Archive for May, 2009

star jumps cover 1239062684026Based on her wonderful new verse novel, “Star Jumps”, about hope in the face of drought, Lorraine Marwood has provided a great classroom writing activity for us.

Thanks so much Lorraine.


Do you have a shed at your place? Or at a friend or relative’s place?

Can you close your eyes and see what is in it? Can you smell the dust or the oil?

Can you feel the nails spilt on the floor, the rough rag of towelling used to mop up spills?

Does light come through a dirty window or is your shed so squeaky clean?

Here’s the description of what Ruby’s farm shed was like;

Then into the machinery shed.

The tall rafters,

the swallow birds nesting,

the rustle mice under corner bags.

I try not to think of last summer’s

long brown snake

hunting those mice, under bags.

Snake as long and thin as an extension cord,

as old as me, maybe.

(From Star Jumps)

A shed can be full of rustling noises too. Here’s a way to write about your shed:

1. Think about your shed again- what really takes your attention when you walk into the shed or garage?

2. Put that down in your opening line- remember I had ‘the tall rafters’- it only has to be four or five words a line.

3. Think about the smell, now the second line is about that- be specific- turps from the paint brush…

4. Add a sound that you might hear in the shed- the creak of the tin roof, the tick of a clock or the old fridge…

5. Then think of a memory to do with that shed- you may have hammered wood, or found a long lost treasure, or seen a mouse, add it here. This can go over two lines.

6. Now re-read your poem- do you have a mini- word photo of your shed/ garage?

7. You can add a line or put the lines in a different order.

8. Now read your poem out aloud- here’s a little snapshot of your life.

9. Try a different location like your bedroom, or a park or your lounge room.

To read more about Lorraine’s beautiful new verse novel Star Jumps (including a review), visit http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com

For writing tips based on Star Jumps, visit http://tips4youngwriters.wordpress.com


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Sally Murphy is the published author of nearly 30 books, and has many more ‘in the pipeline. She is also a teacher, wife and mother, and runs a book review site, www.aussiereviews.com

Sally’s first passion is writing for children, and she loves to encourage young writers in their craft.

Below is a writing exercise based on her gorgeous new book, “Pearl Verses the World”.


At the beginning of  Pearl Verses the World, Pearl writes a poem about herself. You can write a poem about yourself (or a made up character) by following these steps:

Steps To Writing a Poem About Yourself

1. Start by making a list of things that are important to you.

2. Add to your list words or phrases people might use to describe you

3. Now think of one thing people might not know about you – a secret.

4. Using a list is a great way to build a poem. Pick and choose items from the list, thinking about which ones might go together – or create an interesting contrast. Which ones have similar sounds (consonance, assonance, alliteration)?

 An Example

I like purple things

and puppies

and writing stories.

Walking in the rain in summer

and staying warm in winter.

Good books,


and eating Turkish delight.

I like babies

and balloons

and bubbles.

I love to sing in the shower

but no one knows

I wish that I could fly.


Exercise Use the steps that Sally has given you to write a poem about yourself. If you don’t want to share a big secret, share something you wish for.

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Sally Murphy’s new verse novel, Pearl Verses the World, made me realise that we all have poetry in our hearts we just need someone like Pearl’s granny to help us find it


In this beautifully told story about a little girl facing big issues, Granny tells Pearl:

     A poem comes

     when it is needed

     and writes itself

     in the way it needs to get

     its point across.


And Pearl needs poetry to help her get through the hard things that are happening in her life – the illness of her granny, being accused of stealing someone’s boyfriend, and clashing with her teacher over poetry that doesn’t rhyme.


When you read Pearl Verses the World, you feel as if Pearl sat on author Sally Murphy’s knee and spoke to her – asking for her story to be told.


Murphy shows a deep understanding of what it’s like to be a young child, trying to find your place in a changing world.


This effortlessly crafted story will appeal to anybody who knows what it’s like to feel as if everyone else belongs, but you are just ‘a group of one’. The author uses simplicity to convey great depth, and it’s clear that each word has had to earn its place in this story.


Young readers of Pearl Verses the World will connect with Pearl, be engaged by her humour, admire her courage and have hope for her future.



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