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The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #352

April 25th, 2017 · 7 Comments

Can you believe that it is almost the end of April, how can this be. Cape Town is behaving like summertime and because of all the holidays we have been taking some time off school, and the father person has been on leave. It’s been great: sleeping, reading, hiking and ice-cream… in that order. And we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary on the 24th… which just feels a little weird, since I don’t feel old enough to be 24… but that’s a whole ‘nother thing!!!

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Se7en Builds a Library Book by Book

Our library building project is starting to fly… at last… if you are looking for all the details then look no further than this post here. Books are starting roll in.. this is a good thing… keep them coming folks. It is definitely not too late to join in… the more the merrier!!! Just leave me a comment and I will send the shipping details onto you immediately.

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. My favourite series on Design Mom continues to be Living With Kids… You have to take a look at these slow travellers…
  2. While we are talking about travelling… Since I had all my luggage stolen in Zambia nearly two years ago, I haven’t replaced it because I’m picky and I haven’t seen anything I liked… but that just changed, would you look at these bags to die for on Babyccino kids…
    Essential Packing for a weekend with kids…
  3. If you love travel, then this one is for you… I have been following Andrew Evans on twitter for years, he goes plenty of places and blogs, tweets and writes about his journey as the original digital nomad for National Geographic. Right now he is hiking through Jordan, it is epic, what an adventure… and you can follow his journey over here: Andrew Walks Jordan.
  4. I really enjoyed this post, in a world that is crying out for understanding and diversity, The Need for Cultural Humility… on the Hare Translation Journey, made an excellent read.
  5. My friend Marcia had an excellent post for all of us, on her blog Organising Queen: If It’s Not Serving You, Let It Go…
  6. And because Seth Goldin always has something to think about… Who cut down the last tree?
  7. Right now it doesn’t feel like Autumn at all… but it should and in the spirit of cooler weather and visits to granny to look for natural autumn treasures… I loved these Leaf faces from PickleBums
  8. And in the spirit of the Easter season that just flew past, I pinned this beautiful post from Bellisima Kids…

A Blast From the Past:

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This Week’s Highlights

Book I am Most Anticipating: Journal Sparks by Emily Neuburger, I mean doesn’t this look like something that you just want to dive into. If you don’t follow her already then head over to her site and take a look at her lovely creative ideas for journaling, arting, writing (with kids)… And the (with kids) is in brackets, because as soon as you get there you are going to want to do play with all these creative ideas yourself!!!


From my Reading Pile: I am still reading my way through this excellent and very readable book on sleep and honestly I am blown away in every chapter… you think you know about sleep and that you should be getting more than you are. And then you read a book like this one and realise that you, and I am speaking for myself here, know nothing at all about sleep… and you absolutely have to get some, your life depends on it.


Listening: Well I have been Listening to Conn Iggulden’s War of the Roses series… Book 1, Book 2, Book 3… week after week, only to discover that Book 4 is not available here. So I did a look at books that are on our audible pile, looking for something to listen to while I drove to and from gym. I have been meaning to read this book for ages… so I am listening away. Not easy listening, and that is why I am glad I am listening rather than trying to read it… but it is packed with wisdom, and lots of takeaways. I am so glad this is one of our kids’ high school reads… it is a great starting point for thinking seriously about finances.

Listening with the Father Person: To the Reading Writer’s Podcast… A weekly chat with Aaron Armstrong, about books and books that folk are writing… you can take a look at his website here, all the posts that say Live interview are podcasts…

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Looking Forward to: This Zero Waste Talk at the 2 Oceans Aquarium… As we head towards less and less garbage I am always looking for ways to reduce our impact on the environment.

GiveAway Winners

As part of PanMacmillan and The Park by Gail Schimmel’s Blog Tour last week we had a GiveAway…

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Huge thank you to so many of you for entering… the more you enter the more GiveAways we can post…

And our winner is:

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Congratulations to: Cassey look out for an email from us so that I can get your book to you soonest!!!

This Week’s GiveAway

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We have this collection of Landy Books to GiveAway… stop by and leave a comment here if you want to enter!!!

That’s us… Hope you are all having a fabulous week!!!

