Friday, 26 October 2012

Queensland Literacy Awards and Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers

The newly formed Queensland Literacy Awards (QLA) were set up on the 4th April this year. This was established when the government unfortunately withdrew their support from the Queensland Premier Literacy Awards. This caused a small but strong group of people to fight back and the QLA were set up. Last month over 40 volunteer judges announced the 15 worthy winners to the Literacy' Awards. There were 68 finalists and more than 600 entries.

These awards are now run entirely by volunteers, with support from individual and corporate donors. 

Fiction Book Award: Cold Light, by Frank Moorhouse (Sydney)
Non-Fiction Book Award: The People Smuggler, by Robin De Crespigny (Melbourne)
Young Adult Book Award: The Ink Bridge, by Neil Grant (Melbourne)
Children's Book Award: Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers, by Briony Stewart (Perth)
Australian Short Story Collection - Steele Rudd Award: Forecast Turbulence, by Janette Turner Hospital (Queensland resident based in South Carolina, USA)
Poetry Collection - Judith Wright Calanthe Award: Crimson Crop, by Peter Rose (Melbourne)
Emerging Queensland Author - Manuscript Award: Island of the Unexpected writer Catherine Titasey (Thursday Island, Queensland)
Unpublished Indigenous Writer - David Unaipon Award: Story Siv Parker (Queensland born now living in Lismore)
History Book Award: The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia, by Bill Gammage (Canberra)
Science Writer Award: Sex, Genes & Rock 'n' Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World, by Rob Brooks. (Sydney)
Literary or Media Work Advancing Public Debate - Harry Williams Award: The Australian Moment: How We Were Made for These Times, by George Megalogenis (Melbourne)
Drama Script Award: War Crimes, by Angela Betzien (Melbourne based previously from Queensland)
Film Script Award: Dead Europe, by Louise Fox (Sydney)
Television Script Award: Mabo, by Sue Smith (Sydney)
The Courier-Mail People's Choice Queensland Book of the Year: Closer to Stone, by Simon Cleary (Brisbane based, born in Toowoomba)

Children's book award winner was Briony Stewart, a practising teacher librarian from Perth. She wrote Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers. 

This is the third and final book in the Kumiko series. It is a contemporary fantasy series aimed at young readers. To save her family and the dragons, Kumiko must bravely venture on a journey to confront the shadow catchers. Her courage and perseverance are put to the test. Can she help those that she loves the most?

Queensland Literary Awards Inc. Chair, Dr Stuart Glover said, 

“The prizes acknowledge the writers’ achievements and the importance of books and writing to the whole community.” 

"The Queensland Literary Awards are, if I say so myself, now very cool awards to win." 

"These awards recognise how important literature is to the Queensland people."

"We don’t know what will happen in 2013, but we hope we will continue to get support from everyone. The awards aren't worth staging unless the community values them. We would welcome the return of government support, as government is one of many stakeholders in the state's literary life, but regardless, the community has spoken about the importance of writing and literature."

Congratulations to all the winners!


Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Case of the Stolen Cookies

This experience isn't a new one. I have heard it a number of times through my life and I always enjoy hearing it. It is thought provoking and allows us to examine ourselves and see what sort of people we are.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - image credit Melanie Graham, A Welcoming Hearth

A lady has to wait for a few hours for a connecting flight at the airport. So to while away the time a little, she goes and buys herself a packet of biscuits and sits down on the seats to wait. Almost immediately a man comes and sits down next to her. 

He takes the packet of biscuits, opens it up, and helps himself to one. She is absolutely shocked, leans over and grabs a biscuit and sits back, fuming with anger. 

A short while passes and he takes another biscuit. She is livid! She snatches a biscuit, glares at the man, who gives her a smile. 

This happens again and again. Every time the lady gets angrier and angrier.

Soon there is one biscuit left in the packet. He takes it. She seethes with anger. He breaks it in half and offers her half the biscuit. She snatches it from him.

He then gets up and walks away.

Her flight is called and she makes her way onto the plane. She settles herself in her seat and reaches into her bag, only to find her unopened packet of biscuits, that she had bought earlier.

