Archive for the ‘Drongoes’ Category

race wear for drongoes

Look, if you’re going to wear a silly hat, think big I say.

It’s been years since I’ve taken part in our national Silly Hats Day, but this year I’m keen.


As revealed at Saturday’s The Inside Story, a racehorse was one of the major inspirations for my children’s book, Drongoes… 

And now, with the Spring Racing Carnival in full swing, Drongo, The Immortal Loser has also hit the adult bookshelves.

Nice to have another drongo author out there….But do you think he has a fascinator to rival mine?

drongo the immortal loser


The beagle’s depressed.

I’ve been holed up for weeks meeting my publisher’s deadline. And after a final, heroic, sixteen-hour sprint to an after-midnight finish, I am ready for an outing… and the beagle’s not coming.

Sorry, Huggy, but this is strictly for humans – especially those who love books for kids.

THE INSIDE STORY is a free, funtastic event on this Saturday 2 November from 10am, organised by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in assocation with specialist bookshops all over the world. In Brisbane, it’s being held at Black Cat Books at La Trobe Terrace,Paddington.

Inside Story postcard 2

I’ll be there, along with a host of fabulous authors and illustrators including Pamela Rushby, Katherine Battersby, Peter Taylor, Julie Nickerson, Dimity Powell, Michelle Worthington, Judy Paulson, Candice Lemon-Scott, Samantha Wheeler, JR Poulter, Christina Boolenbach, Stephen Axelsen and Angela Sunde.

Love to see you there too. 🙂

For more information, click on QLD INSIDE STORY.

Inside Story 1402107_1428269044063169_1261924053_o

Oh for heaven’s sakes, what was I thinking???


Judging a Drongoes art competition at the local school seemed like such a great idea at the time…. but then in came more than a hundred entries from Grades One-to-Three at St Ambrose’s, Newmarket, and every dang one of them was as cute as a bug’s ear.

The Race, by Tessa, Year One

Jack vs Rocket Robson, by Tessa, Year One

Talk about diversity and depth of talent among our local 6-to-8 year olds. After listening to only two chapters from Drongoes , each child created a unique pictorial take on the story.

Some focused on the race between Jack and his arch-rival Rocket Robson….

Best mates, by Charlotte, Year Two

Best mates, by Charlotte, Year Two

others on the strong bond of mateship that sustained Jack and his best bud, Eric through their toughest times….

and more than a few were inspired by the asthmatic Eric’s nickname, Puff the Magic Dragon! P1000629

The special place where Jack went to be alone with his drongo ‘mates’ was one of the most beautifully depicted scenes …


Down the creek, by Luke, Year 3

…as were the drongoes that flit in at the end of the story to unexpectedly save the day.


Drongo by Charlotte, Year One

Congratulations – not only to Tessa and Charlotte in Year One, Charlotte (another one!) in Year Two, and Luke in Year Three – but to each and every one of the entrants from St Ambrose’s.

You are all winners in my book. 🙂P1000633


And the winners are...

And the winners are…


Growing up in the bush, I cut my chops on prime Aussie slang.

Life was full of dills and drongoes, drop-kicks and silly galahs, useless buggers who couldn’t run a bath, and funny buggers who claimed to have hit every branch of the ugly tree on the way down.

Language was full of fun and effect. Cheating and stealing were lower than a goanna’s gearbox, and if you were caught in the act, you took off like a choko vine over the back dunny….

Yet these days, using Aussie slang can be a bit like speaking a foreign language to today’s kids. Hands immediately shoot up in the classroom. ‘What’s a dill? What does drongo mean?”

It occurred to me that some Aussie vernacular was in danger of dying a death if someone didn’t do something….so I wrote Drongoes to help breathe some new life into a favourite Aussie expression.

This latest chapter book in Scholastic’s Mates series of great Australian yarns introduces drongoes – (the bird, the word, and the dogged little triers it has come to represent) – to a whole new generation of newly independent readers.

Drongoes will meet its first readers at the Brisbane schools launch at St Ambrose’s, Newmarket, on Sunday 3 March from 3pm.

First reviews are now in – yay! You can read Fran Knight’s review for ReadPlus by clicking here, Dimity Powell’s review for Boomerang Books, by clicking here and Megan Daley’s review and teaching activities at Childrens Books Daily by clicking here.

Teachers Notes can be found at


It’s here, it’s here, my first little Aussie Mate. (And seriously, with a title like Drongoes, what else could it be?)

When the fabulous Dyan Blacklock at Scholastic first asked me if I’d like to write something for their Mates series for newly independent readers, my immediate reaction was hell, yeah – I’m a sheila from Biloela, I live for great Aussie yarns.

And I have to say that writing Drongoes was about as much fun as I’ve had at a keyboard. It took me back to my own early reading discoveries and the thrill of graduating to big kids’ books with proper stories and chapters and everything (just like younger readers will find in Drongoes ;))

Drongoes is out now, so look out for it in Scholastic Book Club in schools. Or if you’re really keen, you can order it by clicking here. 🙂

Love to hear what you think of it.

Can Jack beat arch-enemy Rocket Robson in this year’s cross-country? If only! A heart-warming story of mateship and drongoes, where the real winner isn’t always the first over the line.