30 August 2007

Enid Blyton Characters Reappear

It's interesting to me that I was just thinking about all the old Enid Blyton books I loved to read when I was a kid and in the mornings papers was this story: Famous Five Set to Find Fame. Made me feel almost magical.
I read the 'Secret Seven' series, the 'Famous Five' of course, but loved the 'Faraway Tree' trilogy and 'Wishing Chair' set more I think. My favourite of all the many though would have to be 'The Naughtiest Girl' books. I am sure I only read 2 or 3 of them, yet it appears there are 8 on this site.
If you want to learn more about Enid Blyton, The Enid Blyton Society website is absolutely a must read. It's quite amazing to see the list of writing, there are 100s of books. When I look through the list I see many other familiar books that I read as a child.

Tomorrow all will be Beautiful by Brigid Lowry

This book is a pleasure not to be missed. It is a collection of short stories, letter exchanges, dialogues and poems delicately illustrated. She writes about the joys and tragedies and leaves you feeling hopeful and alive. 'Tomorrow all will be Beautiful' notices the details in life that are juicy. It's a funny, cool book that touched me and made me feel validated as a sometimes crazy, passionate, melancholy and often mistaken person. I have put my name on the list at school to read 'Guitar Highway Rose'.

Brigid Lowry is my latest favourite. Listening to her 'Juicy Writing' talk on Monday, just confirmed it. I would still love to get a copy of that writing she read to us about the mother and son, so I can weep without the eyes of my year 9s on me.

Sick Again!!

I had to come home from school today as I began vomming (as my son calls it) again. This is the third time in the last month I have experienced this. I cried tears of frustration and had to be picked up by my parents just like a school kid. Lucky they could do that for me. I have slept all day and am trying not to spend the little energy I have right now on being cranky.

29 August 2007

12 Must Read Books for Teens

I said earlier that I would create my own list of 12 books to read before you turn 12. I can't do it. I have given it a lot of thought and as I teacher I am constantly referring students to books. Mind you, my students are generally between the ages of 12- 16. I have to know a young person before I could suggest a book for them. I have read a lot of books for young adults. There is such an amazing variety. So I am going to pass on this list. I have mentioned many books that I love for young people. There are 46 blog posts on this blog about young adult reading. This however is only for the last 35 months that I've been blogging. I've read heaps before I started blogging. It's just too hard.

My Shakey Reading Memories
I can't really remember what I read before I turned 12 with any accuracy, but I know Enid Blyton was big for me. I also read a whole series about a nurse called Sue Barton. It was responsible for me thinking I was going to be a nurse when I grew up. In reality I hate the sight of blood though. I loved 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and lots of fairy tales. Some of my favourites were 'The Princess and the Pea' and 'Rapunzel'. Milly Molly Mandy, Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables were some others I loved. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and lots of school readers I can recall. I remember wishing there were books written by Australians about Australians because the books I read had the seasons and landscape all wrong. I would love to hear from others what they read around these times. I was born in 1965.

28 August 2007

Cloudy Bloody Moon August 2007

Whilst on the phone tonight I caught glimpses of the blood moon between crossing cloudscapes. It was both frustrating and at times dramatic and beautiful. I didn't sit watching for the entire course of the lunar eclipse, but enjoyed what I saw. I hope other parts of Australia got a better view and I look forward to seeing some photo's.

Update: Meg has some great photo's up from Sydney - check them out!

