Tag Archives: imagination

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 In this third episode, they have been replaced by empty cans.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

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

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.

Imagine Our Special Place by Kelly Louise Jarris — #readilearn

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.

Visit Kelly at her website: Kelly Louise Jarris Books | Australian Children’s Book Author (kljbooks.com)

About Imagine Our Special Place

The Blurb

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.

Continue reading: Imagine Our Special Place by Kelly Louise Jarris — readilearn

Welcome to our new Children’s Laureate – #readilearn

This week the Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation announced our new Children’s Laureate for 2022-2023, Gabrielle Wang.

Gabrielle Wang is an Australian author and illustrator and our seventh Children’s Laureate. She was born in Melbourne of Chinese heritage. Her father is from Shanghai. Her maternal great grandfather came to Victoria during the Gold Rush.

Gabrielle has been an author for 21 years and has had 20 books published. She mainly writes for 8-12 year olds, but has written for older and younger children too. Her stories are a blend of Chinese and Western culture with a touch of fantasy.

You can find out more about Gabrielle on her own or the Australian Children’s Laureate’s website where Gabrielle has her own page.

Be inspired by Gabrielle’s journey in a video that can be viewed following this link.

The theme for Gabrielle’s term as Children’s Laureate is ‘Imagine a Story’.

She says,

“Your imagination is your most treasured possession and I want to encourage all children to use their imaginations regularly by reading, drawing and writing stories.”

What a wonderful theme.

In her two year ‘Follow the Dragon’ tour of Australia, visiting and conducting workshops in schools, galleries and libraries, Gabrielle has four key messages for children, parents and librarians:

Continue reading: Welcome to our new Children’s Laureate – readilearn

Introducing Belly Button Fluff by Dave Atze – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Dave Atze and his hilariously delightful new picture book Belly Button Fluff which he both wrote and illustrated.  The book is published by Big Sky Publishing. This post is part of a Books On Tour promotion.

About Dave Atze

Dave Atze illustrates amazing books for kids that sell all over the world, including Cat Spies Mouse, the Max Booth series, the Nursery Crimes series and books about a kangaroo from Uluru! During his time as an illustrator, he has worked for some amazing clients. Some of which include Scholastic, Moose Toys, Zuru Toys, Natures Organics, Ford St Publishing, Redgum Book Club, Big Sky Publishing, EB Games and Silver Sun Pictures.

When he’s not busy drawing up a storm you can find Dave spending time with his wife Ashleigh and daughter Ella, watching movies, running, renovating and taking photos out in the wild.

About Belly Button Fluff

A super-cute, icky adventure brimming with curiosity and fun.

Scarlett Von Scruff is a little girl who loves to collect weird stuff. Now she’s discovered something fluffy, soft and a little bit smelly in Dad’s belly button and she wants to find more.

No belly is safe as Scarlett goes on a fun-filled fluff gathering adventure.

So, kick off your shoes and lay on the couch, let’s have a look in your tummy pouch.

What I like about Belly Button Fluff

Continue reading: Introducing Belly Button Fluff by Dave Atze – readilearn

The Feather #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features feathers. It can be a single feather or more. Where did the feather come from? Does it hold meaning to the character or story? Go where the prompt leads!

I don’t know if you ever did this when you were young, but I and my siblings and/or friends used to. We would attach meaning or significance to otherwise insignificant events or occurrences, such as seeing images in the clouds or finding a coin or ‘special’ shell or rock in the sand or on the path. Anything could intrigue and we would create stories to explain why we were the chosen ones for the particular find or revelation. I guess it was a way of giving rein to our imaginations and, perhaps, an attempt to make our ordinary lives seem extraordinary. I guess most children do this in the land of dress-ups and make-believe.

This is where Charli’s prompt took me this time. I hope you enjoy it.

The Feather

‘It’s not just a feather. It’s the feather.’

Which feather?’

‘The one from the beach that day.’

‘Which day?’

‘Remember when we went to the beach and there was a flock of birds that looked like they were having a conference but when they saw us they flew away and one dropped a feather that landed on top of our castle. We knew it was a sign, they were telling us something.’

‘That’s just silly childish stuff.’

‘It was a sign. The birds need our help. The bulldozers have arrived. They will destroy the habitat. We must stop them!’

Thank you blog post

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

The Importance of Daydreaming and Imagination — a Guest Post by #Josh Langley – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Australian author and illustrator Josh Langley who advocates for children’s mental health, including developing their self-esteem, friendship skills and creativity through his books and online course. These topics are close to my heart and regularly appear in our readilearn posts and feature in our teaching resources.

With next Wednesday 21 April being World Creativity and Innovation Day, I thought now was the perfect time to share with you Josh’s recent post Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Let Kids Daydream.

First let me tell you a little about Josh.

About Josh:

Josh is author of the award winning ‘Being You is Enough’ books series for kids and promotes positive mental and emotional health messages for kids through his books, presentations, primary school talks, videos, charity work and courses, like ‘Here I am!’.

Josh says,

After suffering childhood trauma, I feel driven to make sure kids don’t ever have to feel like I did. That’s why I want to give them the emotional and mental skills to be resilient to what is thrown at them and the inner knowing that they are ok the way they are. And the only way I can do that is in my own fun and unique way! Thankfully parents and kids love it.”

About Josh’s Books

Continue reading: The Importance of Daydreaming and Imagination — a Guest Post by #Josh Langley – readilearn

With a Little Help from my Friends flash fiction

With a Little Help from My Friends #flashfiction

The focus of my life has always been on children’s learning and development, whether at home as a parent or in the classroom as a teacher. I believe in the importance of play, curiosity and fun.

Now that my own children are grown and I am no longer in the classroom, my focus remains on children as I prepare lessons that focus on learning and support teachers teaching for my website readilearn and write stories in the hope they will be published in the future as picture books.

In the meantime, I enjoy writing 99 words in response to the weekly flash fiction prompts at the Carrot Ranch. Not always, but often, my stories reflect my focus on children as they play, develop and learn.

Last week, when writers were challenged by Charli Mills to write about dressing up, I combined it with a playful ‘dare’ from D. Avery at Shift and Shake that she would do anything I would. In response, I had D. and me dressing up appropriately to ride a zipline from the US to Australia, just like a couple of preschoolers dressing up and having fun in their imaginations.

This week Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that rephrases “light at the end of the tunnel.” Think of how the cliche replacement communicates a hopeful ending and aligns with your character or story. Go where the prompt leads!

I thought this prompt provided the perfect opportunity for a sequel to Norah and D.’s zipline story, especially as Charli said she’d like to come too. For that to happen, they had to go back and accompany her. (Please think of them as children in the playground, just coincidentally with names of writers you know.) Some suggested the zipline would be too dangerous for children, but it couldn’t be used to return north because ziplines work with gravity. (That’s a down under joke.)

I hope you enjoy this sequel and see its underlying message about the importance of the support and encouragement we receive from friends.

With a Little Help from My Friends

“Whatcha doing?”

“Digging.”

“Can I help?”

“Sure.”

The two girls dug side by side. Then D. broke the silence, “What’re we digging?”

“A tunnel.”

“Why?”

“Charli wants to come down too. We can’t use the zipline anymore. Anyways, going through a tunnel’s quicker’n going round.”

“Looks jes like a hole to me.”

“Tunnels always start as holes.”

They continued digging. The pile of dirt grew higher as the hole got deeper.

“Look. We can stand in it now,” said Norah.

“How will we know when we get there?”

“Easy. Charli’s waiting, holding a light to show us the way.”

Thank you blog post

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