Tag Archives: Stories

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!”

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Seeds of Generosity #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? Think of generosity as planting a future outcome. Go where the prompt leads!

As for many other qualities and values, I think the seeds of generosity are sown in early childhood. The rewards are reaped throughout life, both for the giver and the recipients of the generosity.

I expected it to be easy to write a story about generosity. However, as with every other prompt, it was a battle to find an idea that wanted to work. When I finally found one and wrote it down, it was over 300 words!

I don’t think I’ve ever written that many words when composing flash before. It’s usually only about 150 words I have to whittle down.

Writing flash fiction is like writing a picture book manuscript. You tell just the bare bones and leave the rest up to the illustrator. However, with flash fiction, there is no illustrator.

Slowly, through six revisions, I condensed the story to 99 words. I hope it still makes sense and that you can paint in the gaps.

The Racing Car

Jamie was spending his birthday money—a rose for Mum, gum for Dad, balloons for Baby and a racing car for himself.

Mr Green counted Jamie’s coins. “You’ve only enough for three.”

Jamie pushed the car aside. “These three, please.”

As Jamie left, Mr Green called, “Wait!” He held out the racing car. Jamie beamed.

Nearly home, Jamie saw a little boy crouched beside a drain. A car, just like Jamie’s, lay far below.

“Foolish boy,” said the mother. “I warned you.” She dragged the howling boy away.

“Wait,” called Jamie, holding out his racing car. The boy beamed.

Thank you blog post

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Take Flight #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write an escape. It can be daring or subtle. Who is escaping from what and why? Go where the prompt leads!

One of my favourite times of year as a teacher was springtime when we had a butterfly house in the classroom and watched the tiny caterpillars strip the plants of their leaves as they grew bigger and bigger on their journey to becoming butterflies. It was an almost magical experience to watch the caterpillars pupate and then, days later, emerge from their chrysalises as butterflies. I never tired of watching it and I was lucky to see it year after year while the children only got to see it when they were with me. (Though many came back to visit in following years, still mesmerised by the process.)

I am fascinated by metamorphosis. I view it as a hopeful process and consider it an analogy for our own ability to make change in our lives. It is also often used as an analogy for a transition that may occur, according to one’s belief, after death.

I often wonder what life must be like for the caterpillar, what occurs during metamorphosis, and the delight that must be felt when emerging as a butterfly. I have written many previous posts and flash fictions featuring butterflies but, as I said, I never tire of it. I hope you don’t either. Here’s my response to Charli’s prompt.

Take Flight

One day followed another — everyone in uniform, head down, following unwritten rules known by heart. Only Olive questioned, “Why?” She longed for adventure. Blue skies whispered promises on gentle breezes that rustled leaves and tantalised with sweet exotic perfumes. Her tastebuds rebelled. She couldn’t, wouldn’t, take another bite. She crawled into a shell and hoped to sleep for ever. Kaleidoscopic dreams flitted in a mash of memories and futuristic movie scenes. What was real and what imagined? She awoke renewed, seeing the world as if from other eyes. She unfurled her wings and flew to kiss the welcoming skies.

Thank you blog post

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A Story Reading for Easter – Readilearn

Easter Delivery is a story about Bilby twins Benny and Belinda who are excited to be old enough to make their first Easter delivery on their own. Before they are allowed to go out, they must prove to Mother and Father Bilby that they are capable of following instructions and delivering just the right number of Easter eggs for each family.

This video provides a brief introduction to the story.

The story encourages children to join in helping Benny and Belinda work out the number of Easter eggs required for each family and choosing which boxes or packs of eggs to leave. It is most suited for use on an interactive whiteboard with a small group or class of children, or on a computer with one or two children.

It can also be used interactively with children if teaching over Zoom as explained in this video.

In this next video, I read the story for you and your children to enjoy.

