Seeds of Hope

Even before I realised that today is World Poetry Day, I’d been working on a shape poem, my verse novel, a new poetry workshop activity and I’d been frustrated by the failure to write a quick (yet meaningful) golden shovel poem for Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ little ditty challenge.
I have recently fallen in love with the golden shovel, and written – no, crafted(!) – a couple for my Antarctic verse novel WIP. (I’m mighty chuffed with those, working fact into form!) Anyway, with moments to go before WPD closes in Australia, I did manage a short poem for Michelle’s challenge. I wrote it thinking of cruel words – but in coming up with a title, it ended up as a positive little poem. I guess that’s the power of words – they can be used for hope, or harm.
Yes, there is a reason the last word on each line is highlighted. Intrigued? Read more, here; Golden Shovel Ditty Challenge
Sometimes you have to ‘give up’ to get the good words. (And sometimes you have to keep plugging away. :P)

The Dragon

One of the reasons bullies have so much power is because their victims are often too scared to tell. It’s a struggle that Leroy faces in ‘Bully on the Bus’ – and it’s a huge and important step, for him to speak about it.

Excerpt take from ‘Bully on the Bus’, by Kathryn Apel (UQP)

This Friday, 16th March, is Bullying, No Way Day – a national day of action against bullying. It’s a reminder that we need to be intentional about conversations with our kids – in homes and in classrooms – to know if they are in situations where they don’t feel safe or valued, but also to ensure that they are growing as compassionate beings, respecting others, even in their differences.

Bullying should not be kept secret!

I wrote Leroy’s story to open communication between small people and their carers, enabling young children to identify a situation where they might feel threatened, like Leroy. A flow-on effect is that it’s being used in older classes to foster empathy and awareness – in hopes of reducing bullying.

For more information on ‘Bully on the Bus’, including reviews and teacher notes;

For more information about Bullying No Way Day check out;

It might be Bullying No Way Day on Friday – but bullying is never okay!


This post is (sneaking in early) as part of the Poetry Friday link-up around the blogosphere.

You’ll find more poetry posts on 16th March, at TeacherDance.

Thanks, Linda!

Please feel free to share links to other poems about bullying, in the comments.


Singapore Surprise

The blog has been quiet, as I’ve had lots of time travelling, firstly to Brisbane, for school and bookshop visits, followed by an unexpected (short notice) trip to Singapore to catch up with our son (briefly!) and experience the richly diverse country that he is calling ‘home’.

One morning in Singapore I was delighted to discover a long-tailed macaque monkey in the bushes by our motel pool. Seeing animals in zoos (like the luscious Singapore Zoo, which we did enjoy later in the week – with monkeys!) is always lovely – but when they pop up, in the wild… that is super-something-special! I snapped lots of pics of our furry friend.

Singapore Surprise



A little later, a comment on an Instagram post reminded me that this was Notables Day – when the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) announced the longlist of books for the 2018 Book of the Year Awards. I had been monkeying around, completely unawares… Curious, I checked Twitter to see who had made the list… My Notifications had gone a little crazy, (And so did I!) because ‘Too Many Friends’ was named as a Younger Readers Notable Book – the first time, I’ve had a book on the longlist!

I think the surprise factor will always be my favourite part of this memory – and the monkey! I love that I was hanging out with a monkey, blissfully unaware of this auspicious news!

(I hope there are many more monkeys in my future! 😉 )

It was so lovely to catch up with fellow UQP author, Pip Harry for a celebration at Sarnies the next day. Pip is an Aussie author living in Singapore, and her YA novel, ‘Because of You’ made the Older Readers Notables list, so there were smiles all round! And such fun to share the joy, so far from home!

There are so many great books on the list – from friends and writers I have long admired. I am still mighty chuffed to be sharing space with them!


This post is a part of the Poetry Friday link-up around the blogosphere.

You’ll find more poetry posts, including Tips for Teachers, at Today’s Little Ditty.

Thanks, Michelle!













The Younger Sun Bookclub – Too Many Friends

For their November text, the Younger Sun Bookshop Kids’ Book Club, in Melbourne, read ‘Too Many Friends’. After the reading and discussion, they sent me some questions – not just about ‘Too Many Friends’, but about some of my other verse novels, as well. I thought I’d include them in a blog post, in case other kids have similar questions.

