Sunday, October 27, 2013

Phar Lap the wonder horse: the love of this story is passed on through the generations

I can't possibly let the 2013 Melbourne horse racing season pass without mention of our most famous race horse. Published in 2008, my take on the story, Phar Lap the wonder horse, is still attracting attention and selling well. 

My fascination with oral storytelling traditions led me to writing in verse. Ambivalent at first, as I had never tried my hand at rhyme, I read the introduction to Banjo Patterson's Old Bush Songs (1901) and was convinced that my version would be in ballad form – a genre that once flourished in Australia as a way of spreading the news. My instincts were rewarded when the Children's Book Council of Australia recognised Phar Lap as a Notable Book in 2009 

Here are BP's words that clinched my creative decision. You can read the full text on Gutenburg:

'Among the assisted immigrants and currency lads of the earlier days education was not a strong point; and such newspapers as there were could not be obtained by one-half of the population, and could not be read by a very large percentage of the other half. It is no wonder, then, that the making of ballads flourished in Australia just as it did in England, Scotland, and Ireland in the days before printing was in common use.'

Phar Lap the Wonder Horse is published by Museum Victoria and illustrated by Patricia Mullins.
If you would like a personal recitation: Listen

Friday, October 25, 2013

My first volunteer shift at 100 Story Building

It’s Friday and what a week!

My study is a mess. I think it’s a sign of a creative week. It began with my first volunteer shift at 100 Story Building.  This project is close to my heart. At last I have a place where I can donate some time and skill towards boosting opportunities for marginalised children in my community. I’m no good at committees, grant writing, office management, social networking, spelling … blah blah blah …  but I am good at making stories. I had a brilliant and challenging time on my first shift. I’ve got a lot of experience under my belt OK … but there is always so much to learn. And it was a learning curve watching Lachlann Carter and the way he structured the workshop and managed the relationships. 

My best moment: I was despairing that boy from Timor Leste would leave without making anything. His teacher spotted a picture book on the shelves written in Tetum – one of the languages of  East Timor. It was the legend of the crocodile. His face lit up and he proceeded to make a beautiful diorama in a shoebox – a paper and cardboard vision of his imaginary world.

Thank you to whoever donated that book. It was the key.

Pic: Lachlann at work

Check out the website HERE
If you want to cut straight to the programs: HERE
Facebook: HERE

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

'Before there were books, there were stories'. An evening of old fashioned storytelling in Hobart 2013

Since the Storytelling Australia (Victoria) banner is residing at my place, I took it with me when I travelled to Tasmania to visit my daughter. Her friends love a good story. In February, I participated in a House Concert but this time, she organised an evening in the local cafe Frankie's Empire. Frankie's supports poetry, live music and life drawing amongst other things. I must have been the oldest in the room by 30 years. It's a privilege to be invited to tell stories to these spectacular movers and shakers.

And if you are curious about the R - you can read about it HERE

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Congratulations Claire Saxby: Speech Pathology Award for Seadog 2013

I'm a huge fan of Claire Saxby's books for young children. I have a battered copy of  There was an Old Sailor (illustrator Cassandra Allen, Walker Books) in my story box that travels with me where ever I go. For my purposes 'Old Sailor' is perfect on several levels. 

1. Content (children love learning about the natural environment).
2. Structure (the information in the story is cumulative and repetitive, like the Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly).
3. Language (simple and playful rhyme with strong rhythm).

The excellence of this book was deservedly recognised with  the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award in 2011.
In mid 2013, Claire launched Seadog (illustrator Tom Jellett, Random House). Seadog is a good balance of humour,  rich sensory language and story. It is a skilled writer who can squeeze so many diamonds into 32 pages with so few words. It comes as no surprise that Seadog was the winner of the 2013 Speech Pathology Award Best Book Young Children.

Storytelling friends, I strongly recommend you explore these two books. They will enrich your practice.

Claire has a terrific website: HERE

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lyrebird! A true story is awarded a Whitley Certificate of Commendation 2013

Lyrebird! A true story has been a joy to work on from start to finish. This is the second book  I've created with publisher Melanie Raymond (Museum Victoria) and editor Nan McNab, the first being Phar Lap the wonder horse.  The three of us share a love of nature, language and storytelling and an enthusiasm to place stories of beauty, science and history into the hands of young people. We were thrilled when Peter Gouldthorpe accepted the task of illustrator, animating the story so accurately but with such warmth. I thank the Whitley committee who responded to our book so positively. Awards of this kind not only give us, the creators, a boost but most importantly assist in bringing the work into the foreground.
The Whitleys are hosted by the Royal Zoological Society of NSW. They are a tribute to Gilbert Whitley, an eminent Australian ichthyologist. The Awards are presented for outstanding publications (in printed or electronic form) that contain a significant amount of information relating to the fauna of the Australasian region and particularly its conservation.  

Lyrebird! is available in all good bookstores and on line and is there is now an e version for iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Visit the iTune books store and you can find listed under 'children'. Enjoy!!/id677512994?mt=11

And just in case you still haven't seen the movie:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Stories at The Village 3 November 2013

click on poster to enlarge

I'll be there telling stories on November 3. Come and say 'Hello'.


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