The morning of the 15th (NZ time) Vivian and I headed for Pt Chevalier School for Vivian to read to one hundred 6year olds. After a beautiful assembly where children sang the National Anthem in both Maori and English, and also in sign language, awards were given out for achievements and acts of kindness and creativity. Children here are encouraged to be inclusive in all things. Vivian was introduced and welcomed by the Headmaster. Then in the library the children sang “Happy Birthday Four Otters” with Vivian and the reading got underway. I was impressed to see Vivian in action unruffled by such a large group. Often Vivian stopped to answer questions from the children and it was so lovely to see how enthusiastic and attentive they were. The reading was followed by more questions and a spelling craft on the whiteboard. Afterwards Vivian and I were invited for a lovely morning tea in the staff room put on by the teachers. It was a very rewarding session and I literally had to drag Vivian away. She would have stayed all day given the chance.


Written by: Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by: Mirka Hokkanen

Published by: Pomegranate , March 2019

Ages:   4 – 8 years

Theme: counting, nature, animals

Opening Lines: Water waits. Dawn breaks in a chorus of bird song. ONE willow flycatcher whistles as the night slips silently away.

Synopsis. The animals find shelter, safety and fun in the river and as dawn turns to dusk they sing, leap, toboggan, flit, flutter and hunt, riding out a storm, bask in the sun’s rays and tuck under the silver moon. A counting book filled with modern wood engraving illustrations, celebrates the wild beauty and the natural environment around us.

Why I like this:    As the opening lines demonstrate the beautiful lyrical language captures the mood. When I first read the early drafts of this story I fell in love with the way the words whisked you away in a dream-like state to a place of stillness yet busy, silent yet noisy, and the world as we know it miles away. Almost poetry-like Vivian paints vivid imagery from dawn to dusk of the animals at play. Mirka’s wood engraving is perfect for this book and gives the illustrations texture. I also love the glossary about the animals and questions that ask the children to study the illustrations.

It’s also lovely to see a teacher’s aid and activity book available.


Free download of the colouring/activity book….. https://viviankirkfield.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/otter-coloring-book.pdf

Author’s website:   https://viviankirkfield.com/my-book/


I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.


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Last Saturday 9th March saw Vivian presenting at the New Zealand SCBWI in Auckland. A lovely turnout headed by Gillian Torckler. Vivian spoke about the roller coaster ride her writing journey has taken after jumping out of a perfectly good plane to not only being represented by the amazing Essie White of Storm Literacy but also having three Picture Books coming out this year. That’s right folks three books and already next year Vivian has another two more books due out with one a compilation of nine full length picture book stories. Whew! She has been one busy lady.

At the meeting Vivian also covered the Ten Techniques in the Picture Book Toolbox to Help Your Manuscript Sparkle and Sing.

  1. ALLITERATION: word starts with same letter or same sound – Suddenly—silence.A silver sliver hangs in the night sky.
  2. ONOMATOPOEIA: word that sounds like its name – “No,” purrs Cat, “go ask the snake, slither-sliding by the lake.”
  3. SIMILIE/METAPHOR word that compares one thing to another – Two dragonflies dance, ballerinas above a liquid stage.
  4. SHOW vs TELL: words that show action/feelings instead of just telling how character feels – resources like the Emotion Thesaurus can help – Slipping the paperwork and a bit of her heart into the envelope, Sarah sealed her fate and sent it off.
  5. ELEMENT OF THREE: words or phrases in sets of three – Before the Civil War, Sarah obeyed her owner. Hurry up! Eyes down! Don’t speak!
  6. PERSONIFICATION: nonhuman takes on human characteristics – Stumble, tumble down the trail. Pippa prays she will not fail.
  7. REPETITION: repeating a word or phrase throughout the story – Water waits. Water ripples. Water calms. Water splashes. Water glistens. Water darkens. Water roils. Water cascades. Water glitters. Water flows. Water waits.
  8. REFRAIN: repeating a phrase or verse throughout the story – Quiver! Quaver! Shiver! Shake! Cats make Pippa cringe and quake!
  9. IMAGERY: vivid and descriptive language that paints pictures in the reader’s mind to evoke the senses – use Thesaurus.com to find rich vocabulary alternatives – Dusk falls, stealing the day, as the mountains swallow the sun.
  10. WORDS COUNT vs COUNT WORDS: tell the story with as few words as possible but use as many words as necessary – Every day Sarah worked alongside her husband. Measure. Cut. Sand.