Ella (right) wrote; We have just finished our Kids’ Book Club where we were discussing ‘Too Many Friends’ and the kids all LOVED it! They thought the poems looked a bit scary at first, but once they started reading they really loved the story and found it was just as easy to read as a regular novel.

I thought it was important to include this, because it’s something I hear often. The verse novel format looks intimidating… but isn’t! It’s not until you pick up the book and start reading that you discover this for yourself. That’s why wonderful booksellers like Ella are so important! I’m so grateful you supported these kids with such a rich introduction to verse novels, Ella!


Now – the questions…


Tori – Was ‘Bully on the Bus’ based on your life or someone who you knew?
(They are very excited to read your other two verse novels)

‘Bully on the Bus’ was inspired by some things that happened to my boys on their school bus when they were very little. I realised that what is scary for a small child sometimes isn’t seen as scary by adults. I wanted to write about a situation that makes kids feel sad or unsafe – and write it in such a way that the adults could understand their fear. Writing Leroy’s story sparked a whole lot of memories of things that happened on my school bus as a child – the words spoken and the tone of voice, the looks on the bullies’ faces, and the way they made me feel. I’d forgotten them for many years – but they were still tucked away deep inside.

Eliza – Why do you write about young people and not about adults?
(Eliza thought it was pretty incredible that you could write a young person so well when you’re not one yourself anymore! You must have a really good memory, she says.)

This is pretty special to hear, Eliza. Great observation! For the record, I remember feelings and atmosphere. But I’m not so good on precise details!

As to your question … I write about young people because they’re the stories that touched my heart with a need to be told. Being surrounded by kids has probably helped to give me the voice of varied child-characters. Many of the characters in ‘Too Many Friends’ were a blend of kids who have come through my classes over the years – with a little bit of me-as-a-kid in some of them, too. Maybe I never grew up. 🙂

Ruby – What got you into writing?

I fell down the writing hole when I was at home with my two young boys. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mum, but I needed something for myself, too. (Otherwise, I might have gone a little bit crazy!) We’d been reading heaps of kids’ books – but very few of them were FUN reads that accurately reflected our rural Australian way of life … so I started writing them. As my boys grew, so did my writing.

Rory – Why do you write verse novels and not regular novels?

I started writing picture books, and poetry. (What was I thinking?! They’re both very hard to sell!) Picture books are usually 600 words, maximum, though many of my PB manuscripts are 250wrds. Any time I thought about writing a novel, I’d panic. So many words!! How would I fill a book, without listing everything they ate for breakfast, lunch and tea?

Then I discovered verse novels. And loved them. And started writing them … and loved them even more! They’re not as overwhelming as a novel. Each poem is complete within itself. I can do that!

The first verse novel I started to write was ‘On Track’ – but I only wrote 139 words before I got overwhelmed and put it away … for 9 months! Then over the course of a month, it grew to 653 words … and was put away again for another long stint. It took 6 years to write ‘On Track’. I’m very relieved to say I have got much more confident and productive with my writing, since then! But I don’t know that I’ll be writing novels any time soon. Certainly not for adults! (I’ve still got too many verse novels in the works.)

Sebastian – Why are you scared of cows?

I think that saying, ‘Once bitten, twice shy’ was written just for me. I learn from my mistakes. And never forget …

Thank-you Ella, for co-ordinating the Kids’ Book Club, and introducing young readers to a new genre, then helping them unlock the treasure of a verse novel. I’m delighted you included ‘Too Many Friends’ – loved hearing the feedback and answering the questions.

I’m so glad you bookclub kids are keen to read my other verse novels, too. Sally Murphy, Lorraine Marwood and Sherryl Clark also write beautiful Australian verse novels, that I’m sure you’d enjoy!

For the full Poetry Friday round-up for the week, head over to Carol’s Corner. Thanks, Carol!











