Category Archives: Favourite reads

a flash fiction story about a mouse

What’s a mouse got to do with it?

A furry mouse or a magic mouse? Which do you prefer?

This week, Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch got herself a new computer with a new mouse. She thinks it’s a magic mouse. I hope it is.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - mouse

In her excitement, she put out the challenge to writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a mouse. It can be real, imagined, electronic or whiskered. Go where the prompt leads!

Mice feature prominently in stories, poems and songs for children.

Very young children learn the nursery rhymes Hickory Dickory Dock and Three Blind Mice.

Rose Fyleman’s poem about Mice is always popular for children to learn and recite in school.

There is the fable about The Lion and the Mouse, the story of The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse and the more recent The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.

As a child, I enjoyed the song Windmill in Old Amsterdam. Perhaps you remember it too?

But I think my favourite mouse story is that of Possum Magic, the classic picture book by Mem Fox. I’m not referring to the picture book itself, but the story of how it came to be.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

Mem shares some of the goss on her site. You see, Hush started life as an invisible mouse in an assignment Mem produced as part of a course in children’s literature. She was awarded a high distinction for the story and, over the next five years, sent it off to nine different publishers. Each time the story came back.

While Mem found the rejections disheartening, she was encouraged by family and friends who believed in her story. So, she sent it off again, and the tenth publisher asked her to “cut the story by two thirds, re-write it more lyrically, make it even more Australian and change the mice to a cuddly Australian animal. “

Mem did as requested, changed the mice to possums, and so Possum Magic was born. The book was published in 1983 and remains one of the most popular and best-selling picture books in Australia. (While not mentioned on the site, I seem to remember reading that the book had almost 30 rewrites!)

When I first heard this story of Possum Magic, I was younger than Mem was when the book was published. The story inspired me and encouraged me to hope. I loved Mem’s yet attitude (though I didn’t yet know it as that), her belief in her story, persistence in pursuing its publication and willingness to learn from others. Without those marvellous qualities, Possum Magic may never have seen the light of day. It may have languished in the bottom of a drawer somewhere with other forgotten manuscripts.

How many manuscripts do you need to take out, dust off, and send on their way?

Here’s my little story in response to Charli’s challenge this week. I hope you like it.

A Mouse Backfires

“Eek!“ shrieked Granny, toppling back on the chair, arms and legs flailing.

“Thwunk!” Her head struck the wall, silencing the children’s sniggers.

Granny slumped motionless, eyes closed, tongue lolling from her slack jaw.

Barney gaped. “D’ya, d’ya think she’s dead?”

“Don’t be silly,” admonished Eliza, older and wiser. “She couldn’t be. Could she?”

The children tiptoed closer.

“What if she wakes up?”

“What if she doesn’t?”

“I’ll check her pulse,” mouthed Eliza.

Suddenly, Granny jolted upright, eyes staring blankly.

The children gasped.

“Gotcha!” laughed Granny. “But that is a clever mouse.”

“How did you —?”

Granny winked. “Granny knows.”

Thank you blog post

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

 

interview with author Wenda Shurety about her picture book Eva's Imagination

Interview with author Wenda Shurety – Readilearn

This week, it is my pleasure to introduce you to author Wenda Shurety as she discusses her new picture book Eva’s Imagination. I especially enjoy Wenda’s book for its focus on imagination, something I consider very important to encourage in young children. Without imagination, we are unable to see beyond what is and have little chance of progress being made.

About Wenda

Wenda grew up in the beautiful county of Norfolk in England and now resides in Brisbane with her supportive husband, cheeky daughter and two rescue dogs. Wenda loves to write children’s stories with heart; whether it involves diversity, science or the magical world of the imagination.

About Eva’s Imagination

Eva doesn’t know what an imagination is. With the help of her dog Chops, Eva goes on a hunt to find it. Eva’s Imagination is a delightful story about the power of the imagination that aims to inspire young children to find adventure in their surroundings rather than from screens.

Now let’s meet Wenda.

The interview

Continue reading: Interview with author Wenda Shurety – Readilearn

Free books for Christmas by Sally Cronin

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Buy a Book for Christmas – The last author to be (self-promoted) and Free Giveaway – Sally Cronin!

Sally is not only generous in her promotions of other authors’ work, but she is also generous to readers. Until Christmas Eve, she is offering five of her ebooks to readers – FREE! Pop over to Sally’s place for details.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Time for some self-promotion…. but I do come bearing gifts!

Here are a selection of my books that are on Kindle and therefore available on Amazon. I do have print versions but because of Amazon and its interpretation of the Inland Revenue rules on VAT…they are now only sold direct and through bookstores.

