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Hear Judith Rossell talk Cautionary Tales

October 14, 2016

Register Here 

Cautionary Tales for Children – Chapter Study
Wormwood Mire by Judith Rossell

Date: Tuesday 18th October

Time: 11:30am – 12:15pm

Target audience: Years 4-6


Wormwood Mire the sequel to Withering by sea has many cautionary tales throughout, we discuss what cautionary tales are with the students.

Stella was reading the book, A Garden of Lilies, Improving Tales for Young Minds by Prudence A Goodchild which is full of cautionary tales, for example,
Greedy children always tend
to meet with a disastrous end.

What is the structure of the cautionary messages? What might be a modern day cautionary message? Perhaps,
Lazy children often find,
they meet with outcomes most unkind.

Students write their own cautionary message, and then encourages to write the accompanying story

Curriculum Links

Year 4 English
ACELT1602 Literature and Context
ACELT1603 ACELT1604 Responding to Literature
ACELT1605 Examining Literature
ACELT1794 Creating Literature
ACELY1690 ACELY1692 Interpreting, analysing, evaluating

Wormwood Mire by Judith Rossell

October 12, 2016



HarperCollins is giving away a

signed print,book and poster

of the much anticipated Wormwood Mire by Judith Rossell to a lucky school.

    5 runners up will receive a signed book and everyone who enters will get a gorgeous poster to decorate your library or classroom.

Please email me a  by Monday 17 October and finish this sentence to go into the draw.

 As Stella sat on the chair reading……………………………………………

send  entries to

Downloadable Teachers Notes Available

Read a review by here  Barbara Branxton 

Virtual Author Events Term 4 2016

October 12, 2016


Dr Seuss BINGO! Games to giveaway

September 7, 2016

 To celebrate these bright new Dr Seuss cover designs  with much needed guidance on reading levels  HarperCollins have these Bingo Packs to Give away.  Each pack contains

5 Bingo Boards

1 set of 26 Bingo Cards

1 x 2 Sticker Sheets

1 Certificate Pad

3 x A3 Posters



email me at for your free copy.

Offer closes 16 September

Thicker Than Water

August 31, 2016


As part of their Life Writing Studies Module A Extension 1HSC students and their teachers at Hurlstone Agricultural High School welcomed author Cal Flyn into their library.

Thicker Than Water by Cal Flyn is a memoir of family,secrets,guilt and history.

British journalist Cal Flyn was holidaying in her childhood home in the Highlands of Scotland, when she stumbled upon a dark family secret. To her horror, she discovered that her great-great-great uncle Angus McMillan, who had been mythologized as a great explorer and pioneer of early Australia, was in fact also the leader of a number of gruesome massacres of indigenous people.

Cal was able to talk to the students about self-reflection about her journals and research she had to undertake to write this book.

“Life writing is a field devoted to the study and creation of narratives which focus on individual lives and lives of others.  Life writers and historians believe that life writing and life history are very important and useful as they provide first hand stories and accounts of individuals and personal insights.”

by Jacqui Barton, Education Manager

2016 Creative WritingWorkshop and Publisher day

August 31, 2016

This year 100 students will spend their day at the  HarperCollins offices listening to publishers, editors and designers  talk about the book industry.

Our marketing team will lead a session where student will put their knowledge into marketing a book.

Followed by a creative writing session with author Alison Goodman.

Registrations  for 2016 have closed, for information about 2017 please contact


Children’s Book Week 2016

August 1, 2016

Children’s Book Week 2016, running from 20 – 26 August, is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the brilliant stories and storytellers Australia has to offer. 

Gumnut Babies 100 years

100 Years of Gumnut Babies!

Beautiful new centenary edition to celebrate the publication of May Gibb’s fist book, Gumnut Babies in 1916. May Gibb’s  marvellous creation- the Gumnut world, with its tiny heroues and heroines and deliciously villainous villains-has fascinated generations of children since its first publication. Ages 8+


Josephine Wants to Dance 10th Annivesary

Josephine is a kangaroo — who loves to dance. Her little brother, Joey, tells herthat kangaroos don’t dance, they hop — but Josephine continues to point her toes and leap through the air. Ages 4–9


The Fairy Dancers

Every Saturday, with a hop, a skip and a magical twirl, Mia, Emma and Grace turn into … fairy dancers! Enter their enchanted world of fun, friendship, fairy wings and dancing. Ages 3–8

Teachers Notes Available

and coming soon…

The Tales of Mrs Mancini



THE TALES OF MRS MANCINI tells the story of a cat who, together with her human friend, Filippina, runs a cake shop full of delectable treats. Alongside her flair for flan, Mrs Mancini also has a special ability to bring lonely children together. A collection of three fully illustrated short stories celebrating friends and friendship! Ages 3+




Truly Tan Hoodwinked!

