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!💕

Rain Refrains – From Seasons Past

Hello world. It’s a new year – and I’m praying for a deluge to wash the slate clean and fill desperately dry dams. We had 60mm to close-out 2020, which refreshed soul and soil and put a green tint across the land. But numerous dams were bone dry, and our big dam is at a 50+ year record low, so we need a sustained bucketing to impact on their water level.

In years past, January has been a Month of Poetry (and I’m currently wondering how I missed that this year…🤷‍♀️) so for today’s post, I have been scouring my previous MoP collections looking for a build-up of rain refrains. Prepare to be inundated.🌦

All poems are copyright Kathryn Apel, all rights reserved.

——

six-legged scavengers stream
across kitchen benches
flowing to the food

——

croaky croak
of frog with frog
in throat

——

moon shines through clouds
still waters whisper
rain dance

——

Clouds

like an octopus
clouds salty depths,
inky puffs swirl across
a sea of stars
swallowing the moon and
shrouding the shadowy landscape
in a pool of
black

——

Storm Clouds on the Horizon

The neighbours upstairs are throwing
the furniture around,
stomping and tromping
voices rumbling in agitation,
shattering the stifling stillness
of a summer afternoon.
Sparks fly
as they thunder and roar,
shaking the building
with their tempest.

——

rain
tiptoes,
whispers hush;
chirruping frog
gargles droplets as
clouds razzle troops to fall
faster, heavier, louder
until gargling frog
is swallowed in a
crescendo of
pummelling
rain, rain
rain

——

——

mizzling drizzling scene
as nature washes clean;
shower

——

a landscape
in watercolours;
reflection

——

rain trains
streaming past
plane windows

——

if I had time
I could watch
the grass grow

——

still water
trees cast off leaves
and skinny dip

——

⛈ Bring it on! 🌧I’m keen to see our dam like this again (overflowing with abundant birdlife!) – and to celebrate ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ in appropriate style! (Though I am smiling at this lovely review on Reading Time.)

Sylvia is hosting Poetry Friday this week at Poetry for Children. I find myself wondering what poems children will be seeking after the events of this week. Poems of hope? Dark poems that reflect their fears? Poems prompting laughter? Gems of kindness and empathy? Poems of healing? Perhaps they will write their voice for generations and seasons to come.

Up and Down on a Rainy Day – New Book!

This week I was thrilled to celebrate the online release of my second picture book – more than eleven and a half years since my first. (How thankful I am for verse novels in between. And more picture books in progress!)

‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ is a simple concept book for the very young, delightfully illustrated by Janet Turner and published by State Library of Queensland in the Stories For Little Queenslanders series. The adorable illustrations capture some of my best memories of rainy day play with our boys.

Stories for Little Queenslanders is a First Five Forever initiative, bringing fun, high-quality picture books full of familiar local places and animals to Queensland kids and their families…stories inspired by people and communities around Queensland. As a teacher, I have seen first-hand how parents who read and interact with their children, set them on a positive path through their schooling. It doesn’t matter how much education parents have had, or what their careers are – if they spend time reading with their kids, it shows! I’m thrilled to have a story selected in this new project that promotes Queensland stories – and the joy (and value!) of reading together during the early years. Cue the warm and snuggly (sometimes wriggly) memories of reading with our farm boys.

The project was birthed during COVID, and was a whirlwind ride to completion. But if there was one thing we needed during COVID it was a creative purpose! I’m thankful to have had this exciting project bubbling away. And to work with such a wonderful team. State Library has created a wealth of content to support the book – and the series. There’s online readings, audio books and digital version to download. There’s even a digital flip-book. As with all my books, I’m collating links in the dropdown tab of this site. Click on Books and scroll down to ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day‘.

Activity booklet

Click to download.

Books in the series are available in all Queensland Public Libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres – and there are very limited hardcover editions available for sale at the State Library Shop.

Today, I’m uploading ‘Play by the Book: Up and Down on a Rainy Day‘ – a booklet with 16 different activities to engage young children and enhance the reading experience of ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’. (Think water-play, mud and fun! Also puppets, drama and colour.) These activities have been prepared with the support of Regional Arts Development Fund, Bundaberg Regional Council and Arts Queensland. I am so thankful for their support of creatives at all times, and especially during this difficult year!

2020 has been challenging, but I am incredibly thankful for this project. And I’m so excited to finally be able to share the news! It didn’t rain on the day it arrived in my letterbox. It didn’t rain on launch day. (We had 20mm in a cracker thunderstorm the day before, though.⚡️) When we get our downpour, you can be assured that I will be UP and down, celebrating!😅

This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted by Buffy Silverman – another kidlit poet who loves getting outdoors. Thanks, Buffy!

ping-pong ping-pong
even frogs
sing in the shower

© Kathryn Apel
🌧
🐸

Fidget Feet Reading and Writing Prompt

Today I’m linking to a reading of my poem ‘Fit as a Fidget’, shared with some of the other happy hoppy contributors to HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING compiled by Janet Wang and Sylvia Vardell and published by Pomelo Books.

