The Snow Wombat by Susannah Chambers and illustrated by Mark Johnson

Where does snow fall?

The answer is everywhere!


Open The Snow Wombat by Susannah Chambers and go on a wintry walk in the Australian Alpine to discover how the environment changes when it is covered in snow.

The young reader will delight in the map drawn on the end pages and the names of the different places the wombat visits. You can spend time searching each illustration drawn beautifully by Mark Jackson to find different Australian animals who also live in the snow and the various plants and trees that can survive the freezing temperatures.

Repetition and rhyme have been used throughout the story, encouraging young readers to read along and guess which word might come next.

We loved reading this story and had a lot of fun re creating the map, spotting feral and Australian animals and making our own puppets to reenact the story.

The Snow Wombat was SHORT-LISTED: CBCA Book of the Year, Early Childhood, 2017.

So what can you do with this book?

  1. Draw your own map of the story, this will encourage skills of recount. You can also create your own map of where another Australian animal might go.
  2. Discuss the different animals on each page. Which ones are Australian animals? Which are feral animals? Livestock? Endangered?
  3. Learn about wombats and how they live.
  4. Could you write another story about another type of weather?


Sleepy the sloth by Jan Latta

Come on an adventure with me and learn about my life in the jungle

Sleepy is an adorable sloth. Sleepy the sloth and his friends live in the trees of the Central and South American tropical rainforests and Jan Latta has beautifully captured these animals in their natural habitat.

Jan Latta has produced the True to life series so she can educate children about endangered animals through a captivating story told through photographs taken of these animals in their natural habitat.

In this story – Sleepy the Sloth, we learn about what Sleepy does throughout the day, what he looks like and why, how he eats and the different things he does to live and survive. These facts are all learnt through a lovely story with accompanying photographs.

However, children aren’t just told the story of sleepy the sloth – they are also given some great facts and maps along with comprehension questions. There is a map, some fun craft activities and even a colouring in page.

We all want our children to learn about endangered animals but we want them to enjoy learning about them – and this book does just that. When children (and adults) do things rather than just listening or reading, they remember better.

After reading Sleepy the Sloth parents and teachers can use these activities to have more in depth conversations about how we can help to take Sloths off the endangered list!

Jan Latta is passionate about educating people about animals who are endangered and spends a lot of time researching her subjects before photographing them. Not only has she created books but there are accompanying videos for her books too so children can see the animal and how it moves.

Sleepy the Sloth will not only engage your young reader but it will also inspire them to think of ways that they can make a difference in this animal’s life – even if it is on the other side of the world.

You can check out Jan’s work on her blog and purchase one of her many engaging creations

Ruby Lane by R.J.Simon

A fast paced adventure story that you won’t want to put down – Ruby Lane by R J Simon is a brand new quirky tale for young readers.

Ruby, our main adventurer is a wonderfully creative thinker – who just can’t stop thinking! She has a wild imagination and would much rather be up through the night  creating things instead of sleeping!

Luckily it is school holidays and Ruby is off to her Grandma’s for a week of excitement. She hops on the ferry but due to her late night antics she nods off until the ferry pulls into the wharf near her Grandma’s home. Ruby begins her walk but soon discovers a cat that talks like a pirate and talking lemons – certainly not the usual things she finds on the way to grandmas!  The pirate cat convinces her to help him return a very special book to the great Poet Gerry and she agrees.

From here the reader is taken on a very magical, fun, weird and crazy adventure all over the island. She meets many intriguing creatures along the way as she helps Pirate Cat on his quest.

Ruby Lane is a very fast paced book and although Ruby is at first portrayed as someone who can’t slow down, she is a very clear thinker who is not only brave but kind.

You’ll love the quirkiness of Pirate Cat – but be warned he does talk in pirate lingo throughout the whole novel so for those of you who don’t think you can handle more than one ‘me hearty’ you might struggle a bit.

Only someone with a vivid imagination and fun filled ideas could create a book like this. R.J.Simon has used so many different ideas to bring this story, the magical land and it’s characters to life.

