Archive for September, 2011

See ya!

Wow – has it been a month already?

It’s the last day of the month, so it must be – but gosh my time as Star Author has really flown by.

This just a quick post, really, to say thanks for having me here, and for reading whatI’ve had to say about me, my books, and reading and writing in general. Although my time here is finished, if you want to keep up with me, you are welcome to drop in to my brand new website Murphing Around. You can also send me questions or reviews to put up on the site.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts. Stay well – and keep reading!


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Get Writing!

Oh dear. My month as Star Author is rapidly drawing to a close. I have really enjoyed spending time, if only virtually, in Christchurch.

As this is one of my last posts, I thought I might stop talking about myself and offer something to you.  If you are reading this, chances are you love reading and/or writing. So I thought you might enjoy some quick writing activities that you can do  to get yourself writing. Grab a pen and paper, and sit yourself down, then choose one of these exercise and just write.

  1. Write a sentence where every word starts with the next letter of the alphabet – a, b, c and so on. (for example A brown cat dropped everything…). Don’t worry if it is silly or even ungrammatical. Just see what comes out.
  2. Write for as long as you can without using the letter ‘e’. Again, don’t worry if it’s a little ungrammatical or silly.
  3. Same as 2, but this time see how long you can write without using the word ‘and’.
  4. Find five random words by opening a book or dictionary and picking the first word you see on five different pages. Or get someone else to give you five random words. Then write a sentence, paragraph or even a story which includes all five words.
  5. Open the book you’re currently reading (you are reading one, aren’t you) at any page, and copy out the first sentence of the second paragraph. Now, close the book and start writing, using that sentence as the first sentence of a completely new piece of writing.

Chances are, none of these exercises will produce an absolute masterpiece. But they will challenge you, might make you laugh, and will help get your creative juices flowing.

Have fun. If you’re brave enough, post one of your efforts here as a comment for the world to see.

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Science Alive at the Library

CoverIf you’ve ever been to Science Alive, you will know that science can be heaps of fun. Now Science Alive is bringing their mad scientist skills to Christchurch City Libraries!

Every day after school, Science Alive is presenting a free, fun programme. You don’t even need to book, just turn up, ready to be amazed, shocked, and possibly grossed out.

Check out our events calendar to find out where and when …

And why not read some books about shocking science

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Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes book trailer

If you’ve read the Clarice Bean books by Lauren Child you’ll know who Ruby Redfort is.  If you haven’t, she’s Clarice Bean’s favourite book character and is an undercover agent and mystery solver.  Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes is the first book in the new series and it looks great.

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 16

It is the final chapter of Bill Nagelkerke’s cool story today.  Please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of the story.  We’d like to thank Bill for very kindly allowing us to publish Cauliflower Ears on the Christchurch Kids Blog.  You’re a legend Bill!

Chapter 16: Three cheers

It was over. The Greens had won the Junior Home World Cup. Our first Grand Final. Our first trophy. We danced. We hugged each other. Then we lined up to receive the Cup.

We shook hands with Junior Home World Cup organisers. Chip held up the cup for everyone to admire and everyone, including some of the Reds, cheered. And we cheered them as well and shook their hands, even Spike and Taggart’s.

‘No hard feelings?’ I said to Spike.

‘Get real,’ said Spike. ‘If it hadn’t been for you . . . ’

‘It’s not fair’ said Taggart, ‘letting girls play rugby. They completely stuff up the game.’

I took no any notice of what Taggart said. Neither did anyone else. So what that I’m a girl? I can play as well as anyone and today I proved that, even though it nearly turned out to be a disaster of a swan song.

There was a celebration afterwards at Mr Marlow’s place. Everyone came: the Green Team; parents; supporters; even Grubber’s dad although he soon dropped into a chair and feel asleep.

I felt hugely happy, and hugely sad, both at the same time.

‘How’d you know we were going to win?’ Sprigs asked Mr Marlow, looking at all the food laid out on the table.

‘I didn’t,’ said Mr Marlow. ‘We’d have had a party regardless. You made it to the Grand Final after all.’

‘But what if we hadn’t made it to the final?’ Sprigs said.

‘We’d still have had a party,’ Mr Marlow said, ‘because the Greens are such a great team.’

He looked at me. ‘And we’d have had a party because Wings is leaving us and we have to give her a fitting send off.’

I started to feel all sniffy.

