This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the one who left the dress.” A 1940s-era dress still hangs in an abandoned house. Who left it and why? You can take any perspective and write in any genre. It can be a ghost story. Or not. Go where the prompt leads!
For this story, I tried to write a little more about Sandy and Angus from my story last week. When I did, I wrote a lot more, well a lot more than 99 words anyway, so I’ve had to pare it back and take away a lot of the backstory. I hope that what remains makes sense on its own, and that you enjoy it.
The One Who Left the Dress
The rotten timbers remained upright thanks to the bushes, branches and vines. Grassy tufts sprouted through decaying floorboards where leaves, animal scats and other detritus littered. The only hint of previous occupants was a wardrobe, miraculously still standing. Sandy gasped as its door fragmented as she opened it. Using her phone’s torch, she peered through cobwebs and dust, hoping for treasure. All she found was a dress, completely in tatters, but still hanging.
“Isn’t this your great grandmother’s — the one in the photo in the hall?”
“Could be.” said Angus. “So what?”
“I wonder why she left it here.”
Thank you for reading, I appreciate your feedback, please share your thoughts.
Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Remote, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.
Book Week is almost upon us. It runs from 20 – 26 August. The theme for Book Week this year is Dreaming with Eyes Open.
The beautiful artwork in the poster for this year was created by author-illustrator Jasmine Seymour. You can hear her speak briefly about the artwork and what the theme means to her in this video in which the theme was announced. I think you’ll agree that the artwork is beautiful.
Book Week is an annual event organised by the Children’s Book Council of Australia and has been held every year since 1945. It is a celebration of Australian children’s books, their authors and illustrators. Celebrations take place in schools and libraries across Australia with displays, story telling and reading, competitions and parades. I think the favourite activity for many is dressing up as storybook characters.
All the books shortlisted for the awards are listed on the website. A ‘read more’ button beside each book takes you to teaching notes, critiques by the judges, reviews and other activities where available.
The books are organised into different categories for the awards:
Book of the Year: Older Readers
Book of the Year: Younger Readers
Book of the Year: Early Childhood
The Picture Book of the Year
Eve Pownall Award (a focus on factual material)
CBCA Award for New Illustrator
We eagerly await the announcement of the winners.
Australian School Library Day
This year, to coincide with Book Week, the first annual Australian School Library Day will held on 24 August 2022 (the Wednesday of Book Week). The purpose of the day is to highlight and celebrate school libraries. What a great combination of celebrations of children’s literature, reading and libraries. The Australian School Library Day (ASLD) website has suggestions of how you can join in the celebration.
The School Library Association of Victoria first developed School Libraries Day as far back as 1994. It was an official day for lobbying for school libraries by targeting principals and politicians. By 1999, School Libraries Day went International and was adopted by the International Association of School Librarianship. It now exists as International School Library Month (ISLM), where each nation is encouraged to select their own day in October to celebrate school libraries. This year’s ISLM theme is Reading for Global Peace and Harmony. How fantastic to see our Aussie school library staff having a global impact!”
You see, I’ve visited remote places, I’ve holidayed in remote places, I’ve even lived in remote places. But none of these were the remote wilderness places that make wonderful settings for the excitement of adrenalin-pumping adventure stories. But maybe they could be if I wanted to set a story there?
Anyway, this is a combination of places I’ve been and teenagers I’ve known. I also tried to throw in a bit about names. I find it amusing when names fit the person’s personality or role in some way. I’ve also been amused (but only slightly) to see so many country boys named Angus (including cousins, so, sorry cus). I guess if Sandy was named after the soil where her mother grew up, then Angus could be named after the cattle his parents breed. I hope it works. See what you think.
The End of the Road
Sandy coughed, gagged, groaned, and complained in the unbearable heat as the car slewed along the track with air-con and windows locked to keep out the dust, failing as miserably as Sandy’s attempts to convince her stupid parents to go home. No phone. No internet. No nothing.Might as well be dead.
“When I was your age, there were no mobile phones or internet. You’ll survive. We did.”
Glass was chosen for an International Year to celebrate its essential role in society.
The National Science Week website has a lot of information for schools, including a free downloadable book of resources produced by the Australian Science Teachers Association. The book contains First Nations activities with links to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures Cross-curriculum priority, and has five different activities for Foundation to Year 2 classrooms:
Sugar glass decorations
Explore with a magnifying glass
Turn a window into a mirror
Make a kaleidoscope
Glass at home
These activities bring fun and meaning to the science curriculum and encourage children to ask their own questions for further investigations.
You can even put in your postcodes to discover what events are being held near you.
