Snail Mail – Snail’s Ark

Throwback to January ’22 – Yellow dress!

Recently my lovely friend Irene sent her picture book, ‘Snail’s Ark’, to complete our 2022-releases, snail-mail book swap. (You can read what Irene said about ‘What Snail Knows’, here.)

Way back when I received my advance copy of ‘What Snail Knows’, Irene commented on my dress. Ha! You can see why. It’s the perfect match for Esther the snail!🙃

‘Snail’s Ark’ is a sweet story with luscious word choice, urgent rhythm and sumptuous illustrations. Goldie and Pearl Snail give it their slick☑️ of approval.

No snails on my recent beach wander – but lots of amber jellyfish the size of dinner plates.

You’ll find our Poetry Friday link-up across the ocean with 25 Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town.

Busting Some Moves

I was emailing our lovely Irene recently, to thank her for her sweet snail story, (post to come) and I was lamenting my lack of blogging;

“I hope to share a snippet on my blog – though that is a little erratic of late. (I must blog, fullstop. Funnily enough, Australian publishers are saying that blogging is no longer a platform to invest time in. Which is not why I have stopped blogging. I have just been overwhelmed. And blogging is another form of writing – when I’m actually finding I have so many things demanding my writing – and I just want a little break. (If that makes sense??? The business of writing sure does my head in, sometimes. And I don’t want to lose the JOY of creative/passion writing!))”

(Cue the violins!🎻)

Irene’s reply was so simple;

“I do love our PF community. When I think about where I WANT to be online, it’s there above all else.”

And I thought, me too! I miss my Poetry Friday peeps. Even though I see some of you on other platforms, it isn’t the same as these Poetry Friday rounds. I miss our poetry connections. The inspiration! So – no more guilt for all the pictures and moments I’ve been wanting to share – but haven’t. No more missing out on this community. I am here. For the joy of it. And if sometimes it’s the shortest of posts just to stick my toe in the water, then that’s what I’ll have to do!

Here are my short offerings for today. This past week I’ve been forced to slow down and appreciate the little things; pics and short poetry. Already I’m starting to feel creatively refreshed.

The helmet worked – and has the dents to prove it!

Not a natural early bird, but I’ve seen a few sunrises this week.

Living the dream! I may never regain full use of my arm…

Poetry © Kathryn Apel  ~  All rights reserved

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. I am sure it will be nourishing!

Poetry Friday Round-up and Katch-up!

Have you every got so far behind in your blogging that you just don’t know how to get back on board?

That’s me. These past months. Months that have been so busy… with so much good stuff to blog about, and yet, so little time! I kept delaying… thinking I’d play catch-up – but the gathering momentum just made it harder and harder… until I was buried under overwhelm!

Fast forward to last weekend. When my calendar reminder popped up; HOST Poetry Friday. For a moment there I had dreadful panic, thinking that it was the Friday just passed! But fortunately it was not… It’s today! And you are here! 🙂 WELCOME!

This post isn’t a big catch-up post – though I do hope it starts the ball rolling. And if it doesn’t, I’m fine with that. But here are a couple of inter-related highlights that I thought you might enjoy…

Early August: Presenting in person at StoryArts Festival Ipswich with illustrator of ‘The Bird in the Herd’, Renee Treml. (Also chatting about possible future collaborations…🤫 ) This was so much fun – and having time to hang out with Renee for 5 days was awesome! Click the pic for more snaps. We only presented together on the Monday. All other sessions were individual – and a whole lot of awesome, too!

StoryArts Festival is a rather large festival that runs over 7 days, with about 30 kidlit creators in attendance – many staying onsite in a lovely old mansion. Think, school camp, for creatives! It was soooo much fun – and there are numerous posts on my Insta, to give you more of an idea… Presenting in a cellar was a highlight! (And yes, those bold sections are links to more pics and info on my Instagram page.🙃)

Viewing Tales and Trails, which was opened, coincidentally, while I was in Ipswich. Click the pic to read/see more of this on Instagram. I am totally in love with this project! Kudos to Ipswich Children’s Library. Yes, that is illustrator Janet Turner and I with our book, ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ (Photo credit Lyle Radford) which is now a walk-through garden installation at The Rail Workshop Museum – a gorgeous, rustic (and lush!) location! And yes, the text is in braille, too!  So amazing.

