Category Archives: School Visits

Bennies Prep tomorrow

So tomorrow will be the first time I am visiting St Benedict’s Prep (previously I have been at the Junior Prep). I will be chatting to the boys about elements in my book.

The grade 4’s know me from when they were in Junior Prep and we shall continue to learning process of being an Author, how we write and how we are all different.

Being different IS OK. We are all different in our own ways, tall, short, fat, thin, big ears, small ears, good at writing, bad at writing, good at science, bad at science, good at drawing, bad at drawing, good at maths, bad at maths. That is why we all do different jobs, because we have different strengths. Mine is I am (I think) good at writing children’s books, others are they are good at other things and become engineers, scientists, chefs, doctors, telesales people, receptionists, refuge collectors. we all have a place in this world, and that place is OK.

The grade 5’s will be seeing me for the first time and my talk will centre more around how we all have challenges and how we shouldn’t bully/tease others about their challenge, as they or others may just bully/tease us about ours too. Also how we can stand up to a bully – strength in numbers, and how friends can help. How we should show ZERO tolerance to bullies in out schools, clubs at home or where we play.

So wish me luck.

The most special day at Craiglands

If you read this please take the time to read it right to the end.

playtimeI had the most wonderful day with the pupils and staff of Craiglands Primary yesterday. There was something amazing about this intimate school as you drove down the narrow driveway in (and of course yesterday I chose to drive the chunky monkey car!) but it opened out onto a small parking area – would have to think about the 20 point turn I would need to get back out again later.

Janine my namesake met me, oh what a beautiful lady, she made me feel so welcome right from the start and looked after me throughout my visit. we chatted and as I turned, there was a lovely golden retriever coming towards me.

You have dogs here, how marvellous.” puppy-love

I remarked.

Actually we have 5 of them.”

Did I say this was a special school? It really is.

We threaded our way through the excited children that had assembled and she then helped me put up my posters. The usual Jozi traffic seemed worse than normal yesterday and I had arrive with literally only a few minutes to spare.

Then as I turned around there were 75 eager faces looking at me (gr1-7). As I said it is a small, special school. Actually no that is wrong. My first impression was that it was actually a rather large family.

We chatted about being an author and how to write a book, as well as the content of my books How Polly Became a Parrot and Polly’s Piralympics . We also identified many of the different types of challenges we all have – can’t dance, can’t sing, can’t ride a bike, can’t see, can’t hear, one arm, no legs etc. We also acted out how to BEAT THE BULLY. The trick here if there isn’t a parent or teacher around is to GET YOUR FRIENDS TO HELP YOU – THERE IS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS. Later I would learn just how powerful that little exercise had been.

Then I read from my book Polly’s Piralympics, the chapter I had chosen was – the 3 legged race. The children helped me with  some of the sound effects and we all laughed as one of the crews had to be rescued from walking around the whole island.

Then it was question time, hands shot up everywhere, including from the staff, ha,ha,ha. and then it was finished. I packed up my posters and joined the staff for a cup of tea. Their ‘staff room’ was a table and chairs on the stoop (veranda) overlooking the climbing frame and play area.

One of the staff had taken her class to clear up their classroom. On her return she told us how during that exercise one of the boys had upset some of the others by telling a lie. The rest had all stood up to him and told him how it was wrong to do what he was doing and that they didn’t like it. – oh my gosh, never has one of my talks ever had such a fast effect.

Whilst we sat there children occasionally would come up to ask another question, and then all too quickly it was all over and time for me to leave. I drove back up the narrow driveway and out on to the main road my mind was racing with the events of my morning. Opposite there was a shady area to park under the trees alongside the road. So I pulled up.

“You’re being stupid, ” I told myself as the tears started to trip down my face. I couldn’t get the images of Nathan, Liaam and his twin brother Teghan out of my head. They along with others had come up to me when I finished my talk.

I can’t see very well.” Nathan told me.

He has only 10% vision.” Janine added.

We chatted about how he didn’t let this stop him and how he too wanted to write a book, as did Chloe, who also stood before me.

Then the twins Liaam and Teghan, I’m not sure which one was which, but one of them showed me that his brother had a hearing aid. He said that sometimes people bully his brother and he can feel it too, he knows what it is like – such is the connection between these two brothers.

Can I put you two in one of my books?” I asked them.

There is a special connection between twins and these brothers as they stood in front of me holding hands had just melted my heart and etched their faces in my mind forever. They will appear in one of my future books, of that I am sure.

So this morning I spoke with Ms Irmela Turner the head (another very special, inspiring and gentle lady.) and thanked her again for the opportunity to have met her ‘special’ children yesterday. I feel my life is a little richer from the experience and I look forward to returning in February.

Oh and did I mention that Craiglands Primary is a special school, with very special teachers and support staff, very special dogs and very special pupils – WELL IT IS, and yesterday they all touched my heart forever.

Craiglands is a remedial school for learners who experience problems in mainstream schools due to their learning difficulties. It caters for children with challenges, ADD and ADHD, is a co-ed school for learners gr1 to gr7.

You see I told you it was SPECIAL.


Countdown to Craigland’s Primary

So another week, another school. This time I’m off to Craigland Primary School, in Craighall, Johannesburg. I am over the moon at being able to go to this school, where the headmistress Ms Irmela Turner has been so warm and inviting.

I will be chatting about the series of books I have written and how they deal with issues around bullying, cheating and where the main characters (including Polly the parrot) all have challenges/disabilities. I think my book is unique in this respect as there is nothing else out there in the market that covers this so extensively as a story book.

