Category Archives: Favourite reads

Interview with Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern author of Charlie's Adventures in South Africa

readilearn: Books on Wednesday — Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

This week I have great pleasure in introducing Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern author of Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa. This post is but one of several celebrating Jacqueline’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 Jacqueline’s work.

About Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern is a Canberra based author and the recipient of the ACT Writers Centre 2017 Anne Edgeworth Fellowship. Her debut picture book, Charlie’s Adventures…in Hawaii, was shortlisted for the 2017 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards and chosen as a finalist in the 2017 American Best Book Awards. Her second book in the Charlie’s Adventure series, Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa, was recently released. At the heart of Jacqueline’s books are an appreciation of travel and the uniqueness of culture. She endeavours to encourage her readers to learn more about the world, supporting an empathetic and inclusive community.

About Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa

Charlie is off on the second of his adventures with his family … to South Africa! With his friends, Charlie is set on a discovery of different clues to uncover South Africa’s Rainbow Nation. Join Charlie and his family on their adventures across the world.

The interview

Welcome to readilearn, Jacqueline.

Thanks for inviting me.

Jacqueline, what gave you the idea for this book?

Continue reading: readilearn: Books on Wednesday — Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

introducing-robbie-cheadle-author-and-illustrator-of-the-sir-chocolate-book-series

readilearn: Introducing Robbie Cheadle author and illustrator of the Sir Chocolate Book series

This week I have great pleasure in introducing you to Robbie Cheadle author and illustrator of the Sir Chocolate Book series.

What most appeals to me about the Sir Chocolate Books is Robbie’s amazing fondant illustrations. I am also impressed that her twelve-year-old son Michael co-authors the books with her, and has been since he was ten. Perhaps your children will also find this aspect interesting.

About the books

Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet live in Chocolate Land where everything can be eaten. In each story, told in rhyme, Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet have a new adventure or problem to solve. Robbie also includes recipes from the story in each book.

To date, there are five books in the Sir Chocolate Book series.

About Robbie

Robbie Cheadle was born in London. Her father died when she was three months old, and she and her mother emigrated to South Africa where they lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town. While growing up, Robbie attended fourteen different schools. This gave her many opportunities to develop social skills and meet new people as she was often “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and writes in that field about equities and investments in South Africa.

While Michael co-authors the books with her, Robbie’s other son Gregory (aged 14) assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books. The books are very much a family affair.

For other books written by Robbie, see the end of the blog post.

The interview

Welcome to readilearn, Robbie.

Thank you for inviting me.

 Robbie, the number of books in the Sir Chocolate book series is continually growing with five books now available. What gave you the idea for this series?

Continue reading: readilearn: Introducing Robbie Cheadle author and illustrator of the Sir Chocolate Book series

Interview with Sonia Bestulic author of Reece Give Me Some Peace

readilearn: Introducing Sonia Bestulic author of Reece Give Me Some Peace

This week I have great pleasure in introducing you to Sonia Bestulic author of Reece, Give Me Some Peace. While interviews with authors and illustrators have featured regularly on the readilearn blog, this interview marks a new collaboration with Romi Sharp and the team from Books on Tour. This post is but one of several celebrating the launch of Sonia’s beautiful picture book. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Sonia’s work.

About Sonia Bestulic

Sonia grew up in Sydney Australia enjoying a childhood filled with wonderful books, a passion for writing and music entwined. She played the violin until her late teens, including performances at the Sydney Opera House. Sonia is Founder of Talking Heads Speech Pathology established in Sydney in 2006. A long-term advocate for children’s learning and literacy, Sonia continues to write and speak about all things children.

About Reece Give Me Some Peace

Reece Give Me Some Peace is a fun-loving book about the wonderful world of music and noisy play. Reece is a very cheeky and curious boy who loves making noise. His mother’s requests for him to be quieter only seem to make him louder. As his exuberance grows, so does his mother’s exasperation. Will she ever get any peace?

The simple rhythmic text combined with delightful illustrations by Nancy Bevington reminds us of the power of learning through play and exploration. Children will love to join in making the sounds and adults will identify with the challenge of being able to enjoy some quiet.

Now, let’s meet Sonia.

The interview

Hello, Sonia. Welcome to readilearn.

Thank you for inviting me.

Sonia, today we will discuss your beautiful new picture book Reece, Give Me Some Peace, but first, can you tell us what inspired you to be a writer?

Continue reading: readilearn: Introducing Sonia Bestulic author of Reece Give Me Some Peace

Rainforest Rescue by Karen Tyrrell

Books on Wednesday — Rainforest Rescue by Karen Tyrrell – Readilearn

A review of Rainforest Rescue the third in the Song Bird series of empowering junior fiction books by author Karen Tyrrell.

