Three new books

These three were part of a leveled reading series with Oxford University Press, and were launched last night. The project was 20 books, 10 non-fiction titles and ten retellings of traditional tales. Each was paired…eg Indonesian trad tale with a migration story. The migration stories were all photos and the families featured were there at the launch.

It was an interesting project to be part of. We were provided with source stories and had to rewrite them to a tight word and vocab schedule. ‘How Toad Made it Rain’ (from Vietnam) is 184 words,Naga and Buaya (from Indonesia) is 70 words, and Two Brothers (from Lebanon), is for beginner readers and is just 26 words!

Nice to see them in print. Long may they help children learn to read! All are available from OUP

Sheep, Goat and the Creaking Gate

My new picture book, with wonderful illustrations by Judith Rossell was due out at the beginning of August, but it appears that it could be rather later in the month before it is available.

Despite the delay, I will be attending Judith’s May Gibbs Fellowship morning tea in Adelaide on16 August and ‘Sheep, Goat’ will be launched. I’ll be going to Goolwa on the 18th to talk to primary children about books in general but I will also introduce ‘Sheep, Goat’. I’ve been collecting information about sheep and goats to share, but although I can tell you more than I want to know about the function of their four-stomached digestion, the similarities are stronger than the differences. Will keep searching.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of the cover of Sheep, Goat, and a couple of photos of goats, courtesy of my friend Corinne (the goats are hers – Cinnamon and Sugar)


My friend Jackie K and I took a train to Ballarat today. A storytelling group was holding a practice session for members, ahead of their performance at the 25th birthday of an Embroidery Guild. They’d called for audience members as well as tellers, so we rocked along. Jackie had info about the Storytelling Guild to share and we were both keen to hear others tell stories.

The storytellers meet one Friday a month at Known World Bookstore in Sturt Street. Okay, so this is Monday, but it was an extra. This secondhand bookstore also offers coffee and a meeting room that doubles as the children’s book room. We arrived early-ish and were able to meet many of the storytellers as they arrived.

This group have come to storytelling from many different places, not just geographically. One storyteller has come late to storytelling via Toastmasters. She takes no notes, writes nothing down. She takes her story on her walk with her dog and practices as she walks. She times herself with a stop-watch and trims/adds as necessary. She tells stories from her life. Another is a longtime member of the Storytellers Guild but until recently had not known about the Ballarat group. Jackie put them in touch with each other and John seemed as settled as any member there. Another member, with a writing background, read her story from double-spaced copy, not yet ready to abandon the printed word completely. Newcomer John related a tale about teaching an unteachable child, and another member sang a version of ‘The Ugly Duckling’. She had us all join in her vocal warm-ups before launching into her story. There were poets, writers, singers and more. There were creative stories and stories from life, all told with passion.

We weren’t able to stay for the whole meeting but it was a privilege for us to be part of their practice session. We trawled the Ballarat bookshops showing our wares with mixed success. One bookshop was quite disinterested, but another made up for it with their warmth and enthusiasm.

We stopped for lunch and happened across another storyteller – Ballarat small town? or Ballarat – home of storytellers? Both?

Open Melbourne 2

Third Floor, Donkey Wheel House. Great name for a building! I liked the two different door sizes. The one on the right led into a fireproof, semi-circular room that was used to store documents.

These basement windows had grates above to let in light and air, but just look odd, like someone tiled out the view.

Installation art in the one of the basement window/vents

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The front door of Donkey Wheel House. This building used to house the administration headquarters of Melbourne’s first tramworks, cable tramworks. I was a tad disappointed as I was keen to see where the wheels and the like were. Donkey Wheel is the name of the organisation that now own the building.

Open Melbourne

Melbourne city had it’s second open day yesterday. Last year, they opened about eight buildings I think. This year it was more than forty! There was a wide range of buildings open but having experienced some queues last year, we headed in early and focussed on buildings out of the centre.

This is the Mission to Seafarers, the oldest Spanish style building of it’s type in Melbourne (I think I’ve got that right). It’s a building that I’ve long been fascinated by and was very keen to see. The idea of the mission was interesting too, although they no longer have the number of sailors sleeping there that once they did.

The chapel had this wonderful ship-type pulpit…

…and stained-glass window.

This organ was tucked in a corner. Not sure it gets much of an airing these days. Beautiful though.

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It must be the moon…

…full as it is…

I had another ‘twilight zone’ moment on the weekend. I was at the 21st birthday celebration of the daughter of a uni friend of mine and seated opposite the parents of the birthday girl’s boyfriend (still with me?). We discovered that not only had we attended the same school, it was in the same year, although not the same class. Given that I’d left the school in mid Yr 9 (oh, okay it was called Form 3 then) I’d forgotten much more than I remembered.

But we both remembered several teachers…Mrs R who started every class at boiling point and exploded every time. Mrs G who had more suppressed (and sometimes not suppressed) anger than I have ever encountered since. Sr A who was memorably fearsome and Sr H, one of life’s angels.

There were students too. As I was a boarder and she a day student, our paths may well not have crossed a lot, but we managed to remember a few.


Twilight Zone

My middle son had surgery this morning to remove his four wisdom teeth. The procedure has been streamlined since my older son had the same surgery a few years ago. Much quicker, which has to be better for recovery. He walked into theatre, and walked out of the hospital. Feeling kinda weird, but not too spaced. Hopefully he’ll recover quickly.

But that’s not the spooky thing. The patient a couple ahead in the line was from his school, the one a couple after from his playgroup. And it’s not like we live in a small town where that’s a likely occurence. We live in a big city. Lots of schools, lots of surgeons, lots of hospitals. Yet how often do coincidences like that happen? Often.

Great stuff for fiction, coincidences. Not that I’m thinking of fictionalising his surgical experience. But I might use the coincidence…