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→ 7 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en’s Build a Library Book by Book Project And A Call For Books…

April 24th, 2017 · 3 Comments

Welcome to World Book Day. Quite possibly the best day of the year. The day of the year that we have to think and talk and dream about books… books we have loved, books we have shared, books we are excited about. And books that we are really looking forward to reading in the future. There are so many books that inspire us to do great things, books that leave us wondering how other folk did great things… books really are windows to the world, we can see things we couldn’t ever have imagined, we experience feelings that we haven’t felt before, we can visit places, we can visit people from the past, from the future… Books literally open the World for us.

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Se7en Builds a Library Book by Book

Once a year, with the help of our blog followers we try and open up the world for a local community school in desperate need of books. We try and choose a school that has no access to books, and certainly no books that will fire up a child’s imagination. This year the school we have chosen is in a small town, Macassar, on the outskirts of the City of Cape Town. It is an area where unemployment, substance abuse and gang related violence are part of the local environment. The children in this area do not come from a culture of books, many parents would not have finished school and will not have good reading skills themselves. This is a tough neighbourhood to grow up in, without the privilege of bed time stories, well any stories really. The school is a primary school with about 1000 children and no library facilities whatsoever and no local community library at all. It is hard to imagine a school with out books and even harder to imagine a childhood without books.

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We are calling on all our followers to gift us with books that will inspire and excite these youngsters to read more, books that will open up their world and help them to dream bigger dreams. We have done it before and we can do it again, we firmly believe that book by book we can create a library for these children. At the moment their library facility is a book corner with a few “learn to read” type books… but wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could expand that corner, put a real book shelf in it and fill it up with books that would excite and inspire the children and encourage them to dream bigger dreams. Many of these children would never have been further from home than their school… they live one of the most beautiful cities in the world, yet they may never have been to the beach or walked on Table Mountain… lets use books and show these children the whole wide world.

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These kids desperately need a library, and you can help us build it.

How the Build a Library Book by Book Project Works

We are looking for new or nearly new books to gift to these children. We would like to gift these children with wonderful books that inspire them to dream big. We will be visiting the school in May and opening up the packages that you sent for the children with them… so we would like you to send us a package with one or two books inside it. Books that you would like to give your children or books that your children would like to give their friends.

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Aramex Can Help You

If you live in South Africa, things just gotta a whole lot easier for you: Go through your bookshelves and choose a couple of books that your children have read and then: Did you know that anywhere in South Africa… you can head for your nearest Pick ‘n Pay and pop the books into an Aramex Bag… and for R99. they will ship your bag of books to us… whatever you can squeeze into that bag… all from the convenience of your local Pick ‘n Pay store. It doesn’t get easier than that.

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The Superb SuperNova Magazine

Otherwise, the fabulous SuperNova Magazine are gifting the school with an entire collection of their magazines, from the beginning to the end!!! And they will match anything our readers buy on their website… and donate that to the school as well… It is a pretty fantastic offer and easy way to send our library fun things to read. If you haven’t seen their funky factual magazine for kids then take a look at this post… If you would like to join Super Nova Magazine and have them match your purchases then follow this link:

Use the coupon code: ”7+1” (no spaces) in their shop and they will know to match it. You can also leave a note in the notes panel.

So How Can You Help to Build a Library?

Step 1: Select a Book or Books

  1. You can search through your books for gently used books that your children have outgrown or no longer love. Remember these books are gifts, we will visit the school when they unpack them. Loved books are great, over-loved books… not so much, and old tattered textbooks from your college days that have been used as door stops… really not at all.
  2. You can buy a book or two with your children and package them up.
  3. You can shop at Amazon and ship directly.
  4. And you can shop on-line, locally at Loot, or Reader’s Warehouse (where a little cash goes a long way) and ship directly as well.

While all the students do learn English, many of the learners have Afrikaans or Xhosa as their first language. English books are very welcome, so are books in Afrikaans and Xhosa. Any books will be great, story books, picture books, craft books, cook books, reference books… really any books. There is a large community being served here. If you are shopping overseas and would like to buy local language books then click on the South African vendor to find books and they will deliver locally for you.

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Step 2: Contact us.

Leave a comment and tell us that you intend to help or contact us. I will reply to you all as soon as I can with the shipping details, with the address to send the books you have chosen. There is a human person behind each and every email (that would be me) and they take time… please be patient the address will get to you.

