Tulip and Brutus activities for kids

Did I mention T&B has endpapers? It has endpapers!

 

In this cooped up time of Corona, there’s a bigger need than ever for ways to keep kids entertained, educated, or ideally a sneaky combo of both. Enter – bookish activity sheets!

I’ve put together some downloadable activities for kids themed around my bug and friendship picture book, Tulip and Brutus. They’re suitable for preschoolers through to primary schoolers, though the younger kids might need a bit of help! I’ve also included a doc containing a list of bug-related activities to try, for when there’s no printer handy.

The activity sheets can be downloaded from the Tulip and Brutus page under Books, OR here:

Tulip and Brutus Maze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAZE – get the bugs to the playground!

 

Tulip and Brutus - Fill in the Missing Letters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FILL IN THE MISSING LETTERS – T&B need a little help (hint: each word can be found within the pages of Tulip and Brutus)

 

Tulip and Brutus Find-A-Word

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIND-A-WORD

 

Tulip and Brutus Printer-Free Activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRINTER-FREE ACTIVITIES – some bug fun to keep the kids busy, no printing out required!

How to hold a kids’ book launch (or even how to wing it)

T&B Melbourne launch crew Meredith Costain, Andrew Plant, me, Julie Grasso and Pamela Ueckerman (aka the Middle Grade Mavens) at Ford Street HQ

This has been a big year of bookish firsts for me. With my first picture book Tulip and Brutus out in the world, I’ve had a deluge of new experiences, from the first time holding the book in my hands, to first bookshop sightings, school visits, author interviews and more. It’s been a wild ride (crammed into the last two months or so) and a lot of fun, but one of the biggest ‘firsts’ was holding a book launch. Err, make that two. The first was at Sydney’s Berkelouw Books (Leichhardt) in their upstairs event space, the second in Melbourne at Ford Street Publishing HQ.

For other first-timers, or even old-timers unsure about the whole launch thing, here are a few tips I’ve learnt along the way:

Have a ‘launcher’ or two
Not keen on the spotlight falling entirely on you? I was always going to be on board with the idea of having other (far more entertaining) people doing the heavy crowd-pleasing lifting. This is where book launchers come in – peeps who do some kind of speech with a bonus little something to make the event memorable. Being one third of a podcasting trio, I felt asking my One More Page podcast co-hosts Kate and Nat to launch my first book was a no-brainer. Kicking things off at the Sydney launch, they wore giant bug costumes, were extremely funny and brought the house down with their unique rendition of ‘I Got You Bug’. It was the best. And all I had to do (for that bit anyway) was sit back and enjoy the show. Perfect!!

At my Melbourne launch, I continued the podcast host theme with Julie and Pamela from Middle Grade Mavens as the launchers. Complete with bug antennae, they did a fun ‘would you rather’ type game then a bookish Q&A with illustrator Andrew Plant and I, and did a fabulous job. I loved the collaborative feel of having other people involved in my launch, and there’s definitely the feelgood factor of other people having your back! As for who you could ask to launch your book – I’ve seen friends have their publisher as their launcher, another author friend, or a writing teacher or mentor. It could be anyone you feel a connection with in the bookish world.

It’s all in the timing. Or not?!
There’ll never be the perfect date or time that suits all of your family and friends. For my Sydney launch, I evaded the school holidays (when by book’s release date fell) due to some people being away, and held it the weekend after the holidays ended. This seemed to make sense, however it just meant there were a different batch of peeps unable to attend. What I’ve learnt from this is not to overthink the date and time. There’ll never be a one-time-fits-all solution, so just take a gamble and hope most of your BFFs can make it! Just for detail’s sake, my Sydney launch was on a Sunday morning, while the Melbourne launch was on a Saturday afternoon. Both seemed to work!

Spread the word (like, really spread it)
For both launches, I whipped up a pretty simple invite on Canva (free) with all the essential info, book cover pic and using colours matching the book. I posted these all over social media, mostly Facebook and Instagram, and also mentioned the events on One More Page and via the pod’s social media accounts too. It ended up being shared by all kinds of people online and even popped up in Pass It On newsletter (without me instigating!). Basically, it was a free for all. I recommend this approach – if I’d kept it a bit more invite only, I’m sure I would’ve forgotten someone anyway, and this way you have a few surprise guests, like friends bringing friends you haven’t seen for a while, or someone deciding to bring their mum. Fun!

Homemade vibes

Food glorious (theme-ish) food
People young and old LOVE food at book launches. I mean, *really* love food. I had what I thought was an excessive amount of food at both launches and it was absolutely demolished. Theme-ish food is always fun – I didn’t get anything specially made (although I do love a book cover cupcake), as my book featured ladybugs and stinkbugs, and it seemed like an easy enough thing to whip up at home. Think cookies with icing eyes and blue smartie dots for the stinkbugs, and cupcakes featuring little fondant ladybugs miraculously for sale in the baking section at Woollies. Yay! I made a whole lot, then my Mum oddly enough made THE EXACT same kind of ladybug cupcakes without me knowing, plus Oreo ladybug cookies so there was like, double of everything! Then I duplicated the same things for the Melbourne launch (I made them once I got there as I stayed at a friend’s). In addition to that, Ford Street put on a whole lot of other food and even wine and bubbles. Hooray!