And her Seven Steps to Successful Book Publication.

  1. Read lots of books in the genre you want to write
  2. Participate in writing challenges and contests
  3. Interact with the kid-lit community
  4. Join critique groups
  5. Hone your craft
  6. Write and revise
  7. Submit                                                                                                                                          Both were also covered in handouts at the meeting. Vivian’s passionate review of her books – Pippa’s Passover Plate, Four Otters Toboggan and Sweet Dreams Sarah – showing the different editors she encountered, their methods of communication, and what rolls she and the illustrators played in producing the final products was not only an eye opener but also appreciated for her honest views.Here in a video is some of the meeting for you to enjoy. ..


    Well over our time slot at the Glen Eden library Vivian so enjoyed answering questions and chatting with the wonderful people who attended. She loves meeting and chatting with people. “It’s all about connecting, I can’t help it.” She can be heard saying.  Funnily though after most had left a few of us found ourselves locked in the Library with Vivian. Can you believe it! Safe to say we eventually got out.


    Here are a couple of comments from those who attended the meeting…

    Thanks for a great meeting on Saturday – lovely to meet Vivian, and to hear such a heart-felt and honest account of her most recent ups and downs!


    Thanks so much for arranging the event this afternoon.

    I really enjoyed listening to Vivian’s experiences with publishing in the US. She was encouraging, and seeing the variety of her published work was really interesting. It gives me the encouragement to keep on experimenting with different genres. Please pass on my thanks to her again for taking time out of her holiday to spend the afternoon with us.

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Hi everyone, sorry Vivian couldn’t introduce these videos as she is very, very busy reading hundreds of #50 Precious Words posts on her blog. Another record number of stellar stories.

Anyway I thought you would love to know what she has been doing this past week.  I mention that I was taking her away from the big city following the eastern coast from Auckland to Waihi, stopping at Bowentown  for a picnic lunch overlooking fabulous swimming spots.  After a few hours we drove on down through Tauranga to Mount Mauganui for our overnight stay. This is a favourite tourist spot especially high summer and New Years.  It’s kind of a mini Gold Coast.  With a small number of high rise apartments opening on to a long sandy white beach.   You’ll love these pictures of pristine vivid blue water, and white sand.   After meeting up with a couple of dear old work colleagues of mine we headed the next day for Rotorua.  Visiting Geysers, Champagne Pool  (my favourite),  we ended up at a very authentic Maori concert which was incredible (even if I say so myself). On the third day there we drove to Taupo (largest lake in NZ) known for it’s trout fishing.  We then drove on to Turangi so Vivian could see the snow capped mountains nearby but after stopping for petrol and restrooms I stupidly walked in to a glass door and my glasses left a nasty cut near my eye brow.  So we rested for a while before we headed back to Rotorua by which time my ego didn’t feel quite so bad and we went for walk in the Redwood Tree tops.  This consists of walking on 37 swing bridges through pine trees and ponga ferns.  Beautiful! As you will see. Afterward we hopped on a gondola for dinner over looking Rotorua and after a night of playing cards we left Rotorua for Matamata.

Driving through what is usually green fields, most of which is very dry right now due to our unusually dry temperatures (heatwave for over three weeks) we arrived at the Hobbiton Shop/Ticket office and café.  The actual Hobbit houses are kept secret due to them being on private property and as thousands of tourists visit them every month special buses and bookings are used.  Enjoy the following video as you follow Vivian wandering around this little place known as Middle Earth.  Had to laugh as Vivian is the right height for the little doors. Enjoy…

Well that’s it for this post.  Do pop back again soon as I will be posting the SCBWI  Auckland NZ meeting with Vivian’s presentation.



