Sept 22 2022
Today I have added the new books to the website they won’t be available until October but pre sales are being accepted.
I’ve sort of drifted into the idea of selling small gift items based on the stories too. The Whale Voice Choir is all about encouraging children to settle to sleep happily. We cannot stress enough how important sleep is to the young child. It’s vital for proper development. So having completed the story I then crocheted a whale toy. Then it struck me, if children found it difficult to drift off maybe they could cuddle a baby whale. Then it occurred to me that I use pillow spray to relax into sleep. What if we sprayed the whale with lavender? That should help and even better why not give parents links to whale music. I find it relaxing as do my young grandsons.
So now I’m thinking how can we provide packs to go with books so it’s more of an experience than just reading the book. Well I’m looking into bath lotions, pillow sprays, whale music, cuddly toys etc that can become a part of the bed routine.
That’s in addition to providing free teacher packs so children can learn with the books too. This is now turning into something bigger than I intended but if there is a need then why not?
I know it won’t happen overnight but it’s possible and something to aim for.
Well the day has come and Soggysaurus is available. The official launch will be on June 7th but until then you can enjoy it for the promotional price of £5.00. Suitable for 3-7 year olds, it about the importance of giving others a chance. Being different shouldn’t be a barrier to making friends. We all need to learn to be less judgemental and a bit more open minded and tolerant. Friendship is such an important thing for children, so lets teach them how to get it right.
Update having seen the proof copy, for various reasons we amended the cover . This is the final cover.
Feeling a tad apprehensive today. Our new book is being launched on Sunday May 1st. We’ve had so much feed back from school children all over the country about which font to use, and names for the characters etc. So a massive thank you to them and parents/teachers for facilitating that. We also invited some school children to be on our launch team, and they will be getting to work soon!
So this is the cover that has been chosen.
Today I have been a guest on Jolly Mack’s Bookshop page on Face Book. just sharing a few things about myself and this and that. So I though I out to share that with you too.
I love all the photos and messages the schools send me. It really makes my day. I have quite a collection now. (Here are a few.)
I always send a message back to thank them for caring for Mother Earth.
I love visiting schools too, whether to just read and chat with the pupils or do poetry workshops and teacher training. To connect with schools and children is very important to me. I retired 8 years ago and still miss the little chickens. …
(More photos available on the photo page.)
The best gift you can ever give your children is teaching them to read. It opens up the whole world to them. if you are dyslexic or simply never learned for one reason or another, it not too late. Get yourself some support and learn now. As an adult it is easier, honestly. You wont regret it I promise you. Good luck x
Here are some pics from reception children. Well done chickens xx
What have we been up to the last couple of weeks?
We had a marvellous time at Whitchurch High School’s Special Resource Base. We were made very welcome in the relaxed but busy classroom. Pupils were totally engrossed in the story and their activity, producing some excellent poetry. The base is a wonderful place where magic happens thanks to the dedication of all the staff and the enthusiasm of all the pupils. Next time I’m feeling a little bit down, I will think of this place because I know it will put a smile on my face.
A few days later we enjoyed another successful author visit to Wickham Common Primary School. I have to say we were exhausted by the time we arrived home after a 5 hour journey. However, it was worth it to work with very well behaved, bright and eager children. Once again the staff were very welcoming and helpful. I know I mention this often to people, but to be fair, they are so overworked and always chasing their tails yet they take the time to talk and offer assistance etc. The poetry produced was very good for the children’s ages. They soon got the structure I had shown them using the basic grammar within speech and were able to complete the last part of their poems independently. We also sold and signed a lot of books which was just great.
Wow! What a wonderful day
Today Funny Onion Stories did an author visit to Llantarnam Primary School.
The school is such a wonderful place. The children were very polite, enthusiastic to contribute and so well behaved it was a real pleasure to engage with them. The staff are lovely and the Head Teacher Mrs Laura Perrett has developed something very special for the community, a school where children come first, where their well being is paramount, where staff are appreciated and feel valued and where parents are partners in children’s education. It’s such a fabulous school I think I might come out of retirement and work there. Myself and Mrs B can’t wait to have a return visit.
Thank you to everyone at Llantarnam Primary it was a joy to meet you all. X
What a washout May has been so far. Let’s hope When she does come “June is busting out all over”. You have to be a certain age to know that song. I want sunshine and flowers, washing on the line and walks along the canal. I can also get some trips to the beach in the Campervan sorted and spend some time writing with a lovely view. Good news…Mother Earth is Weeping is being used in Torfaen schools by literacy expert Helen Bowen in her literacy enrichment programme. Helen Considine has paralysed the book and vocabulary. Wandsworth Council have placed the book on their recommended reads list and Nursery World Magazine have done so too. How lovely!