Lost and Found Women

While I was cooking dinner this evening, the phone rang. I nearly didn't answer it, expecting a telemarketer! I couldn't resist. It was my long lost friend Ronece. I was speechless with delight, for about two seconds. We have just enjoyed a long chat on the phone, catching up on over 5 years that we haven't been in touch. Our children have grown, my career has changed, I live in a different town, but we picked up as though it were back in the day when we chatted at least every other day.
Great Women Friends
When I got off the phone, I was on it for a couple of hours, I reflected on how blessed I have been to have such awesome women friends. I don't really mention them on my blog much because I feel it would be invading their privacy somehow. I want to mention them tonight though because I appreciate them all.
Old Friends
Some have been around for a long time, like Jane who I met when we were 6 years old. Wilma has been around for a long while also. I met her in my first year at Monash Gippsland. Neither of us finished our degrees at that time, but we did go on to have a business or two together in soft furnishings and we're still in touch. She introduced me to Dallis and Shirley and many other great friends.
New Friends
Rhonda is like a twin soul. We were born on the same day, yet a year apart. We have the same middle name! We work together and see each other every day. It's such fun! She is currently injured and at home for the week, but I will be popping in to see her each day. She was such a treasure to me over the past hard weeks with the flu and the loss of pa. We share our daily ups and downs and amazingly are often feeling exactly the same way about all kinds of things.
Work Friends
Having had over 20 jobs since I left school, I have enjoyed some great friendships with people I've worked with Maureen, Jenny, Sonia and Wilma have been fabulous mentors as well as friends. I catch up with them all, although not as often as before and enjoy their company. I have learnt so much from each of them. I currently have a great bunch of women I work with. Too many to name! It's another thing I really value about my job.
Great Friends I rarely see
I was so close with Rene when I lived in Harkaway. She is a beautiful and amazing woman who brought such a delicious presence to my life. We had great times and excursions with our kids and her large and wonderful family provided a haven for me when I was missing mine.
I had a great road trip with Lisa to Queensland and her gentle and generous nature tolerated me through the journey.
Lost Friends but not forgotten Friends
I learnt heaps from Bronwyn and she supported me through some painful growth times in my life.
I had some great friends at school. Kim was one I have never caught up with again, but would love to hear from. We had some times together!

Thanks And Sorry
Writing a post like this worries me as there are probably people I am leaving out. Sorry if I have. I feel immensely blessed by the all the great women I've had and have as friends. Bronwyn once said to me that your friends are your family of choice. I liked that and am happy with my choices.
I also have a lot of great male friends, but tonight it's about the girls.

Mission Statement for Joh Blogs

My blog's mission is to leave a legacy for my as yet unborn grandchildren. My kids aren't even married yet! I loved my grandparents thoroughly and finding a little diary of my nana's after she'd left the planet was an amazing gift, that I wanted to pass on. It will be a record of the things I valued and thought enough of to write a blog post.

There are lots of side benefits such as knowing what I think, having a record of things that have interested me and stashing bits of info that I would otherwise forget. I have enjoyed creating something personal, yet constructed with an audience in mind. I love writing. The entrepreneur in me sometimes get's caught up in potential profits, but my mission holds through thick and thin.

27 August 2007

Melbourne Writers Festival Today

We saw three authors speak today and each had something valuable to say. The first up was Maureen McCarthy, then Greg Pyers and finally Brigid Lowry. I thoroughly enjoyed the balmy spring day in the city with some of my favourite 'book worm' students.

Maureen McCarthy
Maureen McCarthy has written a number of books and I have read Queen Kat, Carmel & St Jude Get A Life and enjoyed the TV series. After hearing her speak today, I can't wait to read her latest Rose by Any Other Name. It sounds great. I loved it when she said she doesn't write for teenagers and I got the impression she doesn't think of people in terms of age. I enjoyed her talk very much and she described her writing process in an exciting way. The students enjoyed her talk too. She was a confident speaker who was easy to listen to.

Greg Pyers
Greg Pyers had the most challenging session. We were in a dark room, just before lunch and it was very warm. It was difficult to stay focused as he read to us from his latest fiction novel, Jack Brown. He described his journey to writing and gave the students good advice. He has written a great deal, mainly non-fiction. I found his slides and discussion about Jersey quite interesting.

Brigid Lowry
Juicy Writing with Brigid Lowry delivered everything it promised with such a luscious title. She spoke with passion and read some great writing to us. I got quite watery in the eyes by a piece she wrote about a mother reflecting on her son's impending independence. I am sorry I didn't have the time and presence of mind to ask where I could get it. I am not even sure who wrote it, but I suspect she did. I have spent the weekend reading her latest book Tomorrow all will be Beautiful and have found what I have read so far poignant and touching. It is truly juicy.I will get my hands on Guitar Highway Rose as soon as possible too. The students thoroughly enjoyed her talk and she was honest and helpful in the information she passed on.

26 August 2007

Lunar Eclipse - 28th August 2007

I know, I Ooopsed earlier in the month, yet I found a good article about the Eclipse of the Moon on the ABC via newsvine tonight and I thought since I gave the wrong information earlier, I should give some correct stuff to counterbalance on the very day.