Both of my 2022 releases continue to be well received, and I have loved sharing them at author events. (Though these pictures don’t capture either of them!) You can read snippets of some fantabulous reviews under the relevant Books tabs; ‘What Snail Knows‘, and ‘Miss Understood‘. They make my heart sing!

More recently, I’ve been working on some picture books projects – and productivity has been high! This past week I’ve finished two rhyming picture books that are now polished and on submission. (They have been in progress for some months – hence the quick turnaround. It is not always like this!) The chance to chat with other creators – and with young readers (!) at recent author events was just the boost I needed to push both projects through to completion, and I am very excited about them both!

In amongst all this, I had my final two poetry swaps, generously organised by Tabatha Yeatts. Poetry swaps are the perfect excuse to play with words and creativity – for fun! I love them!

It’s been a delight watching Mary Lee Hahn embrace retirement, and her zest for many (and varied) pursuits. With ‘a stitch in time’ in mind, I settled on a nonet for Mary Lee, celebrating her rapidly developing embroidery skills.

Mandala artwork by Mary Lee Hahn. Poetry © Kathryn Apel.

In pure poetry, I received this stitched haiku from Mary Lee, in return.💙 I’m so very happy to fly the Aussie flag!

My poem for Donna came right down to the wire. But with Donna’s appreciation for floral photography, I decided to pick a little splash of colour – and then focused on the little things. I snuck in two…

What have you all been up to? Please, do share via the comments – and also via the Inlinkz party. I’m preparing to fall down a rabbit hole as I play catch-up, not just on this Poetry Friday round, but also skipping back through previous weeks, too! 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js?id=c0efdbe6b4add43dd7ef

Paper Poetry

I’m popping in for Poetry Friday to share something a little bit different this week; a book I reserved at my library purely for the title. How could I not be intrigued by ‘Paper Poetry’? It’s a book of creative papercutting, by Helene and Simone Bendix, with photography by Ben Nason. It’s a luscious coffee table book. And it very much brings the lovely Linda Mitchell to mind!

I love that this book is called ‘Paper Poetry’ – because poetry is the art of words, and this book celebrates that in exquisite, detailed brevity. There were times that I forgot that I didn’t really have the time or the steady hand to produce these intricate creations. I imagined that I could – and my heart felt lighter. (And actually, there are some there that I am quite eager to try.) I marvelled at the craftsmanship and drifted through the papercut words.The poet in me also appreciated this quote at the end of the book. “Our handmade goods are for courageous women who want to add an element of poetic luxury to their everyday life. In some ways we feel fashion has lost that touch of poetry and fun…” I am all for a touch of poetry and fun in life – and I frequently find that clothes with personality help spread joy.

The book was an unexpected treat – and I’m delighted to share it with you, too. Now – to pick up scalpel and create some paper poetry of my own! But first, I’m off to check out the Poetry Friday link-up, at Mary Lee’s blog.

Sunny Side Up – Opposite Friends

This morning I was surprised by joy in my inbox. Margaret Simon was my PoetrySwap giver for this first round (when I was giving to Margaret, in return!🙃) and her joyful praise poem brought sunshine and smiles into my week.

Thank-you so much for these beautiful, encouraging words, Margaret. Hugging this poem to my heart. And thank-you Tabatha, for once again gifting us poetry; a reason to write, and a joy to receive.

I also wanted to share the link to an Aussie poet who experienced international success this week. I have not read Peter Ramm’s work yet – but I will be hunting it down. I love the backstory to his success. (Until 2016, he had not written a poem since high school.) Click across and read; The small town with a big potato that inspired a global poetry win.

Poetry Friday this week is hosted byCatherine at Reading to the Core. Hoping you all have a fabulous weekend!

Rainy Day Poetry – And Good News!

In February, the Poetry Sisters wrote Exquisite Corpse poems – and invited us to take part. And I did – but never got around to posting! (Story of my life, this year.🤦‍♀️) But during my travels around the North Burnett recently, I brought the exquisite corpse into Poetry Pep-up sessions. They were a great warm-up/ice-breaker activity. We were taken by the way different punctuation can produce different results; and the variety of visual images the same words inspired amongst participants – which was inspiration in itself, for further poetry. Here are some related to rain, which was in abundance at the time. All of them could be punctuated differently – and I’m not even sure that this is my preferred punctuation. 🙂 (You may have other interpretations?)

