Archive for the ‘Teachers Notes’ Category

Teacher+Apple+CardThe most common question I’ve been asked since Intruder came out is what age group is it for?

I struggle with this question because I read a lot of YA fiction myself (despite being well outside the demographic). And I’ve always thrown my own bookshelves open to our kids, figuring that anything that was genuinely too old for them would defeat them or go over their heads.

 Choosing what to read is one of the incandescent pleasures of the book lover. And it is one that we deny children to their peril.

Restricting what children read is fraught, particularly in their final year of primary school when so many readers are at their most voracious, poised on the cusp of adolescence, and reaching for a greater understanding of the world that is opening up to them.

I vividly remember my own desire as a child to read books denied to me by virtue of my years. And the truth is that I read them anyway, often perplexed at what the fuss was about.

As an adult, I write layered texts that can be read and appreciated at different levels and ages. If pressed, I might recommend Intruder for anyone aged between 12 and 112, as I know that for different reasons, the story will resonate and appeal across that age range.

Intruder fits easily into the secondary English curriculum, but you can imagine my delight when the Oz Teacher Librarian Network reviewed Intruder for Years 6-8:

Intruder is a story that will be adored by those on the transition between childhood and adolescence. It has just enough suspense to keep turning the page, but not enough to terrify; its characters are diverse, realistic, memorable and recognizable and show that we all need a little bit of everyone to enrich our lives….this story would have great value as a small-group read, perhaps as a book club, where readers can discuss its layers, explore the what-ifs, and perhaps not only gain some insight into the tunnel-vision of the age group, but perhaps develop some safety strategies as well.’ Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, Cooma [click here for full review].

It was a pleasure catching up with so many teachers and librarians at Random House’s Meet-the-Authors do at the Book Garden in Brisbane this week – thank you to all those who were able to come.

For those who’d love to know what they missed, please click here for teacher and children’s writer Rebecca Sheraton’s comprehensive and entertaining commentary on the event.

Also, Teachers Resources for Intruder are now available on the Random House Website.

Just click on the link below and it will transport you directly to a veritable corncucopia of useful classroom activities.

http://www.randomhouse.com.au/content/teachers/intruder.pdf

 

 

 

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Really looking forward to catching up with the lovely Belinda Murrell and the ever engaging Tristan Bancks at Random House’s Teachers do in Brisbane next week.

Any English teachers who fancy a scone and a bit of bookish chit chat, please email deb@thebookgarden.com.au – we’d love to see you there!

RHA_Intruder_Front cover 21-03-14

Some stories start in dark places and, prompted by the question What if? emerge slowly into the light. This story started five years ago when my daughter was woken by a man standing over her bed. She was eleven years old.

We were lucky. The prowler ran off when she challenged him. And my child is resilient; she recovered much faster than I did.

Motherhood is guilt. Particularly when they’re little. Forgot your lunch, sweetie? That’d be Mum’s fault. Turned up in full uniform when everyone else was wearing free dress? Definitely Mum’s fault.

Mothers are great at taking responsibility. I swear some Mum is out there right now taking the blame for the Ukraine crisis and the fall of the dollar.

We’re  even better at torturing ourselves with terrifying ‘what ifs’. . .

But as the years safely passed, I stopped beating myself up as a mother and found myself responding to that prowler incident as a writer. Turning it over in my mind, intrigued by the fictional possibilities prompted by that most tantalising of questions: ‘what if…?’

What if it happened to a girl who was home alone? What if her mum was dead? What if her dad worked nights? What if the only person who came running when she screamed was the one person she hated most in the world?

And so the story of Intruder began to emerge, each question prompting countless others.

Why does Kat hate her neighbour Edwina? How could her dad Jimmy leave her alone, night after night? How would a vulnerable, motherless, once-bitten, twice shy teen react to a guard dog being forced on her? And how would she respond to the unexpected and unconditional love it offered?

On one level, Intruder is about vulnerability and what we need in our lives to make us feel safe. On another, it is about how the inescapable past shapes and, at times, traps us.

