Watch Natalie and Cheryl Read Lucy’s Book

Earlier this year, Cheryl Orsini and I visited the offices of Hachette Australia, where we recorded this video. We hope you enjoy seeing us read Lucy’s Book!

September Update: New Fairy Dancers

The Fairy Dancers: Dancing Days is now available in shops around Australia. In fact, it has already been reviewed! The ever lovely Megan Daley reviewed the book as part of her regular “Bookworms” slot on ABC Radio Brisbane, and it was so nice to hear the book described on air as “completely beautiful and magical and special”. Megan’s full review of the book can be heard here; it starts at about 13:30.

Here is one of my favourite spreads from the first story “The Fairy Sleepover", to give you an idea of just how beautiful the book is, and how clever Cheryl’s illustrations are. The three Fairy Dancers have gone to have a sleepover at Miss Ashleigh’s house, but as you can see, all is not right with Emma, who is scared of the dark.


I’m also extremely fond of the last story in the collection, “The Fairy Christmas”. In this one, Miss Ashleigh takes the Fairy Dancers into town to do some Christmas shopping and visit Santa in his grotto. I had great fun incorporating some real life incidents into this story. (People often ask me where I get my ideas from: it is surprising how many of them come from everyday life.) The main storyline of “The Fairy Christmas” centres on Grace leaving her beautiful red-haired doll, Emily in the back of the taxi. Unfortunately, when she was about Grace’s age, the same thing happened to my daughter Elizabeth (who is now 18, and starting to write and illustrate herself). It was an extremely traumatic incident, which ended badly, as we never saw Elizabeth’s Emily again. I am happy to report that a little Fairy Dancers magic gives Grace’s tale a happy ending, as you can see from the pictures below.


Another real life incident I managed to sneak into this story was the “dog in the manger” episode, when Coco the cheeky dachshund decides to make a bed in the manger of a living nativity. This is something one of our own dachshunds, Theodore, did once at a church Christmas party. It was so hilarious, that I couldn’t resist putting the “dog in the manger” into my story. Here, comparing real life with art, is the photo of Theo edging out baby Jesus, and Cheryl’s illustration of the incident as it was rendered in the story:

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Before I leave the subject of The Fairy Dancers: Dancing Days, a reminder that there are new, free activity downloads for children here, and a beautiful free sewing pattern for a toadstool tuffet here. More will be added in the coming weeks, so please keep checking this blog for details.

The Fairy Dancers: Dancing Days is the second of the two books I am publishing this year (The first was Lucy’s Book, published by Lothian back in March). I’m now looking forwards to the next lot of titles, about which I will be sharing more very soon. However, just to give a hint: I have been very busy for most of this year with a new collaborative project involving many of Australia’s most creative and celebrated children’s writers and illustrators. Last week, I spent a very enjoyable professional development day at HarperCollins in Sydney, where this photo was taken of just a few of the people involved in the forthcoming book.

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Left to right, Chren Byng and Eve Tonelli (ABC HarperCollins), Sara Acton, Natalie Jane Prior, Margaret Connolly, Tamsin Ainslie, Cheryl Orsini, Pauline O’Carolan, Kate Mayes.

I’m so incredibly excited about this new book (especially having seen some of the stunning pages the design team is working on) that it is all I can do to keep the details to myself for now.  The book will be coming out in March next year from ABC Books. Keep following this blog and all will be revealed in due course.

Easiest Book Week Costume, Ever

A quick post which I hope will be of use to some of you. Coming up with last minute Children’s Book Week Costumes is always a potential trap for unwary parents (“But Mum, it’s tomorrow!”—“Why didn’t you tell me?”—“I am telling you!”). Chances are, there is already an incredibly easy Book Week costume for little girls in your wardrobe. Look at this picture:

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Mia, Emma and Grace, the three friends who feature in The Fairy Dancers and its soon to be published sequel, The Fairy Dancers: Dancing Days, attend their ballet lessons with Miss Ashleigh in standard pink leotards, skirts and ballet slippers. Sometimes, when performing, they wear fairy wings as in Cheryl Orsini’s illustration above, but most of the time, they don’t. Grab your daughter’s ballet wear out of the cupboard and turn her into a Fairy Dancer for Children’s Book Week.

A few simple ways you can personalise, or jazz up the basic costume:

* download and print out some Fairy Dancers pretend theatre tickets and hand them out to your friends

* download the Fairy Wand Activity, and make yourself a wand as an accessory

* add fairy wings, if you have them in your dress-up box

* carry a toy dachshund—Mia’s dachshund, Coco, features in many stories

* Grace’s bun is always falling down, so have a messy hair day

* take off one ballet slipper for the parade—Emma’s shoe falls apart in one story

Above all, have a fun time at Book Week!

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.


© Natalie Jane Prior 2017