Frazzled Freya

A Land of Sweeping Plains and Flooding Rains (Part 1)

These last couple of weeks I have been concentrating on writing my short story for the Creative Kids Tales Anthology due to be released in time for Christmas this year. The story is about a young selfish boy who through rallying his small country community together in order to save a pod of whales, comes to realise the importance of helping others. My inspiration for this story came from the wonders of whale watching along our amazing coastline during our drive across Australia last year. In December 2015 my husband and I drove the incredible dry hot outback from Darwin to Canberra, of which I wrote about in my blog "We Drove a Sunburnt Country, " parts 1, 2 and 3.

Last September- October 2016, we drove across from Canberra to Perth and back. It was a dream come true, to drive across the Nullabor had been on my "bucket-list" for years. This at last, is my story of that amazing journey. To continue my quote from Dorothea MacKeller's famous poem "My Country,", we certainly discovered Australia really is a land of contrasts, "A land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains." During this journey we  experienced it all!

First stop was only an hour from home, the country town of Yass, their information Centre was waiting on a delivery of my books. Not a bad way to start a holiday, and a great sign for the opportunities that were to come.

This is where the adventure really began as we drove further west across NSW into the Riverina district. Before departing home it had been raining pretty much non-stop for weeks, particularly in this farm region. I knew there was more rain predicted, so this was our only window of opportunity to cross before major flooding set in. Sure enough roads were only just re-opened as we drove through and closed again within the next few days. It must be so difficult to make a living on the land, if our country is not in severe drought, it's in major flood, there's never a compromise. Not sure which is harsher,  seeing first hand starving cattle and sheep, even kangaroos, desperate for a blade of grass along the side of the road in outback Queensland, or fruit and wheat crops that farmers were ready to harvest (and desperate for payment to feed their families) all destroyed by massive floods. My heart and thoughts go out to the many people in townships suffering after the aftermath of cyclone Debbie in all the current flooded regions of northern NSW and Queensland.

We made it into Hay after dark, lesson learnt, never drive across the wheat plains at dusk. We live in a rural community, so are aware and always cautious of kangaroo hopping across the roads at dusk, but nothing prepared us for the amount of bugs!  Hubby used so much windscreen water to clear the vision that we ran out of water. We could barely see the turn-off on arrival into Hay through the amount of bugs smeared on the car's screen in front of us. First stop in the morning consequently was a car wash.

Hay is in the western part of the Riverina district of western NSW, with the surrounding farm regions being either vegetable, cotton and rice crops or sheep and cattle. It is the home of "Shear Outback," a museum dedicated to the history of our wool industry. It is definitely worth a visit to learn all about the history behind the saying that Australia is known to have 'grown up on a sheeps back!" Get to read about some of the characters that were shearers, their lifestyle, and their tools of the trade. Learn all about the early pioneers, their present day shearing counterparts and into the future. If you have never seen a sheep being sheared, then watching a sheep shearing demonstration is an opportunity not to be missed. The shearer is very informative and handles the sheep with the utmost  care. The coffee shop is great for a snack or lunch and of course there is a gift shop with plenty of choices for woollen apparel. Thanks to the manager, Kathy, Shear Outback gift shop now also stocks 'Emma the Eager Emu' and 'Frazzled Freya' too. We enjoyed spending time at Shear Outback so much that we only made it as far as Mildura (just inside the top of Victoria,) that day.






The next morning we woke to beautiful clear blue skies, but were assured all that was about to change in a big hurry. A massive storm was approaching from South Australia, exactly where we were headed next.

Have you ever driven across Australia? Share your experiences below. 

Is the drive across this magnificent country on your bucket-list? Why or why not? Share your comments below.

Next week :- The havoc of the storm, a surprising find and much more!

What Age Group is a Picture Book Best Suitable For?

The short answer to this question is 3 to 8 yrs, however I like to say from birth to whatever age you are reading with. Picture books are wonderful for whatever age you want to read aloud and share a moment with. There should never be an age limit for good picture books. Editors of traditional publishing houses will categorize picture books into three main sub-sections.

  1. Baby books - lullabies, nursery rhymes, finger plays etc
  2. Toddler books - Very simple everyday life stories teaching concepts, eg numbers, colours, shapes, etc.
  3. Picture books for 4-8 yrs. -These contain simple stories with plots where a main character evokes emotions and the stories often contain a moral or lesson.

However there are two more sub-sections that may also be considered.

4. Early Picture books - Often focused towards the younger age group with less words. The emphasis is more on the illustrations to help convey the meaning of the story.

5. Easy Readers - Still have pictures on nearly every page but are longer in text length for the beginning "independent" reader.

With my combination of launching "Frazzled Freya" in ebook format last week and print format this coming weekend, I was a guest blogger on A.J. Cosmo's Fellow Friday Blog where I spoke about the significance and importance of picture books as conversation starters for children of all ages. I believe my picture books, along with so many other wonderful picture books are a magical way to inspire children to open up and talk about all manner of topics. Whether they initiate discussions on emotions or learning about writing, authors and illustrators, books are an amazing way to open an unknown world to children no matter how old they are.

If you are in Canberra this weekend, Saturday 9th July 2016, come along to The Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka at 2:00 pm. Listen to me read 'Frazzled Freya." Learn a few fun facts about the quirky creatures that are the characters in the story. The kids can make their own paper craft frill neck lizard and even eat a reptilian treat! Everyone is welcome, I would love to meet you and your children.