I had lots of fun reading this story and was endlessly surprised by what happened next!

So what else can you do with this story?

  1. Read it out loud – see if any children can relate to Ruby – her creative thinking and endless imagination. Recall a time when you had a wonderful idea that wouldn’t let you sleep!
  2. Learn how to speak like a pirate. Wednesday 19th September is International talk like a pirate day!
  3. Draw a map of the island. What do you think it looks like?
  4. Ruby meets so many amazing characters in this story. Do they have anything in common with each other? Do they all have anything in common with Ruby?

There are many more activities you can do with this book so head over to R J Simon’s website and have a look around:

Chip by Kylie Howarth

Feeling hungry?

Wanna chip?

We’ve all been there – sitting down by the ocean about to snack on a hot chip when swoop – out of your hand that delicacy is taken away by none other than a seagull.

Chip by Kylie Howarth is a fun book that tells the tale of a seagull and his friends who are banned from the local fish and chip shop.

The seagulls – so used to having food on tap are in distress and hungry! That is until Chip – our feathery hero comes up with an idea that is going to save the seagulls from impending starvation.

You’ll have to read this book to believe that seagulls aren’t just those pesky birds who hassle you for your hot chips but rather creative, clever and charming friends.

Kylie Howarth also has left a fantastic underlying message – seagulls aren’t meant to eat chips and if we all tidied up our mess, put it in the bin or even took the leftovers home perhaps these scavengers would hassle us as much.

Many ocean birds do become sick when they eat too much of this unhealthy food and forget how to hunt for themselves. Unknowingly many of us are creating these creatures to behave the way they do by our simple attitude of not thinking about where our rubbish of left overs go.

This book was shortlisted for the CBCA picture book of the year – and it was very well deserved!

So what can you do with this book?

  1. Think about where your food scraps go. Do you have a compost bin? Worm farm or chooks? If you don’t how can you minimise food waste?
  2. How can local councils ensure that people start to think about where they place their rubbish?
  3. What do seagulls usually eat and where do they usually live when not around humans?
  4. How can local councils and people help to stop local birds from pestering people?
  5. Kylie used the phrase – no fat chips, skinny chips, soggy chips, sandy chips, crunchy little bits of chips or even spicy chilli-dipped chips’ a few times in this story – why do you think she did this and how did it tie the story together at the start?
  6. How did Kylie’s illustations give you more detail about the story?
      1. Craft idea – We made our own hot chips using an old newspaper and some scrap paper we coloured in yellow! We then made a seagull out of toilet roll and the shop owner too. We then performed the book in our own words – lots of fun and a great way to build comprehension skills.

      The Riverboat Postman by Joanne Karcz

      We all love receiving mail.

      The anticipation of what is going to be inside the letter box, the rumble of the motorbike or the knock on the door.

      But what if you didn’t live near a road? 

      Then the Riverboat Postman will be the one to deliver your mail! 

      In Joanne Karcz’s second picture book, she has captured the magic of the Riverboat Postman through rhyme and storytelling.

      Told through the eyes of two young sea farers, the reader is taken on a journey up the Hawkesbury River, past the houses, national parks and friendly dogs that dot the landscape.

      We meet the friendly driver and the residents – human and their dogs, who live along the river and rely on the Riverboat Postman for not only mail but other supplies they might need.

      The Riverboat Postman is a real boat and it does head out every day. It has been delivering mail to properties for over 100 years and tourists are able to take part in this journey too.

      Joanne has brought this journey to life and made this experience accessible to those who may not know it exists. She has described the scenery as it exists and the people who make the Hawkesbury  a wonderful place to live.

      Joanne’s knack for rhyme makes this journey even more fun for the young reader and the soft pastels used by Elizabeth Irvin show the natural colours of the river the surrounds.

      There is even a map in the book that you can follow to work out where the boat travels from Brooklyn to Marlow Creek!

      The Riverboat Postman is a lovely sing-song book to read out loud or perhaps even sing, so give yourself some time to check this book out.

