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!

 

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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.

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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

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Brisbane Booking

I will be in Brisbane during the first week of August for author visits – and I have one day still available! I offer author talks and poetry workshops, for primary and secondary students – and staff.

“If you are a Brisbane school, I can highly recommend Kat for an author visit.” (Kim Yeomans)

Read Kim Yeomans’ teacher-librarian blog about my May visit to St Martins, in Melbourne.

More information under my Author Talks tab. I’d love to talk creativity and kindness with your class.

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

Too Many Friends – Release Day

Today is release day of my most joyous book, ‘Too Many Friends’. I am delighted to share this little ray of warmth and sunshine with the world. If you haven’t yet seen the trailer, click back to my previous post – because I’m still feeling pretty chuffed about that! Meanwhile, for this special day I thought I’d include two of my favourite pages from in the book. Not spoilers! Though they do fit with the themes in the book.

1) Dedication

Continue reading

Too Many Friends – Book Trailer

On Monday, my new verse novel is released – so this past week I’ve been busily behind the scenes doing things for that. And the ‘thing’ that took the most time, was the book trailer. After two full days of staring at my screen (Did someone say perfectionist…?) I am almost at the stage of needing glasses to see through my (new) glasses…

BUT… I have a book trailer!

Do you want to SEE it???

(Correct answer is YES! Because want to share it with you!)

 

My lovely editor Kristy had the idea for the gorgeous chapter headers (there are more!) throughout the book, and the amazing Jo Hunt excelled herself, going above and beyond anything Kristy and I had even dared to dream. Let this be my very heartfelt thank-you to you both! Aside from looking gorgeous in the book, they made my job with the trailer so much easier! (Or was it harder, deciding which images to use…?)

‘Too Many Friends’ goes on sale Monday, 1st May, but I heard from a teacher-librarian friend yesterday, who had attended a Professional Development in Melbourne, where it was ‘highly recommended’ by The Kids’ Bookshop. Kim bought a copy and read it last night, and her feedback was beautiful;

Such a gift for observing & capturing children’s thoughts/ feelings with yr exquisite use of words So much goodness in this book!😍 (@kimyeo)

Poetry Friday this week is being hosted on Teaching Authors, so be sure to skip across and collect the links and be inspired by all the wonderful ways you too can play with words in poetry. A special thank-you to Heidi Mordhorst and her creative class, who last week inspired me with their poems for two voices, which prompted another poem for my Antarctic WIP. (That’s a whole other kind of wonderful-good.)

As for me? I’m on a countdown to Monday… 😀

Title: Too Many Friends
Publisher: UQP
ISBN: 978 0 7022 5976 0
RRP: $14.95

New Book, New Poem, New Project

It’s been a busy week on the blog. I don’t usually post this much! But here I am again, for Poetry Friday.

On Tuesday I shared a collage of pictures from my exciting mail day.

On Thursday I posted my line in the progressive poem. Irene has the next line on her blog, Live Your Poem – and she’s also collating this week’s Poetry Friday round-up.

Today I’m posting a double tetractys – only my second Antarctic poem (How is this so?!) and the first thing written on a new project I’m currently researching. (It’s just the tip of the iceberg!) This poem likely won’t make it into the project – but I’m testing the water (ice-cold!) and gaining some confidence to strike out on this new adventure.

hut

chink
of stone
on stone on
stone near stone on
stone on stone grey stone
stacked high like brick by balanced, cold, stone brick;
bleak stone walls rise from shale floor; upturned sledge
and planks form the roof;
ice winds bluster
as snow swirls
seal each
chink.

And … for my youngest son’s benefit, I’m also posting my first ‘real’ author pic. A number of years ago he declared I wasn’t a real author until I’d published five books. He’s trying to shift the goal posts now, but … I’m claiming!

Real Author. It sure has taken long enough!

My week’s been wonderful – and super-productive. Hope yours has, too!

Too Many Friends – Too Many Smiles!

It’s not every day you get a new book in the mail… But it’s always a good day!

A collage from my walk to the letterbox – playing bullrush with the cows on the way there … and back again. Because first they run away. (Good!) And then they run back!? (Bad!!) But we have lots of trees. (Phew.) So I go tree-to-tree.

Usually I wait until the cows aren’t between me and the mail, but I suspicioned there might be a blue book waiting… And there was. ‘Too Many Friends’ releases 1st May 2017. Not far away!

Reasons to smile. And smile. And SMILE! 🙂