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

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

My Zombie Dog ~ Review

Take one fluffy, scruffy, undersized excuse of a dog, add a love struck teenage boy desperate for a dog to love and bit of female recognition of the human kind, mix it up with a dopey best mate and one granny who’s lost her marbles and the creature you’ll end up with is My Zombie Dog.
My Zombie Dog is Queensland author, Charmaine Clancy’s first self-published novel for young readers but not her first encounter with zombie-type dogs like, Fossil, the lead non-living character in this quirky little tale.
Zane is the main living character whose one desire for his 14th Birthday is to receive his very own dog. The kind of dog a boy his age would be proud to run around the block with; a Rotty or even a Border Collie. What he ends up with thanks to his well-meaning but slightly askew mother, is a mutt too large to be a rat, and too small to be a werewolf, but as repulsive as both. And this dog is apparently not well. It promptly drops dead before Zane has a chance to blow out his birthday candles.
What follows after the burial of his birthday present is a strange and slightly disturbing mix of Doctor Doolittle meets the Pet Cemetery. When Fossil re-emerges in Zane’s life, things start turning sour or at least start smelling pretty putrid. Neighbourhood pets, Mr Jenson next door, dear old granny and even reckless Kev, soon fall victim to Fossils deranged temper and strange viral infliction after she bites them all.
It’s not until Zane plucks up the courage to speak to his class room crush, Molly O’Mally, that he is able to accept the fact that this evil little dog is slowly turning everyone in his life into the undead. Together, he and Molly, try in vain to find a cure to break the Zombie curse taking over the neighbourhood. But no amount of decapitation is getting the job done, until Zane’s little sister, Elsie decides it’s time to Bite Back!
If you’ve had it with vampires, werewolves and warlocks, perhaps the 30th Anniversary of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, ode to Zombies, is more your medicine. You’ll certainly find plenty of reasons to smile with My Zombie Dog, even as your tummy is twisting anxiously at the thought of becoming Fossil’s next victim. Calm is eventually restored in Zane and Fossil’s lives but there’s just one loose end. What ever happened to Kev?
My Zombie Dog was released March 2012 and is available through Charmaine's site, Wagging Tales and from Amazon

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Getting Kids to Write

As part of the recent Reading Roadshow held by Marj Osborne at Aquinas College this month, I was honoured to be invited to speak about GETTING KIDS TO WRITE. My audience of primary and senior teachers and librarians were a delightful group keen to fine tune and learn ways to engage their charges in every aspect of literacy. Here is the condensed version in case you wish to enhance your child's literacy or have a child who is eager to write but not sure where to begin.

Why should we get kids to write?

Because stories connect us and help define who we really are. When we tell our stories, we share part of ourselves. It's vital to foster storytelling and writing  in kids so that they become better at it, for enjoyment and for life.

“But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think

Lord Byron

We tend to learn less by reading alone than by reading and writing combined. Studies show that a mere 10% of what we read is retained after a period of three days compared to 30 % of what we see and 50% of what we see and hear. If, however we 'practise what we preach' in other words, say as we do, than a whopping 90% more is retained. This illustrates the concept of Active vs. Passive Learning and indicates that writing can lead to an increased enjoyment of reading. In short: getting kids to write more will encourage their propensity to read more which ultimately ensures my survival as a children's author. So...

How do we get kids to write?

- Give them a reason to write. Make it fun and rewarding. As with beginner readers, first attempts need not be word perfect. Focus less on being correct and more on building confidence to improve and learn.

- Provide experiences, reasons, guidance and stimuli to encourage them to put pen to paper.

- Equip them with the basic skills and techniques to ensure their writing experiences will be more worthwhile and positive.

- Highlight the 5 Elements of Good Writing: 5 Ws Who (characters), What (story arc-structure), When (point of view), Where, (setting) and Why (theme-purpose of writing)

Here are some ideas you can try at home or at school that will make writing as natural as reading for kids.

There is a web full of fantastic, kid friendly, pro writing sites, which encourage youngsters to write, enter comps, submit their work for publication and learn useful tips and techniques from people in the industry. See my Kool Kidz Stuff page for some of my favourites.

By encouraging kids to write, we are contributing to their communication skills and helping them along the road to continued reading. Try some of these tips at today to entice kids to write more and above all, enjoy it.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Reading Roadshow

How to Get Kids to Write: That was the question or rather the focus of my break out session presentation which formed part of the School Library Association of Queensland's (SLAQ Gold Coast) Reading Roadshow.

Held at Aquinas College on the Gold Coast, and facilitated by the ineffable Marj Osborne this timely event encompassing the 2012 National Year of Reading and new National Curriculum allowed an audience of teachers and teacher librarians to gain an overview of a variety of literacy based ideas.

Dimity with Narelle Oliver and Marj Osborne

I was fortunate to be able to work alongside esteemed and hugely talented children's author and illustrator, Narelle Oliver. She gave us a detailed look at how Picture Books contribute to the Literature Strand for Primary Levels (years 4 - 7) within the Australian Curriculum. I found it fascinating that the various Focus Points of each year level could be so succinctly and beautifully identified within the humble picture book. Narelle used examples of her own prize winning titles to illustrate those focus points however stressed that enjoyment of the book, and the overall reading experience should be the primary objective of the curriculum; a case of literature versus literacy.

Narelle encapsulating the power of picture books and their use in literature.

Other sessions included Running Online Book Clubs, E-book platforms, Online Book sites and Apps and Asian Literature in the National Curriculum, all designed to increase awareness of the huge pool of resources available to connect kids with books.

And how do I try to connect kids with books, besides writing them for them? Thanks to delving into How to Get Kids to Write, I realise, more than ever how intrinsically the two elements of Literacy; Reading and Writing are linked.

I thoroughly enjoyed this gig. It was a treat to work beside and of course learn more from Narelle. It was immensely gratifying to be included as a worthy writerly contemporary. It was an honour to be able to share my specks (slowly maturing into pearls) of wisdom with others as keen as improving our kids literacy as I.

Stick around for another post soon when I share the reasons why it's important to get kids to write and exactly how to get them to write.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Bedtime Stories for Children

There is nothing an author, fledgling or fully flown, likes better than to see their own name in print.
Well that's not 100% accurate in my book. I prefer to see my actual written words in print.
But to be perfectly clear; the thing that really rocks my boat, is having others see my words in print.

Which is why, when the good folk at Australian Women Online chose one of my short stories for inclusion on their dynamic online info hub as part of their Bedtime Stories for Children, my little heart lurched and pulsed with pleasure.

Read all about "Marcie's Green Eyed Monster" online. Print it out and share it with a small child you know or anyone who loves a wee story because there's nothing that would make this author happier than knowing her words have been seen and shared.
Oh, and feel free to let me know what you think. Please be gentle.

'Let us Read, and let us Dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.'