“I have always been passionate about poetry for kids that excites, intrigues and amuses them – and that makes them want to write their own. After attending yet another conference in 2006 on children’s literature where people bemoaned the lack of resources, I went home and decided to do something about it – this website is the result!
“I know that it’s of value to teachers, parents and kids, because it has so many visitors. I hope the new updated site will continue to be of value.”
SHERRYL CLARK – I have more than 70 published children’s and YA books, including novels, chapter books, picture books and verse novels. I have been fortunate to win some major awards including the 2005 NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Farm Kid, and my second verse novel, Sixth Grade Style Queen (Not!) was an Honour Book in the 2008 CBCA Awards.
I have published two further verse novels – Motormouth and Runaways – both through Penguin Books Australia. My books have won more than a dozen Notable awards from the CBCA.
My most recent titles were the four Ellyse Perry books, published by Penguin Random House in 2016-7. My books have been published in Australia and overseas, including the USA, UK, Spain, Mexico and China.
I have been teaching creative writing at Victoria University TAFE for more than 20 years. I have an MFA from Hamline University in Minnesota, and a PhD from Victoria University. My PhD topic was on the endurance of fairy tales and the writing of new original fairy tales for today’s children that teach resilience and courage.
My website is at www.sherrylclark.com
And a bit more from me about my poetry writing, teaching and love of words –
I’ve been a poet for more than twenty years, and have had two collections of poems for adults published – Edge (1991) and Thicker Than Water (1999). I still write poems for an adult audience and publish them in magazines, but in 2002, I began working on poems for children.
This came about through a wonderful children’s writers’ workshop at Fresno in California, where I worked with Janet Wong and Joyce Carol Thomas, two children’s poets. They inspired me to write poems about my childhood on the family farm.
From there, I wrote more poems and found that a story was developing – a story about a boy on a farm during a terrible drought. At the time, Australia was experiencing the worst drought in a century and many people were losing their farms and having to cull their animals to survive.
As I grew up on a farm and had experienced what it’s like when there’s no water or grass and no money coming in (but not to the same extent, of course), I felt deeply that I wanted to show through story what many Australian farming families were going through. My story was a verse novel because, for me, the poems I was writing had so much more power to show those experiences.
Farm Kid went on to win the 2005 NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Children’s Books, an award I am very proud of. In fact, I love this book so much that when it finally went out of print with Penguin, I bought the use of the digital files and have republished it myself so that it’s now available again. I plan to also republish it soon as an ebook.
But the poetry writing didn’t stop there. Funnily enough, I had been teaching kids in schools how to write poems for years. I did two Artists-in-Schools residencies and during the one at Moreland Rd Primary School we created a collection of student poems called We Didn’t Know It But We’re Poets. I had also worked in community writing for years and had compiled a huge collection of writing exercises.
Now I was writing my own kid’s poems: some about me, some about things I saw and heard, some from my imagination. I’ve now had poems published in both the NSW and Victorian school magazines, and my new verse novel for upper primary children, Sixth Grade Style Queen (Not!), was accepted for publication by Penguin Books and came out in May 2007. It won the Honour Book award in the 2008 CBCA Awards.
My third verse novel is Motormouth, the story of two boys and what happens when you discover someone you thought was your best friend has been lying to you.
In June 2010 my first poetry picture book was published by Working Title Press. Called Now I Am Bigger, it’s the story of the life of a small child – all the steps towards growing from baby to toddler to first big bed, and learning new things along the way. This kind of poetry picture book will be very familiar to US readers, but it’s uncommon in Australia. (WTP has now been bought by HarperCollins Australia so I hope Now I Am Bigger will continue to be available.)
My fourth verse novel is Runaways, about a sister and brother – Cassie and Jack – who are parted when Jack’s dad takes him a long way across Australia to Perth. When Jack’s father gets a job in the mines, Jack realizes that things look bad for him, so he runs away and hitchhikes across the Nullabor desert to meet Cassie in Adelaide. It’s about family and home, and finding a place where you are loved and looked after. All of my verse novels have been published by Penguin Books.
My fifth verse novel, The Dangerous Kind, is for young adults/teens. Hopefully it will be published, too!