‘Speech! Speech!’ the Greens yelled.

‘I can’t,’ I said.

‘Yes you can,’ said Dad. ‘You always have plenty to say at home.’

There was silence as everyone waited for me to finish blowing my nose. I took longer than I needed to because I was trying to think of something to say. Trying didn’t work.

The words didn’t fall into my head. So I stopped trying to force them out and I just said what I was feeling.

‘I’m really going to miss you guys. Miss you heaps. All the practice sessions, and all the games. Not being here to defend the Cup next year. But Mr Marlow is right about us. We are a great team and it’s because we’ve got such great players.’

‘And because we had my lucky laces,’ said Sprigs. ‘Don’t forget them.’

‘And because we’ve got Sprigs’ lucky laces.’ I remembered the broken piece was still in my sock so I pulled it out and waved it around my head.

‘Sprigs’ grubby laces,’ said Sprigs’ mum and everyone laughed.

‘It wouldn’t have mattered if we hadn’t won today because we would have given it our best shot and that’s all that matters,’ I said.

‘Liar,’ said Grubber loudly.

‘But true as well,’ said Mr Marlow. ‘Some other team will be lucky to be getting you as a player Wings.’

‘Three cheers for Wings,’ said Chips.

‘No, for all the Greens,’ I said.

So we all shouted our slogan: ‘Three cheers for the Cauliflower Ears!’

And then we got stuck into the feed.

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Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is one of my favourite books because of the way that the story is told.  The ‘creator’ Brian Selznick uses a mixture of words and illustrations to tell the story.  One minute you’re reading the words and the next you’re looking at the amazing illustrations to try and piece the story together. Brian has used the same storytelling technique in his new book, Wonderstruck.

Wonderstruck is the story of two children, set fifty years apart.  Ben’s story is told using words and is set in 1977 and Rose’s story is told completely in pictures and is set in 1927.  Ben has never known his father, but when he discovers some clues in his mother’s bedroom to who his father is, Ben sets out on a journey to discover the truth.  Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook and Brian’s illustrations reveal her own journey. 

Wonderstruck is an absolutely amazing book!  I love the idea of telling two different stories in two different ways.  When I was reading Ben’s story I could see the images in my head, but when I was ‘reading’ Rose’s story I was putting each of the images together to figure out her story.  The book looks huge but I read it all in one go because over half the book is made up of Brian’s stunning illustrations.  He only uses pencils, but he creates some unbelievable effects.  When you look at the faces of the characters you can see exactly what they are feeling, whether it is excitement, anger or sadness.  One of the pages is just someone pointing their finger and you know exactly what it means.  Reading Rose’s story is like watching a silent movie because you have to work out what is happening yourself.  Wonderstruck is one of those books that leave you smiling and you’ll want to read it again and again, just to enjoy Brian’s illustrations.

Recommended for 9+    10 out of 10

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 15

Chapter 15: Try

What’s happened?

The whistle’s happened, that’s what. The ref has blown his whistle and it’s all over, the game’s finished. We’ve lost. I’ve lost.

Grubber and Chip and Danny and all the others have crowded around me. Mr Marlow is suddenly there, too, helping me to my feet.

‘I’m sorry guys,’ I said, ‘I just couldn’t make it.’

I didn’t even try blaming the tackle, or suggesting it was another one of the Red’s fouls. No, it was all down to me.

‘It was all down to you,’ Mr Marlow said.

I hung my head in shame.

‘The chips were down and you did it,’ said Chip, using his favourite joke.

Finally I looked up. I knew I’d have to face them sometime.

Everyone was smiling. There were no frowns or scowls. Grubber was hopping up and down like he needed to go to the toilet, but this time it was a dance of joy.

‘Did what?’ I asked.

‘You got the ball over the line without letting go of it, even when you were brought down,’ says another voice. It’s Dad, and Mum’s there too. ‘You got a try right smack between the posts.’

Grubber’s dad has come onto the field as well, and right now he doesn’t look like a man who’s been at work for the past nine hours, and has spent most of the morning chewing his fingernails worrying about Grubber ending up in Accident and Emergency.

Sprigs has hobbled over with his mum because his ankle’s sore and bruised from that tackle.

‘Knew that lace would do the trick,’ he said.

‘You mean I did it?’ I said, still not believing it.

