The 5 Essentials of How to Choose a Children’s Book Topic

My heart will always belong to Australia, my home, even though I have been fortunate to both live and travel overseas. I have experienced different places and cultures but will always come back to the place that I love the most. In my writing I reflect my passion for this wonderful country, her wildlife, and her striking beauty. Below is my guest blog post that will explain my thoughts on how to choose a topic for a children’s book that will touch the heart and lives of children everywhere.

Posted in Children's Books

Top Ten Thing Not to Do if You Live at a Vacation Destination

I read this with good humour as it is so true of Darwin this time of year. Woollies is always crowded, you can never get a park near your favourite restaurant and their are backpackers camping all along Mindil beach. However, the upside is it is all good for local business. During the “build up” and wet season things go very quiet up here and many businesses struggle to survive, they need the tourist dollar while it is here. So while it may be a bit of a nuisance for the local living at a vacation destination, is it really too much to tolerate for just a few short months? Sit back, enjoy the life style and have a laugh After all, the tourists head south to the cold again, we are always in the sunny tropics! Besides, I like tourists that buy my Aussie picture book. 🙂 How do you feel when tourists come to your part of the world?

Fiction Favorites

a family vacation

This list has been inspired by observing the interaction between vacationers and locals at some vacation destinations in which I have found myself as a resident. Hope you like it.

Top Ten Things Not to do If You Live in a Vacation Destination

10 If you live in a vacation destination, do not honk your horn at the drivers who habitually go ten miles below the speed limit. If you do, at best they will go even slower. At worst, you may find yourself on the receiving end of a very frustrated lost out of towner with a car full of kids and someone asking “if we should have stopped and asked directions.” (And they might just have their semi-automatic weapon collection along for the ride.)

9 If you live in a vacation destination, do not put off grocery shopping until the end of the week. If you do, at…

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Posted in Children's Books


Pamela Beckford dresses up as a brightly coloured butterfly to inspire kids as she reads to them throughout her local community. She is encouraging early literacy in an unusual yet simple way. It would be lovely to see more parents and grandparents take up the gauntlet and spare just a few minutes a week to read to students at schools and preschools. Maybe then we would help teachers increase our students literacy skills.

Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author

Early last winter, I discovered that one of my author friends regularly metamorphoses into “Blossom the Butterfly” to share her love of reading with pre-school and elementary school children. I asked Pamela to share her story. Opportunities abound for all of us! ~ Bette A. Stevens

CHILDHOOD LITERACY: Sharing the love of reading

Guest post by author Pamela Beckford

IMG_2405How did I get so involved in childhood literacy? I’ve asked myself that question dozens of times. I’m not a teacher, nor did I ever have any aspirations of being a teacher. I’m not a librarian, nor did I ever have any desire to be a librarian. But I am an avid reader myself and I have seen how much reading means to me personally.

I have the world’s best job as CEO of a local United Way. We have a goal of making sure that 90% of all children in…

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Posted in Children's Books

A Great Day at the Fair.

The Royalla Roundup proved to be a fantastic Fair day, celebrated and enjoyed by all community members, neighbours, friends and visitors. Everyone who came was welcome to share in the delights of the fabulous Autumn weather as well as the country air and atmosphere.

Initially I was a a little concerned when we drove down to “the Common” to set up as a typical gorgeous crisp, clear Royalla morning had turned bleak with a thick fog that had rolled in across the hills. We could hardly see the road in front of us as we drove down into the valley. This was not a good sign, but I should have known better. A thick morning fog in the valley always means a very still day and by the time the fair was declared open at 10.00 am the morning had cleared, the sun shone bright to a perfect day.

Visitors soon filled the adjoining paddock carpark to overflow capacity as the air was filled with the sounds of children laughing, and the aroma of freshly baked bacon and egg rolls. As the day progressed children ran around with brightly painted faces eating pink fairy floss on sticks while parents listened to the wonderful sounds of the musicians performing in the amphitheatre under the shade of the trees in the elm grove.

I later asked a neighbour’s son which of all the rides was he favourite? He couldn’t decide between the mechanical bucking bull, (which he had 3 turns of and only fell off once!) or the pony ride.  The fact that he could also remember that the mechanical bull’s name was “Kevin” but had trouble remembering the name of the pony, hinted to me just which one might have truly been his favourite. 🙂 There was also a jumping castle and animals to pat in the petting zoo, but the cutest of all to me were the baby alpacas. If only I could talk my hubby into letting me have one or two on our land…mmmm…..will work on that!

DSCN0178A huge thank you to all those lovely parents, families and friends who came by my stall to chat, support me and purchase a book or two. You are all wonderful and I appreciate you all very much. 🙂 I hope you enjoy reading the books with your children and ask if you would kindly take the time to write a review and send it to me either here on my website, via email or on Amazon once they are listed there. Struggling authors always need good reviews to help spread the word.


