It’s the most wonderful Book Week time of the year

This week is offi­cially Book Week at schools and libraries across Aus­tralia. And Book Week means author vis­its — which are just as much fun for the author as they are for the kids.

Today I was out at St Fran­cis of Assisi Pri­mary School in Mill Park all day doing ses­sions with groups of grade 6 stu­dents. We were in a small hall as their new library (as seen below) is halfway to com­ple­tion. The stu­dents were all really enthu­si­as­tic and cre­ative — which was espe­cially good for the part of the ses­sion where we all write a story together. I’ll be blog­ging the short sto­ries we came up with soon.

And since it’s Book Week I asked the kids of St Fran­cis of Assisi Pri­mary School to each bring in their favourite book to show and tell me why they like it so much. Book club style! Here are just some of books that were brought in, along with the rea­sons for their favourtism.

Matilda by Roald Dahl
Because Matilda does what she wants.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kin­ney
Because it relates to a kid who doesn’t want to be at school and just wants to have fun.

Alice in Won­der­land by Lewis Car­roll
Because it has funny char­ac­ters and weird words like ‘Jabberwocky’.

Go Girl! Danc­ing Queen by Thalia Kalkip­sakis
Because I like dancing.

It’s OK I’m Wear­ing Really Big Knick­ers by Louise Ren­ni­son
Because of how she wants a boyfriend and how she relates to herself.

Specky Macgee by Felice Arena and Garry Lyon
Because he plays footy and it’s excit­ing and sporty.

Par­vana by Deb­o­rah Ellis
Because it shows how other peo­ple live in Afghanistan and the Mid­dle East.

Harry Pot­ter and the Deathly Hal­lows by J.K. Rowl­ing
Because it’s all revealed.

Scor­pia: Alex Rider #5 by Anthony Hor­rowitz
Because he finds out all about his life of spy­ing and mysteries.

Halo: Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund
Because it’s sci-fi and it’s got action.

The Guin­ness Book of World Records
Because I like see­ing peo­ple who have chal­lenged themselves.

Skul­dug­gery Pleas­ant: Dark Days by Derek Landy
Because it has lots of action and mystery.

Hat­ing Ali­son Ash­ley by Robin Klein
Because it has funny jokes and it’s soppy.

The Sim­ple Gift by Steven Her­rick
Because of the mys­tery, char­ac­ters and set­tings includ­ing train car­riages, lakes and McDonalds.

New Moon by Stephe­nie Meyer
Because Bella has to choose between two guys.

Angus, Thongs and Per­fect Snog­ging by Louise Ren­ni­son
Because it’s a funny book about a girl who wants a per­fect life.

Dear Dumb Diary by Jim Ben­ton
Because it’s about a girl who has bad luck.

Eldest by Christo­pher Paolin
Because it’s a good book about drag­ons and battles.

Sadako and the Thou­sand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
Because it’s a true story.

Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda
Because it has adven­ture and a weird hero.

Chi­nese Cin­darella by Ade­line Yen Mah
Because it’s a true story.

Cap­tain Under­pants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman by Dav Pilkey
Because it has a weird superhero.

Specky Macgee and the Bat­tle of the Young Guns by Felice Arena and Garry Lyon
Because I like footy and it’s fun reading.

Drowned Wednes­day: The Keys to the King­dom #3 by Garth Nix
Because it has inter­est­ing char­ac­ters like giant talk­ing rats.

The Dead of the Night by John Mars­den
Because it’s all action, cap­ti­vat­ing and sucks you in.

Ghost­girl by Tonya Hur­ley
Because she tries to be pop­u­lar but she dies.

Harry Pot­ter and the Philospher’s Stone by J.K. Rowl­ing
Because it’s Harry Potter!!!

The Fall: Sev­enth Tower #1 by Garth Nix
Because it’s set in a dif­fer­ent world that no one’s ever heard of before.

My guide to watching Buffy and Angel post-TV

This week the fab­u­lous, genius-man Joss Whe­don is com­ing to Mel­bourne. He’s appear­ing at the open­ing night of the Mel­bourne Writ­ers’ Fes­ti­val and Gwhedeeks (think Gleeks, but Whedon-Geeks) like me are very excited. Despite vis­it­ing Mel­bourne a few times, Joss has never par­taken in a pub­lic event like he’ll be doing this Fri­day evening. Con­se­quently, the event sold out very soon after tick­ets went on sale and come Fri­day the Mel­bourne Town Hall will be full of thou­sands of Gwhedeeks.

