Tag Archives: Polly’s Piralympics

Polly Talks at CP Awareness Day

I walked around to the back of the marquee and cried, I couldn’t stop the tears. I was glad I had worn shades. Then I walked back into the marquee, having given myself a pep talk – “You can do this Jann, it’s important. These are the children you wrote the Polly Series for because others are too afraid to write about disabilities.”

Ok, pep talk over, I was there to do a job.

Polly had been invited to talk and read at a CP Awareness Day. So, what is CP? It is Cerebral Palsy. I knew it existed and could be severe, but until Saturday I didn’t realise the degrees of CP there are. As children arrived, some so severe they just lay them gently on blankets, or in the ball pit, others in wheelchairs, or with walkers. I could feel the tears welling up again and looked to Kim for support,

“Think it’s going to be an emotional day,” I said, she just nodded and I noticed she had her shades on too.

Then it was show time. It’s amazing, after the initial flutter of butterflies, as soon as I fix on a child, the words always seem to come. I think it is something about the expectation in their faces and not wanting to let them down that does it for me. And well, these were the children I had written for.

It had all started back at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympic Games. In his closing speech, Sir Phillip Craven (a paraplegic Paralympian himself,) told of how a young boy was reading with his mother. In the book, he saw a man with an eye patch over one eye, a hook for a hand, a parrot on his shoulder and a wooden leg. When asked who it was, he said: “Well, he has only one leg, so he must be an Olympian.” Such was the strength of the London 2012 Paralympics that it changed peoples’ perceptions of disability forever as well as my own.

I had always admired Oscar Pistorius racing on his blades, as well as Natalie du Toit swimming like a fish in the pool, but the more I researched, the more I had gained so much admiration for these athletes. I realised the dedication it takes to be a top class athlete who is able-bodied, let alone one who is disabled. (I have a gym 250m from where I live at the end of the road, and I can’t get my sorry butt down there,) These athletes train every day through the pain and I can only take my hat off to them, they really are super athletes.

Over time, I made friends with some disabled athletes, Nur in particular. It started on Facebook, there we started chatting. I didn’t realise he was blind and put my big foot right in my mouth. “But how can we be chatting, I mean, how do you read what I am typing?” I asked him, astonished that we had been able to converse so easily. TECHNOLOGY  was the answer, of course,  his phone read out what I had typed (NO MORE SHORTHAND!) I still haven’t met Nur, or Natalie du Toit, but I will one day.

That closing speech sparked something in me and I quickly googled PIRATES/PARALYMPICS/BOOKS. There was nothing. ‘That’s ridiculous I heard myself thinking.’ I typed in another set of keywords around DISABLED/KID’S BOOKS/PIRATES. Still nothing. So, I went to Amazon, ‘There must be a book here.’ I found myself thinking. Still nothing.

I’m not sure if I was more shocked or disappointed that there wasn’t a book with that connection for children and mentioned it to a friend.

“Then write one,” she said.

Just like that. Write one. So I did, and am I glad I did, because, last Saturday I was able to share that first book with some very special children, their siblings and parents. I think we sometimes forget the able-bodied siblings, but for them, my characters resonated too.

Polly and her pirates get up to all sorts of antics in the Polly’s Piralympics book, there’s climb the rigging gymnastics, walk the plank diving, a three-legged race as well as a Pirate Masterchef competition, amongst many other events. The pirates learn about cheating, not bullying as well as how hard it is to be in a wheelchair.

There are currently 5 books in the Polly’s Piralympics Series. They all have a strong anti-bullying and disabled themes through them, and teach that disability does not mean inability, and bullying is not cool, it’s for a fool.

I think my reading/talk was well received judging by comments afterwards, and am so glad I accepted the invitation to the CP Family Awareness Day. I personally walked a path I did not expect to but would walk it again tomorrow if asked.

 

 

Polly Arrives In Port Elizabeth

After touring the Eastern Cape last April, I was lucky enough to be visiting Port Elizabeth and met up with the owner of Fogarty’s Book Shop.

And guess what?

My books are now available at Fogarty’s Book Shop in Walmer Mall. So if you are looking for middle-grade books for your youngsters for the Christmas Holiday’s, why not pop in and take a look at my Polly’s Piralympics Series. Loads of fun, interactive pages to draw on and get involved with Polly and the crew.

Or for younger readers there are my colouring-in story books the Toucane Series, teaching about not throwing down rubbish, how a friend is a friend no matter their colour and stranger danger. 4-8 years.

Where does Polly go on Holiday?

Where does Polly go on Holiday? little libraries Lough Neagh

Well, earlier this year Polly took a break and visited foreign lands. So where did she go? She left South Africa and headed for her first stop – Ireland. Here she stayed with Jann’s family in Northern Ireland.

Look what Polly found on the banks of Lough Neagh. A Little Library – where you can borrow and return books or swap for one of your own. There is a lovely Irish folk tale of the forming of Lough Neagh.

‘The famous warrior Finn MacCool (Fionn Mac Cumhaill) caused the creation of Lough Neagh. Legend has it that Finn was chasing a Scottish giant across Ulster when he picked up a large piece of ground and hurled it at the giant. It overshot and fell into the Irish Sea forming the Isle of Man while the massive crater left behind became infilled with water and formed Lough Neagh.’   http://www.discoverloughneagh.com/folklore-legend

 

 

Can’t wait to meet Polly tonight.

Polly on stage at Bennies JP

I can’t wait to meet Polly tonight. St Benedict’s Junior Prep is having their Pirate Play this evening with Polly on stage.

The grades 1-3 have been practising all term and tonight I actually get a chance to meet Polly. Doesn’t Polly look so colourful, and I adore those feet.

If you want to take the kids to a fun, action-packed (ARRGHHH) play, I think there may be a few tickets left for the next performances.

 

What a week that was… part 1

What a week that was just so jam-packed full.

Wednesday saw me talking to the Johannesburg New Dawn Rotary Club at the Parkview Golf Club at 7 AM!!! That time doesn’t exist in the UK other than for breakfast (Ha, ha, ha). I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to this amazing group of people, who do so much for Charities across the length and breadth of the country and would like to thank Debbie Smith for her invitation and Carol Stier for looking after me on the day – Thank you, ladies.

#PollysPiralympicsSeries, #SRRSSA

Why Do I Like to Read to Kids?

Why Do I Like to Read to Kids?

Well, I Suppose it’s because I love to watch their faces as the story progresses. I love to see them get involved with the storyline, I’ve even had parents come up to me after and tell me that they too love to listen – I suppose we all do.

I am fortunate, I get invites to many schools to read and talk to the kids. My books are centred around anti-bullying and being disabled as well as many other issues that I feel kids today are not sensitive enough about. But the kids just seem to love the stories and absorb the life lessons.

Last Saturday I was at Assumption Convent Primary School and the best part for me was when some (now grade 4’s) spotted me.

“Is Polly with you, can we see her?”

Polly is my puppet parrot companion and she and I had been into the school to kick-off How Polly Became a Pirate as the grade 3 set workbook last year. The welcome makes you go all warm and fuzzy.

Well not oOpen day girls with puppetsnly Polly was there but the rest of the flock too, Toucane the Toucan, Hettie the Hornbill, Mpho the Macaw and two as yet un-named birds a Cockatiel and a Pink Galah who had flown in all the way from Australia.

Here I am with some of the girls and my flock.