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Loved talking to the teacher-librarians at Maroubra Junction Public School in the eastern Suburbs of Sydney.
The Reading Hour is on the 25th August – mums and dads, teachers and kids, grocers and butchers, life savers and dog trainers …. EVERYONE … are going to pick up a book and read for the National Year of Reading 2012.
Pick up a book and read – in a group, under a tree, with friends …. it’s cool and colossal.
Kate Colley shared her favourite new books – you can always count on Bloomin’ Books.
I shared ‘Ships in the Field’ and the complex issues within Anna Pigantaro’s painting:-
- the dog of war and the dog of hope
- the fighter planes becoming birds of hope
- refugees who are transparent and become so small as they board the ships
- and …..
-with some of my favourite people – teacher-librarians.
Books in Homes brought these fantastic kids from Outback Wilcannia to Sydney.
The kids had never seen the sea. Love this curious question:-
‘Who put all the salt in the water?’
As one of the author role models for Books in Homes, I get the fun of handing out books at the schools. The kids love them. Publishers Scholastic support Books in Homes and the kids select from the best books.
As a selection committee member representative together with representatives from indigenous, Catholic, State schools, Children’s Book Council, Scholastic Publishers we have a great time choosing books for the list. Some of the gems that kids can choose are:-
Nick Bland’s ‘The Very Hungry Bear’
Sally Morgan’s ‘The Last Dance’
Jackie French’s ‘Elephant Alert’
Great authors; great illustrators; great books; for great kids. Check out – www.booksinhomesaustralia.com.au
Partner of the National Year of Reading www.love2read.org
No this is not a post about a loose sleeveless coat or outer covering, or part of our earthly structure, or ten an animal part. No. This is about the wonderful MANTLE conference that I spoke at in Newcastle yesterday. The MANTLE Conference is the annual professional conference of all teacher librarians in the Newcastle, Maitland, Taree, Lake Macquarie and Central Coast districts with more than 110 rolling in. What a brilliantly organised conference - complete with trade fair and goodie bags for delegates (and presenters too) with choccies, drink bottle and a 2GB memory disk disguised in the clasp of the lanyard. Clever bunch these organisers. One of the most difficult things to do at a conference is to collect the name tags so to do this the Mantle crew have at the end of the day lucky door prizes that are drawn -- to be eligible you have to return the badge! Smart one!
I was absolutely thrilled to be the Keynote Speaker for the conference and my topic was about a subject that i know best - ME - and exploring my involvement with the National Year of Reading, my ambassadorship of the National Year of Reading and why I wanted to jump aboard. And as is my way I threw in a whole lot of there bits and pieces as well - including Sounds Spooky and Python as well as a little commentary on society and the value of literature and the arts (or lack of it) and Picture Book Month.
I also presented a session on engaging reluctant readers, which I found out as my session was being introduced, was the number one requested session from the 2011 evaluation - glad they didn't tell me that when they asked me to talk on the topic. I would have flown into a mild panic. Also attending was my lovely friend Sarah Davis (i was able to pass to her a dining chair we uncovered in our lane - i only had to drive for 2 1/2 hours to give it to her!) and also Sue McKerracher (from National Year of Reading - NYR) and Karen Bonanno (Australian School Library Association (ASLA). Great to meet Karen for the first time and catch up again with Sue, who also gave me the photos of taken of me at the launch of NYR in Canberra earlier this year. And folks were taking notes as i was talking ... I still get amazed when folks are taking notes on the topics I talk about!
This photo, with Lara O'Donoghue (conference organiser and Ian McLean, TL from Penrith primary school) was taken straight after my keynote and sent around the world on Facebook - I know because folks showed me!
What a buzz it was to be out there with you today and sharing BOOKS and your Literacy Day! There are some absolutely wonderful books that you are reading at your school and there were some really wonderful characters dressed up there - from the big and little kids!! Congratulations! I hope you liked my short little tales and me wandering throguh your assembly rather than standing at the front of the hall at the podium. It is much more fun getting really close to you all. And thanks for the BBQ sausage sandwich too ... I feasted on mine as soon as I jumped into the car.