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“PERFECT PICTURE BOOK – FRIDAY” – with Vivian Kirkfield

I’m so delighted to have my dear friend and critique buddy Vivian Kirkfield here with me in New Zealand. I often have to pinch myself that she is really here with me and I thought what a wonderful opportunity to have Vivian, the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate read to us her beautiful story.   So sit back and enjoy. Oh, and did I mention there is also a giveaway of a SIGNED copy of PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE. To be in to win all you have to do is comment below.


Written by: Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by: Jill Weber

Published by: Holiday House New York. February 2019

Ages:   4 – 8 years

Theme: Bravery, empowerment,

Opening Lines: Hurry, scurry, Pippa Mouse, washing, scrubbing, cleaning house.

Synopsis: From Amazon… An enchanting mouse scours her cozy, miniature home for her Passover Seder plate with no luck. Sundown is near and the Passover celebration will begin soon. Pippa Mouse must venture out and be brave to ask a cat, a snake, and an owl for help. To her surprise not only are the animals helpful in tracing her plate to the pond, they become her Passover Seder guests. A spread at the end of the book shows the Passover plate with its six essential symbolic items: zeroah (a roasted bone), beitzah,(an egg), maror and charoset (bitter herbs), chazeret (mortar or paste), and karpas (a spring vegetable).

Why I like this: This is a beautiful rollicking read aloud that will surely have children following Pippa as she looks for her Seder plate. Courage and friendship are universal themes within this story and Jill Weber’s illustrations are delightful and fun making this book a keepsake.

Resources/Findings:   A great teachers/parent guide…   https://pjlibrary.org/getmedia/add2be91-7072-490f-b4aa-917a5202d650/Pippa-s-Passover-Plate-Reading-Guide.pdf



Don’t forget to comment below to be in to win a copy of Pippa’s Passover plate.  You have until 15th March.

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon

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Here is a video and some photos from Vivian’s story-time at the local library in Auckland NZ, last Saturday.  Everyone had such fun.  Enjoy!

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Well I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have my dear friend Vivian Kirkfield down in Auckland New Zealand with me.  And of course one way to start off a trip down in NZ is meeting some of the locals with song and dance, followed by a wander in the Winter Gardens After we took the ferry across the harbour to Devonport for a stroll along the shops (mostly cafes) lunched in a Turkish Café and then sampled some locally made chocolates.  Back across the Harbour we drove around the waterfront stopping for photos and home for a BBQ and icecream.  The next day after a quick trip to the library to check in with the librarian we then headed for a morning session of Hip Hop then home for a bite to eat and catch up on emails.  Dinner was lamb and my homemade Pavlova.  Here is a video and some more pics…



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To finish off the Day of interesting speakers at the Sydney SCBWI Conference Susanne Gervay sprung into action providing heaps of laughter with an illustrator duel and charity auction for Room to Read between Sarah Davis and James Foley.  It was hilarious fun.  Where on earth does Susanne get her energy from?

Here are some pictures of the two and the lovely work they did.  Children’s Picture Book Writers are so generous!








Some more lovely photos… and Essie White’s Keynote Speech and Rachel Noble.




The last day of the conference was full of Master Classes and Critique sessions.  Vivian, Marie Marshall and I were in Essie White’s The Marriage of Text and Art Master Class.




Some more fun photos to finish off the last day of the conference with friends such as Dhana Fox and wandering the Botanical Gardens and walking the streets back to the hotel.








Up early next morning  Marie, Vivian and I headed with our bags for the airport.  Marie back to the US and Vivian and I for Auckland New Zealand.

Tune in for the next post of first days in the sunny city of sails Auckland, NZ.








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Wow!   This was a moving heartfelt presentation yesterday by the sweetest and most generous person I know, my dear friend and critique buddy Vivian Kirkfield.   It was a hit and I was also blown away by the positive reception and love that followed.  What a fun time all day with other great presentations

From Alison Tait and Valerie Khoo’s fun filled presentation on How to make yourself more marketable as a writer – and sell more books.  From their past life as “orgasmic” writers to presenters of building platforms for new and emerging writers.  This was hilarious and had us primed for what followed.

