Studying the Online Way


[Image taken from ]

I said, ‘Hello’ to a new start as a uni student in my new city, Perth, a few weeks ago  and I didn’t think it had been that long since I was last at uni but a lot seems to have changed.

I’m doing some classes online this semester, which is a first, and I’m really enjoying it. I miss the face to face interaction but it’s kind of neat knowing that you are learning with a group of people scattered about the place.  I also like the freedom of when I study and where, tending to spend the days outside studying and listening to lectures.

Another thing I’m loving is the access to e-resources and the fact that so many textbooks are available online. I know that I’ve blogged about the this concept before, and my views were much keep the book and turn the page. I’m still very much a believer in the book, and will still choose a printed book over an e-book, but for textbooks it does make my life easier. I like the flexibility it brings, just like being able to choose where and when I study I get to choose the format of the text.

The only thing I really wonder about is if I’ve sat next to someone in my one and only internal, traditional, face to face lecture that I’ve conversed with at length on twitter or discussion boards. I wonder if switching from social media to real-life situations gets lost in translation.



The Lost Thing: Looking for a place to belong

I went to Melbourne recently and it was a bad idea going in the winter, it was freezing! Despite that, I had a great time and the Shaun Tan exhibition totally made up for the shivering!  The exhibition, which is still on, is about adapting his picture book “The Lost Thing” into a short film.

The Lost Thing Exhibition
“The Lost Thing” Exhibition
The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan
The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

It might be a small exhibition but it was fantastic. There were a number of stations to listen to the process the team went through, from sound, to animation to capturing  the quirkiness of the protagonist. There were some really interesting sound bites and short interviews concentrating on the process of creating the animation.

I love the layout of the illustrations, there is so much to take in when  reading this book.
I love the layout of the illustrations, there is so much to take in when reading this book.

The short film is a fantastic adaptation (in my opinion!), and it some how makes the story all the more magical. It’s distinctly Australian; the narrator’s voice, the sounds of the trams and even some of the cityscapes placed me in an Australian city, but at the same time, there was still that air of mystery so that I couldn’t feel completely sure of my surroundings, or know exactly where I was. I don’t know how intentional that was, but I really liked that aspect of the production. It’s like mixing elements of the familiar with the unfamiliar just enough to throw the viewer slightly off balance.

Look at all the detail surrounding the text and main illustration.
Look at all the detail surrounding the text and main illustration.

One of the things I love about Shaun Tan’s stories and characters is that he is always looking at this idea of belonging. I love that in doing so, he often takes objects and things that are unfamiliar to  the reader as a way to explore the issue.  The layout of the pages also add to the theme of belonging or not belonging, as is the case with this story. The layers of detail on every page, is easy to miss when you first flick through the book but it doesn’t take long to realise that each page is filled with interesting information. It’s as though the text and illustrations have been stuck on to a text book or department handbook.

The Department of Odds and Ends
The Department of Odds and Ends- Perhaps this is where the missing teaspoons go and the odd sock….

The story is about a boy who finds a lost thing, a strange object that doesn’t fit in to society. He takes it home and tries to figure out what to do with it. We end up following him on his journey to help this object. We go to the Department of Odds and Ends in the hope that they will know what to do, but like all government agencies there are many forms to fill in and hoops to jump through! In the end the lost thing finds a place to belong, which reinforces that everyone needs to feel a sense of belonging.

I now wonder, if it’s the same for objects, all those everyday items that seem to go missing… Maybe my sock isn’t missing after all, maybe it went in search of something…maybe there’s an entirely different world that we don’t know about, just like in “The Lost Thing”, a place where misplaced objects can be free and happy. If only my teaspoons would leave a note before they left….

The Nature of Australia*


In a recent post I spoke about bookshops being one of the joys of coming home . Being, as I call it, starved of books in the middle of the sandpit, I do end up spending most of my time in bookshops when I return home, and as a result I’m collecting a nice little pile.

These are the latest additions to the pile, both are Australian writers and what I love about these books is the use of native wildlife.  I tend to use nature  in a lot of my own writing, and birds are my current obsession.  So, my reasoning for buying these two books was of course research. Every good writer (aspiring or otherwise) needs to research, or at least that’s what I keep reading. So, naturally I have jumped right in and I have to say, I’m rather enjoying it!

This research business is reminding me of my Uni days when I used to write for the Uni newspaper. Well, when I say write for the paper, I certainly wasn’t a journalist, no, I was a book reviewer. What a great way to save some money, getting books for free, the only catch was I had to write about them; but as an English major it wasn’t hard and I loved it and, now it seems I miss it.

As I was writing a post for Show & Tell, and thinking about the book as a product got me reminiscing about the reviews I used to write. I would always choose the crime/ mystery books as a break from my studies and it seems this may be the reason I am becoming so absorbed in picture books, it’s not the books I generally spend my days with (or rather, I don’t spend as much time with this genre as I want to). During term time I am teaching anything and everything, but rarely picture books, which in my opinion is a shame. After finding, buying and reading “The Shaggy Gully Times” I am now seriously thinking about using it in the classroom when teaching newspapers ( really, it’s any excuse! ), it will certainly grab their imagination and well, if I’m honest, it will give me an opportunity to read aloud to my class ( something I don’t get to do with high schoolers)!

Now, I’m going to make a cup of tea and investigate the world of the internet and see what other books I can find….

*Please visit Show & Tell for a longer post on these two books.


Home Sweet Home

One of the greatest things about traveling and being an expat is coming home. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling and know I’m fortunate to be able to travel as much as I do. Despite, this though nothing beats coming home.

“I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!” (
an extract from the classic Australian poem, My Country by Dorothea MacKellar) 

Sitting outside on the deck in the winter sun is totally refreshing after the sand filled air of the desert.  As well as sitting on the deck, I love to go to as many bookshops as possible. Having been back home for just over two weeks I have already managed to buy five books!  I’ve already talked about one of them here on Show & Tell and will be sharing more on Shaun Tan’s book later.

I recently bought a copy of ” The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” by William Joyce.  My friend Mel, sent me a link to an animated short film a few months ago, and I had no idea that the film in question had originally been inspired by a book.  I absolutely loved the short film, if you haven’t seen it, please watch it. It’s simply beautiful.

I was really pleased when I found the book hidden in one the wooden boxes they have in the children’s section. My favorite thing about this book is of course the theme,  the importance of books, and a gentle reminder that we need to care for our books.  Joyce also brings the books to life, the use of personification is something I am currently using in some of my own picture books. I also love the illustrations and the use of black and white and then the way color has been used later in the story. The more time I spend working on my own projects, the more I realize that I have to really think about the image. I may spend my time playing with words, but I’m increasingly aware of the 32 pages and the need for an interesting and appropriate layout.

My research into agents continues and I have recently learnt that I need to finish a few more of my ideas before contacting agents. So, with inspiration from Shaun Tan and William Joyce I will attempt to complete my stories and continue on my little creative journey, whilst sitting on the deck in the winter sun.