I am thrilled to be one of the National Ambassadors (along with a host of other great Aussie kids authors and illustrators) for Books in Homes. Itis a wonderful initiative that enables underprivileged children to receive a bag of books - from titles they chooseFREE! In fact at the end of the year the kids have nine BRAND NEW BOOKS that they have chosen - they receive a pack three times a year. How awesome! Three cheers to the corporate sponsors and government initiatives that provide the financial assistance to enable this to happen. We HAVE to have fluent and active readers and lovers of books!!
choosing from these titles
More info on Books in Homes:
The Books in Homes Programme was originally inspired by Maori author Alan Duff who wrote the widely acclaimed book “Once Were Warriors”. It was founded 21 years ago in New Zealand after realising that failure in adult life often stems from childhoods spent in homes without books. <
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Last week I received an email from Leonie Jordan, the Education-Marketing exec at Walker Books (who are publishing my new narrative non-fiction picture book Python later this year). They have set up a NEW blog Walk-A-Book, just for National Year of Reading and she wrote: As you are a National Year of Reading Ambassador (and of course a consummate blogger) we were hoping you might be interested in writing the opening post for us? and of course I jumped at the opportunity. SO ... here is my post::
I love 2 read. Now you may not consider that an amazing insight or revelation into the life of a full time children’s author. After all people usually consider writing and reading to go hand in hand and they are correct but reading wasn’t something I always loved to do. There were other distractions to entertain a growing boy like trees to climb to spy on the neighbours, although I did enjoy reading - a little.
Today though, I love 2 read. I am very specific in what I read, unlike my taste in music which is very, very eclectic. Yesterday, while pondering on this I was listening to the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture played by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra while today I have Ella Fitzgerald singing those wonderful jazz tunes and I am about to be immersed in Bob Dylan. It also helps that my wife is a teacher librarian. I don’t read books written for adults (big kids I call them).
This house is filled with ALL manner of children’s books, many of which are signed by the creators; picture books, junior fiction, older fiction, toddler books and non-fiction. But that is as far as the library in this house goes. Well, there are a few obscure biographies and scientific texts and journals.
I especially love picture books. I love the way those immensely talented illustrators can take a story that I have written, which I already thought was multi-layered, and weave and craft further layers into my story with their illustrations. A simple picture book people say - not likely. Just look at those pictures and you will see. Maybe my love of picture books comes from my teaching background and having children interpret stories themselves. Picture books are works of art that one day might be held in such high esteem that our Art Galleries will value them as much as they do the latest multi million dollar acquisition and proudly have them on permanent display.
I love 2 read most anywhere. Even though I love maps and can usually navigate them very well, I can’t read while I travel in a car, which is probably why I do lots of the driving (and no, it is not because I have to be in control). I can’t read while I am travelling in busses or trains - which would make those journeys rather long and tedious were it not for the fact that as I am a children’s writer and a keen observer. This mode of transportation is great for taking notes and scribbling down ideas - but not for too long. You can see the post at the Walk-A-Book blog and have a look at the beautiful header too. Check it out often as more posts will be coming but for now go and have a look.
How exciting to be welcomed with a huge window display at The Children’s Bookshop Beecroft of ‘Ships in the Field’, a National Year of Reading event.
Anna Pignataro the brilliant illustrator of ‘Ships in the Field’ loved speaking to authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, kids and friends.
Anna shared her Italian-Egyptian background and how her parents were forced out of Egypt, while I shared my Hungarian refugee background – in ‘Ships in The Field’ – a story of finding home.