‘Course you did,’ said Chips. ‘You got five points for the Greens. And you don’t even have to convert the try. We’ve won!’

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Books I Have Loved

So far in my month as Star Author I’ve talked a lot about myself and my books. So, for something different I thought today I might look at some other people’s books.  I was lucky growing up that I lived in a house where reading was valued and where there were always good books. I got lots of books for birthdays and Christmases, and no trip to Perth was complete without a visit to the multi-storeyed Angus & Robertson bookshop.  I still have some of the books I loved way back then, and others I have tracked down again in recent years.  Amazingly, most of my old favourites are still in print. Anyway, here (in no particular order) is a list of some of the books I loved when I was in primary school:

  1. The Borrowers, by Mary Norton. The idea of family of tiny people who lived, rather like mice, in the walls of a house, tickled my fancy. The borrowers ‘borrow’ things from humans to survive, but often live in peril of being caught by the humans, or their cats. It isn’t always easy being small.

2. The Wombles, by Elizabeth Beresford. Funnily, another favourite was also about collectors. The Wombles were funny furry animals, a bit like a cross between hedgehogs and mice who lived underneath Wimbledon Common in England, and collected anything humans left behind, from food to clothing, to umbrellas and even furniture. They all had wonderful names chosen from a world globe – names like Orinoco and Uncle Bulgaria. This was made into a television series which I was also pretty fond of.

3.     Mandy, by Julie Andrews. This one was the first book I remember reading that made me wish I had written it – and, in fact, I did write my own story which was very similar when I was about 7. Mandy was an orphan who nobody wanted to adopt and so she was stuck in an orphanage. But over the fence  of the orphanage she discovers an abandoned cottage in some woods, and sets about creating a home for herself  to escape to.

4.  The Secret Seven, by Enid Blyton. Not as famous as the Famous Five, this was a series of books about a group of kids who get together and solve mysteries. For some reason I preferred these to the Famous Five, even though I loved those too. Later, I also loved the Trixie Belden books and Nancy Drew too. The idea of kids getting out and solving mysteries really appealed to me. I still love mysteries.

5.    Shadrach, by Meindert Dejohng .  I am really excited about this one because I have been trying to remember the name of this book and track it down for years and only this morning I managed to locate it.  My memory of this is vague – I know it is about a boy who desperately wants a pet rabbit, which he gets and names Shadrach – and then it escapes. I also remember it being sad enough to make me cry, which books rarely did when I was a kid (though do all the tie now – I’ve turned into a softie). I can’t wait to reread it now that I’ve found and ordered a copy.

These are only a few of the many books I loved when I was a kid. Some I’ve forgotten the names of, others I remember loving but don’t remember what they were about.  I’d love to hear which books you love – and whether you’ve read any of these ones!

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Brian Selznick talks about his new book, Wonderstruck

If you’ve read The Invention of Hugo Cabret you know how amazing Brian Selznick is.  Wonderstruck is his new book, which has just been released, and it’s also told partly in words and partly in pictures. I read it all in one go yesterday and can’t wait to tell you all about it.

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Talk Like a Pirate Day – Monday 19 September

Want to know the perfect way to annoy your parents or your brother or sister? Celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day today.  You can dress up like a pirate and talk like one all day long.   Here are some fun websites to help you celebrate:

  • Pirate Translator – You can put in a few words, a sentence or even a whole website and this website will translate it all into pirate speak.  Try translating the Kids Blog into pirate speak – it’s totally awesome!
  • Pirate Glossary – learn heaps of pirate words so that you can talk like a pirate all day long.

You can also find heaps of books on pirates in the library:

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The Flytrap Snaps by Johanna Knox

Spencer Fogle is an ordinary kid who lives in the extraordinary town of Filmington.  His hometown used to be called Flemington, until film and TV crews discovered its range of landscapes, from fiery volcanoes to snowy mountains and lush rainforests, and took over the town.  The town’s richest resident, Jimmy Jangle, controls most of the business within Filmington and holds alot of people’s futures in his hands.  When Spencer is walking home from school one day, he hears blood-curdling screams coming from one of the science labs and goes to investigate.  Spencer uncovers a dark plot involving carnivorous plants, genetically modified flies and a mysterious, hidden file.  However, Jimmy Jangle and his thugs are willing to do anything to keep the truth covered up.