Step 3: Let us Know All About the Books You Chose

We would love if you could photograph the books you are sending, if you shop on-line then just send us a list of the books that you ordered. If you have a blog and write about it then let us know and we will have a Progress Post almost weekly. I will pop the photo’s you send into the blog post and if you do have a blog there will be a chance for you to link up as well…

Step 4: There is a Deadline…

We would like to deliver the books that we personally collect and accumulate during May, so while you can ship anytime… we are hoping to end this campaign in the middle of May.

Finally, I have sent emails out with the shipping details, to all the folk that I had on our list. If you didn’t receive an email and you have put your name down already… then please forgive me, and leave a comment below, I will email you the details as soon as I hear from you.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · Caring and Sharing

New Books in the Landy Collection and it is a GiveAway…

April 23rd, 2017 · 12 Comments

A while ago we introduced our readers to the first three books in the Landy series by Veronica Lamond, well you will be very pleased to hear that there are three more Landy books to add to the collection… and we are having a GiveAway!!!

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This books are just delightful… for anyone that is hunkering after life with a Landrover these books are a must. Landy and his friend Fender go on all sorts of real adventures and do things that children everywhere would love to be a part of. The illustrations absolutely make the books, page after page that you literally want to climb into and explore. There are all sorts of animals to point out, places to go and things to see, a little bit of cosy home life and lots of exploring… tools and repairs, baking and outdoor life. Really something for everyone. You can meet the Author, Veronica Lamond, and see her delightful artwork on her website here.

Let’s Take a Closer Look

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Landy and the Apple Harvest: One evening everyone in the world of Landy is tucked in safely for the night and a wild storm passes through town. The next morning Landy and his owner, Jack, and their dog, Molly, head into town to see if they can help at all with the storm damage. Of course they can, and with a few ups and owns they manage to help an old lady who has had a tree fall on her house. When they are finished helping in town they head home to recover. Back at home they discover that because of the storm, the apple harvest has been blown off the tree and they get to work collecting baskets of apples… and a cosy afternoon of apple baking follows. You should probably have a couple of apples on hand when you read this book… just saying!!!

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Fender and the Cliff Rescue: In this story Fender and his owner Dan are driving along the seaside cliffs doing maintenance on the paths, making sure that the paths are safe for all the folk that use them. While they are working in the path a swimmer needs rescuing on the beach and they watch the lifesavers and the rescue helicopter come to the rescue. After all that excitement, they take a break on the cliffs and they are watching puffins through their binoculars, when they suddenly spot Jack who is waving for help. Dan and Fender dash over to discover that Jack’s sheepdog has fallen on the cliffs and needs some help being rescued. Of course it all turns out well… it was a good day for successful rescues.

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Landy at the Factory – A Special Edition: Landy receives a real live letter, it is so exciting… you can actually see the letter in the book. It is an invitation to the Defender head quarters to celebrate Landy’s 60th birthday. Jack gets to work immediately and they spend a few days getting Landy ship-shape for the cross-country event and they head out across the countryside, on highways and byways towards the celebration. As they eventually arrive at the factory, Jack takes a wrong turn and he and Landy find themselves on quite an adventure as they rollick along the Land Rover testing track… Eventually they make it to the factory and they get to explore the inner workings of factory life as well as meet the first ever Land Rover, Huey. While they were they they realised that Landy had an oil leak… so up onto the ramps for repairs. There was a huge cake to celebrate the birthday, but the story wasn’t over yet. Jack was spared the cross-country drive home, because he and Landy got to go home together on an auto-transporter.

The GiveAway

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We have a collection of these three books to GiveAway to a lucky reader. This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on 30 April 2017 and tell us where you would like to go on a Land Rover adventure. We will draw and publish the winners in the Fabulous Fun Post after that. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

We would like to thank the publishers Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with copies of the books to review and giveaway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

→ 12 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · GiveAways and Swaps

The Year of Getting Unexpected Things Done… As I Graduate from Beginner to Intermediate Athlete…

April 19th, 2017 · 14 Comments

So I began this year as the year of Getting Things Done. I had a great series going… in January I posted computer related projects and then in February I moved into the Kitchen and tackled a heap of projects… and then in March the series fizzled. In retrospect it didn’t fizzle at all, I was merely getting myself in order. I know I planned to get the house in order, and when I started the series I was thinking about getting projects that had lain dormant for ever, actually done… what I wasn’t thinking about were those projects that are hard to see and the biggest project that I needed to confront was not so much closets and bookshelves… the biggest project that I needed to tackle, that I hadn’t even glanced at since having my first child nearly twenty years ago… was me.

