Hooray It’s Children Book Week – Escape to EVERYWHERE!

CBCA book week 2017

 

Book – week 2017 – It’s here and we are all celebrating! We are so lucky that the Marvellous Children’s Book Council of Australia organise this wonderful week when schools, libraries, booksellers, authors, illustrators and children celebrate Australian children’s literature.

Do check out what’s going on through the CBCA NSW website

Or if you are further afield check out the main CBCA site.

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Book Week Parade and Costumes

I remember my daughter’s first book week costumes – Ariel from the Little Mermaid – she was obsessed with the story and a chance to play out her favourite heroine was not only exciting for her but challenging for me as I attempted to sew a costume – but despite that the tears only came when I stood watching the whole school book week parade in the playground. the sight of all the children (and the teachers) dressed up as their favourite character was truly special and all the parents got caught up in the excitement of identifying each character and our own childhood heroes and heroines who transported us to everywhere. nnlandSo it is with gratitude and a certain element of excitement that I am embracing this wonderful week not only as a parent, teacher and author but as the child in me who still escapes to the 100 acre wood, Narnia, Paddington Station, Never NeverLand, and anywhere and  of everywhere that I can read myself to with the help of those books that made me believe in the magic, the impossible and the joy of reading.

To The Bone

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Lily Collins (actor) and Marti Noxon (To the Bone‘s writer and director)

There has been a great deal of comment in the media recently regarding the Netflix film, To The Bone. This film tells the story of 20 year old Ellen and her journey to recovery from anorexia nervosa. Whilst I am a strong advocator of conversation starters and the need for reduction of stigma surrounding family and mental health matters, it is important to consider that watching such a film can trigger a range of emotions and responses in its viewers.

Eating Disorders Victoria has a useful set of talking points which can be downloaded here that may help you as a potential viewer or as an advisor to others considering watching this movie decide if and how best to watch this semi-autobiographical account of one person’s battle with one particular type of eating disorder.

There are various centres and support services regionally in Australia to help those coping with or caring for those with eating disorders and I am listing below some helpline numbers that may be of use to in relation to eating disorders or more general support:

Support services available
  • EDV Helpline – 1300 550 236
  • The Butterfly Foundation – 1800 334 673
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
  • Headspace – 1800 650 890
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Suicide Line – 1300 651 251

 

Welcome to Verityville

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Verityville, the little town with a big heart not too far from you! A place where people take each day as it comes, doing their job and helping others with a great attitude. Where is this place you may well ask and what is so special about getting on with life? Well to be truthful Verityville is wherever you are. It is where you can see the good in others and see the joy in the small things. Verityville is the idea that each of us makes that difference to the quality of others lives, it is noticing the little positives when surrounded by big negatives, it is the ability to give something back. Things aren’t always easy and daily life is not always exciting but by looking at the world with an openness to what it has to offer; be it the people we take for granted who help us every day like Audrey our lollipop lady or by showing care for the environment like the garage guys; we can make a difference to our own lives as well as our community.

Through simple concepts and observations of daily life and of ordinary people the Verityville series seeks to capture the imagination of the young child and in doing so empower them to see their role in the world. Values like kindness, respect, gratitude and resilience are explored and told through the stories about the everyday heroes of Verityville.

Working with both Johanna Roberts and Bronte Goodieson through their respective art and graphic design talents has been and still is an amazing journey. In their own way they have been my heroes in their ability to bring the vision I have of Verityville to life. For that I am filled with gratitude and find that I too can learn something from them and so it is exciting to share some of the first images of the branding we are creating for this project.

 

In Celebration of Mothers

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Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day (indicating the individual celebration of a mother) or Mothers’ Day – with the apostrophe after – to show that the day is the day designated for celebrating all mothers. How ever it is termed and whenever it is celebrated, this day is a special day for acknowledging the special women in your lives who have nurtured and cared for you.

What makes a mother? Sure there’s the biological aspect but as we know it is so much more. When watching the recently released Lion movie I was moved to tears at the moment when the audience is shown the actual moment when biological and adoptive mother meet for the first time. The genuine connection between these two women was such a beautiful representation of the emotion of motherhood. The suffering and the joy and the knowledge that their shared part in their son’s life was something so very precious.

two mothers LionI have been reflecting on this concept of motherhood and how it is so much more that merely producing offspring. I have felt the warmth of many mothers during my life, my own mother naturally, but also grandmothers, godmothers, my aunts, friends and at times witnessed the mothering of strangers such as the nurses who care when we are in hospital or those caring for young children in a range of care centres and organisations. In all these roles we play our the role of mother and be that point of refuge, that primary carer, the confident the believe rand the steadfast support for the children in our lives.

A Mother

If you recall the weight of a baby in your arms

If you still remember first words, first steps so small

If you’ve packed a lunch or chopped up fruit

And upon the steel benches watched sport been won and lost

If you have been sleep weary from the hours spent waiting

To hear returning footsteps

If you wore the carpets bare when such news was not forthcoming

If you held breath for exam results or test results

Or just a message for proof of life

If you have held a hand when pain abounds when hearts first broke or friends forsook

And if in the mall you’ve searched for a child who’s disappeared

Or if you have known the ache of loss

Before you ever had a chance to hold close your heart’s desire

When every month is in vain

Have you stayed at troubled bedsides, looked upon the forever young,

Walked empty handed from the hospital ward

Or empty-wombed have cleaved your purpose to promote the lives of children?