      Joanne has self published this book again so head over to her website or perhaps take yourself on a journey on the Riverboat Postman!





      The secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton

      Do love reading myths, legends and folk tales?

      Have you ever wondered how those tales came to be?

      The secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton is an adventurous folktale in which a young girl named Erin is on a mission to find out more about Black Rock.

      With determination, every day she attempts to stow away on her mother’s fishing boat, always getting sniffed out by her dog until the day she outsmarts him and sails off hidden aboard.

      As the boat sails on, a fog descends and through that Black Rock emerges. Erin, too busy staring at the towering rock doesn’t hold on tight enough and a wave knocks her overboard.

      She sinks deeper and deeper but she soon discovers that the Black Rock is in fact a living thing – and it saves her life.

      Erin then realises how alive with life Black Rock is and is determined to save it from being destroyed by the fishing village.

      Will Erin succeed in teaching the adults how important this rock is to their ocean? And how much they need this if they are to continue to fish for food and income?

      The illustrations are filled with colour and the detail in each page will encourage you to look deeper into each picture. The full page spreads enlighten and the circular images – give the reader different viewpoints on what is going on.

      The Secret of Black Rock is a tale which will make you think about those inanimate objects that you might think do nothing. Take the time to have a closer look and see what life, no matter how small, lives there and how it plays a role in the world around it.


      So what else can you do with this book?


      • Explore life underwater. Take the time to note which animals are drawn into this story. Can you name them all? Which ones would you like to learn more about?
      • Explore creatures that live on or around rocks in the ocean. Why do they all live here? Where else might these living things live?
      • Have there been any incidences where rocks have been removed from the ocean and therefore affected the life that lives around or on it?
      • How can we help others to become aware of smaller ocean plants and animals and the important role they play?


      • How does the design of this book – and the title – capture your attention. (Look at the  titles, layout of the front and back cover and the inside cover pages. )
      • Compare this story to graphic novels. How does this reflect the style of a graphic novel and how would this story be told differently if it were just a story?
      • There are many adjectives in this story – find as many as you can.
      • What is a folktale? Myth? Explore and share some.


      Global Guardian Project: Australia

      Created by Beth Johnson from Kid’s Mind Body Spirit, this capsule gives your family some wonderful insight into Australia and it’s natural beauty.

      In this capsule you can learn more about opals, gum trees and the Great Barrier Reef.

      The Great Barrier Reef is discussed in depth and your children will be inspired to learn more about this natural wonder through the colouring in pages, an online adventure story and some tips on how you can help the reef to survive.

      There are some book links in the capsule but you can also check out these two books which I have reviewed here:

      One less Fish

      Coral Sea Dreaming

      These capsules are aimed at both adults and children so don’t be put off by all the information – use it as a tool for yourself to teach your children through discussion and storytelling. Children can learn a lot through watching videos and documentaries but when we talk and listen to each other we can learn so much more.

      The Global Guardian Project is a great initiative run by Rebecca Lane and something you can be a part of too.

      If you are interested in giving it a go sign up for one capsule and see if you like it.

      I am offering a 10% discount with my code GGPVAnessa.

      So what are you waiting for – inspire yourself, inspire your children, inspire your family and together we can make the world a better place for now and the future.


      Why do we need magical worlds

      After reading an article or two I have started to think about the importance of magic in our lives and how magical worlds in books can help us to cope with every day activities.

      When we are aware of magical worlds we can remember back to how a character coped when faced with mountain trolls, what the character did when they really just wanted to go home or how they felt when faced with a place that was completely different to the one they knew.

      Magical worlds aren’t only in longer novels, they can also be found in picture books and both types of magical worlds are just as wonderful as each other.

      Inside these magical worlds are strong characters, whether they be frightening or relatable – many have to ‘toughen up’ in order to cope with the dangers and differences they have to experience every day.

      Experiencing others daily lives is important to not only to build empathy but to also build a greater understanding of ourselves. I’m sure if you sit down and think about it, there are always characters in books that spring to your mind at different occasions.

