poetry, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Visiting poet – Duncan Ball

duncan ball

As you can probably guess from the photo above, today we have Duncan Ball visiting. You might have read books from his Selby series or the Emily Eyefinger series — did you know Duncan also has a book of poetry published? It’s called My Sister Has a Big Black Beard. Read on!

When did you first start writing poetry?

When I was twelve.

What sort of poetry do you like writing best of all?

I like writing funny poetry that rhymes, for kids.

What sort of poetry do you like reading best of all?

I like lots of different kinds of poetry for both young people and adults.

Where can we read your poetry?

My good friend and fellow poet Selby (the Talking Dog) writes poetry and I help him with it. But I’ve also written a collection of my funny poems called, My Sister Has a Big Black Beard.

My sister has a big black beard

Here are some videos featuring poems from My Sister has a Big Black Beard:

How often do you write?

Almost every day.

Do you prefer to write with a pen and paper or straight onto the computer?

Straight onto a computer although I do keep a notepad on my desk and scribble things down.

What’s your number one tip for budding poets?

Do it and enjoy it!

Duncan’s Poetry Prescription

ARE YOU HAVING A BORING DAY? When I have a boring day I like to read funny poems such as Allan Ahlberg’s ‘The Girl Who Doubled’ from his poetry book The Mighty Slide.

Duncan's books

Find out more about Duncan Ball, his books and poetry — visit his website and his blog. He’s visited before, so be sure to check out this earlier post about Duncan, too.

Interview with Duncan Ball © 2013 Duncan Ball and Rebecca Newman https://soupblog.wordpress.com

NSW author/illustrator event (11 August 2012)

If you’re in NSW, head over to The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft on 11 August—there will be lots happening to celebrate National Bookshop Day.

The bookshop will have authors working in the shop window, an artist in residence will be creating some illustrations, there will be book busking, face-painting, a sausage sizzle and balloons.

Schedule for the Morning:

10–10.45am Special Story-Time!

Meet Ursula Dubosarsky who will be reading such books as Too Many Elephants in This House and The Terrible Plop.

Too Many Elephants in This House

11.30am Meet Duncan Ball, author of Selby and Emily Eyefinger. (Selby will also be there to meet the kids.)


10am–12 noon Meet a range of authors in the Living Window—authors will be writing in the window! The Artist in Residence for the morning, Lisa Stewart, will also be working on illustrations in the shop.

Where: The Children’s Bookshop, 6 Hannah Street, Beecroft NSW

When: 11 August 2012

RSVP: for the 10am or 11.30am sessions. Ph. 9481 8811 staff@thechildrensbookshop.com.au

authors, info, poetry, teachers' resources

“Lights Out!” (Duncan Ball)

Today we welcome Duncan Ball to the blog, talking about what he liked to read when he was growing up — he didn’t like to read under the covers! Duncan Ball wrote the books in the Selby series (including some Selby joke books), and the Emily Eyefinger series, but did you know he has also published a book of poetry, My Sister Has a Big Black Beard?

"Selby Book cover""My Sister Has a Big Black Beard book cover""Emily Eyefinger book cover"

"Duncan Ball photo"
Duncan Ball

I didn’t read when I was a kid. I could read a bit but I was a very slow reader so it wasn’t fun. I never read books when I didn’t have to. I’d been read books so I liked what was in them but I didn’t have the key to unlock their secrets. So I didn’t read under the covers after lights-out. I’m sure my parents would have happily given me a torch if I did.

In primary school I lived in Alaska, the northernmost state in America. There was no TV and a lot of the year it was very cold and dark so you couldn’t play outdoors. We had toys, mostly basic wooden toys, but also games and puzzles to play with. My sister spent all her time reading. Even when we were driving somewhere and there was beautiful scenery she barely looked up from her book.

"Duncan Ball with his sister, Sally. 1949 ca Mountain View,  Alaska."
Duncan Ball with his sister, Sally. Mountain View, Alaska, around 1949.

Comic books saved my life. They were exciting and funny and I could manage the few words on each page. At school our reading books said things like: “This is Dick. He is a boy. This is Jane. She is a girl. This is Spot. He is a dog.” If they’d given us Superman or Batman comics I’d have learned to read much sooner.

