It will be 100 years ago tomorrow, that Lieutenant Guy Haydon’s bravely rode his beloved mare, Midnight, over the enemy trenches in Beersheba. Horse and rider served together until sunset on 31 October, 1917Midnight

They took part is what is known as the last great cavalry charge of WW1 – ‘a defining moment in history’. This true story is immortalised in our book, Midnight – The story of a light horse.

To commemorate the anniversary of this event, we returned to Midnight’s birthplace and inspiration for our book.

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It was here, under this tree on the Haydon Horse Stud in the Upper Hunter Valley that Midnight was born.

Under the Midnight Tree

Moonlight in Her Eyes

 “A foal is born at midnight, homestead side of the river.  Coal black. Star ablaze.  Moonlight in her eyes.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fact not mentioned in the book is that Moonlight is Midnight’s mother. When you now read the last page alongside with the painting, be sure to grab a tissue.

“Night falls.  Stretcher-bearers load casualties onto carts. Guy waits his turn.  He cries and lets go of Midnight’s reins. Coal black. Star ablaze. Moonlight in her eyes.

Moonlight in Her Eyes

 

 

The original art from Midnight was exhibited at the RSL Hall in Murrurundi over the weekend, alongside the local school children’s artworks inspired by our book.

RSL Hall Mark and Me

 

We saw over 1000 children over the last few days – sharing a story that was born close to home.

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Midnight- The True story of a light horse is published by Walker Books in Australia

Midnight – A True Story of Loyalty in World War I published by Candlewick Press in the US

Welcome to the world! A is for Australian Animals is here! Published by Walker Books Australia

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To the delight of many human animals attending the book launch, the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre brought along many animal friends to the Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre including: a bilby, an echidna, blue-tongue lizards, a snake, “Henry” the cockatoo, and the most adorable pygmy possum.

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I was honoured to have Australia’s most beloved children’s author, Alison Lester, officially launch the book.

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Australia is full of the most amazing animals on the planet! What animal has six thumbs? What animal produces square poo? What animal is made up of 95 per cent water and is highly venomous? Discover the answers to these questions and more in this factastic tour of Australian animals.

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A is for Australian Animals is available online and in all good bookstores!

 

 

IMG_0847 2Illustrations and preliminary sketches, which accompany the story of Simpson and His Donkey, have recently been acquired by the State Library of Western Australia for its Peter Williams Collection of original artworks by Australian illustrators.
IMG_1173It was important that the original illustrations and accompanying materials were cared for and made available for future generations to explore the art and process of creating an illustrated story book. I am delighted that the State Library has already made them available as an exhibition in 2017.

CEO and State Librarian, Margaret Allen, said that the complete set of research documents, preliminary sketches and 17 original artworks showed the amount of detailed work required to create an illustrated children’s book. “The story of Jack Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey, who together rescued 300 wounded soldiers at Gallipoli, is a tale of one of our beloved Western Australian ANZAC heroes.It is fitting that these illustrations which accompany the contemporary retelling of this important story have entered the State Library’s collection where they are available for viewing by visitors,” Mrs Allen said. Visitors can see the newly acquired illustrations in an exhibition at the State Library’s Story Place Gallery from 2 February to 27 April 2017.

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For schools: School groups are welcome to visit the Simpson and his Donkey exhibition. The workshop, Digging up the Past – World War One, supports the exhibition and can be booked by calling one of education officers on (08) 9427 3202. A teacher’s guide will also be available.

 

Tasmania is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Luckily, I get to visit the island state and conduct author visits to young students. My time at the Bonorong “school” near Hobart had to be one of the best author visits ever! All the students were named Joe and they acted like young ones do everywhere – cheeky. They absolutely loved hearing and reading about kangaroos from A is for Australia. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary specialises in the caring for and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured wildlife. It’s a unique chance to get up front and personal with some of Australia’s most precious and endangered wildlife. Worth a visit the next time you’re in the vicinity. Here’s some of my favourite photos with the students.
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imageExcellent time of year for the rugged landscape of the Pilbara! Dianne Wolfer and myself are tag-teaming for Rio Tinto’s incredible story put together in an exhibition called The Groundbreaker Trail. Schools, grey nomads, locals and the occasional cockatoo are flocking to attend.

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Through a partnership with Better Beginnings,  global mining company Rio Tinto established the WA Future Fund to identify and support the development of literacy in children.Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 8.08.58 PM

Under this umbrella, Dianne and I are sharing stories with children in Dampier, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, and Wickham.

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Pattan’s Pumpkin– vine ripened, ready for harvest this September with Otter Barry Books UK and Walker Books Australia. In the USA, Candlewick Press September 2017.46bfec_f5268c0aea994555b1e2c98fc517784b~mv2

Pattan’s Pumpkin is an exciting,vibrantly illustrated Flood Story from India, written by Chitra Soundar, an Indian-born British writer, based in London.