'To the Boy in Berlin' by Elizabeth Honey and Heike Brandt

'To the Boy in Berlin' was shortlisted for the CBCA Awards Younger Readers category. Elizabeth Honey teams up with Heike Brandt to create a compassionate and tolerant duo of mystery solvers. The characters based in Australia and Germany email one another to satisfy the curiosity of Henni who has found some old things and began asking questions about the past. The kids share their current lives and the uncovering of the past. In usual Elizabeth Honey style the characters are powerful, proactive young people who use their resources and their communities to get their mission accomplished. It is also a very funny read.
Elizabeth Honey's Books
The character Henni, was earlier seen in the Stella Street books, which are among my favourite kids books. 'Remote Man' has been taught at our school to year 7 students and although I have read it to classes for over 7 years, I still get fresh insights from it. I enjoy the way Elizabeth Honey's characters use technology in empowering and positive ways. I love that they overcome distance to learn from kids in other countries. I always laugh and smile along the way.
Melbourne Writers Festival
Heike Brandt and Elizabeth Honey are at the 'Melbourne Writers Festival Schools Program' tomorrow, as well as at other events, but they are speaking at the grade 5/6 level. I won't get to listen, but I would love to hear about their processes. Heike Brandt is a German author/translator, among other things, so their work would have been a great collaboration just like the characters in Honey's books. They write about their exchanges at the end of the book.

25 August 2007

Bill McDonough

Bill McDonough features in 'The 11th Hour", the new film by Leonardo DiCaprio that is discussed on TED.com blog. He is an architect who is tackling sustainability with intelligent design. TED is a great place to watch amazing thinkers from all over the globe.

24 August 2007

Melbourne Writers Festival

On Monday I'm travelling with some year 9 and 10 students to the "Melbourne Writers Festival - Schools Program". I look forward to this for a number of reasons. I always enjoy taking the students on excursions, because they are always engaged and at their best. We can only take a small number of students, so only those who are really passionate about reading and writing have gone to the effort, or been selected by their English teachers. I expect this will make for great conversation on the 2 hour + bus trip. I will also enjoy listening to the authors speak about their books. I'm not sure yet, which sessions I will be attending, but I will be sure to tell you after I've been.
For those who live a little closer, "Melbourne Writers Festival" is for adults also and there are plenty of sessions to cater for all. Check out the program on the webpage.

22 August 2007

CBCA Winners 2007

2007 Winners
I am delighted that 'Red Spikes' has won the Older Readers category. Although I totally enjoyed each book that was shortlisted and we are considering using 'Don't Call Me Ishmael' for our year 9s, my favourite's were 'Red Spikes' and 'The Red Shoe'. Margo Lanagan is an amazing writer and I have another of her earlier books to enjoy when I have completed two others I have began.
Catherine Bateson has taken out the Younger Readers book of the year with 'Being Bee'. I am yet to read the rest of this category, but I can say I really enjoyed this one.
I am even less familiar with the other categories the CBCA Award Winners for 2007, I enjoyed Shaun Tan's 'The Arrival', which won the Picture book category as well as the Honour books for the 2007 Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.

Sally Murphy at Scribblings has a great post on the CBCA Junior Judges Project. She has also created a list of 12 books to read before you turn 12. I want to create my own and will attempt it on the weekend perhaps.

21 August 2007

Mr Wong Delivers Prize

I got my black nano iPod today. It's 8 GB! I am thrilled with it. It's my first iPod. I have been happily listening to Kate Bush today among others. Thanks Mister Wong. In case you missed my previous post, Mister Wong is a new bookmarking tool that began in Europe and has recently launched in English speaking countries. I was invited to beta test and won this iPod as a result.

20 August 2007

Back to Living

Re-establishing Order
It's been a pretty demanding week, yet I am blessed with another day's grace from facing work. We have a mid-year break long weekend. Today I get my home in order! It's ridiculously messy and chaotic. I have been coming and going for almost a week. So many family members have been at my parents home and so I have spent most of my time there.
Little Incident
We had a thief in the early hours of Wednesday morning, last week. I disturbed him/her because I was sleepless and stepped out my front door and noticed the light on in my car. I panicked, rushed back into the house and locked the front door. I lay in bed really still hoping I was wrong. Pathetic reaction I know. When I told the men in my life the next day, they dismissed it as a reflection. With all the chaos, Andy didn't notice until Saturday that his good camera had disappeared from his car. He phoned the police, who came around and took a statement. An hour later they phoned to say they had the camera and had caught the culprit. Great result.
There is so much to say one day about my amazing grandfather. I am bursting with gratitude right in this moment for having been blessed with such a role model and loving person in my life. Other moments I feel crushed and just want to pop over and visit him one more time.
I have received so much support and love from others. Visits, flowers, chocolates, consoling books, phone calls and a most wonderful card from my students. The card had a loving message from each kid in my class and I can't find words to express how much that meant to me. I knew I had an awesome group this year and they just keep proving me right.
Raining Challenges
When I look back on the last two weeks, I feel strong. Apart from the shattering loss of Pa, I've had gastro/flu, a theft, we had a fire at our school and the art rooms burnt down last weekend (not that I was too helpful as I've been so absent lately) and numerous small incidents that occur when large families gather, yet it's over now and I am ready to return to living.