Pitter like soft feathers; mist falls. Happy thunder. Slip-bright truck-water.

Plop! Like a scout’s whistle, slippery trees, wading; cold tanks … floods.

Swoosh. Trickle like a treat, constant river splash. Quickly shelter. Verandah.

Over. As heavy as golf balls, washy river rattling melancholy chimney-skipping.

A drip hits the tin roof like splattering stones. Sombre castle; puddling, pattering, umbrella splatter.

Wooosh! I jump like a kangaroo; joyous. Puddle-melting, slippery-cloud gumboots.

Swoosh. As heavy as rocks; dark rainbow, dancing, exploring spit-creeks.

Churning like butter; pelting, swirling cool rainbow.

Clear gumboots. Runny wet puddle-drop.

(I was wanting to encourage playful use of onomatopoeia and creative similes – which you will recognise as the start point for these poems.)

Thanks to Karen aKaren Edmisten* who is hosting Poetry Friday today. I’m sure it will be raining creativity!

Oh – but before I go, I must also share the surprising joy I had this week, with the inclusion of ‘Miss Understood’ on the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards Shortlist. I had not expected that delightful bit of news in the same month that it released! (But I’ll take it.💕🐺💕)

Celebrating Miss Understood – Arooooooo!

What a thrill it was to celebrate the release of Miss Understood in the North Burnett Region, including launch celebrations with kids and staff – and my parents, too – at St Joseph’s Catholic School in Gayndah.

I’ve been very excited for the arrival of this book, because I kind of figured it would be a fun read aloud – but even I hadn’t realised how much scope there was. If you get into character and let go of inhibitions, it is a howl! (Especially when kids get into character, too, and start to see things from the wolf’s perspective (that would be, Miss Understood’s) – or in some cases, remaining loyal to those little stinkers and their porkie-pies.

It’s so much fun reading this book to kids! Who am I kidding??!? I love reading this book to anyone!!!🤭 (My brother scored a reading in his workplace last week. Now he knows how I expect him to read it. And he’s been practising.😹)

I must commend Beau Wylie on his choice of outfit for Miss Understood. She has great taste – and I rather like to emulate her!🐺 The touch of pink in both my 2022 books was also a gift and dressing for author events has been a delight.💕

🐺 Megan Daley (YKNR Podcast): I really, really enjoyed ‘Miss Understood’. It’s a fractured fairytale. It’s poetry. It’s full of puns. It’s got this wonderful beat and rhythm to it. It’s fantastic. A really, really clever little book.

🐺 What’s the Story Rory (Reading with a Chance of Tacos podcast): ‘I judged the book by its cover and I automatically knew I was going to love it – and the cover really lived up to the story… Really clever rhyme. Beautiful illustrations. Absolute joy to read… A brilliant book.’

Incidentally, it was also great to share The Bird in the Herd in an area where so many kids knew what a drover was! Prior to this, in the 14months since release day, during visits to schools and libraries in country and city locations, I have had one child who knew about drovers. (Yet every child can tell you about cowboys! And we don’t even HAVE cowboys in Australia. Aside from football teams.) Drovers are such an important part of our Australian heritage – and are still in operation today. (And not just in the North Burnett.) Yet Australian kids know more about their American counterparts.🤦‍♀️ This is why Australian kids need Australian farming stories!

I am for sure looking forward to more author events in the near future – and sharing Miss Understood with kids of all ages and sizes. Though there will always be something special about that reading at St Joseph’s, with my parents in the room. Dad was a pig farmer, so we grew up surrounded by pigs, their smells – and the puns! (There were even three kids in our family.🐷🐷🐷) Though I cannot recommend pigs in wedding photos…

Poetry Friday this week is with the lovely Linda at A Word Edgewise. Correct me if I’m wrong, Linda – but I am pretty sure that Miss Understood was one of those stories we shared at your dining room table… 

Photo credits (and thanks) to St Joseph’s, North Burnett News, and staff at North Burnett Regional Council libraries. Photos shared with permission.

Wolfish Grins – Miss Understood

This week saw the release of Miss Understood. She’s my ninth book – and my second release in 2022. (And that is something that still makes me smile, inside and out!)