She is mortified and slumps in her chair, completely red faced and embarrassed. 

Which of these people are we?

Are we quick to judge others? Jumping to conclusions and getting angry over perceived ills that are done to us. Do we let our anger fester and get worse? Then after the situation has passed and we realise we were in the wrong, it is then too late to apologise and say we are sorry?

Are we like the man who had generously and with good nature shared his packet of biscuits with the lady? Not getting angry or bitter. But going with the flow and remaining calm and happy.

It is a good lesson for us, not to jump to conclusions and not to judge others.


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Steve Irwin's Wildlife Warriors

Did you get the chance to see Steve Irwin's Wildlife Warriors last Saturday night on Channel 10?

If you missed it, the series centres on the Wildlife Hospital and the Rescue Unit of Australia Zoo and how the Irwin family and all members of this amazing place, help save and care for the animals in the zoo and also all precious native animals that are in trouble and need some help.

The first episode showed a team of 25 people catching the 80 year old, 350 kg crocodile called 'Grandpa' to check an injured foot; relocating a Cassowary to Taronga Zoo; and rescuing a Koala and her joey who had been hit by a car.

The next episode which goes to air at 7.30pm Saturday on Channel 10 checks if the grumpiest tiger in the zoo, 17 year old Ramalon can be a father again; checks out the kids petting zoo and some very loud piglets; and xrays a Crested Tern who has swallowed a large hook.

It is very watchable and I loved seeing all the animals. It shows the Irwin family and the Wildlife Warriors, continuing the work of the Crocodile Hunter in saving Australia's unique wildlife.


Monday, 8 October 2012

Once Upon A Dream - New Children's Series on Channel 10

This programme is for every little girl who has every pulled on a ballet slipper and dreamt of being a prima ballerina or a principal dancer on a brightly lit stage in front of a large audience of adoring fans.

I took ballet lessons when I was about six or seven. Put on a performance of Peter and the Wolf. Dreamt of great things. But I didn't have the dedication that these young ones have.

Seeing the opening to this new children's series Once Upon A Dream brought it all back to me. The tiny tots in their cute pink leotards and ballet slippers. Maybe one of them may be the next Dame Margot Fontaine!


What I thought was wonderful and ensures that ballet will continue for hopefully a long time yet, is the amount of boys that are interested in dancing. They have the strength of character and outright determination to ignore the comments and jibes that inevitably come their way. 

David Wenham, Lord of the Rings, Australia, 300, Sea Change

The host of this compelling new series is actor and 'ballet dad' David Wenham (Lord of the Rings, Australia, 300, Sea Change). He has said:

So many children around Australia love dance, and aspire to be a ballet dancer, so it is a great privilege to be a part of this children’s series, Once Upon a Dream. Children (and adults) will enjoy getting to go behind-the-scenes of The Australian Ballet and see every facet of the company. There’s interviews with choreographers, costume makers, ballet teachers, technical and medical staff, so they’ll get the whole picture of what it takes to make a ballet.

The first episode tells the stories of a number of incredibly talented young dancers. The inspiring Jessica Brown, who I am sure is on her way to the very top. The dedicated Zac who travels 1 1/2 hours to get to his ballet class after school and the gorgeous brother and sister, Callum and Paloma who both want to make dancing their life.

Once Upon A Dream will excite, amaze and take your breath away. In other episodes we can take a sneak peak behind the scenes of The Australian Ballet's production of Swan Lake; find out all the crazy things that ballerinas do to their pointe shoes to make them feel just right; and take a look at the beautiful sets, the intricate costumes and the choreography that all goes into a dazzling production.

Lana Jones State Theatre Swan Lake rehearsal credit Lynette Wills

This wonderful 6 part series is a partnership between Channel 10 and The Australian Ballet. Once Upon A Dream will be aired at 4 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday from October 16.


Sunday, 7 October 2012

School Holidays are Drawing to a Close

Sunday night... the night before school starts again. The last 10 weeks of the school year.

It's such a change in thinking patterns. No more getting up at 7.30am, not caring about the time, lack of routines and letting things slip and slide along at their own pace.