      Magical worlds spark ideas, they arouse different feelings and the inspire us to think beyond our daily lives – they help us to wonder what life could be like if something out of the ordinary happens.


      So what magical books are you going to read today?

      Continue reading

      New Zealand: Global Guardian Project E-capsule


      Interested in learning more about New Zealand? Then this might just be the capsule that starts you and your family on your journey to becoming a Global Guardian.

      I’ve been to New Zealand but what was contained in this e-capsule opened my eyes up to many things I didn’t know about this beautiful place.

      As you work through this capsule you will learn about endangered animals who are being cared for by conservationists and scientists, learn about the traditional culture of this island which still plays a large role in modern society and some modern day change makers.

      Your children will love the colouring in pages that support the written information about  the yellow eyed penguin, guided meditation to help children learn to be still and appreciate the sounds around them and within themselves and a simple action challenged to make you think more about the single use of balloons.

      Children will delight in the images and stories of other young change makers and perhaps inspire you to jump online to see more of New Zealand or perhaps even a trip there one day.

      The e-capsules created by the Global Guardian Project are written to inspire global awareness. We all need to be aware of who also inhabits the planet with us and that we can al make small and meaningful differences to make the world a better place for all.

      If you think you would like to join the tribe go to their website:

      And use my discount code for 10% off. GGPVanessa

      You won’t regret it and your children will love it!

      Echidnas can’t cuddle

      But with my spikes, I can’t even hug my very own mother.


      Poor Eric.


      He is covered in spikes and they are getting in the way of his need to cuddle. All he wants to do is cuddle someone and feel the joy of a warm embrace but all the other bush animals are too frightened of his spikes.

      Penny the platypus cries, koalas are cuddly up high in the tree and rosellas with all their feathers can put their wings around eachother at any time. Poor little Eric.

      Upset with his situation, Eric runs away and then runs even faster when a snake tries to bite him, bees try to stng him and an eagle tries to snatch him.

      Luckily he has spikes – those spikes that he hates and wishes he never had – to save him.

      Eric learns to love his spikes and comes to realise that even if he can’t give a hug to someone he loves, he can give them a kiss.

      Eric the echidna is quite the loveable character in this rhyming picture book. He displays many characteristics that children will relate to  – jealousy, fear, independence, lack of self esteem,  love for others and love for himself. Echidnas can’t cuddle is a great story to use to talk about self acceptance and learning to love the different things about each person.

      Lauren Merrick’s images have been created through collage and print and are wonderful to look at, talk about and wonder how they were created to give the feeling of texture and life.

      Echidnas can’t cuddle was shortlisted for the 2017 Environment awards because of the way it raises awareness about these spiky creatures, its habitat and the other animals that live around it.

      So what else can you do with this book?



      1. Find out more about echidnas! Where do they live and are they endangered?
      2. What types of animals are echidnas and who else belongs in this group?
      3. What are the spikes made out of ? What else can you find out about these spikes?

      Creative writing and drawing

      1. Write a story about another animal that wants a cuddle but can’t.
      2. Choose another Australian animal and write about a journey it might go on in order to find something positive about itself.
      3. Re create an image of the Australian bush using the techniques Lauren Merrick has.

      Self awareness

      1. Link back to self – what do you love about you? What do you worry about? How can you help yourself to be proud of everything you are?

      Take a step inside

      Have you ever wondered – why we still need books and why we still need a library?  

      Perhaps you might think that the internet has everything we need so why use up the extra space and paper? 

      Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs has recently been discussing the importance of libraries and the vital role they play in our children’s lives. Not only do they foster a positive reading culture but they allow children to see beyond their interest.

      The internet can be a very closed space and we can search and be shown only what we want to see. When a child enters the library they do gravitate towards what they like but they can also be easily shown books by the librarian, parents or teacher that might be a little bit different and might just stretch their world a little further.  Libraries promote a sense of community and hopefully encourage people to take care of the books that they need to share with others.

      Perhaps next time rather than buying a book or downloading one, step into your library and see what else is on offer!