Writing on the Rocks

The last month, I’ve been alternating between polishing (and submitting) picture books, and writing poetry. I’m busily at work on my Antarctic historical verse novel – trying new poetic forms and realising all over again how beneficial poetry is for writing. Truly seriously, if you are a principal, literacy coach, or classroom teacher (if you value writing muscle and creativity), you NEED poetry in your classrooms. Regularly! I know I say it often – but after an extended period of time fashioning facts into strict poetic forms I’m going to say it again – nothing builds writing muscle better than poetry. Nothing sparks creativity, wordplay and experimentation with literary devices better than poetry. It’s a challenge. It’s invigorating and rewarding. It’s valuable. It’s FUN!

Why aren’t we encouraging and enabling more kids to write more poetry?

Why do we clutter their curriculum with so many persuasives that kids can’t even be persuaded to want to WRITE!?  Everything feels so prescribed. Actually, I had a little rant about something similar on Twitter last week. So maybe I should just combine the two, and do the job properly! In the hope that someone who writes curriculum might one day stumble on my blog, I’m just going to include a couple of the tweets here…

To illustrate my point, about the muscle, creativity and economy of poetry, I’ll include a little snippet from my Antarctic WIP. And a picture. From Antarctica… (Any excuse to revisit Antarctica!!)

The poem is a tetractys, (or in this case, a double tetractys) and follows a specific syllable count.

Line 1 – 1 syllable
Line 2 – 2 syllables
Line 3 – 3 syllables
Line 4 – 4 syllables
Line 5 – 10 syllables

The double tetractys reverses the syllable count in the second half. A tetractys  can rhyme. Often mine do – but in this one I was focused on the facts and wordplay. And so many details! (Read more about the tetractys.)

The process. Early versions of a tetractys draft – though I know there were many other combinations that don’t seem to be in my document. #Ooops  There are ERRORS in the above, btw. Can you spot them?

The portion of text that shaped the poem.

Current version (after three days of tweaks) – which I can’t guarantee won’t change… but I’m feeling pretty chuffed with!

hill slope,
blinding snow,
slick, too-smooth ice,
frozen obstacle course and push-pull squalls.
Do not snuff the lantern! Record results.
Face and fingers
wind has

Tetractys © Kathryn Apel 2017 – All rights reserved

Different bay, different season, different era, different character, but… Antarctica! (So that’s okay – right?) #breakingalltherules

There are so many different forms of poetry – something for every reader, writer and situation. Some forms have ‘rules’, like the tetractys, while others offer freedom. Poetry is a wealth of creativity just waiting to be unleashed!

Irene will help you Live Your Poem (Yay!) as she collects the links for the #PoetryFriday round-up today. Thanks, Irene. Whether you’re a reader, a writer, an educator or a student, (anyone, really) I’m sure you’ll find good stuff there!

Going Places With Books

It’s Book Week in Australia. A celebration of children’s books and children INTO books, as we ‘Escape to Everywhere’. Here are some things that had me smiling this week.

Bundaberg Library kicked of Book Week with a hugely popular celebration of books. Wonderful to see parents engaging with their kids in the rich and creative activities. Kudos to Bundaberg Library staff and volunteers!

I was Quiz Master at the Inaugural Year 9/10 Readers Cup event, hosted by Gin Gin High School. Mrs Glenda George did a great job instigating and organising this. Congratulations to James Nash High School, Gympie, who took home the medallions. Winners were grinners – so that means all teams were winners! #smilesallround

The quickest of quick lunchtime poetry workshops (20mins) – was met with much enthusiasm – and wonderful results!

Enjoyed a morning of reading and book talk with kids at Coral Coast Christian School. Spot-on observations about bullying and friendships – and the importance of kind words. Lovely kids and staff.

Talked poetry with kids at Clermont State School via Blackboard online. Technology is a great thing – though truth be told, I much prefer engaging with kids face-to-face to gauge their reactions and understanding. But this was a wonderful way to make a poetry assessment task *real* for kids, as we analysed some of my poems, identifying purpose, audience and literary devices employed. Great bunch of kids – and teachers!

Received a letter from a book character – in REAL LIFE! I was delighted to hear from Tahnee-in-Year-Two (like Tahnee in Too Many Friends) from Western Australia – and her Mum and Dad! Thanks to a ‘darling’ teacher for connecting us.

So of course I had to send some friends to Tahnee-in-Year-Two; a friend charm, a shape poem, and a template to write her own – and one for a friend, of course!

