School and Festival Visits


August is a huge month for children’s authors and illustrators. It’s called Children’s Book Week, but really should be renamed Book Month!

Kids’ Authors and illustrators are driving around the country visiting schools and talking up books, enthusing kids with the love of reading.

It’s a necessary part of the job and I do love it.

I remember how nervous I used to be during my first year of school visits twelve years ago. I didn’t ‘see’ my audience even though they were sitting on the floor right in front of me. I was looking inside my head, thinking about what I had to say next.

But gradually over the years I began to see what worked, what didn’t, what entertained, what the kids laughed at, what was embarrassing, what was inspiring, and I changed my talks accordingly.

Now when I visit a school, especially a primary school, I am exhausted by the end of the day but the students give so much of themselves in return that I’m ready to do it all again.

Thank you to all the dedicated teacher librarians who prepare their students for the visit, make wonderful displays of our books and have lovely welcome signs!

Here is a brief run down of the different school and festival sessions I conduct.

1. Years Prep to 2 (45 minutes)  ~ In this session I read my picture book The Race for the Chinese Zodiac, followed by role play activities then a 20 minute drawing workshop of a mythical creature.

2. Grades 3 to 6  (60 minutes) ~ “Imagination, Myth and Magic” ~ In this session I show images and talk about where ideas for stories come from, the writing and editing process, then together we do a drawing workshop of a mythical creature.

3. Years 8 to 10 (60 minutes) ~ This session is for girls. The talk is based on my young adult novel Little Paradise.  I show images and talk about the ideas behind the book, my approach to writing historical fiction and the difficulties involved when the story is a personal one. This is particularly valuable if the students are reading Little Paradise as a class text.

4. Years Prep to Year 10 (minimum 60 minutes) “Wonders of Brush and Ink” Chinese painting workshop. Students learn about the treasures of the Chinese painting studio, brush techniques and complete paintings of their own. As Chinese painting is so spontaneous and quick, each student comes away with a finished work of art that they are proud of.


5. Years 2 to Adult (minimum 60 minutes) ~ “Painting with words. Writing Down Your Imagination” A writing workshop for all ages.

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