Children's books

What if we are not alone in the Universe?

The other day I saw a post on Twitter that it was #World UFO Day on July 2. I couldn't resist asking the question, do you believe in aliens? What if we are not alone in the Universe?  If you know me or my writing for children, you would know I like to play with this possibility. After all, with the size of our Universe or (Multiverse, depending on your point of view) I don't believe it could be plausible that we are the only inhabitable planet with intelligent life forms. I'm not here to delve into the specific science of it all, I'll leave that to astrophysicists that are for more knowledgeable on the subject than myself. Suffice to say, as a children's author, I kind of like the idea of friendly little aliens that come to visit.

If we are not alone, and if we were ever visited by aliens, surely they would be inquisitive and friendly. It makes sense that a life form that has evolved the technology to travel in time and space long enough to reach us, would also be a peaceful race. They would have to have evolved to a higher level of co-operation and understanding to reach such a level of intelligence far beyond what we as humans, know and understand today.

Obviously, many people are sceptical but that doesn't mean I can't have a little bit of fun with the idea. Part of writing for children is to engage them in reading through fun and exciting ideas. Take my first short chapter book for example, in Gingerbread Aliens we wouldn't have such a compelling and enjoyable story without the boys next door neighbour, Mrs Witherbottom being absolutely convinced she saw a UFO smash in through the school Principal's window. Her tale is so convincing that the police officer decides -

'I believe we need to call in the Scientific Research Team for Radioactive Meteorites and Asteroids. You can never be too careful with Unidentified Flying Objects from outer space.'

In book 2, Alien Shenanigans, I take the laughs up a notch with the idea of the boys trying to catch a

mischievous little alien.

'How cool is that?' agreed Brian. 'He's a chameleon, no wonder we couldn't see him. He keeps changing to blend into his background. ' Brian reached out to grab him but the alien was too quick. He slipped through Brian's fingers, danced across the science table and knocked over a packet of washing powder and red food colouring. David made a swipe to grab him but in the process he in turn spilt the bottle of vinegar. The reaction was instant, soapy coloured froth oozed and bubbled along the table and overflowed onto the classroom floor and out the door.'

Any budding young scientist will know the disastrous mess that would have occurred in this scenario. Not only does the book provide teaching opportunities for research into space topics but all sorts of amazing science projects.  My books may be full of laughter and imagination, but they also include great learning opportunities through STEM projects.

Both the alien, the idea of UFO's and Mrs Witherbottom return in the third book in the series, Alien Milkshakes. What has caused the crop circles on the school oval? Can the Bradberrie brothers keep the alien a secret and help him repair his spaceship before Mrs Witherbottom discovers the truth behind her missing vegetables from her garden? All will be revealed when the book is released later this year.

'The brothers were so busy helping Aster and listening to Simon's tale that they didn't hear the footsteps coming towards the side fence in Mrs Witherbottom's yard, or hear the little step ladder that banged against the fence. It wasn't until they heard an unexpected voice call out that they all jumped. The three boys turned to see who was there.

'Hiya, What's the news laddies?' A bright eyed, freckle-faced girl peeped over the top of the fence. All three brothers quickly shuffled together to hide Aster from her sight.'

In the meantime, I have also written a short story that has been accepted for inclusion in an upcoming children's story collection. I have taken the idea of my friendly and mischievous little alien and combined it with my Australian animal picture books, to produce a short story where my alien travels around Australia with Santa in his sleigh on Christmas Eve. He sees some incredible sights and meets a few amaing animals along the way.

'Aster waved to camels in the desert and whales in the Bight,

koalas in the rainforests, it was all an incredible sight.

He met echidnas and emus and a baby crocodile,

dingoes and dolphins and a shark with a huge scary smile.'

The possibilities of friendly little aliens visiting from other worlds are endless. My children's books encourage a fun enjoyment of reading and learning. Children have amazing imaginations that can be engaged in incredible creative thinking given the opportunity.My books are a gateway to discussions that may produce that critical thinking. It is up to us to foster their imagination and creativity so that they may become our future inventors who will develop technology far beyond anything we can produce today.

Kids love the idea of aliens, (especially little mischievous ones), do you?

Are we alone in this huge universe? What do you believe?

