A ten year old boy asked me to write a book about a boy who was bullied in the toilets. This was way before I started writing kids books. ‘I don’t write books. I failed English at High School.’
Some time after this encounter, I was driving along a road near where I lived and spotted a group of skylarking magpies. I have since learnt that the collective noun for magpies is a ‘charm’. This charm were not being very charming. They were picking on one magpie. It appeared as if they were trying to force the poor magpie onto the road in front of my approaching car, in a way like the old fashioned game of chicken. I braked and swerved and the magpie flew off. The other magpies looked like they were laughing at the spectacle. Well, there’s a kid’s story book about bullying in the making.
I went home and started writing my first children’s book. ‘The Magpie Who Wasn’t a Chicken.’ It wasn’t long before I had written ten books, all based around the Australind Estuary and Collie River area near Bunbury Western Australia. I printed the books on a photocopier and used them in my work. Some years later I had the opportunity to publish the books through Nurture Works, a charitable organisation I was working with. Six of the books were published with sensational watercolour illustrations by local artist Deb Prentice.
Each of the books tackles a social subject that children may encounter; bullying, loneliness and making friends, marriage breakdown, abuse including physical and sexual, anger, grief and loss.
The books have an underlying environmental theme as the characters in the stories are creatures from the region trying to understand human behaviour. The creatures talk to each other about the humans but the humans are unaware.
Over the years I have received much positive feedback on the books. One psychologist who read ‘Skimming Stones’ with one of her clients said that the boy commented, ‘How did the author know my story?’ The books became a component in some of the BUZ (Build Up Zone) programs. They are on the shelves of many school and town libraries and adorn the bookshelves of school chaplains and psychologists. ‘The Terrible Secret’ is one of the recommended books for the Education Department’s Protective Behaviours Program.
Recently I met a twelve year-old girl at a talk I was giving. She told me that my book ‘The Magpie Who Wasn’t A Chicken’ was important to her has she grew up.
“I read the ‘Magpie who wasn’t a chicken’ when I was in year one, I am now in year six and I still remember it well. It is a really good book and it helped me become who I am now. I remember the magpie was being picked on and I saw parallels with my own life. I learnt skills to stand up for myself and others.” Aelwen (Age 12)
Each of the stories was inspired by real life encounters I had with children who were going through a tough time.
It is so satisfying to see that the books are still relevant and touching the lives of children.
- Picked Last
- The Magpie Who Wasn’t a Chicken
- The Ging
- The Land on The Other Side Of The Rainbow
- A Terrible Secret
- Skimming Stones.
The books are available through my website.