This week, I want to let you know about Rainforest Rescue, newly released and third junior fiction novel in the Song Bird series of empowering books for young people, by Karen Tyrrell.

I have previously interviewed Karen about the other books in her Song Bird series, Song Bird Superhero and The Battle of Bug World so wanted to let you know that the third is now available.

Song Bird, Tree Man, and Wonder Girl

I was delighted to attend the recent launch of Rainforest Rescue. Song Bird (Karen) and Tree Man (Karen’s husband and co-author, Steve) wowed their audience that included other superheroes as well as mere mortals like me.

Since the launch, Karen and Steve have been busy visiting schools and making bookshop appearances as part of Book Week Celebrations. If you would like a visit from Karen with one of her empowering presentations or pantomimes, you can contact her on her website here, or connect with her on social media — Twitter:  @Karen_Tyrrell. FB: @KarenTyrrellAuthor.

Visit Karen’s website for free teacher resources, a special offer for Australian readers, and information about purchasing Rainforest Rescue elsewhere.

This is my review of Rainforest Rescue, which you can read on Amazon here.

Rainforest Rescue is the third book in the Song Bird series by Karen Tyrrell and the best yet.

Continue reading: Books on Wednesday — Rainforest Rescue by Karen Tyrrell – Readilearn

Interview with Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World's Worst Pirate by Michelle Worthington

readilearn: Introducing Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate

This week I have enormous pleasure in introducing you to Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate, written by Michelle Worthington.

The World’s Worst Pirate is a captivating book about being true to yourself and unleashing your inner strengths.

Story Synopsis

One might wonder why Will, the world’s worst pirate, would want to be a pirate anyway. The truth is, he didn’t. There wasn’t much at all he liked about being at sea. He was happiest in the galley cooking cupcakes. The ship’s captain, his mother, on the other hand, couldn’t understand why he didn’t love being a pirate as much as she did. When the ship is attacked by a terrifying sea monster, no one could have predicted the outcome. Katrin Dreiling’s illustrations are a perfect fit or Michelle Worthington’s story. They add humour, delight, and a sub-plot of their own.

The Illustrator

The World’s Worst Pirate, published by Little Pink Dog Books in 2017, is Katrin’s first picture book. In 2018 the book received the CBCA Notable Book award, a wonderful achievement, especially for a first book. Prior to becoming an illustrator in Australia, Katrin studied languages in Germany to become a teacher. She loves to come up with quirky creations that inspire children to get creative themselves. Katrin’s second book, also written by Michelle and published by Little Pink Dog Books, will launch in September this year.  Katrin also enjoys writing for children and regularly teaches art classes in Newfarm, Brisbane.

The Interview

Welcome to readilearn, Katrin.

Thank you for inviting me.

Katrin, The World’s Worst Pirate was listed as a Notable Picture Book in the CBCA 2018 Book of the Year awards. Congratulations. Since it is your very first published picture book, that must have been very special. How did it make you feel?

Continue reading: readilearn: Introducing Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate

flash fiction story about peering from the bushes

Peering from the bushes

Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox

One of the multitude of my favourite picture books is Hattie and the Fox, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Patricia Mullins.

I am allowed a multitude of favourites, aren’t I?

Like children, it’s too hard to choose just one. I don’t mean just biological children, I mean the children I teach. They all become ‘my’ children the moment they enter my classroom and remain that way forevermore. How could I choose a favourite?

Hattie and the Fox is a fun story for reading aloud. The children love to join in, especially with the dialogue, and even enjoy acting it out. The cumulative and repetitive features of the story, along with the rhythmic text, support beginning readers who beg to read the story again and again.

While my daughter never liked it when I ‘put on voices’ to read, the children in my class did. Somehow they didn’t think it was me putting on voices. They became involved in the story and thought it was the characters speaking. I used to smile to myself when they’d say things like, “That cow, she’s so funny.” And mimic my reading. Although I am no Mem Fox (you can listen to her read the story here), they enjoyed it anyway.

In the story, Hattie the hen announces that she can see a nose in the bushes. The other animals show little interest. Even when Hattie announces that she can see two eyes, two legs, a body, four legs and a tail, they are not concerned. Only when she realises and announces that it’s a fox peering from the bushes, do the others respond.

Peering from the woods, Charli Mills flash fiction Carrot Ranch

I couldn’t help but think of Hattie and the eyes peering at her from the bushes when Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes  an act of “peering from the woods.” Go where the prompt leads.

We don’t have “the woods” in Australia. We have “the bush”. There could be any number of things peering at us from the bushes such as possums, koalas, kangaroos, drop bears, bunyips, or a great variety of birds. Most are fairly harmless. It was deer peering from the woods in Charli’s story.

