Have just returned from two idyllic weeks in Vanuatu – what a fabulous place! It was a real ‘get away’ from it all, with a cruise around some of the more remote islands and then a stay at a resort near Vila. I spent most of my time in the sea, snorkeling the fabulous coral reefs, but also visited some of the villages and was fascinated to learn about the villagers’ lifestyle, and listen to their music and watch their dancing – only men allowed to dance (and to watch – except for visitors) and it was more war manoeuvres than dancing really. They look absolutely fearsome in the most incredible masks and headdresses they wear.
On my return, I was invited to attend a wonderful teacher-briefing at the fabulous Quarantine Station here in Sydney, where several guides took turns to talk about tours available for schools: Kids in Quarantine, 40 Days, and the tour based on my own novel, Ghost Boy. (I was really chuffed to hear that the Ghost Boy tour is their most popular with schools.) It’s always a great treat for me to hear the guides talk about my novel and its characters, Froggy and Tad, and I also got to do a short reading while we were in the hospital ward – VERY atmospheric, especially as the teachers were given raw onions to hold, just as it happens in my book!
I also want to share with you news of a new book to be published next year, in February, by the National Museum of Australia. It’s part of the Making Tracks series, and it’s called ‘Turning the Page’. It’s based on an artefact from the museum’s collection (as are all the Making Tracks series) and tells the story of a young girl with a great hunger to learn how to read and write at a time when there were no opportunities for her to get an education. The story is set at Springfield, which was a sheep stud near Goulburn, and you can read all about Maggie if you click on the cover of Turning the Page on my home page on my website. The book will be launched at the SCBCWI conference on February 1st next year.
Meantime, thanks to you all for your blog messages and emails.

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