Continue reading: A Story Reading for Easter – Readilearn

A place for everyone

A Place for Everyone #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features Lemon Queens. Maybe it’s an ancient fairy tale or a modern brand name. What ideas seep into your imagination? Is there a character or place involved? Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch - Lemon Queens

I thought it would be easy to write about sunflowers but, alas, I struggled. I finally came up with this story with the theme of diversity, acceptance, belonging and a place for everyone. I hope you like it.

A place for everyone

Rose prickled and turned away from the newcomer. “You can’t blow in here on a breeze expecting to be welcomed,” she whispered to a neighbour.

Sweet Pea belied her name, ignoring the stranger and trailing away to mix with others of her own kind.

Even cousin Marigold wasn’t hospitable, fearing he might spoil their whole bunch.

He didn’t tempt rejection by the glamourous golden Queen outstanding in the field.

Instead, he sailed right by and alighted far from cultivation where his lowly origins wouldn’t raise a brow.

“Look! A dandelion! Do you like butter or cheese? Let’s play!”

 

While many consider dandelions a weed, they actually have many positive uses.

Children love blowing their seeds around and, as the video below shows, physicists learn a lot from studying them.

When I was a child, we used to hold dandelion flowers beneath our chins to decide whether we liked butter or cheese. A lighter refection would indicate a preference for butter. A darker reflection would indicate a fondness for cheese. I don’t think our readings were particularly scientific, but we were always pretty confident of our interpretations.

I was also interested to discover that dandelions, sunflowers, marigolds, lettuce, artichokes and others all belong to the daisy family. Now I’m wishing I did my research first rather than leaving it until the last minute.

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Who's in charge flash fiction

Who’s in charge? #Flashfiction

Carrot Ranch - in charge flash fiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story in which a character takes charge. Who is this character, and what situation calls for their action? It can be playful or serious, fantastical, or realistic. Go where the prompt leads!

While not really about a character taking charge, as Charli suggested, my thoughts went to the stampede that occurred in supermarkets across the globe earlier this month, and I wondered who had initiated it and how they had achieved such a dramatic result. It seemed to me that it was more suited to an April Fools’ Day joke (that’s tomorrow, folks) than a serious event organised by the March Hare. Not that I would approve of such a joke.

I remember being warned in the early seventies (way back last century) about the use of subliminal messaging in cinema advertising. I never liked the idea that someone could be trying to control my thoughts and actions with subliminal messages. Now, of course, we have social media. There’s nothing subliminal about that and the effect is more immediate and more widespread.

The toilet paper stampede occurred because of a fictional shortage which then became a reality because people were buying in bulk and hoarding it, meaning there was none for anyone else. People seemed to be doing it because everyone else was doing it, regardless of the reassurances we were being given that there was, and never would be, a toilet paper shortage.

This, in turn, reminded me of the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. It has been one of my favourite stories since childhood. I could never understand why people would join in admiring the emperor’s clothes when they must have been able to see that he wasn’t wearing any. However, the very clever trickster weavers pulled the perfect April Fools’ Day joke by telling everyone that only the clever could see the clothes. Who would dare to admit their lack of cleverness? I was always pleased that it was the children who were brave and honest and spoke up to denounce the scoundrels.

So, with April Fools’ Day on 1 April and Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday on 2 April, it seems the perfect time to think about who might be in charge. This is my story. I hope you like it.

Charge!

As if a starting gun had been fired, the children scattered, looking in grass, under rocks, in branches of trees.

“What’re you doing?” asked the playground supervisor.

“There’s eggs, Miss. Easter eggs — millions of ‘em. Enough for everyone.”

“How many’ve you found?”

“None yet. Gotta keep lookin’.”

After a while, the searching slowed. “How many’ve you got?”

They showed empty pockets and empty hands.

The supervisor said, “Who said there were eggs?”

They shrugged.

When the punishment was handed down, the instigators explained, “It was just an experiment to see how many’d be sucked in. We meant no harm.”

You’ll be as pleased to know as I am, that Google has cancelled April Fools’ Day jokes for 2020 and that the coronavirus is deemed unsuitable for April Fools’ pranks. I thought that would go without saying.

