Poetry at Sharjah International Book Fair 2018

I am really struggling with blog posts these days. It feels there are so many things I need to write in other places – most especially in my stories (LOVE), and the submissions to accompany them (Aaargh!) and blog posts just keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile …

I do want to share some pics from my second visit to Sharjah – this for the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) which was even bigger than the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival. It was so good to go back again, and, with so many people in attendance, it was amazing to recognise people from my previous visit! It was especially lovely to have children and adults come up, eyes alight and smiles wide and thank me again for my sessions in April. One very busy day saw 50K kids pass through the doors, with a record 2.3million people in attendance over the 10 day event. (Sometimes just getting through the door felt like an achievement.😉)

All my sessions involved poetry – though sometimes it was more about creating than writing. We made jigsaws and tag poems and 3D poetry and poetry wall plaques. I especially loved the school groups that came through in the mornings. These were half-hour sessions, and I was astounded with how much we achieved in such a short space of time! The kids were awesome – so polite, and yet enthusiastic and instantly engaged with their ‘writing’ tasks. We talked and laughed lots – and they often delighted me with their witty way with words. I was also incredibly touched by the feedback from every teacher, who took activities away to use with other groups in their classrooms. And this beautiful comment from one lovely teacher, on finding out I no longer teach, but write fulltime and present at festivals, like SIBF; “It is better, you not working in one school. Now you can share your skills with the world.” 💞

Sharjah was beautiful! The people so wonderfully warm and welcoming. Sharing the adventure with lovely Aussie kidlit creators, Catherine Pelosi, Dee White and Claire Richards made the adventure even more enjoyable. As did the beautiful accommodation. This time I didn’t just see the beach from a passing car – I swam! And it was glorious! (I had planned to write heaps, in gorgeous settings … but talked heaps, instead! Networking … 😉 There truly were lots of discussions about a dreaded synopsis!!) I didn’t get out to the desert this time – or see a single camel… but I did get lovely views over the desert as I was flying out, so it was good to see it in this new perspective.

SIBF18 was another amazing event and adventure, and a delight to be involved! I could be tempted to go back… ☺️

This week I’m in for #PoetryFriday – and you can Live Your Poem and all things poetry at Irene Latham’s blog. Having just had a peep in preparation for linking this post, it would seem as if Irene has been busy in recent weeks, which included the news that her book, ‘Can I Touch Your Hair’, (in partnership with Charles Waters), was announced as a Charolotte Huck Honour Book. How exciting!

Edit: I had meant to include a link to the interview on Sharjah24 News. You can see me in hypo-bunny mode here;

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

On Verse Novels and Bullies – and Wonderful Wins…

It started with Sherryl Clark’s book, Sixth Grade Style Queen NOT! (Penguin) – and blossomed with a class of Year 7 students. (They loved it and I loved the discussion that it generated, especially amongst the boys. Rich analysis and interpretation – expressive reading.)

It grew reading the wonderful works of Lorraine Marwood, Steven Herrick, and Karen Hesse. By Sally Murphy’s exquisite Pearl Verses the World (Walker) I was in love. Continue reading

Child’s Play – Performing for Children (Part Four)

I recently posted a 3-part blog with tips and tricks for performing for children. (Click here.) Mid-way through the process, @PattyJMurphy suggested that I extend the post and include other ‘performing’ author’s/illustrator’s tips. Thanks for the great idea, Patty! Here goes…

First published in Australian Author vol 42/ number 1/April 2010

To read more about these wonderful author/illustrators, click on their name, which will take you direct to their web site.

Illustrator Jo Thompson, kicks us off with her illustration of a performing seal. This particular seal is suffering from performance anxiety when presenting to adults, but I totally ‘get it’. Thanks Jo.

Continue reading

The art of words


A word of art.

Letters to Leonardo
by Dee White
Walker Books Australia
Reviewed by Kathryn Apel

Matt Hudson has a task – to write letters to a historical character. Letters that fulfil a class assignment. Letters that help the character see how life has changed from then to now.

But some things don’t change – and Matt discovers that he and Leonardo have a lot in common.

Dear Leonardo,
How did you feel when you met your mother again?

Through letters to Leonardo da Vinci, Matt explores the changing face of his own life. A life shaken to the core with a card from his dead mother on his 15th birthday.

Dear Leonardo,
Truth is important in art, don’t you think?
Truth is important full stop.

Letters to Leonardo is Dee White’s first YA novel. A crafted work of art.

Link to the Book Trailer.

CYA Later – Darwin to Brisbane… and Back!

Kat @ CYA

Kat @ CYA

One of the holiday highlights for me was without a doubt the CYA Conference, held in Brisbane in conjunction with the Brisbane Writers Festival.

Problem being… while normally I’m 6 hrs up the road – this year I was halfway across the country!


But some opportunities can’t be missed. So, after driving 4000km (and almost as many days) to reach Darwin, within 12 hours of our arrival I was in a plane (at 1am – yee-uch!) and winging my way back to Qld. (How c-razy is that?!)


The CYA Competition gave ‘This is the Mud!’ a jumpstart to publication when it won the inaugural Preschool Picture Book Manuscript category in 2006. In 2009 – the year of it’s release – I was invited back for a muddy celebration at the CYA.

A hundred children’s writers, illustrators and publishers in one place at one time. What fun! Putting faces to names – and wicked personalities! Meeting authors who’ve impacted on my journey… Talk, talk, talk, talk, talking… And attending workshops too, of course.

How could I resist?

Kim, Dee, Kat & Sheryl

With Kim Miller, Dee White and Sheryl Gwyther... Let the celebrations begin!

For me, the unforgettable highlight was the session I shared with Dee White (‘Letters to Leonardo’) and Kim Miller (‘They told me I had to write this’), when we got to celebrate the launch of our CYA success stories.

For a while I felt like the rose between the thorns (I like that!) sharing the celebration with two YA novels – with two ‘letters’ books at that. (And muddy me, squished in the middle.) But don’t let that analogy scare you off Kim and Dee’s writing. Yes they address some prickly issues – but in their own unique styles, they both do it so well. (More on that in another blog.)

Kat & Mud

A slideshow of rolling images tell their own story... as Kat reads to the kids-at-heart.

The CYA would have been brilliant for the workshop alone. But it offers so much more to Australian children’s writers and illustrators! There’s that fantastic competition that offers feedback to every writer. And networking with a range of prominent industry professionals. Friendships… Inspiration… Great food!

Tina and Ally - time for a chat at last!

Tina and Ally - time for a chat at last.

And this year, there was that not-to-be-missed opportunity to extend the celebrations and fling some more mud around. But more importantly, to acknowledge the mammoth amount of work that Tina Clark and Ally Howard – with their team of volunteers – pour into the CYA each year. I for one am extremely grateful!

You thought I was tall before? I tell you, I was HIGH that day!