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Review: Hugo The boy with the curious mark

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Hugo is anything but one-dimensional. He is also a paint palette away from dull but he feels grey on the inside because of the curious, rainbow coloured mark he was born with. Despite the assurances that it will ‘just disappear’ from his family, the mark grows bigger and brighter, so conspicuous and unavoidable that his grey turns into abject sorrow.

Hugo is unable to love the mark that signifies his difference so unmistakably, yet he cannot deny, it is part of the person he is; part of his whole. His wise grandmother assures him his difference is as wonderful as he is but this does not alleviate the isolation that engulfs him.

As with many youngsters presented with this type of identity verification, Hugo embarks on a search for self and someone else who might be just like him. It’s a long rainbow-less trip until, finally, across a crowded train platform, he spots a flash of red and orange and blue and green. Someone marked like him. He reaches for her but the crowd swallows her. Defea…

Review: In The Shadow of an Elephant

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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.

NSW Premier's Reading Challenge

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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 Manand 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.

The2019 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 fis…

Creating Creative Writers - An Amazing Opportunity

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The Magic of Reading Aloud

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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 aliv…

White Ribbon Day 23 November 2018

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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 asAct 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…

World Kindness Day - Healing the World!

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November 13 is
World Kindness Day 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 culti…