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Pattan has an amazing pumpkin…it grows BIGGER than the goats, BIGGER than the elephants, until it is as TALL as the mountains. But can Pattan’s pumpkin save his family and all the animals when the storm-clouds burst and the waters rise?

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Otter-Barry Books is a new children’s imprint aiming to make a difference, push boundaries and publish books that children will love.

For more information on getting a copy of Pattan’s Pumpkin, click on the country: AustraliaUK. Please check back for the USA in September 2017.

 

Author Mark Greenwood and illustrator Frane Lessac answer our five questions (plus one) about their lives, careers and their book Midnight: A True Story of Loyalty in World War I.

About the book:
Midnight
A True Story of Loyalty in World War I
author: Mark Greenwood
illustrator: Frané Lessac
http://candlewick.com/cat.asp?browse=.

This was the year to hold a newly hatched baby sea turtle.

Baby turtle The year for my Dad to hear stories.Dad The year to walk the Great Wall of China.Great Wall of China The year to sit in my 1st grade classroom seat again.

Cliffside Park School #3 The year A is for Australia was released.A is for Australia The year to see a giant prawn. Giant prawnThe year to tour Kentucky, Broome, Darwin, Melbourne, New Jersey, Adelaide, Maryland, Sydney, Kalgoorlie, School of the Air and beyond.
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Freshwater BaySchool of the Air

 

The year Midnight was released in the USA. KentuckyThe year one cried seeing the Grand Canyon for the very first time. Grand CanyonThe year to hike the Chiricahua mountains.Chiricahua mountains The year to present at festivals in China, India, Australia and the USA. Booker Festival PuneChengdu, ChinaPrinceton Book FestivalThe year to see baby pandas.IMG_3186

The year to stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. WinslowHappy trails for 2016!

Children’s literature in India is blossoming. Parents and teachers are starting to appreciate the importance of books and reading for pleasure in their children’s lives. Festivals like Bookaroo are a testament to this growing understanding. Bookaroo’s mission is to bring children and books together in a borderless world and we need to celebrate the passionate founders: Jo Williams, Swati Roy and Venkatesh! It’s the first children’s literature festival held in India and has now expanded to over four cities – Delhi, Srinagar, Pune and Goa!   I was incredibly lucky to participate at my second Bookaroo Festival, this time held in Pune. 

The main festival is preceded by Bookaroo in the City, an outreach programme where authors/illustrators were taken into local schools. Visiting local schools is always a highlight for me, but going to a NGO (non-government school) and working with underprivileged kids is like mainlining to the core of my heart.

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There is nothing in the entire world more gratifying then to give time and support to these children. Getting an education in India is not taken for granted, especially for girls. When you see their eagerness to learn and how precious the opportunity to go to school is to each and every child from the earliest age, there is nowhere in world you’d rather be. To find out more, please check out the Peepal Foundation.

Then it was onto the main Festival where I conducted five sessions over two days.  On the Doodle Wall, the children drew themselves and pasted their portraits onto a gigantic train. Within minutes the train was full of happy faces, ready to chug off on travels through India.

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It’s easy to feel like a celebrity with so many journalists keen to interview authors and illustrators for the numerous daily print newspapers. The best rock star moment (and 15 minutes of fame) was when we needed the help of security to make our way through a crowd of eager children wanting autographs. Bring it on!

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My participation at the Bookaroo Pune Festival was made possible by a Market Development Grant through the Australia Council for the Arts.

Exciting things are happening in the world of A is for Australia. Since my friends are spread all across the globe, I’ve decided to host an online launch complete with virtual bubbles! Even more exciting, I’ll be giving away three signed limited edition prints from the book. Details on how to win below and on the A is for Australia Facebook page . To join in all the festivities, you need to LIKE the page. PLEASE share so your friends can learn how to win a print too! Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/aisforaustraliaA is for Australia

To CELEBRATE the launch of A is for Australia, I’ll be giving away 3 signed limited edition prints!
Be creative! Use your imagination! Tell your Friends!
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AUSTRALIAN Entries – Grab a copy of A is for Australia from your shop or library and take a photo of you, family or friends with the cover at an iconic Australian location or a place depicted in the book. Post the photo on the *A is for Australia* Facebook page.

OVERSEAS Entries – excluding Australia smile emoticon Post a photo of you, family or friends with something that celebrates Australia on the *A is for Australia* Facebook page.
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Entries close on Sunday, February 1st 2015 at 11:59 PM AWST – Australian Western Standard Time. Winners will be notified by February 4th, 2015 and announced on the A is for Australia Facebook page.Two Australian based entries and one overseas entry will receive a signed limited edition print from A is for Australia.This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. *Terms and Conditions of giveaway here: http://goo.gl/aXR0ln