If you are interested in any of my books, you can purchase them here in print form

The ebook copies are all available on Amazon except for Alien Shenanigans, sorry I've still not managed that.

I hope to have Alien Milkshakes released before the year is out, and my short story, Aster's Aussie Christmas will be in the CKT Story Collection to also be released before Christmas.

International Book Giving Day Coming Soon!

It's almost here! International Book Giving Day is the same day as Valentines Day, Feb 14! 

What does this mean?

Spreading the love of books to children everywhere!

It's such a wonderful idea I decided to jump onboard and join in the giveaways this year.

I'm trying a lot of new things this year. I started my email list, (finally), now have to start writing my first newsletter. So exciting. :)

I even joined the scary world of the twittersphere. (Wish me luck on that one, I'm a bit nervous about that).

One thing I am really excited about though is joining my author friends from all over the world to bring to you the chance to win free copies of all our gorgeous children's books. This is your chance to get books into the hands of children you love and read aloud with them some fabulous new stories. Sharing the love of books and reading on Valentines Day, has to be a great idea, don't you agree?

International Book Giving Day is a day devoted to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children and providing access to books for children in need. It falls each year on Valentines Day and what better way to say I love you than by giving your loved ones something they can enjoy reading over and over again. What better way to tell our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews we love them than with the gift of a book!

Books are a small gift that can last a lifetime and make a huge impact! You could inspire a future author, a journalist, a scientist, the possibilities are endless. Never underestimate the power of giving a book, you never know where the imagination and creativity may lead.

So, now you know what Book Giving Day is all about and you love the idea too! What do you do next?

  • You can take a loved one to the library and share a book with them.
  • Read aloud at home with a special someone, maybe even a neighbour's child
  • Donate a much loved old children's book to a family, charity or hospital in need.
  • Visit a bookstore and buy a book for someone you love.
  • or you can join our giveaway.

I am so pleased and excited to be sharing in my first giveaway with some of my special author friends in this Book Giveaway Extravaganza! In total there will be 14 signed copies of our books as well as ebooks all ready to giveaway with love especially to you. The Giveaway starts Wednesday 1st February and runs through to 15th February 2017.

Marianne Dubuc – creator of the 2017’s official poster – has also created these beautiful bookmarks. Print one out and add to your book when you give it to someone you love. Don't forget to write a few special words of love in the inside front cover. The receiver will love and treasure it.

Join the Giveaway - entries open 1st Feb 17

For more information on how to enter for your chance to win see the details below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions: There is NO purchase necessary to enter or win. Winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget within 48 hours and notified by email once the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner(s) do not respond within 72 hours, a new winner(s) will be chosen. This giveaway is open to all who live in and outside of the US. However, as there are several sponsors of this giveaway who live both domestic and international. Print books are available only for domestic country of author origin; ebooks offered outside author's country of origin at their discretion.

Now you know how I plan to spread the love on Valentines Day, how about you?

Let me know in the comments below.

Three Last Minute Children's Book Ideas for Christmas

It's that time of year again. Christmas is almost here! I've trimmed the tree and hung the lights, but still have a few Christmas gifts to gather.

If you are anything like me, you had every intention of being organised this year, just this once! Would have been nice, but it never seems to happen. December rolls around too quickly and Christmas day is sneaking up so fast!

So here are my suggestions for that last minute gift to grab for the kids. Based on some fantastic children's books I have reviewed this year, here are three of my favourites you can download or purchase from Amazon and still have them in time to add to your little ones Christmas stocking.

After all, by giving the gift of reading you are giving a gift that can be opened over and over again. Seems like a winner to me!

My three picks (in no particular order) are :-

Three Little Gnomes and the One Bite Mystery by Rhonda "Grammy Pags" Paglia 

With Christmas being in the middle of the summer holidays here in Australia, this story is a great way to motivate the kids to get outside and start a vegetable patch. I adored this story and the wonderful illustrations that supported it.

