Wow! How is it Spring already?

I can’t quite believe that today is the 1st of April – but I am very excited too. It means I can participate once more in the #Springflingkidlit writing contest. I love this competition. It’s an opportunity to stretch myself, force myself to write something totally new, in a short space of time (1 only had 2 days this time – eek!) and under a constrained 150 word count too! It means I get to connect with other amazing and talented kidlit writers (who are always the kindest people) and also think deeply about what this season means to me.

Having lived abroad for 20 years of my life, this year I began to think about the amazing spring time festivals I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to be a part of, the Songkran Water Festival in Thailand, the Holi Colour Festival in India, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan, Mardis Gras Festival in France and of course, the May Queen Festival in the UK. Each country and each spring time festival celebrates this special season in a totally unique and magical way. Through song, dance, colour, water, painting, planting and even scrambled eggs!

I became so excited about this idea that I wrote over 250 words at first! Unfortunately I couldn’t fit all the wonderful festivals into my final version but I hope it does at least capture the essence of what I hoped o convey. They celebratory feel of ‘newness’ and ‘love’ around the world as the winter months fade and the days lighten and warm. I hope you all enjoy my entry.

The picture I included was one of me, my eldest son and friends enjoying the festival of Holi in a local park in New Delhi, eight years ago. It is one of my most treasured and fun memories of my time living in India.

Huge thanks to the amazing ladies who work so hard to organise this fabulous contest, connect us all together too and celebrate this wonderful time of year. Thank you, thank you, thank you @authorciaraoneal @CiaraONeal2 and @Kaitlynleann17 @KaitlynLeann17!


Spring Fling Kidlit Writing Contest Entry 2023

(147 words excluding headings)


Scoop, scatter,

Sprinkle, shower,

A rainbow of paint and powder

Happy Hindus, 

Holi fun,

Remembering how goodness won. 


Drench, drip,

Duck, dash,

The Songkran Festival makes a splash!

Floating flowers,

Festive cheer,

Welcomes the Buddhist New Year! 


Tap, crack,

Whisk, whack,

Flip a pancake just like that.

Donuts, waffles,

Scoff them quick,

Lent will be here in a tick!



Sneak, peak,

The Easter Bunny’s left a treat.

Swish, swirl,

Glitter, glue,

Rolling eggs is what we do!


Gather, Glow,

Float up high,

Paper lanterns warm the sky.

Ward off evil,

Shine your light,

Celebrate the moon tonight.


Twirl, swirl,

Ribbons twine,

Flower garlands, branches, vines.

Village faits, 

May Queen crowns,

Hear the brilliant big brass sounds.


Dig, rake,

Plant, pat,

Making a new habitat.

Seeds, saplings,

Root and shoot,

As Arbour’s Day takes fruit!

Leap, laugh,

Travel, sing,

The most magical time of year is…


What are my kids and I reading this March, 2023?

FEATHERS TOGETHER written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso is another fantastic book from this fabulous picture book duo. Beautifully written and beautifully illustrated!

It is perfect for picture book aged children between 3-7 and the take away themes are right up my alley – loyalty, kindness, love and nature.

The story, based on true events, is centred around two storks, Malena and Klepetan who always adventure together! But one winter when Malena is injured and cannot migrate, the two best friends must separate. As Klepetan flies south to South Africa, Malena must remain in Croatia. The separation is hard and they miss each other desperately. But luckily a kind feather-headed man comes to the rescue. He builds Malena a warm, indoor nest, feeding her and caring for her until the air warms once more and the migration home can begin. Then, at last the two brave birds are reunited in their outdoor nest side-by-side.

This sweet story is a wonderful way to explore the idea of ‘missing’ someone with young people. It is simply but beautifully written with heart and respect for nature. I love how it is told through the eyes of the birds rather than the human who helps them. We see a new perspective this way and children can easily relate to the birds feelings and empathise.

The illustrations are gorgeous – Santoso has used gentle strokes and a soft palette of colour that suits the birds themselves and the double page spreads are breathtaking. The skies play a great role throughout the book and the different moods and textures beautifully reflect the page turns. It has the same gorgeous vibe as his other two books with Levis, This Way Charlie and Ida, Always. My daughter Caitlin loves this story and often requests it at night. Definitely recommend!

What are my kids and I reading this February, 2023?

NIGHT SKY written by Rosa Shaw and illustrated by Lara Hawthorne, is a beautiful non-fiction book about the stars – how they have guided and inspired people throughout history to travel, build and worship.

This gorgeous picture book is a wonderful introduction to children who love history or science. I love this combination as it speaks to me and my interests and my son and daughters as well. Each page focuses on two or three facts which are explored in just enough detail – not too much to overwhelm or raise the reading age but also enough to engage and give pause for thought. I learnt many new things as well as my children. For example, the teapot constellation, part of Sagittarius, helps us locate the centre of the Milky Way. How cool is that!

The writing glimmers with lyricism and passion but without overkill. The facts are taught clearly and with little room for confusion.

The illustrations are striking, bold and beautiful. The colours pop against the inky blues, dusky greys and dense blacks. They are drawn simply but with detail and there is something on each page to allow for wonder and fascination.

I love how this book teaches us that peoples passion for the night sky is deep rooted and important. It has linked us on Earth to the Ancient Gods of Greek and Egyptians times. It has sparked important scientific discoveries by Newton, Galileo and helped explorers navigate our world long before the invention of the compass.

But the book doesn’t just talk about the past. It is about the future too. How the night sky continues to inspire us and guide our lives. How explorers are now venturing into space itself and how nature is still very much connected to the planetary movement.

I honestly think this book is wonderful. It would make a fabulous addition to anyones library be that at home or school. Highly recommend!

What are my kids and I reading this January, 2023?

Happy New Year readers! I hope you are all enjoying the perfect season for snuggling down with a good book.

Today I am going to share with you a lovely picture book called ILL GO AND COME BACK written by Rajani LaRocca and illustrated by Sara Palacios. This book really resonated with my kids and I as we live in two very different worlds every year – Singapore in South East Asia and the UK, when we visit home. This transient life is a huge blessing and one that affords my family and I a world of experiences each year we are truly grateful for. But with this constant movement it can lead to unsettling emotions at times.

These feelings are shared with the main character in the story when Jyoti travels halfway around the world to visit her grandmother in India. At first she feels lost, confused by the cultural differences between home and India and a little overwhelmed. From our few years living in India, I can share that these feelings are very real and very powerful when they first impact, but like Jyoti they soon disappear and normalise and the vibrancy of a new culture becomes very quickly enlivening and magical.

Quickly Jyoti forms a special bond with Sita Pati, her grandmother, shopping, playing games and eating chapatis. When it is finally time to leave Jyoti is reminded that the Tamil people don’t say goodbye, but something extra special, “I’ll go and come back.”

The second half of the book takes place with Sita Pati visiting her granddaughter Jyoti in America. Soon we see the transition through a different pair of eyes and different set of emotions. Now it is time for Jyoti to show her grandmother around and teach her all she loves about her home.

This book not only celebrates diversity, but also the magical bonds shared between our elders and our children. There is so much to love about this story and the heart in it is strong and very real. I would recommend this for any library, school or child aged between 3-7 years. The writing is simple and the story arc clear and uncomplicated but there are great discussions to be had throughout and the illustrations are divine!

Earthy colours of saffron, okra and chilli red infuse the story with colours of India and shine a different light when they are in America, just as beautiful. Highly recommend!