I'll leave you with this quote from my Pa that captures his essence brilliantly. He said this at my cousins wedding in his speech a couple of years ago:

"It doesn't matter what wealth or worldly goods you accumulate in this life, the most important asset you will ever acquire is your family"

Cyril Lyons 2005

16 August 2007

Back Soon

My pa died on Wednesday 14th. I loved him so much and feel so blessed to have had him in my life. My large and wonderful family and awesome friends are spending time together crying and laughing and remembering all that we loved. I feel loved, supported and devastated all in waves. The funeral is tomorrow. That's all I can say for now.

12 August 2007

Recapping My Weekend

Pa is back in hospital again. He turned 87 on the 8th. I haven't been able to see him for a week because I had the flu again and didn't want to expose him to it. I am worried about him.
Lovely Saturday Afternoon Visit
Visited Andy's mum on Saturday afternoon. She's had a delightful renovation done on her back veranda. I am very impressed. White rooms, floor, ceiling, walls, big windows, white mermot blinds and gorgeous red leather couches and mats. I should have taken a photo. That room was appealing. I had a divine and tasty lunch and was fed so well it brought back my nana's cooking.
Saturday Night Taxi Service
My good friend Rhonda and I put their theatre room to good use whilst spending the time between depositing the young people at their parties and returning to get them home. We watched 'Thank You for Smoking'. Possibly not a great choice for my quitting phase, yet it didn't do too much damage.
Housework - Bare Minimum
Enough said. Changed the sheets, a touch of vacuuming - blah.
I started 'Boys of Blood and Bone' by David Metzenthen this weekend. I have a pile of good books again and I feel really good about that. When I had the flu, it came when my pile of books had been down to the last unread one. It was kind of scary. When I went to work/school on Friday, I ensured I visited the library and restocked my pile. I have one from the CBCA Awards list - an Elizabeth Honey, one of my favourites as well as the James Moloney sequel to 'The Book of Lies', 'Master of the Books'. It's helping with the pain of finishing Harry Potter.

Now I will go to bed early and read!

11 August 2007

"The 11th Hour" Trailer

Leonardo DiCaprio's feature length film "The 11th Hour" will be released August 17th in US. What you see will concern you, in much the same way as 'An Inconvenient Truth' did. This film urges you to Take Action now and there are suggestions for how on the site. Hope is Free. I hope....

10 August 2007

Cow Dung Power

As mentioned earlier in the week, it seems the whole concept of cow poo power is becoming more and more mentioned. I seriously thought it was a joke!

'the best thing' by Margo Lanagan

First Impressions
'the best thing' by Margo Lanagan was a very interesting read. About half way through I nearly abandoned it, finding it mundane and sad and too real to be readable. I'm glad I hung in there.
I loved the way Margo Lanagan describes the passage of pregnancy and childbirth and the early days of mothering. Her protagonist is a young woman, yet I found it a description that closely resembled the feelings I had when I was a slightly older young mother.
Margo Lanagan's Writing
I discussed Margo Lanagan's writing today with a colleague and we both agreed it wasn't always easy to read, not that it was difficult to understand, it was emotionally confronting. I always find her writing rewarding though precisely because it is confronting.
Short Story vs Novel
When I started the novel, I wondered if I didn't prefer Lanagan's writing in short story form as I had loved the three anthologies of short stories I had read 'Red Spikes', 'Black Juice' and 'White Time'. At the conclusion of this novel, I find that I love her writing in both forms. She cuts to the heart of what's really important and describes it beautifully. It is truly a vibrant and triumphant tale that is gutsy in it's subject choice as well as the depth it delves into.

