Story Arts Festival, Ipswich

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If you have children and live in the Ipswich area, you might like to add the StoryArts Festival to your calendar. The Fairy Dancers will be featured in an after school session in the festival's family program on Thursday 7 September, from 4.00 – 4.30pm in the Ipswich Library.

I will be reading the stories, there will be craft, and a magical dance workshop with dance teacher, Miss Sam. Books will also be available for sale, so if you would like a signed copy of the new book, Fairy Dancers: Dancing Days, it would be a good opportunity to get one.

The event is free, but bookings are essential and can be made here.

The Fairy Dancers: Dancing Days: Available for Preorder

Cheryl Orsini and I are pleased to announce that our next book together, The Fairy Dancers: Dancing Days is now available for preorder. The book will be in shops at the end of August.


The Fairy Dancers: Dancing Days continues the adventures of dancing friends, Mia, Emma and Grace and their beloved ballet teacher, Miss Ashleigh (and of course, that naughty dachshund, Coco). The second collection contains three stories: The Fairy Sleepover, Robots and Fairies, and The Fairy Christmas, with full colour illustrations by Cheryl Orsini in her child-friendly, retro style.

This time, Emma has to confront a secret fear; the girls compete in an eisteddfod where they discover that, contrary to their pre-conceptions, boys can also dance; and a Christmas visit to Santa’s Grotto has an unexpected outcome.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing lots more about the new book, and adding a range of exciting downloads and activities for children and adults. Meanwhile, here is a beautiful illustration from Cheryl to whet your appetite for the delights to come. Also, be sure to check the Fairy Dancers page in this site.

Emotion Horses Therapy Aids

I'd like to share news about the launch of a big project my daughter, Elizabeth Nussey has been working on for several months now. All her life, Elizabeth has been passionate about animals, especially horses, and equally passionate about drawing them; so it is very exciting that she is now using this to start up a small business.

In conjunction with EAGALA therapist, Dr Anja Kriegeskotten, Elizabeth has been developing a range of therapy aids under the name "Emotion Horses". If you are familiar with similar therapy aids developed for kids with ASD and speech problems, you will recognise the format: Elizabeth's art shows a range of faces expressing different, labelled emotions. In Elizabeth's aids, the expressive faces are those of horses. Her therapy aids were developed in the first instance for use in Equine Therapy on the EAGALA model, but they would also be very helpful in more conventional therapy, or for parents or teachers of children with ASD. Elizabeth is also developing a similar range of aids, "Mood Dogs", in conjunction with Sam King, another Brisbane based therapist who works with and trains therapy dogs.

I'm very proud of Elizabeth, as it's a huge thing for someone who is only 17 to develop a product range, and set up and promote a business. Please pass on the word to anyone you know who would be interested in, or benefit from her products.

"Emotion Horses" posters and flashcard sets are available for purchase on Elizabeth's website.


Lucy’s Book at the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge

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I’d intended to write this up earlier, but my recent trip down to Sydney  ended with a throat infection, which put me out of action for a couple of days. Cheryl Orsini and I had a wonderful day last Friday at the Bennetts Road Public School in Colyton, Sydney, attending the launch of the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge. NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and Education Minister Rob Stokes both attended the launch, and Lucy’s Book was the featured book for the event. Watching children from the school read a giant version of our book to the VIP guests gave both Cheryl and me a tremendous buzz—you can see some of the enlarged pages on the easels in the background of the photo below. The Premier spoke to the children about starting school as a little girl who couldn’t even speak English, and how important reading was to her as a child, not only in helping her with her language skills, but in opening windows onto a wider world. You can watch a video of her speech at the event (and read an interview with me!)  in this Daily Telegraph newspaper article.

 More information about the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge can be found here, and similar challenges are getting underway as I write in other states. Thanks to Yvette Poshoglian and the New South Wales Department of Education for the photos seen here.

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Lucy’s Book: New Activity + Housekeeping

A new activity has just been added to the Lucy’s Book Makerspace Page. Cheryl Orsini has kindly prepared a cover template for kids to make their own special book, just like the one Lucy has in the story. A blown up version of the template was used very successfully by us at our recent workshops in Sydney, as you can see in the photograph below. (Cheryl arranged for it to be laminated so it could be used over and over again in a teaching situation.) The children also took away A4 versions to make their own books later. Download the template here.

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I’ve also fixed an incorrect link on one of the Lucy’s Book colouring sheets: thank you to the reader who pointed this out. Please don’t hesitate to send me a message via the contact form if you find any other problems with the site.

Yes, I Really was a Public Librarian and Here’s Proof!

A bit of background for Lucy’s Book: I really did work as a librarian in the late 80s and early 90s. Today, I have been digging out some old photos for a talk I’m about to present in Sydney, and here I am behind the circulation desk of the very new Kimberley Park Library, in Logan, south of Brisbane, while some of the library assistants do a terrible job of pretending to be borrowers.