Format: Kindle Edition

Loved this little gnome tale! I absolutely adored "Three Little Gnomes and the One Bite Mystery." The illustrations were simply charming and Nibbles McGibbles was a fabulous character! I could easily see kids really enjoying this story. It helps develop imagination while encouraging healthy eating habits without explicit instruction. Children are also encouraged to share in a meaningful manner. It could be a useful springboard for a school vegetable garden or one at home so that children can learn first hand how to grow and nurture their own food. They also learn the value of patience while waiting for the vegetables to grow and ripen, and that their patience and caring pays off in the end.The extras at the end were fantastic. I always feel an opportunity to learn is so valuable. Rhonda Paglia adds information in a light and entertaining manner that kids are sure to enjoy
One Hot Mess by Jeanne E Rogers 
Along with rather cute caricatures of our native fauna, One Hot Mess reminds us all of the importance of looking after our environment. There has been an ad campaign here lately reminding everyone not to "be a tosser" but to place your rubbish in a bin. This short tale demonstrates just how important that message is for people and animals alike. It is a wonderful read aloud story for the whole family.

Format: Paperback

What a compelling read for children and the adults who read to and/or with them! We learn that our stewardship of the earth begins with how we care for our own space in order to keep our environment free of contamination and pollution. The text flows with lively dialogue and descriptive passages. The illustrations are eye-catching and colorful. In keeping with the educational value of this text, a glossary at the end of the book presents the Australian flora and fauna specific to this story. The author's photographs are vivid examples of the characters and their outback homeland. This clever, non-preachy fable that teaches the precious lesson of caring for our environment makes a perfect gift for a very lucky child. I think I'll read it once more before I gift-wrap it for my granddaughter!
Amazing Matilda -A Monarch's Tale by Bette A Stevens 
This award winning picture book presents the life cycle of a butterfly. From the tiniest of eggs to crawling out of a cocoon and becoming a beautiful butterfly. It also teaches the important lesson of persistence and patience, to never give up and follow your dreams. Sound familiar? Emma the Eager Emu teaches a similar significant lesson. It's no wonder I love this book so much.

Format: Paperback

Amazing Matilda, A Monarch's Tale, is a beautiful tale about a monarch butterfly during the stages of her metamorphosis. Catepillar is eager to grow up and fly but the wise words from other animal friends encourages her to be patient, one day it will come. Not knowing what her fate will be, she listens to her friends and hears of their youthful life trials and the lessons they have learned. As time passes her instincts take over and soon she begins to physically change.

Children of all ages will be able to relate to monarchs plight in some way. The tale will also inspire readers to not only follow their dreams, but to encourage others to do the same. Ones dreams are never too big, but with the support of friends and family, as well as with patience and determination, anyone can reach their goal. Ths sky is the limit.

This story is a true gem and one that will inspire children for years to come.
A few extras ;- My own books are always available here on my website. If you purchase directly from me I can personally sign any copies before posting. They are also available on Amazon.

Emma the Eager Emu

By Erika on January 18, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

This story with colorful, bright illustrations delivers a very important message to children the fun way. Emma, the emu is very eager to fit in and be like other birds, but she can't fly like others. She believes that it's her fault and it makes her very sad until Rosie encourages her to run instead of trying to fly. Emma discovers that running, which she can do better than others, gives her the sensation of flying and it makes her happy. The story prompts children to learn to recognize their limitations as well as their abilities and potentials. Just because we can't do something, it doesn't mean we can't do something else well.

Frazzled Freya

Format: Kindle Edition

Poor Freya, the frill-necked lizard, is so frazzled by the heat, the spooky shadows, and the terrifying (but imaginary) monsters, that she’s too scared to play with her friends. Children’s author, Sandra Bennett has tucked a lot of little lessons into this delightful rhyming story. Illustrator, Dianna Budd has done an outstanding job with her color palette choices. The reds, yellows, oranges, and browns help the reader get a sense of the hot, dry, dusty Australian outback that Freya is feeling. In addition to experiencing the Australian environment, kids meet some of the creatures that live in the outback, and they learn along with Freya, that sometimes, stepping out of your “comfort zone,” will help you overcome fears. Ms. Bennett, who is from Australia, has added extra enrichment pages at the end of the book. Kids will learn more facts about each of the REAL creatures found among the pages of this charming book. I learned a lot too!!

