Thursday, 17 December 2015


Well, it's Christmas again. And for those of us who love stories, it's the perfect time of year. Ghost stories, love stories, traditional stories, folk tales, family stories, magical stories, they all come under the theme of Christmas. And the one story that is central to them all, of course.

I have a Christmas story, just a very little one. I'm posting it here with my very best wishes for everything that is blessed, peaceful and joyful for you at this special season.

Carol Ann Martin
So, this is Christmas, Joe.  How do you like it so far? Wish you’d been here last year. That was some Christmas, for sure.
  On Christmas Eve, Holly and I were supposed to be in a play. She was an angel with silver wings.  I was a sheep in Gran’s rug.
  We were getting ready when Mom called out, “It’s time! Come on quick, let’s go!”
Dad grabbed his phone and called up Gran and next thing we were off in the car. We roared down the road, but then, gurloop, gurloomph, we were swallowed by a thick fog.
   “Keep going! Keep going!” shouted Mom.
  “Keep going to where?  asked Dad. “We’re lost and I can’t see a thing.”
  “Well I can see lights up ahead,” Holly said. “All golden and fuzzy and blurred.”
  Then we heard the sound of voices. All is calm, they sang … all is bright.”
  “That could be angels,” said Holly. “They’re sure to be out tonight.”
Well all wasn’t calm inside our car and all wasn’t bright outside. Dad wound down his window. “Is there anybody there?” he cried. “We need to get to Saint Mary’s and we need to get there fast!”
  The fog swirled in at the window, but a round, whiskery face appeared, too. “Sure, just follow our lanterns. We’re going to the same place as you.”
  So we followed the lanterns through the fog and we followed the carollers’ song. Slowly, slowly, until at last, there in front of us dozens of lights shone out.
  “St Mary’s, yeah! We made it!” cried Dad.
  “But only just,” said Mom.
  Gran was waiting for us inside. Mom and Dad were whisked away. Everything was warm and shiny bright, the carollers stood round the tree. Gran gave a hug to Holly and me. “Happy Christmas, darlings,” she said.
   “An angel and a sheep!” someone laughed. “Just what we needed tonight!”
    We sang Away in a Manger, which somehow seemed very right.
    I wish you had been here last year, Joe. Boy, was that an exciting night? But I guess you were here, little brother. It was the night that you were born.

Saturday, 21 November 2015


Another wonderful review, this time from Jenny at Buzzwords.Thank you so much - Ben, Madge and I are so pleased you like our book. You have made Madge one very happy moo!

The animals on the farm are out and about far from their homes when a storm approaches. As big fat raindrops begin to fall, Lally the rabbit is the first to be invited by Madge the cow to shelter underneath her broad body. There is plenty of room at first, but as extra animals join, it gets more and more squishy. Will visitors keep arriving, or will the rain stop before it gets too crowded? And is Spike the hedgehog one animal too many?

Underneath a Cow is a delight to read. The names are wonderful and the banter between the animals is gorgeous. When mother hen’s chicks get excited they bounce about like crazy little dodgem cars. This annoys the dog.

‘Madam!’ Robinson snapped. ‘Do something about your children, please!’
‘They’re only playing,’ said Cackalina. ‘Don’t you ever play?’
‘Not in somebody’s ear. No,’ Robinson replied.

There is a lovely rhythm to the story, with an animal added to the crowd under the cow each page until the storm hits it heights. Here, the calm and brave Madge encourages them all to sing, to keep their fear away.

The personalities in the story are enhanced by the fabulous illustrations, the unflappable cow, the fearful rabbit and the silly chicks – including one little black one who looks like he’d be a handful. Inside the cover – both front and back – is an aerial picture of the farm showing what they were all doing before, and then after, the storm.

This is a really enjoyable and engaging picture book. Both the words and pictures are highly entertaining and it is a story which could be read many times over with pleasure.

Thursday, 29 October 2015


Well, it's Halloween at the Hooting Owl Inn, everyone's favourite place  to get together and tell stories. And what better time to gather around a cosy fire in the snug and talk in hushed voices of ghosties and zombies and witches and other deliciously creepy things? So WELCOME!

