Category Archives: Creativity

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 In this third episode, they have been replaced by empty cans.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.

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

As floppy as puppy ears

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that uses the idea or phrase, “floppy as puppy ears.” You can be explicit or implicit with your response. What is floppy and why? It doesn’t have to be about dogs at all. Go where the prompt leads!

I’m always pleased that Charli says to ‘Go where the prompt leads!’ because that’s just where I go. It’s especially important to me this week as I have a few other distractions and thought I wouldn’t have time to respond, especially when I don’t know anything about puppy’s ears, let alone floppy ones. Anyway, it made me think of other comparisons, and that’s where I went — some familiar, some silly, some fun, and some special. I hope.

My other distractions will be keeping me away from your blogs for a while, but I’ll be back as soon as I can. See you then!

As floppy as puppy ears

As floppy as puppy ears

As cute as a button

As happy as Larry

As cranky as a hippopotamus

As ripe as a banana

As silly as a sausage on a stick

As weird as a walrus (but don’t tell it I said so)

As tall as a giraffe

As small as a flea

As funny as a giggle

As rude as a fart

As crazy as a top hat on a donkey

As scary as the dark unknown

As awesome as a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis

As amazing as children’s imaginations

And, as wonderful …

As you!

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 One Who Left the Dress, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Dreaming with Eyes Open CBCA BOOK WEEK 2022 – #readilearn

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.

Shortlisted books

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 following information was provided by Students Need School Libraries in their promotional brochure for the day.

“Did you know?

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!”

I agree! I’m sure you do too.

Other great resources

Continue reading: Dreaming with Eyes Open CBCA BOOK WEEK 2022 – readilearn

Someplace Remote #99WordStories

When Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch prompted writers to Write a story that features someplace remote in 99 words (no more, no less). It can be a wild sort of terrain or the distance between people. What is the impact of a remote place? Go where the prompt leads!, I thought it would be easy.

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.”

Don’t punish me for your deprived childhood.

Finally, they arrived. Mum did the introductions.

“Good name for yer,” said the boy, grinning.

“I guess you’re Angus,” Sandy snapped. “Aptly named, too.”

Thank you blog post

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

Change is Coming #99WordStories

When I read Charli’s prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to reflect the theme, “ready for a change.” Who is ready and why? How does the change unfold? What happened to initiate the change? Go where the prompt leads! I immediately thought of this Cat Stevens song.

As a young adult, I loved Cat Stevens’s songs and their messages of hope for better days. As an older adult, I still do. We could certainly do with some changes around the world at the moment.

I was lucky to see Cat Stevens in concert in 1972, which must have been about the same time as this video was recorded. It was amazing. So much wisdom. Sadly, we don’t seem to be any closer to the vision of these lyrics 50 years later.

‘Don’t you feel the day is coming

And it won’t be too soon

When the people of the world

Can all live in one room’

It took me a while to get past the Cat Stevens musical memory lane, but this is where I ended up. I hope you like it.

Change is coming

‘Get up,’ Pauline whispered.

He rubbed his eyes. ‘Why?’

‘Shh! He’s here.’

He trembled. ‘Take Rabbit?’

Out they crept, sliding against the wall to the door. A shout from downstairs. They froze. Pauline turned the knob. Quietly. Quietly. She pushed the door. Gently. Gently. Then cool air. Silent toes pattered down the stairs. Across the grass they ran and ran. All three, hand-in-hand. Pauline in front. Rabbit behind.

Finally, they banged on a door. ‘Grandpa! Grandpa! He’s come.’

Grandpa was in the doorway, ushering them into Grandma’s arms, picking up the phone.

‘Hush,’ said Grandma. ‘Everything will be alright.’

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 Free Pie can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

The Wish Penny #99WordStories

As many of you know, for the past several years, I have been participating in the weekly flash fiction challenges at the Carrot Ranch. The challenges have begun again with a few changes for 2022. I intend to continue responding to the prompts as often as I can. I hope many of you will join in too. Charli Mills, writer-extraordinaire and convener of the challenges, explains the new format in her first prompt post for 2022. Head over there to check out the details if you are interested in joining in future prompts.  

Charli’s prompt for this week was to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the wish I made.” Whose wish is it and how does it fit into the story? What kind of wish? Go where the prompt leads!

You can read all responses to the prompt in the collection at the Carrot Ranch when they are published each Wednesday. This week’s collection will be published next Wednesday 2 February.

For me, the prompt is an interesting coincidence as I’ve been working on a couple of stories about wish fairies (when I should be writing about a sorcerer’s apprentice — just can’t seem to get these prompts right). This story is nothing like the other stories I’m working on but relates to the warning ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Spoiler alert — it doesn’t have a happy ending. I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

The Wish Penny

Patsy was always wishing for something.

I wish I had a smaller nose.

— luxurious curls.

— a rainbow tutu.

And her wishes always came true. After all, she was a wish fairy.

As soon as one wish was fulfilled, she wished another.

I wish I had pearly white teeth.

— dainty feet.

— a diamond tiara.

I wish, I wish, I wish …

One day, Patsy found a shiny, round, brown object on the ground. She examined it, reading the word engraved, ‘Penny’.

I wish I was a Penny rather than a Patsy, she said; and rolled away silently in the dirt.

Okay. Didn’t like that one? What about this one?

The Wish Penny V2

Patsy was always wishing for something.

I wish I had a smaller nose.

— a warm coat.

— a pair of shoes.

But her wishes never came true. Why would they? There’s no such thing as magic.

But she never stopped wishing and hoping.

I wish I had clean clothes.

— something to eat.

— someone to love me.

One day, Patsy found a shiny, round, brown object on the ground. She examined it, reading the word engraved, ‘Penny’. As she rubbed it, she whispered, I wish I had someone to play with. Suddenly, she heard the children calling, ‘Patsy! Come and play!’

