About Me

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Hi, welcome to my blog. I'm a writer of poetry, prose and plays but my best known work is children's fiction. My most popular books are the Selby series and the Emily Eyefinger series. This blog is intended as an entertaining collection of thoughts and pictures from here in Australia and from my travels in other parts of the world. I hope you enjoy it. (For more information have a look at my website.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Parrot

 In the story "Selby's Christmas Parrot" in the book Selby Santa (No. 15 in the Selby series), Selby discovers a male Christmas Parrot, one of the rarest birds in the world, in Bogusville Reserve. It is so rare that only one other is known to exist, a female in the National Zoo. The Christmas Parrot is red and green and has a silver crest on its head like the star on a Christmas tree. I won't ruin the story by telling you what happens but I wanted to say that if ever there was a candidate for a real Christmas Parrot the Australian King Parrot would do nicely (but for the lack of a silver crest).

 King Parrots aren't rare here on the east coast of Australia and a few of them visited us recently in a house where we were staying in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. 

Still on the subject of Australian parrots, our local florist has a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets that range freely around his shop. The other day I photographed Rocky who was nibbling his way though all the herbs unable to settle on the one he liked best. Or maybe he just liked them all.

Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings to all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Crabby Christmas

For a bit of Christmas tackiness I didn't have to go further than Darling Harbour in Sydney, which is on one of my usual walking routes. I have to admire the  inventiveness of the Darling Harbour decorators.

My favourite was Crabby Santa at the Sydney Aquarium.

Followed by Clinging-On-For-Dear-Life Santa. (Making do in the absence of a chimney.)

And then Luminary Santa.

He Knows-When-Your-Are-Sleeping-and-He-Knows-When-You're-Awake Surveillance Santa.

Submarine Santa.

Merry Ferry Christmas Santa.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Sister Has a Big Black Beard

Okay, so it wasn't a brilliant idea. My thought was to record a particular poem from my book of funny poetry, My Sister Has a Big Black Beard, in various locations around the world. Then I'd choose the best clip to put on my website. Or I'd do a mash-up of all of them. But I never worked out how to do a mash-up and I couldn't choose the best clip because there were so many things wrong with all of them.

I think you'll see what I mean. (Please be kind with your comments. I'm only a beginner.)

The first was recorded on an island on the coast of Maine in the USA on a cool and blustery day:

And this one in the home of friends in Madrid, Spain:

This is in front of Les Invalids in Paris:

Here I am in front of the British Museum:

And on the River Thurne on the Norfolk Broads in England (I know, I should have stood still.):

At Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris:

In the Picos de Europa, Asturias, Northern Spain. (Another beautiful location.):

Next time I'll take a cinematographer and sound recordist and ask George Clooney to do the reading.

Note: The poem, as it appears in the book, is actually called "My GM Family" (As in Genetically Modified). I wish I'd called it "My Sister Has a Big Black Beard" after the first line. Too late now.

The book is beautifully illustrated by the multi-talented, award-winning, cartoonist, painter, veterinarian and singer Kerry Millard.

The book is always better than the film.

Another note: sorry if those of you who subscribe couldn't see the photos on the emails sent to you. I don't know why that happened or how to fix it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Premiers' Reading Challenges

Last Monday I was a guest at the end of year reception for the NSW Premier's Reading Challenge at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. The NSW premier, Barry O'Farrell, spoke about the program and the importance of getting kids reading.

Every state in Australia now has a premier's reading challenge. They are non-competitive programs aimed at encouraging kids to read. The programs are as follows: Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales.

They have been a huge success and, needless to say, children's book authors love them.

First prize for the most passionate and funny speech went to the author Deborah Abela, Patron of the NSW Premier's Reading Challenge. (I just made up that prize but, as always, she gave a great speech.)

And there were lots of kids from around the state. Some of them had been up since four o'clock in order to get to the reception. Kids who didn't have to get up early were some from nearby Ultimo Primary School, pictured here with Deborah Abela and myself.

Some good news relating to my previous blog: my fellow travellor, Richard Tulloch, informs me that the City of Paris has now removed the lipstick---along with Selby's signature and paw print---from Oscar Wilde's tomb. They have also placed a protective glass barrier around the monument to keep it from being kissed again any time soon.