There will be plenty of Whe­don projects to talk about on the night includ­ing Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog, Fire­fly, Doll­house, The Avengers, the Whedon-directed episode of Glee and, of course, Buffy the slayer of the vampyres.

Speak­ing of which, it’s been a long time Buffy first aired. And the spin-off show Angel with its many com­ple­men­tary sto­ry­lines and cross-over episodes, really needs to be watched in har­mony with Buffy for the full Buffy­verse effect. Unlike giv­ing some­one five sea­sons of The Wire and say­ing ‘Watch this from start to fin­ish,’ watch­ing Buffy/Angel from start to fin­ish isn’t such a straight­for­ward exercise.

And so, I present my com­plete list­ing of Buffy and Angel episodes and the best order in which to view them. Of course, there are many ways you could watch both shows, includ­ing watch­ing the shows one at a time. But this way you get to enjoy the story arcs than span both shows and fol­low char­ac­ters as they crossover between worlds. Plus you get to watch the show pretty much as it aired. The way the cre­ator orig­i­nally intended!

The Com­plete and Most Ful­fill­ing Buffy & Angel Episode Sequence




and then


• Buffy ‘The Fresh­man’ (S04E01)
• Angel ‘City Of…’ (S01E01)
• Buffy ‘Liv­ing Con­di­tions’ (S04E02)
• Angel ‘Lonely Hearts’ (S01E02)
• Buffy ‘The Harsh Light of Day’ (S04E03)
• Angel ‘In The Dark’ (S01E03)
• Buffy ‘Fear Itself’ (S04E04)
• Angel ‘I Fall to Pieces’ (S01E04)
• Buffy ‘Beer Bad’ (S04E05)
• Angel ‘A Room With A View’ (S01E05)
• Buffy ‘Wild at Heart’ (S04E06)
• Angel ‘Sense and Sen­si­tiv­ity’ (S01E06)
• Buffy ‘The Ini­tia­tive’ (S04E07)
• Angel ‘The Bach­e­lor Party’ (S01E07)
• Buffy ‘Pangs’ (S04E08)
• Angel ‘I Will Remem­ber You’ (S01E08)
• Buffy ‘Some­thing Blue’ (S04E09)
• Angel ‘Hero’ (S01E09)
• Buffy ‘Hush’ (S04E10)
• Angel ‘Part­ing Gifts’ (S01E10)
• Buffy ‘Doomed’ (S04E11)
• Angel ‘Som­nam­bu­list’ (S01E11)
• Buffy ‘A New Man’ (S04E12)
• Angel ‘Expect­ing’ (S01E12)
• Buffy ‘The I in Team’ (S04E13)
• Angel ‘She’ (S01E13)
• Buffy ‘Good­bye Iowa’ (S04E14)
• Angel ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ (S01E14)
• Buffy ‘This Year’s Girl’ (S04E15)
• Angel ‘The Prodi­gal’ (S01E15)
• Buffy ‘Who Am I?’ (S04E16)
• Angel ‘The Ring’ (S01E16)
• Buffy ‘Super­star’ (S04E17)
• Angel ‘Eter­nity’ (S01E17)
• Buffy ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ (S04E18)
• Angel ‘Five By Five’ (S01E18)
• Buffy ‘New Moon Ris­ing’ (S04E19)
• Angel ‘Sanc­tu­ary’ (S01E19)
• Buffy ‘The Yoko Fac­tor’ (S04E20)
• Angel ‘War Zone’ (S01E20)
• Buffy ‘Primeval’ (S04E21)
• Angel ‘Blind Date’ (S01E21)
• Buffy ‘Rest­less’ (S04E22)
• Angel ‘To Shan­shu in L.A.’ (S01E22)


