Reading, Running and Realising Books are the Real Treasure!

Do you want your kids to be excited about books? Do you want your kids to spend more time playing outside?

Are you looking for something different for your kids to do so that they’ll look back in years to come and think of it as one of the really fun things they did as a family when they were young and maybe even carry on the tradition?

If you’ve answered yes to all the above then maybe you’ll be interested in organising a Book Sleuthing Treasure Hunt for your own children and invite all the others in the street or neighbourhood to join in. It’s also perfect for a children’s party or a school class.

How to Organise a Treasure Hunt where Books hold all the Answers.

Devised by Prue Mason with lots of help from Jill Morris, Judy Paulson, Gillian Leigh and Sue Collaro.

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This activity can be for as little as two children but definitely the more the merrier as they can be divided into two teams.

What you need:

1. At least two treasure hunters ore more divided into two teams – to make it simple make one the gold team and the other the silver team with each having a team leader.

2. Gold and silver medallions for the participants (cut out of cardboard and tied around the neck with string)

3. 20 books

4. 20 clues (these can be put inside gold or silver tins or boxes before they are hidden)

5.  20 signposts to mark the areas where the clues are hidden

6.  2 maps (if you’re an illustrator you can make your own but for others there are great treasure hunt maps that can be downloaded and from the internet and adapted)

7. 2 clipboards

8. 2 instruction poems

9.  2 answer sheets marked from 1 -10 so the hunters can mark each letter in right order as they find them and which will then spell out a full ten letter word. This sheet also needs to have space for the hunters to write their definition for the ten letter word they uncover.

10. 2 sealed envelopes with instructions on how to find the edible treasure

11. 2 treasure chests full of edible treasure

12. At least an hour before hand to set up the signposts, clues and books.

What you do:

1. Draw 2 maps of the area where the clues are to be hidden.

2. Give names to 20 places where you want to hide the clues, linking them to the stories and characters in the books you’re using.

3. Make signposts using these names. Mark these with gold or silver and put these in the ground around where the clue from each book is to be hidden.

4. Divide the books into two groups and mark each map with 10 hiding places, making sure they are marked 1-10 so the hunters find each clue in the right order.

5. Think of two ten letter words – one word for each team and using the first ten books find one letter inside each book to make up the ten letter word. e.g. If looking for a letter ‘e,’ this might be found in book titled: Camel Rider on Page 20, line 4, word 6, letter 2. These instructions will then be the clue. It’s important the hunters find each clue in the right order to make up the word.

6. Repeat this with the other ten books to create the second 10 letter word

7. Hide the clues in the sign-posted places making sure you keep the two lots of 10 clues separate. The paper clues can be hidden inside small boxes or cylinders that can be painted either gold or silver.

8.  Keep the books in two separate baskets so the hunters can return to them each time they find a clue. They will need to look through the book for the answer that they then mark on the answer sheets provided.

9. When each team has found all the clues and spelled out their word they must think of a definition for the word. They don’t need to know what the word means but be encouraged to use their imagination.

10. When they have met this final challenge they can be handed the sealed envelope with the final clue that will lead to the edible treasure

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Poem to start the treasure hunt:

Golden/Silver Treasure hunting Team
It is time to test your sleuthing skills
And join the treasure hunt that’s full of thrills
Read these words most carefully
For it tells you what your team’s tasks will be.

A special map will set you on the track
for in this park/garden you will see
Signposts that will be the key
Start at one and end at ten
Seek the golden/silver tins for each one holds a clue
But it is the books that will find the true answers for you.

All ten letters you must get
This will give you the full set
That make a word that’s weird but fun.
The challenge is to find meaning for this one
And then there is one final test
And an edible treasure to end your quest.
So off you go and find your first clue.
good luck to each one of you!

Poem to end the treasure hunt:

Look to the nearest, biggest, greenest tree
From this take steps three by three
Towards a …. (an obvious place such as a wall, window, garden bed etc.
Then in the ground
Dig deeply until the treasure is found.

