Friday, 31 May 2013

My Very First Blog Award (the Liebster Award)

liebster award
Many thamks to J. R. Barker for granting me the honour of  nomination for this award it is received with much appreciation.
“Liebsters Award is a way for blogs with less than 200 followers to connect with other bloggers, share a little more about you, and a way to help promote other small blogs”
How does this work? Here are the rules.
Post 11 random fact about yourself.
Answer 11 Questions from your Nominator.
Visit the other 1o blogs that were nominated with you.
Nominate 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers and ask them 11 questions – NO TAG BACKS!
Visit your Nominees and let them know they won the award.
Ring of Kerry
Ring of Kerry
11 Random Facts about myself.
  1. I love to go bushwalking even though I have two left feet which inevitably cause all sorts of problems.
  2. I am constantly on the lookout for more native trees to plant on our property which will help encourage the native birds and animals to feel welcome.
  3. Fairies nest at the bottom of my garden, (ok they are fairy wrens) but it sounds good!
  4. I’ve hunted for the Loch Ness Monster and skipped stones across the Loch with my sons in true adventure style.
  5. Searched for Leprechauns under rocks and shrubs around the lakes of the “Ring of Kerry” in Ireland.
  6. Sipped champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower like a true romatic heroine.
    Top of the Eiffel Tower
    Top of the Eiffel Tower
  7. Rode a camel at sunset along Cable Beach in Broome, Western Australia.
  8. Swum under a waterfall in an Outback waterhole.
  9. When I am not writing or reading I am creating stained glass windows.
  10. I adore sunsets, red wine, good comapny and a warm fire on a cold winter evening.
  11. When all is said and done, there’s no place like home!
Cable Beach
Cable Beach
Python pool Millstream National Park.
Python pool Millstream National Park.
Questions to me.
  1. What is your favourite children’s book? Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French. Simple, yet very cute and clever.
  2. Who’s your favourite story tale villain? Professor Severus Snape. J.K. Rowling wrote a fantastic antagonist and Alan Rickman portrayed him superbly. You love to hate him and yet he has a lost soul you can’t help but feel sorry for.
  3. Who’s your favourite story tale hero? Who else? Harry Potter! Need I say more! Thanks to Jo Rowling so many more kids started reading again!
  4. What’s your favourite fairy tale? Rumpelstiltskin (I just love saying that name and hearing kids try to read it), but then I love Snow White and all the seven dwarves. Far too many fairy tale choices.
  5. What’s your favourite childhood memory? Family days out in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Where we had picnics, bushwalks, apple picking, BBQ’s and toffee apples to munch on all the long drive home.
  6. Sweet or Savoury? Can’t go past a bit of chocolate, but I lean more towards the savoury platter these days.
  7. What genre of books do you prefer?  I read an abundance of children’s books both for my own writing and when I was a teacher as well as a general love of them, but really enjoy  historical fiction as they take me to places I get to learn about while I immerse myself in the lives of the characters.
  8. Watching sport or playing sport? Definately watching sport. When my youngest son played soccer I really got into being  one of those soccer mum’s on the sidelines, (although I said I never would).
  9. Cats or dogs? Dogs, we’ve always had one of man’s best friends in the family.
  10. Name one story book that you feel has touched your life or changed it in some way. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. From the minute I read these as a ten year old and entered through the wardrobe into a world full of fantasy and imagination I knew I too wanted to write.
  11. Name one act of kindness that you have witnessed.
    I had a flat tyre at the supermarket a while back. A very kind gentleman noticed the problem while I was busy loading the weeks groceries into the boot. He offered to change the tyre for me. In return I offered to buy him a coffee or even lunch to which he declined saying it was all part of his civic duty.
My Nominees.
(I am extremely knew to blogging so my list of other bloggers is quite small. My apolgies if a few of my nominees have gone slightly over the limit.)
My Questions to you.
  1. What has been your greatest adventure in life?
  2. Who is your favourite Action or Super Hero?
  3. What do you consider to be yout greatest strength?
  4. If you were a Super Hero what would your special power be?
  5. Tea or Coffee?
  6. Name your favourite binge food while reading or writing?
  7. What was your favourite subject at school?
  8. What is your all time favourite movie that you have watched over and over again?
  9. Which is better, the book or the movie?
  10. When do you prefer to read? In the afternoon sun or tucked up in bed late at night?
  11. Who has inspired you in your life? 
 Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Children's Books

Monday, 27 May 2013

Did you wear your towel on May 25?

DON’T PANIC!‘ in the immortal words of Douglas Adams from The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, I forgot too! Never mind, we all get another chance same time next year.

