I'm a children's author, wife and mum in no particular order. I perform these jobs simultaneously and I love them all!

Wednesday 31 August 2016

Lunch with the Stars - Manly (CBCA Northern Sydney sub-branch event) 30th August, 2016

I had the absolute pleasure of spending yesterday as a 'star' at the seventh annual 
'Lunch with the Stars' 
event hosted by the CBCA (NSW) Northern Sydney sub-branch.

Twenty-two schools (176 students) and 22 'stars' (aka children's authors and illustrators) from across Sydney filled the Grand Hall of ICMS (old St Patricks College) in Manly. 

Grand Hall just before the kids arrived
 This amazing venue made me feel like I was in a Harry Potter story. The old 
sandstone building certainly set the scene for an incredible experience.
(I forgot to take a photo of the outside of the building this year - doh!) 

LWS Booklet 2016

Each child was given an event booklet full of 'star' information
and for gathering autographs after lunch. 

Signing these booklets is the highlight of the day for everyone which makes the hard work producing it worth it. 
The time and effort to bring this publication together behind the scene is mammoth (I know as I've co-ordinated and am currently finalising the
Newcastle LWS booklet with the support of a team of people). 
The booklet then becomes a precious memento of the occasion.
Humphreys, the local Manly bookseller, sold books by the stars during the day. 
It is so lovely to see our little book sitting with such an outstanding selection 
of beautiful children's books and to see older children buying it.


 I was so lucky to host a table with students from Marina Regina, Avalon. This is a small Catholic school on the north shore. It was extra special when I found out they are part 
of the Broken Bay Diocese as I used to teach in this diocese many years ago and 
I have such fond memories.

Just take a look at the following photos showing how they decorated our table with a dandelion theme. I must admit their efforts meant so much to me as our book is a picture book and these students are in Stage 3. As soon as I tried to explain picture books are for everyone, they assured me they already knew as their librarian tells them the same thing. 


Notice the wooden recycled place mats, fresh flowers, hand made dandelion puffs, gardening tools, grass table runner, yellow cups and basket of paper flowers. 
They can come and decorate for me any time - clever chooks!


 The illustration challenge was very popular. The children had a great 
time drawing a tapir led by the amazing Marjorie Crosby-Fairall.

This last photo is my effort - hense why I am an author!

It was an absolute delight to have Kirrili with me at this event. My students got to meet her too and she got to see how the Marina Regina students decorated the table for our book. Kirrili's student's from Random House decorated her table using ideas from her LAC books.

Here are the clever chooks from Marina Regina. They dressed up using the dandelion theme as well. I have had a few of these student email me with sweet messages since meeting them yesterday. Such a highlight of my job!

 And here is a photo of all the talented authors and illustrators who gave up 
their time to help the CBCA Northern Sydney sub-branch celebrate books.

From left to right:

Katrina McKelvey, Belinda Murrell, Felicity Pullman, Wendy Blaxland, Kirrili Lonergan
Wendy Fitzgerald, Louise Park, Lesley Gibbes, Susanne Gervay, Allison Tait
Lindy Batchelor, Kaz Delaney, Kate Forsyth, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall
Deb Abela, Aura Parker, Jill B. Bruce, Laurine Croasdale, Debra Tidball

Not in photo but at event:

Jan Latta, Peter Macinnis, Mark Thomason

Thank you to Belinda and Wendy for including Kirrili, Kaz and I from Newcastle. 
The long drive to this beautiful part of Sydney is always worth it. And it's  
pleasure to help the Northern Sydney sub-branch have fun.

With help from the Newcastle sub-branch LWS committee, I look forward to delivering our second 'Lunch with the Stars' event on 13th September to 14 local schools in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie area. 

Wish us luck as I hope our lunch is as spectacular as this one!

Monday 29 August 2016

Book Week Celebrations 2016

Congratulations to all the libraries, schools, playgroups, teachers, librarians, authors, illustrators, storytellers, publishers and crazy book lovers for celebrating 'Australia: Story Country!' in a profound way last week. What fun was had across our amazing country! It makes me so proud to be part of the Children's Book Council of Australia. 

It also makes me proud to be a children's author. Helping to make top quality children's literature and promote reading in my local area and beyond is so rewarding.

I celebrated Book Week this year in a way I never had before. You see, this was my first Book Week as a published author. Previously I had celebrated it in my classroom as a teacher and with my children as a mother. Being with your readership as they tell you why they love your book (beyond it's initial layer) is a magical moment. Children are such clever creatures!

My experiences last week were many and varied but all of them were rich and fulfilling. It's experiences like the ones below that keep me fresh and inspired.