      The thank you dish by Trace Balla

      What are you thankful for?

      Do you stop during the day and reflect on how lucky you are?

      The Thank you dish by Trace Balla might help you and your child think about being grateful for all the little things we take for granted.

      It’s dinner time at Grace’s place and together with her mother they are giving thanks for the many ways their meal has made it to their plate. They are grateful for the simple things like rain, soil and sunshine but then Grace moves onto other ideas such as road workers (who make sure the roads are safe for the bikes to travel along), kangaroos (for not eating the food before they picked it), alpacas (for their wool that keeps us warm) and friends (who help grow and catch food).

      Trace Balla has written this celebratory book to show young children that there is more to their meal apart from the supermarket and the packages. They are shown that being a part of a community is part of the growth of food and it also shows that taking the time to slow down, be grateful and learn about where your food comes from is really important.

      Grace and her mum also show the slow movement towards sustainable food gathering – a movement which is slowly building momentum as people start to realise the importance of supporting those who grow food and make things from hand.

      Australian life is reflected through Trace Balla’s illustrations. You can feel the spring time glow and the smell of winter evenings on the water.

      The Thank you dish is one to share with all young families and one that will hopefully initiate your own evening meal conversations of gratitude.

      So what else can you do with this book? 


      Download these tips now: thethankyoudish

      T-Veg: The story of a carrot crunching dinosaur by Smritti Prasadam-Halls

      Have you ever considered becoming a Vegetarian? Or perhaps even a Veganism?

      Did you get hassled? Questioned? Teased?

      Reginald the T-Rex does – and he is not happy about it.

      Reginald is a fierce T-Rex, he can run fast, jump high and roar very loudly! However,  he just doesn’t want to eat meat – he wants to eat carrot cake, vegetable stew and banana berry cake instead!! His friends laugh at him and tell him that there he cannot be  T-Rex if he is to continue these veggie eating ways and with this, Reginald walks away.

      He tries to befriend some other herbivores but when they just run away he tries to act like a herbivore but finds it too boring. Sad and confused Reginald heads for home – only to find that his T-Rex friends really do need him – and it’s lucky that he has returned!

      This book, written in rhyme is a fun adventure into the world of vegetarianism and acceptance of everyone – no matter what they eat, look like or believe in. Children will learn that everyone is equal, special and has something to add to the community.

      Katherine Manolessou’s illustrations are bright and energetic and she makes Reginald an easy to love T-Veg – Rex.

      Perhaps you have never considered a carrot crunching dinosaur to send a message about Vegetarianism or acceptance of differences – but written in fast paced rhyme, this book does just that.

      Perhaps it’s time you enjoyed some more vegetarian meals!

      So what can you do at home?


      – Try to have a meat free day once a week then progress to twice a week….it can be done!! A current favourite of ours is: Pumpkin and Peanut Butter curry

      – Source your meat from organic and local companies. It may mean spending more money but just use less – add more vegetables to the dish instead!

      – Try adding more vegetables to your meals and snack – they create less waste

      – Do you have a compost bin? Worm farm? All those extra scraps can go this way!

      Want to become a global guardian?


      Join now and receive 10% off with my unique code: GGPVanessa

      Buy Biome products now and keep your home and the world sustainable and eco friendly


      Bouncing Bouncing Little Joeys: A bush Christmas by Lesley Gibbes

      Have you started to think about Christmas yet?

      If you’re anything like the little joeys in this story you’ll be thinking about all the different things that need to be done in time for Christmas day.

      The busy little joeys in this story are not the quiet kind, they are full of energy and eager to decorate the house and Christmas tree – all in time for Christmas day!

      Written with rhyme and repetition, young children will love reading this story and watching the little joey and his family have fun together bringing about Christmas cheer!

      Doris Chang’s illustrations are cleverly drawn, showing the reader the key part of the joey’s actions. The colours she has used reflect summer in Australia – the parched greens, brown earth and the wildlife that abounds in backyards!

      Bouncing bouncing little joeys: A bush Christmas is a fun way to inspire some homemade family fun and because of the rhyme and repetition, children can be involved in the storytelling.

