The author of “I’m a Dirty Dinosaur” has published over 90 books in her 30 years of writing. I joined her on Wednesday morning to see what she did with 3 classes of young children.
She showed us a typed sheet which was the first story she wrote when she was a child. It was about her holiday and was so old it was done on a typewriter instead of a computer. When she gets an idea for a story, she writes it down in an exercise book which she also showed.
She told us how she found a tiny toy monkey under a house in New Zealand, and got the audience to help turn it into a story. They then made up their own monkey story and told their neighbour.
The dinosaur hokey pokey, warmed everyone up for her reading of “I’m a Dirty Dinosaur” complete with actions from me dressed as the beasty. That was so good, she had to do it again, with all the children doing the actions too.
Ann James used real swamp mud to illustrate the book – we saw her painting with it on video. Then Janeen offered her storytelling bag to a boy who pulled out a shark, so she read a poem about a shark from her book “Silly Squid.”
Janeen’s books include picture books, poetry, short fiction, novels and non-fiction. Many books have been translated and won awards, including CBCA Honour Awards for Where does Thursday go?, Hoosh! Camels in Australia and Pilawuk- When I was Young. She has poems in 16 anthologies and also over 200 poems, stories, articles and plays in national and international children’s magazines. I continue to write stories and poems of my own, but sometimes also for publishers who commission me to write something specific. After approximately twenty years of teaching, and sometimes acting, she became a fulltime writer. She lives in Glenelg, in South Australia, near the sea, with her husband and their two daughters and their families live close by.