Digital Story Writing Workshops with Newcastle Region Libraries

Classrooms are such busy places. Together with Newcastle Region Libraries and Julie Swane, we thought we'd offer story writing with a difference to extend the experiences offered in the classroom - in digital form using the program, 'Storybird' .

Across three after-school workshops involving children from Year 2 to Year 6, we introduced 'Storybird'. This program offers a platform to build stories into published books using images within the program. The children could use these images to spark story ideas. We discussed how this is actually the opposite way to how most children's authors work. The stories created during these workshops were amazing. The next generation of authors are fabulous!

Author/Illustrator visit to MacKillop Catholic College, Warnervale

Kirrili and I were very excited to be asked to celebrate Book Week with all the students from Kindergarten to Year 4 attending MacKillop Catholic College in Warnervale (on the Central Coast).

Young budding authors and illustrators were very excited to hear about our love of children's literature. The children were a delight while we read 'Dandelions', discussed its themes and demonstrated how Kirrili designed the illustrations. When we left, children could be seen continuing to draw dandelions and hot air balloons in the playground. We certainly touched those children in a profound way. What joy!

Jeannie Baker talk and exhibition of original 'Circle' collages

We were so lucky to have Jeannie Baker at the Newcastle Museum during Book Week to discuss her work, 'Circle'. (It was very similar to her inspiring talk at the CBCA Conference earlier this year.)

Jeannie discussed her research journey as she studied the images she needed to build into collages for the amazing story of this shorebird, the bar-tailed godwit.

Here are a few photos of some of her collages. I don't want to show you too many but just a taste of her brilliance. Her chosen media and intricate work is mind-blowing. If you can get a glimpse of her work, it's a must!

Jeannie stayed to sign books and answer any questions privately. A softly spoken and beautiful person.

Book Week Dress-Up Disco

My children's school combined it's annual disco with Book Week celebrations this year. The students could dress-up as an Australian book character or an Australian olympian to attend  the disco.

My daughter dressed up as 'Jill' from the Treehouse series by the creative dynamic duo, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. She had a sign explaining this as Jill wears very ordinary clothes. We discovered Jill wears lots of purple on the covers but we didn't have any purple in the wardrobe. Her handbag was stuffed with animals and she wore shiny disco shoes to finish off the outfit perfectly. Not too bad for using only items already in the house. (I don't do dressing up very well so my kids usually have to design their own costumes for these occasions).

My son dressed up as a soccer olympian. Too easy from my end but hence why he is not photographed in a post about Book Week!

To my surprise, one for the students from Year 1 in our school dressed up as the little girl from 'Dandelions'. This just tickled me pink! But I never got to see her due to my workshop commitments :( (I had completed an author talk with them a week earlier.)

I thoroughly enjoyed following my fellow authors and illustrators on social media last week as they celebrated Book Week across the country. So many things happened and so many kids, schools, teachers, parents, and libraries were involved.

Congratulations to everyone who planned events or participated in them. I'm sure kids everywhere will remember these experiences for years to come.

Saturday 13 August 2016

Hooray for National Bookshop Day - Saturday, 13th August

Happy National Bookshop Day!

MacLean's Booksellers, Hamilton
Happy days to our wonderful bookshops! They support readers, writers, illustrators, publishers, schools, local communities, festivals and conferences in so many ways. Without their support, our book industry would not be able to offer the range of high quality books we have in this country. We are truly blessed!

Here in Newcastle, our community came together to support our local independent bookshop, MacLean's Booksellers in Hamilton.

Together we read stories, learnt some illustration techniques, launched books and ate a tremendous amount of lollies, chocolate and cake. The perfect kind of party!

Gavin McCormack, Kirrili Lonergan, Katrina McKelvey, Deborah Kelly
Gavin McCormack shared his new picture book, 'Are These Your Glasses?'- a tale of exclusion, isolation, determination and love. The kids then made clever magnetic penguin bookmarks.


After reading our story, Kirrili challenged the kids to draw some illustrations for possible new pages in our book, 'Dandelions'. They had fun drawing twisting dandelion seeds and gerberas.

Deborah Kelly launched her second book in the 'Ruby Wishfingers' series called, 'Toad-ally Magic!'. Cupcakes, chocolate frogs and toad bookmark craft kept the kids busy while others lined up to get their new book signed.

Thank you to Max, Amanda and all the staff at MacLean's Booksellers in Hamilton for asking us to help them celebrate all things books and bookshops today. We love supporting you as much as you support us. 

We hope everyone visited their local bookshop today and shared the love of bookshops around. Happy National Bookshop Day!

A Dandy Toad!
Thank you for my beautiful flowers MacLean's!