For those of you who may wonder what on earth this peculiar idea is all about, towel day celebrates the life and works of the above mentioned Douglas Adams (1952-2001).
I was lucky enough to discover his quirky sense of humour as a teenager when I first read The Hitch Hikers Guide and its “trilogy in five parts”. I then followed along eagerly each week for the next installment of the TV series and finally the movie when it was at last released in 2005. By then my eldest son had reached his teens and also appreciated the humour of Douglas Adams. It was wonderful to be able to share the experience of  both the book and film with him. I’m sure he didn’t forget to wear his towel on Saturday, but as he now lives on the opposite side of the country to me he neglected to remind me. As a starving uni student he had even been known to attend fancy dress parties dressed as Arthur Dent in his dressing gown and towel.
Authors and their characters can have such an impact on our lives. Take J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter for example. Think of how many children all around the world have found the delight of books and reading through her wonderful imagination and story telling. It was amazing to watch thoussands of children dress up as theri favourite characters each time a new book or movie was released.
I believe it is wonderful to see our children reading no matter what the genre.  All fantastic authors need to be celebrated and thanked for bringing joy, imagination, entertainment and knowlede to our youth. Most of us have memories of growing up reading at least one favourite special author. That may change as we grow from childhood to our teenage years, my sons went from Paul Jennings to John Marsden and on to Douglass Adams with a whole lot of other fantastic authors in between including J.K. Rowling. At least their tastes were varied so that they read a wide range of material on offer and kept an open mind to the possibilties of the delights of different genres.
Is there a special place in your heart for a particular author that brought meaning to reading while you grew up? Do you ever take a moment to celebrate or thank that author for their work? I’d love to hear who it was and why?
Thanks to my awesome blogging freind JR Baker for reminding me about this  years Towel Day.
I’d like to close with one last quote from Douglass Adams, “So long and thanks for all the fish!’

Have fun reading.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

I Am A Self-Confessed Bookaholic

Ok, I admit it! I am addicted to books even more so than chocolate!
When it comes to reading there is nothing like the smell and touch of a real book. The aroma of the freshly pressed ink, the feel of the paper as your fingers glide across to turn the page.
A line of paperbacks resting neatly in a row along the bookshelf beckoning you over to scan their contents.
As for a bookshop, I haven’t a hope in passing by one without venturing inside inevitably to depart arms loaded with more reading material than I have a hope of finding the time to wade through.
I can’t stand to borrow a book from someone else, if I’m going to read it, I have to own it myself. To be placed on my shelf for all time. (Maybe one day I just might get around to re-reading it).
A lot of my children’s books that I have bought over the years have been used over and over again. They are an invaluable resource to be used in the classroom, and I treasure them.
Diary of a wombat
Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French is  my all time favouite children’s story. The wombat is such a lovable character that manages to get into so much trouble using so little dialogue and simple yet gorgeous illustrations. I have used this book in lessons with Kindergarten through to year 6 and it never ceases to surprise and delight the students in my classes.
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak are two more children’s books I can’t go past when it comes to children’s literature and their education.Where the Wild Things Are
I love books of all shapes and sizes, especially big colourful books for little kids.
Books that make them laugh and have fun.
The GruffaloBooks that entertain during the learning process.
When I was still teaching my favourite part of the day was always the literacy block.  I am passionate about helping litle ones learn to read and it always gave me so much joy to watch their reading skills grow in cofidence until they became independent readers. When I had the opportunity to teach ESL and Literacy Assistance I was happier than ever as I was teaching reading all day! I admit the hardest time in my classes came when we use to have “DEAR” time (Drop Everything And Read).When the time was up and we had to move onto the next lesson I found that even I (the teacher) had trouble putting down my book. So I understood when there was always at least one person somewhere up the back of the classroom so engrossed in their novel they found it very difficult to re-join the rest of us.
How to train your dragonOne year I had a year 4 class I decided to read Roald Dahl’s The Witches to. Before I began to read each day I signalled the time by donning my own witches hat. Instantly the class knew it was time for the book. They packed away and sat quietly ever eager to hear and laugh along with Mr Dahl’s marvelous story telling.
The WitchesAnother year while I had Kindergarten I used a dragon puppet and read How to Train Your Dragon  by Cressida Cowell. Each lunchtime while they ate, the dragon and I read the story to an enraptured silently chewing audience.
I can think of nothing better than to engage children in the love of books when they are young and beginning to learn. That is what has prompted me to write my own series of books for early and reluctant readers. I want to continue to share the joy that books have brought into my world with the next generation of readers so that they are able to grow and fulfill their own dreams and passions in life.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Reading is for all Seasons.