Met with my Text as Art buddy, Adrienne Williams, to chat about possibilities for our collaborative art installation as part of Crush Festival/Write Fest 2017. (Loving the retro gallery walls in our pic.) The #TextAsArt project will be on display in the Bundaberg city precinct, Bourbong St, for the first two weeks in October. Yay!

I’m sure I’ve missed something – but I’ve probably consumed enough of your time (and megs!) already. Hoping that you’ve enjoyed a snippet of my week and my world – and even caught a glimpse or two of my words. The week of wonderful will close on Saturday, with Let’s Go ‘Boating’ Under the Bridge, a free community event which promises to be interactive, imaginative and a whole lot of fun, inspired by the book, ‘Who Sank the Boat’, by Pamela Allen. More information at If you live anywhere near Bundaberg, you should be there!

How wonderful to celebrate a love of books and story with others. And a love of poetry! It’s Poetry Friday worldwide, and Jone’s collecting links so Check It Out! (Thanks, Jone.) Next week it’s my turn to host the #PoetryFriday round-up. Eeeep! Guess I’d better make sure I get that linky thing working – and hope to see you here, then! 🙂

I knew I would forget something… and I did! How could I forget this exciting news?!

I’m thrilled to share that I’ve been awarded a May Gibbs Literature Trust Creative Time Fellowship in 2018 – to spend 1 month in Adelaide working on some poetry projects. Sooooo excited about this! I’ll be sneaking in just before the winter freeze. (I hope!!) Huge thank-you to the MGLT for their faith in my projects.

Book Week Costumes

Book Week is this week – and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably just starting to think about costumes. Don’t panic! I’ve got your covered, with quick and EASY ideas for each of my verse novels. That gives you more time to do what we all love best, right? READ!!

Enjoy! 😀

Running out of time and in a spin? Shaun and Toby can help you get On Track! Mohawk optional – or DIY with own hair.

Don’t have a discus? Don’t worry! Two plastic plates are perfect. Or a round lid. Or a foam/cardboard circle.

Is this cheating? For simple, easy Book Week costumes? Personally I’m loving the cardboard cutout friend silhouettes.

If Book Week has crept up like a sly wolf, mask your panic with a #DIY mask. Click the pink to go direct to the templates.





Bookings Open – 2018

Poetry inspires creativity and builds writing muscles that flex across all curriculum areas and genres. A passionate and diverse poet and children’s author, I have an ever-increasing bag of tricks to share with your staff and students – primary and secondary. If your school is considering an author visit, register your interest below.

Student poetry workshops involve fun activities that enable wordplay – and success for all students.

Staff poetry workshop equip teachers with easy take-away activities to use in their classrooms – across curriculum areas and grades.

A Celebration of Friends incorporates activities inspired by ‘Too Many Friends’, blending DIY toys with creative wordplay. Make a palm snake, create a paper chain of poetry friends, power a plane with words, or create a triple twirl word swirl.

During author talks, I share what inspired and shaped my stories, and how I turn reality into fiction. Content varies dependent on the age group, touching on topics of bullying, friendship, sibling rivalry, sporting excellence, identity, self-worth, rural living, a glimpse at Antarctica, and creative things kids can do without a TV!

As a trained teacher and former literacy co-ordinator, working in a P-10 context, I am familiar with the demands of the Australian Curriculum, and the NAPLAN Reading and Writing assessment tasks. My goal is to engage students to play with words and be creative!

I have five days available in Brisbane, February 12 – 17, 2018. ASA Rates for Author Visits are set to rise for 2018 – so book before December 2017 to secure your visit at current prices.

Complete the form below to to express your interest, and inspire your staff and students in the new school year. Other enquiries also welcome. 

More information: Author Talks



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!  Continue reading

Whirlwind Week of Wonderful

Today is Friday – which makes it a poetry day! … After a whole WEEK of wonderful poetry days!! You can catch the link-up at Reflections on the Teche, where Margaret is hosting us this week. Thank-you Margaret. 🙂

Last night I arrived home from an author tour in and around Melbourne – and I had a blast! Talk about eyes opened. That is one HUGE city! But I covered north and south and centre in a wonderful crammed week of school visits, bookshop workshop, kidlit conference, networking, research, friending and just the teensy-tiniest smidgen of sleeping!

And I ticked a few big boxes! Continue reading