I am going to share the books and one of their reviews, and offer five of the E-versions to you as a Christmas gift. I have no expectation of a review, but I write books to be read, and it gives me pleasure to know that someone is intrigued enough to want to accept the book.

The offer runs from today 18th December until Midnight Christmas Eve 2018 wherever you live

I am an independent seller on Amazon so don’t do free versions of the book there. All you need to do is choose your book from…

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Anne Goodwin author of Becoming Someone, an anthology of short stories

You know who you are: Becoming Someone

I am delighted to jump aboard Anne Goodwin’s blog tour promoting her newest book of short stories Becoming Someone. While I don’t usually participate in blog tours, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity as Anne and I have been friends almost since the beginning of my blogging days.

Anne was not the first person I met when I began blogging, but she is the earliest to still be with me on my journey. Interestingly, we met on Twitter where a discussion about singing (or not) led to a blog post and then countless conversations on her blog and mine over the past (almost) five years. I am extremely grateful for her encouragement and support as I discovered who I might become in the blogging world. Even when I’m not so sure*, Anne is always there to give me something to think about.

Back in those early days, just over four years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Anne in London when I was visiting family. Although it was quite a lengthy journey for her (not quite as far as from Australia but it wasn’t a day trip for me), Anne didn’t hesitate to meet up. We met at the British Library and, during the course of the day, Anne revealed a secret – she had secured a contract for her first novel Sugar and Snails. She was already an award-winning and published writer of short stories, but now she could add novelist to her achievements. I was so thrilled to be one of the first to be let into the secret and I told her that I was pleased to have known her before she became famous.

Now Anne’s second novel Underneath is also published and a third (and maybe fourth) is in progress. I had been a fan of Anne’s short stories before either of her novels were published, so am now delighted that she has collected some of her stories together into an anthology Becoming Someone to be launched with a huge Launch Party on Facebook tomorrow 23 November 2018. Everyone is welcome so make sure you drop in to say “Hi” and pick up your copy of her book. (I believe she is offering virtually anything you wish to eat or drink.)

But perhaps I shouldn’t ramble on too long with my memories and instead let Anne introduce herself to you through her official bio.

Anne Goodwin author

Anne Goodwin, author of Becoming Someone, a collection of short stories

Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, was published in 2017. Her short story collection, Becoming Someone, on the theme of identity launches on Facebook on November 23rd, 2018, where the more people participate the more she’ll donate to Book Aid International. A former clinical psychologist, Anne is also a book blogger with a particular interest in fictional therapists.

Alongside her identity as a writer, she’ll admit to being a sociable introvert; recovering psychologist; voracious reader; slug slayer; struggling soprano; and tramper of moors.

Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin

Becoming Someone blurb

cover of Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin

What shapes the way we see ourselves?

An administrator is forced into early retirement; a busy doctor needs a break. A girl discovers her sexuality; an older man explores a new direction for his. An estate agent seeks adventure beyond marriage; a photojournalist retreats from an overwhelming world. A woman reduces her carbon footprint; a woman embarks on a transatlantic affair. A widow refuses to let her past trauma become public property; another marks her husband’s passing in style.

Thought-provoking, playful and poignant, these 42 short stories address identity from different angles, examining the characters’ sense of self at various points in their lives. What does it mean to be a partner, parent, child, sibling, friend? How important is work, culture, race, religion, nationality, class? Does our body, sexuality, gender or age determine who we are?

Is identity a given or can we choose the someone we become?

Becoming Someone published 23rd November, 2018 by Inspired Quill

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-908600-77-6 / 9781908600776

eBook ISBN: 978-1-908600-78-3 / 9781908600783

Amazon author page viewauthor.at/AnneGoodwin

Author page at Inspired Quill publishers http://www.inspired-quill.com/authors/anne-goodwin/

Note: Important Addendum from Anne

If anyone was considering buying a digital version of Becoming Someone, I wanted to alert you to the fact that there’s been a technical hitch with the link to the e-book on Amazon. We hope this will be fixed soon but, in the meantime, it’s available it at the same price through the publishers here:
http://www.inspired-quill.com/product/becoming-someone-kindle-ebook/

Facebook launch in support of Book Aid International https://www.facebook.com/events/285314412085573/

Becoming Someone Facebook launch

Becoming Someone Facebook launch https://www.facebook.com/events/285314412085573/

An online party to celebrate the publication of my first short story anthology, Becoming Someone.

Drop in at your own convenience wherever you are in the world, I’ll be here to entertain you from morning coffee to pre-dinner drinks.

The more actively people participate, the more I’ll donate to Book Aid International.