I am currently writing something new…a YA chapter book. I have to admit I am enjoying it a great deal. I know how to do picture books, they were my bread and butter when I was teaching. But I have hardly any experience of YA chapter books. I thought I might struggle with the word count at first but actually it’s just flowing. I will need feedback so I am entering the first chapter into a competition to win support from a writing mentor. So I will let you know how I get on in a few months.
I have learned that in the author world everything takes forever to get done. I find it frustrating but that’s how it goes; It has its own rhythm and I will have to dance to it. 😉
I love to get messages like this from customers. These are from teachers and their comments really lifted me, being a retired teacher myself. I can just imagine what the children were saying. So the power of picture books can not be over estimated.
“I love your book! It tackles heavy issues in just the right way. I actually found it quite easy to adapt to all the classes (we had to read to a different class each day). The children had fabulous ideas of how they could help Mother Earth. “
“Claire Donald I read this as my story for whole school book on world book day. The children loved it! I only started in January so only really got to meet my class but now all the other children keep coming up to me and saying “I saw litter in the park – what would Mother Earth think!” They even grass up their Mums for not recycling 🙈! “
Well hello folks,
I have shared this poem with lots of teachers and they love it. If you want to use it please feel free. We have to let our children know they have been missed. We have to start rebuilding a class identity and we have to support each other. There is still so much anxiety out there.
Feel free to use ( or not 😂)
Hey kids welcome back I missed you all so much.
Even though we did our best to stay in ‘virtual’ touch.
It was never going to be the same as having you all back together
And what ever the future holds we’ll get there whatever the weather.
So yes, there is lots of work to do, to get us all back on track
But more important for now isn’t the knowledge you lack
it’s the friendships and class identity that we have to nurture once more
You can’t build a house with a roof without the foundations and floor.
So over the next few weeks we will all support one and other
Remember we are family, you are all a class sister or brother.
Then we can dream, believe and achieve, the goals to which we aspire.
Covid will never win, like a Phoenix we’ll rise from the fire!
I have just finished my teacher pack for Mother Earth is Weeping. I am really pleased with the way it has turned out and it will save teachers a bit of time. There are never enough hours in a day for teachers!
I will evaluate how it goes and produce more packs for my other books if it looks promising.
Im trying to figure out how I can get it to people on Amazon. That will take me a good few hours to research.
Other news…the youngest children are back to school tomorrow… I know they will be so happy to be there and see all their friends. Teachers can’t wait to see them all too. I hope every thing goes well for them and it’s the beginning of a better future for everyone. I do think the teachers need to be vaccinated as a priority though!
it’s been a while, I know. I hope you are all safe and well and to anyone grieving, I wish you well and the strength to keep going. It has not been an easy journey this past year. Let’s hope the vaccines bring new hope for us all.
I have been unbelievably busy writing, with numerous titles on the go. I tend to write like that, as too many ideas pop into my mind. As I’m writing one, I’m thinking of another!
That’s great for an author I suppose, however, I get very obsessed with my writing to the detriment of other things sometimes. It’s very therapeutic to write, that’s true; but if my husband wasn’t here to keep the house ticking over and feeding me I dread to think what the house would be like 😳
On top of that there is homeschooling two grandsons as well. But oh what fun we are having; pirates, cops and robbers, shop keeping, puzzles, art activities, volcanoes and poison lava. Rolling the Carpet back so we can Slide on the wooden floor, and using the bottom hanging space in the wardrobe as a bat cave! Wrestling Bampy on the floor. Gymnastics etc.
Lessons involve Welsh conversation ( it’s okay they are age 3 and 5, I can manage Welsh at that level! )
Maths, Shapes and properties, telling time, measurement, volume, and SUMS! Money
Language development, reading, writing, spelling, stories and comprehension.Science; magnetism, sorting and classifying, water play, healthy living.
That’s why I haven’t been on here for a while. Am off for a nap now…da boch chi.
Well what a year 2021 has been. I have hardly left the house for 9 months and I know most of you have been in the same position. Lots of people suffering out there, and I’m sure many more to come. Loss of family members and friends, loss of mental and physical health, loss of livelihood and identity and loss of faith and hope. But…that was last year!
