Feeling Anxious? I was!

Coronavirus seems to have turned everything upside down. Having lived in Singapore and self-isolated with a Toddler in 2003 when SARS was around, in January 2020 when I heard about the new virus in China I began to feel uneasy…

But even, after living in Singapore for 15 years and appreciating the way they took temperature screenings etc., so seriously, it still is difficult to comprehend how suddenly we have come to be in a lock-down in the UK, there’s no testing unless you’re hospitalised and after Singapore it really doesn’t feel enough.

I must admit after seeing crazy teenagers still congregating (parents what are you thinking)? Even older people were still quite blasé about it all. I just don’t understand whom the messages were targeted at — is it only the middle-aged that get it?

To be honest, the last few weeks I haven’t been sleeping well, feeling that social media sensationalises the news and yet I have to keep reading and staying up to date with what is sadly going on around the world. I feel compelled to be glued to my phone. I guess this is a symptom of anxiety?

I was reminded this evening that ‘Don’t Worry, Spratly!’ might be useful for children who will struggle with making sense of our current situation.  To be honest, it’s hard enough for adults to comprehend.

Maybe making a worry fish can be helpful to cope with those feelings and be used as a calming strategy? In times of stress, it’s so lovely to embrace the arts.  It gives us time to process and just ‘be’ in that present time.

Will we all come out, the other side, the same people? I’m hoping that with communities pulling together, young supporting old, etc., we will be able to focus on the most important things in life; good health, important friendships and relationships, really appreciating and protecting nature, trust and love.  But for now, just breathe… and make a worry fish.

Stay safe. H x

How to make a frame for a Worry Fish. you will need 2 pipe cleaners… 

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How to weave a Worry Fish, and a piece of ribbon.

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Creating a Spratly Library

The journey of Spratly so far has been so much more than just writing, illustrating, publishing or marketing a picture book.

I have learnt so much along the way, both about myself and others. Children have told me their fears, anxieties but also what gives them joy and hope. Teachers often tell me that Spratly resonates well with their classes and have shared displays and how they have used Spratly in class.

My main objective and focus for the book was to primarily support emotional intelligence and validate children’s feelings.  However, I feel truly blessed and very proud that Spratly has helped other children in need in Sri Lanka.

Through Captain Elmo and his wonderful CandleAid project, Spratly has supported more than 20 impoverished children learning to swim and most recently a Spratly library has been opened in a remote village in Sri Lanka.  These children don’t know who I am and most certainly don’t need to but it is a great joy that they too can benefit from looking and learning from a book.  Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Spratly as your actions have contributed to a library being created.

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Your library will have made a difference to everyone in the village of Galwaduwagama.

Thank you for your continued support, it means such a lot to me.

To find out how you can help further, please visit www.candleaid.org

 

Spratly is on the Little Red Dot Awards!

Well, it’s been an exciting few weeks for Spratly…

Book readings galore, starting with AFCC (Asian Festival for Children’s content) and thanks to Denise Tan from Closetful of Books I went speed-dating meeting lots of local librarians.

In the last few weeks I have read and held Art workshops with Swallows and Amazons Kindergarten in Singapore and Marlborough College, Pre-prep in Malaysia.

It’s certainly has been a busy few weeks making worry fish weaving frames and preparing materials.  Sales are brisk and this is the ideal time for Spratly as people are preparing to move.

This week I received a lovely thank you letter from Kensington Palace, even Prince George can now enjoy Don’t Worry, Spratly! as he moves from Nursery to big school.

I was also thrilled to find out that Spratly has made it onto the Little Red Dot awards.

Link to Little Red Dot Awards 2017-2018

This is just as well as I’m just about to have another 1,500 books delivered on Monday!

 

 

Expressing emotions with Spratly!

In recent months I have been working with some younger children and so have been using Spratly in a different way.  We have discussed feelings and emotions and then designed our own fish using colour.

Abstract art is difficult to make especially with young children but typically abstract art uses colour, form, lines and shape to express an emotion or feeling or subject.