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For those who are interested in such matters: this circulation desk is interesting because it occupies the technical no-man’s land when libraries around Australia were switching over to computerised catalogues and circulation systems. Because this was a brand new library, and the council was planning to automate the service in the near future, the decision was made not to print catalogue cards. So, you will see neither a card catalogue nor a computer in this library; we opened our doors with only a computer printout of our holdings, and the camera I am using (or pretending to use) at the desk was rented for us until the computerised system arrived some months down the track.

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All the staff at this library were absolutely lovely to work with, and we had a very happy and imaginative workplace, which was famous for doing eccentric library displays. Some of my happiest memories of libraries come from working in this place, something I did until I left to become a full time children’s writer in 1992. From left to right in the photo below: Jacky, Cathy, me (Branch and Local Studies Librarian), Kathryn (Community Services Librarian) and Leann.

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A big thank you to Hilda Maclean, Local Heritage Specialist at the Logan City Council, for supplying me with these photos.

Lucy’s Book Teachers’ Notes Now Available for Download

I’ve known and respected Robyn Sheahan-Bright for many years, so I was really happy when Lothian asked her to write some teachers’ notes for Lucy’s Book. (Robyn shares my library and children’s book love, so she was an excellent choice to prepare something based on this particular title.)

You can download the notes for Lucy’s Book here. Also a a reminder that there are other downloads useful for teachers and librarians under the Downloads tab, and activity sheets for children under Makerspace.


Lucy’s Book Shortlisted for Bilby Awards

I always love it when my books are shortlisted for children’s choice awards: while it’s nice to hear that adults enjoy them, my aim is always to appeal to children first. Kids are very tough critics: an adult who doesn’t like what you have written will usually say something politely non-committal, whereas children will let you have it straight— “that’s a dumb book”.

With this in mind it’s great to see that kids have voted to include Lucy’s Book on the recent BILBY shortlist. BILBY stands for “Books I Love Best Yearly”, and is run by the CBCA (Queensland Branch). It’s particularly gratifying to see Lucy’s Book on this list, because the book only came out in late February; to have made such an impact so early in its life is quite unusual. The book is one of six in the Early Childhood category, and I was also happy to see Narelle Oliver’s Rock Pool Secrets on the list. Today is the fourth anniversary of my good friend Gregory Rogers’s death. Greg, Narelle and I all started our careers together in the early 1990s, and to have lost both these talented Queenslanders to cancer while only in their fifties has been a great loss to the Australian picture book world.

You can see the full BILBY shortlist here.

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Lucy’s Book Reviews, Fairy Dancers Paperback Edition and Happy Easter, 2017


It’s been so encouraging to see the wonderful reviews Lucy’s Book has been receiving! The book has clearly connected with librarians and bookish people everywhere, as you can tell from this piece in Kid’s Book Review:

Right from the stunningly beautiful book-lined library shelves on the front cover, through to the gorgeous books raining down on the end papers, and all the divinely detailed and busy illustrations in between, Lucy's Book has set my librarian heart aflutter, sent a tingle up my book nerd spine, and immediately transported me 20 years back, deep into childhood nostalgia territory.

Since this is EXACTLY the effect Cheryl and I were trying to elicit, I think this is a candidate for my favourite book review of all time. Lots of other people seem to agree: in 25 years of writing, Lucy’s Book is the first book I’ve published to need a reprint before publication. You can buy Lucy’s Book from Booktopia in paperback and hardback, and “Reading Girl” and “Reading Boy” t-shirts and mugs based on Cheryl Orsini’s beautiful illustrations are available at our online shop.

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There is also news about The Fairy Dancers. The paperback edition of the first volume, The Fairy Dancers, will be available in shops at the end of April. You can pre-order it from Booktopia, and of course, the original hardback edition is still available. (As you can see from this picture, the paperback is in a slightly larger format than the hardback.)

The second volume of stories about Mia, Emma and Grace, The Fairy Dancers: Dancing Days, will be published in September this year. Cheryl’s work for the new book is (as usual) absolutely beautiful, and as a special Easter Gift, I’m going to share a  sneak preview of one of her illustrations.

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Thanks to all who follow my blog: I hope to be back after the holidays with some new craft activities for children and adults. Meanwhile, my blessings and best wishes for a happy and holy Easter and Passover, accompanied lots of lovely hot cross buns and melted butter, chocolate eggs, and relaxing school holidays for all the family.

Natalie x

My Cutest Book Review Ever!

HarperCollins has appointed their newest staff member, Mabel, as expert book reviewer. Cheryl Orsini and I are thrilled to see that she has chosen The Tales of Mrs Mancini for her influential video blog!

© Natalie Jane Prior 2017