The Flytrap Snaps is the first book in The Fly Papers series, by New Zealand author Johanna Knox and illustrator, Sabrina Malcolm.  It’s a quirky story with action, mystery and plenty of laughs.  I love the idea of Filmington, with it’s different companies set up for the movie and television industry.  There’s the science labs that create experiments to be used in films, catering companies to supply food and drink for the film and TV crews, and the BodySlam Stunt Wrestling Club where they train stunt people for the movies.  I really liked Spencer because he’s just an ordinary kid who has to deal with an extraordinary situation.  I can’t wait to read the second book to find out what Spencer, Dion and Tora get up to next, and to solve the mystery of The Fly Papers.

Recommended for 9+    8 out of 10

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 14

Chapter 14: Last try

The Reds got another try. The score shot from twelve-seven to seventeen-seven. Luckily for us they missed the conversion. The margin was bad enough as it was, we couldn’t afford for it to go any higher.

Then we managed to get a second try: Grubber managed to get another one. I saw him sneak a look over to where his dad was standing and I’m pretty sure I saw his dad clapping and cheering along with the other Green supporters.

Seventeen – twelve.

But the try was a corner and when Chips gave me the nod I didn’t think anyone would expect me to convert the ball from that hard angle. So no one, not even I, was surprised when I didn’t even though I’d been hoping like mad that I’d be able to make up for my earlier disaster.

There were only fifteen minutes left to play. The Reds, who we thought had been rough and tough enough, got even rougher and tougher. We were run down each time we made a break with the ball. They tackled from the side, from behind, from out in front. Grubber’s dad would be having kittens just watching. And we stayed a man down. Poor Sprigs wasn’t able to return to the field. All we could do was hunker down in defence and try our hardest to stop the Reds sprinting over the try line.

Then, unbelievably, the ref awarded us a second penalty. Taggart, back from the sin bin, was called offside.

This time Chip took the kick himself. I’d had my two chances. This time the ball went where it was supposed to, between the posts.

‘That was a really easy shot,’ Sprigs whispered to me, hoping to make me feel better. It did, but not much.

Seventeen – fifteen.

Only five minutes left to go and it didn’t look as if we’d have another chance to score before the whistle blew. Then it really hit me. If it hadn’t been for me missing the earlier penalty, we’d have been ahead.

I couldn’t help it. My mind drifted. Maybe they’re all glad I’m leaving, I started to tell myself. Maybe they’ve just been waiting for the day when I played my last game with the Greens. Maybe because I’m . . .

‘Wings,’ yells Chips. ‘Wake up!’

What’s happening?

I suddenly snap awake. The Greens have possession!

The ball’s being unloaded as we sprint down the field, the Reds on our tails.

Chip passes to Danny.

Danny passes to Grubber.

Grubber passes to me.

It’s a perfect break, a class formation. We sweep across the field like a bird’s wing.

‘Go for it Wings!’ Grubber yells.

And I do. I’m the winger. I have wings so I can fly. I can reach the try line. I can beat the odds, make up for my earlier failures.

But can I? Really?

No, I can’t. There are too many players marking me.

But I have to try. Give it better than my best. One hundred percent plus, and then some.

So I swerve and swing, duck and dive, skim out of their way.

Where’s everyone else?

I’ve ended up in mid-field, too fast for the other Greens to be in support.

Now the goalposts are right in front of me, so close, but Taggart is looming, Spike’s on my heels. I’ll never make it to put the ball down.

‘Drop kick!’ I hear a yell.

It’s Sprigs’ voice coming from the bench, screaming at me what to do.

But I can’t kick. I’ve proved that twice already in this game. I’m a useless, no-hoper kicker.

And I’m too close too the bar.

And then I fall flat on my face as I’m tackled from behind.

And I can’t bear to look up to see what I’ve done.


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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 13

Chapter 13: Swan song?

I put the kicking tee into place and set up the ball. I looked from the ball to the goal posts and back to the ball. It seemed an easy shot. At least for Sprigs it might have been an easy shot. But for me it was another story altogether.

Boy, was I nervous. I was so nervous, I was sweating. I heard Mr Marlow’s voice in my head. ‘Attitude’s everything. If you think you can do it, you can. Steady. Focus. Imagine the ball flying high. Imagine putting the ball right where you want it to be.’

I tried my best to follow Mr Marlow’s advice but my kicking foot felt stiff and tight in my boot.