To find out more about Anne and her books

visit her website: annegoodwin.weebly.com

connect with her on Twitter @Annecdotist

or check out these other posts on her blog tour:

Becoming Someone blog tour

Special Offer

Sugar and Snails special offer

Through November, in celebration of the publication of Becoming Someone, Anne has a special promotion of her debut novel Sugar and Snails.  It is discounted to 99p or equivalent (Kindle version) until the end of the month. viewbook.at/SugarandSnails

Becoming Someone: Teaser

As well as on our own blogs, Anne and I have kept in touch at the Carrot Ranch where we participate in the weekly flash fiction challenges set by Charli Mills. Anne was also kind enough to support me in judging the recent fractured fairy tale contest held as part of the Carrot Ranch Flash  Fiction Rodeo. (Note: The results of that contest will be published at the Carrot Ranch on 7 December.)

Knowing how much I enjoy fractured fairy tales, Anne has kindly allowed me to share an extract from her fractured fairy tale Reflecting Queenie which features in her anthology Becoming Someone. I wonder if you’ll be able to recognise which fairy tale Anne has fractured. If not, then you might just have to read the whole story in her book.😊

Reflecting Queenie teaser for Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin

Reflecting Queenie

Queenie would not have wanted me there, but she could hardly expect Dad to attend her trial alone. So I sat beside him in the public gallery as he held himself as still as his Parkinson’s would permit, while the prosecution ripped her personality apart. It was a straightforward case of jealousy, they said, and only Queenie seemed surprised when the jury returned a guilty verdict.

Up until that point, she’d kept herself aloof, not quite focused on anyone, or anything. Now she raised her head towards the gallery and found me. Her fear and confusion beat against my skin, fighting to penetrate my mind. I stayed firm and let it all bounce back to her, as if I were a bat, and she the ball.

I was not quite three when my mother decided I had special powers. As she told me later, it was the only explanation for the way I seemed to anticipate her every move. She’d be thinking about making an apple pie and before she’d opened her mouth I’d be wrestling the baking bowl out of the cupboard. She’d be wondering how her Gran was getting on and, before she knew it, I’d be pushing a pad of Basildon Bond into her hand.

“How did you know?” she’d ask again and again and, since I hadn’t the words to tell her, she concluded I was telepathic.

I was four when my baby brother fractured our blissful duet. It didn’t matter then if she was thinking about baking or writing a letter, his slightest whimper drew her to him. “What is it?” she crooned. “Are you hungry? Do you want your nappy changing?”

Her sing-song voice embarrassed me. She sounded wrong in the head. As if she were unable to distinguish between a scream of hunger and a summons to clean him up.

Weeks passed before I realised she genuinely couldn’t tell the difference. That her ears received each cry in my brother’s repertoire in an identical way. I realised that if I didn’t call out “He’s hungry” or “He’s lonely” the moment the baby started to grizzle, we’d never have baked any pies or written any letters again.

My mother would look at me in wonder as the baby latched on to her nipple or gurgled in her arms. “How did you know?”

Without a spell at nursery to acclimatise me to other children, school entered my life with a bang. If I’d thought my baby brother was noisy, it was nothing compared to the playground racket. At first I kept to the edge, intimidated by the terrible uniformity of the other children. I leant against the fence and watched, while I worked out how to survive the confusion, how to remember which blonde-haired blue-eyed little girl was Judith and which was Mandy. Which of my classmates liked Smarties and which preferred Fruit Pastilles. Who walked to school and who travelled by bus.

When the first of the children jabbed me on the chest, I was prepared. “What’s my name?” she demanded.

I told her.

She giggled. “How did you know?”

Another sauntered up. “When’s my birthday?”

Again, I told her.

“How did you know?”

After that, I was never alone in the playground. The other children could always find a use for my attentiveness. I’d skip along with a gaggle of girls hanging onto my arms. In the early years I suppose it made them feel secure that someone could tell them who they were. Later, their requirements became more sophisticated. Will I get to star in the Nativity play? Does Pamela really like me or is she pretending so she can play on my bike? I answered as best I could. I took their questions inside me and reported what I felt. You’re not right for Mary but you’ll make a great shepherd. Yes, Pamela likes you but she likes your new bike even more.

Although in demand, I never took my position for granted. There was always the chance that one day I’d say something inconvenient and be pushed back against the fence. When the teacher wrote on my report, Myra is a popular girl, I knew it was provisional. I knew deep down I was no different from the kids who were left to themselves because, when people looked at them, they didn’t like what they saw. So I made sure that when my classmates looked at me all they could see was themselves.

When my report described me as good at art, I knew I’d convinced even the grownups there was no more to me than their own reflection. True, my sketches of my friends were well observed. But when I drew myself I could only manage a black outline, an empty space within.