This year is a new beginning. There is hope on the horizon for the vaccines being developed and I’m sure having done so the scientists will be able to adapt it to deal with the new variants. We just need to hold on and keep Covid at bay until we can all get the vaccine.
Most people are indeed sticking to the rules and while it’s been difficult in my opinion they are doing exactly what we should all be doing. I get that some people think they are losing their civil liberties but needs must. Stay in; stay safe. We have the rest of our lives to make up for the lost time, the dead don’t dance!
if you have a teenager, please please please persuade them, frighten them even, to do the right thing. That age group is naturally more gung-ho, it’s part of their development to challenge and test etc. So it will be a bit of a struggle for some parents to curb their behaviour but curb it we must. While they might feel more invincible than other age groups, their actions could kill granny!
That’s the harsh reality of it. This is my article from a recent book.
Teenagers ignoring the lockdown?
Parents listen up! You need to step up to the plate, and tell your kids they can not go out!
You are the adult, take responsibility.
Sit them down and speak to them bluntly, if you need to frighten them then frighten them. That statement is hard for me to make and is counter intuitive but desperate times calls for desperate measures. Do what you need to do to make them understand. This is way too serious to shrug your shoulders at and put down to teenage years. We know how stroppy and bombastic they can be but you are the parent…start calling the shots, use kidology it still works with teenagers!
Ask them If a madman was on the street with a gun would they go outside? Take no notice if they answer yes they would still go out. Those flippant answers are exactly what we might expect from them. Their answer doesn’t really matter and it’s not worth arguing about. The fact that you have planted that seed will give them food for thought. They will still strop about being confined, they won’t want to lose face, with their friends etc. but they will more than likely comply. (Obviously do not say anything about the mad man in front of younger kids though!)
If your teenager insists on going out and you have tried your very very best, then phone the police. It won’t be easy to report your own child but needs must and you have to do what you have to do. Look; your child may end up angry with you and hate you for what you have done but you have to do whatever is necessary to protect them, you and others. They will understand when a little time has past that you acted out of love and the need to be a responsible citizen at this difficult time.
While they are confined let them play on their iPads etc. Everyone is going to be a little on edge but again I ask you to remember that you are the grown up. You can control your behaviour more easily than your teen. Be kind, ask if they will teach you how to play a game. Ask them if they could help you do something so they feel included but don’t press them if they don’t want to. Ask them if they can play with a younger sibling because they are a bit worried about everything and could do with a big brother/ sister to help them.
Think of daft games to play, ask them to do some exercises with younger members of the family etc. Remember much of the time your stroppy teen is really a confused and struggling little kid inside. Be patient, be patient, be patient.
One last thing when asking teens to do something, reframe your request e.g. “Come and eat your tea before it gets cold? Thank you!”. Teachers know that if you ask and say “thank you” instead of “please” there is an expectancy that they will conform and guess what…they usually do.
Good luck and Happy New Year.
I am thrilled, today I received the loveliest hand written rejection letter ever! It’s from the wonderful David Attenborough. What a gentleman to even reply, he is a national treasure.
Hello my dears,
I just found something quite by accident as I was scrolling around as you do on a Sunday afternoon and it actually says exactly what I have been saying so rather than reinvent the wheel I have copied it here for you.
According to vooks.com (accessed 1.11.20) It’s no secret that your child’s brain is a sponge for any and all information, but did you know that your kiddos can listen on a higher language level than they can read? In fact, according to brain scans done by the American Academy of Pediatrics, hearing a story read aloud strengthens the area in their brain that is associated with visual imagery, story comprehension, and word meaning. Simply put, children who are read to regularly at school or at home have more advanced vocabulary, language comprehension skills, and have even been shown to have increased confidence.
This is all absolutely true in my experience and is why I use extended vocabulary and enriched language whenever the narrative allows. Grown ups underestimate how much children can understand but when extended vocabulary is used in context they manage very well. If you need to you can always paraphrase to make sure. But children can cope and don’t need everything dumbed down. We need to challenge them to achieve higher learning.
Well what a fantastic week I’ve had. The book got to #1,#3,#3 in three categories. I was thrilled. We have had so much wonderful feedback too. To be honest and I know this sounds ridiculous, but I had no idea quite how many thousands and thousands of books are out there. It’s mind blowing when you really look into it and I’m a children’s book lover!
