The Rabbit’s Magician by Shae Millward and Andy Fackrell – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book The Rabbit’s Magician, written by Shae Millwood, illustrated by Andy Fackrell and published by Ford Street Publishing. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About the author Shae Millward

Shae Millward is an enthusiastic advocate for literacy. She aims to inspire through a love of books, the joy of reading and writing, and the art of storytelling. Shae enjoys writing picture books, poetry, song lyrics, inspirational quotes, short stories and more. Shae’s other books include A Boy and a Dog and Koalas Like To…

About illustrator Andy Fackrell

Andy Fackrell is one of the most awarded and recognised multi-dimensional creatives in the world. A career in advertising earned him the highest honours, including the Cannes Grand Prix in film for his work for Nike. A true creative nomad, living and working in all continents — Antarctica excepted — he is now a film maker exploring documentaries on social and environmental issues. Andy lives by the beach in Sydney. This is his second book.

About The Rabbit’s Magician

The Rabbit’s Magician is a gentle story of love, loss and comfort for 3 to 8 years olds.

The blurb

Ziggy’s beloved magician has performed an amazing disappearing trick. But just where is The Amazing Albertino? Ziggy waits. And waits some more. Has something gone wrong with the trick?

What I like about The Rabbit’s Magician

I was quite intrigued by the title of this book. We’ve all heard of the magician’s rabbit, right? But a rabbit’s magician — that was a different take. I wondered if it was to be the usual magic tale with the characters in reverse. It was not.

The cover shows a beautiful full moon, that looks as if it is being held up by the rabbit’s ears, and a magician holding up four rings. When we turn to the first story page, the rabbit is gazing at a crescent moon in a deep blue sky. He refuses an invitation to meet new friends because he is waiting. But waiting for what? For the full moon to appear again?

It takes another few invitations and another few phases of the moon before we find out; and that’s only because, when the moon is full in the sky, the owl asks Rabbit why he is waiting and offers to help. Rabbit accepts Owl’s offer.

I think there is a wonderful lesson in that already — if you see someone in need, ask, listen and offer to help.

Ziggy introduces himself and explains that he is the companion of an amazing magician Albertino, Alby, who can change things and make things disappear and reappear.

But now his magician has done a truly astonishing trick, something he has never done before. He has made himself disappear. Ziggy is worried that he may never reappear again.

This is where the real magic of the book begins because wise Owl knows what Ziggy and we don’t. Owl knows that the magician’s last trick was

Continue reading: The Rabbit’s Magician by Shae Millward and Andy Fackrell – readilearn

Mud on the Tires #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about mud on the tires. The tires can be from any conveyance or serve as an analogy. How did they get muddy and why? What impact does mud on the tires have on the story (plot) or characters (motivation)? Go where the prompt leads!

In her post, Charli says ‘I guess this seems similar to balloons on a bumper. It differs, though. Mud is real. Balloons are temporary hopes and dreams susceptible to popping. Mud can stain. Mud can wash away. Mud says, “You’ve been places, Kiddo.”’

For my response, I have continued with my red convertible story with the girls Amy and Lucy playing imaginatively in their back yard with their toys and whatever else is available. (I have included the previous two stories at the end, in case you’d like to read them together.)

In the last episode, the girls had balloons on their bumper as they travelled to celebrate the wedding of their toys Teddy and Ollie. The balloons, as Charli says, were temporary. In this third episode, they have been replaced by empty cans. But the girls and their toys, including the tyres of their red convertible, have been covered with mud. The mud does say that they have been places. It also says they have had fun, used their imaginations and been creative — three things I consider to be very important in life. I hope this mud sticks, not only for them, but for everyone.

A note about tires. In Australia tires means to grow sleepy and tyres refers to the black rubber things on the wheels of a car. Hence the change in spelling.

I hope you enjoy my story.

Mud on the Tyres

After the wedding, Teddy and Ollie scrunched into the back of the little red convertible.

As Amy and Lucy drove them away from the faraway forest, the guests cheered and threw confetti. The empty cans, now replacing balloons on the bumper, clattered across the wooden bridge and scattered gravel along the mountain trail.

At the honeymoon resort, Teddy and Ollie splashed in the pool first, but they were overexcited, and the grounds were soon a mucky muddy mess.  

