American School Visits

November passed by in a blur for me, with three weeks in the USofA cram-packed with school visits and catch-ups with friends. I have a ToDo list the size of Mt Everest that I am still chipping away at, but I am determined to post for Poetry Friday – so here I am with pictures! And some words…but there are not enough words to express how wonderful those three weeks were! Continue reading

Two Aussie Verse Novels – and Picture Book NEWS!

How lovely to be with you all again – and have you gathering at my blog for the Poetry Friday link-up.

Today I wanted to share two recent Australian verse novels with you, both published by UQP – and both written by friends.


 

‘Leave Taking’ was written by Lorraine Marwood, whose earlier verse novels, ‘Ratswhiskers and Me’ and ‘Star Jumps’ (which won the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for children’s fiction) were amongst the earliest verse novels I read and loved. I’ve known Lorraine online for more years than I can count – and finally met in 2014.

‘Leave Taking’ is a story about grief and farewells; letting go – of places that are a part of the fabric of our lives; of people, forever in hearts and memories. Leaving any home involves a tearing away, but a farm that has been in the family generations surely leaves a bigger hole. And a farm where your little sister once played with you … that your Mum and Dad need to leave, to make new memories … Such a bittersweet letting go.

‘Leave Taking’ is a quiet, story about a country kid called Toby – but the underlying grief constantly tugs at your heart. We never had a chance to know Leah – but through Toby’s memories, and Lorraine’s words, we do.

‘Little Wave’ was written by Pip Harry, her first verse novel – and foray into the younger market. I connected with Pip in 2014, when our UQP books released the same day, and it is always lovely to cross paths online. Even lovelier to meet in real life in Singapore last year, when we celebrated the announcement of our books on the CBCA Notables list. Pip mentioned ‘Little Wave’ during our catch-up, and I was eager to read it.

 

‘Little Wave is the story of Noah, Lottie and Jack – and a city school’s endeavours to bring a country class to the city for a beach visit. Each child has challenges they are dealing with – but as the story ebbs and flows, beautiful friendships are formed, and characters stretch and grow.

‘Leave Taking’ and ‘The Little Wave are two very different verse novels that I highly recommend.

Never give up on your dreams!

To close my week of hosting, I am so excited to share some good news!

More than 10 years ago, my rhyming picture book, ‘This is the Mud!’ released … and this week we signed the contract on my second picture book – another rural rhymer featuring … beef cattle! (And a bird in the herd.) I’m super-thrilled to be working with the talented and lovely illustrator, Renee Treml, and the beautiful team at UQP. There is a CYA connection … but that’s for another day! (Yay, CYA!)

It’s been a long hard road to a second picture book contract – with some lovely verse novel diversions along the way. This cumulative tongue-twister story was written for my toddler farm boys, way back in 2002. (They’ve grown a bit, since then.) Maybe one day they can read it to their own kids – with illustrations! (Those kids might be down the track a bit, yet.😆)

If you’re joining in the Poetry Friday Party, please leave your link below. I’m looking forward to doing the rounds and seeing where you are all at.

Have a great Friday – and into the weekend.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Raising Readers

This week I’m sharing a wonderful new book that all Australian parents and carers need to get their hands on. (Teachers too, because you’ll learn heaps – and also have an excellent resource you can recommend.)

Rather chuffed to be asked to write a segment about verse novels.

Raising Readers‘ is an ambitious project, inspired by the lovely Kristina Schultz, at UQP, and undertaken by award-winning children’s librarian, and queen of kid-literature, Megan Daley, aka Children’s Books Daily. I cannot believe that they’ve pulled it off – not just in compiling the information, but making it so user-friendly and easy to navigate. They amaze me! It looks gorgeous (Jo Hunt has designed my three verse novel covers – and this one is almost as beautiful.😉) and it truly is an interesting and effortless read. You get the sense you’re sitting down for a chat with Megan – without the gourmet food. (And you get to absorb her wisdom at a slightly less frenetic pace than IRL. (Megan is a dynamite and everyone who knows her loves her.))

Megan writes;

“I find being a parent a very hard job at times and every stage of child-rearing seems to be filled with guilt. I do, however, feel confident that I will be able to look back and say, ‘But I read to them and gave them the joy of books’ and know that I did my best.”

‘Raising Reader’s is Megan’s gift to other parents, to help them unlock that magical world of books with their children.

At which point I will insert the Table of Contents, and my job is done. Because how you can read through these topics and not NEED this book!


Such a brilliant resource, as you can see! I was rather chuffed to be asked to write the segment about verse novels. (There’s even a mention of me in the section about author visits.😊)


From the section on Poetry, by Natalie Jane Prior;

Nothing enriches a child’s understanding of how language works more than poetry. Reading it teaches children to think outside the square, to see things from unexpected angles.

I can’t argue with that.

‘Raising Readers’ will be released in Australia in April. As author Rebecca Sparrow says, “This is not a book. It’s a magic key which will unlock a love of stories and reading within your child.”

I recommend it! #thatisall

You’ll find this week’s Poetry Friday round-up at Carol’s Corner.

And don’t forget to follow the Progressive Poem, organised by Irene Latham, and kicking off on Matt’s blog on 1st April. (He’s no fool!) Day Two will be right back here again. What fun! Can’t wait to see what Matt throws out for me to play with.

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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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

Homograph Tetractys

Last week I created a tetractys page, with how-to and examples. Such a versatile little poetry form. I particularly like the double tetractys, and included a couple of my own variants, including the homonym, and homphone tetractys – but discovered I didn’t have a homograph tetractys. But I do now. You will perhaps recognise numerous clichés, cut and confuddled to create the poem.

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Lead Homograph Tetractys

Sometimes it feels like there are lots of empty gongs clanging loudly in life – filling the silence of those who are quietly, consistently putting words into actions. Sometimes my heart sinks like lead, listening…

You can read more about the tetractys under the ‘Whisker of Poetry’ drop-down tab. I think my favourite has to be the ‘War’ homophone tetractys. Perhaps you’d even like write one yourself. Feel free to share in the comments.

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This week I’m visiting Alphabet Soup Blog, to kick off the Pass the Book Baton series. I’m responding to Joseph, who says;

I really enjoyed Bully on the Bus and On Track, both verse novels. But you’ve written other books, too. Why did you decide to write those two books as verse novels?”

Click on the link to read that interview. And visit  Violet Nesdoly | Poems where you will find all the Poetry Friday links for the week. Enjoy!

** To answer Brenda’s question in the comments, this is how you have some control over the formatting in your comments. By typing this, when it’s posted as a comment it looks like my response to Brenda, below.

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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