I met a camel the other day! Honestly I did. And guess where I found it?
If you believed the picture above you'd think that it was up in the Pilbara. But up there all we saw were some lizards, the occasional Kangaroo, some fabulous birdlife but not a single hair of a camel did we see!
No, I found the camel in the carpark of a local Growers Market in Claremont in downtown Perth, WA. I even had my first taste of camel's milk in the shop too. And no, it wasn't Yuk! In fact I thought it to be quite pleasant. If it didn't cost half so much (I'm sure it will come down in price once the general public get used to the idea) I'd be quite happy to use it on my cornflakes because it tasted like, well ...er .. milk!!
The photo above was created by yours truly after having some fun on my iPad with SketchBookX. The background is from the Pilbarra, and yes, it is an amazing place.
Why did I do that?
Well, It's good not to take things as you see them. In life extraordinary things can happen in ordinary places. People who look "ordinary" can often live extraordinary lives. As a writer for children and young adults, I want them to discover the amazing in everyday things, and learn that everything that glitters is definitely not gold.
Reading introduces you to a world of the mind-bendingly beautiful world of reality and of the imagination.
In the meantime ....
Mr Dickens has traveled from the East coast of Australia to the North West. Currently he is meandering around Perth before heading off overseas to England and Switzerland. And when we get back he's off to visit schools and libraries in Brighton, Victoria.
Around Christmas should see the first appearance of The Renaissance Brothers, but more of that in later Journal entries.
(Below are the two REAL photos which I used to create my montage)
I've been working as a relief Family Doctor in the amazing Pilbara district of NW Australia! This is one of those parts of the world where the truly ancient meets the ultra-modern. In this burnt, ocre red and spinifex green landscape, the Aboriginal Australians have been living and thriving for over 30,000 years. They have literally left an indelible record of their culture in the Petroglyphs which indigenous artists have scratched into the rocks that dot the spectacular gorges around the area.
But this place is also mineral rich. Since the discovery of vast iron ore deposits, 21st century technology has arrived to co-exist with our first born Australians. Alongside the enormous ports which export the crushed ore deposits are the vast processessing facilities needed to liquefy the deep water natural gas and load it onto gargantuan sea born container ships for sale to customers around the world.
Everything about this country is HUGE!
Growing up alongside these mega-industries, the City of Karratha and surrounding towns of Dampier, Wickham and Roeburn, have survived the highs and lows of the mining industry and are currently thriving! This is a young area with young families, which brings with it young people's challenges too.
It's been my privilege to share in the care of the people of Karratha and meet some of the fantastic young folk who are bringing this area to life.
I brought Mr Dickens with me and have given out free copies to any grade 5 to 8 child who has indicated that they enjoy a good read! It's given me great joy and by the look in their faces, it's made them pretty happy too.
Today I met with the lovely Joyce Williams who is the Senior Librarian for the Karratha district, and we talked about Mr Dickens and how it might be possible to meet with some young readers on my next trip to this glorious part of the world. The Karratha library is well stocked and well used. Soon it will be moving to the soon-to-be-finished Red Earth Arts Precinct in the middle of the city - a spectacular building which seems to be growing out of the red dirt that it sits upon.
I'm really looking forward to my next visit, when hopefully I'll find Mr Dickens amongst the books on the shelves of the new library.
During the week I've been getting to know the local libraries. These buildings are a source of wonder and delight, and are repositories of a billion dreams and ideas. Libraries lead you into a different world.
Yet just as our world is full of wonder, it can be dark and scary place too. That's one of the reason I took Mr Dickens along with me! He's the perfect companion for children in grades 5 to 8 who want some mystery, some fun and some adventure in their lives - without even leaving home!
Robyn Valli, librarian at the Catholic Education Library of WA - has been incredibly helpful in suggesting various options open to we authors, and that's why Mr Dickens is now winging his way to the National Library of Australia as well as the State Library of Western Australia.
Robyn has also been the motivator for me to develop teaching notes for School Literacy Curricula which allows school children around the country to have access to Mr Dickens. (It's also the reason for the footer below - Creative Commons allows schools to use the book for non commercial purposes.)
And then there's the Readers Theatre Script idea which I'll tell you about later.....
I hope you'll be as excited as I am. Reading is about sharing stories, and sharing a bit of ourselves too.
Inside all of us there is light and shadow, happiness and hurt, doubt and certainty. As someone said way back in the mists of time, "Life wasn't meant to be easy," - but heck, that doesn't stop life being beautiful too!
Mr Dickens by Duncan Jefferson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Now available through all Bookstores
One of my readers sent me this image just before takeoff on his way to Hawaii! I can't think of better way to while away the hours on a long flight than with a certain Mr Dickens! You should try it ;)
We've just arrived back in Perth after six weeks in Sydney where I've been working in a Medical Centre in the suburb of Mosman (they're great people there and a delight to work with). It's always a joy to me when asking young folk what they like best at school and they say things like - music, maths, art, languages, sport - but the biggest thrill is when they say READING. I tell them that it's a gift for life and one that will open their eyes to an unbelievable world both inside, and outside of their heads. Several children who said they loved reading left the Clinic happily clutching a copy of my book Mr Dickens - one even checked the inside cover just to make sure I really was the author!
Whilst in Sydney I also had the chance to catch up with an old friend Fr Richard Leonard SJ. He's a very gifted man who has been so kind to our family over the years. He also happens to be a very gifted author and a great raconteur too.
In Perth I have a couple of libraries to visit this week before we head up to the North West of Australia to a mining town called Karratha. The NW is the total opposite of the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Instead of tightly packed humanity, it's rugged red rocks, dotted with green scrub bushes as far as the eye can see. It's totally isolated and yet it's also the hub of vast petrochemical plants which are so vital to the export industry of this great country. There's a strange juxtaposition between the ancient Petroglyphs scratched into the rocks on one side of the Burrup peninsular, and the vast industrial complexes on the other. I'm really looking forward to seeing it all again and soaking it up.
Whilst there, I will meet with the local Librarian and hopefully more children who love to read. So stay with me and enjoy the ongoing saga of Mr Dickens - there's a rumour that he might even be visiting Europe in the not too distant future. If you'd like me to drop in whilst I'm traveling, just send me an email to check that I'll be going through your neck of the woods. As Mr Barkis was oft to say in Great Expectations: I'm willin'
What readers have said about Mr Dickens
"Reading this little masterpiece was like a reunion with old friends from my long-gone youth when I first discovered Charles Dickens´ world. I read it with great pleasure, admiring the creative concept, the style and the beautifully painted scenes. Thanks for the magical ride!" Carla I Dickens (Sydney)
"Just finished the book and I loved it!! I feel I now need to go read the Charles Dickens books mentioned. There are a lot of everyday truths spread throughout the book. And Davy dipping in and out of the his 'real' world, I wanted that part to never end. Looking forward to the next book! " Nicole - Sydney
"I read Rosso and loved it and want to read the sequels. I am excitedly anticipating Mr Dickens. This man has more than a lot to offer, and I want more." Ean - Perth
And that's only in the first week!
Mr Dickens is a book about yesterday, for today and which you'll be telling your friends and children about tomorrow and for months to come! Be one of two people yet to claim a free copy by emailing me at my contact address above.