Gimmicks and giveaways
This might be my biggest tip of all. Get your gimmick on! Think about what else you could do to shine the spotlight off yourself and onto OTHER THINGS! If that’s how your brain works. My most gimmicky and fun thing (besides the hilarity of my launchers and their shenanigans) was a bug eating game. As my picture book features bug characters, and edible bugs are a thing, I held a game with a spinning wheel (at the Sydney launch) where kids could come up and spin, game-show style, to win a chocolate bug or a real cricket to eat.

I couldn’t lug the wheel to Melbourne, but still ran the same game – the kids just drew a piece of paper out of a box to reveal which bug type they’d won. At both launches, I held a lucky draw prize, the prize being a basket full of buggish things I’d put together (activity books, stickers, lollies, bug toys etc.). And I made some activity sheets for kids to take home – a Tulip and Brutus find-a-word and a maze. I had T&B bookmarks to give away too, supplied by Ford Street. And at the Melbourne launch they also provided another prize for the winner of a T&B themed art contest. I loved the feeling of giving away things – I highly recommend this as a way to engage with everyone there. And who doesn’t love a prize?!

Illustrator Andrew Plant bringing the word art to life (verbally, not just art-ily!) as I read Tulip and Brutus

So there you have it – my top tips on holding a big, buzzy book launch or two. You can see a whole bunch of photos of both of my launches on my Instagram and Facebook author page.

Oh, and one more thing, I have since had a couple of people asking me curiously about the cost factor. Neither launch costed me much at all! The venues were free (bookshops don’t charge money for holding your event there. It’s a huge and instant customer base for them!), and Ford Street hosted my launch in Melbourne, so that was a free venue too. For food, I went homemade, and except for a few fondant bits and pieces the ingredients were mostly lurking in my cupboard anyway. (Or in the case of Melbourne, in my friend Cat’s cupboard, hehe). Invites and publicity were all free, as it was all online only and self-generated.

The only other costs were buying the crickets for the game (I borrowed the spinning wheel), and buying a few inexpensive things for the lucky draw prizes. As for going to Melbourne, I used frequent flyer points and stayed at a friend’s place (who also played chauffeur all weekend, which I’m ridiculously grateful for). So moneywise, it wasn’t actually much of an outlay, bar edible crickets and prizes!

The whole book launch idea all seemed so intimidating to me at first, but in the end I’m glad I launched with a bang. It definitely made my book debut feel more memorable, generated some buzz online, and was a really great way to connect with the bookish community and bring friends together. I hope this gives you a dose of confidence if you’re weighing up whether to have a book launch, particularly for your first book. Afterwards, you may even have a publisher request a phone meeting to discuss your book launch tips, as your pics online make you look like some kind of book launch expert even though you’ve been winging it the entire time. True story!

A buzzy, buggy book launch!

Tulip and Brutus is officially launched! I was completely overwhelmed with the turnout and buzz at the Sydney launch – a weird and wonderful whirlwind of a morning.

Held upstairs at Berkelouw Books in Leichhardt, with the amazing Rachel Robson at the organising helm, it was such a fun time. Think an overloaded table of buggish treats like strawberry, oreo and cupcake ladybugs, and cookie stinkbugs (promptly demolished), plus a truly spectacular rendition of ‘I Got You Bug’ (think I Got You Babe, on … a lot of sugar) by my giant buggy launchers – One More Page podcast co-hosts and writers’ group buddies, Kate and Nat. Totes brought the house down.

After a book reading, I ran a game where kids could spin a game show-ish wheel to win either a chocolate bug or a real bug, a crunchy cricket. The uptake for the crickets was far more enthusiastic than I anticipated. Yay! How delicious are bugs?!

There were so many awesome people in the room, from old friends and family members to my kids’ school friends to writerly people from all the kidlit places, like SCBWI. I had an epic book sign-a-thon which was *surreal*, a gazillion photos were taken, and it all went by in a dreamlike blur. And I get to do it all again soon in Melbourne with the book’s publisher Ford Street and illustrator Andrew Plant too, hooray! If you’re Melbourne-based and around on Saturday 9 November, I’d love to see you there (find the details over on my FB Author page).

Huge thanks to everyone who shared their snaps with me – my mum, Steve, Mali, Amelia, Amanda and probably more – thanks all!

What else?

An author talk
Soon after the Sydney launch, I visited Shellharbour Library for an author talk with the most lovely writers and illustrators group. It was a really fun morning complete with another book reading, signing and sales, and an extensive q&a type book chat about the writing and publication journey. And we ate more bugs! Local writer Karen Hendriks was a fab host, taking me on a tour of the town including a stunning beach viewpoint.