Below is a copy of my blog from A. J. Cosmo

Sandra Bennett, Australian Children’s Author- Fellow Friday

Frazzled Freya_cover_amazon_001

Picture Books Are Wonderful Conversation Starters

Have you ever been afraid of the dark?

Frightened of monsters hidden under your bed or in your wardrobe?

Picture books can be a wonderful way to start a conversation with children about ways of facing those fears or sorting through other emotions.

Why not read a picture book and start a discussion today?

I realized the power of picture books and their potential to start a dialogue when I was teaching a year 5 class one day. It was one of those moments when I needed an impromptu lesson, so I grabbed a picture book out of my trusty resource bag and began to read aloud. The initial class response was stunned silence. What was I thinking reading them something with pictures and very few words! It didn’t take them long to sit back, relax and enjoy the experience. After reading the story, the real work began. A lengthy conversation ensued that lead to some amazing writing of their own. I had re-opened the world of picture books to 10 and 11 year old students.

Curtin South Preschool

What was this amazing picture book that enlightened and brought so much wonder to our classroom? One of my favourites, “Diary of a Wombat” by Jackie French. Written so simplistically, yet capturing the character of a wombat so magnificently.

Since then I’ve now written two Australian picture books myself. My goal, is to introduce unusual Australian creatures to children around the world while opening opportunities for conversations with parents and teachers. Through my stories children can learn a little about Australia’s environment, the animals that call it home and something about themselves along the way. Each book finishes with a few fun facts about the characters contained in the story.

My newest release is “Frazzled Freya.” A rather timid frill neck lizard so scared of shadows and unknown monsters she is too frightened to join in all the fun and games with her desert friends. Set in the harsh Australian Outback, the vivid yet earthy colours used by my illustrator, Dianna Budd, depict perfectly the heat of the sun Freya is desperate to avoid.

Frazzled Freya_cover_amazon_001

Parents, teachers and children can read along and discover Freya’s journeyto triumph as she conquers her fear with a little help from a few unusual desert friends. The story provides an excellent opportunity to begin talking to your little ones about facing their fears, trying new experiences and stepping outside of their comfort zone.

Emma the Eager Emu,” tells the tale of a very unusual bird who can’t understand why she is so different from all her friends at flying school. She is desperate to learn to fly and be just like everyone else. An assortment of colourful yet different species of Australian birds come to Emma’s aid. Through her tenacity to never give up, Emma eventually learns the significance of individualism and discovers her own special way of doing things. This is another wonderful conversation starter as children struggle to fit into peer groups at school and learn to understand and embrace their own unique qualities and differences.

EmmaEMU_black fontcover1_001 - Copy

Is there a topic you feel you would like to discuss with your child? I’ll bet you can find a picture book to help lead you into the conversation. So, pick up a picture book today, snuggle with your child tonight, share the book and read aloud together. If you’re a teacher, don’t be afraid to use a picture book in a middle grade classroom. You just might be surprised by the conversation it helps start.

Big Dreams, Bigger Fears

As children we all had big dreams, and yes most of us admit it, we had even bigger fears. When we are little we are often asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?" John Lennon famously replied "Happy." That is the best dream of all, but most children usually answer with familiar and somewhat innocent standards like "a fireman, doctor, teacher, nurse etc." It takes us a lot of our growing years to realise the importance of simply being happy with ourselves for who and what we are. One of our biggest fears is that we may not grow up and reach the full potential of our dreams. Walt Disney was one of the biggest dreamers of us all, but he also had a very big fear. Disneyland was born from his dreams and fears. The dream of building a fantasy world where parents could take their children and escape their everyday life and his fear of never being able to make a second movie as good or better than his original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While his staff at the studio consistently made animated film after film, Walt Disney fixated on bringing the world his greatest creation, Disneyland. The results speak for themselves, crowds today flock to Disneyland in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Walt Disney is famously quoted as saying :-

"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them."

My dream, for as long as I can remember, was to write books for children. Books that will make them laugh, learn and find a love of reading. My biggest fear was that I wasn't good enough and that nobody would take me seriously. After years of teaching and writing I finally tested the waters with my first short chapter book for early and reluctant readers. "Gingerbread Aliens" was received with great enthusiasm and gained many favourable reviews. I was on my way. "Alien Shenanigans" followed and book three, "Alien Milkshakes" will be released in a few months.

Children however have much simpler dreams and fears. Shadows and monsters

Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

under the bed, or in the cupboard are rather familiar ones.

This is why I began writing my picture books using uniquely Australian animals as the characters.


"Emma the Eager Emu" dares to dream big. She dreams of being the same as all the other birds at flying school. Emma dreams of one day being able to fly, just like her friends, Rosie Rosella, Kelly Kookaburra, Patsy the Pink Galah and Cathy the Yellow Crested Cockatoo. This is a subtle tale about learning to strive to reach your goals and finding your own unique qualities to fulfill your dreams in your own individual way.

Copyright Sandra Bennet Illustrator Dianna Budd

"Frazzled Freya" is my newest release which is coming soon. Freya is a frill neck lizard who with the help of her desert friends learns to face her fears. Freya is too frightened to go out in the heat of the midday sun. She is happy to sit under a rock and watch while all her friends play and have fun. I teamed up once again with my fantastic illustrator Dianna Budd, to produce this gorgeously illustrated Australian picture book to tell a second subtle tale. This time it is about learning that some of our biggest fears once faced proved to be quite small after all and that the biggest fear of all is fear itself. Freya's Cover will be released within the next week or two. She should have her own link on my wesite and be ready for pre-order then also.

What are your biggest dreams and fears? Does your child have dreams or fears? Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear what they are and if they have been faced. Perhaps my books can help.