DSCN0185My table was nestled under the shade of the beautiful elm trees amongst all the other lovely arts and crafts, the path lead to the children’s craft tables where they could create easter activities and other crafts before the path eventually finished near the logs to view the musicians and at one time a spectacular magician. I looked out towards the Rural Fire Services truck and helicopter DSCN0183where children spent a delightful time looking at all the equipments and could ask the usual array of inquisitive questions that all budding “fireman” at that tender young age tend to do.

Naturally, mums and dads were not forgotten. There were plenty of shiny old cars on display. Farm equipment and machinery to learn about, all your septic tank and storm water issues could be answered, gardenimg supplies were plentiful, not to mention an abundance of secondhand books and clothing to peruse.

Batch of aliensMy “Gingerbread Alien” cookies were another yummy take home delicious treat to be saved and eaten while reading the newest exciting chapter in the ‘Bradberrie Brothers Alien Adventure” series. I was both surprised and delighted to meet several families who walked past and noticed my original book, “Gingerbread Aliens” then realised part two was now released. It was music to this author’s ears to hear children ask their parents if they could  “please have the next book.” They just had to find out what was going to happen next in Alien Shenanigans!

Emma the Eager Emu was the most popular of all three of my books. Some of the lovely feedback was that it was wonderful to find a book written about Australian animals, these are very hard to find, we don’t have near enough of them. Mind you I think a lot of it has to do with the amazing illustrations my fabulous illustrator has done for me. Dianna Budd has made my bird characters come to life with charm and humour. I adore them. 🙂 15Thiis afternoon we met for a cuppa where I had the opportunity to tell Dianna how much everyone adored her illustrations. We agreed we perhaps need to get to work on the next book.

Once again I would like to thank the Royalla Roundup committee for the opportunity for me to be involved in the inaugural country living fair and hope that the community has rallied together to raise enough funds to begin the building of our community centre. I look forward to many years ahead meeting more and more neighbours during gatherings in our upcoming newly built shed.

For those of you still waiting for the books to come on-line so that you may purchase a copy via my website, I appreciate your patience. My son is working on it, and promises to have all the kinks worked out within the next few days. A busy Uni schedule has held him up, my sincere apologies.

Alien Shenanigans_cover_FNL_001Alien Shenanigans and

Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

Emma the Eager Emu will be available here. Please stay tuned!






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Posted in Children's Books

Join us at the Fair!

If you live in Canberra and don’t mind a short drive into the country why not join some amazing, friendly people this weekend at the Royalla Roundup Country Living Fair on Sunday 29th March, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. The weather promises to be perfect for a day outdoors in the sun.

Royalla Roundup

Come along, join in the fun, meet the locals, pat some animals,  chat to a neighbour or two, and even  meet this resident author. There are plenty of things to do for all the family. Take a walk among the elm grove, delight in the arts/crafts, learn a thing or two about the native plants, purchase garden supplies, admire the farm machinery and shiny cars and so much more.

It will also be your first opportunity to purchase my two new children’s books “Alien Shenanigans” and “Emma the Eager Emu.” Along with my original short chapter book for early and reluctant readers, “Gingerbread Aliens.” I will be their to sign any copies purchased.

Alien Shenanigans_cover_FNL_001








Bring fun and laughter to your children’s Easter this year as you read aloud the Bradberrie Brothers continued adventure. Science and curiosity collide as mix ups, mischief and mayhem explode. Mrs Witherbottoms returns to get in the way. Principal Penwright is on the war path ….. again and the classroom teacher, Mr Haggardy, is not happy! Who is truly behind all the shenanigans this time?

The following is a Pre-release review kindly written by Leonie MacDonald:
Coordinator Relax Kids Canberra
Editor Birth Journeys-Positive Stories to Encourage and Inspire
Emma the Eager Emu is a wonderful story to read aloud to children with vibrant illustrations of the native Australian bird characters.  With plenty of repetition and opportunities for children to predict what is going to
Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

happen next this book is ideal for the classroom and shared reading with the young reader. Emma the Eager Emu’s story provides an opportunity to talk with children about how we are all different and we have different strengths, how we can encourage each other and keep trying when something is important to us, and how sometimes we just have to think a little differently to find the solution to our problems. Emma the eager emu shows children that they don’t have to be like everyone else to be happy and achieve their dreams. There are so many positive messages packed into this story.

 Aiden (age 5): My favourite part was Rosie Rosella because of her rainbow feathers.
“what is the story about?” If you run really fast it can feel like you’re flying.

