More Presentations… and a Holiday!

I blogged earlier in the week about ‘Celebrating Our Stories‘, a speaking tour I ran with the support of the Gladstone Region Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). A wonderful added bonus was the opportunity to speak at a number of other community and school events whilst I was on tour. And many of these included poetry!😻 I presented a professional development for early years educators in the Gladstone Region, titled, ‘Poetry Through Play’ – ran a poetry workshop for the Gladstone Region Home Schooling Network – with parents and kids, which was rather special, and ran additional workshops/author talks at a number of schools where we were ‘Celebrating Our Stories’. AND  I have more school bookings as a result. That is for sure something to smile about!

In Calliope I followed up with a talk about characters with Year 2. ‘Too Many Friends’ is set in a Year Two class – and there are some very different characters in that book – who are quite recognisable as classmates in most schools I visit. The kids’ faces lit up when they heard about the push/pull toys, and saw the coconut helicopter that inspired ‘Chop Chop’ in the book. They were learning about push/pull toys in Science – and recognised force in action in an instant. (The Year Two teacher in me smiled gleefully, because there is a reason this story was set in a Year Two class!) Even more trippy… Sara, the lovely librarian at Calliope, was in my Year 2/3 class for almost two years, many, many (MANY!🤫) years ago. The Sara, in ‘Too Many Friends’? Well – she isn’t this Sara, but this Sara did inspire her name. To see her so active in her role as community librarian was super-special. (Pic here.)

To round off some busy months, I presented at the Capricorn Coast Writers Festival, in Yeppoon. Gorgeous location – on the beach! It was wonderful to be on a panel with Dr Anita Heiss and Allison Tait, both powerhouses within the Australian kidlit scene, talking about Crafting Stories for Children. I then got to do Storytime at the library – the first time I’ve shared all three of my picture books! (‘The Bird in the Herd’ had to be ordered in three times in the lead-up to the festival, because the lovely local/festival bookshop, Hannah Jones, kept selling out – in advance of the festival!💙)

My final session at the CCWF was poetry workshop for adult writers.  I always love poetry workshops – but this workshop had a special feel to it, and by the end of the session, they had formed their own poetry group! Last weekend they sent me a pic from the first get-together. My heart…

By this time, my head was spinning from juggling everything, so hubby and I took time off in a rooftop tent in Central Queensland, in the middle of winter. We spent 2 nights in Byfield National Park, before heading across to Emerald, stopping at Blackdown Tablelands along the way. I took far too many pictures for my blog (far too many pictures for Instagram, even) – but do pop across to Insta, where you can sample a squidge in a five-part Rooftop Tent in Retrospect. (Or click on the links in the poem titles below.)

There were some breathtaking views, and stunning landscapes.

Byfield National Park

it never rains,
but it pours -
when home is a rooftop tent

thunder and lightning
is frightening;
nowhere to hide

camping is fun!
carried away
by the mozzies


Blackdown Tablelands

bump-bump-bump-bump
slow and steady
on rusty rutted roads

on top of the world
surrounded by trees -
and thunder

now planning
a camping expedition
in drought-affected home paddocks


Minerva National Park

c-c-c-c-anvas on c-c-c-car is
c-c-c-c-cool;
until you're c-c-c-c-old to the bone


© Kathryn Apel - All rights reserved.

I should add, that the rain definitely didn’t dampen our spirits. We loved our rooftop tent – and I was ready for some laughs, after the busyness of previous months. For those vistas, I’d do it all again!

And now, I look forward to hearing about what all my Poetry Friday friends have been up to. I have missed this community! Find the link-up, and more poetry Reflections on the Teche. Thanks, Margaret! 

Celebrating Our Stories

The last months have disappeared in a blur, as I pitched, prepared and then presented ‘Celebrating Our Stories’ for kids around the Gladstone Region. This is the first time I have co-ordinated a tour across 10 different venues – and I learnt lots in the process. (Next time I do this, it will be easier!🙃)

It has been so good to be sharing my passion for poetry and story again. I took a break after talking myself out of a voice on my American schools tour, in November 2019. (Gah! So long ago!!!) Six months became 18months, thanks to ‘Rona, and end of last year I struggled with the lack of face-to-face kid-interaction. Even though I’d had my most productive year as an author – signed more contracts, wrote more, and had more works in progress than ever before – I struggled to ‘feel’ like an author, because I wasn’t sharing the journey with kids. I was a teacher before I was an author – and there’s a reason for that. I love working with kids!