Although the video may be too long and at too high a level to show our F – 2 children, it is useful for reminding ourselves of the many amazing properties and uses of glass. There are speeches at the beginning and end of the video which you may wish to listen to. However, I have set the link to begin where the information about glass begins (about 4.15). The information ends at about 22 minutes.
This is where I went — down in aisle 1. I hope you enjoy in.
Mum loves cherries, but are they sweet? She taste-tested. Yes! She tore off a bag and stuffed it with cherries. Further on, she spotted punnets. That would impress Mum more. She grabbed one and ditched the loose cherries.
*Code blue. Code blue. Customer down in fresh produce!*
“You alright, ma’am? Need a hand?”
“I’m alright — this time!” She was as red-faced as the cherries. “But you should keep these floors clean.”
Later, dignity reinstalled, exaggerating injuries, she demanded compensation.
The video told the story — a cherry, yes — a rogue cherry; escaped her unceremonious dumping; only to be splattered underfoot.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
During the month of July, we are urged to go plastic-free, or at least reduce our use of single-use plastics, by the Plastic Free July Foundation with its vision of ridding the world of plastic waste. The website has many suggestions for reducing the plastic you use and waste. There are success stories and many resources to use to keep yourself motivated and encourage others to become involved.
This video gives a brief introduction to Plastic Free July.
In addition to this larger movement, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a young boy with his own inspiring story about what he is doing to reduce plastic waste, including working to have plastic toothbrushes banned. His name is Ned Heaton, and you can hear him talk about his project in this video.
More about Ned
Ned Heaton is a kid on a mission to reduce ocean plastics. At the age of 11 he started his own
bamboo toothbrush business, The Turtle Tribe, which he won awards for, including
Changemaker of the Year in the Be the Change Awards, and Young Entrepreneur Award in
the Youth Business Magazine. Featured on radio and television in Australia and around the
world, Ned is the youngest CEO ever mentioned in CEO Magazine.
This is my response. I hope you like it. I think it speaks for itself, but perhaps you need to know that, although December is the first month of our summer, it can be very hot in November too. Our school year also finishes in December, anywhere from the first week to the week before Christmas. The combination of heat, holidays and Christmas excitement, and anxiety about report cards and next year’s classes, make some days difficult and tiring, even if fun.
What a day! The hottest in a long, hot, relentless summer. And it was only just December. After constant interruptions, distracted children and demanding parents, the pool was too enticing to ignore. And she had it to herself. On the Li-lo, miles away, she was oblivious to the world: the knocking at the door, the squeaky gate and the shush of voices as her location was discovered. A sudden WOOF! and a “One, two, three, jump!” annihilated her peace and upended her into the water. “We didn’t know you were going to swim with us, Grandma. You never do!”
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
Money is one of those things we all need to understand to be able to participate fully in life as we know it. I think it becomes more difficult for children to understand the value of money as we move towards a cashless society, but maybe that’s because I grew up pre-cards of any kind. Now many children only see transactions made with cards or even phones and watches. Many will have no need to enter a physical bank to deposit or withdraw funds or for any other reason. It is all done online. Perhaps learning about coins and notes will one day be relegated to history lessons, but for now I think it is still important for children to learn about them and their value and they still feature in the Curriculum. For this reason, I have made some resources to support your teaching of young children about our Australian coins and their value. (Lessons about notes will be added later.)
Australian coinshelps children learn to recognise, identify and describe the coins according to colour, shape and size, and the identifying icon on the tails side. Additional information is provided about the Australian animals and icons featured on the tails side of each coin. This lesson is ready to teach on the interactive whiteboard.
In the post, Charli mentions how difficult it is to be “a transitional generation … a cutting from one’s roots.” It made me think of my mum, and my dad too I guess, who grew up in the country and moved to the suburbs. Like Charli’s children, and unlike most of my cousins, my mum’s children (me and my siblings) were the first generation to grow up in the suburbs. While few of us returned to the country permanently, I think the love for it remains in our veins and we appreciate opportunities we have of visiting.
Charli says, “If you had a day to spend with an icon of your past what would that be?”
That’s a tough one. I’m probably harsh when I think there’s not much in my childhood I’d like to return to. I can’t think of much that’s an icon. If anything is, perhaps it’s the red cliffs of the peninsula where I spent most of my childhood days. Captain Cook saw the cliffs as he sailed up the east coast of Australia (before it was called Australia). Prior to Europeans calling the area Redcliffe, it was known as Kau-in-Kau-in, which means Blood-Blood (red-like blood) by the Ningy Ningy people, the original inhabitants and custodians of the area.
