Children’s Books about Feelings and Grief

Children’s Books about Feelings and Grief

Where do you stand on books for young children on feelings and grief? Do you worry you will make your children upset and morose and avoid them or do you read them as you do any other story in your home?

Childrens Books about Feelings and Grief

PudStar yesterday came home with some very sad news about a classmate having lost his daddy that morning. In our house, we have read many books on grief and this morning we packed her bag with these to take to school and share with her classmates. They may or may not read them in class…it’s always a tricky one and will, of course, be up to the teacher’s discretion. My own thoughts on this are based on my personal experiences in the past few years, and I would love to hear from you if you have different thoughts on the issue or if, like us, you read books on these issues in your house. Read the rest of this entry »

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Book Club: Pre Teen Reads

Book Club: Pre Teen Reads

Some of us are reading ‘The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making’ and some are reading ‘Forget me Not: The Story of one Family’s Voyage on the Titanic’ by Sue Lawson – a book which has been incredibly popular in Year Six and Seven. It is the story of one family’s voyage on the Titanic and like any good work of historical fiction it brings to life a significant times in our past.

“I am filled with the worst feeling. Everyone says it is the safest, most luxurious ship in the world, but something about it is extremely unsettling.” 

Evelyn Gilmore does not share her brother Thomas’s excitement about travelling on the maiden voyage of the luxurious Titanic. 

For Evelyn the ship is taking her away from everything she knows and loves.

For Thomas it is taking him to his new life. 

How could they know what the trip would bring?

To add this book to your home, school or library collection click on the cover or title links.


With themes of family, emotional and physical journeys, sacrifice, romance and of course tragedy and grief…we all know the story of the Titanic but Sue Lawson has cleverly personalised this historic event. She has used a parallel narrative structure to tell the story from the perspectives of Evelyn and her brother Thomas. These two characters tell us the story of their ill-fated journey but they also give us remarkable insight into the time in which they lived. A venn diagram of now and then would pull out many differences but also enough similarities to open up some lively discussions. there are extensive reading and teacher notes here on the Walker Books site.

Sue Lawson is a strong writer and I’ve enjoyed each and every one of her novels, since reading ‘Allie McGregor’s True Colours’ so many years ago…maybe 8 years ago?! I still remember this book so vividly! ‘You Don’t Even Know’ is another of my favourites and you can read our full review of this title here. 


If your pre-teen reader loves historical fiction I can highly recommend the titles below. You can read my full review of each by clicking on each cover image.

the-ratcatcher-s-daughterthe-forgotten-pearlflora-s-warNelly Gangpennies-for-hitler


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Book Club: Pre Teen Reads

Book Club: Pre Teen Reads

At Year Six Book Club we have just finished reading ‘The Diamond of Drury Lane’ and opinions were mixed. This is the wonderful thing about a book club –  all those opinions and all that debate over books! Some found the old worldly style of writing complex and ‘boring’, others became immersed in the world of Miss Cat Royal and are now at home tucked up in bed reading the other titles in the series. Australian schools are gearing up to celebrate ‘Book Week 2014: Connect to Reading’ and at our school we are encouraging our students to read widely, debate and discuss books and connect with other worlds, other times, other text types and other people through their reading. You can see their challenge booklet and download it here.

the-girl-who-circumnavigated-fairyland-in-a-ship-of-her-own-making Read the rest of this entry »

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Book People: Sally Murphy

Book People: Sally Murphy

I love adding each ‘Book People’ post; some people swoon over movie stars, I swoon over the talented creators of literature for young people. I have swooned over the work of Sally Murphy for some years now, ever since crying and smiling my way through ‘Pearl Verses the World’. Sally Murphy is the incredibly talented author behind 36 books and I am super honoured today to be featuring her as part of the ‘Roses Are Blue’ blog tour, which celebrates her latest verse novel. The full schedule for this beautiful blog tour is below. Thank you for joining us today Sally!

My full review of ‘Roses Are Blue’ is here. To purchase ‘Roses are Blue’ click on title or image links.

Tuesday, July 22nd Karen Tyrrell
Wednesday, July 23 Alphabet Soup
Thursday, July 24 Kids’ Book Review
Friday, July 25 Write and read with Dale
Saturday, July 26 Diva Booknerd
Sunday, July 27 Children’s Books Daily
Monday, July 28 Boomerang Books Blog
Tuesday, July 29 Australian Children’s Poetry
Wednesday, July 30 Sally Murphy

@SallyMurphy | Sally on Facebook |

Ten Things you Need to Know About Sally Murphy

1. Tell us about your latest book.

It’s called Roses are Blue and it’s a verse novel about a girl who is challenged by the fact that she has a different mum. All mums can be different, and Amber’s mum has always been a bit different – but now the tough thing is that she is very different from the mum she used to be, because she has had a terrible accident. The story is enriched by gorgeous illustrations by a talented young man called Gabriel Evans. 

roses-are-blue2. How did you get started as a writer?