Celebrating Our Stories was a series of talks celebrating the release of our picture book, ‘The Bird in the Herd’, with kids in the Gladstone region, but also valuing regional stories and encouraging kids to share their stories – in words or in artwork. Victorian-based illustrator of ‘The Bird in the Herd’, Renée Treml, joined us via Zoom (or video, if an area didn’t have reliable internet) and the technology worked! We all learnt so much from Renée, who is not just a talented illustrator, but a lovely person. I am hoping we get to work together again – on books and presentations!

Our region is so diverse; dirt roads and sneaky bends, tea tree forests and open flats, shaded creeks and salt, sand and surf, grazing land, industry, ports and tourism. How fortunate I was to experience it in my meandering to different venues. And wonderful to visit city schools with their buzz of activity, and the softer hum of country schools in rustic settings. But always, attentive, interactive kids, and appreciative, engaged educators. Every session was different – but wonderful!

The Gladstone Region Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is a Queensland Government and Gladstone Regional Council partnership to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland – and I am so grateful for their investment in our project. I also appreciate the assistance of Wendy Barker and Di Paddick, who supported my wrangling with the grant application, and Councillors Glenn Churchill and Chris Cameron who joined us for a Celebrating Our Story session, along with State Member for Burnett, Mr Stephen Bennett. Thank-you also to the regional librarians who supported by offering space and materials, or liaised with local schools to utilise their space – and to schools and parents who partnered with us, and have given permission to share these beautiful pics!  

Meeting Mary Lee

For those of you who don’t follow the Poetry Friday loop, this week one of our Poetry Friday crew is retiring, after 37 years in the classroom. Wow. That’s a lot of passion and creativity – and kids inspired!

Mary Lee’s friend and blog partner, Franki Sibberson, invited us to help celebrate Mary Lee’s dedication with a Mary Lee-themed round of Poetry Friday posts!

Meeting Mary Lee

March Madness sparked our 'meeting'
And if I'm correct in 
Recalling your bio,
You didn't call yourself a poet.

Let's be clear;
Even then you were a poet!
Even moreso now.

How time flies to NCTE 2019;
Amid a sea of faces, you
Happened past, and I knew – 
Not a stranger; "Mary Lee!"

katmargaretmarylee

NCTE 2021, after that magical moment of recognition and meeting IRL – with the lovely Margaret Simon in the middle.

Congratulations, Mary Lee. Hoping this last day in the classroom is wonderful beyond all imagining, and you embark on this new stanza of your poem with many more memories to cherish.

Christie Wyman at Wondering And Wandering is hosting the roundup today. You’ll find lots to celebrate (and that’s not just poetry!) on her blog. 🥳

So Much Good Stuff!

Life is busy but rich with blessings, of late. 

I recently went through the herculean process of completing a grant application to organise and present ‘Celebrating Our Stories’ at 10 different venues within the Gladstone Region – and I am thrilled to say I have been successful. I am so thankful to the Gladstone Regional Council and the Queensland Government for this opportunity to inspire young readers to value their stories, while also celebrating ‘The Bird in the Herd’. (And we will have fun with that!) I’m especially excited to bring illustrator Renée Treml to the Gladstone Region – all be it via Zoom. The tour kicks off this coming Wednesday, at Miriam Vale, and will take place across 4 weeks. In addition to the RADF-funded activities, there are also opportunities for schools (Primary or Secondary) within the region to book an author event – either a presentation, or a poetry workshop. If you’re here because this interests you, you’ll find more information on my Appearances page. Drop me a message there.

KatApel_PictorialAs if that wasn’t keeping me busy enough, I was asked to conduct an online poetry PD for a NSW school, who are currently writing a 5 week poetry unit to run across all Primary classes. (How exciting and awesome is that! I would SO be sending my kids to that school!) I’ve presented lots of different poetry workshops online – and lots of intensive poetry professional development sessions for teachers face-to-face – but this is my first time presenting the teacher-intensive session online – which required a complete overhaul in how I did things! But it was worth it. The group was wonderful to work with, and even though we were distant, and there were 50 educators in the one room – we were still able to connect, and bounce idea (and words) around the room. As is often the way, there were quite a number of teachers in the room who initially expressed reservations about poetry, but by the end they were enthusiastic and appreciative. And the feedback from the school since has been wonderful. “You were amazing inspiring and have changed the mindset of our staff.” I’m so glad they enjoyed it, because I was buzzing all night. It was SO GOOD to be seeped in poetry again, and sharing my passion with a group of educators – who are now going out to spread their newfound enthusiasm throughout their school. What a privilege to invest in their poetry journey. I’m excited for what they’re going to produce in the coming weeks, both as curriculum, and then as poetry in the classrooms.🎉

