Susanne Gervay and Jack’s Ponto!

Susanne Gervay at Penrith PS

Today, our school was graced by the presence of author Susanne Gervay, of “I am Jack” fame. All the attendees (Years 3-6) had been well prepped via serialised readings from “I am Jack” all this term, so it was great to see the book come to life with Susanne’s witty and frenetic presentation.

Susanne, the Ponto and Mrs Mead

Mrs Mead tried to keep up with all of Susanne’s jokes, anecdotes and anti-bullying strategies, signing for the hearing support students. Can you see Mr McLean’s growing prop of “Jack’s Ponto” in the above pic?

Ian McLean and Jack's Ponto
Mr McLean and Jack’s Ponto, photographed by Susanne Gervay

Susanne Gervay at Penrith PSwhiteSusanne Gervay at Penrith PS

Thanks Susanne for a wonderful author visit. Susanne has blogged about the day as well.

Susanne loved the story of our historic library mural!

Frané Lessac visits!

Frané sketches Duffy

To help us celebrate Children’s Book Week, award-winning illustrator Frané Lessac came to talk about her career with students in K-2. We had prepared for her visit by looking at several of her picture books, including “Simpson and his donkey”, which was written by her husband, author Mark Greenwood.

Frané and her audience

Frané's mock-up book

Frané enthralled us with anecdotes about the pet monkey she had as a child in New Jersey, USA, and her time living on a tiny island which was almost totally destroyed when its volcano erupted. She painted a picture of Duffy, Simpson’s donkey, and showed a slideshow of her other picture books, including several about Australian bushrangers.

We had a great time! Thank you, Frané – and Lateral Learning!

Frané's volcano
Frané’s volcano

Frané Lessac's completed artwork of Duffy
Frané completed artwork of Duffy

Frané's paint water cup

Above: Frané’s pet cat usually drinks the contents of her paint-water cup, which is one reason she tries to always use non toxic paints, but her cat lives in Fremantle, Western Australia. (Maybe we could sell this exclusive souvenir on eBay?)

Frané's brush technique


What exciting news!

I received an email today from the National Library of Australia, proposing to add the online content of my “Booked Inn” weblog to the PANDORA Archive. The purpose of me granting the National Library a licence to archive my site permits the Library to retain and provide public online access to my blog – in perpetuity! A fantastic honour (and no more worrying about accidentally deleting the content)!

In December 1999, my first website, the Number 96 Home Page was selected for inclusion in the PANDORA Archive. It was the first of three Internet sites about Australian television programs so honoured (along with “The Panel” and “Good Guys, Bad Guys”, which were both current shows at the time). It still appears in the National Library’s online public access catalogue at, preserved as it was the day it was archived. There is also a link to the live site. Amusingly, the original sites of “The Panel” and “Good Guys, Bad Guys” vanished many years ago, while my trusty ol’ “96” site continues on!

I can’t wait for the “purl” (Permanent URL) to arrive so I can open Pandora’s box!

Zoo nostalgia

These old b/w photographs, taken during excursions to Taronga Park Zoo in 1968 and 1971, demonstrate how little visitors could manage to see between the bars of the old enclosures. The elephants’ view, through the window of the old concrete “temple”, is more recent. When the new elephant enclosure was unveiled in 2007, a static exhibit inside the “temple” showed their original environment, complete with a “saddle” for elephant rides.

Now I’m motivated to go back to the zoo soon and recapture as many pics, in colour, as possible. A few enclosures (and the floral clock) are still in the same locations but, thankfully, look very different today.

PS: I did it!

Book Week approaches

Aldi world map

Teacher-librarians had been mentioning that Aldi supermarkets were stocking a large, exclusive, felt map of the world, which might prove useful to decorate the library for Book Week (this year’s theme being, “One world, many stories”). I checked out my local Aldi today and, sure enough, there it was. It comes with 100 small felt pieces to attach to the map: iconic buildings, animals, birds, people, products, rivers – and labels for the oceans and continents. Looks great!

Family forest display

Congratulations to Class 1H for creating this beautiful display for the library on the picture book, “Family forest”! This and other class displays are in my Flickr slideshow.

Blast from the past!

Former student and now professional author, Cassandra Golds, found this Youtube link and wanted to share it:

“These are the various musical groups at Penrith Primary School, recorded in 1972, when I was in Year 4. I can’t get over how good they are! Mr Doug Pope, who I adored, is conducting the band and the drums in the final item are played by Mr Rose, who I also adored.”

1. Battle Hymn of the Republic – Brass Band
2. Humpty Dumpty – Senior Choir
3. Air – Flute Band
4. Six Little Ducks – Guitar Club
5. Gone the Rainbow – Recorder Band
6. Swinging Safari – Recorders and Guitars.

Many thanks, Cassandra, what a thrill!

Side 2 is HERE.

7. Pokare Kare Ana – Junior Choir
8. Morning has Broken – Recorder Band
9. We Shall Not Be Moved – Guitar Club
10. Bonnie Dundee – Flute Band
11. Hello Dolly – Brass Band.

Recorded at the school hall to vinyl in 1972. Audio digitised and video produced by Richard Hamilton, 2010.

Springtime is silkworm time

Silk Worms
Silk Worms by mayakamina, on “Flickr” Creative Commons.

A teacher colleague asked when to expect silkworms, hoping to keep some in her classroom to study life cycles.

A bit of a wait. Not spring yet! Which reminded me: we have silkworms here annually for K-6 – one teacher collects the eggs and keeps some from year to year. Once, when I was teaching Stage 1, we came back from holidays for Term 4 and I never thought to check the old shoebox on the cupboard from the previous year. We’d had a few hot days in a row and, during a visiting student teachers’ maths lesson, a kid said, “Why are there full stops walking across the ceiling?”

Even the far wall was crawling with tiny black specks. We downed tools, went across he road to our oval and I sent every child running over the expanse of grass to get two mulberry leaves each. We returned to the classroom, stuffed the leaves into the box and the student teacher recommenced her lesson. By lunchtime, almost every little black speck had sniffed the leaves and had traversed the ceiling and back into the box.

Jack’s ponto


I am currently reading “I am Jack” by Susanne Gervay to all of Stage 2 and 3. Here’s my newly-made prop: Jack’s “ponto”, from the novel. (Jack has managed to graft an onion to a potato to invent a new vegetable, which he calls a “ponto”).

“I an Jack” trailer on Youtube

Highlights from the “I am Jack” stage show – with Tim McGarry as Jack.