It’s been so much fun letting this little wolf loose on the world. This is my most sophisticated picture book to date, with lots of piggy puns in a carefully crafted rapping rhyme. Beau’s stellar illustrations, coupled with Rebecca Young’s vision, and Hannah Janzen’s design work, blow me away. (Much like a house of straw, actually). I am so proud of this picture book. It has been a fantabulously fun experience creating it and I am loving sharing it with kids. And adults too! (Because it turns out I’m not the only adult who loves the interplay between text, art and design. It is been garnering praise wherever I’ve shared it. Copies are disappearing fast!)

Miss Understood is a Scholastic Press book from Scholastic Australia. At this stage it’s only available in Australia and New Zealand. I sure hope that changes!

You can find ideas for classroom (and home) use here; Download Teacher’s Notes. But actually, just read it for the fun!

And don’t let that little skunk pass unnoticed…

And adore the endpapers!

💕🐺💕

I’m the wolf, Miss Understood.
You think I’m bad, but I am good.
Those Little Pigs told you a porker —
made it sound like I’m a stalker!

Is the wolf really as BIG and BAD as she seems? Or is she just . . . misunderstood? An irresistible story about being accepted for who you really are.

Over the next two weeks I will be out-and-about doing Storytime readings and conducting Poetry Pep-ups for teens and adults around the North Burnett Region. Check your local libraries for times and locations. You can be sure Miss Understood will be sharing her version of the Three Little Pigs there.

Jama is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday round-up at Jama’s Alphabet Soup. I am fairly confident Jama will not be wolfing pea and yam soup, like those hambones in Miss Understood.🤭

Busy in Brissy

Today’s blog post is coming to you from Busy-Brissy, where I have been loving the chance to connect with readers of all ages – and writing buddies, too. (Though I’ve also missed catching up with a couple, thanks Covid.😿)

Thank-you St Johns Year 7, and St Peters Yr 5 for the warm welcome and wonderful interactions with staff and students. (The snails and I appreciated it!)

At St Peters, every child had read at least one of my verse novels. (And some kids had read three!) Any author event is special, and I love that there are always standout moments in each session – but when kids have read so many of your works, they really understand how you tick… and their questions – their thirst for information! – reflect that. I started the session asking them what they like about verse novels… and they gushed wisdom. I wish I could recall word-for-word the beautiful ways they expressed their appreciation. I can’t. One gem; ‘I love how your words make pictures. You make me feel like I’ve stepped into the story.’ Their insights have filled my cup and reignited my passion.

 

Gems of Wisdom
(Inspired by students)

shape poetry
and imagery
draw readers
into the story

less words
all story

eyes follow
words;
placement places
(and paces)
readers
on the page

can’t miss

the feelings

Draft © Kathryn Apel

Following the third session on my second day, someone commented that I must be exhausted – but I was not! I was energised. I love the chance to share a passion for poetry with kids. (And I’m rather delighted that kids are as fascinated as I am, by snails.)

It was wonderful to meet the librarian who has written the (excellent!) Teachers’ Notes for my UQP books, Christina Wheeler. I’ve always said that if I was the teacher, using my books in the classroom, I would do exactly what Christina has done with my books in the Teachers’ Notes. (I just didn’t know it was Christina until recently.🙃)

And then it was just a hop, skip and jump to meet my publisher Clair Hume and publicist, Jean at UQP. (Wish we’d grabbed a pic, too!)

As if that wasn’t ticking enough boxes, I then got to follow it all up with cuppa and cake with one of my faves, the darling of Brisbane, Samantha Wheeler.

On Saturday, I start school holiday sessions with Brisbane Libraries, including; Toowong, Garden City, Ashgrove, Carindale, Holland Park, Mt Ommaney, Brisbane Square & West End. (Also Helensvale on the Gold Coast.) Bookings are essential, through relevant libraries, and sessions vary – so check to see what is offered, if you live in Brisbane. (Saturday session; Toowong (PB reading/farm themes) and Garden City (teens poetry workshop).

Aside from all this wonderful creative cup-filling, I have been filling my car with prayers (and thanksgiving) as I navigate city traffic in my beautiful little blue Rav. (I cannot tell you how many hours I have stressed this, over recent months!)

Staying Car-lm

Car navigation system
as clear as the confusion
of criss-crossing
carriageways.

Recalculating…

Heidi at my juicy little universe is hosting the Poetry Friday community this week. I look forward to popping in and out during my travels over the coming week – though I may not get to comment much, sorry. I will be on the hop – in that little blue Rav.💙 Stay safe!