      So what else can you do with this book?


      •  List all of the verbs used in this story. What other verbs might you use to describe actions when you are getting ready for Christmas?
      • Choose a part of the Christmas tree and write your own descriptive sentence that may have rhyme, repetition and descriptive adjectives.




      Our school library

      Our  library is a place to mingle with different types of books and pick up new books that you may never have thought you liked.

      Our library has a Non-Fiction section focus each week – a chance for children to learn about new topics and the books available. 

      Our  library is a place to sit still and listen to books being read out loud.

      Our library is a place to share book reviews, try out books and ‘shop’ for free.

      Our  library is a place to be creative, learn about how a library works and see how author’s think.

      Our library is a place where all children can access books at their level and their interest.

      Our  library is a portal to different worlds, different times and different people who might just resonate with you and inspire you to take yourself on a different path in life.

      Our library books can be accessed online from any student login or accessed any day of the week at school.


      What do you like about your school library?

      Chooks in Dinner suits by Diane Jackson Hill

      This time, the townsfolk don’t laugh.

      ‘Let’s give that plan of yours a try,’ they say to Swampy.

      All else has failed. 

      BUY HERE

      Chooks in Dinner Suits: A Tale of Big Dogs and Little Penguins
      Chooks in Dinner Suits: A Tale of Big Dogs and Little Penguins

      Chooks in Dinner suits, A tale of big dogs and little penguins in based on a true story. Set in Warrnambool on the south coast of Australia in 2005 this story tells us about the demise of the breed of penguins called ‘little penguins’.

      Slowly over time due to habitat destruction, being eaten by foxes and dogs or eggs being stepped on, there were only 4 penguins left in 2005. A local farmer made the suggestion to the community to use Maremma guardian dogs to protect these animals from further destruction. The community were skeptical and took time to be convinced but with no other options they trusted in his idea – and thankfully they did!


      These dogs – the Maremma – have been used in other operations across Australia to protect endangered species from feral pests. There is currently a project underway with Bandicoots being protected by Maremma in Victoria. 

      Chooks in dinner suits is a really lovely story based on a real life event. There are not too many words or descriptions to bore the younger reader, and the facts are told in story. There  is enough action throughout the story for children and pictures to entice them to read it again.

      Craig Smith’s illustrations are fun and bring a bit more light to the sadness of this story. His use of soft colours sheds light on the coastal feel of the town and the natural beauty of the hatching ground.

      Chooks in dinner suits is a great story to read to show how real life stories can be brought to life for younger readers. Picture books are a wonderful way to engage young readers in the events that are happening in the world around them.

      It is definitely worth your while engaging your child in some real images from this story. Check out these links:

      So what else can you do?


      Want to become a global guardian?


      Join now and receive 10% off with my unique code: GGPVanessa

      Buy Biome products now and keep your home and the world sustainable and eco friendly


      Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise

      Have you ever felt like no one really understands you?

      Have you ever wondered what life might be like if you just set off and found someone who did? 

      Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise is a wonderful tale about friendship, being yourself and acceptance.

      I really love this book. I have read it to classes during library time and to my own children many many times.

      There is so much to gather from this story, as mentioned above, but overall it is just a really lovely story.

      Archie is a bear (but he is really a boy) who goes wondering out into the forest with his homemade honey sandwiches. He meets a friendly boy (who is really a bear) and together they nibble on honey sandwiches and teach each other different things.

      As the night grows dark they try to keep each other warm but end up returning to Archie’s house where they sleep warmly by the fire under a warm quilt.

      The friendship between the bear and the boy is enviable, they take care of each other, are gentle to each other despite both knowing that they are clearly not what they say they are and they love hanging out together.

      Friendship, acceptance and kindness are traits that we want to encourage in our children and this book really shows this in a subtle way.

      We need to learn to accept people for who they are, accept people for what they believe in and accept them into our lives even if they are different.

