My life as a children's author while juggling being a mum, a wife and professional volunteer. (Sometimes it gets complicated)

Monday, 24 October 2016

Author and Illustrator Book Tour - Hunter Valley - October 2016




Kirrili and I embarked on an author and illustrator book tour last week from one end of the beautiful Hunter Valley near Scone to Singleton.

This Coal and Allied sponsored event lets all the schools in the area (public and private) once a year get access to an author or illustrator otherwise out of reach due to isolation or budget restrictions.

A wonderful committee made up of local librarians made magic happen again this year with our visit but not without hours of hard work, hundreds of emails and   
mountains of support from local school communities.

We were hosted by five amazing schools and teaching librarians who have a passion for celebrating books, reading and exposing children to some of the people who help bring books alive - authors and illustrators.

Kirrili and I provided a very informative session that included stories, drawing and games. We had just as much fun as the kids. We may have even taught the adults a few new things :)

Our total audience comprised of nearly 4000 
children from Kindergarten to Year 6 from 20

local schools. One host schools supported us each day while we presented three one hour sessions - anywhere between 200 - 400 children at a time. Our presentation was visual, inspiring, and exciting. Well that's what they told us! 

Thank you to the schools who reorganised school routines, jumped on buses, and behaved so beautifully ready to embrace reading and all it has to offer.




Participating schools:



St Mary's Primary School, Scone
Scone Public School
Scone Grammar School
Blandford Public School
Murrurundi Public School
Muswellbrook Public School
Martindale Public School
Denman Public School
Muswellbrook Christian School
St James Primary School, Muswellbrook
Aberdeen Public School
Muswellbrook South Public School
Sandy Hollow Public School
Singleton heights Public School
Mt Pleasant Public School
Broke Public School
Singleton Public School
King St Public School
Australian Christian College, Singleton
Milbrodale Public School

As you can imagine, Kirrili and I went home absolutely exhausted as we gave everything we had to touch as many children's hearts as possible. I just have to share some of the feedback we have been receiving.



From a participating school:

I wanted to email you to let you know that our school thoroughly enjoyed your presentation on Friday. Thank you so much for being willing to come up to the Hunter Valley and share with us your beautiful book and your journey in publishing it.

From a parent: 

Thank you for enlightening the children from xxx school. My daughter (6) loved your book and she took the time to read it to me one morning with only a small amount of help. It's a terrific book and my daughter was so excited to tell our family all about your visit, she was also excited the illustrator also attended, how wonderful! She had such beautiful stories to share with us. I just wanted to say thank you, the book is a beautiful story!

We spotted remnants of past Coal and Allied presenters hanging on some host school library walls (Terry Denton and David Legge) and heard tales about Frances Watts and Deb Abela - all good stories ladies!

Being able to go into a school as an author after being a primary school teacher is a thrilling thing indeed. It felt like only yesterday I had my own students and I was often reminded last week of the fun things we used to do and the books we used to share and dive into.

I had the rare opportunity to speak to my old primary school. The current Assistant Principal started Kindergarten with me only a few years ago :) During recess and lunch, it was like a reunion. Some of the staff from when I was there are still there, loving the small community. People were coming up to me sharing stories of when I was a student there. The old cricket pitch is still in the playground but there has been so many building improvements it's hard to see the buildings I have fond memories of - but they are there underneath.

I'm still on a high this week after such a mammoth expedition last week, but I'm glad to be back with my family. 

Thanks for hosting us Cecilia, Rose, Lisa, Jenna and Benita!

Thanks to the committee for taking on such an ambitious task of co-ordinating 20 participating schools, 5 host schools, funds, buses, equipment and food. 

Thanks to Coal and Allied who supplied the sponsorship for this annual event. We really appreciated the staff who came along and shared their reading beliefs and watched our presentation.

Kirrili and I will be returning to the area in November as part of the upcoming Scone Literary Festival. We will be having story and drawing fun with local preschool children.