Some longlistings
I randomly entered the Lane Cove Literary Awards and found myself longlisted in the Travel Story category, woo hoo! I didn’t progress beyond the longlist, but it was nevertheless a bit of a boost and a reminder of my pre-kidlit love for non-fiction travel writing (and of course, travelling). I also entered a pitching contest via Just Write for Kids, and just found out I’m on the picture book longlist. Fingers crossed! But regardless of the outcome, it was a great way to pin down a pitch for that particular story anyway!!

A podcast interview
Along with getting to interview (aka fangirl over) amazing people for my kids’ book podcast with Nat and Kate, One More Page, I am now on the show as an interviewee! In Episode 39, we have none other than Newbery Medal-winning, New York Times bestselling author Kate DiCamillo on the show (!!!) which is surreal enough in itself. Then there’s a kid interviewer chatting with me about Tulip and Brutus and friendship in kids’ books in the same episode’s Kids Capers segment. Have I used the word surreal in this post already?! Yes. Yes, I have. You can listen to the episode here and subscribe to One More Page on whichever app you devour your podcasts.

A Twitter chat

I’ve found myself not only in a podcast interview but as the guest of a Twitter chat – happening next Thursday night! I’m a huge fan of Picture Book Book Club and love their monthly chats, so it’s pretty awesome to be a guest in one (vs usual groupie). Kidlit twitter peeps – feel free to find and join (#picbookbc).

Yet more book talk …

Find more Tulip and Brutus talk on Creative Kids Tales, Just Write for Kids, Kids Book Review (plus I popped up as one of their 12 Curly Questions posts), I wrote a piece on friendship and school libraries which is on the Ford Street blog, and if you subscribe to the Pass It On kidlit newsletter, you may have seen an interview with me there recently, too. Phew!

Ok, enough with all things me and my book. I will be back next time celebrating all the other books I’ve been reading and loving lately!

Tulip and Brutus: Picture book launch time!

Tulip and Brutus is now officially out! But the excitement is only beginning as there are a few launch events imminent.

First up, the Sydney launch at Berkelouw Books in Leichhardt on 20 October, followed by a mini-launch/author talk for a dynamic group of kids’ book writers and illustrators down south coast way in Shellharbour (day trip time!) on 22 October, then a Melbourne launch at Ford Street HQ, the book’s publishers, on 9 November.

Here are the details, especially if you’re Sydney or Melbourne-based and would like to come along! As you can see, they’re both being launched by kidlit podcasters, too. The Sydney launch by my One More Page podcast co-hosts, Kate and Nat, and the Melbourne launch by Middle Grade Mavens hosts, Julie and Pamela!

 

SYDNEY LAUNCH:

 

You can RSVP to this one via the Facebook event – find it on the Berkelouw Books Leichhardt page or my author page.

 

MELBOURNE LAUNCH:

Time to get our buggish baking on …

Tulip and Brutus is on its way!

Tulip and Brutus

 

My picture book Tulip and Brutus is nearly here!

It’s about friendship, teamwork, differences … and bugs! Some pre-order links are live on my Books page. Looking forward to sharing this stinky little story soon!

Top 5 surreal (but awesome) things about having a book

So I was book-stalking on Booktopia, as you do, when something compelled me to search for my *own* upcoming picture book. Oh, I don’t think I’ve mentioned the title yet? It’s called (drumroll …) TULIP AND BRUTUS and it’s illustrated by the stupendously talented Andrew Plant!

Anyway, maybe it was a moment of imagining what it would be like to look up your own book and magically see it there, on Australia’s mega-portal to *all the books*. I typed in the title and couldn’t believe it when IT WAS THERE! I swear I actually felt my heart skip a beat. I’m sure most authors and illustrators don’t bat an eyelid at such things after a while, but this being my first book, it felt like a momentous occasion – my first sighting of any mention of my book in the public domain. It then got me thinking, if seeing a not-out-yet book with a not-yet revealed cover listed on Booktopia is that exciting, what else will be heart palpitation-inducing?! Here are five more things …

1) Holding an actual physical copy in my hands for the first time.
There’s a reason for all those un-boxing videos circulating online. An actual book! On actual paper! It’s reeeeal!

2) First sighting ‘in the wild’.
This will be amazing (er, I think I’ve got something in my eye …). A book, on a shelf, in a shop. Something people can actually buy!

3) Spotting it in a library.
This might be even better? Not everyone can afford all the new releases, but there’s always borrowing! This will be super cool. Libraries are the actual best.

4) Reading a review. Or maybe not?
This will be surreal, that a book reviewer/blogger/lover has taken the time to read the book and share their thoughts with the world. Unless it’s one of those shocking Goodreads reviews that pop up from time to time, in which case I’ll see if Kate and Nat want to do a ‘celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves’ kind of skit and we can read them out on the podcast.

5) If anyone buys it or even shares it on social media and it’s someone I DON’T EVEN KNOW!
What??!! If this happens, I’ll be ridiculously grateful forever and ever.

So there you have it, my top 5 surreal (but awesome) things about having a book. Not sure if any of these things will ever feel old?! I hope not!