When my mum handed me a rainbow notepad and a pen when I was three or four and encouraged me to write in it, while she got some work done. I started writing and I’ve never stopped.

My first publications were in school publications, and my first book was a book of educational resources (drawing on my experience as a teacher). I had been trying to get published for years before that happened – and found an advertisement in a newspaper for teachers to write resources. That publication inspired me to keep going till I had my first trade title published, and then another and another. Roses are Blue is, I think, my thirty-sixth book.

 3.  What does a typical day look like for you?

Typical? What is typical? My life is a bit crazy. But I guess, on a weekday, it starts with getting my youngest two children off to school (they’re in highschool, so this mostly involves coaxing one of them out of bed). I also use this time to check email, and social media and so on, and I read while I eat breakfast. Then I do the bare minimum of housework before I start my writing work for the day. This can involve actually writing my latest story, but it can also include research, promoting my books online, blogging, reading, reviewing, editing, proofreading. Sometimes I have to juggle all those things, but I like variety. I try to work for the whole school day, but when I need breaks from the desk I might hang out washing, play with my dogs, talk to my other children (if they’re home) or walk. I like going for at least one good walk a day, and often do shorter ones to wake myself up. In the afternoons and evenings in between family times, driving kids places, cooking dinner, folding washing and so on, I usually read some more, or snatch more time to write, review and so on.

SallyMurphyinflight (1)

4. Can you describe your workspace for us?

One word: messy. Though I do keep trying to make it more organised. I don’t have an office of my own, just a corner of the loungeroom, with a desk, two bookshelves and a cupboard for the printer and my files. But I usually move my laptop a couple of times a day – out to the dining table, or outside if it’s nice, or even onto my lap on my recliner in the evenings. This change of location helps keep me fresh. I can work pretty much anywhere. I take my ipad and notebook to footy training for example, and work in the car while I wait for the boys to finish. (interrupt from Megan: read this poem! I love it!)

coffee and poem


5. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?

Read a lot and write a lot. Reading makes you a better person: smarter, wiser, funnier. And if you want to be a writer, reading helps. If you want to be a writer, write whenever you can. Don’t worry how good it is, just write, A lot. And then a lot more. Your writing gets better the more you write. But if you want to get published you also need to learn to rewrite. Your story/poem/play can always be improved. Finish a whole draft and then work on making it better until it is brilliant.

6. Do you have a favourite book or character (your own or somebody else’s)?

My favourite book changes. My favourite of my own is usually the newest one, because it’s all shiny new and I love showing it to people and talking about it. Roses are Blue is, obviously, my newest, and it’s been a long time in the works, so I am really pleased to be sharing it with the world at last.

One of my favourite books by other people is actually a series – the Kingdom of Silk series, by Glenda Millard. It is a perfect series. Whimsical, clever, warm hearted and a cast of characters you just adore. (interrupt from Megan AGAIN…this is one of mine too! Read more about them here).

 7. If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?


Or a librarian. I used to a highschool English teacher, but I don’t think I was great at it. I started training as a librarian, but got busy with writing. Maybe one day I’ll fifish that qualification because sharing books with the world is my passion. And librarians are amongst my favourite people, so if I became one I would be part of that wonderful group

8. What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?

I don’t listen to a lot of music when I’m writing. I think because it’s so rare for my house to be quiet, that I revel in it when I’m home alone. But I do have a special food: chocolate. Dark chocolate. Sometimes I bribe myself: if I write 500 words I can have a chocolate break. Except sometimes I have the chocolate without having written the words, because, well, it’s chocolate, and it’s there.

9. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?

I try not to write about people I know too closely, because I might offend or embarrass them. Still, I think bits of their personalities do creep in sometimes, As for me, I thought I didn’t write about myself but one day I realised there’s a bit of me in every one of my books – my experiences, my emotions, my insecurities. It was actually my husband – a very wise man – who one day patted me on the arm and said “You do realise Pearl is you, don’t you?” I hadn’t until that moment, but I think he’s right in a way – not that Pearl’s story is my story, but her voice and her reactions and insecurities, I think they are very me.

10. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?

More books. I think if every child – and every adult – had more books to read, and the ability to read them – then the world would be more peaceful, more empathetic, smarter, and we could solve big problems like world hunger, war, pollution – the list goes on.

Thank you so much for having me visit, Megan, and for questions which really made me think.