And later that afternoon, I'll be speaking to Year 7 from my old high school about how picture books are made as it links into the Year 8 curriculum. No pressure! I just need to change from book fun with 3, 4 and 5 year olds to being a bit more educational for the 13 year olds - easy! (I think :) )

If you or anyone you know is interested in having Kirrili and I come and present as an author/illustrator team, feel free to contact me. (author@katrinamckelvey.com)

Now time to write more stories ...


3pm on Friday afternoon @ Singleton Public School - mission complete!




Saturday, 8 October 2016

The Sugar and Spice Collection by EK Books - Book Launch


The Sugar and Spice team, Anouska Jones, Penny Harrison, Susan Whelan and Gwynne Jones launched their 'The Sugar and Spice Collection' yesterday at Wallsend Library which was published by EK Books.

  

Firstly, Penny shared her story, Dance With Me by giving us a sneak peek into the storyline.
Anouska followed by introducing her book, Patch and Ruby.
Susan then gave us a hint about where missing socks go in The Great Sock Secret.
All three titles where illustrated by the very talented Gywnne Jones.

Gwynne, Susan, Anouska, Penny, Deborah (MC)
After a few thank yous from the girls, we got to dive into yummy orange and pink treats while the girls signed copies of their new books.



 







Gwynne had to sign three times faster than the rest!



While all this was happening, the kids could get creative completing glittery craft activities.


MacLean's Booksellers, Hamilton were there to help everyone 
get their hands on this stunningly colourful box set.


After some eating, drinking, crafting, signing and talking, 
Penny, Anouska and Susan snuggled in to read their stories. 

  

Gwynne roamed the room drawing special requests. My Lara asked for a 
garden full of bugs. Very Spring of her! I wonder where she got that idea from? 
(read yesterday's blog for the answer)

  

Congratulations lovely ladies! These stories are delightful. 
How lucky were we to have all of you together for this celebration. 

Penny Harrison, Anouska Jones, Gwynne Jones, Susan Whelan

Books can be purchased via the EK Books website,
any good book store or online bookseller.












































Friday, 7 October 2016

Spring Time! - Scone, Muswellbrook and Singleton Public Library Visits



It was a delight to celebrate Spring with some of the most energetic and fun-loving kids in the 
Upper Hunter Valley these school holidays.

Kirrili Lonergan and I visited Muswellbrook, Scone and Singleton Library from 5-7 October to share our book, Dandelions, and to sing, dance, laugh, tell stories, and create wonderful dandelion crafty pieces with the local children.

We started each session singing and dancing to one of my favourite dandelion songs 
by Demi Mays to get everyone in the mood.

Then we jumped into our story sharing. 

 

Kirrili then wowed everyone with her talent by showing the original 
illustrations from our book. I just love original illustrations!


Then we moved into a simple drawing workshop. Kirrili showed how the different parts of the dandelion plant can be drawn. She also gave a demonstration of how kids can draw happy and sad faces. The eyebrows tell a lot about how a character is feeling. She had children from the age of 3 drawing like superstars.

 


To finish, we celebrated with a couple of craft activities. Some of these activities included 
3D flowers, 3D puffballs, and 2D collaging. We even used real dandelion seeds.

 

 

 

 

 


A few lucky children got to take home their very own copy of our book 
and a hunger for dandelion hunting. We hope they found lots!



It was a lovely surprise to have some local media attention in Scone, my home town. I'll share the link to the story on my Facebook page when it's available.

Thank you to Scone, Muswellbrook and Singleton Libraries (Sharyn, Lee, Dion and Angelina) for hosting us and thank you to everyone who came along to help us celebrate reading, books and this lovely time of year.

Many beautiful moments will be remembered about this set of visits but one that stood out involved a dad arriving with his four daughters. He supported his daughters during the reading of the story and the drawing and craft activities. Then he bought a copy of our book for them to share. 
I have no words ... (except 'go him!')

Happy Spring everyone!

Kirrili and I will be returning to Scone library on Friday, 4th November as part of the 
school program during the upcoming Scone Literary Festival.



Our book is still available for sale if you haven't managed to grab yourself a copy. 
It's available through any good bookstore and online bookseller.