Like all of us, Kat sees the world through the prism of her own experiences. She hates her neighbour; she knows what she saw. A single shocking snippet of reality that sets like concrete in her mind and becomes the bedrock for all her subsequent actions.

The intruder is the catalyst for change in Kat’s life. Bringing her simmering problems with her troubled father, Jimmy, to the boil. Shattering her fragile belief that she is fine on her own. Forcing her to accept help – from the unwanted dog, Hercules, the new boy, Al, and her much-hated neighbour, Edwina. And ultimately, compelling her to face a truth buried in the bedrock of the past.

To paraphrase one of my favourite characters: Intruder is like an onion. It has layers. I hope its readers enjoy peeling them back. 🙂

Intruder by Christine Bongers – Published by Random House Australia – In bookstores 2 June 2014.

I’m dying here, people. Torn. Torn. Torn.

Half of me wants to let the cat out of the bag, the other half wants to warn off anyone who hasn’t yet read Henry Hoey Hobson.

Teachers Notes for HHH are now available. They’re awesome, but be warned, they do contain, ahem, spoilers (like a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of plot and character, and pages of ready-to-use classroom activities for over-worked teachers of Grades 6-8).

Click here if you are a teacher, know a teacher, or want to make a teacher’s life just that little bit easier.

The rest of you, click here for a taste that won’t spoil your appetite for more. 😉

The gods are rubbing their hands and giggling with wicked delight.

Only days after publicly revealing my fear of ever again sharing a signing table with Morris Gleitzman, they’ve conspired to put us on the same bill for this year’s Word Play at the Brisbane Writers Festival.

For those who missed it the first time, Morris has queues that extend to the outer reaches of the galaxy, while I try to attract passing interest by balancing a pen on the end of my nose, toppling backwards out of a chair, and knocking myself unconscious.

If you’d like to see me knock myself out for Grades 6-9, click  here and here to book for my sessions (1 and 2 Sept). Book now and ker-ching! you’ll get an early bird discount (available to June 25 or while stocks last. )

Seriously, Word Play at BWF is made of awesome for kids and lovers of kids’ literature. Click here for everything you need to know about Word Play, and here for the full program of fabulous authors and illustrators.

I know. A pet lamb the size of a dugong, with its own collar. What’s not to love?

But the rapture of those Grade Eight girls at Stuartholme still caught me by surprise.

Who could have guessed those old seventies photos would be such a hit?

Author talks are still a novelty for me.

Dust has only been out for eight months and this is the first time I’ve pulled out the paisley.

I’d swear that this little number on the right (made by Mum for the Biloela Show in May 1972), was one of the new generation wonder-fabrics: rayolene, a one-hundred-percent synthetic cross between rayon and crimpilene.

I could be wrong, but how could that be when I remember everything else so clearly?

The dress and matching jerkin were fully reversible. It was a warm day for May, which is why I’m not wearing the toning hat that Ma crocheted for me, the one with twin pom poms dangling from the crown on strings.

The knee boots laced around hooks; they were the envy of every girl in the valley. Bought at the Mac and East sale in Brisbane when Mum took a bit of a break from us kids. To get kidney stones out, from memory…

There’s more, but I’m saving it for my next school visit. Stuartholme College, you were great; you were the first to prompt me to pull out the paisley, but by jingo, you won’t be the last. 😉

If you haven’t yet read Dust, do not click on this link. It will take you with the speed of light to the newly posted Teachers’ notes (which might spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet read the book).

If you don’t care about spoilers, click here with impunity; Judith Ridge’s incisive discussion of the text was illuminating, even for me (and I wrote the damn thing).

[Judith Ridge is a longtime advocate of children’s and young adult literature. She is a Churchill Fellow, has an MA in children’s literature, and has written teachers’ notes for books by Melina Marchetta, MT Anderson and Morris Gleitzman. You can check out her Misrule website here and her blog here.]