Even if I got this one, I realised, we’d still be behind by two points.

I started my run.

I stopped.

Deep breath.

I started again.

I stopped.

Another deep breath.

While the Greens stood silent and anxious around me, the Reds whistled and booed and laughed until the ref had to blow his whistle. ‘Keep quiet,’ he said.

Spike spat on the ground.

I couldn’t do it.

I had to do it.

One last run up.

Kick, and the ball flies.

It goes high. The Greens almost stop breathing and so do I. And the ball goes just wide of the post!

So close. But being so close means nothing. I missed it. I missed what would have been an easy shot for old Sprigs. I can’t believe it, but I have to. I missed.

On the sideline the Red Brigade cheers. The Greenies, on the other hand, look as if they’re going to cry into their scarves.

Suddenly I get the very bad, very deep-sinking feeling that I’ve lost the Greens the Grand Final, and that maybe Spike was half right. The Greens aren’t the losers, I am.

What a swan song. What a way to go out!

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 12

Chapter 12: Loser

We, the Greens, looked at each other. We’d almost forgotten the foul tackle. Who was going to take the penalty? Sprigs was our star goal kicker but he’d been carted off the field.

‘You give it a go Wings,’ said Chip.

‘Me!’ I cried. ‘Why me?’

‘We all know that none of us are a patch on Sprigs,’ said Chip, ‘but at least you’re fast and accurate, and good with your feet. That’s what Mr Marlow always says.’

‘That’s when I’m running! I’m a winger.’

‘Well, don’t start sounding like a whinger,’ said Chip impatiently. ‘Greens can be anything they want to be, that’s a key part of our game plan, remember?’

I remembered. I also remembered Dad praising me this morning for always giving my best. One hundred precent plus,’ he’d said.

‘Just give it your best shot,’ said Chip, as if he’d read my mind.

Everyone looked at me. Hopeful. Expectant. They didn’t want me to let them down.

‘All right,’ I said. ‘I’ll try.’

‘Good one,’ said Chip, and they all punched me on the arm for luck. Ouch!

There was another commotion from the sideline.

‘What now?’ said the ref.

A hand waving, holding something that looked like a piece of string. It was Sprigs.

‘What’s that boy want?’ said the ref.

‘Just get on with the game,’ said Spike.

‘Go check it out,’ the ref told Chip.

Chip ran over to the bench and came back a few seconds later with a piece of one of Sprigs’ shoelaces in his hands.

‘He had it stuffed inside his sock,’ said Chip, shaking his head.

‘It must be Sprig’s lucky lace, the one that broke,’ said Grubber.

‘What am I supposed to do with it?’ I asked.

‘Stuff it into your sock,’ said Chips. ‘Sprigs wants you to have it, for luck he said.’

‘Luck,’ I thought to myself. ‘I’ll need more than that. I’ll need a miracle.’ But I took the grubby lace and put it inside my sock.

‘Thanks,’ I called out to Sprigs.

‘What a bunch of losers,’ I heard Spike mutter.

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Jimmy Kahuna sings for Christchurch

In this video, Jimmy Kahuna sings a wee song of hope and resilience a year on from the start of the Christchurch earthquakes.

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Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy

If you’re a huge fan of Skulduggery Pleasant like me, you’ve been waiting a whole year to find out what happens next to Skulduggery Pleasant and his side-kick Valkyrie Cain.  We were left wondering whether Valkyrie’s dark side would show her head and there was a feeling of impending doom.  Death Bringer doesn’t disappoint and there are plenty of thrill, chills and surprises to keep you on your toes.

Even before I started the story, Derek’s dedication made me crack up so I knew this book was going to be great.  The story starts with you meeting Melancholia St. Clair, a young Necromancer who Craven has chosen to be the Death Bringer.  Who and what the Death Bringer is is revealed throughout the book.  We’re reunited with Skulduggery and Valkyrie when they question a reporter who has been trying to dig up information about some strange disappearances that have occurred recently.  It appears someone is trying to cover up the truth about the Death Bringer and The Passage, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie are determined to get to the bottom of it.  When they discover the truth they must do anything they can to capture Melancholia and stop The Passage.