Any way, the book seems to have taken over most of my time lately. So it’s great to be back in a little routine looking after the boys 2 days a week. They are so funny they keep us entertained. Noah is in year 1 now and Teddy has just started Nursery in the afternoon. So we drive to school and back 3 times a day. Not ideal I know but it’s 4 miles away. Having said that neither of us have to drive to work any more so that helps.
I know the lockdown has been hard for many people and devastating for some. As for us, it’s been quite positive as we have slowed down a bit and have saved money by not having anywhere to go. The most difficult thing for us has been not getting to gigs. We really miss live music. We are currently in a local lockdown again but we have out own little bubble. We have to have the boys because Elliot (our son) and Nicola have to work. We also see my 82 year old mother everyday to check on her and prepare food for her.
So, I will be posting a load of books off tomorrow and then starting to get my next book ready for October! Will keep you in the loop! Xx
This lockdown is proving to be quite a challenge for some. Teenagers are driving parents to distraction, older people report feeling lonely, younger children are confused and key workers are understandably anxious. Hopefully we will be on top of the pandemic soon. Look after each other, be patient and kind and we will survive to become better humans.
Stay safe everyone. X
Hiya lovely chickens,
I hope you are well and able to stay safe. If you follow me you no doubt have young children or grandchildren. As a retired primary school teacher I want to reassure you that the schooling being missed through the lockdown is nothing for you to worry about. Health and well-being is paramount. The rest can be sorted later. Many schools are providing work for pupils remotely and there is a plethora of good internet sites out there. The most important thing you can do for young children though is simple. You need to talk to them and talk with them. Include them in your daily chores where you can and explain things to them as you go along. ( This type of learning used to be called sitting with Nellie) They are learning while staying occupied. Children like to be active and creative so try and allow for this each day even with a lack of space. Challenges always go down well. In 1 minute how many jumps/ kicks/ hops can you do? How far can you jump. Balance a book on your head and walk. Keep a balloon in the air etc. Make an obstacle course out of the furniture. Get across the room without touching the poison water with only 2 cushions etc.
Get the scissors out the paint the felt tips and cellotape. Make a dinosaur, a car, a plane. Follow instructions on a webpage.
Cook with kids,( so much science in this.) Talk about it, explain changes in state, liquid to solid, soft to hard. Dissolving, shrinking, expanding, can you get the sugar/ flour/ eggs back out of a cake? Talk about nutrition. Measuring ingredients, temperature of oven, fractions, dividing cakes and pizza.
Watch programmes together and take the opportunity to talk about them. Answer their questions honestly but only give as much detail as they need. Most importantly read stories and then read more stories. This is the best gift you can ever give your child.
Einstein supposedly said if you want your child to be intelligent read them fairytales. If you want them to be more intelligent…read them more fairy stories. If he didn’t really say it then he should have. 😉
This is a challenging time but let’s try to focus on the positives and enjoy the opportunity to spend more precious time with your little ones. They will be grown up before you know it. Stay safe xx
The publisher is postponing all new book launches owing to the blinking Coroavirus. 😱 In the meantime, why not get your little ones to draw a picture of themselves and send it to us on my Facebook messenger page
Well, as a result of the Coronavirus the radio show was postponed. I know it’s very disappointing to all our fans but nothing we could do about it. 😉 I also think the situation may have a knock on effect for our publishing and launch date. If that’s the case then it will be done when it’s done and not before! It’s neither here nor there in the overall scheme of things. People keeping safe is all that matters at this time of uncertainty and concern. I hope you all come through this unscathed. Take care of each other, be kind and take all necessary precautions. Stay safe chickens xx
I have switched to WordPress to go forward with Funny Onion Stories. I’m hoping it will be more user friendly ha ha! I know…such a Luddite! Anyway I will check in periodically and share some pearls of wisdom or other. No publishing date just yet but hopefully not too long. I’m on the radio Tuesday the 17th March. Yikes! Simon is coming to hold my hand so we should be ok. It’s radio Cardiff the Ceri Stennett show.
I have to admit that I have a really bad habit when I write, particularly on social media. I type and post without reading it back, consequently my posts have many grammatical and spelling errors. That’s not good for an author, so I am going to try my best to proof read everything from now on.
I do find proof reading difficult sometimes. Because I know in my head what I have written (intended to write), it can be hard to spot some of my mistakes when I read things back. Our minds often make sense of things for us when something isn’t quite right therefore we overlook the mistake. This is called cognitive blindness and most of us have this to some extent. My posts may contain a few errors as they are mostly off the cuff, but rest assured, my books will be proof read by a professional in my publisher’s team. 😉
Thought I would explain a little about our illustration process.
