Teacher Testimonials

TESTIMONIALS (2015 – 2018): SARAH BRENNAN AND THE CHINESE CALENDAR TALES

 

FROM LIBRARIANS AND TEACHERS:

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From Lisa Olinski, Stamford American International School Hong Kong, 18-19 January 2018

Sarah Brennan visited Stamford for a second time to entertain our children with her engaging storytelling and also help our young authors develop their craft.  From the moment she began storytelling she captivated the audience, even our youngest pre-primary students, until the last page. Our Grade 3 & 4 students, at first shy to participate in the writer’s workshop, quickly warmed-up and came alive under Sarah’s enthusiastic delivery. Her “rules for schools” helps set the stage in order to make her presentations smooth and also ensures that the students are under her spell from start to finish.

 From Karen Middleton, Head of English, Sha Tin Junior School, Hong Kong, September 2017

Sarah gave the SJS community an informative and thought provoking presentation on ‘Creating Writers in the Digital Age‘. Parents came away with a lot of food for thought and were offering praise for Sarah’s knowledge, experience and expertise freely. To quote one parent “Well I’ll be asking my son which of the extra curricular activities he’d like to continue with and we will cease the rest- he needs more time to read and play”. We thank you Sarah Brennan for sharing your insight, exposing us to current research and enabling us to be even better parents for our children in this digital age.

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From John Urquhart, Think International School, Hong Kong, November 2016

Thanks you for your visit and your inspirational presentations to our students.  It was our absolute pleasure to host you.  Whatever your audience, it needs to be bigger.  Thanks again for sharing your art and your passion with our students.  As much as we try to plan memorable learning experiences for our students, it is visits like yours that stick with them.

 

From Erin Moodie, Head of Curriculum, Loreto Toorak, Melbourne, 2016

The students at Loreto Toorak thoroughly enjoyed having Sarah Brennan visit during Book Week. Sarah’s passion for both writing and story telling was delightful to witness and her sessions with students will be remembered for a long time to come!

 

Megan Denman, Teacher Librarian, Fahan, Hobart March 2016

On Wednesday March 1st, children’s author, Sarah Brennan, visited Fahan School. Sarah’s passion for Chinese history was evident. Her ability to share such rich and detailed information with children was infectious. The students have been inspired to learn more about Chinese culture and to begin writing their own stories.

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From Roseanna Grant, Montessori School Beijing, April 2015

Two weeks ago Sarah Brennan came to our school to read from her series
 “Chinese Calendar Tales” as part of our school wide Literacy Week. The
 series is about the different animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Sarah is an
 engaging and vibrant storyteller and makes her stories larger than life
 through her readings/ performances. The books have been designed so that
 children are able to grow up with them and different tales are aimed towards
 different ages although they can be appreciated across the board. The
 stories are written in rhyme and with a wide use of the English language. It seems that all of the children enjoyed the
 books so much that we had to place more orders from Shanghai as the book sale
 sold out! We asked Sarah to read to our Reception, Grade 1 and Grade 2
 children and she also does workshops for older children. Sarah kindly agreed 
to sign books for the children and even stayed late to do so while taking the time to speak with
 parents and staff. It was a true pleasure to have Sarah at our school and we 
thoroughly look forward to her returning for our Literacy Week next year.

 From Grace Molinaro, Teacher/Librarian, Buckley House, Ivanhoe Grammar School, Melbourne, February 2015

 Students and teachers of Buckley House (Ivanhoe Grammar School) thoroughly enjoyed Sarah’s presentations. Her eloquence and enthusiasm for storytelling was both engaging and entertaining. Thank you, Sarah, for being such an advocate for children to retain their love of reading books. Your workshop on ‘Books are a Brain’s Best Friend’ made a real impact on the classes that attended and was discussed at length in follow up library sessions. We look forward having Sarah Brennan visit us again at Buckley House, later this year.

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From Susan Grant, Teacher/Librarian, ISS International School, Singapore, February 2015

Sarah was one of our visiting authors for our Elementary School Literacy Week and she worked with the students from Grade 1 to Grade 5. From the moment she arrived early in the morning until she left our school at the end of a very busy day, her passion and enthusiasm for the craft of writing was evident. She presents her workshops and tells her stories with such verve and enthusiasm that the students were instantly engaged and interested. They laughed with her during humorous anecdotes. They watched her avidly as she performed little dramas to illustrate points. They listened seriously to all her tips and rules about how to write a good story. They were inspired to make notes as she talked. They enthusiastically all agreed to keep to their ‘solemn oaths’ to visit her website and have a go at her latest poetry competition. At the end of her sessions even the most reluctant writer was sure to go away with something to inspire them. A great day for all of us!

  

From Megan Light, Teacher Librarian/Educational Development Teacher, Cranbrook Junior School, Sydney, February 2015

Do you want to inspire your children to read and write? Does you school seek to embrace global-mindedness? Then invite Sarah Brennan to your school. Sarah is an engaging and knowledgeable speaker who brings a unique perspective to us here in Australia. When she handed over her signed books to our readers, she personalized every conversation with each one of them. She touched on the value and depth of each story as well as each child’s cultural heritage and connections. Her genuine interest and passion is very special.