The next adventure in the best-selling Truly Tan series. Ages: 8-12

Meet Tan. She’s funny. She’s lively. She has the mind of a Great Detective! A hilarious series for fans of Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort. Ages 8–12

Withering by Sea

Withering- by- Sea by Judith Rossell


High on a cliff above the gloomy coastal town of Withering-by-Sea stands the Hotel Majestic. Inside the walls of the damp,dull hotel, eleven year old orphan Stella Montgomery leads a miserable like with her three dreadful aunts. But one night, Stella sees something she should’t have…Ages 9+

Wormwood mire


Wormwood Mire by Judith Rossell

The highly anticipated sequel to 2014’s runaway bestseller WITHERING-BY-SEA When Stella Montgomery returned to the Hotel Majestic cold and wet but exhilarated by adventure, the Aunts were furious. Now they are sending Stella away to the old family home at Wormwood Mire, where she must live with two strange cousins and their governess. But within the overgrown grounds of the mouldering house, dark secrets slither and skulk, and soon Stella must be brave once more …




At Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre – Big Talent in ‘The Big Dry’

June 14, 2016


Reviewer: Susanne Gervay

A world ravaged by dust storms and water shortage is a powerful backdrop to the story of three young people abandoned by their parents and facing survival. Based on the acclaimed novel by author Tony Davis adapted by Mark Kilmurry, ‘The Big Dry’ is gripping theatre that opens discussion about climate change, family, scarcity of food and water, stranger-danger, young people vulnerable to adult power, loyalty, courage and survival.

The big brother George is afraid but stoically protective of his younger brother Beeper as they face intruders, famine and drought. Their bond is poignant. When the feisty Emily forces her way into their lives, there are challenges as they create a new ‘family’ to battle their hostile world.

The Ensemble Theatre in an innovative collaboration with the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) produced exciting theatre which has audiences waiting on the edge of their seats as George, Beeper and Emily meet the challenges of choking dust explosions in a hostile climate of man and nature.

Mark Kilmurry’s sensitive adaptation of ‘The Big Dry’ translated Tony Davis’ novel, into powerful theatre. Fraser Corfield, Director of ATYP brought out strong and sensitive performances from his young actors. Sophia Nolan playing Emily was emotional complex as she alternated between warrior and defender, to vulnerable girl wanting family. Rory Potter playing George was so believable as the terrified protector of Beeper played by Jack Andrew, who gave an outstanding performance as the innocent brother.

‘The Big Dry’ the book is a must-read. ‘The Big Dry’ the play is a must-see.

An interview with the author Tony Davis gives insights into his process of creating ‘The Big Dry.’

  1. Why did you write ‘The Big Dry’?

It was just a coincidence between me reading various books on the American Dustbowl, a subject which has always fascinated me, and an already developing wish to write a story about the dynamic between two brothers. Suddenly the two streams re merged. The characters of George and Beeper were created by imaging how my oldest and youngest son (then about the ages of the characters) would behave if they had to fend for themselves in the worst circumstances. The character of Emily, the girl who comes to stay, materialised in the writing process.

  1. Did you research? What and how?

Because it was a made-up world – a modern city in the throes of something akin to the dustbowl – I didn’t need to do a lot more than create the spirit of that environmental disaster and transpose it to today. I also needed to come up with lots and lots of different words for dust!

  1. Climate change has created a desolate landscape in ‘The Big Dry’. How did you want your audience to react to this?

The only explanation about what has happened to the world in the book (and play) is a rather ham-fisted one by the older brother, George. It has been going on long enough that they just accept it as the reality and rarely question the cause. The last thing I wanted was a preachy book. Readers, and viewers, can make their own mind up about the background; the real focus is on young people’s response to a world that is falling apart.

