Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 10.27.10 PMAn invitation to take part in this year’s Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival in the United Arab Emirates was an opportunity to meet and create art with Arabic children. Sharjah is the cultural capital of the UAE and this event is a stellar showcase for celebrating children’s literature – with over 200,000 visitors!  The eleven-day event is held under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah. His aim is to create a culture of book-loving citizens – what an amazing initiative! @sharjahbookauthority


Panel Session



Francis Tharakan

During the Festival, I ran hands-on workshops, readings, a panel discussion on Heritage in Children’s Literature with the lovely UK author, Swapna Haddow, and Kuwaiti author, Latifa Batti, and a school visit to the Delhi Private School in Dubai – all with the goal of inspiring children and young adults to enjoy reading. Extra bonus: The volunteer for my school visit turned out to be a celebrity  – the actor/photographer, Francis Tharakan. Here’s a link to his latest. He’s the Careem (Uber) driver.


Doodle Wall


Make Your Own Picture Book

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The Festival was attended by many award winning international authors and artists from around the world, I was honoured to meet creators from Russia, India, Canada, UK, Pakistan as well as the terrific Australian contingency including my very own Aussie husband Mark.  We all had the unique experience of presenting at the festival, staying in the same hotel, sharing rides and meals, sightseeing and shopping and lots  and lots of laughs with Sabeena Kanik (India) and Cindy Lane, bonding us for life.


Beth, Cindy, Fatima and Liudmila

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We got wheels! With Sebeena Karnik and Cindy Lane










A visit to the heart of Old Sharjah and lucky enough to wander into the Sharjah Heritage Days Festival.

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My henna hands!

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Sightseeing at the top of world. The Burg Kalifa -the tallest building in the world (at the minute) with Cindy Lane and Beth Cregan!


The Burg Kalifa – tallest building in the world!







On the road to Dampier for more of Rio Tinto’s Groundbreakers Exhibition – 50 years in the Pilbara! Brought along my special sneakers hand painted by Samantha Hughes. She managed to paint 18 books of mine on the sides, back and front. As you can imagine, the kids love them!

Shoes by Samantha Hughes.

Shoes by Samantha Hughes.

Nearby is the Murujuga National Park, which has the oldest collection of rock art on the planet –  perhaps 35,000-40,000 years old.  What better way to spot some of the 7,000 recorded art (so far), but with world expert Ken Mulvaney. Yep, that’s a thylacine all the way in West Australia!

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We looked for the 4m olive python that supposedly “hangs” out  – no luck. But we were lucky not meet any death adders and mulga snakes who live here too.

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Shared my new Indian tale by Chitra Soundar, Pattan’s Pumpkin, with the children of Karratha. Jan Nicholls couldn’t have described the book better in her recent Children’s Book Council WA post on Facebook– Jack and the Beanstalk meets Noah’s Ark.






Next stop: Paraburdoo

A preview of the “Midnight”exhibition at The Literature Centre

It’s always a thrill to look back and follow the stages involved in preparing a book for publication.

– from its origin and inspiration to the extensive research involved.

– the ‘journeys of discovery’ that help balance creative interpretation with historical authenticity.

– the development of a storyline to the rough drafts and sketches.

– the creative process of the artist that leads to original art.

Midnight captures the bond between horse and rider, the journey to war and an important moment in Australian military history. The Literature Centre invites school groups to view this moving, thought-provoking exhibition – a perfect workshop for students in the lead up to ANZAC Day. Suitable for Year 3 – Year 7
To book go here:

We’ll be celebrating Midnight with an informal gathering at the Literature Centre on Open Day, Sunday, March 16th from 2–3.00pm. Join Gee Jay the light horse for an Anzac biscuit and a cuppa. For details, click on the invite.