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READ WRITE INSPIRE. Welcome to my Words, a place devoted to making Reading and Writing for children more Inspired.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Review: In The Shadow of an Elephant

First impressions count. They are (for me) seldom wrong. However, like a painting on the wall, a second, closer look can often enhance if not alter those first gut reactions. Closer inspection often reveals hitherto unseen beauties secreted among shadows laden with meaning. This is precisely why I adore picture books.

My first impression of Georgie Donaghey’s, In the Shadow of an Elephant was that it was an immense story; a picture book attempting to embrace a life story as boundless as the African Savannah, just as brutal and beautiful. Even the magnificent front cover of Lualani the elephant required a full cover wrap to encompass her complete gorgeous form.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

NSW Premier's Reading Challenge

I love lists.

Being on lists - good ones - is something I don't exactly aspire to but am thrilled to learn about when it happens. I'd be lying if I denied that feeling of inclusion and validation doesn't feel good. So when Nicky Johnston, illustrator of both The Fix-It Man and At The End of Holyrood Lane messaged me a screen shot of their listings, I may have let the thrill escape a little. Well, okay...a lot.

For most of my child's primary school years, we have been part of a Premier's Reading Challenge, attempting to foster a love of reading and exploring as many new, interesting, enlightening titles as possible. I think the thrill of the challenge enthused me more than it ever did her but nonetheless it did expose us to an ocean of children's stories.

The 2019 NSW Premier's Reading Challenge runs from the 4 March to 30 August and is one of the most exciting ways to dive into that story ocean because so many wonderful books are there waiting for you to fish them out of your library, your bookshop, your sibling's bookshelf - wherever you can find them. And the very best ones are on this list...including MINE. Download the full list, here.

So what are you waiting for?

Explore. Find. Read. Enjoy. Set yourself the challenge.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Creating Creative Writers - An Amazing Opportunity

Part of a children's author's job is to conjure up worlds and situations that give children reasons to read and wonder. If we do our jobs well, their imaginations expand to bursting, so much so, many are compelled to want to create themselves. Most are natural born scribes but for those who want to delve deeper into the mysteries of marvellous-story writing, their first port of call is often their teacher or librarian.

That is why it's imperative for these custodians of stories to understand exactly what makes them more real than real life.

Queue Amazing Opportunity for Teachers and Librarians.
I want to let you know about a one-day PD conference on 26 February 2019 at the State Library of NSW. It’s called Creating Creative Writers and will bring together teachers, librarians and 21 of Australia’s finest children’s authors and illustrators to focus on practical activities to develop enthusiastic, confident young writers. 

The speakers include Tim Harris, Sarah Davis, Sandy Fussell, Jodie Wells-Slowgrove, Sally Murphy, Stephanie Owen Reeder, Gina Newton, Libby Hathorn, Lesley Gibbs, Deborah Abela, Claire Saxby, Susanne Gervay, Liz Anelli, Meredith Costain, James Foley, Sue Whiting, Yvette Poshoglian, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, Dimity Powell 😁, Alexa Moses and Corinne Fenton.
The day will contribute 5 hours of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Registered PD addressing 6.2.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Bookings are open now but payment can be made up until Feb 20, 2019. Use the code PayFeb2019 to register now and pay later.

You can find the program and all the details here.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

The Magic of Reading Aloud

About six years ago, I launched my first book, PS Who Stole Santa's Mail? I was a consummate newbie to the book launching game and filled my presentation time (and my audience's ears) with platitudes of gratefulness and incredulity. However, there was one point I did linger on ... the joy of hearing a book read aloud.

For me, listening to story time on Play School is still one of the purest joys on earth. To hear another human's voice relay 'the flow of language', slowly unveiling a story you can't wait to hear the ending for is indescribably soothing and fulfilling. I think this is because from the inception of speech, it is something that we have been conditioned and accustomed to.

I'd forgotten how good this made me feel until I was lucky enough to listen to a teacher librarian read a clutch of picture books to a group of children I was conducting the Read Up program with at the time. Again, hearing the rise and fall of a human voice bring the words alive enhanced the story experience. I only had to look at the children's entranced faces to know that they were feeling the same way, making the same profound auditory, sensory, magical connections.

As Kate DiCamillo proclaims in her opinion on reading aloud:

'Reading aloud ushers us into a third place, a safe room. It's a room where everyone involved, the reader and the listener, can put down their defenses and lower their guard. We humans long not just for story, not just for the flow of language, but for the connection that comes when words are read aloud. That connection provides illumination. It lets us see each other.

When people talk about the importance of reading aloud, they almost always mean an adult reading to the child.

We forget about the surly adolescent and the confused young adult and the weary middle-aged and the lonely old.

We need it too. We all need that third place, that safe room that reading out loud provides. We all need that chance to see each other.'

