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!

Tickled Pink! (Pantone 212)

My goodness. The last few weeks have been rather a fizz of festivity. So many lovely things happening. Advance readers’ copies of ‘What Snail Knows’ have snuck out in the snail mail… And people are starting to say beautiful things. The first two reviewers ‘devoured’ it. (Which sort-of surprised me, since it is a gentle story. Surprised, but delighted me.)

💗 Allayne Webster; Just devoured this beautiful junior fiction…And oh my heartstrings.

💗 Megan Daley; ‘What Snail Knows’ is verse novel greatness and is full of such heart and soul that I had to devour it in one sitting.

💗 It scored a 5⭐️ review from Momo; ‘there is a raw emotional edge to this book. Your heart will break for Lucy but it will soar when you read about the kindness she encounters … This book is a perfect package.’

💗 Mr7 from @cec_loves_to_read, when asked if he liked it; ‘Yes, it was really good, I liked it, quite a lot actually, it was very good.’ His mum had some lovely things to say, too, including; ‘Highly, highly recommended.’

Is it possible for a heart to burst with too much happiness? Because there was more! This week we shared the cover for my upcoming picture book, Miss Understood.

This will be my first book published with Scholastic – who was the first publisher I submitted to… 20 years ago!

Reading the manuscript with Beau Wylie’s pencil illustrations had me laughing out loud the first time I saw them. I love his use of perspective. It’s a little outrageous and just perfect!

And then they added text to the pages… Oh my.

Tweaking and perfecting this book with the lovely Beck Young and Hannah Janzen (book designer) was such fun. The book is going to look a treat! (I have endpaper love.😻)

I am all the anticipation!

And look how pretty they look, side-by-side.💕

Laura Purdie Salas is hosting the Poetry Fridays Round-up at Small Reads for Brighter Days. Laura too is sharing new book joy. (Yay!) Pop across and read for yourself.

So Much Happening!

The past weeks have been huge here. Life has been huge – so many emotions. Including the overwhelming joy and wonder of rain! (That happened last Friday – and I am still rejoicing.)

watercolour landscape;
a new canvas
reflects the sky

© Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved

During all that, I’ve been super-busy with final page proofs for my upcoming verse novel 🐌 – and cover design, internal spreads, and final pages for my next picture book🐺, releasing May 2022. What a (busy!) joy it has been to be bouncing between two such very different books. One sweet, gentle, heartfelt free verse. The other a jaunty rhyming picture book with humour and heart. (There will be a cover reveal coming soon for the picture book! Cannot wait to share it with you.) I’m thankful for all the wonderful people I get to work with in publishing, (or who work behind the scenes bringing their skills and passion to the project) and for the friendships I have developed. I truly am blessed and love this writing life!

You are all familiar with my pet snails – that I’ve had for more than 8 months now. I got them during the first week of edits for ‘What Snail Knows’. Which is why one of them is called Snail – for Lucy’s Snail in the book. (I was looking at pics today and am rather gobsmacked by how much Snail and T1 have grown in that time!) This week, on the day I sent my last little tweaks for Final Pages… this ⬇️⬇️⬇️ happened!

And I am all amazement!

Snail eggs! Baby snails are coming… 😮 Snail’s baby snails! 😲 I will keep you posted!!

To cap off a very busy week of all the feelings… Many, many years ago I wrote a poem for a class of Superkids. There have been soooo many Superkids since that time, but how lovely to see that the poem is still powering on! Click the pic below to watch the video.

My post is late – because… busy week!😜 But not too late to link into the Poetry Friday round-up, hosted by Michelle at Michelle Kogan. And not too late to squeeze one more thing into the busyness. I’ve a book event tomorrow morning, at the new Bundaberg Book Boutique! Hoping to see lots of Bundaberg kids there for a reading of ‘The Bird in the Herd’, and activities.

Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing!

This Post Comes With Cute Alert!

I’m thinking today must be my cutest post – ever! Because I’m sharing fellow Aussie kidlit author, Michael Gerard Bauer‘s adorable little granddaughter, reading ‘The Bird in the Herd’. She’s not even two!