 Review by Leonie MacDonald
Come join us at the Fair!
I hope to see you there! 🙂


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Posted in Children's Books, Raising Awesome Readers

Emma the Eager Emu Cover Reveal and Reviews

My brand new picture book “Emma the Eager Emu” should arrive by the end of this week! I’m feeling so excited I can’t wait to finally see her in print.  It’s time to reveal to you the amazing front cover that my wonderful friend an illustrator, Dianna Budd produced from my ramblings. I am so proud to introduce to you Emma the Eager Emu in all her glory as she so well deserves. 🙂

Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

Copyright Sandra Bennett and Dianna Budd

Emma won her first award as a children’s story in an online competition back in 2012 and has been eagerly awaiting to come to life in illustrated form ever since. I am so glad I was fortunate to meet Dianna at another author’s book launch about twelve months ago. I sent her the manuscript which she instantly adored. We started talking about options and Emma’s journey to illustrated birth began. Below are a few of the reviews Emma received at the time of winning the competition.


This story has a wonderfully, well-written allegory that focuses on differences between people (birds) and which teaches us to appreciate those differences. The moral is subtle, and although probably written for a younger audience, it has such a crisp charm that older readers cannot help but to admire the tale.

Each line seemed to flow seamlessly into the next, and I know that is not as easy as it seems. It requires practice and a fair measure of God-given skill to produce.

The writing was quite beautiful in its clarity and simplicity:

“Rosella screeched. Yellow Crested Cockatoo squawked and Pink Galah squealed.”

The above is a prime example of what I mean. It is fresh, descriptive and economical and yet when read, it seems full-bodied and charming. The the moral is only a simple one, it is the form and style of your writing that elevates this tale to a high place.

Ah, if we were all as successful as Emma at rationalizing our shortcomings. There are at least a couple ways to approach your tale. To some readers, they will see her “flight” as championing her strengths, while readers that are more cynical, will see it as her glossing over her failures. Not that any of that matters here, for it is the writing itself that is the highlight of this story and that is exceptional.  – Tiggy

Cute story. It teaches to never give up, just keep trying and you’ll succeed. I love children’s stories. I am going to read your story to my granddaughter. She’ll love it!  – Jeannie

Such a cute tale! I loved reading this! It’s a great children’s story as it teaches a lesson in a fun way. I like the repetition too. A really great children’s story. I really liked the variety of birds you’ve included in the story. It makes it rather educational for children, I think. I truly enjoyed reading it.   – Spidey

What a delightful story – excellent use of personality names and characters in the four different bird varieties.

Excellent repetition of phrasing. Especially in a children’s story.

  • “One, two, three, look at me, I can fly!”
  • “Rosella screeched. Yellow Crested Cockatoo squawked and Pink Galah squealed.”

I really like the emphasis placed on all their differences, including appearances, and the persistence to keep trying. Well done and hope to see this beautifully illustrated in the children’s department of my local bookstore soon.  – Glenda, Country Granny.

It’s been a few years, but Glenda might just get her wish yet! “Emma the Eager Emu” will be available for purchase in the next week or two from this website and hopefully a few local bookstores soon too!

“Emma the Eager Emu” is a beautifully illustrated picture book suitable for ages 3 and beyond. Although as an advocate of reading from as early an age as possible (even birth) why not start reading Emma to your little ones as early as possible. Not only will they love it, you will too!

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Posted in Children's Books

Beware of Drop-Bears! A Short Story

As Aussie kids we all grew up hearing tales of the mythological creature the “Drop-Bear.” A mysterious and ferocious man-eating koala that would drop from the top of gum trees to attack unsuspecting bushwalkers. We tell the story to overseas tourists as they embark all excited on hikes through our countryside and warn them that their only form of protection is vegemite smeared behind their ears. Vegemite being that all Australian favourite spread that we have on toast for breakfast that only a true Aussie can appreciate the taste of.

With my new book “Alien Shenanigans,”due to be released next month, I wrote a short story with our reluctant hero David Bradberrie and his brothers, Brian and Simon. I put them camping in the bush one night just to see what might happen?

Below is the result. Hope you enjoy. 🙂

“Beware the Drop-Bear” was awarded First Place in the We Write For Kids Contest – Mar 2015.

Beware the Drop-Bear!

Drop bear signDavid yawned, reached for the roll of loo paper, the small shovel and torch, turned from the campfire and headed towards the line of gum trees not too far in the distance. He hadn’t walked far when his younger brother Simon, called out.

“Beware the drop-bear!’

David stopped in his tracks. He really needed to go. Was Simon teasing or should he ask what he meant? David chewed a fingernail, inhaled a deep breath and shuffled back towards the warmth and light of the fire. With a huff he sat back down beside his brothers.