Gingerbread Aliens

Format: Kindle Edition

We gave a hard copy of this delightful book to our 5 year old niece who loved it. I don't know what it is about snot and exploding slime that intrigues little people so, but Sandra Bennett has managed to capture the secret to bring this delightful story to life from a child's point of view. We (and our niece) are eagerly awaiting the sequel. Recommended reading.
Aliens Shenanigans
I have never released this one on Amazon as yet, perhaps it should be on my "to do" list for 2017. Consequently I don't have any reviews. I can say however, that those children that loved the first in the series, loved this one too! So much so, because of their humour and entertaining manner of delivering kitchen and classroom science to kids, they are both now available at Questacon, Ausrtralia's National Science and Technology Museum.
 My best wishes to everyone for a wonderful Christmas. I hope you are able to spend the season with your loved ones. Don't forget to Read a aloud a good children's book (picture, early reader or middle grade) with the family. It will give you all great pleasure and precious memories to share.

Join us at the Fair!

If you live in Canberra and don't mind a short drive into the country why not join some amazing, friendly people this weekend at the Royalla Roundup Country Living Fair on Sunday 29th March, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. The weather promises to be perfect for a day outdoors in the sun. Royalla Roundup

Come along, join in the fun, meet the locals, pat some animals,  chat to a neighbour or two, and even  meet this resident author. There are plenty of things to do for all the family. Take a walk among the elm grove, delight in the arts/crafts, learn a thing or two about the native plants, purchase garden supplies, admire the farm machinery and shiny cars and so much more.

It will also be your first opportunity to purchase my two new children's books "Alien Shenanigans" and "Emma the Eager Emu." Along with my original short chapter book for early and reluctant readers, "Gingerbread Aliens." I will be their to sign any copies purchased.

Alien Shenanigans_cover_FNL_001








Bring fun and laughter to your children's Easter this year as you read aloud the Bradberrie Brothers continued adventure. Science and curiosity collide as mix ups, mischief and mayhem explode. Mrs Witherbottoms returns to get in the way. Principal Penwright is on the war path ..... again and the classroom teacher, Mr Haggardy, is not happy! Who is truly behind all the shenanigans this time?

The following is a Pre-release review kindly written by Leonie MacDonald:
Coordinator Relax Kids Canberra
Editor Birth Journeys-Positive Stories to Encourage and Inspire
Emma the Eager Emu is a wonderful story to read aloud to children with vibrant illustrations of the native Australian bird characters.  With plenty of repetition and opportunities for children to predict what is going to

Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

happen next this book is ideal for the classroom and shared reading with the young reader. Emma the Eager Emu’s story provides an opportunity to talk with children about how we are all different and we have different strengths, how we can encourage each other and keep trying when something is important to us, and how sometimes we just have to think a little differently to find the solution to our problems. Emma the eager emu shows children that they don’t have to be like everyone else to be happy and achieve their dreams. There are so many positive messages packed into this story.

 Aiden (age 5): My favourite part was Rosie Rosella because of her rainbow feathers.
“what is the story about?” If you run really fast it can feel like you’re flying.

 Review by Leonie MacDonald
Come join us at the Fair!
I hope to see you there! :)


From Reading Challenge to Reading Success.

I caught my son reading the other day. He and his wife were sitting together quietly reading their own novels and he appeared to be totally engrossed in the story too!What's so unusual about that? You may well ask. He has almost reached his mid twenties and has resisted reading books all throughout his school life. My eldest son, on the other hand, has always had his nose in a book, (just like me), from as young as I can remember. So when I produced a son who vehemently refused to read, it was time to delve into all the strategies I was taught to use as an early Primary classroom teacher and more. At first I couldn't understand why he struggled so much to read or why he insisted he didn't like doing it? Books are everywhere in our house, everyone reads! It was expected that all our boys would love books, so when he didn't, I felt like I had failed him. We read together as a family every night and had plenty of books to choose from, so I couldn't understand the problem. What I hadn't realised was that I was not giving him two things. 1. The chance to choose the book for the family to read. 2. Special one on one time reading together, just us! Both of these things had to change. I had to find books that he would like to read, not me, his father or his brothers. If I couldn't find suitable books of his choice, then it was up to me to write the sort of stories he would like to read, for him. Stories to entice boys, funny, quirky humour with a little bit of realism as well as a whole lot of imagination. Stories with great page turning hooks and climaxes that stop a boy from putting a book down to find something better to do. As he grew I also realised many other boys in my classes could benefit from my ideas and stories, so I began to share them and write specifically for them. I wrote Gingerbread Aliens initially many years ago as a funny story to encourage my son to read. It has developed over the years, the plot has thickened and the story is now long enough to make into a five part series of short chapter books. Now many struggling and reluctant readers, (boys and girls) can share in the fun and enjoy the story as much as my son did when he was growing up. It's so wonderful to see my efforts have all worked out in the end. My heart is overwhelmed with joy when I see my son reading for pleasure and I know I have done something right after all. Gingerbread Aliens is available for purchase right here on my website. Click on the link in the box below. The first in the Bradberrie Brothers Alien Adventure. Short chapter book for 5-10 yr olds, early and reluctant readers.