      David Mackintosh’s illustrations are bold and simple. They show enough of the story but don’t overload the page. The use of watercolors in the background help the reader to focus more on the main characters and the actions they are taking.

      Not only does this book have a calming effect as we watch the friendship blossom, it also shows us how simple life and friendship can be.

      Archie and the Bear is a beautiful read, definitely one for your bookshelf!

      Go litterless


      Did you manage to catch the program War on Waste run on the ABC earlier this year? If you did you still might be a bit confused about how you are going to reduce the amount of waste you produce each year without compromising your lifestyle. Working, caring for your kids and then your own sanity are important – but isn’t the health of the planet also something we need to consider too?

      The E-capsule, ‘Go Litterless’ created by Global Guardian Project, is a great place to start you and your family on their path to creating less waste in your household.

      This capsule contains information about:

      – What being litter less means

      • How we can recycle at home through our bin systems
      • How we can compost at home therefore creating less waste in our rubbish bins
      • Free downloadable to inspire your family everyday!
      • Simple family activities to get you thinking about the litter you create.
      • Recipes and ideas to inspire litter less lunches
      • Book reviews
      • Challenges to inspire and educate

      For as little as $6.99 you can own this e-capsule and begin on your journey to becoming a Global Guardian. (and take off 10% through my discount code GGPVanessa)

      So what are you waiting for?

      ‘Go Litterless’ is an inspiring and simple to use e-capsule. You might surprise yourself and realise that you are making small changes already. This e-learning magazine has free colouring in pages, colourful printable to stick around the house and family activities you can pin up on the fridge. There is no overload of information here but simple tips to start you on your journey.

      Subscribe here today

      Enid Blyton: Five go down under by Sophie Hamley

      “Yes, it’s summer. That’s what we wanted wasn’t it?’ Julian emitted an exaggerated sigh. “Let’s just get to Bondi and into our bathers and a long swim will sort it out.”

      The Famous Five are back and this time they are having a Gap year in the suburb where so many English tourists seem to dwell – Bondi.

      In this Famous Five novel for grown ups, we follow the Five as they learn about life in Bondi, try to understand the local lingo, eat out at Burnt Sugar Love Goddess Gratitude (which strangely reminds me of a place my friends frequented during their time in Bondi), go surfing and get stung by a blue bottle!

      The Famous Five meet the ‘Sydney Six’ who not only are their idols from their favourite Australian sitcom but also interesting tour guides for life in Bondi.

      But their adventures don’t just happen in Bondi – they also venture further afield for a taste of #outbacklife on a working farm out in Wagga Wagga.

      Each character in this Famous Five novel for grown ups still has the same characteristics they did in the original stories by Enid Blyton but they provide many more laughs. The Five have to deal with hipsters, strange Australian words and antics and life on social media.#wowsydneywowwow

      If you need a laugh and an easy this book is a must as are the many more Famous Five books now on offer!


      Five Go Down Under

      The second sky by Patrick Guest and Jonathon Bentley

      Great things happen when we reach for the sky

      Gilbert is a newly hatched penguin and we meet him as he cracks open his egg and looks up towards the sky. He sees flying storm petrels, shearwaters and wandering albatrosses.

      He wants to fly too.

      Not knowing his own limitations Gilbert sets off on a mission to fly into the sky with the sea birds. He wants to reach the stars, bath in the moonlight and glide through the clouds.

      He moves his little wings but they don’t flap as gracefully, he climbs a mountain to soar down below and he grew his feathers as fast as he could but they just weren’t working!

      Gilbert shows persistence throughout his failures and never shows that he wants to give up.

      And that’s when Gilbert discovers the amazing underwater world that so many of us forget about. He sees the stars, he sees mountain tops and he sees forests. And down deep, down under the water – he finds that he can fly.

      Gilbert the penguin is a strong, persistent, creative and determined character – traits that we need to encourage in our children. We need to show them that they can do anything and when they can’t, perhaps they need to look at the world in a different way.

      The illustrations by Jonathon Bentley reflect the cold of  Antartica and the stillness of the wintry sky. The story and illustrations portray a very calming atmosphere despite the actions of little Gilbert.