AND… I thought I’d share a writing prompt to follow it up.

Writing Prompt:

My fidget feet are fab – but there’s
some things feet cannot do.
That’s why it’s really handy to
have fiddle fingers, too!

Do you have fiddle fingers? Wouldn’t it be fun for those fiddle fingers to tap out their own poem? What would they have to say for themselves?

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge. Be sure to click back and read Robyn’s hiking poem ‘Trail Ready‘, also included in HOP TO IT! (Robyn has thought of absolutely everything!😅)

A Week of Poetry Pep Up

This past week I have been running a Poetry Pep Up across social media platforms, with thanks to the support of CQRASN and the lovely Trudie Leigo. You can play catch-up with the prompts by clicking on the relevant day below, to go direct. It’s not too late to put some sparkle in your day, fire up your creativity, and build writing muscle. Continue reading

I Don’t Want a Pet SNAKE!

A ssssshort and sssssharp post today to ssssshare a reading of my poem, ‘I Don’t Want a Pet SNAKE’, published by The School Magazine, Blast Off 4, 2020, illustrated by Christopher Nielsen and read by Geoffrey McSkimming.

Use it to teach persuasive texts… and caution in what you wish for. And read it just for fun!

NSW Education Department planned this resource, using it in a study of alliteration.

To see what Jama’s cooking up for Poetry Friday  (Oooh… There be chocolate!) – and to get all the good links – click across to Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Thanks for hosting this week!

‘Too Many Friends’ Video & DIY Mother’s Day Gift Sorted!

My goodness! Life has been busy! I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve linked in for Poetry Friday. I’m just thankful that I’ve connected to lots of you through Twitter or Instagram, so I’ve not been completely out of your loop. It’s been wonderful to catch snippets of what everyone is doing with poetry and life – and so reassuring to see/hear from you! Keep keeping well … and keep sharing your joy and hope. The world is a better place for it!

I’m sharing a video for today’s post, hoping it’s helpful for educators and carers in this difficult time. I read a poem called ‘I Don’t EAT My Friends‘, from my verse novel, ‘Too Many Friends’, and I briefly chat about lollies, friends, pet-friends, then quickly share a poetry project for young listeners/writers … to connect them to their friends. You’ll find a friend template (and more crafty activities) under the Too Many Friends Stuff tab, above. Continue reading

Poetry Pep-Ups

Oh my. What a busy week of poetry it has been! Though I’ve thought many nights that I don’t have the focus or the creativity for #PoeTryHope – somehow every night, some little moment of joy (or silliness) works its way into words. I’m posting them on Instagram – but here is a quick screengrab of where it’s at at this moment. There may have been a blooper this week – that my sister called me on.🤭

Also this week, the delightful Laura Shovan’s #WaterPoetryProject kicked off – across all platforms. So I’ve been writing a poem-a-day for this, too and sharing them on Twitter. Find them and more at #WaterPoemProject.

I’m pretty sure it’s the poetry – the poetry community – that has kept me grounded in this most unsettling time!

I’ve been adding new writing projects to my site for kids to access, either self-directed, or as school-based activities. The most recent addition is the ‘Progressive Stories‘ tab – from activities I’ve previously run online as a part of the Curtis Coast Literary Carnivale. You can find these in the drop down tab, under Kids’ Stuff. I’ve been delighted to see the increased traffic on my blog, indicating that schools around the world have been accessing activities over recent weeks. It makes if feel like I’ve contributing in a positive way. Guessing there’s lots here who know that feeling! I’m working on more activities to add over the coming week.

More information; https://www.dorothea.com.au

Speaking of kids and poetry… For the Aussies; the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards is open. I’m thrilled to be judging this again. Kids, this is the perfect time to get your entries ready! You can enter as individuals, or as a part of your school – so if you have questions, ask your parents and/or your teachers. I am so looking forward to reading lots of thoughtful, joyous, wonderful words!

I’m sure my Poetry Friday friends will have lots of great posts for you to read – so click across to the lovely Tabatha’s blog where you will find the round-up. Spend some time with the PoetryFriday crew – maybe chime in with a comment or poem of your own. (Or not. Either is fine. 🙂 ) But please do take a breath, pause and let poetry take you places.

And stay home!

Kat’s Bush Poetry – On the Wallaby

Continuing my posts of bush poetry from my pre-kids poetry days, today I’m sharing one inspired by our first caravan holiday. For sure, this was an express a stress poem, turning disaster into laughter; the time that hubby took us ‘On the Wallaby’.

On The Wallaby

It’s half the distance on the map – and I can drive on dirt.
We’ll save some time and fuel as well… What’s it gonna hurt?

…oooOOOooo…

The road was like an old tin shed; all corrugated rust,
that rattled teeth and eyeballs as it billowed clouds of dust.
A caravan we had in tow, pulled by a Commodore;
a brand-new, fam’ly kind of car – no bloomin’ four-by-four!
The stop ’n’ go bloke thought the rough stuff wouldn’t be for long.
He said the track got better but I tell you – he was wrong! Continue reading