Tag Archives: The Butterfly Heart

CBI Eilis Dillon Award 2012

Absolutely thrilled to have won the Eilis Dillon award for a First Children’s Book at the CBI Book Awards .  Just to say I am delighted. A great honour for the Butterfly Heart, for me and, I think, for Zambia.

Here is a pic of the certificate and the lovely trophy (which one of my daughters reckons would make a good weapon….?) Mega thanks to everyone – especially my extended family!

Trophy and beautiful window (not legible I know)

Slightly more legible picture

Seomra Ranga – Classroom

I was searching on the web the other day for sites that offer support and resources to Primary School teachers. I was doing this as I wanted to find a suitable home for the brilliant teaching guide that Orla Mackey of St. John’s School, Kilkenny had developed with her Fifth Class when they were reading The Butterfly Heart.

One of the first sites I came across was Seomra Ranga which means classroom in Irish. It is a site set up by Damien Quinn, a Primary School teacher in a rural school in Sligo and he set it up, as he says himself, ‘to share practical resources for the primary school classroom on the web.’  These are mainly resources he has developed and used in the classroom himself, with the addition of resources submitted by other Primary School teachers. It is a fantastic site and when I emailed Damien to ask whether he would be interested in seeing this Teaching Guide he came back immediately and said he would. The upshot of all of this is that the Teaching Guide is now available for download on Seomra Ranga here and this week they are also running a competition with five of the books to give away.

Seomra Ranga for me illustrates the positive power of the web – here is one individual, a committed teacher, who has set up a website, a twitter and a facebook page and through this other teachers are able to share resources in a way that can only enhance the experience of the children in the schools. Just brilliant.

Ms. Mackey and some of her students

So, where are you from?

A normal part of being human is being from somewhere, and it’s an easy way for all of us to learn a little bit, quickly, about a person we meet. It might appear to be an easy question – but it’s not so for everyone. For me, it’s a question that does not have a one word answer. I was born in Kenya, grew up in Zambia, spent many years in South Africa and now live in Kilkenny, Ireland.

To be ‘from’ Kilkenny your family have to have lived here for a minimum of 150 years … last week I heard someone say, ‘Well, sure, that family only arrived here in the late 1800’s, they’re only runners,’ so I am quite sure my eight years here do not qualify me ! Having said that I feel very at home here and have been welcomed without hesitation by people in the city. My parents live in North Wales now, having moved there from Africa in the nineties, but my dad also lived in Burma and India as a child, and my ancestors came from England, Burma, Holland, Scotland and Ireland. So, a mixed bag. My answer to ‘where are you from?’ would probably be – ‘Well, different places really, but from here at the moment.’

I feel privileged to have lived in different places and from each of them I have learned different things. I sometimes think it must be satisfying to have a complete sense of where you are from, a national identity, a confidence to say, ‘I am Irish’ or ‘I am Zambian’ but never having had that it is not something I miss.