I must admit while this life is fine for a little while. I do crave routines. Some sense of order to my day. I guess I like being busy. I like knowing where I am going and what I am doing. 

This term we have two weeks of swimming for Miss 8 to look forward to. Changing home readers every morning, changing the school sign on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Prep enrolment day for Master 4.

One thing I have done and I feel rather proud of myself, I have cleaned the girls bags. Three and five years worth of crumbs, bits of paper, and collectively $9.30 worth of spare change in the bottom! Bonus!

This term I begin the delicate dance of finding what all the 'good' teachers plans are for next year. Do you choose the best teachers based on your children's personalities? Or do you take a more relaxed approach and leave it to chance. I know that Miss 9 cannot have a shouty teacher, she will cower into a corner and stay there for the rest of the year. They will not get anything out of her at all and she has so much to give. Miss 8 is a bit more forgiving but still needs a teacher who notices her as she is quiet and will tend to disappear into the background. The Prep teachers all seem nice and kind. So Master 4 should do well.

I need teachers who understand what a huge privilege they have got, what a special job teaching is. I am entrusting my precious little gems into your care for a year and you need to nurture them and allow them to grow and blossom.

Anyway, time to get their clothes ready and make sure there are bowls and spoons for breakfast. It all starts again for the next 10 weeks.

I have feelings of sadness at losing my girls for 6 hours through the day and relief at getting back into routine again.

If your children start school again tomorrow, do you have mixed feelings too? 


Friday, 5 October 2012

Things I Know School Holidays Edition

I know that I love my kids being home on the school holidays, it makes it harder, but a lot of fun.

I know sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you start to rise up again.

I know that trying to watch out for four children on your own when you are at a 'family fun day' is hard work!

I know that I should organise my very untidy desk but you know what they say if a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind then what does an empty desk mean....

I know that you should cherish your friends and hold them close, there is a lot of badness in the world today and when you have a good friend then you have an absolute treasure.

I know that I am so thankful for for the lovely Bronnie at Maid in Australia. I won the competition on her blog and now have four VIP passes to Seaworld/Movieworld/ Wet'n'Wild and I can finally take my children to Seaworld. I have waited nine years for this. My kids just can't believe they finally get to go to a theme park.

I know that I have a wonderful family.

Remember that “Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.” ~ Harvey MacKay


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Remote Control Quad Bike Review from Only Online

My kids just love anything remote control. Are your children the same as mine?

They look at it with such wonder. Like it is absolute magic. I guess it seems so incredible when you are little.

Remote Control toys are special. Even more so when there is flashing coloured lights and different sounds and songs.

My kids have been having an absolute ball playing with this little guy.

He is the Remote Controlled Quad Bike - Yellow and Black with Rider from Only Online or It was only $29.95 with $10.95 postage. The price at other shops would have been double that.

They are Australia and New Zealand's biggest online department store, with over 30,000 items to choose from! They offer amazingly low prices on their huge range of things. You can save up to 80% off the usual retail prices. The website makes it so easy to find what you want because of a very easy to use search function. 

One of the things that Only Online has, is an abundance of toys. I wanted to choose something under $50 including postage. When I went to choose a toy I was a little overwhelmed with the amount of toys that there are, all the well known brands, and because everything is so cheap there are a lot to choose from under $50.

Another thing I was very happy with was the time that it took to deliver it to me. Just like this little Quad Bike they are super quick!

When it came in the post, my kids were so excited. They of course wanted to play with it immediately. Thankfully it comes with all the batteries required.

Remote Control Quad Bike
Radio Controlled Quad Bike
Remote Controlled Quad Bike
Remote Controlled Quad Bike

It is very cool. It goes forwards, backwards, tilts to either side, can even go up 90 degrees on its rear wheels and spins. I have attempted to catch it spinning in my middle photo! 

I had as much fun as the kids did. I would definitely recommend this great toy and the price is excellent. It is far better quality than I expected and far bigger than I expected too! I will be buying from again. I was very impressed.

A direct link to the toy section if you would like to see their great selection is


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