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And this is where blogging becomes a very good thing. When a friend called me and asked if I wanted to blog for the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, I was all “for sure.” I was ready for change, dying for it for the longest time in fact… for years now I have progressed from totally stagnant, to daily ambles, to hiking… but I was never actually fit… and I really wanted to feel fit again. So I leapt at the opportunity!!! It turns out fitness is just a small fraction of what needed to change about me. And for March and April I have slowly and steadily worked my way through the Healthy Weight Programme… I was definitely getting something done.

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My biggest initial worry was how I would get up and out of the house frightfully early in the morning, this was quickly replaced by the fear that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the classes. It is one thing to worry about getting to class and quite another to worry about surviving the class. Turns out in my year of Getting Things Done… I would have to start with my health. This is not just about fitness at all: I had get my body used to exercising all the time – gone are the weekly hikes, with a week of recovery in-between, now it is a weekly hike with a whole lot of gym in-between; I had to get real about what I actually eat – nothing like a food diary for a bit of a reality check; I had to get my head straight, no more excuses and no more pondering about what I can’t do and a whole lot of focusing on just trying things I had thought were impossible; And the biggest thing… I had to sleep properly. Oh my word, my world not to mention the blog have literally ground to a halt, while I have re-learnt to sleep properly. After years and years of interrupted sleep I had learnt to survive on minimal sleep… this folks is not ever a good plan. I am learning all about sleep and advocating sleep where ever I go… If you don’t sleep right, you won’t eat right, and you will not be able to exercise at all… Start with sleep and the rest will follow.

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I must say that for years I had “tried” to go to bed earlier, but the truth was there was always a blog post that needed finishing or photographs that needed editing, a kitchen to tidy, not to mention kids to talk to. Always some excuse to stay up just a little bit later. Turns out I was so lucky that I started with exercise… I had to get to class, I just could not miss it. And I needed to sleep in order to get to class on time and that was the beginning of the end of my appalling sleep habits. I had simply run out of excuses and had to sleep right. I started by just sleeping well the nights before gym class… but I very soon felt so much better on the days that I slept well that I couldn’t help myself and went to bed earlier on other nights too. It was too good to be true and when a couple of deadlines loomed I quickly slipped back into my old ways… only to feel so dreadful that just one late night was enough to send me earlier to bed. I am cured of late nights. I like the feeling of being well slept so much that I am not prepared to go to bed late anymore… I won’t read late, I won’t work late, I won’t blog late… that’s it.

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I did of course have to rearrange things somewhat and figure out when and how to blog… because a blogger must blog!!! And I am getting it right… I have found a snippet of time in my day and I am getting a work flow in play. It wasn’t instantaneous… for a while there I just stared at my computer and left it at that. I had to find time… so I went looking for it. First place to find time was the hours and hours I spent in the kitchen. I haven’t cleaned up from a single meal even once since I began going to gym. If my kids want a healthy mother, and of course they do, then that is the price they have to pay. It’s good for them and it is good for me… win, win. I use that time to batch work and in the evening when I would normally be cleaning the kitchen I now read, a large part of having a blog that reviews books requires reading, you have to be awake to read. In the morning when I get back from gym and the kids are stirring, I am at my most wide awake and ready for anything… that is blog time – not email time, not getting back to folk time… just writing… I have little chinks in the day for fitting all those bits of work in that blogs revolve around… I am finding them and figuring things out… it is a bit of a journey, but one that I have to take.