I coudn't agree more.

Listen to Kate and read the full transcript, here.

And please, please read aloud to someone or even yourself, today.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

White Ribbon Day 23 November 2018

Two BIG days occur in the month of November: White Ribbon Day 23 November and the United Nations UNiTE to End Violence against Women: 25 November. Both aim to create societies where women and children can live in safety free from fear and abuse. 

AT THE END OF HOLYROOD LANE is a picture book that dares to address this fear and provide acknowledgement and hope for suffers in abusive situations. 

With its soft, supportive illustrations that encapsulate and extend the sensitive, subtle text superbly, and endorsed by a number of agencies concerned about the children caught in the middle of domestic violence such as Act for Kids, RizeUp, Paradise Kids, and Think Equal, this is a conversation starter that may bring a lot of comfort, help and hope to the children in our care. Barabara Braxton, ReadPlus & The Bottom Shelf

I wrote this picture book because of a plea to create meaningful stories accessible to children suffering or witnessing family violence. The task became a challenge and ultimately one of the most fulfilling stories I've ever had the pleasure of penning. But much more than writing something that I'm proud of and gives domestic violence victims some small voice, this book has become a conduit of caring.

I try to explain some of the unforgettable connections I've made through sharing Holyrood Lane with others in the post - Profound Encounters along Holyrood Lane

Complete strangers feel compelled to share their stories with me, as though confessing their true thoughts and fears with someone who has tried to echo these through the non-judgmental, fictional Flick somehow lessens them. In a way, I guess it does. Sharing a problem, reaching out, acknowledging the hurt, amassing the courage to move forward - all are powerful ways to help achieve the ultimate goal of creating caring, informed, pro-active communities where women and children can live in safety
It's not a book about having all the answers. No way. The problem is too large for one story. It is a book that speaks loudly, in sublimely subtle ways*, about facing your fears and daring to ask for help. And, I hope, will invite others to include this issue more often in mainstream children's literature. Maybe then we can find the answers faster and more absolutely.

Because love should always feel safe.

Follow the campaigns and programs of help through organisations like White Ribbon Australia.


Images courtesy of Nicky Johnston - Illustrator

*Flick's story is told in metaphors using gentle yet arresting imagery and text rich with poetic vocabulary (Kirkus Reviews). Flick's fear of raging thunderstorms reflects the same anxieties a child of abuse might harbour yet the parallels are subtle enough for children to relate to and understand even if they are not in domestic violence situations.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

World Kindness Day - Healing the World!

November 13 is

Comos - WKD floral symbol
A day to 'to look beyond ourselves, beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion; and realise we are citizens of the world. As world citizens we have a commonality, and must realise that if progress is to be made in human relations and endeavours, if we are to achieve the goal of peaceful coexistence, we must focus on what we have in common. When we find likenesses we begin to experience empathy, and in such a state we can fully relate to that person or those people.'

For me, it's the supreme power of story that promotes empathy. Stories collected over time, through life experiences, embellished with hope and humour and ultimately shared, like the stories we share with children. The best stories of all.

When you read with a child, you share more than just a tale in words (and pictures). You share smiles, distribute joy, radiate love and yes, generate emotion, sometimes sadness that ultimately cultivates understanding. Sharing a story, whether with yourself or with another, is powerful tonic for the soul. And one of the kindest things I think you can do - apart from sharing your ice cream with a starving dog.

Be kind to yourself - find a book to share today.
Be kind to the others - find a dog who could use a pat or lick of ice cream.
Be kind to your world - stop, listen, feel, embrace.
'Be excessively gentle with yourself' John O'Donohue
Nourish kindness and watch it grow


Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Time to Get Your Tinsel On - SPECIAL CHRISTMAS OFFER!

Stuck for gift ideas to stick in your Christmas stockings this year? 

Why not fill them with the gift that keeps on giving - BOOKS. Here's one for the kids' that's guaranteed to ignite the flame on their Christmas puddings and keep the spirit and magic of the season aglow. 

PS WHO STOLE SANTA'S MAIL? is a lightly illustrated, action-packed, comical Christmas mystery about disappearing mail, an evil elf, and questionable smells that rips along at the speed of a galloping reindeer. 

This junior novel is ideal for independent readers between 7 - 10 years. 

A fabulous read with a mystery to solve along the way. Dimity Powell writes with warmth and humour and makes reading a joy. Amazon Review

Order your signed copy today and receive it in time for Christmas. Simply contact me now to order or click on the image below.


FREE POSTAGE* for orders between now and Christmas.

*Offer valid on orders made directly with the author. Free postage valid within Australia only. Package and postage fees may apply to overseas orders. Orders received after the 13 December 2018 not guaranteed to arrival before Christmas.