Thank you blog post

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

Quoll’s Great Idea by Joanna Tait and Muza Ulasowski — a review – #readilearn

Quoll’s Great Idea is about a Spotted Quoll who has very cold feet in the snow and finds a novel way to overcome this.

Today it is my pleasure to share my review of Quoll’s Great Idea written by Joanna Tait and illustrated by Muza Ulasowski. Muza sent me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

I have always admired Muza’s beautiful artwork and have previously introduced her to you when interviewing her about the beautiful picture book Forest Wonder written by Caroline Tuohey. You can read that interview here.

About author Joanna Tait

Joanna Tait is a medical practitioner, mother of five and grandmother of five with more grandchildren on the way. She has been writing all her life. Quoll’s Great Idea is her first published children’s picture book, with several more currently being illustrated.

About illustrator Muza Ulasowski

Quoll’s Great Idea by Joanna Tait and Muza Ulasowski is a great read allow introducing

Muza Ulasowski established her art studio, Muza Designs, in 2007, set in the leafy western suburb of Brookfield in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The studio is surrounded by a vast array of wildlife who tend to regularly make an appearance in her illustrations.

In 2010, she was invited to illustrate her first children’s picture book and enjoyed it so much, she has been collaborating ever since with Australian and international authors and publishers. To date she has illustrated over 10 published children’s picture books and is currently illustrating several more.

Whilst primarily concentrating on creating digital images for children’s picture books, Muza also specializes in graphic design, designing book covers and book layouts to print ready stage.

She also enjoys creating pencil and charcoal illustrations, acrylic painting, photographing wildlife and creating colourful merchandise from her artwork on her trusty sewing machine.

About Quoll’s Great Idea  — the blurb

Continue reading: Quoll’s Great Idea by Joanna Tait and Muza Ulasowski — a review – readilearn

Stars in the Sand #flashfiction

When I read Charli’s prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week, to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “stars in the sand.” Your story can be any genre (or poem) and can use realism or fantasy. It’s a dreamy prompt. Go where the it leads!, all I could think of was the story about the boy and the starfish. I’m sure you know the one, written by Loren Eiseley.

It’s about a boy who was walking along the beach one day when hundreds of starfish were stranded on the sand and the tide was going out. The starfish would die if left on the sand. The boy picked up the starfish, one by one, and gently threw them into the water. A man walking by asked him what he was doing and suggested he couldn’t make a difference as there were too many starfish. The boy continued to pick up the starfish and throw them back into the ocean. “I made a difference to that one,” he said.

It’s a beautiful story with a wonderful message. What seems like a small act to one, a drop in the ocean, can make an enormous difference to another. We may never know what impact our actions, even a smile, can have on another.

Then there were the beautiful little origami wish stars that Bec and I used to make when she was young. We’d make them in all sorts of colours and fill jars with them (well, one or two at least). I don’t think we ever hid them in the sand, but we could have. What fun it would be to have a treasure hunt in the sand for stars.

This video explains how to make those little wish stars. Maybe you have made some too.

And of course, just like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, stars were always popular in early childhood classrooms to denote good work, good effort or good behaviour, and classes often had a ‘star of the week’ for special recognition and privileges. And at the collage table, glitter and glitter stars were always popular. A little glitter and few stars did wonders to enhance any work of art.

The image in my title is of one such artwork created for me by my granddaughter when she was still in her pre-school days. It is called ‘Starry Night’ and hangs proudly beside a print of the other more famous ‘Starry Night’ in my dining room.

The collage table is where I’ve gone with my response to Charli’s prompt. I had wanted to write about someone with stars in her eyes but feet in the sand but couldn’t quite pull it off. Perhaps it was too autobiographical. I had big plans for what I wanted to write but the sand kept shifting beneath my feet and I couldn’t grab hold of anything. Anyway, this is my response. I hope you like it.

Stars in the Sand

Works of art, created from random pieces of this and that, were incomplete without a generous sprinkling of glitter. When stars were available, the children were in heaven. Though insignificant to others, the works held meaning for the artist, at least for a moment like a particle of glitter passing through a sandglass. Peta watched George painstakingly place his stars. She turned his paper around. “Stars don’t go in the sand, silly. They go in the sky.” George turned it back. “They’re starfish. Starfish go in the sand. Don’t you know anything?” “Oh,” said Peta. “They are beautiful starfish!”

Thank you blog post

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

Saddle Up Saloon; Chattin’ With Norah Colvin

I had a great chat with my fellow Ranch-hand, writer and educator, D. Avery over at the Saddle Up Saloon at the Carrot Ranch. We discussed my favourite topics – children, education and writing. Not your usual saloon fare, eh? A bit dry for Kid and Pal too.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

“Hey Kid. Kinda quiet ‘round the Saloon. Ain’tcha got anythin’ lined up?”

“Nope. But as ya kin see, Pal, there’s a few folks in jist relaxin’ an’ chattin’ over a bev’rage a choice.”

“Yeah, I see thet. Look there, is that Norah Colvin?”

“Yep. Says she’s waitin’ on a buddy a hers.”

“Reckon thet buddy is here. Why it’s—”

“D. Avery? Them two’s buddies? What a they have in common?”

“Well, they both know their way ‘roun’ the Ranch.”

“Reckon, but Norah Colvin’s respectable an’ all, an’ our writer’s so…”

“Jist serve ‘em both Kid an’ leave ‘em be.”

******************************************************************************

Hello Norah! I’m so glad we have a place where we can finally hang out together. But it seems Kid is wondering that we’re buddies.

Hello D.

Buddies! I like that. Buddies is not a term commonly used in Australia, so I think this is the first time I’ve ever…

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