Every  writer worth their salt needs to write at least one Halloween story - an Alberta McWhirter was no exception. But unfortunately for Alberta, her story  didn't work out too well.


Alberta McWhirter was at her computer, writing a Halloween story.
   A witch came whooshing down the chimney and peered at the words on the screen.
  “Am I in your story?” she asked.
  “No fear!” said Alberta. “Witches are totally out. No one wants them any more. Witches are so uncool.”
  “Uncool!” screeched the witch. “Who’s uncool? If it’s cool you want …. watch me!”
  Off she whizzed on her broomstick to the nearest shopping mall. She herself bought some groovy clothes, the most seriously snazzy gear. She had emerald studs stuck all over her nose and a diamond to drip from the end.
  She swapped her black steeple hat for a cute little fascinator and traded in her broomstick on a late model vacuum cleaner.
 Then back she flew to Alberta’s house. “I’m a funky witch now,” she cried. “Can I be in your story?”
  But Alberta shook her head. “No one wants witches any more. Witches are ugly old hags.”
  “Ugly!” shrieked the witch. “Who’s an ugly hag? If it’s gorgeous you want….watch me.”
  She went to the gym and worked out for hours to get rid of her bulges and flab. Then she popped next door to the dentist for a new set of shiny white teeth.
  Off she zoomed to the beauty shop, the most expensive one in town. They sloshed mud all over her wrinkles, they turned her straggly hair into bright blue curls. She put on lipstick, eyeshadow, mascara and squirted perfume behind her ears.
  Then it was back to Alberta again. “I’m fabulously gorgeous now!” the witch cried. “So can I be in your story?”
  But Alberta shook her head. “No one wants witches any more. Witches are nasty and mean.”
“Nasty!” squawked the witch. “Who’s nasty and mean? If it’s super sweet and kind you want….watch me!
  She cleaned Alberta’s kitchen and she baked Alberta a cake. She hung out Alberta’s washing and watered Alberta’s plants. She turned Alberta’s dog into a handsome prince and gave herself some angel wings.
  Then she simpered at Alberta. “I’m so fantastically good,” she said. “So can I be in your story?”
  But Alberta shook her head. “I’ve never liked witches very much and I don’t think I ever will.”
 With that the witch went ballistic. “You don’t like witches?” she hissed. “Well, here’s one witch who doesn’t like you and you’ve really been asking for this!’
  Alberta’s hair turned to greasy rats tails. Warts sprouted on her nose. Her face shrivelled into wrinkles and her teeth went all snaggled and snarled. With a snap of the witch’s fingers, Alberta was dressed in rags. The handsome prince turned into pile of dog poo and before Alberta could say, “Can we talk?” she’d shrunk down to the size of a mouse.
  The witch sat at the computer and busily started to type.“Once upon a time, there was this really ultra-cool witch. She was utterly fabulously gorgeous and sick-makingly good and kind.”

  “If you want to be in a Halloween story,” she cackled, “You just have to write it yourself.”

Monday, 5 October 2015

A Great Review! Thank You ReadPlus!