Firstly, we talk about feelings that may be evoked by the story, we link that to our own experiences. The children choose a colour to represent a feeling and then design their own fish.  The fish made are unique and the children use mixed media to decorate their fish. We then use an iPad and an app  (introduced by Cathy Hunt @ ipadartroom) called Mega Photo to create an abstract photo using the kaleidoscopic lens.  The abstract images formed are amazing and really inspire the children.Abstract.jpg

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Venturing into Hong Kong…

Last month was a busy month for Spratly.  Together with the amazing SCBWI crowd we worked together to attend a few Christmas markets.

I was also interviewed by Expat Parent in Hong Kong and arranged for the sale of my books there through Bookwise. www.bookwise.com.hk

Slowly Spratly is spreading worldwide…

 

 

 

In the name of marketing!

SCBWI The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators run a Book Blast every year for newly published books.  I subscribed this year in the hope of spreading Spratly’s name further.

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However, what I didn’t expect was to gather such lovely reviews in my guestbook.

Thank you so much to everyone who added their thoughts.

Please see my post titled ‘Over twenty reviews on my book blast…’

I have also entered a competition and have come to realise that all self-published books must be in the same position? How can we publicise our books?

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Together, some friends and I from SCBWI are going to be attending some school fairs in the next few weeks.  Let’s see if we can sell a few more books…

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What we need is someone to start a company that seriously promotes self-published or Indie work…

Suggestions on a postcard to….

 

 

Reviews for Don’t Worry, Spratly!

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Maria Porter said on November 13, 2016:

  • I love this book and so did my class. It was a perfect book to start the new term.

FS Class said on November 4, 2016:


  • Wow! We loved this book. As a class, we enjoyed the rhyme and rhythm. It gave us an opportunity to discuss our worries about starting school and our class rules and expectations. We made our own unique worry fish and our displays of our very own ‘school of fish’ emphasised the fact that ‘we may all be different but in our school we all swim together.’ Thank you for inspiring amazing lesson plans.

Regan W. H. Macaulay said on November 4, 2016:


  • This book looks adorable! And I love a book about overcoming fears and anxieties – especially important these days.

Amita said on November 4, 2016:


  • I loved the book as did both my daughters. Beautifully written and illustrated. Thoughtfully incorporating the concerns children face and how they can be dealt with. Thank you for sharing your thoughts:-)

Benjamin Farr said on November 4, 2016:


  • ‘Don’t Worry Spratly’ is an enchanting story written and illustrated by Helen Sampson. With gorgeous illustrations and lyrical prose, Spratly takes the reader on a journey that enlivens, encourages and empowers children who are experiencing change and transition in their lives. This is an exceptional book that should be seen as an essential addition to any school, home or community library.

Anne said on November 3, 2016:


  • Fantastic book – my nieces love it! Well done Helen

Nuj said on November 3, 2016:


  • A beautifully illustrated book with well thought-out words. We love the encouraging messages    to help soothe the little ones over their worries. A great book indeed!

Carmen said on November 3, 2016:


  • Our family is moving home after 17 years living overseas. This book has helped me to ease my 10-year-old daughter’s anxiety about her new school and her new challenge to make new friends. Thank you, Helen, for such a beautiful book.

Sean N said on November 3, 2016:


  • I am writing this from the perspective of a 13-year-old. This book not only brought back nostalgia from my various moves up the school, it also made me wish I could’ve read it beforehand. It really captures typical fears of children particularly with their move from Infants to Juniors. These fears are all addressed in this encapsulating book – the connection I had immediately whilst reading this will reflect many anxious children who ‘feel a sense of doom, ‘I don’t want new classmates, I don’t want a new room!’. “Don’t Worry, Spratly” undoubtedly has a place in every child’s and school’s bookshelf. Maybe later, like me, they may read through it and swim back into their earlier years!

Maryanne said on November 2, 2016:


  • A delightful, charming and beautifully written and illustrated children’s book which will definitely help any child overcome any worries they may have in moving schools, moving up to “big” school or concerns in general. The activities at the end, especially making your own worry fish, are just an extra bonus! A definite must for all school libraries and also at home. Thanks, Spratly and Helen.

