Saturday 27 June 2015

Children in Care

Even though I’ve written dozens of books (more than 120 and counting), it’s always an exciting time when a new book hits the shelves. My latest, due out in July, is a novel for young readers aged 8 to 11 years. Here Comes Trouble! is based on a boy I knew, one of five siblings, whose parents were addicts. The boy's family lived close to where my husband and I lived. He and his brothers and sisters ‘adopted’ us as ‘Nanny’ and ‘Poppy Bill.’ Sometimes the children came to us for food, other times we took them out, gave them gifts for Christmas and birthdays, or we shopped for groceries for the family. Sometimes we lent money to their parents.

It always upset me that their mother frequently kept them home from school. I talked to their school and became aware that the family had a caseworker, that the authorities were aware of their situation. I worried a lot about the domestic violence in the home and other adult abuses the children suffered, so it came as a relief to me when I discovered that all five had been taken from their parents and put into care. 
Months later I ran into them and was amazed by the differences in them – happy, smiling and clean children who seemed much calmer. Yes, their carer told me, they were attending school every day and coming on in leaps and bounds in their learning and socialising.

Here Comes Trouble! is a fictional story but with a background of five siblings taken into care. The oldest boy struggles to fit into his home and his school life. Friendless, he accepts the company of an older boy who leads him into trouble with the police. Happily, there is an older couple which helps him and his siblings when their parents fail them. As with the children I was ‘Nanny’ to, they are taken into care where they live happily, all the while wanting the return of their parents.

Recently, I’ve heard of several academics who are researching Australian written books for young readers that feature foster children. Both academics have been surprised to see how few there are -- even though thousands of children in our country are taken into care every year. 

As a foster mother, I too looked for books to read to children we cared for: at the time all I could find that fitted the bill were books by American authors -- The Pinballs by Betsy Byars and Ruby Holler, Sharon Creech. 
Here Comes Trouble! is my third book about foster children: the others are Nobody’s Boy and A Game of Keeps (both Celapene Press books). 

Here Comes Trouble! is published by Dragon Tales Publishing RRP $14.95.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Harry Helps Grandpa Remember

In her most recent book Australian author Karen Tyrell tells about the special love between a little boy and his grandpa who was Alzheimer’s. Harry will do anything to help his grandpa remember. Karen says, ‘this is a heart-warming story, full of humour and hope.’ 

Harry Helps Grandpa Remember is now on Amazon world-wide as a print Book and as an eBook. ISBN: 9780987274083

Here is a review that appeared recently in the Buzz Words blog

Harry Helps Grandpa Remember written by Karen Tyrrell, illustrated by Aaron Pocock (Digital Future Press)
PB RRP $15.95
ISBN 978-0-98727-408-3 
Reviewed by Peta Biggin

Harry and Grandpa love to play hide-and-seek together.  However, Harry starts to notice changes in Grandpa.  He’s become grumpy, confused and forgetful – even forgetting Harry’s name.  Harry is hurt and sad but decides that he will do whatever he can to help Grandpa remember the things he’s forgotten.

Harry Helps Grandpa Remember is an uplifting story about the important, supportive role family can play in the lives of those suffering from Dementia. Harry is hurt and distressed at the decline of his grandpa, feeling the loss of a friend and playmate.  However, rather than withdraw from the relationship, Harry comes up with lots of wonderful ways he can both reconnect with his grandpa and help him to reclaim his lost memories.

Harry Helps Grandpa Remember tackles a confronting topic in a positive and encouraging way.  The focus is always on what can be gained and enjoyed from such a difficult situation; activities that can easily be undertaken by most children to ensure a continued participation in their relative’s life. 

It is the little things that we sometimes take for granted – a walk through familiar surroundings, a song – that are presented here as the important tasks anyone can enjoy with a relative suffering from Dementia.  In doing these, we see Harry not only bring something back to his grandpa but also take the first steps in adjusting to what will be a constantly changing relationship. This is a very hopeful book, however there is no unrealistic happily-ever-after on offer.  Grandpa does not recover; however, his recollection of Harry’s name is celebrated as the blessing it is.

Aaron Pocock’s illustrations are fun and energetic.  With lots of colour and detail, they are a beautiful accompaniment – reflecting the optimism and positivism of the story. Karen Tyrrell is an Australian author of both adult and children’s books.  Her books for adults include Me and Her: A Memoir of Madness and Me and Him: A Guide to Recovery about her own battles with mental illness.  Her children’s books include Bailey Beats the Blah (a coping skills picture book) and STOP the Bully (a bully prevention mid-grade novel).  She can be found online at

Aaron Pocock is an English artist/illustrator who is based in Brisbane.  He illustrates children’s books, book cover, CD sleeves and almost anything else.  He also works in a find art capacity producing watercolour, acrylic and oil paintings.  In 2011 he was chosen to illustrate the Australia Post stamp set ‘Mythical Creatures’ (for Children’s Book Week).  He can be found online at

To celebrate, Harry will be visiting these author sites:
22 June: Harry Helps Grandpa Remember  Now on AMAZON   

23 June: Ali Stegert Interview
25 June: Robyn Opie Interview
25 June: Jackie Hosking Review
26 June: Charmaine Clancy Author Platform
29 June: Sally Odgers interview
30 June: Jill Smith Review
30 June: June Perkins Interview
1 July Dimity Powell Review
Please leave a comment on any of the sites above for a chance to win an eCopy of Harry Helps Grandpa Remember. There are five copies to be won with the winner announced 3 July. Good luck