If from afar you have been captured by the children in your life

Be they tied by blood, or promise

Or simply by your desire to protect these innocent and vulnerable.

If you have known these things and born their joy and  pain

You are indeed a mother

And Mothers’ Day is yours.

May The Force Be With You

droid and leia

Okay I am an unashamed #StarWars fan and have been since the tender age of twelve when I watched my first SW movie at my uncle’s house on what was in those days cutting degree technology VCR! Since then I have watched the epic saga over and over and enjoyed any opportunity to wax lyrical about droids, siths, intergalactic love stories and the rest.

These days the chance to regale and revisit the thrills and spills is a highlight to the start of May when 4th looms large. Acronym battles have raged all day long across town, interstate and with friends and family overseas. We all demand that our opponent should GYTTDS (give yourself to the dark side) or the ever true DODNTINT (do or do not there is no try).

There are those unbelievers who think the SW sage is too gimmicky, too geeky or too tedious and to those I say – let it go and UWYHL (unlearn what you have learned) a little escapism and little bit of suspending disbelief serves to raises spirits, connects us to others and frees us from the daily grind. So this year as with every year I wish you the same sentiment: MTFBWY.

MTFBWY

May you see today for what it is
May you watch the clouds and know the sun will shine again
May you get your work done knowing tomorrow is Friday
May your boredom breed new agendas and ideas
May you smile at strangers and cry with friends
May you strive for the ugly truth and show your beauty within
May you bear your pain knowing you are not alone
May you be yourself though falseness is all around
May your own need for help drive you to be there for others
May you stop long enough to know you are alive
And today as with every year
MTFBWY

Mrs. T and the Magic Pencil Book Launch

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Mrs. T and the Magic Pencil enjoyed its Australian  launch at Laugh and Learn toy shop in Randwick. It was a hot and steamy Australian summer day when the latest Verityville title was officially released. With a continual stream of people dropping in to meet the creators there was a real sense of community. School children chatted with the artist and listened to extracts from the story whilst grandparents and parents cuddled babies and heard about the background to the manuscript. It was a happy occasion and I’d like to thank Tania and Annemarie from Laugh and Learn toy shop for hosting this event.

Mrs. T and the Magic Pencil will travel to New Zealand in April to launch the book in Wellington at the Children’s Book Shop in Kilbirnie on Wednesday 12th April at 6p.m.

Book Launch Dates

img_0592Exciting news! The official book launch dates for Mrs T and the Magic Pencil are finally locked in and coming soon!

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Australia:

Laugh and Learn Toy Shop in Randwick will host Mrs. T’s launch on Wednesday 8th February at 3.30p.m.

original_childrensbookshop_bannerNew Zealand:

The Children’s Book Shop in Kilbirnie will hosting the kiwi launch on Wednesday 12th April at 6p.m.

Passing It On

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There are always those who just do that little bit extra to help others. You may not realise or notice or see it but the understated and almost invisible things these folk do go a long way to making a community function, helping people to carry on and giving others a sense that they are ‘worth it’.

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Take for example my friend Audrey. For many who pass her crossing they’ll see a smiling helpful lollipop lady and indeed she is but she is so much more. She’s the sort of person who will line up the rubbish bins to help the garage collectors, she will help anyone over the crossing whether they be 5 years old or 95 years old and she will offer to look after dogs, bags and small children when parents have their arms full. Yes, she is the sort of friend who changes her plans to help and yesterday was no exception. In the searing Sydney summer heat of the middle of her working day Audrey helped me load up a garage full of supplies for Vanuatu and transport these to the freight company. Did I mention the heat? Even in the midday sun she cheerfully loaded and lifted and carried box after heavy box until it was all done. That is gold and that is my friend Audrey – The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World!

So now we are one step closer to getting that shipment of essential school supplies and hundreds of books for the school library to Erakor School in Vanuatu. I am so grateful for not only Audrey’s help but the help of all those in our fantastic community who reached out, sorted out and brought their donations to pass onto to others. Keep watching for the updates and keep collecting useful items such as books, stationery, good used children’s clothes and washed used runners for our charity drives in 2017.

 

Would You Have Marched?

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Would you have marched?

 

Would you have marched

If you had seen violence come?

Would you have spoken out when

Into a home

Only last week

Here in our town

Violence crept softly?

Would you protest

If you knew

Up the stairs

And into the room

And into the bed

Violence took what it wanted

In silence

As the girl slept.

 

Would you have joined

Those who were marching

Together this morning

If you only knew

That just yesterday

Saw another dad’s heartbreak

How he broke down

When he was told

About last weekend

About how in his home

The home he had built

To protect all who he loved

Was not safe enough

That Violence still came?

 

For Violence is stealthy

Violence loves silence

Creeping upon those it would harm

Wickedly cruel

And with no notice

No noise and no protests

In the girl’s house

And in her girl’s room

Where the girl slept

That violence came stalking.

 

And now in her waking

There is no marching

Now only tears quietly falling

For until all will march

Protest and make noise

The sad truth is that

Violence will live on.