Fabulous authors like Wendy Blaxland, Wendy Fitzgerald, Belinda Murrell, Margaret Roc, Felicity Pulman, Isolde Martyn, tanka poet Beverley George …Maria Simpson creator of Bilby Theatre, librarians like the fantastic Claire Stuckey and friends came to celebrate ‘Ships in the Field’.
It seems that lately these posts have been catch ups ... and this one is no exception. Last Tuesday was not just Valentine's Day (and really every day is VD). It was also the launch of 2012 National Year of Reading and as a National Ambassador I felt that it was important that I get to the opening cermeony in Canberra ... three + hours and 290 kms (180 miles) away. Luckily the launch was at a decent hour so I didn't have to zoom off too early from Sydney and luckily it was a relatively smooth drive (nearly three CDs worth) with no major traffic jams, that permitted me to arrive just at the scheduled start time. What I didn't know was that the Prime Minister of OZ was going to be there so do you think it was an easy route to find a parking spot - not likely! The parking lots and the strets and grassed areas around were packed! Luckily I snaffled a parking spot just a few minutes away. And of course with a PM present there were security guards everywhere.
Still I was inside the National Library (gorgeous place) and seated in the auditorium well before the PM and various minsters made their entrance. It was quite a delightful clebration of reading and books with speaches by the Prime Minister, Simon Crean (Minister for the Arts) and also Peter Garrett (Education Minister). Jennifer Byrne officiated in the most beautiful and eloquant way and William McInnes as Patron presented a hillarious speach. Boori Monty Pryor (one of the National Laureates) had the kids in stitches (snot stories will do that!) and Alison Lester (the other National Laureate) was filmed earlier -- she was somewhere down south in the ice flows and couldn't make it! Heaps of bods filled the auditorium.
Caught up too with a few of the folk from Random and this is the photo that Dot snapped with her iPad (she in turn was photographed taking my photograph but that photo hasn't been sent to me yet):
had some great chats too down there, including with the lovely Tania McCarthy:
I was absolutely thrilled and delighted to travel up to Erina Fair Library (part of the Gosford City library network) yesterday to launch their National Year of Reading project ... Jean Genies. This inititive of the wonderful children's librarian Claire Stuckey has been running for a few years now with 'designer' jeans travelling to libraries all over NSW. And along with Susanne Gervay what did we do to launch the day? We RIPPED a pair of jeans. Oh my mother would have been soooooo annoyed if they were my own jeans!
I also dropped in to the Adventist School - just a short stoll away and spoke to the year 6 kids there .... Can you talk for an hour? I was asked ... I went a little longer (of course)!
a bit about the programme: Drawing inspiration from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, by Ann Brashares, this year the program sees nine pairs of jeans travelling between 40 rural, metropolitan and regional public libraries - Australia-wide. Participating libraries will be decorating the jeans, hosting programs and displays, before sending the jeans to the next library. In previous years New South Wales libraries have developed an exciting range of activities including craft workshops, film nights, intergenerational programs and outreach events. Libraries, including International Libraries have been encouraged to take photos of the jeans in iconic locations, inviting local schools or youth groups to be creative and artistic.
It was also a buzz jumping on air at Erina Fair. ABC local radio have a studio in the shopping centre (they were also showing the Jean Genies in the studio windows). I recorded a piece with Scott Levi, talking about literacy and parents as readers and reading and books - and Sounds Spooky of course - .... lotsafun! It was great to have that local media support.
with Scott and jeans in the studio
And here are 'my' jeans, the jeans designers and a collection of the travelling jeans! Awesome!
Monkey Baa Theatre has its own theatre in the heart of Darling Harbour, Sydney!!!!!
It was goregous, arriving with the lights sparkling, the harbour dotted with boats, street performers juggling balls, families, young people, old people, everyone enjoying a glorious autumn day in Darling Harbour.
Lend lease Darling Quarter Theatre is such a commitment to Sydney and Australia – offering a beautiful theatre venue to our kids and families to see the best in youth theatre by Monkey Baa Theatre – www.monkeybaa.com.au
As a preview, I was in the family and friends performance to the 1st show ever performed at this theatre – ‘Tim Winton’s ‘The Bugalugs Bum Thief’ .