Great Giveaway with Easter on the way!

Easter is just around the corner for yet another year, why not consider the gift of a great children's book the kids will adore along with those usual chocolate easter eggs. Last week David Chuka did me the favour of inteviewing me on his blog, this week I have the opportunity to return the favour by posting the link to his giveaway on Goodreads.

So why not stop on by, read a review or two and enter the contest, who knows, you just might win a fantastic new book and become a fan of this wonderful author who has written quite a few delightful books in this Monster series.

Click on the link below to read all about David Chuka and his Goodreads Giveaway Contest.

Win a Signed Copy of Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

The Awesome Value of Picture Books

When you think of picture books, what are some of the great memories that come to your mind? Snuggling with grandma? Daddy'd tender voice as he read a bedtime story to you?  Perhaps laughing with Mum as she read your favourite story but skipped a page hoping you wouldn't notice, (but of course you did, you knew every word by heart).

Every child has a favourite. One that they want read to them night after night. Kept under their pillow or hidden in reach under their bed.

My all time favourite is "Diary of a Wombat" by Jackie French Diary-of-a-wombat(I've mentioned it in my blogs before). I've read it over and over to so many children during my teaching career, unfortunately I think I've lost my copy in a classroom somewhere and it was personally autographed by Jackie too!  I do however still have "Christmas Wombat" Christmas wombat 2and  "Baby Wombat's Week" baby wombats weekso I am lucky to be able to re-read these whenever I like. As I guess you can see, I rather have a fondness for wombats. They are Australia's unsung heroes, cute and cuddley yet almost forgotten due to the popularity of koalas and kangaroos. Thanks to Jackie French and her wonderful tales wombats are  finally getting the recognition they so rightfully deserve, but I digress.

Picture books are our introduction into the wonderful world of imagination and reading. We learn so much more than you might initially think from them.

From the first time we hold a picture book in our hands we begin the early stages of reading. We immediately learn the correct way to hold a book to be able to read it up the right way and from the front to the back. As we listen to an adult read the few words on each page we see to read from left to right. We see the shape of sentences and listen to the sounds of the written language. We also unknowingly begin to learn the fundamental structure of sentence building as well as the more complicated structure of the spoken language itself as we listen to someone read to us over and over again.

We learn that marvelous stories can be told on the pages of books and that we can explore all sorts of magical and mystical worlds through words and pictures.

We also come to realise that the story can be told through the amazing illustrations making it possible to understand the story without reading the words. This then helps in the following stages of learning to read as we search the pictures for cues to help with words by looking at expressions, body language or other clues that might be in the images. For example in "Christmas Wombat" the text talks about the strange creatures that are eating the wombats carrots, but by looking at the illustrations it is clear the creatures are in fact Santa's reindeer.Christmas_Wombat_3

Often a joke or a visual hint may be in the illustration that may not be obvious in the written word demonstrating the visual impact the pictures can have on the story. In "Baby Wombat's week" the wombat is searching for a new bigger home, the illustrations show us some of the places he considers, such as the toddlers sandpit, the garbage bin and a washing basket.

Of course the key to successful learning to read is as much in the conversation that develops about what happens in the story in as much as reading the text or looking at the pictures. A picture is after all worth a thousand words, and a good illustration can tell an incredible story in its own right. Picture books can help to stimulate discussions between parents and children where as more complicated text may reduce the need for that dialogue unless the parent is proactive.

Picture books come in all shapes and sizes but some of the best are the biggest, brightest and most colourful. They stimulate the imagination and are family inclusive. Everyone can snuggle behind a big picture book and easily read together. Why not pop on down to your local library today and see what amazing adventures await you and your family amongst the pages of a big picture book.

As always, have fun reading. :)