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So in my year of Getting Things Done, I have learnt to sleep and finished the Healthy Weight Programme eight weeks of solid crack of dawn exercise… I have done it, even though it was never ever on my list of things to do… and not only that I have learnt to sleep again. I didn’t lose masses of weight… that was never my goal, that would have been a plus, but I did lose masses of cm, really when you add up 2 cm here and 3 cm there and 13 cm somewhere else, it very quickly adds up to a lot of cm. So nothing actually fits… I am trying to see this as a good thing… though you all know how I hate shopping. Do I feel fitter, not really, that’s because every gym class leaves me tired in the best kind of way, always working harder, learning more and pushing to get through it. The classes are challenging… but I love a challenge and I love gym. The thing is I might not feel fitter, but I no longer notice the hill as I walk up from the beach, and I can pick up and move things around like nobody else in the house… I am fitter, I am definitely a whole lot stronger. Not only that, I might have finished the Beginner course last Thursday, but I immediately started the Intermediate course on Tuesday… the show must go on… I haven’t stopped because the course ended. I am carrying on, somewhat terrified, because Intermediate sounds a whole lot harder than Beginner, the classes look harder, I have a better idea of what I am in for(!) and it feels a bit like starting over. So early days as an Intermediate athlete… and who knows where this will lead.

Previous Posts over at the SSISA

Previous Posts in my Gym Journey Series

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I would like to thank SSISA for the free training/mentoring I am getting in exchange for an honest blog post. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Meanwhile, we haven’t quit my Getting Things Done Series… we have been getting a whole lot of things done around the house… finished in the kitchen for now, cleaned out the garage and about to do a bookshelf swoop… so lots to blog about. Watch for that series, it’s going to be back on track soonest…

Previous Posts in our 52 Weeks of Getting Things Done Series

→ 14 CommentsTags: Home Truths

Se7en Interviews The Park Author, Gail Schimmel and it is a GiveAway…

April 17th, 2017 · 16 Comments

Carrying on with a long weekend of reading, I am bringing a book to our blog readers that I read over a weekend, because it was unputdownable and a great escape. You are very quickly drawn into the story, because there is so much that one can see of oneself in it… I cannot even count how many years I spent sitting in the park waiting for one or two kids to finish an extra-mural, and keeping the smaller children entertained, while I chatted with other moms each week and years later we are still friends and can pick up our conversations wherever we left off, no matter how long it has been since we saw each other. In fact, there is a lot in this book that is relatable to your life wherever you are… Read on for the Author Interview and the GiveAway…

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How often as moms we are introduced by our children, the book is about three moms:

  • Rebecca, the mother of Amy: Rebecca is a working mom, an artist, who appears to be doing her best to have it all together. After years of infertility treatment she and her husband have adopted their child and are constantly trying to cope with their cross-cultural adoption in an uncompromising world. You might find yourself wondering how Rebecca manages to be the I can do it all kind of mother.
  • Rose, the mother of Maggie: Rose is the quintessential “good mother” in the book, alway loving, always cuddling, taking photographs of her wonderful child… and a great park friend, she listens and shares anecdotes that make you know that she understands… the fact is that she doesn’t share very much about herself, and you will find yourself wondering if there isn’t something deeper going on.
  • Lilith, mother of Ruby-Mae: Lilith is a single mom, who arrives in the park looking for true friendship, moving from mom to mom until she meets up with the duo of Rose and Rebecca, and they appear to be just the friends she needs. The question you have to ask is why does she need them so badly?

This book is touted as a thriller, though I might have called it a mystery. However you classify it, from the very beginning you have a feeling that the characters have hidden depths and that you are only slightly touching the surface with each of them… Rebecca’s life looks way too perfect; Rose never talks about herself and Lilith feels slightly invasive… she steps into their lives and one feels that she is interviewing them, rather just relating to them. There are so many questions… and I had to know what was going on. Who were these three characters really… and as you read along you will find yourself having quite a few aha moments, but never enough of them. There was always something just out of reach that we weren’t told… when Lilith’s behaviour becomes somewhat dubious, and when Rose starts to feel like the “third wheel” her true colours are revealed… but where does this all leave Rebecca? She is stuck in the middle, and ultimately a people pleaser. It is not that she always wants to do the right thing, but more that she is compelled to do the right thing. That and and her naivety, makes her the perfect victim of a crime… or is it a crime?

This book is a fabulous read, for folk just wanting to escape… it’s perfect. The book just rides the ebb and flow of life, and there is no horrific or violent event to catch you unawares, but there is this consistent niggle, an uneasiness that makes you want to read on an figure out exactly how this book plays out. I love that the book was written by a South African and places the story well within the South African context. I have to say that it is fabulous that at last South African writers are emerging, who are writing stories that can be read and enjoyed by readers all over the world, writing books in the South African setting, without judgement… for or against. If you are South African here or away, you will relate to this book… you will find parts of yourself within the pages, and if you are not South African, you will totally get the book, and at the same time you will get a peak into the everyday culture of South African Life.