From Gecko Press Julia Marshall presented  the craft and passion of inspirational books. Another interesting session.



Mira Reisberg US editor and art director was an interesting Keynote speaker on the Craft and Business of Getting and Staying Published.



Vivian catching up with Mira after Mira’s talk.




For Author Lunch break-out  there were publishers who talked Vision! Are your story elements all working together?  They were Linsay Knight, Heather Curdie, Mary Verney and Eve Tonelli.  It was great how through answering questions from a moderater we learned tips on strong elements, making it relatable, plot and much more.

Agents and Publishers also did a feedback on Pitches from eight selected authors work.  The authors had to pitch and read a chapter or first page manuscript and then listen to feedback.  This was very interesting and well worth sitting in on.

Here are some pictures from Vivian’s presentation.




Pop back for more interesting posts as we follow Vivian on her trip down-under.




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Hi everyone, welcome  to the first instalment following Vivian on her travels to Australia and New Zealand.

I promised to post videos and pictures and I’ve decided to leave the videos till I’m at home or at least post in facebook, but here are some photos for you to enjoy.   Since Vivian has already landed and been in Sydney for the last couple of days sightseeing on and off the buses, cruising the harbour and enjoying a personal tour of Sydney with Susanne Gervay  the RA for SCBWI Aust East/NZ , I thought I would quickly show you our first night together.  Catching up with fellow 12x12ers and the kidlit community along with meeting the lovely Essie White of Storm Literary Agency and some of the Storm family.  (what a lovely bunch they are)  Enjoy!

Roomies  with Maria Marshall and Vivian Kirkfield.   What a blast and so wonderful to finally meet up with my dear sweet friend and critique buddy.  So looking forward to the adventures we will have over the next few weeks.



12×12 Kaye Baille and Susanne Gervay.







Above with Essie White of Storm Literacy   and the Storm Australian and New Zealand family.

After meeting so many wonderful kidlit people we nipped out for a bite to eat at a local Thai restaurant.





Will be back with more soon.  Keep an eye out for me. )

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Oh, Guilty Heart! – The 4th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest!

Yep it’s that wonderful time of year.  When hearts are a fluttering, love is in the air and someone somewhere is holding an expensive bunch of red roses and a delicious box of chocolates.  (Well I can only hope)  It’s Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny Writing Contest. The rules are it must be no more than 214 words (not counting the heading) in which someone feels guilty.   Age appropriate for Picture book and posted on your blog and linked to Susanna’s blog by February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT

Here is mine…

Podgy’s Guilty Secret.

Podgy a tubby mischievous little dog, loves to eat anything and everything!

He loves his neighbour Clarkie too.

Afternoons Podgy nose flattened against fence, waits for Clarkie.

Podgy notices the gate a jar.

Thinks Podgy I’ll wait at Clarkie’s letter box.

But a square prettily wrapped box with red bow and heart attached smells too tempting for Podgy .

Podgy sniffs until OOPS! It fell.

Yummy chocolates everywhere.

Podgy wolfs some down.

Hears Clarkie approach and sneaks back to his yard.

Feeling ill, drops wrappers and curls up on his front porch.

His master takes him to the vet.

In the early evening Podgy now home and feeling better sees Clarkie in his bedroom window looking sad.

His mother standing over him.

“You are grounded after school for a week, having eaten my chocolates.” said Clarkie’s mum.

Podgy’s eyes mist over. His tender stomach rumbles. He felt bad for poor Clarkie.

I know thinks Podgy and races through his house out the front door picks up wrappers as he passes.

Scrapping and barking at Clarkie’s front door alerts Clarkie’s mum.

When she sees the wrappers and Podgy’s master explains that Podgy had been sick. They all realised who had eaten her Valentines chocolates.

All was forgiven and Podgy and Clarkie ran out to play.


Whew! Done… Now hop over to Susanna’s Blog and check out all the other fantastic entries.  Oh and did I tell you there are great prizes up for grabs too.

Thanks for stopping by.

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