So kids and parents get ready I will be with you on Thursday, (Oh and by the way teachers, my sessions are rarely quiet as I believe that interaction and participation are the best ways to lean.) So it’s gonna be noisy, and fun (with a sprinkling of learning in there too.)





Oh Wow another School!

Just had a call from the principle of Craigland’s Primary School, Gauteng.

She asked if I can go into the school to talk to the children on the 24th November. Looks like it’s going to be a busy month.

We will be talking about what a disability/challenge is and how we all have one – can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t spell, can’t count, can’t swim, can’t cook plus a host of others, which the kids will help me identify on the day. Then we’ll chat about why it’s not cool to bully each other, as we all have something someone else can bully us about and how we wouldn’t like that.

I give examples from my books Polly’s Piralympics, How Polly Became a Pirate and Polly, Ya Nay Can Fly and we will discuss how we can stand up to bullies, and where to get help.

I am so excited about going to Craigland’s and interacting with the children. I know it is going to be a very special day.

#PollysPiralympics, #HowPollyBecameAPirate, #PollyYaNayCanFly, #Paralympics, #Pirates, #KidsBooksWithPirates, #KidsWooksWithDisabilities, #BullyingIsntCool

Brilliant News! Polly will shortly be flying into the lives of pupils at Craighall Primary

Craighall Primary talk on Why Bullying is NOT Cool  just confirmed for March 2017!

Yes I just had confirmation from Craighall Primary that I will be going into the school on World Book Day (2nd March 2017) what an honour. The children will be dressed as their favourite characters from their favourite books and who knows maybe in 2018 they will be dressed as Polly the parrot or a pirate?

I will be talking to the children about why it isn’t cool to bully others. And how we all have how we all have challenges; some obvious – one eye, one arm, no legs; some less obvious – being deaf, blind of having a stutter; and some harder to detect – can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t spell, can’t ride a bicycle can’t cook, can’t play a musical instrument, can’t run 100m in under 10 seconds. How we shouldn’t pick on/tease or bully others, as maybe one day someone else may also bully us too.

this is a topic that I am passionate about and feel starts from a young age, which if halted early would make the lives of so may more bearable.

In my books some of the characters get bullied. In some cases nothing is done and they get very sad and depressed, reflecting the real world we live in. But on board ship there is a zero tolerance for bullies and they are dealt with severely. I also show what can happen if friend stand up for the victim against the bully, and how bullying can be stopped.

I can’t wait to go into Craighall Primary to enjoy an interactive day with the boys and girls and to see how ‘Polly’ can maybe influence their thoughts around the subject of bullying and physical and mental challenges.

So pupils at Craighall watch the skies for Polly to fly into your lives… and remember she is always watching you.


A visit to Bennies to deliver a new book for their library


I had the pleasure of meeting with Mrs Mackinnon, head of St Benedict’s Junior Prep yesterday to deliver a copy of Polly’s Piralympics for their library.

As we entered the library I was greeted by a wonderful bunch of Bennies boys. The grade three’s were asked by Mrs Mackinnon, who wanted to read the new book first.

I was overwhelmed as every hand shot up. In fact one of the boys was even reading a previous book I had given to the school and was keen to show me The Magic  Vuvuzela.

It is always so rewarding to visit St Benedict’s, the boys love to read and use the library every week, where they swap their books regularly. Their enthusiasm for reading and writing their own books is a credit to the encouragement they receive from a vibrant atmosphere of good solid learning and values, from passionate teachers.

I can’t wait to visit again, hopefully in the New Year when Polly’s Eskimo Piralympics will be completed and another of Polly’s adventures with the pirates will fly into their library.


#StBenedicts, #pirates, #paralympics, #schoollibrary

The first 100. Delivering the first copy of Polly’s Piralympics to St Benedict’s Junior Prep this morning.

Oh yes, so the moment finally arrived. I collected the first 100 books from Leith my broker yesterday. Feels strange actually having them in my hands. WOW and that special ‘New book smell.’ love it, love it, love it.

So I am off to St Benedict’s Junior Prep, in Bedfordview Johannesburg this morning to deliver the first book to their library. I have a special affinity with Bennies as I have visited there before and given talks to the boys on ‘Being an Author.’

St Benedict’s gives wonderful encouragement to it’s pupils to write, be creative and use their imaginations, so it seems fitting that they should receive this copy first of Polly’s Piralympics. They still believe in good old fashioned reading and have an extensive library that the boys regularly use. I hope they will enjoy my donation adding one more book for growing minds to read and enjoy.

Polly’s Piralympics – Polly the parrot comes up with the idea of sharing their last bounty of prosthetic arms, blades and racing wheelchairs. Polly’s captain, Captain Hake then challenges the other pirates to a Piralympic Games, (Paralympics for Pirates.

With 18thcentury galleons, swords, walking the plank, gold doubloons, 21st century technology, sonar, Wi-Fi, mobile phones, prosthetic limbs, blades and racing wheelchairs, put it all together and you have the Pirate Piralympic Games.

Read how the multicultural fleet of pirates, vuvuzela playing Zulus; kilted, bagpipe playing Scots; cowboy guitar playing Americans; tattooed Maoris; yellow turbaned Indian and Abba singing Viking pirates, all compete for Captain Kingklip’s locker of GOLD doubloons.

The Games include a 3 legged race, walk the plank diving competition, catapult shooting, climb the rigging gymnastics, fencing, and a Pirate Masterchef competition, plus many more. Through these the pirates learn comradeship, what happens to cheats and why bullying isn’t cool.

#StBenedict’s, #Bullyingisntcool, #Pirateparalympics