Watch our fab session at the HK Young Readers Festival today!

June 10, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Posted in Bookazine Princes Building, Chinese Calendar Tales, Events, Harry Harrison, Hong Kong events, Hong Kong Young Readers Festival 2020, Shatin Junior School, Video, Virtual visits, Zoom visits | Leave a comment
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If you just missed Harry Harrison and my fabulous video and Q and A session with the kids of Shatin Junior School Grade 3 today, you can listen here! It was so much fun! You can find out all about why and how we created the Chinese Calendar Tales, from first idea to final Boxed Set! You can even watch Harry as he draws from preliminary sketch to final painting! Thanks to Catherine Platt, director of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, for this fantastic event! And to lovely moderator Julia Kuehn; James Ryan, cub reporter, for his fabulous questions on our video; Annabel Cohen (my daughter!) for the fantastic filming and editing; Bookazine for their brilliant offer of 15% off all the Chinese Calendar Tales this June; Hugh Beames and Karen Middleton of Shatin Junior School; and Joseph, our tech advisor and supporter!!

Don’t miss a fun session with Harry Harrison and me at the Hong Kong Young Readers’ Festival next week!

June 5, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Being a publisher, Hong Kong Young Readers Festival 2020, Literary Festivals, Shatin Junior School, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’m so excited to be a part of the Hong Kong Virtual Young Readers Festival 2020! I’m appearing alongside British author and performer Mark Llewelyn Evans, who uses music and storytelling to engage kids with the story of opera, Australian writer and bush worker Matt Zurbo, who inspires kids to create their own stories by finding humour and inspiration in every day events, and fellow Hong Kong writer Anna Tso! The Festival is accessible to all children in Hong Kong, live this and next week, and after that you can view the sessions on the HKYRF website at any time!

My live session with Harry Harrison takes place next Wednesday, and today we had a fun rehearsal with the kids of Shatin Junior School for an audience! They watched our very funny, informative video session, made by my daughter Annabel Cohen, in which we tell how The Chinese Calendar Tales came about, and how to publish a picture book, with some fantastic footage of Harry drawing one of our characters from The Tale of Chester Choi, from initial sketch to final painting! Make sure you visit the HKYRF site next week to see the video and Q and A session yourself!

Watch Harry Harrison drawing Jimmy Lee on video!

May 25, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Posted in Harry Harrison, Hong Kong Young Readers Festival 2020, Literary Festivals, Live drawing, Video | Leave a comment
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I’ve just spent the morning with Harry Harrison and my daughter Annabel Brennan Cohen who was videoing Harry’s and my segment in the upcoming Hong Kong Young Reader’s Festival!

Here is Harry drawing Jimmy Lee from The Tale of Chester Choi, where he surfs on the tsunami! Harry is using pen and ink to copy his preliminary pencil sketch onto watercolour paper, using a light box to illuminate the pencil sketch beneath:

And here he is beginning the colouring-in with watercolour paint!

If you want to see much more, including Harry and I talking all about the Chinese Calendar Tales series (with a lot of fun thrown in!), and a Q and A session where you can ask us your own questions, you’ll have to log in to the live session! l’ll let you know exactly when that will be very soon!

And just so you don’t miss any of the fun coming up, make sure you subscribe to this blog by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of the menu to the right – OR you can subscribe to my Funny and Fabulous Newsletter Mailing List by following the instructions here!

2 Clever Competition finalists from Taiwan!

December 2, 2019 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Hsinchu International School, Taiwan Schools | Leave a comment
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Say hello to two clever young writers from Grade 2M of Hsinchu International School in Taiwan! Isabel Huang (holding her prize, a signed copy of The Tale of Sybil Snake) won 2nd Place in the Grade 1 to 3 Category of my latest competition, the My Favourite Season Haiku Competition, and Alyssa Lin (holding a signed copy of The Tale of Chester Choi), won 3rd place! Standing with them is their lovely teacher, Cairan Meister, Congratulations girls! You can see their winning entries on my Clever Competitions page here!

A fabulous article in The Standard!

May 8, 2019 at 7:21 am | Posted in Book reviews, Hong Kong, media articles | Leave a comment
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Huge thanks to Simon Lau, Chief Sub-Editor (Education) at The Standard, for this fantastic book review about The Chinese Calendar Tales published on 30 April! To see the whole article, click on the link below:

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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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A great day at CAIS!

February 17, 2019 at 8:57 am | Posted in Christian Alliance International School, Hong Kong Schools, Story Readings | Leave a comment
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On Tuesday I visited the fabulous new Butterfly Valley campus of Christian Alliance International School! The Prep and Grade 1 kiddies met my hungry, lonely dragon in The Tale of Chester Choi, and everybody else up to Grade 6 just LOVED PORK when we shared The Tale of Ping Pong Pig! Warm thanks to teacher librarian Phebe Liu (to my left, above) for inviting me, and assistant librarian Eunice and tech wizard Brunel for looking after me so well! More photos to come!

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!

Ping Pong Pig visits the brand new Malvern College Hong Kong!

January 18, 2019 at 10:31 am | Posted in Chinese New Year, Hong Kong Schools, Malvern College Hong Kong, Story Readings | Leave a comment
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On Tuesday this week, I was honoured to be the very first author to visit Hong Kong’s brand new Malvern College HK, set by the Science Park just by Tolo Harbour and Tai Po! It’s a beautiful school, with lots of space and light, which opened in September last year, and it already has hundreds of very keen students! The Prep 1s met my lonely dragon in The Tale of Chester Choi; the Prep 2s met cheeky Pin Yin Panda and all the animals of the Chinese Zodiac in The Tale of Ping Pong Panda, and the Prep 3s to 6s all met my latest addition to the Chinese Calendar Tales, my plump and pretty Ping Pong Pig! It was a fabulous day! Thanks so much to my wonderful hosts Ryan Dempsey, head of Library, and deputy librarian Karen Potts, pictured in the library above!

 

 

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