• Buffy ‘Buffy Vs Drac­ula’ (S05E01)
• Angel ‘Judg­ment’ (S02E01)
• Buffy ‘Real Me’ (S05E02)
• Angel ‘Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been’ (S02E02)
• Buffy ‘The Replace­ment’ (S05E03)
• Angel ‘First Impres­sions’ (S02E03)
• Buffy ‘Out of My Mind’ (S05E04)
• Angel ‘Untouched’ (S02E04)
• Buffy ‘No Place Like Home’ (S05E05)
• Angel ‘Dear Boy’ (S02E05)
• Buffy ‘Fam­ily’ (S05E06)
• Angel ‘Guise Will Be Guise’ (S02E06)
• Buffy ‘Fool For Love’ (S05E07)
• Angel ‘Darla’ (S02E07)
• Buffy ‘Shadow’ (S05E08)
• Angel ‘The Shroud of Rah­mon’ (S02E08)
• Buffy ‘Lis­ten­ing to Fear’ (S05E09)
• Angel ‘The Trial’ (S02E09)
• Buffy ‘Into the Woods’ (S05E10)
• Angel ‘Reunion’ (S02E10)
• Buffy ‘Tri­an­gle’ (S05E11)
• Angel ‘Rede­f­i­n­i­tion’ (S02E11)
• Buffy ‘Check­point’ (S05E12)
• Angel ‘Blood Money’ (S02E12)
• Buffy ‘Blood Ties’ (S05E13)
• Angel ‘Happy Anniver­sary’ (S02E13)
• Buffy ‘Crush’ (S05E14)
• Angel ‘The Thin Dead Line’ (S02E14)
• Buffy ‘I Was Made To Love You’ (S05E15)
• Angel ‘Reprise’ (S02E15)
• Buffy ‘The Body’ (S05E16)
• Angel ‘Epiphany’ (S02E16)
• Buffy ‘For­ever’ (S05E17)
• Angel ‘Dishar­mony’ (S02E17)
• Buffy ‘Inter­ven­tion’ (S05E18)
• Angel ‘Dead End’ (S02E18)
• Buffy ‘Tough Love’ (S05E19)
• Angel ‘Belong­ing’ (S02E19)
• Buffy ‘Spi­ral’ (S05E20)
• Angel ‘Over the Rain­bow’ (S02E20)
• Buffy ‘The Weight of the World’ (S05E21)
• Angel ‘Through the Look­ing Glass’ (S02E21)
• Buffy ‘The Gift’ (S05E22)
• Angel ‘There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb’ (S02E22)


• Angel ‘Heart­throb’ (S03E01)
• Angel ‘That Vision Thing’ (S03E02)
• Angel ‘That Old Gang of Mine’ (S03E03)
• Buffy ‘Bar­gain­ing Part One’ (S06E01)
• Buffy ‘Bar­gain­ing Part Two’ (S03E02)
• Buffy ‘After Life’ (S06E03)
• Angel ‘Carpe Noctem’ (S03E04)
• Buffy ‘Flooded’ (S06E04)
• Buffy ‘Life Ser­ial’ (S06E05)
• Angel ‘Fred­less’ (S03E05)
• Buffy ‘All The Way’ (S06E06)
• Angel ‘Billy’ (S03E06)
• Buffy ‘Once More With Feel­ing’ (S06E07)
• Angel ‘Off­spring’ (S03E07)
• Buffy ‘Tab­ula Rasa’ (S06E08)
• Angel ‘Quick­en­ing’ (S03E08)
• Buffy ‘Smashed’ (S06E09)
• Angel ‘Lul­laby’ (S03E09)
• Buffy ‘Wrecked’ (S06E10)
• Angel ‘Dad’ (S03E10)
• Buffy ‘Gone’ (S06E11)
• Angel ‘Birth­day’ (S03E11)
• Buffy ‘Dou­ble­meat Palace’ (S06E12)
• Angel ‘Provider’ (S03E12)
• Buffy ‘Dead Things’ (S06E13)
• Angel ‘Wait­ing In the Wings’ (S03E13)
• Buffy ‘Older and Far Away’ (S03E14)
• Angel ‘Cou­plet’ (S03E14)
• Buffy ‘As You Were’ (S06E15)
• Angel ‘Loy­alty’ (S03E15)
• Buffy ‘Hell’s Bells’ (S06E16)
• Angel ‘Sleep Tight’ (S03E16)
• Buffy ‘Nor­mal Again’ (S06E17)
• Angel ‘For­giv­ing’ (S03E17)
• Buffy ‘Entropy’ (S06E18)
• Angel ‘Dou­ble or Noth­ing’ (S03E18)
• Buffy ‘See­ing Red’ (S06E19)
• Angel ‘The Price’ (S03E19)
• Buffy ‘Vil­lains’ (S06E20)
• Angel ‘A New World’ (S03E20)
• Buffy ‘Two To Go’ (S06E21)
• Angel ‘Bene­dic­tion’ (S03E21)
• Buffy ‘Grave’ (S06E22)
• Angel ‘Tomor­row’ (S03E22)