These days many illustrations are done with computer programmes. I use Procreate. The beauty of using art programmes like this is the opportunity to layer. Layering is fab as it gives you the freedom to change things or delete elements without messing up the rest of the illustration.
E.g. your background goes on layer 1. Layer 2 might be trees. Layer 4 could be a house. Layer 5 could be people.
The picture is now complete. You decide the house isn’t working and you want to change the size and colour. With traditional illustrating you would have to start all over again. With layering you can just change the house in Layer 4 and hey presto!
However, in our case layering up is difficult as Simon paints with water colours. So, rather than constructing the picture with layering up we have to deconstruct the whole water colour painting working backwards to create layers. It does take a bit longer and is a bit fiddly but it allows us to produce lovely watercolour illustrations while retaining the flexibility of layering.
I SUPPOSE NOW I OUGHT TO GET BACK ON WITH IT!
Bye for now x
Just a quickie to wish you all a Happy Christmas.
It’s a wonderful time of the year but also very stressful for many too. Everything does not have to be perfect… it’s the season of goodwill so nobody will complain about the turkey that’s a bit overdone or the custard being a bit lumpy, so just try to take everything in your stride. Besides when things go wrong it can be the cause of much laughter. I myself avoid all this stress by dining at my sisters. It’s a family tradition that we get together for Christmas dinner and as Kathy has the biggest house we all go there! (poor Kathy and Steve)
Anyway, have a Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it.
Happy New Year folks,
So my tree is down and all packed away.😢 I love my tree decorations, collected from various places around the world. I’m quite a simple person in many ways, certainly not materialistic… but very snobbish about Christmas trees. I’ve been busy today with layering illustrations on my new iPad. There was nothing wrong with my old iPad as such, apart from the fact my art app needed IOS 13 and my old one only went up to IOS13. All iPad series except mine were able to upgrade! I was not happy. However, maybe it’s not so bad as I now have a work iPad ( books and illustrations, website and blogs etc) and a personal iPad! I’m hoping it will help with organisation as I seem to be always “working”. Anyway, I’m putting this iPad down for the night now! Goodnight all. W
Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all health and happiness.
I found a photo of a piece of slate I had made for my colleagues in school as part of a leaving gift.
Childhood comes but once in a lifetime.
Make it magical.
Make it count.
Fill it with wondrous experiences.
Fill it with fun and laughter.
Fill it with love.
Give children their wings.
Then…stand back and watch them soar.
Good schools are not about tests and results and rushing through an arbitrary curriculum, assigning young children levels that take no account their age, experiences, backgrounds. No real need for spreadsheets and policies, gradings, naming and shaming etc. Most of it is unnecessary and much of it misleading and unhelpful and impinges on giving children a proper education that nurtures and inspires them and is respectful of them and their teachers.
As my first book is about children and caring for the world I thought I would share a poem I found on Twitter written by a young man Sebastian Coult. He’s done a super job of highlighting some of the problems we are currently facing. I think it’s wonderful that so many young people are voicing their concerns and leading the way in securing their future, and ours too.
Just got the latest illustration and love it. Only 2 more and it will be ready for the publisher and editing. I’m starting to get a bit excited now. Hopefully I have learned enough to make getting the next book done more quickly.
I am sure I still have a great deal to learn but I have gained more confidence going forward! The next step now is going to be more of a challenge as I need to start marketing. I know my publisher will of course market the book but I need to do my bit too. I am learning as much as I can about networking and connecting with people through the internet etc. But, anyone who knows me will find this a little amusing, as I have a love/hate relationship with technology. So far I have set up this page, started Tweeting and have an Instagram account. I find it all very time consuming at the moment and can’t wait for a time when I know exactly what I’m doing and can whizz through it all like everyone else!
Hello my dears,
Well it’s gone to the publishers. I know it will probably need a few tweaks but apart from that it’s finished and ready to go! I don’t know how long it will be before we can get our hands on a physical copy as these things have their own pace. I have learned that it all takes longer than I think it will. My publisher reminds me that I’m not the only person they deal with ha ha! But they are not as excited as me! 🤪
So, in the meantime I am going to have a little spring clean as I have neglected getting furniture out and hoovering in between the sofa cushions and down behind the TV. But before that I’ll just have another cup of tea and a little think. I love thinking!!! 😉