Mother’s Day and The Bear in our Backyard

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, and a recently released picture book that celebrates mothers, I put pen to paper on why I feel picture books make extra special gifts.

There are many reasons why picture books can make the perfect Mother’s Day gift, but two are particularly close to my heart.

Firstly, stories can express sentiments of love and appreciation in a way that is not possible for a young child to articulate. When a story about parents and their children is shared, an opportunity to reflect upon the special qualities of parental love is created.

As Shaye Wardrop says in her review of The Bear in our Backyard, ‘Part of a special game between child and parent, the bear is, of course, not really a bear.

This time it’s Mum who’s playing pretend, and she knows all the best games to play.

Bear can swing our skipping rope and hula hoop so fast.
We leap and twirl and whizzy whirl, then tumble down at last.

Middleton has once again delivered a gorgeous story that celebrates the special connection between children and their parents, and it’s all about mums in this loving tale.’ Stories can evoke emotions in unique and poignant ways.

While the parent reads the story, the child is absorbed in the illustrations and the visual narrative. Briony Stewart has created superb illustrations for The Bear in our Backyard, with meticulous detail, heavenly colour schemes and characters that radiate love and life.

Secondly, the very act of reading a picture book at the end of a long day creates a loving and focused time to spend together. Within these minutes of the day, parent and child are often snuggled together, absorbed in their shared experience. This may be the only real time of the day when there are no interruptions, a peaceful atmosphere and time for undivided attention. A perfect time to feel the bond of parental love and create memories that last a lifetime.

Wardrop says about The Bear in our Backyard, ‘With rhythmic rhyme flowing throughout, this is a perfect book for bedtime snuggles.’

The Bear in our Backyard is published by Affirm Press (April 2018)

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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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