Librarium Reading ClubAND – now I’ve created new material for an online presentation, I’m keen to do it again! (Just sayin’.😉) If your school is keen to pep-up its writing with some poetry, either online or in person, please do get in touch! (That Appearances page I mentioned earlier… You can find more information there.😺)

By way of delightful surprise… I also discovered this podcast, shared on the International Day Against Bullying. They’ve been using ‘Bully on the Bus’ in their English language classes, and “Students in 1st and 2nd year CSE have prepared a programme after their Librarium Reading Club, where they read Bully on the Bus, a book of poems by Kathryn Apel.” Click across to hear the podcast, with the poetry reading starting at 1:14. I was rather chuffed to discover Bully used in this new context. 

I’m going to end this post with a new-to-me Shel Silverstein poem, from ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’. Such clever layout, with words tangled in the ridiculous long legs (only two of them!) of this absurd looking turtle. What an unexpected poem it is! (I may know something about long legs. Though mine don’t pack away quite as neatly as a turtle’s does.) I do love the fact that it just ever-so-slightly spills onto the preceding page… and that’s okay. Because poetry is meant to be savoured! (This poem, inspired me to hunt up my turtle photo (above) and carve out a moment in rhyme…)

Irene is hosting us for Poetry Friday this week at Live Your Poem. What joy! Click across to be inspired by more poetry posts – and have a fabulous week!

First Public Reading of ‘The Bird in the Herd’

PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT: This week I took part in my first in-person, in real life, live (how many different ways can I capture the momentousness!😹) AUTHOR EVENT since my book tour in America in November 2019. Prior to Tuesday, my last in-person speaking engagement was a school presentation with Irene Latham and Laura Shovan, in Scaggsville, Maryland – and then the fabulous fun time shared with so many of you Poetry Friday friends at NCTE, in Baltimore.

But Tuesday, that all changed. And my day exceeded all expectations!!

What better place to share the first reading of this Australian grazing story than at BeefAustralia, in Rockhampton – the Beef Capital of Australia? I went to Beef to read our Aussie grazing picture book in the Kids’ Zone. (Yay!)

Then… I was asked to speak with Paul Cullin on ABC Capricornia, live from Beef (Cool!) …

And THEN (Yowzers!) I got to share our new book with the Prime Minister of Australia. And get the photos to boot! 

And from that, (Snowball!) I was interviewed by the Morning Bulletin … 

Talk about a busy day of networking! We did also get to check out some of the cattle yards and drone technology that my husband was keen to see. 

And yes, midst all that excitement, I did share ‘The Bird in the Herd’ with the kids! (Photos shared with school’s permission – thanks to my wonderful snap-happy hubby for grabbing these.) There are more pics, and a short video snippet on my Instagram page, here.

Happy, happy me! It is such a joy to be connecting with people and sharing my love of words again – but most especially, to be sharing it with kids!

A terse verse to capture the moment:

What Do You Get When You Share Your Latest Book with the Prime Minister?

Leader reader.

That’s me for today. Now flap fly and flurry over to wee words for wee ones where Bridget is collecting the Poetry Friday roundup. Apologies in advance, because I don’t know how many comments I can leave this weekend. The next 6 weeks are busy-busy-busy, and I’m just trying to keep head and body connected – and feathers, too! 

Terse Verse

Okay – so before I start today’s post, I have to say that this is my first day, squeezed into a block by WordPress! Gargh! I really did like my classic editor format, and I have I held out for as long as I can… but recently WordPress overrode my preferences, and we are now all in little boxes.😢 (I hope I can still manage to make my blog and posts LOOK like I’d like!)