As the weather begins to close in around Canberra, the Autumn leaves are ablaze of maginficent bursts of reds and oranges. They whirl and tumble through the winds enabling piles of glorious crackling and shuffling underfoot. Fog and frost blanket the mountains and valleys that surround my little rural community and reminds me that winter is creeping up on me very quickly. Now is the time to sit in the sun on the verandah (out of the wind) and read a good book before the weather closes in.
Mind you I can’t wait to read in a comfy chair in front of a warm glowing fire with a hot cup of tea (or maybe a glass of red wine) beside me either.
Meanwhile in the Northern Hemisphere Spring has everyone excited and preparing for the long hot Summer months ahead. This means holidays and plenty of hours to spend reading that favourite book. Whether at home, camping or a simple day at the beach, there is always time for a little self indulgent quiet reading.
Whether you and your family are packing to go skiing in the Snowy Mountains this winter or you are planning a trip to the seaside for some much needed rest and recreation, don’t forget to pack the books for the kids too! Not only do you need some down time, but so do they.
Reading over the summer months or any holidays keeps the kids minds mentally active and is just as important as physical activity.
  • Reading keeps the mind stimulated.
  • Encourages imagination and creativity.
  • Promotes healthy discussion and debate.
  • Enhances divergent thinking.
  • Increaes skills and abilities.
  • Relieves boredom.
  • Is a lot of fun.
  • Promotes opportunities to snuggle and share as you read together.IMG_0395
Thinking of that last point, I was at a neighbours house yesterday and she showed me her “Story Chair.” A delightful place to sit and cuddle with her grandchildren while reading a favourite book together. One of which just happens to be my book, Gingerbread Aliens. (One of her grandsons likes to sleep with it under his pillow as he is so proud to have an autographed copy). She told me how the chair use to sit outside on the verandah but was unusable there as it tended to habour so many redback spiders it was not an inviting place to sit. Now the “Story Chair” has a very special place inside where everyone can enjoy it so much more! I thought this was such a wonderful idea I asked if I could share it with everyone. Imagine if we all had our very own special “story chairs” to read with our kids or grandchildren, I think we would all make the time to read with them a lot more no matter what the weather happens to be like, winter or summer.This is a great spot to snuggle under a blanket and keep warm and read in winter or a cool spot to relax and read in summer. I just love it! :)
Before I close I just wanted to add this spectacular clip I have reblogged from

If you don’t already love books with their wonderful characters and the amazing places that you find inside them, this will surely help you see the life of books in a new way. It reminded me of  a fabulous book that was made into a movie when my kids were little, “The Pagemaster,” by David Kirschner. I have always loved the concept of the characters in all my books on my shelf coming to life at night while we sleep.
Have fun reading. :)

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Mothers Day- A day to show we care.

 Mothers Day in Australia is this Sunday, May 12, but regardless of whenever you celebrate mum's special day of the year it is always appreciated if you take a moment to show her you care.

Let's face it, Mother's day. like so many other holidays has become too comercialised but in these economic times who can blame businesses for trying to get your hard earned dollar. This is however not necessary. Some of the best gifts mums receive are those that are hand made. Gifts that are made with love and come from the heart are so much more special, thoughtful and show her how much you apprecaite all the wonderful things she does for you.

Below is a copy of a homemade card I found on Pinterest for you to make with your child at home for either mum, Grandma or for an entire class at school for their mums. It is very similar to one I use to make with my Kindergarten classes. I couldn't find my original so thought this one is just as good (if not better). Inside my cards I would write "Have a cup of tea on me." I didn't have the box to add the teabags to, I simply folded the teapot and sticky taped the teabag inside. It is up to you to choose which way you prefer. I rather like this new design idea, but it is probably a bit tricky if making with a class of 20 or more kids. You can vary the design by asking the children to draw the flowers on the teapot themselves or glue on various flower pictures from magazines and wrapping paper. Either way, it will come up beautifully.

 Reprinted from Teachers Ideas and Resources via Pinterest Teresa Parish via Laura Solomon

Cute....a teapot card with box in the bottom -- free template by Miri D 

  Taking the time to make a card for mum is so worth it, and not such a big ask when you think about all the things a mothr does for her children not only in a year but a lifetime. There is nothing that irritates me more than hearing someone say "Oh she doesn't work, she's just a mum." Being a mum is one of the most important jobs in the world and it begins not at birth but conception and never ends. A mum is on the job 24/7, from day 1. She is nourishing her children, nurturing, keeping them healthy and safe, constantly worrying about them and never has a sick day off. Mums have a job list a mile long and they never complain. They are the cleaning lady, cook, chauffeur, teacher, bank loans officer, conflict resolutions manager, team leader, coach, time management consultant, driving instructor, advice consultant, travel planner, education liason, birthday party planner and the list goes on and on and on.......

A lot of mums manage all this and manage a full-time working position as well. So please this Sunday, don't forget to say "thanks mum, I love you," and why not take a moment or two to make her a card with her favourite cup of tea. I know she'll really appreciate the love and thought behind it. Kids really enjoy making their own cards rather than a store bought card and again it helps with their reading and writing skills.

As always, until next time, have fun reading. :)