Thank YOU Sally! 

sally murphy and megan daley

Sally and I at the launch of ‘Roses Are Blue’

Three must read verse novels by Sally Murphy

Click on image to read more…

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Dinosaur Garden

Dinosaur Garden

As mentioned in the last few posts here and here, ‘How to Grow a Dinosaur’ is ChickPea’s favourite book and we all know it by heart. With her third birthday just around the corner I decided to make her a dinosaur garden (actually the birthday was the next day when I thought of this) as both girls love PudStar’s fairy garden (here), but it’s fairly small and ChicPea AKA The Wild Thing tends to want to crash and trash it. So I decided to make her a garden of her own. As she’s more a dinosaur lover than a fairy believer we went with dinosaurs…and as I love to stick succulents in anything I can find (as in below in broken Willow crockery in her room!), we used succulents we already had at home and existing plastic dinosaurs. Total cost was $0.

Dinosaur Puzzle

I used an old wire (plastic coated I think?) washing basket that I found at Kerbside collection (do so love a Kerbside collect) last year . As I was in a hurry I didn’t go and purchase a basket liner but used black meshy garden stuff I found under the house to line the basket before filling it with a mixture of sand, peat, potting mix and perlite (yes I did have all that at home).

I snipped off some of favourite succulents from larger plants and added a bowl for a lake and my Japanese string plant which had sadly fallen off it’s string. Added a path of crushed stones from an old vase arrangement and a stack of dinosaurs…ta-da! One dinosaur garden. It was all too easy really…so at the same time I cut into five dog chewed dino’s and turned them into succulent holders…told you I’ll stick a succulent in anything. I just dug out the top bit of the body with a knife and added some soil and a plant. They’ll live forever. You can’t kill a succulent easily.

dinosaur succulent.

dinosaur succulent

 String Gardens - now with one missing!

String Gardens – now with one missing!

She loves it. The photos below are at sunset on the deck the day after her birthday. She has a magnifying glass in her hand which is why she won’t look at the camera…far more interesting things to look at.


Dinosaur GardenDinosaur GardenDinosaur Garden

PudStar is fabulously pleased she can now have her fairy garden all to herself…except when the dinosaurs come to visit.

fairy on apple

fairy garden


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Book Week Reading Challenge: Connect to Reading

Book Week Reading Challenge: Connect to Reading

Can I just say…I LOVE Term Three! No really I do. Whilst I love teaching research skills and all that jazz…in Term Three we focus on LITERATURE. In Term Three in our K-6 Library we read fabulous books, I prattle on about Australian book creators for as long as I want, I SCREAM about the importance of The Children’s Book Council of Australia and their commitment to Australian literature and Australian children and I LIVE AND BREATH Book Week and Australian books of quality. The theme this year for CBCA Book Week is ‘Connect to Reading’ (merchandise and downloads here), which is all kinds of great. I loved Book Week as a kid and I still love it now.

Connect to Reading Read the rest of this entry »

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Children’s Books to Support Dental Health Week

Children’s Books to Support Dental Health Week

(and you’ll also need a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and a dentist!)

It’s Australian Dental Association’s Dental Health Week 2014  in Australia very soon (August 4-10) so it’s timely that we should have Dr Amy Daley of East Brisbane Dentists to talk to us about a few oral health related issues! The Australian Dental Association website has some great resources for parents and teachers here.

#dentalhealthweek and #sugarbandits are the official hashtags of Dental Week and I do so love a hashtag!

Princess with Cavities

Cleaning your teeth before bed is as important as reading your books before bed in this house. The girls have had a variety of fab toothbrushes (mostly courtesy of Aunty Amy – who also buys the best dresses under the sun) and their current favourites are the ones which sing a song for the two minutes they are to brush for. In the bathroom we also have PudStar’s ‘Princess with Cavities’ painting (above) which I do rather love. What child paints a princess then adds cavities?

Dr Amy Daley has been kind enough to write blog posts on the following topics for us. Click on each title to see her posts.

Top Tips for Teeth Cleaning

Preparing Your Child for a Trip to the Dentist


and I have a post all about tooth fairy related books…cause everyone loves the tooth fairy!

Top Books About the Tooth Fairy


How will you be celebrating Dental Health Week 2014 in your home, school, kindergarten or dental surgery?

And this is NOT one for Dental Health Week and encouraging your child to go to the dentist AT ALL…but jeepers creepers it’s funny…the dentists out there may (or may not!) enjoy this one! Click on cover to see details and purchase.




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Book Party: Dinosaur Party!

Book Party: Dinosaur Party!

Warning: Photo Fest

As mentioned in my post last week about dinosaur books (here), The Wild Thing AKA ChickPea loves a dinosaur book or twenty. We’ve been reading ‘How to Grow a Dinosaur’ every night for a year now, and ‘Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct’ has been a recent favourite. So there was no other choice for her third birthday but a party based on her favourite dinosaur books. Invites were from Vistaprint as always…inexpensive and fast.

dinosaur invite 2

When I say ‘party’ I mean family come around for a few hours and it’s all pretty low key (with lots of food). I’ve thus far managed to avoid friend parties until Year One with PudStar so I’m doing well. We have enough cousins to make it feel like a party in my opinion!