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From Michelle Sarjana, Deputy Principal, Robert Townson Public School, Raby, Sydney, February 2015

Dear Sarah, Your name was central to every conversation I overheard today! You are a legend! Thank you for taking the time to drive all the way out to us! I believe some of our students have already been on the blog and are entering the competition. Always a pleasure to see you and to listen to your brilliant stories! Julie – our lovely kinder teacher who calculated she is the year of the horse as she celebrated her 60th in November last year – said she could have listened to you all day!

From Ali Ryan, Teacher Librarian, Chatswood Public School, Sydney, August 2014

Sarah Brennan visited our school of 950 students as part of our Book Week celebrations this year. She was able to engage students from Kindergarten through to Year 6 with a combination of exciting story readings and wonderful writing workshops. Sarah is full of energy from the moment she walks in – her passion for writing and children’s literature is evident in her school visits. Students really enjoyed her Chinese Calendar Tales – packed with authentic Chinese history, sophisticated language and plenty of humour. Sarah’s books appeal to both students and teachers, making them wonderful classroom resources.

From Fiona O’Rourke, Teacher Librarian, Geelong Grammar School Toorak Campus, August 2014

Sarah’s generosity of time and energy made her visit to our Toorak Campus an extraordinary educational event. She shifted from workshop to workshop, age group to age group with the ease of an experienced teacher. She perfectly pitched each presentation to the students’ level …Sarah’s attention to rhyme and rhythm inspired the students to strive for excellence when writing their own poems. Most students could not wait to go home and explore her blog to enter Sarah’s writing competition. The content of her workshops compliment the Australian Curriculum in a myriad of ways… Sarah’s deep knowledge and passion for the topic makes her an excellent choice for an author incursion. We can’t wait for her to visit again next year.

FROM STUDENTS:

From George N, Buckley House, Ivanhoe Grammar School

 Before Sarah Brennan gave her exciting speech, I knew nothing about what she was going to say. But after, new ideas and learning tools filed into my brain. One of those was creating a plan before you start writing your story. Sarah gave an excellent example of planning; “You’re not going to create a skeleton by just throwing random bones anywhere and flopping some skin over the top”. You have to plan which bones go where on the skeleton before you do anything else”. I got from this that planning is a crucial part of story writing; you then don’t need to do much more apart from edit and proofread the piece. Her speech about this makes me want to change my writing ways and always plan before I write. Something I also learnt was that the key to good writing is not just to plan but to READ!! Reading gives you new words you might not have known before, which you could use in your writing to make your piece stand out!! The books that I am currently reading give me new words, like Sarah pointed out.

From Chris Ross, Buckley House, Ivanhoe Grammar School

Had I ever wondered, how to be an amazing author? Why a plan is so important? How great writers got their talents? Well the answer is no not really. So this was an incredibly interesting and funny performance. I’d never known that a lot of great writers had childhood difficulties. I’d never thought that being outdoors could help my academic achievement. I didn’t realise that a 15 minute plan can make a story interesting. So all this stuff that one might think is not important is the essence to a good story. Also choosing the genre and setting. Whether it’s an adventure story on a deserted island or jungle, or a mystery story set in a deserted black room. Just the old “what and where” can make the difference to a story. So overall what you think isn’t important is what matters most. Overall this was an interesting and “handy” speech to listen to. Rating 4+half/5.

From Emma Casamento, Buckley House, Ivanhoe Grammar School, Melbourne

Today Sarah Brennan came to talk about her secrets and magical ways of writing stories. Throughout her talk, Sarah showed us how to write a book; there were at least 10 steps on how to encourage the reader to read more of the book instead of stopping in the middle of a chapter. Sarah writes amazing books and poems for kids but also writes magazines and books for adults. Overall, Sarah said that your imagination could be the most powerful thing in the world. While Sarah was talking I thought to myself about becoming an author. Imagine what I could write? Anyway, Sarah showed us 6 of her favourite authors. All of them had terrible times throughout their lives whether it was the death of their parents, sickness or divorce. Something they did to make themselves feel better was to read. Sarah told us if we want to become an author we need to be a great reader and writer.

 

LIBRARIAN BOOK REVIEWS:

 From Lisa Chan, Elementary School Librarian, Seattle, WA on Goodreads.
As an elementary media specialist, I really enjoy using Sarah Brennan/Harry Harrison’s “Chinese Calendar Tales” with our independent readers in 3rd – 6th grade classes. This series is also a lot of fun to read to younger students in grades pre K -2. While the books are in picture book format, the instructional value, writing and rhyme is more appropriate for students in upper elementary. I include these titles in the selection of books for units of study on Ancient Civilizations – China, Asian/China studies and Holidays (Chinese New Year). Students (and I) really enjoy how information about the Chinese Zodiac along with cultural and historical details is interwoven throughout each book. Each book also includes non-fiction details to inspire further reading and discovery in the school library.”

 

From Myrna Holm, Teacher Librarian, Hong Kong on Goodreads

Sarah Brennan’s Chinese Calendar Tales, written in cleverly crafted verse (and equally cleverly illustrated), never fail to delight and entertain … all the while referencing Chinese history and lore. The Tale of Sybil Snake is a stellar example of Brennan’s style. With wit and sophistication, she has brought this zodiac character to life in an engaging story by skillfully incorporating details from both history and legend. The inclusion of notes from her research ensures that this book is as informative as it is fun to read!”

  

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