When Mother called, ‘Dinnertime!’, the girls were mud-spattered, from the hair on their heads to their convertible’s tyres.

‘Coming!’ they replied.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Here are the two previous episodes of this story.

The Little Red Convertible (Episode 1)

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest,” said Lucy.

“Be home in time for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The little red convertible chugged to the peak of the highest mountain where the children danced in clouds. It rolled through misty valleys and onto the plain where the children played hide-and-seek in patchwork fields. It trundled across the wooden bridge over the river that led to the forest where they fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns.

Rumbling bellies told them to head for home.

“Just in time,” said Mother.

Balloons on the Bumper (Episode 2)

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“A party,” said Lucy, tying balloons to the bumper of their little red convertible.

“Whose party?”

“Teddy’s. He’s getting married.”

“I didn’t know he had a girlfriend.”

“He doesn’t. He has a unicorn-friend. Mother said I can marry anyone I want. So, Teddy can too.”

“Right. Which way?”

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest.”

“Be home for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The balloons sailed above the little red car. At the party, the children fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns as Teddy and Ollie shared their vows.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Balloons on a Bumper, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

About Michael Rosen and his Sticky McStickstick – #readilearn

In this post, I share some information about Michael Rosen. I hope you are already aware of Michael Rosen because he is an amazing poet, author, educator and so much more.

If you know nothing else about him, you probably know his award-winning picture book Going on a Bear Hunt with its wonderful illustrations by Helen Oxenbury. This article in the Guardian that tells how he came to write it and Helen to illustrate it is quite fascinating.

Here’s a video of Michael telling Going on a Bear Hunt and some others of his stories.

Or maybe you know of him as a meme.

Perhaps you’ve read the post Storytelling with author Michael Rosen in which I introduce you to Michael and his wonderful story Chocolate Cake.

The story is great fun, perfect for storytelling and a wonderful stimulus for writing. In that post, I suggest some lessons you can build around the story.

Continue reading: About Michael Rosen and his Sticky McStickstick – readilearn

Balloons on the Bumper #99WordStories

Balloons on the Bumper

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about balloons on a bumper. Is it a spectacle, an occasion, an eccentricity? Why are the balloons there? Who is involved? Go where the prompt leads!

The prompt reminded me of an occasion just over twenty years ago, when my sister, niece and I attended a ‘hen’s party’ (terrible term) for my future sister in-law. My niece collected a bunch of helium-filled balloons to take home. She couldn’t squeeze them all into the car, and I drove home with one balloon sailing above us and my sister and niece both in hysterics all the way. Needless to say, they’d both had a few drinks to help the merriment. When we got home, my daughter and nephew, both early teens, decided to inhale the helium, and the hilarity began all over again.

Anyway, I decided to revisit Amy and Lucy and their little red convertible from a few prompts ago. I hope you like it.

Balloons on the Bumper

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“A party,” said Lucy, tying balloons to the bumper of their little red convertible.

“Whose party?”

“Teddy’s. He’s getting married.”

“I didn’t know he had a girlfriend.”

“He doesn’t. He has a unicorn-friend. Mother said I can marry anyone I want. So, Teddy can too.”

“Right. Which way?”

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest.”

“Be home for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The balloons sailed above the little red car. At the party, the children fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns as Teddy and Ollie shared their vows.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Swimmingly, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Inspire Creativity with International Dot Day – #readilearn

September 15-ish is International Dot Day.

The goal of International Dot Day is to inspire people of all ages to embrace the power of personal creativity, to make their mark on the world, making it a better place.

Creativity is important to me. I love being creative. I love inspiring creativity in children, and I acknowledge that it is only through creativity that we can innovate, advance and improve our world. For this reason, I am posting a day early to ensure you all know about International Dot Day in time to celebrate. However, any day is a good day to celebrate and promote creativity.

The Dot — the book

The Dot, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds and published by Walker Books in 2003, tells of an art teacher who encouraged a young artist, who didn’t believe she could, to make her mark on a piece of paper. Although the story features an art teacher, Reynolds dedicated the book to his 7th grade math teacher who, he said, ‘dared me to “make my mark”.’

Like Reynolds, I believe there is a spark of creativity in everyone and that a dot is as good a place as any to start. What I really love about this book, is the way the teacher encourages the student Vashti, who then goes on to encourage others in a similar way. The ripples of a ‘you can do it’ philosophy spread. Who know where they will reach? Hopefully everywhere.