The kids were rolling in the aisles as the 3 boys went on a mad romp to find their stolen bums. The rollicking songs, the choreography tapping through stage and into the audience, kids and parents were in stitches.
It’s wonderful to see the best in theatrical direction, performance, stage craft …. used in theatre for young people.
Go and see it. Take your kids, your parents, grandparents get along there – it’s a romp.
My hectic writing tour for August Book Week/Month has taken me across Sydney from Bankstown to Camden to Wahroonga to Rose Bay to Punchbowl to … everywhere.
I have spoken to 1000′s of young people and teachers. Their responses to my visits and talks leave me emotional and deeply touched.
Here are some of the words and thoughts of the kids:-
When Maisam asked you if you believed in ghosts, your response was just what he needed to hear. The cemetery scene really resonated with him as both his parents died in Afghanistan. I think he is comforted by the thought that they are watching over him and that he can talk to them at anytime, just like you do with your dad.
Once again, I thank you and 5th class thanks you too.
Mohammad told me he was a Muslim. He asked me -’What is your religion?’ I believe in God. ‘Do you believe Mohammad was a prophet? Yes, I believe he is. ‘Do you believe Jesus is a prophet?’ Yes, I believe he is. ‘Do you believe Moses is a prophet? Yes, I believe he is. All religions show us the pathway to good. We are all the same and seek to do good.
“Susanne Gervay, you are hilarious and you taught me an important lesson. Hand on my heart, I promise I will never bully anyone, anywhere. I mean that, so thank you. Say hello to Jack for me. I hope Nanna can visit us too now.”
Watch out for the announcement in the next few weeks.
Check out the SCBWI Australia and new Zealand facebook pagewebsite.
It’s a first come first served basis – so when it opens you need to book quickly as it’s a small intimate conference Australia wide and new Zealand.
Some tid bits:-
Jill Corcoran literary agent from the Herman Agency New Yorkmaximum of 100 delegates.
Major Australian publishers have come on board including Lisa Berryman HarperCollins, Laura Harris Penguin, Zoe Walton Random House, Sarah Foster Walker Books …..
There are wonderful authors and illustrators coming including Sally Murphy, France Lessac, Pamela Rushby, Meredith Costain, Hazel Edwards …. have a great time with the children’s writing community …. more news coming soon.
It has NOT been a quiet week since getting back home. Of course I added the previous Creative Spaces post from my lovely friend Katie Davis for her blog tour. That was heaps of fun. And in case you didn't hear me you might want to visit Katie's podcast where she spoke to all of us who were part of her tour, about something memorable to do with book launches. I am up early on the podcast and reflected on a launch with one of my pythons.
But now to catch up:
Last Saturday was Kids Day Out at Glebe Library - their first event for 2012 National Year of Reading, for which I am one of the National Ambassadors. I spent a delighful few hours at the library, first opening the days' programme and then later conducting a SOUNDS SPOOKY reading session. It was really a joy (I lurve reading my own book) and while I was reading Sounds Spooky I noticed a very young bub cradled by her mum quite close to where I was sitting on the floor. As anyone who has read the book knows, there is a part where there is a scream, so when it came time to scream I did screanmed very, very gently watching out of the corner of my eye the mum nad bub. BUT my gentle scream wan't quiet enough ... and they both jumped which was followed by quite a few giggles! I would love to add a photo here of the gathering masses but as I was presenting and my camera swas still tucked in the bag ... there is none to show.
2012 National Year of Reading has begun ... well sort of. The official kick off is next Tuesday in Canberra (ACT) at the National Library of Australia and I will be zapping on down for the day! As National Ambassador already I have been at the Glebe library Kids Day out and written a few articles and blog posts. I feel very privileged and thrilled to be one of the National Ambassadors.
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