Death Bringer is a huge book with so much packed into it and I didn’t want it to end.  Skulduggery and Valkyrie face some terrible truths in this book and the line between good and evil is blurred.  You discover more about Skulduggery’s past and get inside Valkyrie’s head.  Because we’re getting close to the end of the series (only 3 more books to go), the story is getting darker and there’s less focus on some of the minor characters.  There’s still plenty of Derek Landy’s humour shining through though and a couple of parts had me laughing out loud, especially this part when Skulduggery meets a family travelling through Roarhaven.

“Ah,” Skulduggery said, “yes.  Very rude man, that shopkeeper.  All’s well, though?  No harm done? Excellent.”  He crouched at the car window and looked in.  “What a lovely family you have.  What a charming family.  They’re all lovely.  Except for that one.”  His finger jabbed the glass.  “That one’s a bit ugly.”

One of my favourite parts has to be the fight between Fletcher and Caelan.  It’s shows you exactly what Derek thinks of Twilight and some of the insults they throw at each other are classic.  Some of my favourite characters are back too, including Vaurien Scapegrace, the decomposing vampire and his follower, Thrasher.  There are also some great new character names including Dexter Vex, Melancholia St Clair and Oblivious.  If you’re a fan of Skulduggery Pleasant make sure you reserve your copy of Death Bringer at the library now, or if you haven’t read any of the series make sure you get your hands on the first Skulduggery Pleasant book.   Recommended for 9+      10 out of 10

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 11

Chapter 11: Play on

It took Grubber’s dad only a few seconds to reach us, but it seemed like minutes, hours even.

‘I saw what happened,’ he said.

‘It’s been dealt with,’ said the ref. ‘Sprigs is going to be OK.’

Grubber’s dad shook his head. ‘That was just luck,’ he said. ‘It could have been much worse. I don’t want my boy to get hurt.’

‘Dad . . .’ said Grubber.

‘I’ve seen too many rugby injuries in my line of work,’ said Grubber’s dad. He looked at Grubber. ‘Why don’t you call it quits?’

It was hard to tell if Grubber was looking sick with shame, or sick with fear that his dad would actually force him out of the match. On the other side of the field the Reds were watching, wondering what was going on. They edged in closer to find out.

Mr Marlow arrived on the scene.

‘You’re holding up the game,’ said the ref to Grubber’s dad.

‘I hope you’ll let Grubber stay on,’ said Mr Marlow, calm as always. ‘We’re already a man down now.’

‘And how many more will get carted off before the game finishes?’ asked Grubber’s dad. ‘With rough players like them.’ He looked over at the Reds, who were only a few metres away from us now.

Before Mr Marlow could reply, Grubber spoke up.

‘I’m not going,’ he said. ‘I love rugby and I’m going to finish this game.’

‘Please Mr Foley,’ I added. ‘We can’t do without Grubber. Look at the way he got that first try for us. This game is way too important for us.’

Grubber’s dad looked at me, at Mr Marlow, at the ref, at the rest of the Green team.

‘It was a good try,’ he said, reluctantly. ‘I have to admit that. OK, I won’t interfere. Just take care, and play fair.’

He said that last bit loudly enough for the Reds to hear, before he walked back to the sideline. We all breathed great sighs of relief.

‘Penalty shot,’ said the ref.

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Getting Published

Yesterday I drove up to Mundaring, a little community just outside of Perth, where my friend, artist Frane Lessac, and I spoke to a group of people about how to get published. It was a really fun session, with Frane and me each sharing our journey to publication and then talking about the dos and don’ts of getting published.

When I sat down to blog today I thought it might interest YOU to know just how a book gets published. So, here goes.

First, long before a book is something  I can hold in my hands or tell the whole world about or even read, it is just an idea. My ideas come from all over the place – from things I see, things that have happened to me, things I read about, or silly ideas which just come to me.

When I get an idea and decide to write about it, the next thing I do is plan my story. Usually the plan happens in my head – I spend a lot of time thinking about who my main character will be, and what will happen to him/her, and I work out what the main conflict or problem will be, and how it will be resolved at the end.

Once I have a pretty fair idea of what is going to happen in my new story, I write the first draft. This might take only minutes, if it is a picture book or short piece, or days and months if it is longer, but I do try to get the whole  first draft written as quickly as possible before I get distracted by the next big idea.

Once that first draft is written, I put it away. I don’t reread it it, or share it with anyone for as long as I can stand. This creates distance between me and the story, and means that  when I get it back out a month or more later, I am able to see what needs to be fixed – as well as what works, of course. Then I rewrite and edit and rewrite and edit and tinker until the story is as perfect as I can make it. Sometimes this takes many many months, or even years until I am happy with a story.