If all this sounds like lots of work that’s because it is but to see children rushing around and having fun with books does make all that organising worth it.

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To enter writing competitions or not? That is the question….

Another post from Taryn Bashford, SCBWI Qld member.

Do you face this dilemma? Trying to get novels published and spending too much spare time wondering if one should enter competitions?  Is this a useful way to spend one’s writing time or is it a hurdle to distract from writing a new novel? Another delaying tactic? 

I’m aware how writers can get lost and take refuge in research for their books and delay actually writing the novel itself.  Yet everyone says if you win a competition it’s great to add to your CV; yet it distracts me from writing my novel – and so the vicious circle develops.

Having recently come to my own conclusion about this question, I thought I’d share it with you. 

I decided to enter a few competitions and so spent some time letting my mind wander and hover over new story ideas and concepts, new characters and their friends, new beginnings and new endings. It became a great way to exercise the imagination, to flex that writing muscle in the brain and free my mind to write something that wasn’t going to become a year-long project. I was able to experiment, play with tenses, with dialogue and different endings without the worry that if I did a re-write, there were 30,000 words or more to go through. This ability to freely experiment was of benefit to me as I have learnt which styles work for me. 

Taryn Bashford

The most surprising benefit, though, was it lead to a concept for my next novel. As I was writing and formulating the characters and plot for a 4,000 word short story competition, my mind grabbed the idea and ran away with it. I couldn’t stop it flying off on different tangents, collecting new chapters, new characters, new tension and climaxing moments and suddenly I had a whole YA novel in my head itching to be written.

 So I entered the competition but whilst I await the results I have a whole new novel to write. 

Leading Illustrators’ Auction for Indigenous Literacy

As facilitator and roving reporter for the Brisbane One Word One Day (OWOD)  illustrator event held on 11 May at the ABC Studios (South Bank), SCBWI Qld author and blogger, Helen Ross, gives us an update on the auction details scheduled for 25 September 2012.

Earlier this year a host of Australia’s best known and highly acclaimed artists (ASA and non-ASA members) created art for ONE WORD ONE DAY to raise funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) to help disadvantaged kids in the remotest parts of Australia.

Artists had three hours to create a picture based on an inspirational word that the ASA released in the morning.

And there were many SCBWI Qld artists participating in the Brisbane OWOD event. What talent we have!  – Lucia Masciullo, Lynn Priestley, Angela Sunde,  Peter Taylor …

So now for the drum roll …..

The Australian Society of Authors, in partnership with the ABC and Micador will auction the 101 original artworks by these leading artists including Oscar-winning creator and illustrator Shaun Tan, Children’s Book Laureate Alison Lester and internationally recognised artist, Alison Jane Rice.

Tuesday 25 September, 6pm – 8pm
ABC Studios, 700 Harris St, Ultimo NSW
Registration essential – RSVP   events@asauthors.org

Bid in person, by phone or absentee http://www.onewordoneday.com.au/auction
Visit www.onewordoneday.com.au

Times: 10am – 2.30pm
Cost: $15
Bookings: Bookings essential – book online below or phone 1800 257 121 or (02) 9211 1004

To view all the fabulous artwork, click on:

www.onewordoneday.com.au

BUT before you go. All SCBWI illustrators please put the 2013 date in your diary. It really was a fun day!

Brisbane                  Wed 15 May 2013, 10am – 2.30pm
Code:
13OWOD05B

For other OWOD 2013 event dates, click here.

And, to find out more about  Brisbane’s fabulous  OWOD 2012 event, click here.

And if you want to bid, or know of anyone who might be interested, please kindly pass this information on.

The 2012 Byron Bay Writers Festival … impressions from a children’s writer

SCBWI Qld author and blogger, Taryn Bashford blogs on her experiences at the recent Annual Byron Bay Writers Festival. Visit her blog or website to find out more about Taryn.