Today, (which is Friday… Who knew?!?) I am joining the Poetry Friday rounds with some terse verse. Feel free to add your own in the comments. I think they’re a lot of fun – especially when…

Well, this was a surprise! (Big W Bundaberg)

How lovely that:
1) my son’s friend spotted it
2) his girlfriend modelled it, and
3) my son shared it!
You Look at the Calendar Expecting to See Thursday... But it Says FRIDAY...
Rhyme time. Sublime!

You've Missed Too Many Days and You're Determined to Join the Crew.
Hurry flurry.

You May Have Developed a Form for Times Such as This.
Yo! LaMiPo*. 

But Sometimes You Just Want to Stick to the Rules and Conform to a Form.
Coerce terse verse.

The Sun is Shining Over Green Grassy Paddocks and There's Water in the Dams.
New hue - true blue view.

Edits Come and Edits Go;
Begun. Done.

Sold out. New stock in store. And There are MORE! 
Look! Book nook. (Look! Look!)

The ToDo List is a Never-ever-ever Ending Story
Right! Write light. Write night.

You Know You're Going to Get a Feast of Friday Poets at Jama's.
Troop scoop soup. Whoop! Whoop!

Today’s round-up is hosted by Jama – where you will always find sustenance for the poetry rounds.)

Don’t forget to check out the Progressive Poem too, and see what our Case of Kindness has got up to!

* A short form of the LaMiPoFri. It was brought to my attention that there are last minutes (and poetry) on other days, too. Not just Friday. And I agree!

First post with the blocky-locks is now done.😅

2021 Progressive Poem – Day One

This year I thought it would be fun to take the plunge and write the first line in our Progressive Poem that unfolds throughout National Poetry Month in America. My one line will help set the tone for what is to come … and in light of all we have gone through in the past twelve months, I am for sure wanting to invest something light and lively into our compilation …

Many poets expressed delight with last year’s two-lined version of the progressive poem, instigated by Donna, where each poet wrote two potential lines, and the next poet chose one …  then wrote their own two options to offer the next poet, and so on … I think we all felt that this lightened the pressure of writing that one perfect line. (I know it sped the process up for me!) With that in mind, I have started the month with two options… But don’t feel that you signed up to write one line, and been duped!😹 You can still choose to write just one line, on your day. The choice is yours.

My two, very different offerings to kickstart creativity are;

 

Option One:  In a swish and a swirl, they spiralled and twirled …

Option Two:  I’m a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!

 

I like that they are have a very different feel to them, and I think I’ve left the door wide open for Linda Mitchell’s creativity tomorrow. (Though you might want to ignore the rest of this post until after you have written your lines, Linda, if you don’t want to be influenced by my thought process.😺)

Continue reading

‘The Bird in the Herd’ Resources

It’s Poetry Friday again – and I’ve woken to a slightly drizzling day, so that’s a beautiful thing. Though I’d have liked it to hang around longer!

🐛🦢🐮🐶🐴🤠🌪🚙

I’m delighted to share some fabulous resources to accompany ‘The Bird in the Herd’. As with all my books, you’ll find links on the relevant dropdown under the ‘Books’ tab, above – and they’re on the UQP website. There’s Teachers’ Notes – which are wonderful. (I’m constantly impressed with the quality of UQP’s teacher notes!) And for an extra little bit of fun, Renée and I worked with UQP to put together an Activity Pack, which has turned into a DIY party-pack for a Bird-in-the-Herd-themed party. You’ll find ‘Pin the Bird on the Herd’, rhyming memory, finger puppets,  droving dominoes, five fun facts about cows, some fabulous colouring spreads and MORE! So much fun! (Click the relevant picture to go direct to the resource.)

Last night I took part in Romancing the Stars, an online event across Australia – and Singapore, thanks to Book Links, and the amazing kidlit advocate, Jenny Stubbs. Five minutes to talk about ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ and ‘The Bird in the Herd’ – and then relax and hear other authors and illustrators share the backstory to their picture books. We are all connected by passion and heart. And Zoom!

 

Zoom-zoom;

time flies

when connected

© Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved

 

Hoping you’ve all been surrounded by poetry, picture books and people who feed your passion. I for sure have been thankful for that, these past two weeks of new-book celebrations.

Heidi is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up this week, at my juicy little universe. I’ll be late to do the rounds, as I have a busy-busy weekend ahead. But I look forward to catching up in review. 

 

Poetry Friday Muster!