But, eventually  my story is ready to submit and I send it off to a publisher. Sometimes, the story comes back to me with a letter saying it won’t be published (there are lots of reasons for this) but other times, thankfully, I get a phonecall or email from the publisher to say they will publish my book.

That’s when the hard works starts, because no matter how good I thought the story was when I submitted it, now I have to work with an editor to make it even better.  And sometimes this can take a lot of phonecalls, emails and, of course, writing sessions. – which can take months.

When the text is finalised, the  publisher chooses an illustrator, who then works on the illustration in consultation with the editor. I don’t tell the illustrator what to draw or how to draw it, though I do get shown initial sketches and have the opportunity to provide feedback.

When the illustrations are finished (which can again take months and months or oven years) , the publisher puts words and pictures together and the book is finally ready to be printed.

Then, at least a year after I had that first idea – but usually two or more years – the postman brings me a parcel, with copies of the new book for me to enjoy, and copies of the book are then available in bookstores and libraries for people to read.

It’s a long process –  Head Hog took six years to finally be published – but when I hold a new book in my hands for the first time I always feel  really proud.

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 10

Chapter 10: Injury

‘It was a fair throw!’ I said, wondering what had happened.

The ref nodded. ‘Agreed,’ he said. ‘But a foul tackle.’

At first I didn’t know what he meant, so I looked to where he was pointing. Poor Sprigs lay on the ground, one leg twisted under him.

Taggart stood beside him, grinning, but sly and dangerous looking as well.

‘Legal tackle,’ he said.

The ref shook his head. ‘The ball had left Sprigs’ hands,’ he said.

‘Hadn’t,’ said Taggart.

‘Had too,’ hissed Sprigs from below.

‘You OK?’ I asked him.

‘Just twisted my ankle I reckon,’ said Sprigs.

The medics helped Sprigs off the field.

‘I’ll be OK,’ Sprigs said. ‘Good thing it’s not you being carted off,’ he told Grubber. ‘Your old man would’ve had a fit.’

Grubber looked anxiously towards the sidelines. ‘What’re we going to do now? We’re a man down.’

Sprigs glared at Taggart. ‘I’ll be back,’ he said.

‘Not likely,’ said Taggart.

Taggart was still grinning, but not for long.

‘Sin bin,’ the ref said to him.

‘Wha . . .’

‘Don’t argue. I’ll talk to you later.’

‘Not fair,’ said Taggart.

But, even so, he couldn’t stop smirking. He knew what he’d done. He’d taken out our best kicker.

‘Oh no,’ said Grubber suddenly.

‘What?’ I asked.

‘Look,’ said Grubber.

I looked. We all did. Striding towards us was Grubber’s dad.

‘He’s going to tell me to get off the field,’ said Grubber. ‘I just know he is.’

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Fouled

The Reds scored another try in the first half but missed the conversion, so the half time score was twelve to seven. We were feeling pretty down, even though Mr Marlow was pleased enough with us.

‘You’ve had a lot of ball possession,’ he said. ‘You’re doing good. With the wind behind you, you’ll play even better.’

We’d have to play lots better if we were going to win.

The Reds kicked off the second half. Spike’s best friend, Taggart, the Red’s loosehead prop, got to the ball first. He kicked it forward before Chip had a chance to tackle him. Sprigs managed to grab hold of the ball – he’d scrubbed his hands during the half-time break – and now it was our turn to run with it.

Sprigs had a good head start. It looked as if Mr Marlow was right. We might be the first to score points in this half.

Then the Reds bunched up and swooped down on Sprigs from all sides. Their heavy forward pack was one of the most dangerous in the Junior Home World Cup. If Sprigs had had eyes in the back of his head, man, he’d have been dead scared right then. Grubber might have wet himself if he’d been the one holding the ball!

Taggart was angry that his kick hadn’t worked out the way he’d planned it. It was obvious that he was after Sprigs, big time.

I was the closest Green to Sprigs.

‘To me!’ I yelled.

Sprigs already had it sussed. He passed me the ball from mid-field. It was the prefect pass, great height, angled back just enough, and my hands reached out to grab it, sweet as, and I ran with it.

Then the ref blew his whistle and the ball went dead.

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