Melbourne Highlights

Wednesday: Caught up with my dee-lightful writing friend, Dee White – and her bunny! So lovely to stay with Dee and her family, and have lots of chats over ensuing days…

Thursday: Had a day of author talks at New Gisborne Primary School, where last year they decorated a classroom door as the cover of ‘Bully on the Bus’ – and this year there were lots of colourful hands… but I forgot to click a pic. But I did get a photo of the cupcakes! #thankyouKylie

Enjoyed lunch with some fabulous fun teachers – who wouldn’t normally make the time to eat out! #icouldrelate #butitwassolovely

Ran a staff professional development on poetry across the curriculum areas. I always love this session – and it didn’t disappoint! 

Saw a production of ‘The Crucible’ at The Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne, starring Dee’s son. Was itching to slip my hand into Mem Fox’s cast hand, because if the glove fits… #wearit #iwish Alas, it was behind glass, so I guess I’ll never know…

Friday: Received lovely feedback on previous day’s school visit.

“We loved having you visit us, the students and teachers got so much out of your sessions. Even our P.E teacher was raving about your poetry PD – thinking overnight about how he can incorporate reflections, descriptions and similes into his program!”

Dee and I met the kidlit lovelies; Tania McCartney, Nicky Johnstone and Coral Vass.

Saturday: Attended KidLitVic, meeting numerous publishers I’ve corresponded with – and others I would like to. Gained so much insight from my one-on-one with the lovely Elise Jones at Allen & Unwin, and spent yesterday (at last!) working on edits for one of my picture book manuscripts, as a result of Elise’s feedback.

Wonderful to connect with Renee Treml again – amazing illustrator and artist and lovely person. And catch up with some long-term kidlit friends from the pre-twitter days of Yahoo groups; Kim Rackham, Bren MacDibble and Chris Bell.

Sunday: Ran a poetry workshop at Little Book Room for 33 keen and talented kids. Love that kids and parents appreciate poetry enough that they would give time on their weekend to play with words! (And we did play.) Unfortunately, we were so busy (!!!) that I didn’t get a chance to take pics of the kids’ fantabulous work. But I love these pics of the book signing queue!

Met my long-term twitter friend Kim Yeomans – and enjoyed Melbourne Botanical Gardens in Autumn, and more chatter…

Monday: School visit at St Martins. Talked about how my life inspires my books – and how verse novels take shape. Also shared pics of what kids can achieve when they turn off the TV (and other electronic devices) and be creative. Encouraged kids to go home that afternoon and create!

(Was reminded that we weren’t in country Australia when I blithely assured kids that, though they don’t live on a farm, they do all have a back yard… which prompted one boy to shake his head solemnly… no verandah, either… though he did have a bedroom… and cardboard boxes!)

Enjoyed more luscious cupcakes, these from ‘Too Many Friends’. #ferriswheelcake #thankyouKim (Resolved to write cupcakes into all future books.) Snuck out for another lovely #notthenorm eat-out-lunch-treat with library staff. I could get used to this!

Tuesday: Dropped in briefly at St Martins – long enough to see what a set of twins achieved when they were creative with boxes overnight. And to sneak in a quick read of ‘This is the Mud!’ with a group of Preps. Have been delighted by other pics that have appeared in my tweet stream, of creativity at St Martins as a result of my visit. You can read more about my visit to St Martins, from the school’s perspective, here; http://smotlrcblog.edublogs.org/2017/05/27/our-visit-from-kathryn-apel.

Met Renee Treml for chai and chat. (The yummiest iced chai I have ever tasted!) So good to catch up properly with Renee – and I can’t wait to share what we were talking about… #butnotyet

Met with Associate Professor Jeffrey Stilwell, at Monash University, for some research into a writing project I’m working on inspired by my recent trip to Antarctica.

Stayed with my friend Bren MacDibble, of the aforementioned Yahoo group, who I met IRL for the first time at KidLitVic. So lovely to spend time chatting into the night and swapping stories. Enjoyed brisk walks with Basil (the dog) in this older, formerly-rural area of Melbourne, with solid structures that oozed warmth and stories.

Wednesday: Spent a day at Karingal Primary School in Frankston – where I was welcomed with a beaut banner made by the kids. Conducted author talks in the morning, and workshops in the afternoon, with fantastic feedback from teachers and kids. Worth noting how quickly kids engaged with the task, and made every moment count! #commendable

Thursday: Flew home. Sat beside a young dad on the last little hop from Brisbane to Bundaberg. When he heard I was a children’s author, he was keen to know what books I’d written, since he reads heaps with his 3yo daughter. Some books over and over again. Though he wasn’t much of a reader himself, he placed great value on this time with his daughter – spoke of the benefits to her vocabulary, and knowledge of the world around her. So wonderful to hear! We talked (and laughed) lots on our short flight, and I was so glad that we were seated side-by-side.

Something I learnt from my Melbourne stint is that cities are a lot bigger than I’d imagined – and just because two suburbs are in the same city – that doesn’t mean they’re close together! My first and last school were in fact at extreme (rural) opposite ends of the city! And Melbourne peeps all thought it was madness that I was travelling between the two… and perhaps it was… but I did it. And loved both. Loved everything in between, too! 🙂

The Melbourne experience was a learning curve for me – taking a risk and booking an extended time away, then advertising to fill the spaces with school visits. It was super-busy, and a resounding success. I will certainly be looking at repeating the experiment. Maybe I’ll be coming to a school near you… 😉

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