• Buffy ‘Lessons’ (S07E01)
• Buffy ‘Beneath You’ (S07E02)
• Angel ‘Deep Down’ (S04E01)
• Buffy ‘Same Time, Same Place’ (S07E03)
• Angel ‘Ground State’ (S04E02)
• Buffy ‘Help’ (S07E04)
• Angel ‘The House Always Wins’ (S04E03)
• Buffy ‘Self­less’ (S07E05)
• Angel ‘Slouch­ing Toward Beth­le­hem’ (S04E04)
• Buffy ‘Him’ (S07E06)
• Angel ‘Super­sym­me­try’ (S04E05)
• Buffy ‘Con­ver­sa­tions With Dead Peo­ple’ (S07E07)
• Angel ‘Spin the Bot­tle’ (S04E06)
• Buffy ‘Sleeper’ (S07E08)
• Angel ‘Apoc­a­lypse, Now­ish’ (S04E07)
• Buffy ‘Never Leave Me’ (S07E09)
• Angel ‘Habeas Corpses’ (S04E08)
• Buffy ‘Bring On the Night’ (S07E10)
• Angel ‘Long Day’s Jour­ney’ (S04E09)
• Buffy ‘Show­time’ (S07E11)
• Angel ‘Awak­en­ing’ (S04E10)
• Buffy ‘Poten­tial’ (S04E12)
• Angel ‘Sou­less’ (S04E11)
• Buffy ‘The Killer in Me’ (S07E13)
• Angel ‘Cal­vary’ (S04E12)
• Buffy ‘First Date’ (S07E14)
• Buffy ‘Get It Done’ (S07E15)
• Angel ‘Sal­vage’ (S04E13)
• Buffy ‘Sto­ry­teller’ (S07E16)
• Angel ‘Release’ (S04E14)
• Buffy ‘Lies My Par­ents Told Me’ (S07E17)
• Angel ‘Orpheus’ (S04E15)
• Buffy ‘Dirty Girls’ (S07E18)
• Angel ‘Play­ers’ (S04E16)
• Angel ‘Inside Out’ (S04E17)
• Buffy ‘Empty Places’ (S07E19)
• Angel ‘Shiny Happy Peo­ple’ (S04E18)
• Angel ‘The Magic Bul­let’ (S04E19)
• Buffy ‘Touched’ (S07E20)
• Angel ‘Sac­ri­fice’ (S04E20)
• Angel ‘Peace Out’ (S04E21)
• Angel ‘Home’ (S04E22)
• Buffy ‘End of Days’ (S07E21)
• Buffy ‘Cho­sen’ (S07E22)

and then the final (and most won­der­ful) sea­son of Angel…


Happy view­ing. Or re-viewing! NB: I have updated the begin­ning of Buffy S06/Angel S03 after some good cor­rec­tions came through from ‘Morda’ in the com­ments sec­tion (where there are spoil­ers, so beware!)

Oh and if you’ve never seen it before, check out this video of Joss per­form­ing one of his songs from the musi­cal DVD com­men­tary to Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog dur­ing a live episode of This Amer­i­can Life. Great stuff.

On Sneakiness: Reclaiming the art of being sneaky for good, not evil

Sneak­i­ness is often asso­ci­ated with bad­ness. For exam­ple, we all know that rob­bers sneak about in the night and mice sneak into kitchens to steal crumbs. We believe that to sneak is to per­form an act of deceit or betrayal. But per­haps it is not the sneak­i­ness that is evil here. A rob­ber could still rob houses at night by being loud and obvi­ous rather than sneaky. And mice could still enter a kitchen with fan­fare and trum­pets rather than with sneak­i­ness. It’s just that sneak­i­ness makes it eas­ier for bad­ness to go unnoticed.