However, perhaps as I said that the love of country still runs through our veins, I should return to my first six years which were lived on a farm. In my memory, I was the best chicken catcher and probably egg collector. I was also good at spotting snakes. I was probably a bit mischievous and even a little destructive (driven by curiosity as I recall) so a bit of a nuisance at times. Maybe no more than my other siblings though.
One day that stands out in my memory was my third birthday. It may not have been the actual day, but it was close to it.
For my birthday, I received a plastic boat and a knitted rabbit that my mother had spent hours making for me. I don’t remember what happened to the bunny, but I may have operated on it or changed its appearance, as I did with many toys, at some stage. Sadly, however, I do remember what happened to the plastic boat.
Living on a farm, it was not unusual for a fire to be lit to burn “stuff”. I can’t remember what was being burned at the time. I do remember being mesmerised by the flames and wondering what would happen to my boat if I threw it in the fire. (What kind of a child thinks like that?) My curiosity overwhelmed me, and I sought the answer to my question. I saw the flames find my beautiful bright red, blue and yellow boat and turn its colours to black. I watched as the boat became distorted, grotesque even, and shrivelled into almost nothing. My curiosity satisfied; I was happy.
Needless to say, my parents were not. And who could blame them? We didn’t have a lot and they would have gone without something to buy me that boat.
I consider that event to be the day my curiosity died. Further experimentation was discouraged, and at school, questions weren’t encouraged. We were told what was important for us to know. While my parents were very much in favour of education, it was more of the ‘fill the empty cup’ variety than the ‘draw out’ type.
My curiosity remained dormant for many years. (Though it can’t have been entirely so, as I remember changing the hairstyles of various dolls ‘to see what they looked like’ over the years.)
I remember it being reawakened by a plastic helicopter owned by my two-year-old son. No, I didn’t throw it in the fire or destroy it by any other means. I was fascinated by its propellor that moved around in a circle and up and down at the same time. I was desperate to take it apart to see how it worked. I resisted the urge. However, the feelings of curiosity I had so long forgotten came flooding back. I spent a lot of time studying it, attempting to figure out how it worked.
I am now passionate about encouraging curiosity in young children and reassuring young parents that their children’s curiosity is not ‘naughtiness’ but a search for answers and a need to know how things work. If the situation is neither dangerous (nor destructive), there is often no harm in letting them find their own answers to the questions.
I guess if I could go back to that one day, I’d find another way of satisfying my curiosity while avoiding destruction and my parents’ displeasure. They didn’t have and couldn’t afford much, but they bought me a boat. To show my thanks, I destroyed it. You can hardly blame them for being cross. Life was difficult and there was enough heartbreak without a small child’s needless destruction. They were, after all, coming from a place of love and doing the best they could. No one can expect more than that of anyone.
After that long, convoluted path, Charli does say to go where the prompt leads, I must now try to weave those thoughts together into a flash fiction. Let’s see how I go.
The Blue Bunny
By the light of a kerosine lamp, when the day’s chores were done and the house was quiet as the children gave in to sleep, but only after a one-millionth drink of water and a final trip to the outside dunny in the cool night air, she knitted a blue bunny for her third child’s third birthday. A baby slept in the cot beside her, and another stirred within her. It took a basketful of creativity and a pinch of magic to feed the growing brood, but stitched with love, a child’s gift was creativity of a different kind.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
Today it is my pleasure to review a beautiful new picture book Imagine Our Special Place written by Kelly Louise Jarris and illustrated by Sandunika Dissanayake. This post is part of a Books on Tour promotion.
About author Kelly Louise Jarris
As a mother of four boys, Kelly Jarris has been lucky enough to see the diversity in each child, which is how the characters came about for her first book, Wonderful Wishes. Kelly also writes and appreciates stories from life experiences, with her recently released picture book, Imagine Our Special Place. Her sister’s journey with terminal cancer inspired Kelly to write a book that touches on sibling bonds, imagination and feelings of the unknown. The story has been described, “Their imagination takes them out of their reality into other happy places”.
Kelly has a background in veterinary nursing and was once an Australian wildlife rescuer.
Sophie is unwell and has to go to the hospital a lot. This enchanting story is about two sisters that go on a magical journey. It touches on celebrating life and all its precious moments. Imagine being able to bounce off white fluffy clouds, meet the Queen of all the Rainbows and sip tea from a golden cup made from the sun! Sophie has a beautiful imagination.
What I like about Imagine Our Special Place
Many children have siblings who are ill and have to spend time in hospital. Many children are themselves ill and have to spend time in hospital. Illness and hospitals can be cold, scary places. Imagine Our Special Place with its bright, colourful and hope-filled pages lifts us out of the cold reality into the world of imagination where anything is possible.