How International Dot Day began

(from the website)

International Dot Day began when Iowa teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Reynolds’ book, and noticed the original publishing date of The Dot was Sept. 15, 2003. Shay and his students decided to celebrate the book’s birthday – and, little did they know, launched what would become a worldwide celebration of creativity and courage to “make your mark.”

“The Dot, is an invitation to students to be creative, and experience a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, said Shay, a public school teacher for over two decades “Every great teacher works for those transformational moments.”

Exploring the themes of creativity, bravery and self-expression, The Dot is a story of a perceptive and caring teacher who reaches a reluctant student who thinks she can’t draw by encouraging her to be brave enough to “just make a mark and see where it takes you.”  The Dot has been translated into many languages (including Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Hebrew, Spanish and even Braille) and the animated film of The Dot (produced by Reynolds’ multimedia design and development firm FableVision Studios and co-producer Scholastic) earned the Carnegie Medal of Excellence.

Continue reading: Inspire Creativity with International Dot Day – Readilearn

Swimmingly #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word, “swimmingly.” which means “smoothly or satisfactorily.” What is the situation? Who is involved? Let the word take you into a story. Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Fun in the Pool

A perfect summer’s day: azure sky with not a hint of cloud, a whispering breeze to kiss away humidity, children’s laughter sparkling like glitter; it was all going swimmingly, until …

Kevin kicked furiously, and …

the tube crashed. Tina tipped heels over head, chipping Chelsea’s chin, as she smacked into the water.

Chelsea fell against Liam, who yelled, “Get off me!” as they splashed down.

The three resurfaced together, and grabbed the tube, catapulting Kevin overhead, arms and legs flailing, into the water.

“Wow!” “That’s fun!” “Do it to me!” “I’m first!”

It was all going swimmingly …

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt the red convertible, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Interview with author Sandhya Parappukkaran – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Sandhya Parappukkaran, author of The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name which is illustrated by Michelle Pereira and is a Bright Light 2021 publication by Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing.

About Sandhya Parappukkaran

Sandhya Parappukkaran left her job as a Food Technologist so she could put her feet up and read. Then she rediscovered her passion for children’s books. She writes stories with themes of ‘embracing your cultural identity’ inspired by her South Indian heritage. Sandhya resides in Brisbane with her husband, three children and a backyard brimming with mango trees, curry leaves and green chillies.

About The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name

No-one should ever have to shrink themselves down to fit in.

When Zimdalamashkermishkada starts a new school, he knows he’s got to do something about his long name.

When no amount of shrinking, folding or crumpling works, he simply settles for Zim — but deep down, it doesn’t feel right.

It’s not until a new friend sees him for who he is that Zimdalamashkermishkada finds the confidence to step boldly into his name.

What I like about The Boy Who Tried to Shrink His Name

This is a beautiful book about culture and identity, about accepting ourselves and respecting others. As the blurb says, ‘No-one should ever have to shrink themselves down to fit in.’ Our names are an essential part of who we are.

In Australia, people often take liberties with the names of others, lengthening some, shortening others or creating a nickname from their parts, often without asking permission. Over the years, many from migrant families have Anglicised their names to make it easier for the English-speaking population to pronounce.

In both a profound and subtle way, through her story, Sandhya Parappukkaran shows us the importance of respect for others and their culture by something as simple, but significant, as learning to pronounce their names correctly.

Even Zimdalamashkermishkada had difficulty pronouncing his name. When his new friend Elly shortened it to Zim, he asked his mother if he could do the same. She explained, ‘We named you after the coconut trees that stretch high and hold up the sky while sheltering all underneath’, and she asked him to ‘Give people a chance to say it right.’

So, he does. As Elly teaches Zimdalamashkermishkada to skateboard, he teaches her to pronounce his name.

Continue reading: Interview with author Sandhya Parappukkaran – readilearn

The Red Convetible #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features a red convertible. Who is driving or riding? Where is the car going? Maybe it isn’t even a car. Have fun and go where the prompt leads!