08 August 2007


Feeling Blah
I've been home with the flu(/gastro type thingy, yucky anyway) for two days and I feel like I am going stir crazy. I want my time back. It's so inconvenient!
When I woke up before, I thought I'd have a read of some blogs and catch up. I've just about been sleeping for two days. My head still is a little sore, but I have to have something else to think about.
I noticed I am not alone.
Abundance Highway: Patience reports that Suzy has caught the bug.
Darren Rowse has prepared 8 Things to Do on your Blog when you're Sick because

"As I woke up with a pounding head and numerous other flu ailments I thought today might be a relevant day to answer the question"
Over at 'Everybody Knows': Yeah Still Here, I find that

"yes i am still alive and yes i do intend to keep blogging. Its just been busy. Oh and coughing rather a lot still. All the time in fact."
Contagious Online?
I doubt it very much, but there seems to be a lot of it travelling around Australia right now. There was an article in the news recently about a Flu Website that tracks the Flu. Here is the link to my clipped article on Newsvine. Strangely though, the article doesn't have a link or address to the website. For more information about the 2007 Flu season you can go to the WHO Centre.. Or you can just hope it goes away soon like I am.

05 August 2007

Cow Poo

In 1983 when I was doing year 12 or the HSC as it was called in Victoria then, we were studying a theme of 'The Future'. Interestingly many of the books I read at that time and things I learnt have had big impacts on my life. We had to write an essay on what would happen if the oil ran out. One of my friends came up with what I thought was an amusing story about using methane gas from cow poo. We all cracked up and thought this was an amazing joke. I saw this a couple of months ago and wondered whether Greg was perhaps just a bit ahead of his time.
inhabitat: Poo Power:Could Cow Poo Power Your Home?

Snoskred recently wrote a very informative post on cows also, which reminded me of this Habitat article I'd saved. She asks "Everybody Loves Cows, Don't They?" Well here's yet another reason to be grateful for all that cows can offer the world. Read the comments as there are lots of interesting links.

03 August 2007

Being Bee by Catherine Bateson

Catherine Bateson
I have enjoyed many of Catherine Bateson's novels. My favourite was 'Painted Love Letters'. She sensitively handles times of change and relationships for young people and creates such interesting and alive characters.

'Being Bee'
This latest novel tackles the stepmother and tells a tale of a father and daughter team including a new woman in the house. It has been shortlisted for the CBCA Awards 2007 for Younger Readers. It replaces the stereotypical wicked stepmother with a new type of stepmother who is flawed and annoying yet gradually appreciated. It was an enjoyable light read.

02 August 2007

Mister Wong Winner

I won an iPod! I am astounded. It has been quite a while since I've won any kind of random thing, like a raffle or such. I want to play with the toy I've won.

Mister Wong is a new social bookmarking site that originated in Germany. I received my invite to beta test, I was curious to see how something that started in a different part of the world, worked. It's also available in Russian and Chinese.
I have found it easy to use and thought it would be useful as an online backup for my ever-expanding and cluttered bookmarks. After uploading them, I deleted a pile that I rarely use, yet couldn't bear to lose track of since I knew I would need them once I did.

There has been some controversy about the name and stereotype evoked by the use of the name, yet it seems to have been addressed. Mashable wrote a review of the site last month: Mister Wong Launches Social Networking Tools in US, so if you want to learn more about Mister Wong, read it.

In the meantime I'm feeling quite grateful.

Red Haze:Australians & New Zealanders in Vietnam

Leon Davidson has written a a non-fiction book that has been shortlisted for the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books. Reading Red Hazehas taught me a lot about the Vietnam war and Australia's involvement in it. I was a toddler when this war occurred and it's a good insight into the experience of the people who participated in this war.

Different perspectives of the war are shown and there is information the variety of people involved. He discusses each countries involvement, Australia and New Zealand is emphasised, yet the American and Vietnamese soldiers also make comments on their experience of the war. He tells the history of Vietnam leading up to this conflict and I felt I have more insight into the story from reading this.

For teachers the Curriculum Corporation has some notes to use this text for values education that is worth checking out.

Another CBCA Award Shortlist with red in the title. The other book I have read in this category is Queenie. I don't know how they judge a non-fiction book for older readers against a picture book. They were both excellent works.

01 August 2007


My last post has now become an embarrassment to me for several reasons. Firstly because it's ridiculous to believe that the Mars could look as big as the Moon. Secondly because there are some silly mistakes in it such as the use of 'cultivate' instead of 'culminate'. Thirdly because today I received an apology email from the person who originally sent me the email saying she was sorry but she had fallen for a hoax. Well me too!
I could make excuses and say it was the sleepless night before and the shooting star that caused me to be a little dazed, yet I'm not big on making or accepting excuses, I'd rather admit I'd made a mistake and grab the learning experience.
I could have deleted the post, and possibly should have, yet I often say I live to make others laugh, so the laugh is on me today.