Review Blog

Oct 06 2015

Underneath a cow by Carol Ann Martin

cover image Ill. by Ben Wood. Scholastic, 2015. ISBN 9781742990880
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Animals, Farms, Safety. When Madge the cow notices a huge dark cloud over the farm, she invites the rabbit to shelter beneath her as the first large rain drops begin to fall. The farm dog passes by and takes shelter as well, then the mother hen and her chicks, while later an echidna rolls under her as well. Each addition causes a little mayhem at the start, but all settle down to shelter from the rain. When the rain stops Madge is presented with some flowers as a thank you and she tells them that what is important is that they are all in a safe place, while sometimes we are the safe place.
This is a charming story about safety, about putting aside differences to take shelter, to work together to be safe, and will encourage younger readers to discuss their safety within this carefully worded text. Martin uses repetition in some parts of the text which will encourage younger readers to predict what is happening next. The song she presents could be used as a learning tool to recite when this book is brought out for rereading.
I love the illustrations, Wood using mixed media and digital means to draw his characters, giving them amazingly human expressions. I adore Madge's udder which seems to leave the dog a little nonplussed, and figures a little more prominently when Spike crawls beneath her. What an introduction for parents and teachers to discuss where milk comes from, as few, if any, picture books show this important part of a cow's anatomy. Discussions too could evolve concerning the farm portrayed, comparing it with other picture books where Australian farms are drawn, and perhaps even discussing why Spike's animal status is not named. Perhaps this book is being aimed at an American market as well?
Whatever group of kids reads this, they will ask for it again and again as they absorb the playful humour of the farm animals sheltering beneath Madge the cow, make up their own song to go with the words and contemplate how they keep themselves safe.
Fran Knight

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Madge is Launched!

And may God bless all who shelter under her!

The beginning of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Children’s Book Week seemed a good time to launch my new picture book, Underneath a Cow, and I wouldn’t have launched it anywhere else but in my home town. Kate and John Reed at The Southern Swan Homeopathic Pharmacy and Bookshop, Mary Street, are becoming renowned for their hosting of book events and it was the perfect venue for Madge the cow and friends to make their debut.
Madge’s story began about four years ago. I was walking along a county road, looking at cows, as you do. It was pouring with rain at the time, but that didn’t seem to be an issue for the cows. They just stood there in the paddock while everything around them got soaked. It occurred to me that even allowing for the dangly bits, there was quite a lot of space underneath a cow. So I went home and wrote a story about the day of The Great Big Terrible Awful Storm and how quite a few small creatures found shelter and safety underneath dear, brave kindly Madge.
I sent the story to my publisher, Omnibus Books, and they liked it. But anyone who has written a book knows that when the author thinks that the story is finished, the publisher knows that it has only just begun. Months and months of cutting, editing, tweaking and then rewriting the whole thing again, was followed by the question of who would do the illustrations. Here I got very lucky. Ben Wood is a New South Wales-based illustrator with not only a great artistic talent, but an hilarious sense of humour. Ben’s pictures turned what I hoped was a humorous children’s story into an absolute hoot for all ages!
For the launch I couldn’t have had more enthusiastic and helpful hosts than Kate and John, who went to a great deal of effort and creative inspiration to turn their shop into an animal-themed, kid-friendly, adult-friendly, warm and welcoming venue. Nor could I have asked for better friends than children’s author Anne Morgan and CBCA member Jessie Mahjouri, who did a brilliant job of entertaining some dozen or so children, most of them under five, with a treasure hunt and story-reading. Paul Martin, Brad Madigan and Malcolm Martin provided a lively little musical trio for a kindy-style singalong. Suzy Manigian worked her usual magic with an extremely elegant tea table, all bone china and silver teapots, and there were cakes – lots of exquisite cakes, in truly Cygnet high-tea fashion.
We had a great fun and Madge and her friends were successfully launched. I can only say thank you to everyone who helped and everyone who came along.
A special thanks goes to Kate and John, who gave the afternoon’s profits to me to donate to causes I support. Half went to advocacy for asylum-seeker children in detention centres and the other half to educational resources for aboriginal children in remote communities. Thank you John and Kate, thank you everyone!
Should you decide that a funny picture book is just the gift for someone you know, then head into The Southern Swan, where there are still copies of Underneath a Cow to be had.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

My Rep: Creative Net

More exciting news! I'm now available for visits to schools, libraries, children's book events, anywhere in southern Tasmania where I can read and tell stories, interact and share with children about books, conduct creative workshops, have fun, and even bring my own musician for story-themed songs.

 My agent for bookings is Creative Net

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Feeling Happy!

Time For My Happy Dance!

Oh fantabulous day! I have just signed up with Jet Black Publishing, who are going to publish my story "I'm Not Wearing That". A wonderful Australian company that publishes and retails e-books for young readers, they donate 20% of royalties to The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. You have to love them!!