Royal’s Red Convertible

When I was a child, my uncle, who was probably in his early thirties and single at the time, had a red convertible. His name was Royal (Royal Albert, no less) and I thought he looked like Elvis Presley. He had a great sense of humour, and when he laughed, he did so with his whole body. Whenever he came to visit, we kids would beg him for a ride. He always complied. We felt like royalty as he whizzed us around the block, the wind in our hair, smiling as wide as the Pacific. It was Royal fun!

Charli did say to go where the prompt leads, and how could I write a post about a red convertible without paying respects to my uncle and the only times I got to ride in a red convertible, or any convertible for that matter. Sadly, we lost Royal twenty years ago to melanoma, a terrible disease that takes too many lives here in Queensland.

From memoir to fiction.

The Little Red Convertible V1

Teddy plumped into the driver’s seat. Ollie squished beside.

“Where’re we going, Teddy?”

“Somewhere far away, where the flowers bloom and the birds sing and the sky’s the prettiest blue.”

“How long will it take to get there?”

“Close your eyes and we’ll be there before you know it,” said Teddy.

The little red convertible zoomed past dancing horses and gilded carriages.

“Do you see it?” asked Teddy.

“It’s beautiful!” whispered Ollie, not wanting to break the magic.

When the little red convertible stopped, Ollie asked, “Can we go again?”

“Anytime,” said Teddy. “Just close your eyes and imagine.”

When I was writing that one, I was thinking of a little red car on a carousel. However, I couldn’t find an image to match. I quite liked the image of the two children and the pedal car, so I thought I’d have another go. For this one, I was thinking of playing imaginatively in the backyard or playground. I don’t think either are really what I could call finished, though each is 99 words, as is Royal’s Red Convertible, but I’ve run out of time. Let me know which you prefer.

The Little Red Convertible V2

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest,” said Lucy.

“Be home in time for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The little red convertible chugged to the peak of the highest mountain where the children danced in clouds. It rolled through misty valleys and onto the plain where the children played hide-and-seek in patchwork fields. It trundled across the wooden bridge over the river that led to the forest where they fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns.

Rumbling bellies told them to head for home.

“Just in time,” said Mother.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Let’s celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day 2022 – #readilearn

Next Wednesday 7 September is Indigenous Literacy Day.

Indigenous Literacy Day is a free national event Celebrating Stories, Cultures and Languages.

This year’s digital story will premiere at 10.30 am AEST from The Sydney Opera House.

According to the website, Celebrating Stories, Cultures and Languages is a magical story led by children from remote Milikapiti and Jilkminggan in the Northern Territory. In a 20-minute video, the children are joined by music icon Jessica Mauboy and dynamic performer Gregg Dreise.

(Gregg is also an author and illustrator and I introduced him to you in an interview in 2017. Earlier this year, I included some of his books in a post for National Reconciliation Week.)

Here’s Jessica Mauboy inviting you to join in celebrating Indigenous Literacy Day.

Registrations for the event have been open since 9 August. Have you registered yet? I have. You can book here. If you can’t watch the scheduled event, the story will be available to watch online anytime that suits you.

This video tells of some of the wonderful work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

The website explains that 2022 is the first year of UNESCO’s Decade of Indigenous Languages. It will be interesting to see the extent to which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages can be revitalised and preserved during the next ten years due to the efforts of organisations such as the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and its celebration of Indigenous Literacy Day.

To find out more about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and Indigenous Literacy Day and how you can support this great work, please visit their website: Indigenous Literacy Foundation https://www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au/.

A free booklet of teaching resources can be downloaded here.

Continue reading: Let’s celebrate Indigenous Literacy Day 2022 – Readilearn

Shame #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story exploring shame as an emotion or theme. Consider how to use shame to drive a cause-and-effect story. How does it impact a character? Is there a change? Go where the prompt leads!

Shameful — Conversation Overheard

“Look at that,” one mother tut-tutted. “So shameful.”

“What is?”

“That. I’d be totally ashamed to send my child to school looking like that.”

“That’s a shame.”

“Unfortunately, our children have to mix with the likes of that. Have people no shame?”

“I’m not sure what you mean by the likes of that. Our world is enriched by diversity. The more the better, I say. It’s true some people have no shame. Nor should they. They should be proud of who they are. Except for the likes of you. You’re shameless. Shame on you.”

“Well, I —”

“Never. Obviously.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Floppy as Puppy Ears, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.