While deer are not native to Australia, some were imported for hunting and farming purposes. Many of those escaped to freedom. Some roam the suburbs destroying vegetation and creating hazards for unsuspecting motorists. We’ve occasionally come across a group of them in the middle of the road when we come home late at night. At Christmas time the road signs warning of deer are decorated with tinsel and red pompom noses to add to the festive mood.

two flash fiction pieces about yellow tents

Last week, in response to Charli’s ‘yellow tent’ prompt, I attempted a romantic story which was rather well received. I decided to continue the story. You may remember that a reluctant camper, unable to find any further excuses, finally agreed to join her boyfriend. When she arrived, the campsite was deserted except for one yellow tent lit by solar fairy lights spelling the words, “Marry me,” and her fears melted. But should she have dropped her guard?

Surprise!

She parked her car beside his and grabbed her bag. As she locked the car, she looked around. Where was he? He said he’d be watching for her. Cicadas buzzed louder than her footsteps crunched the gravel. A bird startled as it squawked and flapped overhead. Where was he? He must know she’d arrived. Even with the fairy lights, it was darker than she liked.  Peering from the bushes, he willed her to be brave, to open the tent, to find what he’d made for her. Finally, tentatively, she pushed aside the flap. Her screams silenced the night chorus.

Is that what he expected? What do you think was in the tent? Why was he peering from the bushes? What happens now?

Thank you blog post

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

how much of history is fiction, is fiction simply history that might have been

Fiction: History that might have been

I have just listened to When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin D. Yalom and was intrigued by the thought that fiction, perhaps more so historical fiction about real characters, tells a story that might have been, of situations that are equally as plausible as the real events. The only difference is, they didn’t happen. The author explains how the events he wrote about, a fictional meeting between the doctor Josef Breuer and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, could almost have happened, were but a hair’s breadth away from happening.

(Note: The book was a recommendation by author Anne Goodwin. Read her review here.)

I often wonder about coincidences, those chance events and meetings that influence our futures, those things that may not have occurred had we been even one second earlier or one second later. It can be fun to contemplate the possibilities of our current situation had an alternate major decision been made. But what of the little events that slip by us every moment. How could a difference in any one fraction of time change our lives?

Memoirist Irene Waters asked a related question in her article Life is a Memoir: What is Fiction? shared at the Carrot Ranch a few weeks ago. Irene begins by saying that Truth is considered fundamental in writing memoir” but then tells us that memory is not exact, and that it is “a construct and will vary at different times and places”. She asks, As our remembering creates our identity, then, is our self a fiction?”

Knowing that each witness or participant may tell a different version of an event adds layers to that question. Which versions are fact and which are fiction? Are all enhanced with the fiction of our own perspectives?

Any teacher of young children, or perhaps anyone involved in jury duty, or any viewer of news stories knows, there can be many alternate histories of an event. Deciding where most truth lies can be the difficult part.

“He did it.”

“She started it.”

“It’s mine.”

“He punched me first.”

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Fannie Hooe

When Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Fannie Hooe. Although she is a legend in the Kewenaw, feel free to go where the prompt leads, I wondered what I could possibly write. I know nothing of the Keweenaw or of Fannie Hooe.

However, in her post, Charli explains that much of what is known about Fannie Hooe is from snippets of things “They say”, alternate histories perhaps, with either some or little resemblance to the “truth”.

Charli wrote, “legend has it, Fannie was a little girl, perhaps the daughter of an officer, who went missing. As they circled the lake they called, “Fannie…! Fannie, hooe! They say, they never found her body.”

Further in her article, Charli goes on to say, “Two historians … knew a great deal about the real Fannie. She was from Virginia and came as a single woman to Fort Wilkins to help her pregnant sister. She was not a girl, but a young lady. They say she went missing, mauled by a bear or murdered by a spurned lover.

Truth is, she returned to Virginia, married and lived a long life.”

This disparity between truth and fiction reminded me of a television program from years ago. As I recall it: three contestants professed to be the person described by the host. Each presented information about “themselves” to panellists whose role it was to judge who was telling the truth. The real person had to be truthful but the imposters could lie. After votes had been cast the ‘real’ person was asked to stand up.

This is my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you enjoy it.

Truth or Fiction: Will the Real Fannie Hooe Please Stand Up

Contestant 1: I am Fannie Hooe. My pregnant sister was an excuse to escape my abusive husband. After the baby’s birth, I ‘disappeared’, started a new life in Canada, and never remarried.

Contestant 2: I am Fannie Hooe. While visiting my sister, I was abducted by miners and forced to be their slave. When I escaped, I was so disfigured, I wanted no one to see.

Contestant 3: I am Fannie Hooe. I was pregnant, unmarried, and begged my sister to hide me. She refused and banished me. I started a new life in Virginia as a widowed mother.

Thank you blog post

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