I want you to know that this is not a joke: I may join in these challenges only intermittently for the next few months due to work commitments. I may also not get to visit your blogs as often as I would like but know that I will get there as often as I can. Stay well and happy and keep your distance from that awful virus.

Thank you blog post

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

The Library Cat Flash fiction

The Library Cat #Flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a library cat named Rainbow who escapes. Use this situation to write what happens next. Where does this e=situation take place, and who else might be involved? Go where the prompt leads!

I haven’t joined in the prompts recently for a variety of reasons — other priorities mainly. However, I couldn’t resist this one about libraries and stories — two things of which I am very fond.

I think a cat, especially a rainbow cat, would make a wonderful addition to any library, especially one packed with great children’s literature. I can just imagine the children reading while the cat devours every word.

Of course, I had libraries, books, stories and children in mind as I wrote my story in verse —aimed at a younger audience, of course. I hope you enjoy it, nonetheless.

 

The Library Cat

The library cat is fatter than fat.

She sits by the door on the welcome mat.

She greets the readers as they come in —

Nods her head with a welcome grin.

 

Sometimes she’s in. Sometimes she’s out.

She’s especially quiet when a reader’s about.

She sits so still you can see her purr

When the reader strokes her rainbow fur.

 

She’s heard every story there is to be told.

Even the classics never grow old.

But read her stories of adventures rare

She twitches her whiskers, “I’ve been there.

No need of a cape. Reading books is my escape.”

Thank you blog post

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Getting ready for National Simultaneous Storytime

Are you ready for National Simultaneous Storytime? – readilearn

It’s time to celebrate National Simultaneous Storytime. Held every year since 2001 and organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) encourages everyone in Australia to read the same picture book at the same time.

This year’s event takes place next

Wednesday 22 May at 11 am AEST.

The picture book to be read is

Alpacas with Maracas by Matt Cosgrove.

As outlined on the website, the purpose of the event is to:

  • promote the value of reading and literacy,
  • promote the value and fun of books,
  • promote an Australian writer and publisher,
  • promote storytime activities in public libraries and communities around the country,
  • and provide opportunities to involve parents, grandparents, the media and others to participate in and enjoy the occasion.

Participating in such an event will help children to see themselves as part of a larger community of readers and understand that reading is not something confined to their classroom but enjoyed by others everywhere.

Everyone can participate — libraries, schools, childcare centres, bookshops families, grandparents, individuals.

Registration for NSS is free and, if you register prior to Monday 20 May, you will receive downloadable material to support your event, including a free downloadable PDF version of the book to use during your NSS event.

Free teaching ideas

In addition to all the great teaching ideas available on the NSS website, other teaching ideas and resources are available from

Continue reading: Are you ready for National Simultaneous Storytime? – readilearn

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

picture books make great Christmas gifts

Wrapping up a year of books — 2018 – Readilearn

Wrap up a book for a gift that gives more

Reading and books combine to form one of life’s greatest pleasures and one of life’s best avenues for advancement and empowerment.

Giving books gifts much more than simply the words on the page. We may never know just what joy, wisdom or inspiration a reader receives when gifted a book; and, of course, the love of reading is one of the most valuable gifts a parent or teacher can give a child.

the love of reading is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child

Throughout the year, I have been privileged with the opportunity of interviewing many talented authors and illustrators about their picture books. However, these books are but a few of the wonderful picture books that are available for children to read.

Books, books, books

Last December, I presented you with a list of books by authors and illustrators I’d interviewed throughout 2017. In this post, I present a list of books by authors and illustrators I interviewed this year. I hope you will find the list useful when choosing books to gift your young readers. Be sure to read back over last year’s list for additional suggestions.

As with last year’s list, for each author or illustrator I interviewed, I include links to

  • the interview on the blog
  • the interview in the Author or Illustrator Spotlight
  • the creative’s website
  • a place where the book may be purchased.

Continue reading: Wrapping up a year of books — 2018 – Readilearn