Beautiful Byron Bay (image courtesy of the Byron Bay Community Markets)

Firstly, I went along as a volunteer and I highly recommend doing this if you want to save the entry fee because it’s lots of fun, you meet lots of people and you feel like you’re a real part of the Festival. I was a host and had 8 writers assigned to me (I was like their PA for a day). Just contact them via the website.

Anyhow, this was my first visit and the general impression was that the visitors loved it, thought there was a good breadth of topics and some great authors there. I was surprised at the number of children and YA authors in attendance; Morris Gleiztman, Andy Griffiths, Isobelle Carmody, Shamini Flint and Sarah Brennan to name a few.

From the standpoint of a writer though, there was very little there in terms of learning your craft. The only session catering for us writers was the pitch session (45 mins for 6 pre-determined people to do a 5 min pitch) but this was interesting as ever with publishers from Harper Collins and Harlequin Teen.

I have to say the most exciting day for me was the Sunday as it was Children’s Day. To see a whole marquee full of 5 to 14 year olds, all there to listen to authors, buy their books and get them autographed, was very exciting. We should thank these authors for attending because they are creating so much interest in reading books and that will certainly benefit those of us wishing to publish in this market – and their own sales of course!

All in all, a great venue, some brilliant authors to talk to and listen to but more geared to readers than writers.

The Writing Life… it’s not all about the writing

Most people get a huge shock when you hit them with the facts – no, we don’t expect to ever earn enough royalty from our writing/ illustrating to rival JK Rowling. It’s more the case of what JK Rowling spends on her pet cat. Yearly.

Luckily, we don’t do it for money (alone)! 

Most of us have to supplement our income visiting schools and libraries, promoting reading, writing and heaven’s above, even our own books. The good side is, it’s fun! Sometimes stressful, but fun all the same.

I’ve asked author, Sue Lawson (on the occasion of the launch of her new book, Forget me not) to answers some in-depth questions about hitting the author appearance trail and how she copes with the bumps and hollows of these author gigs. 

Sue Lawson, Australian author

Welcome north of the border, Sue! I’ve got some specific questions that would interest practising authors…..

1. When you have a class group, do you plan the writing activities around your novels?

When I run straight author talks, I discuss how I come up with ideas and the writing process. It’s during these sessions that I focus on my novels.

For the workshops, I use my experiences to illustrate what I am teaching. For example, when showing students a way to capture ideas, I’ll show them my planning book with the original mind map that kicked off the story, or if we’re doing dialogue, I might show a piece of editing where I have changed a slab of text to dialogue and explain why.  I think kids become very sick of ‘in my book.’ ‘When I was writing…’

Instead I focus on books I’ve read and loved like David Metzenthen’s Black Water, Karen Tayleur’s Six or Julia Lawrinson’s Bye Beautiful for older readers and Michael Gerard Bauer’s Just A Dog or Glenda Millard’s Kingdom of Silk series for younger readers. Doing this also helps to encourage kids to read.

2. Do teachers tell you what they want you to impart?

Generally teachers will tell me what they want me to focus on before I arrive. I would much rather work on what the school sees the students as needing, rather than me come in and focus say on characters when the kids really need help with dialogue. The teachers give me the topic and I design activities around this. It’s best to stick to one area, as an hour goes very quickly, particularly when you have the kids writing and sharing their work.

3.  What type of activities do you find most useful?

That’s a tough one – the success of the activity depends on the group. I love working on character and dialogue and use pictures I’ve collected to help inspire the students. Asking the kids to share is a powerful way to teach – once the kids know you are going to be positive they fall over themselves to read, which gives you an opportunity to impart all kinds of incidental information. ‘I love how you named that character straight way.’ ‘Fantastic start – you’re straight into the problem.’ Etc.

 The best tip I can give is to ask the teacher about the students’ needs and listen to what they say. You’ll pick up all kinds of hints. While you are setting up the visit, bounce around ideas and listen to the reaction from the organiser – you’ll know straight away if your idea is a winner.

Many thanks, Sue. I’m sure these insights will be helpful to lots of us JK Rowling-cat-feed-earning authors (and illustrators)  

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