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Photograph credit: the Author, Gail Schimmel.

Meet The Author: Gail Schimmel

  1. Let’s start with an introduction: Tell us about your perfect day…
  2. Can it be a complete fantasy? Can I wake up late and not have to get the children ready for school? And then even though the children aren’t at school, they are magically amused and I write for an hour, before pottering in my garden and reading and meeting a friend for a lovely lunch. . .

    More realistically, a good day for me is one where I tick all the boxes – I get some “day job” work done and it is interesting, I get some writing done, and I am there for my children and nobody has a meltdown – especially not me. To be very honest, I quite like a very full day that is just very slightly too full – I thrive on a bit of stress.

  3. Did you always want to be a writer?
  4. From when I could put pen to paper. But then my father – who was an artist and should have encouraged me – told me that there is a lot of editing and rewriting involved. And that was before computers, so it sounded very tedious and a lot like hard work. I didn’t want to work too hard, so I became a lawyer instead. . .

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    Photograph credit: the Author, Gail Schimmel.

  5. What are you reading right now? And do you have an all time favourite book?
  6. Right now I am reading The Nix by Nathan Hill. John Irving – who is one of my favourite writers – describes him as something like the best living American writer. . . and I am loving the book. So far this year I have also loved A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart, and The Empathy Problem by Gavin Extence. Looking at this list is a bit weird – because I actually usually prefer women writers!!

    I don’t have an all time favourite or even a top 5 – I read fiction but within that I am fairly eclectic. And I read so much that it is hard to say what my favourites are. I always love a great story with great characters. My read-of-the-year last year was probably A Little Life – but it’s not a book I would reread because it was an emotionally gruelling read and left me quite destroyed.

  7. Who or what has been your biggest influence in writing?
  8. This is a hard question. My mother taught me to look at life as a “novel writing idea”. My friend Marion Scher, who is a great journalist, gave me confidence in my writing. And obviously I am greatly influenced by books that I enjoy.

  9. Tell us about your work style: Are you compelled to write when inspiration strikes or disciplined or do you just squeeze it in whenever you can?
  10. If you wait for inspiration to strike, you’re going to wait a long time to get a book done. It really can only be done with some amount of discipline – what they refer to as “bum glue”. I try to write 500 words a day, but to some extent it becomes a matter of when and if I can fit it in. And I only write on work days, not over weekends or holidays.

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    Photograph credit: the Author, Gail Schimmel.

  11. Where do you work best? On the couch at a desk ?
  12. At a desk. But I can also manage my daily 500 in bed. . .

  13. Your characters so real where do you find them? Where do you get your inspiration to create them?
  14. My characters are never based on real people – but at the same time, there are pieces of real people in them. Because really, people are just amazing and fascinating and often very hilarious. My characters also tend to take up residence in my head when I am writing – they have long chats when I can’t get to a pen! Some characters are also more fun to write than others – in The Park I loved writing Eugenie Clark. And in my previous book (Whatever Happened To The Cowley Twins?), which is written from several points of view, I loved it when it was Cricket’s turn to speak.

  15. Do you have something to tell our followers who think that they might have a book inside of them, a word of encouragement or some advice?
    • Number one – it is about discipline. Most people have a book inside of them but they seem to expect that it is just going to appear one day. You have to sit down and you have to write. But set realistic targets. If you try to write 2000 words a day I am telling you now that you will fail, and then give up. Find what you can do realistically – and do that.
    • Next tip is that sometimes your first book is NOT the book you were born to write. My first book will never be published – it was my learning exercise. It gave me confidence to write and it showed me that I had the discipline. If you have written a book and are frustrated because it isn’t getting published, maybe your next book is the one that will be good enough.
    • For me, another lesson hard learned was that I cannot talk about a book while I am writing it. If I tell the story, I lose the need to write it. Nobody ever knows what I am working on next.

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Previous Posts on the Book Tour

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The GiveAway

We have a copy of The Park to GiveAway… This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before 24 April 2017. We will draw and publish the winners in the following Fabulous Fun Post. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway.

Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

We would love to thank Gail Schimmel so very much for the interview with us and we would like to thank PanMacmillan South Africa who provided us with two copies of the book, one for review purposes and the other for a giveAway. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to write the review and the opinions are as usual entirely our own.

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Happy Easter…

April 17th, 2017 · 2 Comments

From our whole gang, to all of you…

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Wishing you a Happy Easter…

Matthew 28:6


He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

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Se7en of the Latest and Greatest Children’s Books from PanMacmillan South Africa…

April 15th, 2017 · 3 Comments

We have cooler weather this weekend and we are pretty much lazing around, walking down to the beach with friends and reading through piles of books… I thought I would bring you a weekend of reading. So here are se7en of the latest and greatest reads for children from Pan Macmillan South Africa.

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Almost Wordless Book


100 Hugs by Chris Riddell, the Children’s Laureate: When Chris Riddell decides to draw 100 hugs and pop them into a beautifully hardbound book then you know you are going to be browsing through a work of art. We are huge fans of Chris Riddell, his work is superb, clever and just delightful in every way!!! The book includes pages and pages of delightful hugs… moms and their kids, dragons and their princesses, all sorts of adorable animals. the illustrations are interspersed with beautiful quotations like, “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.” Alfred Lord Tennyson. This book is the perfect book for a best friend, a child to treasure, a momento. Just the perfect gift. The kind of gift that will make you feel better, whatever mood you are in… pure delight. You can find Chris Riddell on his website here.

Easy Reader



Queen Munch and Queen Nibble by Carol Ann Duffy and illustrated by Lydia Monks: I just love Lydia Monks bright and colourful illustrations, and honestly the writing creates wonderful word pictures the whole way through it. Very descriptive and rhythmic writing, this book is lovely read for a beginner reader to take turns with a more experienced reader. The two queens are complete opposites, Queen Munch is bouncy and loud and lives in a palace that looks like a wedding cake. Queen Nibble is quiet, and pale and likes to make necklaces out of raindrops. Queen Munch invites Queen Nibble over for tea, and Queen Nibble really doesn’t want to go… but she can’t refuse an invitation from a Queen and has to go. After an awkward beginning they become brilliant friends. The story is sweet and lovely and is a great read. This book is just beautiful and would make a fantastic gift.

First Chapter Book

Mango and BangBang Book2: Tapir All at Sea, by Polly Faber and illustrated by Clara Vulliamy: If you haven’t met the sweet friends, a little girl called Mango and a Tapir called Bambang… then it time you got to know them. A collection of perfect stories for the beginner chapter book reader, who needs a little practice and confidence. This is the kind of book my beginner readers like to keep a book mark in and carry around – proud readers, everything to love it!!! The stories are sweet and interesting, nothing ordinary is going to happen when Bambang is around. The heroine and the sweetness of the stories reminded me a little bit of Milly Molly Mandy. Milly Molly Mandy, in a slightly easier format and packed with lovely illustrations.
In the first story Mango and Bambang are looking for an appropriate hobby for the tapir, not as easy as you might think; In the second story, poor Bambang ends up disrupting an engagement in a most ungraceful way (!!!); Another escapade and Bambang ends up as an exhibit in an unusual museum; and so on… sweet and interesting stories to read to little people or have little people read to you. You can meet Polly Faber on her website here… and of course we love the illustrator, Clara Vulliamy.

Chapter Book


The Tale of Rescue by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Stan Fellows: This book is one of the most beautifully illustrated books ever, a chapter book that we read as a family. The book is about a hard working cattle dog on a ranch in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains… and a family on vacation nearby. The family are unexpectedly trapped in a blizzard, and in their panic and fatigue they completely lose track of direction. They are totally lost and create a small shelter in the ground for themselves. The tenacious dog senses their desperate need, but cannot get to them… until the farmer releases the dog to head out into the stormy weather. The story is full of suspense and reads like a true story. And of course would could be better than a heroic dog, coming to the rescue.