There are plenty of good peo­ple who some­times act sneak­ily. Bal­leri­nas, for exam­ple. They sneak across the bal­let stage on their tippy toes try­ing not to be heard. And yet bal­leri­nas are good peo­ple, even if their clothes are often a few sizes too small for them. This in itself almost proves the point – sneak­i­ness doesn’t cause bad­ness, bad­ness causes badness.

So it is about time we reclaimed the art of being sneaky to the good side of the force. And there are plenty of good rea­sons to be sneaky. For exam­ple, you may want to sneak a bunch of flow­ers into the let­ter­box of your favourite boy/girl. Or you may want to sneak up on a friend with hic­cups and scare them. Or you may want to sneak away from your mother before you hurt her feel­ings by say­ing you don’t like it when she licks a tis­sue and cleans your face.

Now some peo­ple say that sneak­i­ness is used to spy on peo­ple. And spy­ing is bad. But spy­ing, like sneak­ing, can be good. Just think of all the good spies there are – Maxwell Smart, Har­riet the Spy, the Spy Kids and the Spy Kids in 3D, among many oth­ers. Even the Famous Five did their fair share of spy­ing and those kids were made of pure good.

So if we are going to prop­erly reclaim sneak­i­ness from the kid­nap­pers and politi­cians of the world, we must learn the art of sneak­ing inside out. And despite all this talk of creep­ing about in the dark, the best way to be sneaky is not to be sneaky at all. Because the best sneak­ing hap­pens when nobody realises there’s sneak­ing afoot.

Firstly, do not walk around on your tippy toes with a hunched back. This is a dead give­away that some­one is being sneaky. Walk with your back straight like a light­house and your feet flat like the ocean. No one ever sus­pects right angles of being sneaky. Also, don’t smile while you’re sneak­ing. Smil­ing is for peo­ple who have some­thing to hide. And for happy peo­ple. But mostly for those hid­ing something.

Sec­ondly, don’t try to be sneaky by hid­ing. Only car­toon char­ac­ters can get away with car­ry­ing a bush around and hid­ing behind it when­ever any­one looks at them.

As you can see above, blend­ing in with your sur­round­ings is the best way to be sneaky. It’s the per­fect way to hide the fact that there’s sneak­ing afoot. So if you’re at a skate­board ramp, strap on some kneepads. If you’re in a library, talk in a hushed voice when you’re on the phone. If you’re at the bal­let, walk around on your tippy toes. Actu­ally scrap that last one.

If we all con­cen­trate on being sneaky in the appro­pri­ate ways and for the appro­pri­ate rea­sons, I’m con­fi­dent we can take sneak­i­ness back from the rodents and bogey­men of soci­ety and move about unno­ticed (ie. sneak) in the name of good, not evil. Who knows, sneak­i­ness may even save the world one day. Although the sneak­i­ness involved in sav­ing the world would prob­a­bly be so excel­lent that we wouldn’t even realise there was sneak­ing afoot.

(Spe­cial thanks to Leanne Hall for her appear­ance in the controlled-sneaking exper­i­ment photos)

I am writing Pigeon letters

It’s been a while since I wrote a let­ter that wasn’t an attempt to get out of a park­ing fine. It’s been even longer since I wrote cor­re­spon­dence by hand that wasn’t a post­card. And for the remain­der of 2010 I’ll be writ­ing and receiv­ing let­ters that have noth­ing to do with 15-minute park­ing zones nor exotic travel spots.

I say this as I’m very excited to be involved in the Pigeon Let­ters project this year. Pigeon Let­ters is a pro­gram that matches up authors (and illus­tra­tors) with pri­mary school stu­dents, get­ting each author-student combo to write let­ters back and forth and col­lab­o­rate to write a short story. Pretty cool, huh!

Some of the authors involved in the project last year include Tony Wil­son, Sally Rip­pin and Michael Wag­ner. And some of the kids involved last year include Leif, Jas­mine and Alex (all from North Mel­bourne Pri­mary School).