I love the rock and read. And her adorable pronunciation. That expressive finish. And those precious moments of shared reading between Daddy and daughter. (So much love for that!) 💕

Let’s not dumb down our writing for kids. Let’s give them mouthfuls of words that they can chomp and chew, to extend their vocabulary and their knowledge of the world around them. And let’s give them rhythm and rhyme to roll with!

I’m super-grateful to doting Poppy Mike, who shared this video with me, so I can share it with you! And to Mummy and Daddy who have given their permission. This video is precious! (So is this little lass.) Thank-you.

Ruth at there is no such thing as a God-forsaken town has our Poetry Friday round-up today. I’m sharing a photo of the bird in the herd on a rainy day, for our little poppet, and also for Ruth, who loves birds. Praise the Lord, it is raining as I prep this post on Thursday.

Book Trailer – The Bird in the Herd

A quick post for me this week. I’ll use my words in the comments as I do the rounds of Poetry Friday.

The Bird was to spread its wings at the Brisbane Ekka, starting this weekend – and this trailer was made in preparation for that. Alas, you know what I’m going to say… COVID and cancellations go hand-in-hand. I’m so disappointed for everyone who has poured so much work into Ekka prep. It was so close! BUT – I am very much in favour of the lockdowns that help to bring outbreaks under control again. And I’m thankful to everyone who follows directives.

I’m not sorry I had some motivation to make this trailer. Hoping it will give all those who are in lockdown a breath of country air and goodness.🐮 A hoot and a toot to you!🤠 (You’ll also find it on the relevant pages under the Books and the Kids’ Stuff tabs – if you’re ever looking for it in the future.)

Mary Lee is hosting us this week – with a beautiful villanelle inspired by a wonderful clunker line by Linda Mitchell. Do click across and read it! I know many teachers who it would resonate with. But it’s not just for teachers.

FriYay! Good News.

It’s Friday again. The wheel spins so fast! But it’s so good to be here with poetry friends again. Because that wheels spins so fast, I’m going to jump right in with a little story and some good news.

My Dad told me recently he had a confession to make; he was a bit embarrassed by ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’. Half the words are either ‘up’ or ‘down’. One could maybe even question the skill required to write that. It wasn’t a judgement. And I was quite okay with my dad’s confusion. (My parents are both hugely supportive of my writing!)

After recovering from my laughter, I explained that the book was written to support reading in the first five years of a child’s life. We worked hard to match text and art to that brief. (I’d spent long hours deliberating the other half the words in the text!) But I truly could understand his confusion and embarrassment. Because it IS a very simple text! And yet, in that simplicity, and pared with the adorable illustrations by Janet Turner, so much about life on the farm on a rainy day (Oh the joy!) has been conveyed.

SpeechPath01

Click on the pic to read the full shortlist.

I’ve joked and said I’m therefore rather chuffed by this shortlisting. Because now Dad can hold his head high again!!😹 But in truth, I’m rather chuffed, fullstop. And I’m so proud of the team that got our book onto this list; the @statelibraryqld, whose wonderful initiative has landed a number of titles on the shortlist. And my lovely illustrator, Janet Turner (so exciting for your first picture book!) and editor @kristybushnell, who has played a significant part in so many of books – and same too, the talented designer, Jo Hunt.💕 

And I’m very thankful for the judges and speech pathology professionals who have poured their time and knowledge into reading and compiling this shortlist. Thank-you, Speech Pathology Australia.

My mantra in teaching – in life –  has always been; ‘Do less best.’ I kind of like that it also applies to writing, too. Be economical and deliberate with your word choice. Make every word count! And that there is poetry and picture books, in a nutshell. 🙂

Hoping your Friday is YAY! I’m sure it will be if you join us on the Poetry Friday rounds – with links being gathered by the lovely Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone. Thanks, Molly! Next week, when the wheel whirls round, you’ll find the round-up here!😺

 

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.😅

‘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. 

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