This week I had an amazing whale watching experience in Geographe Bay near where I live.
Out at sea, I got to watch massive humpback whales splash and jump and slam their tails, and swim under the boat and just be generally awesome.
Getting good photos on a bobbing boat with whales moving about is not easy, so although they breached (jumped right out of the water) the best photo I got of that was a big splash:
But I did manage some great tail shots, including this one:
Which got me thinking of an old rhyme which went something like this:
If you ever ever see a whale
You must never never touch its tail
For if you ever ever touch its tail
You will never never see another whale.
(There is a longer version of this rhyme, with way more ‘evers’ in it. You’ll find it, beautifully illustrated here.)
and of a Shel Silverstein poem about Melinda Mae, which begins:
Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would
So she started right in at the tail.
(You can read the rest of that sorry tale here).
There was no eating – of whales, or by whales – on my trip, much to everybody’s relief.
Since I got home I’ve been trying to write a poem which captures the thrill of seeing such massive animals leaping out of the water (we saw a double breach, which was pretty special – two massive humpbacks leaping at the same time, like massive synchronised swimmers) and the way that something so huge can be also so beautiful. The poem is still brewing, but that’s okay – sometimes an experience can take months, or even years, to work itself into a poem.
In the meantime, I have photos, and memories. Wonderful memories.
Last week was Children’s Bookweek here in Australia, and I was lucky enough to spend the week visiting libraries around Perth and talking about books and writing.
A big shout out to the staff at The Grove, Manning, South Perth, Cambridge, Mt Claremont and Canning Bridge Libraries, and to the staff and students from Cottesloe Primary School, Mosman Park Primary School, Manning Primary School, St Columba’s Primary School, Como Primary School, South Perth Primary School, Floreat Park Primary, Holy Spirit Primary, Moerlina School, Mt Pleasant Primary and the parents and littlies who came along to Storytime at Mt Claremont.
It’s hard to pick out highlights from such a wonderful and joy-filled week, but here are a few:
1. This gorgeous display of pictures illustrating the theme for the week, Books Light Up My World. 2. The questions. Some are funny, some are insightful, some are hard, but the questions are one of the best parts of each session.
3. Sharing my books. Writers spend so much time working in isolation, that a week like Bookweek is a wonderful opportunity to share with audiences. Not only do I get to inspire young readers, but they inspire me equally, if not more.
4. Games! Dressing up, singing, dancing, laughing. Can’t believe this is part of my job.
5. The fact I get to it all again next year. I’ve already started taking bookings for Bookweek 2016. I’m looking forward to coming to a library or school near you.
Since Bookweek I have been to Townsville to speak to the students of Kirwan State School. That’s the subject for another post.
It’s almost the end of the school holidays here in my part of the world. For two weeks kids, including my own, have had a beak from school – but come Monday, they’ll be heading back.
So, I thought for Poetry Friday I’d share a school poem, which I wrote a few years ago as part of a set of teaching notes. First, here’s the poem:
Writing a Poem
(Copyright Sally Murphy)
This poem was written to demonstrate a simple way to write a poem – in this case, the poem started with a list of observations. The notes, including the poem, are freely available online here.
It’s Poetry Friday and it’s my mum’s birthday, so I thought I’d write a little poem for her. When I was a child I remember being pretty excited about her birthday and the feeling of wanting to give her a gift that would make her feel the way I felt on my own birthday.
when you were little
your birthday was magic.
filled with gifts and cakes
and love and squeals.
when I was little
your birthday was almost
as exciting as my own
and I loved to show you that.
though we are neither little
that your day
still has the gentle thrill
of knowing you are loved.
(Sally Murphy, 2015)
Happy birthday Mum, and happy Poetry Friday everyone else.
The Poetry Friday roundup this week will be at Space City Scribes
School is back for term two, and ANZAC Day is only days away. If you are a teacher here are some simple things you can do in your classroom to prepare for the day:
- Talk about the significance of the date and the meaning of the word ANZAC. You’ll find a good explanation here.
- Read books about war to your students, and have a classroom display of such books that they can pick up in their own time. There are a plethora of such books available, so you are sure to find something age appropriate, and publishers websites often have teachers notes.
- Talk about why we remember the day. Encourage students to share stories from their family history, and to listen to stories available from their community. Your local RSL may be able to help you with this information.
- Simple activities can often help children feel involved. Make a red poppy to lay at an ANZAC ceremony, write a poem, paint a picture, bake ANZAC biscuits.
Thank you for all you do in educating children about the significance of this important day.