Frosty School Morning

Simone Hale’s prize-winning interpretation of Frosty School Morning

It’s winter in New England, and a classic winter it is too, with hard cold nights and frosty mornings shading into crisp bright blue crystalline days. This morning it was minus 8.6 degrees, yesterday morning minus 7 degrees, and frost shines everywhere. The poem below poem is inspired by those frosty mornings, and by the experience of New England children who live out of town and have to catch  the bus to school. (The school bus stop is just down the road from our place.) I wrote the poem four years ago on commission from the New England Conservatorium of Music, who wanted three poems about children’s experiences of New England to set to music for the tenth anniversary of the major choral event, New England Sings. It was fantastic to hear it as a song–and then two years later, in 2016, I had the honour of having it chosen as the centrepiece for the inaugural New England Illustration Prize, which was won by the wonderful local artist Simone Hale(it’s her interpretation of her poem you can see above).

Frosty School Morning

by Sophie Masson

 

Walking to the bus stop on a frosty morning,

Crackles of grass like toffee crunches.

Kangaroo joey hops with her mother,

Maybe it’s a school day for them too.

 

Waiting for the bus on an icy morning,

Blowing in my hands to keep them warm,

Here come my friends, running late as usual,

Kookaburra laughs to see them go.

 

Riding on the bus on a winter morning,

Bumping along on the road to town.

Sitting with my friends on the slippery seats,

We write our names in the mist on the glass.

 

 

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Such fun in poetry creation workshops for children!

Recently I ran two poetry workshops for children 6-12 years old in my hometown public library. They were sequential workshops: in the first one, I talked about writing poetry, based on the gorgeous book A Boat of Stars, in which I have 7 poems–and talked about how  ideas from poetry can come from anywhere, then we orally created a (rather silly!) poem together, and then everyone chose their own subject and wrote their own poem. In the second workshop, I talked about how you can illustrate and decorate a poem to create an artwork out of it in all kinds of ways(again, that was inspired by A Boat of Stars!) And then the kids set to and created their own poem artwork, based on the poem they had written the previous week. The library had provided lots of coloured pencils and pens, stickers, magazine pictures to cut out, coloured shapes and paper and more. Everyone had a lot of fun and there were some amazing creations–have a look at the photo gallery!

 

 

Lovely first review for See Monkey!

Delighted to see this lovely first review for See Monkey, my picture book with Kathy Creamer(Little Pink Dog Books) . This short and sweet review is in the latest(June) edition of author, publisher and picture book expert Margaret Hamilton’s Pinerolo newsletter. 

SEE MONKEY by Sophie Masson & Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dog Books). A toddler and his favourite friend, his monkey toy, are together all day and they do everything together. An endearing book for the very young, with warm and appealing illustrations.

http://www.pinerolo.com.au/PDF/Jun2018.pdf

Cover reveal for Black Wings, my adult historical novel

I am thrilled to reveal the beautiful cover of Black Wings, my adult historical novel which will be published in October by The Greystones Press in the UK. Can’t wait! Here’s the basic blurb(there will also be a fabulous cover quote by the lovely Kate Forsyth, which will be revealed later!)

It’s 1788 in the Vendée in western France, and change is in the air. Reform 
is being talked of in the great world beyond, in Paris, and even the peaceful village inhabited by Jacques Verdun and his friends – aristocratic painter Edmond de Bellegarde, his beautiful cousin Flora, and young farmer Pierre Bardon – seems touched by new possibilities. But as events both in Paris and in the local community start to gather pace, as revolution breaks out and the traditions of centuries start to break down, friendships will be severely tested in the most unexpected of ways. And when pitiless civil war comes, who will be left to testify to old feelings, and old loyalties? 

 

UQP’s 70th birthday and my gratitude to them!

Just heard today that it’s UQP’s (University of Queensland Press)70th birthday this month–and wanted to celebrate this great achievement of a great publisher by thanking them for launching me on my career as a published author–in more ways than one!

My very first published book, The House in the Rainforest, an adult novel set on the North Coast of NSW in the 1970’s and ’80’s, was published by UQP in April 1990. I will never forget the day I got the letter of acceptance from the late and greatly missed UQP editor Roseanne Fitzgibbon! (It was an amazing year, because just a few weeks after hearing from UQP, I got a letter from the then publisher at Angus and Robertson, Brian Cook, accepting my first children’s novel, Fire in the Sky, a time slip novel which was published in June 1990)

UQP also published my very first young adult novel, Sooner or Later (1991), an event which came about after the then editor of UQP’s YA list, the wonderful Barbara Ker Wilson, had written to me whilst The House in the Rainforest was being edited, to ask if I had any ms suitable for that age group: she had really liked the voice of my main character Kate, who, when the book starts, is sixteen years old. Barbara felt it was a very authentic voice and she wondered if I had anything that might work. Well, I as it happens, I did have a ms which had grown out both of living at the time in a small Australian country town and also losing my beloved grandmother back in France. I was pretty excited at being actually encouraged to send it in! So I sent it, Barbara and the UQP team loved it, and it was published in 1991.

I had another two YA novels books published by UQP after that–A Blaze of Summer(1992), which unlike the other two was set in France, and had supernatural/fantastical elements; and The Sun is Rising(1996), a companion novel–though not, strictly speaking, a sequel–to Sooner or Later.

I went on to have books with quite a few other publishers after that–but I will never forget the debt I owe UQP. From a very grateful author: happy 70th birthday to a wonderful publishing house–and may there be at least another 70!

Angel time in the undiscovered country…

Intriguing title, right? 🙂 It is actually part of the title of the paper I gave in Kobe(Japan) in March, at the 2018 Asian Conference of Ethics, Philosophy and Religion. Based on aspects of my PHD research, it profiles the philosophical and cultural context of contemporary young adult afterlife fiction, and looks at several works of fiction, including a little about the creation of my own novel, The Ghost Squad, which I’ve written as part of the PHD. For any interested readers, the paper is now available to read online, as part of the published conference proceedings. The link takes you to the abstract, and from there, you can view or download the full paper itself.

 

Jacky lizard–a children’s poem

I wrote this little poem after watching a ‘Jacky lizard’ the other day at our place.

Jacky lizard

by Sophie Masson

Little Jacky lizard,

Perched up on a stone,

Like a guard on castle walls,

Protecting his lord’s home.

 

Beady eyes survey the scene,

Head swings from side to side,

Soaking in the sun he likes—

But knows where to hide!

 

He hears a sound and freezes,

His tail goes stiff with fright.

Then little Jacky lizard

Is gone, as fast as light!

Photo from Museums of Victoria Collections website