When I was twelve my family moved to Spain. I was put into a Spanish school where no one spoke any English and I didn’t speak any Spanish. But the kids were great and soon I had lots of friends and had to learn Spanish to talk to them. We lived in the middle of Madrid, a big city completely different from the tiny place we’d lived in in Alaska. There was so much to see and do. It was a wonderful three years.

"Duncan as a student in Madrid about 1953"
Duncan as a student in Madrid, about 1953

In Spain, I was able to get American comic books. I also read a few Spanish ones. Spanish comic book dogs said gua gua gua when they barked instead of bow wow or arf arf. If you pronounce that in Spanish I think it comes closer to a real dog’s bark than bow wow and arf arf.

As a teenager in Spain I started reading for enjoyment—in English. I loved poetry because a good poem can bypass your brain and go straight to your guts. But I also started reading novels, adult novels because what we now call “young adult” novels didn’t exist yet.

It seems strange that a boy who couldn’t read when he was in primary school now writes books like the Selby and Emily Eyefinger books for primary school kids. When I write them I try to remember what I was like at ten and I try to write stories that I think I would have loved when I was young. Recently I took time out and wrote a book of funny poems for kids called My Sister Has a Big Black Beard. It was great fun to write. I wonder if I’d have liked to read it when I was young.

© 2010 Duncan Ball

Visit Duncan Ball’s website and his blog to find out more about him and his books.

"Undercover readers logo"Alphabet Soup magazine is celebrating the launch of Undercover Readers (our new reviewers club for kids)!  If you’d like to join the Undercover Readers Club, you’ll find an information pack you can download from the Alphabet Soup website. As part of the celebrations, we have a different children’s author or illustrator visiting Soup Blog each day until 29 June 2010 to talk about what they used to read after ‘lights out’ when they were growing up.

illustrator, teachers' resources

Write Now! (A writing workshop for kids)

In case the flyer is difficult to read, here are the details.

If you are passionate about writing, you live in Perth, and you are between the ages of 9 and 12 – the State Library of WA has the writing workshop for you!

The hands-on workshop will be led by Duncan Ball (author of the Selby and Emily Eyefinger series), and Chris Morphew (one of the authors of the Zac Power series). And you can get tips and hints about book design from graphic designer and illustrator, Tracey Gibbs.

Date: Saturday 20 March 2010

Time: 9 am – 4 pm

Where: ‘The Place’, State Library of WA

Ages: 9 – 12

Bring: Lunch and a water bottle. (Morning tea, afternoon tea and writing materials are supplied)

Cost: $55 – payment taken by State Library shop, in person or by phone.

Bookings essential as places are limited.

For more information or an enrolment form, go to the LISWA website: http://www.liswa.wa.gov.au/whats_on/the_place

or contact Joanna on 9427 3173.

authors, info

Subscriptions for addresses outside Australia

Alphabet Soup magazine now has online ordering  for local (Australian) and overseas addresses! (Go to www.alphabetsoup.net.au and click on the subscribe tab.)

Issue 2 will be out next week! Inside you’ll find: a Q&A with Duncan Ball, what’s cool about scuba diving, stories, poems, book reviews, crossword, kids’ writing, our issue 1 competition winners, and a new writing competition for kids.

Don’t miss it!

authors, competitions, illustrator, info

Behind the scenes: January 2009

Greg Mitchell has been very busy, and we’re currently adding his illustrations to the upcoming issue of Alphabet Soup. Issue 2 is due in February 2009 and includes an interview with Duncan Ball (author of the Selby books), an article about scuba diver Liz Brodie, book reviews, stories, poems, kids’ writing, a crossword and a kids’ writing competition!

For more information about the magazine (or to find out how to subscribe), see www.alphabetsoup.net.au and stay tuned!

authors, illustrator

Kerry Millard’s website

Today, while looking for information about Duncan Ball’s upcoming book My Sister Has a Big Black Beard, I stumbled upon Kerry Millard’s website.

It’s a fun, colourful site and has lots of her drawings and includes a blog.

It’s worth a visit!


authors, info

Duncan Ball

I interviewed Duncan Ball for the ‘meet the author’ section in issue 2 of Alphabet Soup (due out in February 2009). When issue 1 was published I sent him a copy, so he could see what he was in for (naturally we hoped we wouldn’t get an email saying ‘I hereby remove previous consent to have interview appear in your publication. D. Ball’.)

As it happened, he must have thought AS came up to scratch – he sent a handwritten note of support and goodwill.

Thanks Duncan!

Buy more Selby books!