  1. What was the driver of abandonment by parents and adults where the 3 young people are left to survive alone?

The missing parents situation is a mainstay of children’s literature, for obvious reasons. My main aim was to try to do it a little differently. George’s struggle to keep his younger brother safe, despite lacking the experience and confidence, is at the heart of the book, and now at the heart of the play.

  1. Is there is a relationship to the ‘stolen generation’, ‘boy soldiers’, exploitation of children, where the government authorities take children to be sold to the wet countries. Was that your intent? If so why?

The exploitation of children and the fencing off of the good places in the world (the so-called “wet countries”) is hinted at more in the book i think, particularly in the dialogue from the more world-wise Emily. I’m so close to it now I struggle to work out just how much is implied in the play version which, like all good theatre works, has gone through a string of changes since the early table reads. The ending on opening night, for example, was the fourth they had tried. One intent in the book was to tell the story of people fleeing a tough situation, or trying to, not by making the young Western reader imagine he or she were a Hazara Afghan (for example) but by reversing the wealth of nations. If water is the most valuable thing in the world, then just because you live in a prosperous and advanced country suddenly isn’t the advantage is used to be. Getting to another place, no matter what the dangers, starts becoming a raison d’etre.

  1. What role did you have in the adaptation to a play by Mark Kilmurry?

I was mainly a spectator. The director, Fraser Corfield, kindly invited me to see as much of the lead-up as I had time for and I went to a couple of table reads, two rehearsals and a preview. He and the actors asked for my opinion of various things. I was quite reticent to give it because they were bringing to life Mark Kilmurry’s script, not my book. Maybe I added a thing or two that was useful, but just tiny things around the edges.

  1. Are you satisfied with the adaptation and why?

Yes. I think it is extraordinary. Mark and Fraser were a bit apologetic about drifting at times from the book. I however thought it was absolutely essential to make as many changes as needed to make the story work in the new medium. Anyway, the characters and situation are always faithful to the spirit of the book, despite some plot differences.

The Big Dry: Shortlisted in NSW Premier’s Awards and Aurealis Awards for Speculative Fiction




David Walliams – Global Writing Competition

June 6, 2016

Worlds Worst ChildrenThe World’s Worst Children,a wickedly funny and wonderfully surreal collection of ten stories about ten delightfully dreadful children,  David Walliams’ unique take on the classic cautionary tale. This momentous new addition to the David Walliams canon is illustrated in spectacular technicolour by the inimitable Tony Ross and published in a glorious hardback gift edition.

Are you ready to meet the World’s Worst Children?

From Dribbling Drew – a boy whose drool gets him into terrible trouble – to Sofia Sofa – a TV super-fan so stuck to the sofa that she’s turning into one! – the uproariously funny cast of characters will delight David Walliams’ readers. As an extra special treat, fan favourite Raj even makes a hilarious appearance!

Well, now it’s your turn!

Welcome to the 11th World’s Worst Child Story Competition!

This competition is being launched to celebrate the release of David’s new book ‘The World’s Worst Children’.

 This competition is open to all Stage 2-3 children • We would like children to write a story about the 11th World’s Worst Child, using the book ‘The World’s Worst Children’ for inspiration. •

Children in Year 3 or 4 should write a maximum of 250 words; children in Year 5 or 6 should write a maximum of 500 words.

HarperCollinsChildren’s Books have  provided a pack of fun classroom resources based on the stories in The World’s Worst Children to help children explore the characters and themes. We have also provided a lesson plan with suggestions of how you can support your students to plan and develop their own World’s Worst Child character in preparation for writing their story.

Enter now!

Terms & Conditions apply, click here to read them in full.

The opening date for entries is 24th May 2016.The closing date for entries is 31st July 2016. No entries received after this date will be accepted.



June 6, 2016

 Rebecca Toltz from Kingsgrove Public ,Elaine Smith from Rozelle Public and Julie Farquhar from Smith’s Hill High School

 Congratulations each of you has won a  double pass to the


this coming  Wednesday 8 June at  6pm
playing at the
Ensemble Theatre 78 McDougall Street Kirribilli NSW Australia 2061 <>
plus a signed copy of  The Big Dry by Tony Davis <>