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1 March 2013 ·

Read Across America: from Australia to Yonkers

The teachers in a Yonkers school have extended Read Across America a little this year: I’m reading to their Grade 3 and 4 classes from my home in Australia. But since the time difference meant I’d be reading at 1 am here for them to hear it at 9 am, I’ve cheated a little and pre-recorded it. 
I thought it would be fun to do it outside, since it’s such a different environment to where they live. Naturally a wind picked up as soon as I started, but I hope dancing gum trees make the occasional crackles worthwhile.

I read  from STOLEN: A Pony CalledPebbles, illustrated by Patricia Castelao, and promised to tell them a bit about the story behind the story. 

When I was aged eleven to thirteen, we lived on the edge of a new suburb outside Colorado Springs, in the foothills of the Rockies. Apart from that group of scattered houses, there was rolling, empty prairie all around us. (Empty of people, I mean; there were plenty of birds, ground squirrels and rattle snakes!) The best thing about it was that it meant we could have a horse, and I could go out riding and exploring as much as I liked. 

One summer I was riding near a ravine when I found a horse and a pony in a wire corral. I’d never seen the horses or the corral before, and there were no houses or signs of people anywhere in sight. I rode out there to pick them grass every day, because it was a small corral and they were getting hungry. The pony would crawl out under the fence to graze, and even followed me home one day. (My mother made me take it back! I don’t think she quite believed that it had really just followed me, and maybe I did encourage it a bit… ) The day after that the horses and the corral were gone. 
I never did find out what happened, but that means I was free to go on wondering and make up my own ending. And so, many years later, Pebbles was born. 

All the Rainbow Street Animal Shelter series are available from the publisher
(Or your local bookstore can order them in for you if they don’t have them.) 

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Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio