Coming Soon! What Snail Knows

I am delighted to share the cover of my upcoming verse novel with you. Illustrated by Mandy Foot and published by UQP, What Snail Knows will be releasing March 2022 in Australia.

Some of the words that have been used to describe it thus far include; delicate, gorgeous and whimsical, pretty and fairytale. I’m utterly charmed. But don’t be fooled – because there’s toads and things inside! But mostly, there’s a sweet and sensitive little girl called Lucy. And Snail. So much Snail!💕

A moving verse novel for younger readers about a shy girl coming out of her shell with a little help from her pet snail.

Lucy and Dad move a lot, so it’s hard to make friends. Luckily, she has Snail, the perfect pet for a lonely girl. If only she had her own shell to hide in each time she started at a new school.

But this place is different. She likes her teacher, Miss Darling. She likes her classmates, especially Tahnee. She even likes Mei-hui’s van park, where she lives with Dad and Snail. This place feels like home. But can she convince her Dad to stay?

A story about making friends and finding where you belong.

Available for pre-order now, via the UQP website.

Special shout-out to the lovely Linda Mitchell, who messaged me offering to be a beta-reader at a time when I was swirling in doubts. If it wasn’t for you, this manuscript might still be hiding in the snail shell that is my computer. And that’s the truth! 💕

No poem from me today – just this gorgeous cover, and the promise of many more poems inside!

Mary Lee is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up, which promises many more poems, too. You’ll find it here; https://ayearofreading.org. Thanks, Mary Lee!

PoETry Friday – #petpicpoem

Welcome! Yes – Poetry Friday is coming to you from Downunder, again. While you have come to share your Poetry Friday links I thought I would share pics and poems of my pets. We are down to five pets in this house; one cat and four snails. (It’s the first time in more than 10 years that we haven’t had guinea pigs.) Hubby keeps telling me, no more pets. But the snails slipped under his radar – and they are the easiest pets! (And besides – they’re a writing resource!😹)

Why snails? We don’t get snails at our house. In years past, the boys always rescued them in their hoards from the side of the road, during flood season. They were like living treasure. But I didn’t know you could keep a snail for a pet… until I wrote one into Too Many Friends (UQP 2017). (For sure, we’d have had pet snails before this, if I’d known!)

KatApel_Snail'sPace

Last year I wrote a companion verse novel to Too Mandy Friends, (due March 2022) telling Lucy’s story. Since Snail is a big part of Lucy’s story, I had to learn more about snails – and especially, keeping snails as pets. In April I was helping my hubby extract a bogged buggy… and there were snails everywhere on the creek bank. Like, thousands! I was astounded. I very nearly brought one home with me… and later regretted that I hadn’t, because when I dived into edits on Lucy’s verse novel, I’d been asked to include more details about Snail! Two nights later we were going for a ride (🚴‍♀️), and I spied some smaller snails at our grid – much more suited for pet snails. I found one with similar colouration to Snail. Thing1 and Thing2 were so-named, because they were of a similar (smaller) size. And then there was Tiny. Smaller than a pea! (Clearly T1 and T2 are different types of snails, because they are no longer a similar size. T1 (and Snail) have grown heaps, and T2 (and Tiny) have not. (Tiny is still smaller than a pea.💚)

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T2 is also less adventurous than the other three – which is why he missed a ride on the snail train that they got going on a recent rainy day… 

KatApel_RainTrain

And then we have SavvyCat. And another ‘moving’ poem (or two) inspired by a pic I took on a walk to the mailbox last week. If ever a picture speaks a thousand words, it’s this! Savvy was a reluctant participant in this walk – though he came, on his own accord. Every photo captured his disgruntled face and twitching tail.

When we got to the letterbox and he heard the cars whizzing past on the road, he found his quick-sticks and led the way home again for atleast 100metres. (Then lagged and nagged for the next 900m.😹)

Do you poeticise your pets? They’re wonderful inspiration. Handy photography subjects, too. And we know them, so well!

FOR THE KIDS!

If you’re at home for lockdown (and even if you’re not!) you can capture your pet in picture and poetry. You don’t need any special editing programs. This is just done in Word.

  1. Open a blank Word document.
  2. Insert your pet picture.
  3. Insert a text box. (You may need to right-click and Wrap Text > In Front of Text.)
  4. Write your poem in the text box and format it so it is easy to read.
  5. When you’re happy with your layout, snap a screenshot.
  6. If you can share it on Instagram, use the hashtag #petpicpoem – and feel free to tag me; @Kat.Apel.

It’s that easy! (Your #petpicpoem would also look fabulous printed on canvas, on your wall! #justsayin) If you don’t have a pet – you could poeticise a backyard/balcony bird, or a lounge lizard. Even a bug!

If you’re wanting some more poetry inspiration, join us on the Poetry Friday rounds by clicking the link below. If for some reason the linky isn’t working (It has been clashing with my WordPress blocks (Aren’t we all!🤦‍♀️)) then this link should get you across. InLinkz Poetry Friday Link-up

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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‘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

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’. Continue reading

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