      We meet different sea birds and see the varying landscape of sea and sky – a beautiful adventure for any reader to embark upon.

      So what else can you do with this book?

       – List the different traits Gilbert has and compare them to yourself. How do you show strength and determination like Gilbert?

      – List the different verbs used to describe Gilbert;s movements and then the verbs used to describe how the birds moved.

      – Look at the various shades of blue throughout the story – how many can you find and do they have different names?

      – What is under the water apart from animals? Examine plants and the geography of oceans. There are mountains, valleys, volcanoes and forests!

      – Find out more about penguins and where they live.

      – Explore the life cycle of a penguin

      – Are any penguins endangered and why?

      – Find out more about the various sea birds that live in Antartica. Are they migratory birds or do they live here all year long?

      And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

      Or like my page – educateempower on facebook. 

      Interview with Suzanne Barton, author of Meeka

      This month I am interviewing Suzanne Barton, the author of the new picture book: Meeka.
      Meeka is Suzanne’s first picture book and has been self published.
      Meeka is a delightful story for young children about not only a father-daughter relationship but also about the care we can give to natures’ smaller creatures. Throughout this story we also feel the care of the market stall owner community when little Meeka cannot be found
      Thank you Suzanne for answering these questions for my audience and I.
      1. How did you come up with the idea of Meeka?
      Meeka’s story first came to life through a conversation between my mother and I. We were enjoying a delicious Moroccan meal and giggling as we imagined the adventures of a cheeky little bird who got stuck in a tagine. Not long after, I wrote up the story to enter into a writing competition and, to my surprise, the manuscript won its category. After that, I’d always hoped to see the story published.
      2. How long have you been writing for and when did you feel that children’s writing was where you wanted to be?
      I come from a family full of writers, English teachers and Scrabble enthusiasts – so I’ve been a bookworm and a wordsmith for as long as I can remember. My career and studies have led me to write everything from advertising copy to film scripts, but I really love children’s stories. Some years ago I took a course in children’s writing and loved learning about all the different styles and techniques. Since then, the stories have kept flowing.
      3. How did you work with Anil Tortop? Did you exchange ideas or just let Anil explore the story and interpret it herself.
      Working with Anil was a wonderful collaboration. I had some ideas about how I saw Meeka coming together, and so did she. From her very first sketches and storyboards, it was clear that Anil knew just how to bring Meeka to life. I always loved receiving her drawings as we were working on the book. Her characters have so much personality and movement. Even now I keep noticing tiny details that make me smile.
      Check out the book trailer for Meeka!
      4. You ran a successful pozible campaign – how did you ensure its success and how did you cope with the wait?
      I am so grateful for the lovely people who supported Meeka on Pozible, helping me print the book beautifully. To prepare, I went to a crowd funding workshop for authors and thought carefully about the rewards I could offer supporters, and what fun things I could share on social media during the project. These included a book trailer, time-lapse videos of the illustrations and Photoshopped ‘selfies’ of Meeka with supporters, which were really fun to make. Sometimes I felt nervous that the project wouldn’t reach its goal, but I tried to stay positive and we got there with a few days to spare.
      5. Can you give any advice to budding picture book authors who would love to see their book published?
      Never give up. If you have stories in your heart, then keep working hard at your craft and seek support in the wonderful writers’ groups that can be found in many communities, and of course at your fingertips online. I also find critique groups especially handy. The chance to regularly receive constructive criticism from a supportive network of like-minded writers, and also to review other people’s work, really helps keep the creative ideas flowing.

      6. Where to next? Can you expect another picture book some time or are there other areas of creative writing you are going to explore?


      I have several more picture books up my sleeve and hope to see them brought to life in the coming years. I’m also working on a story for older readers, and continuing to create cabaret productions inspired by 1940s radio drama with my musical ensemble, Neo Radio.
      Sounds exciting Suzanne! I can’t wait to see what else you can bring to life. Thank you for the time you have given to answer these questions.
      Now followers – do you have any questions?