning at Fahan School!

May 30, 2018 at 11:01 am | Posted in Australian schools, Fahan School, Story Readings | Leave a comment
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And finally, on Monday, I spent the morning with my friends at Fahan School! We had two story readings of Storm Whale for Upper Primary, and some great time for Q and A about whales, how I write, and why reading books is so important to a successful future! Here I am above right with my wonderful host, Junior School Teacher Librarian Megan Denman, and at right with some of the gorgeous Grade 5 to 6 girls! Thank you so much for having me again!

Sunday: Event at Petrarch’s Bookshop, Launceston!

May 30, 2018 at 10:49 am | Posted in Being an Author, Bookshop event, Launceston | Leave a comment
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On Sunday I jumped in my car and drove for two and half hours up to Launceston, Tasmania’s northern “capital”. It was the most glorious drive, and brought back so many memories of childhood drives with my parents and siblings so many years ago! In Launceston, I spent a wonderful afternoon at the famous Petrarch’s Bookshop, doing readings of Storm Whale and signing books! Above is the lovely Murphy family, who bought a whole stack of my Chinese Calendar Tales and who fell in love with Storm Whale! Below you can see me (top left) with friendly and helpful staff Kristine Hudson and Holly Cooper to my right and left, and me with Ros Sydes, a Launceston writer to the right! Thank you Marcus and Karen, owners of Petrarch’s, for inviting me!

 

Friday: Hutchins School Visit!

May 30, 2018 at 9:33 am | Posted in Australian schools, Hobart, The Hutchins School, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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My Hobart visit kicked off with a fabulous morning with the boys at The Hutchins Junior School! It just happened to be National Simultaneous Story Time that very morning, so we started off with a fabulous story from the Headmaster, Dr Rob McEwen! He was a spectacular story-reader! Then the Grade 1 to 3 boys listened to me reading Storm Whale and simply didn’t stop asking questions and making some great observations about whales afterwards! Before my second session, the Grade 4 to 6 boys and I listened to the Deputy Principal Alan Jones (wearing a very interesting hat!) reading yet another story to the kids, after which I introduced them to the evil pirate queen Ching Shih and some fabulous Chinese history with The Tale of Desmond Dog! Many thanks to my dear friend, and head librarian, Kate Read, for inviting me again! More photos to come!

Hooray! Storm Whale is Runner Up in the UK’s Teach Primary Awards 2018!

May 9, 2018 at 8:20 am | Posted in Book Awards, Teach Primary Book Awards | Leave a comment
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HOORAY! Storm Whale is Runner Up in the KS1 Category of the UK’s prestigious Teach Primary Book Awards 2018! Jane Tanner and I are SO thrilled!
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This is such a huge honour and we’re very grateful to the judges for choosing our beautiful book! Find out more about the 2018 awards HERE!

And if you want to purchase your own copy, contact your favourite bookshop or online supplier, or click here.

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