This year I’ve been matched up with a grade five stu­dent called Toni from Footscray City Pri­mary School. I received Toni’s first let­ter last week (pic­tured above) and I can already tell that Toni and I are going to write a mad story together.

In her let­ter she told me ‘I am inter­ested in writ­ing an action-packed story with you if that is OK with you’. It sure is Toni! I love action-packed sto­ries almost as much as I like authors who know exactly what they want to write. Con­vic­tion FTW!

Here’s me with Toni’s letter.

I have spent this week­end writ­ing a let­ter back to Toni. I would tell you what I have writ­ten back to her, but let­ters are pri­vate, don’t you know? I’ve already said too much by quot­ing from Toni’s let­ter and show­ing you what it looks like. But the good news is that at the end of the project, all author-student sto­ries will be pub­lished as a spe­cial Pigeons book. Here’s what last year’s Pigeons book looked like. Pretty pigeons!

Jenna and Lach­lann (the excel­lent peeps behind Pigeons) have almost dou­bled the num­ber of cre­ative types involved in the project since last year and this time around have 20 authors/illustrators work­ing with 20 lucky Footscray City stu­dents. Toni and I are just one of 20 col­lab­o­ra­tive teams. Col­lab­o­ra­tion FTW!

For more info visit the Pigeons web­site and while you’re there check out what my pen pal Toni had to say about The Great­est Blog­ger in the World.

Uncool Words

Some words are inher­ently cool. Like gor­gonzola. But some words are not so lucky. Be it through time or an unfor­tu­nate cir­cum­stance there are some words that exist today that are quite sim­ply uncool. Here, by my reck­on­ing, are a few of them. Feel free to dis­agree with me or add your own uncool words below.


The block­buster is not what it used to be. And even if it is, it cer­tainly isn’t itself any­more. What I mean to say, is that with Block­buster (the one time mam­moth video chain) head­ing for bank­ruptcy in the United States, the word block­buster has become syn­ony­mous with finan­cial ruin, Amer­i­can crap­pi­ness and things that your Dad remem­bers fondly. Put sim­ply, block­buster = old and uncool.

As such movies, books, TV shows, movies, comics and movies have slowed the use of the word block­buster as a buzz word to cre­ate hype and embed ridicu­lously high expec­ta­tions in audiences.

As a result when peo­ple describe a movie as being a block­buster these days, it’s prob­a­bly just your Dad talk­ing. About Star Wars.


I was using gmail chat the other day when I needed to reply to my sis­ter with some vari­ety of an affir­ma­tive inter­jec­tion. I went for kewl since I’m aware of using cool on IM too much. My lovely sis­ter was quick to dress me down for my choice. Appar­ently kewl became grossly unkewl around the time Kool Mints stopped being sold in tins.

Any­way, I apol­o­gised to my sis­ter and typed lots of paren­the­ses and semi-colons to her and she was happy.


Sud­denly is as uncool now as it was twenty years ago. It indi­cates that some­thing of inter­est is upon us, with­out being inter­est­ing at all. This is why my fourth grade teacher banned me from using it in my story writ­ing. It may have been the pas­sage “Sud­denly they kids stood up. Sud­denly they were amazed to see a bear com­ing their way. Sud­denly there was the bear. Sud­denly they were scared of being eaten by the bear. Sud­denly they slowly crept away” that pushed her over the edge.

Like they say in writ­ing school, ‘Show don’t tell’. Which is long­hand for ‘Never use suddenly’.


Because Kevin Rudd says it.


This one is kind of unfair because this time next year 2010 will be the uncool word. But for now it’s the word 2009 that is asso­ci­ated with things of yes­ter­year and thus the things of uncool.

OMG that is so 2009’ a mod­ern teenager might say. Actu­ally a truly mod­ern teenager would prob­a­bly say ‘It is so 2009 to say “OMG”’. None the less, to describe some­thing as being very 2009 is to make a very dis­parag­ing com­ment indeed.

The other thing worth keep­ing in mind is that even when 2011 ticks around, 2009 won’t become instantly cool again. It takes time for these things to regain their cool. Appar­ently 1983 has been wait­ing for more than twenty years.

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