Becoming Someone Facebook launch

*I was one of ten. When my mother wanted me to do something for her, she would often rattle off half a dozen names before she could think of mine. In fact, she couldn’t always bring my name to mind and would sometimes say, “Well, you know who you are.” It has been a long-standing family joke. But, I’m not sure if she was right. I’m not sure if I know who I am, or whether I just know who I am becoming; hopefully becoming someone who is better each day than the one before. I just know I am going to love Anne’s stories, won’t you?

Thank you blog post

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

Christmas classroom activities that focus on learning

Christmas classroom activities that focus on learning – Readilearn

As Christmas draws near, keeping children focussed on their lessons can be a challenge for teachers. But it’s not impossible. It is not necessary to fill every moment with Christmas themed activities, but a few interspersed throughout the day can be motivating and lift everyone’s spirits. Activities that promote children’s learning should always take precedence over time fillers.

To assist teachers keep the focus on learning while children would rather be thinking of Christmas and holidays, I have prepared a range of lessons and suggestions for use in different subject areas. Many of the lessons and suggestions integrate learning across curriculum areas. All readilearn Christmas themed activities can be found under the Cultural Studies tab in the subcategory Christmas.

Focus on the children

A great place to start is always with the children and their family’s traditions.

Begin with a survey to find out which children in the class do and do not celebrate Christmas. While you will already have an idea of which children do, it can be an interesting way to begin the discussion of different cultural traditions celebrated by children in your class.

The main ingredient in any of these discussions should always be respect, and it is important to find ways of making classroom activities inclusive.

How many school days until Christmas?

Advent Calendars that count down the twenty-five December days until Christmas are great for families to use in the home but not so suitable for school. What about counting down the school days until Christmas? Twenty-five school days would mean starting at least five weeks before school finishes, which might be a bit soon, so choose another number which suits your program. Fifteen (three weeks) could be a good number. (Note: If, for inclusivity, you didn’t wish to count down to Christmas, you could count down to the holidays.)

A countdown calendar

Schedule opportunities for the children to present information about their family traditions as part of the countdown.

Continue reading: Christmas classroom activities that focus on learning – Readilearn

reading the Iron Man by Ted Hughes to spark imagination, inspire writing and motivate making

Reading the Iron Man to spark imagination, inspire writing and motivate making – Readilearn

One of my favourite read-aloud books is The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. The influence of poetry is obvious in this compelling modern fairy tale that begins as it might end.

When I introduce this book to children, I conceal it so they cannot see from which part of it I am reading. I tell them the title of the book and ask them to tell me whether I am reading from the beginning, the middle or the end of the book.

I then read, mostly without interruption though I do explain that ‘brink’ is the very edge, the first two pages that describe the Iron Man and how he stepped off the top of a cliff into nothingness and crashed into pieces on the rocks below.

The children listen in awe, fascinated by the size of the Iron Man, incredulous that he would step off the cliff, mesmerised by the telling of each part breaking off and crashing, bumping, clanging to lie scattered on the rocky beach.

They invariably tell me it is the end of the story. How could it be otherwise? When I tell them it is just the beginning, they are amazed and excitedly discuss how the story might continue. This could lead to writing if the children are keen, but there are other opportunities further into the story.

When this initial discussion has run its course, I go back to the beginning and read it again, stopping to encourage further discussion and to spark the children’s imaginations.

allow their imaginations to contemplate possibilities

Continue reading: Reading the Iron Man to spark imagination, inspire writing and motivate making – Readilearn

interview with Elizabeth Mary Cummings author of The Forever Kid

readilearn: Books on Wednesday — The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Cummings

This week I have great pleasure in introducing Elizabeth Cummings author of The Forever Kid. This post is but one of several celebrating Elizabeth’s beautiful picture book in Romi Sharp’s Books on Tour. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Elizabeth’s work.

About Elizabeth Cummings

Elizabeth Mary Cummings is a British author based in Australia. She writes, advocates for and speaks about storytelling and health matters for families and youth. She is a qualified Primary School teacher and has worked in many schools in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. She is a member of the American Psychology Association and studied psychology and business studies at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland before training to be a Primary School teacher and travelling around the world with her family.

The topics in Elizabeth’s books are of both local and global significance. Elizabeth travels globally to talk about family and mental health matters as well as creative writing.

About The Forever Kid

The Forever Kid, a sensitively written picture book about life after the death of a sibling, is a culmination of four years’ work.  Beautifully illustrated by Cheri Hughes, it is published in Australia by Big Sky Publishing.

Synopsis

It is Johnny’s birthday and, although Johnny is no longer with them, his family gather to celebrate. Johnny’s brother explains to the reader how much Johnny meant to every member of the family and how the family feel closest to him when they remember him on his birthday. The story finishes with the family lying together on the grass telling each other cloud stories, just like they used to with Johnny.

Continue reading: readilearn: Books on Wednesday — The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Cummings