Sakina Sanaa said on November 2, 2016:


  • It’s a great book for both children and adults , beautiful illustrations and a lovely message for children and families with little ones going through change . Loved it ! 🙂

TravellingNessy said on November 2, 2016:


  • I have seen this book develop from start to finish. Nothing gives me         more pleasure than to share this book with children of friends or children at school. Helen worked really hard at making this perfect and it truly is. A beautiful story with excellent graphics and colours. A book that I’d love to see in all schools globally. No more worries ! Xx

Karen said on November 2, 2016:


  • The year 3 classes in my international school loved this book! It opened up many different discussion points and we had lots of fun making a worry fish to help with our anxieties as we moved up to Key Stage 2.

Adrene Nelson said on November 2, 2016:


  • This book is multi-dimensional – it has a great story, addresses a real issue, is entertaining and memorable through catching rhyme and vibrant colour and illustrations, is educational and also a great resource for both teachers and parents. The craft section also offers the child a tangible reminder of the message in the book. Kudos to Helen for such a well-thought out and beautifully executed book. It is Swimmingly Superb!

Angela Lock said on November 2, 2016:


  • My year 2 class adored this book. They thought the pictures used happy colours and it helped them feel less anxious about going into year 3. I highly recommend this original, thoughtful and beautifully illustrated book. Congratulations!

Fred Power said on November 2, 2016:


  • ‘Don’t worry Spratly’ is a great book , both visually beautiful and   carefully written. I would highly recommend it for families who are relocating and have young children. This book could help with making the transition and demystifying the feelings involved with such changes. Making the worry fish is also a great way to have a one to one chat with the child over their feelings about the change to come while sharing this activity.

Gill Burke said on November 2, 2016:


  • A wonderful book, beautifully written and illustrated, well done!

Julia Bell said on November 2, 2016:


  • Love the story, great reassuring message, and the illustrations are fantastic too! Julia Bell

Victoria said on October 18, 2016:


  • As a teacher, I have loved sharing this book with my class. We had lots of thoughtful discussions and created wonderful displays. The children explored the story and made their own Spratly fish. As a parent, it is a wonderful tool to open up opportunities for chats about worries and anxiety. It is a wonderfully told story with beautiful illustrations.

Samantha said on October 18, 2016:


  • A lovely book having many useful, positive messages to help children cope with change. My children thought the eye-catching illustrations and clever rhyming story were brilliant! In addition, the simple linked craft and discussion ideas make it a valuable resource for parents or teachers.

Sarah said on October 12, 2016:


  • Well written and beautiful illustrations. My class of 5-year-olds loved it!

Richard said on October 12, 2016:


  • A lovely story in verse in a colourful book produced especially for young children. Nothing else like it on the shelves. Truly wonderful and written with lots of thought. Congratulations!

Joy Knight said on October 12, 2016:


  • Brilliant book for children and adults. Well done Helen!

Spratly supports CandleAid Lanka

I had the pleasure of meeting Dil and Captain Elmo Jayawardena in early November.

Captain Elmo founded the charity, CandleAid Lanka, its sole aim is to provide a link between someone’s generosity and someone else’s need.

I passed Elmo and Dil a cheque for $500 to support CandleAid’s swim for safety program.  Sadly, this program will be coming to a close soon but there will be new projects for Spratly to support at CandleAid.  Watch this space for more information.

Please find more details about this excellent charity here:  www.candleaid.org

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Visiting the Australian School – November

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I had the privilege of visiting the nine Year 2 classes in the Australian school in November.

The school is ahead with regards to EQ awareness. The children showed utmost respect to each other and the adults in the room.  They asked the most thoughtful questions and were very honest with their thoughts, queries, and explanations.

I learnt so much from the students and I know that they enjoyed making their own worry fish. The very transient nature of life as a Singapore expat means that these students deal with change and transition more regularly than most. I hope they have a great end of year break and come back to Year 3 either at AIS or elsewhere, worry free!

The best question was after I showed the students the printing process –

“Mrs Sampson, do you feel proud of your book?” now there is empathy in it’s best form!