Despite it being low key – PudStar insisted we needed party bags and we decided on jellybeans as there are Jellybean Trees in ‘How to Grow a Dinosaur’ as well as ‘Dinosaur Seeds’ – photocopied the pages of the book with the seed packets and used these on the party bags and packets of Cornflowers. All black jellybeans were dutifully picked out and put into a special bag for Nonna.

Party Bags

PudStar and ChickPea painted mud dinosaurs inspired by ‘I’m a Dirty Dinosaur’ for decorations.

dirty dino page

I'm a Dirty Dinosaur

Aunty Amy is the dress buyer in the family and does an amazing job…check out PudStar’s ‘Rock Your Kid’ dress here. For ChickPea she and I chose ‘Roman Holiday’ from ‘Rock Your Kid’ a) because that happens to be the name of my favourite Audrey Hepburn movie and b) because Edwina the dinosaur is green and pink and this is who ChickPea wanted to be for her birthday. Win all round. Dino tail is by Noa Cakes.


The Wild Thing Turns Three

The cupcakes for kindy and the party were chocolate spelt with edible rocks and gravel.

Cupcake Prep

The birthday cake was a chocolate spelt mudcake and was just a slab with some cupcakes mountains and a volcano. PudStar thought it looked more like a tropical paradise than land of the dinosaurs but ChickPea was happy with it! The rocks and gravel were all edible. I didn’t actually get a photo of the whole cake…must remember to do this in future!

cakes cake Dinosaur Cupcakes Dinosaur Cake Pops

We also had dinosaur sandwiches, dinosaur print biscuits and dino egg scones (thank you Aunty Amy), nan’s quiche (which we have at EVERY family event…just because it’s full of bacon and cheese), mum’s sausage rolls, grandma’s finger sandwiches and cake pops and fruit cups. Pretty simple but lots of it – although I could have done with some leftover sausage rolls.

Dinosaur Fruit Cups

Dinosaur SandwichesDino Biscuits

The cousins dug for fossils in buckets of sand, played with ChickPea’s new dinosaur garden, crafted and the danced to the dinosaur stomp song – though the birthday girl thought the music far too loud.

FossilsDinosaur Craft with NonnaDinosaur CraftIMG_1486Dinosaur GardenDigging for Fossils

Found my nan in the kitchen doing the dishes. Our nan is a trooper! She also took home Dan’s ironing…not mine mind you.

Nan Cleaning Up

Then I set the cousins to work picking our cumquats and gave my sister the washing to hang out. If family come around I say put them to work.

Jas Picking Fruit

And then she had a cuddle with daddy.

dan and GW

And then she collapsed and everyone had to leave.

so tired

Happy Birthday ChickPea!

ChickPeas previous birthday parties can be seen here:

First Birthday: Very Grumpy Ladybird Party

Second Birthday: Where the Wild Things Are Party

Roar like a dinosaur

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Must-Have Dinosaur Books for All Ages

Must-Have Dinosaur Books for All Ages

Very few children skip the ‘I LOVE Dinosaurs’ phase – in fact it’s probably a development phase which should be included in textbooks on child development. The Wild Thing AKA ChickPea has been going through this phase for exactly one year now; it started this day 12 months ago on her second birthday. Nonna and Papa gave her ‘How to Grow a Dinosaur’ for her birthday and having read this book nearly every night for a year now, Dan and I can both recite it…and we now KNOW not to try and skip a page. ChickPea talks to the main character, ‘Albie’ in the book and all dinosaur role play involves phrases from this book. Her second favourite is ‘Edwina: The Dinosaur who Didn’t Know she was Extinct’, and under her bed ChickPea has a baking tray, oven mitt, dinosaur placemat (thanks Jo, Eloise and Patrick!) and a number of magnets which are ‘cookies’ which she bakes each night for Edwina.

must have dinosaut books for all ages

Read the rest of this entry »

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Review of ‘Sleep Tight, Digger Dan’

Review of ‘Sleep Tight, Digger Dan’

‘Sleep Tight, Digger Dan: A Goodnight Story from the Construction Site’

Written by Dorte Horn. Illustrated by Philipp Stampe.

Publisher: New Black Press

Age Range: Early Childhood

Themes: diggers, trucks, cranes, dump trucks, compactors, construction site, bedtime, day care, sandman

Website: and Facebook.

Sleep Tight Digger Dan

I have written many times before about why I love bedtime reading. My top ten reasons are here but I could list at least another ten very easily. Fortunately our children love bedtime books as much as we do and no matter how late, there is never a night without two books, which often pushes out to four books. Read the rest of this entry »

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