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!