Welcome to the Poetry Friday Muster. That’s the Australian term for the American cattle round-up, and it seems appropriate, since I’m sharing my droving book that was published this week.

Look! A herd of cows.

There’s a bird in the herd that stalks as it walks, eating slugs and the bugs that the herd stirred. What else can you see as you follow the cheeky bird?

Bright and playful, this rollicking rhyming picture book with gorgeous sun-soaked illustrations will have little ones hootin’ and a-tootin’!

The Bird in the Herd‘ is the book of patience.

1)  I wrote this story 19 years ago – and I blogged about this on release day. It didn’t actually change much during all that time – mostly tweaks to strengthen the rhyme. The title changed the most! Originally called ‘Muster Mayhem’, it was then called ‘No Cows’ for a number of years – before Linda Mitchell referred to it as ‘A Bird in the Herd’ in a blog comment last year … Funnily enough, about a month after that, my editor questioned ‘No Cows’, and suggested something like ‘A Bird in the Herd’. I cannot imagine why I didn’t think of it myself! But I’m so very grateful Linda and Clair did, because, with the slightest of tweaks, it’s perfect!

2)  I met my illustrator, Renée Treml, 9 years ago, and she has been an absolute treasure to work with!

(Renée had just 3 days from when she read the manuscript to when the illustration competition closed – but she did it! “That’s how much I loved the story❤️,” she says.)

3)  Whilst ‘The Bird in the Herd’ is technically my third published picture book (‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ snuck out during December last year) it was in fact one of my first manuscripts, (written more than three years before ‘This is the Mud!’) – and my second picture book acceptance. It was in progress for 5 years. With COVID and potential shipping delays, we sent it to the printers early, so it’s already been in our hot little hands for 5 months!

Patience is a virtue – but it sure does age a body!😂 The book was written for these two little cuties (OK – there are definitely three cuties in that pic!) but alas, those adorable little farm boys only ever had the unillustrated version. This saddens me – but then I remember that, over the years, whenever I read it aloud during a zillion drafts (as you do, because, rhyme) it would draw my youngest from the furtherest reaches of the house, subtly steadily moving closer and closer, until he was pressed up beside me, because the rhythm of the rhyme would catch him every time. This story is woven into the fabric of our family. And one day, these two men might be reading this book to their own children. With pictures!

My friend Kirsty made a comment on Insta about the perseverance and passion invested in this book. I think they’re the two defining traits of a writer! Kirsty’s comment inspired this poem for today. (You will note the grasshopper, above, who also features on every page of the book.)

Renée has two rather adorable graphic novels that are available in America – with very clever titles! Look out for ‘Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery’ and its sequel, ‘Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature’.

‘The Bird in the Herd’ is not yet published in America. I’m hoping it wings its way there so you can all see it for yourself. To say I love it is an understatement. It is glorious, from cover to cover. (Click to read some reactions.)

And now, over to you! What has your passion and perseverance produced this week? (Hands up if you’re sneaking in with a lamipofri.😹)

* This post was edited to include the book blurb. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

 

Release Day: The Bird in the Herd

The egret has landed!

 

19 years ago, I wrote a story for my two farm boys. It’s been a process steeped in memories;
* bouncing ideas around the kitchen table with my parents and sister,
* conferencing with my two small boys (my first and cutest editors),
* truth-testing countless versions and illustrations with my hubby, and
* always, the subtle arrival of my youngest whenever I read it aloud, because the rhythm of the rhyme would draw him every time.

The text was used as an illustration prompt at the 2012 CYA Competition – and Renee Treml’s simple, colourful illustrations caught my eye. They were perfect for young children, and highlighted the humour in the story. We met at the same conference, and I loved the backstory to Renée’s entry – but that’s her story to tell!🙃 Needless to say, I have loved sharing this process with Renee! And I cannot say enough how much I appreciate the team at CYA Conference. This is the third book I have had published, as a direct result of that conference! If you are serious about writing for children, you must check it out.

Renée and I worked with a wonderful team at UQP, who brought colour to the text, and offered an extended page count that gave each character their own spread, and allowed the story to fully develop its rhythm, so that it mooches along like a herd of cattle. (How appropriate!)

19 years ago, I noticed a bird in the herd that stalked as it walked past my kitchen window – and I’m so glad that white cattle egret gave wings to this story. Gratitude to everyone who has played a part in getting us to today – release day. Fly little book-bird!💕