“Need some company?” Brian, his older brother sniggered.

“I’m ten Brian, I can go to the loo on my own! I don’t intend to go too far into the bush. Just tell me about the drop-bear before I go anywhere,” David glared at Simon. “Make it quick though, I really need to go.” David squirmed on the log where he sat. Brian handed him a stick with a toasted marshmallow and winked at Simon.

“Haven’t you heard of drop-bears? They’re kind of like giant koalas but scary man eating ones that drop down from the top of gum trees at night and attack when you least expect it.” Simon’s eyes popped as he raised his hands to gnash at the air. “People say they have really sharp fang-like teeth and razor sharp claws.”

“Best to spread some vegemite behind your ears before you go. Drop-bears don’t like vegemite.” Brian added.

Simon and Brian rolled on the ground laughing as David took a deep breath and crept back towards the trees, torchlight shining as wide as he could high into the treetops. He wasn’t prepared to walk quite as far in amongst the gum trees as he would have preferred, nor was he going to give them the satisfaction of needing Brian to go with him. The further in David crept, the darker it became. Privacy was optimal, but then again so was safety.

He chose a spot, left the torch shining upwards against a tree so that he could see above into the branches and began to dig his hole. He whistled a tune to try to calm his nerves.

When David reached to retrieve his torch it was no longer where he had left it. Light still lit the area, so where was the torch? He scanned the ground around the bottom of the tree but then realised the light was coming from above him. The tree branches swayed but there was no wind. He heard a scratching, clawing noise along with a low growl.
David stepped back careful to watch where he trod and slowly raised his eyes to peer high into the branches. Sure enough a furry koala-like monster with pointed fang-like teeth sat huddled near the tree trunk and grasped within its jagged sharp claws was David’s torch.

The monsters beady eyes stared down at David with a ferocious glare. They seemed to glow in the torchlight as the monster shivered and made a loud groan that sounded to David like the noise came from deep within the pit of the monsters stomach.

David reached for the shovel and went to run but something made him stop and turn around for another look. The monster cuddled the torch as it spread a glow around the bush. The growl had changed to more like a hum.

David wasn’t sure, but he thought he could see a hint of a tear trickle out of the corner of one of the monsters eyes.

“You don’t look so scary.” David took a step closer. “You do look a bit bigger than a normal koala and those claws do look awful sharp, but you don’t look like you wanna hurt me. Do you?” David reached out a hand to try to encourage the monster koala to climb down.
There seemed to be an eternal pause while the monster stared at David. It refused to move.

David placed the shovel back on the ground at his feet. “See, I’m not gonna hurt you. It’s ok to come down.” He held his breath and glanced at the shovel to make sure he could grab it if he needed to.

The drop-bear didn’t drop on David’s head, instead it simply climbed down the trunk of the gum tree and stood to stare at David.
“Can I have my torch back?” David asked as he tried to reach for the torch. The drop-bear shook its head and held the torch high and tight away from David.

“Are you afraid of the dark? Is that it?” David crouched and tried to reach for the bears paw. It nodded and cradled the torch close to its chest.“Would you like to come and sit by our fire where there’s more light?” David continued to hold out his hand and took another deep breath. The creature blinked but refused to move. “You don’t want to hurt me,” David crossed his fingers behind his back. “And I promise not to hurt you. We’re all afraid of the dark sometimes, in fact I admit I don’t like it much myself. That’s why it’s good to have family and friends to keep you company.” David gave the monster a hesitant smile. He hoped the creature felt safe to join him. Again it didn’t answer, or move.

“Ok then. “ David stretched and slowly turned away. “Tell you what, I’m going to walk back to camp now. If you like you can follow.” David took a few cautious steps forward.

He smiled as the torchlight began to follow all the way back behind him.

When David made it back to the campfire he sat on the log without a word. A little monster sat beside him and snuggled close.

Brian and Simon’s jaws both dropped. They jumped up and moved to the other side of the fire.

“Who’s afraid of drop-bears now? Have you got your jar of vegemite?” David laughed. “He’s just a bit scared of the dark that’s all.” David reached for the stick he had used earlier and placed two marshmallows on the end of it. Happy to have made friends with a creature just as scared of the dark as himself he leaned forward to point the stick into the fire until they were both toasted nicely. He smiled at the drop bear beside him and handed him a toasted marshmallow.

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Posted in Children's Books, Short Stories

Gingerbread Aliens

Entice your young readers with a glimpse into intrigue, fun and hilarious moments when three mischievous brothers discover the snow balling effects of their mistakes rather than facing the consequences of their initial disaster! A great read for ages 4-10 and beyond. Gingerbread Aliens is full of fun, laughter and entertainment that will have children and their parents giggling all the way to the end,

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