Tag: New Zealand schools

Author-in-residence…the icing on a writer’s cake

The day I decided to write full-time was one of those milestones in my life. I’ve never regretted it, even with the lows rating more than the highs. But I have to say amongst the highs is the experience of being an author-in-residence in schools.

With the Years 4/5s – you have to imagine the floor spread with fifty seated little bodies.

My latest little adventure was the three-day residency at the Chinchilla State Primary School. What a fabulous school it was – bright-eyed kids, supportive teachers and enthusiastic library staff. I’d go again in a flash!

Chinchilla has always been a sleepy little country town out on the edge of the outback, but with the recent years’ intense interest in gas production, it is changing fast. They predict it might soon have its first traffic light! 

Chinchilla main street

With over 500 kids it’s one of the schools taking part in the Federal Government’s Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership School program. Their literacy co-ordinator, Cindy Grimes is an essential part of tying things together – she organised my trip and was part of it every step of the way, ensuring the teachers got the kids to read or at least, be familiar with three of my stories, ensuring copies of the books were available in the library and that the whole visit ran like clockwork. Absolutely brilliant! And so much more enjoyable for me.

I used Scaredy Crow for the Preps/1/2s – with song and dance routine to the Dingle-Dangle Scarecrow;  comprehension activity through pictures from the story; dress-up and drawing with the kids. Lots of fun!

From Scaredy Crow. Illustrated by the brilliant NZ illustrator, Fraser Williamson

How on earth Cindy managed to get hold of copies of the story in the New Zealand schools’ Junior Journal? Through the back door! Resourceful woman.

My Charlie and the Red Hot Chilli Pepper was the literary theme for the Years 3/4s, and Secrets of Eromanga for the Years 5/6/7s.  It’s amazing how many useful activities and avenues can be gleaned from those two books. 🙂

I’ve had some very positive feedback from everyone concerned. So thank you to the kids from Chinchilla State School, and to the Principal and teachers. Thank you, Helen Bain from Speakers Ink and most of all, thank you, Cindy Grimes. (Cindy even had a little list of other suggestions I could use to increase the value of my presentations for future incursions into schools. How lucky am I?)

Here are some images from my visit.

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SCAREDY CROW flies across the Tasman

Sometimes, it’s the little victories that make it all worthwhile – especially in the world of writing. 

Scaredy Crow's first page

It may not be as heart-stopping as an acceptance for a story you’ve worked on for eight years, or the thrill of pleasure as you flick through your first author copy from the publisher, or even hugs from friends at your book launch. These little victories are the icing on the cake.

I refer to my recently published short story in the New Zealand schools’ Junior Journal #42SCAREDY CROW is one of those stories that popped out of nowhere – don’t ask me where ones like that come from, they just ARE. The main character, Scaredy Crow has a big problem, but he (with the help from three wee mice) tackles it with cleverness and wit. And there’s a twist at the end! Fraser Williamson’s linocut illustrations are perfect for this story – couldn’t imagine anything better.

My particular pleasure at Scaredy Crow‘s publication is that the Junior Journal is sent to every primary school in New Zealand and throughout the Pacific Islands.

New Zealand is a special place to me – I worked there for over twelve months when I was in my twenties and I had a whale of a time. It’s one of the truly beautiful places on this earth, especially  Milford Sound, one of my workplaces. An amazing experience.

Milford Sound, NZ

New Zealand was a place of firsts for me – first time overseas, first time I cast off a boyfriend rather than the other way around, first time I water-skied across a 1680-feet deep fiord under a cobalt sky and faced my fear of sea monsters, the first time I explored real wilderness in the mountains behind the Sound. I learned to swear in five different languages from the resort’s multinational line-up of chefs (yes, they had explosive tempers under pressure), and learned to stand up for myself. Then there was the risky experience with a crazy guy who carried a sawn-off shotgun… no, maybe I won’t tell you about that.

But I also made Kiwi friends along the way so it does have a special place in my heart.

That’s why it’s so cool knowing young students in New Zealand schools are reading or listening to the accompanying CD reading of Scaredy Crow.