Middle School Read


Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird: Renowned children’s author Elizabeth Laird has brought us a book that confronts the refugee situation head on and is a great read for middle schoolers and anyone who would like to understand more about the life of refugee families. This is the story of twelve year old Omar, who lives on the town of Bosra and would like to grow up to be a business man one day. He is your typical twelve year old, trying to earn extra pocket money and all the while filled with hopes and dreams for his future. Amongst his siblings is his very clever older brother, Muss, who has cerebral palsy and uses his disability to hide his involvement as an activist against the Syrian government. Laird is very good at using words to describe their reality and how they don’t notice the slow insipid decay going on in their neighbourhood, because they are so a part of it… until they are forced to evacuate and head for the hills to stay with their cousins… after a time they are forced to flee again and eventually find themselves with nothing, in a refugee camp in a foreign country in the middle of winter. The family has to use all their resourcefulness to survive and only their tenacity keeps them strong in the face of so much adversity. When his little sister becomes desperately ill you can only imagine that this family cannot endure more. But her life threatening heart condition turns out to be the one thing that can help their family to survive. This book is great book for middle schoolers to read to learn more about the life of refugees and the appalling difficulties they have to face minute by minute. I really enjoyed this book, it provides a gateway to a difficult topic, and opens up the channels to talk about the refugee crisis with children who are of an age to ask questions but sometimes the answers are really hard to explain. You can meet Elizabeth Laird on her website here.

Teen/Tween Read



The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham: I really enjoyed this teen/tween read. This book is mug of hot chocolate on a cold day… comfort reading at its best, all about the best kind of friendship. Four girls Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose, all from different backgrounds. Four girls with completely different difficulties and troubles. Four girls that don’t quite fit in, and four girls that find each other and become the Moonlight Dreamers, a friendship club. Amber has a passion for Oscar Wilde and two dads, and she is brutally bullied at school. Maali’s family run an Indian confectionary store and she would love to be able to talk to boys, but she is desperately shy. Sky is a poet and wants to perform at a poetry cafe, her mom died five years previously and her dad and her are a united team against the world, until he falls for someone else and insists that they are moving in with her. And last but by no means least… is Rose, whose mom was a super model and expects her daughter to follow in her apparently perfect footsteps. there lives are inter woven, and they have to take risks to bring about their friendships… this a positive and uplifting book. Somehow almost every kind of cultural diversity can be found within the pages and yet these four girls manage to overcome all of those differences and create the Moonlight Dancer’s Club and a lasting and enduring friendship. The Moonlight Dreamer’s have a website, you can take a peak here.

A Biography


Child Soldier by Michel Chikwanine and Jessica Dee Humphreys and illustrated by Claudia Dávila: Never underestimate the power of a biography, presented as a graphic novel. This book is a serious book about a serious topic, and because of its presentation it can brings the topic of child soldiers to the level of children that want to know more about it. In war torn places around the world children are taken as child soldiers, this is the true story of Michel Chikwanine, and so many other children just like him. The book begins with an introduction to his life and his family, in their village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When he was five he left for school with his best friend, Kevin, and while his dad told him to be home by six o’clock, he had already decided to stay later for a game of soccer. While they were playing, he was kidnapped by armed men… and initiated into the rebel army. His initiation meant that drugs were forced into his system and he was blindfolded and made to commit a terrible crime, and because of this crime was told that the people that loved him dearly would never want him back. A wicked manipulation of a small child. Weeks of training, which included violent attacks, forced drugs and brutal conditions, and he was worried that his dad would be angry that he was home late from his football game. One day when they were sent out on an attack he was able to escape… and after days of travelling returns to the loving arms of his father. Things were not the same, a five year old who could no longer want to play. The story goes on an Michel and part of his family find their way to a refugee camp, and eventually to Canada. He grew into a troubled young man, where the first world problems of his contemporaries, were a painful reminder of all that he had been through. Michel managed to rise above the label of Child Soldier, and today is an activist, telling young people his story and of the plight of child soldiers. At the end of the book there is a section of questions asked and answered, and facts to talk about with your children. This book is sad, and relevant and a good discussion opener… sometimes we have to talk about difficult things with our children and this book is a good way to talk about the harsh reality of children forced to fight in rebel wars. It is not a happy book, it is about a small boy whose childhood was violently stolen from him. And yet, the love and truth that he learnt from his father, carry him through. The book reveals a harsh reality, in a gentle manner… the enduring love of a father, and the spirit of a young man who was able to rise above the hand that he was dealt is inspiring. I would choose no other book to delve into this harsh topic with my kids.



Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for copies of these books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to create it and the opinions expressed are as usual, our own.

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