Curious Creatures in the Summer Reading Club

 

Blogging with the Sumer Reading Club has been a fabulous opportunity to connect with enthusiastic young readers and writers across Australia.

Created for children and young people pre-school age to 17, the Summer Reading Club is led by the State Library of Queensland and offers activities, competitions and online forums to inspire a love of libraries and reading.

I was honoured to be chosen as one of two guest bloggers along with Dr Cameron Stelzer to blog on the topic of Curious Creatures. This was the perfect springboard to discuss the intriguing aspects of reading and writing and the wealth of animals represented in children’s literature.

We explored the lion and bear characters in my picture books, ‘The Lion in our Living Room,’ and ‘The Bear in our Backyard,’ as well as the inspiration behind the stories. We discussed animal facts and observations, how other authors describe animals in their writing, what animals often symbolise, and we explored books that teach us how to assist animals in their natural environment. From fantastical creatures to having fun with alliteration and illustration, the topic of Curious Creatures provided a perfect springboard.

 

I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the children and their in-depth knowledge across the spectrum of children’s literature – their love of reading was palpable. One post alone received 127 responses! It was a unique opportunity to engage children over the long summer holidays, answer their questions about the writing process and how they can improve their skills.

 

Thank you to the amazing team at the State Library of Queensland, especially Natasha Ratajczec, who brilliantly masterminds the whole program. It was an honour to be involved and yet another example of the vital role that libraries play in our lives.

 

Now I have the impossible task of deciding who wins the prize pack!

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2018: A Fun-Filled Year of Lions and Bears.

 

Looking back over the year I am touched by the recognition of how many children and creatives I have had the opportunity of meeting, and sharing experiences of our love of story and books.

It is an honour to walk together with children into the world of imagination. A world where there are vast possibilities that potentially transform. Surely that helps to give us hope for our future.

The empathy created in the minds of these young readers is paramount in our society where individual needs appear to dominate.

It has also been an enormous honour to work alongside such brilliant creative minds. My editors Davina Bell and Clair Hume spring to mind immediately, but no less important are all the writing buddies, the community of Kidlit creators, our SCBWI community, WriteLinks, the tirelessly hard-working bookshop owners, teachers and child care workers, who share the passion of nurturing young minds.

My family always wish to stay private from my social media presence, but they have to be acknowledged for putting up with me suddenly shouting, ‘I’ve just thought of a fantastic idea for a new picture book! What do you think about this..!’

So to everyone out there with a heart illuminated by the glow of words on the page and the inner-life of our characters, I wish you all a joyous and peaceful new year.

 

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Travelling through 2018.

The year started with workshops at the Brisbane City Council libraries as part of their fabulous Summer Reading Program.

The Lion in our Living Room felt right at home with their ‘Go Wild with Summer Reading,’ theme.

It was a great opportunity to meet many young readers, as well as a chance to see some of the other workshops and performances that featured in the program.

These photos were taken at The Brisbane Square Library on January 10th.      

 

 

 

At this point I decided to make the most of my theatrical backgrounded and turn my presentation into a fully-fledged performance, with specially composed music, and a greater level of audience participation.

I put my head down and after quite a few weeks of writing and composing I had a 35 minute children’s performance ready to go.

During this time I had a few book signings at our wonderfully supportive local bookshops, Annie’s Books on Peregian and Sandy Pages Bookshop in Coolum Beach. I really appreciate these opportunities to talk to children and their parents, and to share my books with them.

 

  

During a book signing at Written Dimensions, I was fortunate to meet a Story Dog team. Story Dogs assist children with early literacy by providing a non-threatening and enthusiastic canine friend to read to in school. I hope to be able to work with Story Dogs in the future.


I seem to have a lot of dogs in my life as our family are part-time foster careers of Smart Pups, assistance dogs in training.


‘Romancing The Stars,’ a speed dating children’s literacy event, was held on February 23rd where I was a participating author. It was a lovely informal night where I got to meet many other children’s authors and hear directly from them about their stories and beliefs.

During this time, the team extraordinaire at Affirm Press were preparing our next picture book, The Bear in our Backyard for print. Here is a little peek of Briony Stewart’s gorgeous illustrations.

I count my lucky stars that I get to work with the phenomenally talented editors at Affirm Press, Davina Bell and Clair Hume, and see the beautiful books they produce such as The Silver Sea by Alison Lester and Jane Godwin with the children at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.

It was also exciting seeing The Lion in our Living Room being shared in schools by teachers using the teaching notes provided by Lamont Books and the Australian Standing Orders.

Finally I got to share my new performance based around the characters in The Lion in our Living Room with children. It was enormous fun, and so rewarding to see the children’s delight. I was thrilled with their level of involvement and I wish I could show you all their little faces!

The Lion in our Living Room was included on the reading list for International Read to Me Day. This is a day where authors assist in reaching the goal of each child having a book read to them everyday. I presented to the very enthusiastic students at the Cooroy State School on March 19th.

Now, it is just two days before the release of my new picture book, The Bear in our Backyard, a special celebration of mums and the small and magical moments they create each day.

I painted a new backdrop for my ‘Bear,’ performances and I can’t wait to share my first presentation in two days time!

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