Week 3: There's more than a hippopotamus on our roof!
Hazel Edwards is our featured ambassador for week three. She is the author of the well known children's book series 'There's a hippopotamus on our roof eating cake.' While Hazel has a special interest in children's literature, she has many other strings to her bow.
Hazel has written many children's books, but also writes material for readers of all ages and has published over 200 books across a range of subjects and genres. In addition to her children's picture and chapter books, Hazel has co-written a young adult novel 'f2m' about gender transition, and collaborated with experts in a range of fields to publish a number of adult non-fiction titles, including 'Difficult personalities'. Researching and writing interesting family histories is another area of interest for Hazel. She holds webinars, mentors aspiring writers and is a director on the Australian Society of Authors' committee.
Why did Hazel become an ambassador?
Hazel was one of the first ambassadors to join the National Year of Reading initiative, and is an incredibly enthusiastic supporter. This is what she has to say about being an ambassador - "I'm a National Year of Reading ambassador because, as an author, I'm aware of how important appropriate words can be in understanding others' viewpoints, regardless of their culture or age. That's why I'm keen on books being translated or available in multi-media including Braille and Auslan for deaf children. Encouraging bi-lingual families to read with their children and for grandparents to share stories is mutually beneficial."
In the following video Hazel shares her thoughts about the importance of reading.
Hazel's reading habits
- My earliest memory is... ...reading under the bedclothes with a torch. I liked mysteries and biographies about writers and spies. I also liked maths because it has a pattern, like plotting a novel. The answer is there, you just have to find it.
- My happiest moment was... ...when the cake-eating hippo book was performed as a puppet play.
- When I was a child I wanted to... ...be an author.
- Some of the books I like are... ...biographies and well plotted mysteries.
- What I don't find amusing is... ...graffiti; it's a waste of words.
- My favourite gadget is... ...my website because it saves me time and I only have to write things once.
- If I could spend a day in the life of a character from a piece of fiction, I would be... Kyle from 'Antarctica's frozen chosen' or the sequel 'Outback ferals' because I'm not actually a 21 year old bloke.
- The accomplishment that has meant the most to me is... ...co-Writing 'Cycling solo Ireland to Istanbul' with my son from his ex-blog.
- My most prized possession is... ...my imagination.
On the importance of reading to children, Hazel says...
I've travelled in countries where, at first, I didn't speak or read the local language and even navigating with the map was a challenge. Those more experienced helped me learn. That's why schools and families are vital in helping young people love the challenge of cracking the numeracy and literacy codes.
Hazel shared many of these reading habits and thoughts in a recent interview with Paper Tiger.
Hazelâ€™s favourite reads
- I'm in my history 'heroes' phase, since I've recently researched 'Sir Edward Weary Dunlop' and 'Fred Hollows' for the Aussie Heroes junior series.
I like to recommend books which can be read by whole families.
Susanna de Vries books about historic Australian women. I've enjoyed their approachable style, although I'm embarrassed that I hadn't heard of some of these extraordinary, 'ordinary' women before.'Blue ribbons and bitter bread' (Joice Nankivell Loch helped refugees), 'Desert queen: the many lives and loves of Daisy Bates' (she was a con woman!) and Georgiana McCrae, the artist/pioneer. Plus pioneer women who did it tough AND female doctors, nurses, drivers, activists, volunteers during wartime and a few artists too. Some are anthologies, like 'Trailblazers' or 'Heroic Australian Women' so you can dip into them.
- 'The Star' by Felicity Marshall, is a superbly illustrated picture book 'fable' for tweens and teens interested in 'celebs' and presents fame in a way a family can discuss. This work is worth revisiting for the detailed artwork.
Hazel has written two literacy performance scripts to encourage communities to perform an event incorporating people of all ages. Usually there's a $5 fee, but they are free for community groups wishing to perform them as part of their National Year of Reading activities.
'An 'L' of a difference' is a story about adult literacy that can be used to highlight the challenges of adult literacy and also act as a discussion starter.
'The parts of speech TV show' is set as a game show with various parts of speech competing for the title of most important part of speech.
Take a look at Hazel's website to find out more about these scripts.
For a review of this script, take a look at the Bug in a Book website.
Hazel runs workshops for genealogists based on her book 'Writing a non-boring family history'. Her aim is to help people craft interesting stories about their ancestry.
More information about Hazel's family history workshops and book can be found on her website.
Hazel is keen to foster the talent of new writers and provides a set of resources for aspiring writers on her website. Hazel's has three hints for aspiring writers: "Write regularly; persist; and always consider your reader - who are you writing for?"
Reading by Hazel
Watch this clip of Hazel as she reads 'There is a hippopotamus on our roof eating cake'.