Scholastic Literacy Champion Interview

This interview was initially printed in a condensed format in Scholastic Teacher’s Bookshelf, Issue 5, July 2013, and in full text on Scholastic’s website during 2013.

Name: Sandi Bowie
School: Mount Lawley Primary School
How many years have you worked in a library? 12 years

What was your favourite book (or books) as a child and why? As a child, I read anything I could. Every Saturday morning would see me first at the book exchange, then the library to select my books for the following week. My favourite books that I read over and over included anything by Enid Blyton, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Silver Brumby series, Black Stallion series, Anne of Green Gables, Nancy Drew and the Trixie Beldon books.
Can you share your ideas on how best to keep students engaged in reading in your library?
Where possible I try to give students ownership of the library collection. They enjoy being part of selecting books, so it’s not uncommon for students to bring their own books in for me to look at when they are excited about a new author they have found. I’m always talking about books, and I encourage them to recommend their favourite reads to their friends. Because the students know that I read ‘their’ books too they will often visit the library before school or at lunchtime just to talk about their favourite book and sometimes to speculate about what might happen in the next book of an ongoing series.

Which books or activities have your found success with in your library which motivate or encourage students to read?
Each year I run a reading promotion with ‘on the spot’ as well as major prizes.
Last year I ran the Reading Olympics with every student who participated winning a small prize for each event that they completed. Our Gold Medal Year 1 student read under 3,000 pages while the Year 6 Gold Medal reader totalled over 31,000 pages.
This year I am focusing on the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award. My students love this children’s choice award and actively vote on books on this year’s list as well as nominate books for next year.

What is the best advice you can offer to others to inspire a lifelong love of reading in students?
That each and every reader is equal. Don’t ignore your good readers just because they do read. I feel it is just as important to keep the momentum going and continue to place books which suit their reading interests into the hands of my good readers, as it is to find that right book for a reluctant reader.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about teaching, learning or reading?
My passion for children’s books inspired me to write my own book, which was published earlier this year. This in turn has taught the students at my school that readers can also be writers.


Scholastic Literacy Champion 2013

Sandi Bowie – Scholastic Literacy Champion 2013

Feb 29th 2013 Book Launch! The Mystery of the Sixty-Five Roses by Sandi Bowie and S.J. Hutton

Growing up with Cystic Fibrosis one of the messages that was repeatedly given to me was, “you can’t” or “you shouldn’t”.  Therefore, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when my Year Ten Guidance Councillor told me I couldn’t make a career out of my love for books – and sent me off to do an accounting course – which was not at all the type of books I was passionate about.  Yet here I am today, a successful Librarian, a Bookseller and now a published author.  Perhaps it wasn’t me that needed guidance after all that day?

The story of this book started in 2007.  At the time I was running a specialised library for teachers.  An educational resource pack for Asthma had crossed my desk and I wondered if CFWA could produce something similar. I pitched my idea to Karen O’Neil, who was then the education officer at CFWA, and, after a series of meetings, the original idea of a pack of resource materials was scaled down to a single book.

The first draft was just under two and a half thousand words, which meant it was sitting in between a picture book and early chapter book. A decision was needed. I had two very vivid pictures in my head. One was of Jeremy running and the second was of big googly eyes looking into a window – no matter how much I liked the idea of an early chapter book, I couldn’t get those images out of my mind. This meant I had to pare the text down significantly.

Natalie took over the role of Education Officer in 2008 and happily took on the book project as well– although I am sure there were times when I had her tearing her hair out.  In 2009, she started looking for an illustrator.  In August, she emailed me a single picture. I knew straight away that she had found the person who could bring Jeremy to life.

Working with Stacey was an absolute pleasure.   Jeremy is loosely based on my son Jarryn, who also likes to sneak and spy.  One of the comments that I frequently hear  when people look at the book – after of course – The WOW aren’t these illustrations fantastic – is doesn’t he look just like Jarryn? For the record – Stacy never met Jarryn – yet somehow she still managed to capture an uncanny resemblance to my scruffy red-haired boy.

Stacey and I with OUR book!

Stacey and I with OUR book!

Once the illustrations were complete, Natalie and I began the process of bringing the text and the illustrations together.  I’m sure Natalie thought this project would never end – especially when we were in her office cutting and pasting the old fashioned way with scissors and glue.  But finally, after rearranging the text multiple times, and adding extra pages we managed to achieve a finished product.

There are many people that need to be thanked for their role in this book. Karen, whom I first pitched to, Natalie for taking over the project and making it her own, the CFWA team for their support and for the funding to make this book become a reality.  Mum, Grant, Aunty Mary and Uncle Reg for reading endless drafts. Adam Smally who took the cut and paste drafts and turned them into the finished product. Stacey, for without Stacey and her wonderful illustrations which brought Jeremy to life, this book would be nothing but black words on a white page.

I would like to thank you all for coming tonight. My hope is that this book will be an educational resource for CFWA, and that, through a fun story, those children reading it may learn a little bit about CF.  All profits from the sale of this book go directly to CFWA.

BookLauchFinally, I have one last thank you, the most important of all. I choose to dedicate this book to two very special people. In my twenty years of health care at Charlies, I was lucky enough to have a wonderful team of health care professionals.  Out of that wonderful staff, there are two people who were there the very first day I came to Charlies as a horrendous teen. Over the years they encouraged me, they supported me, on more than one occasion they lectured me, when I declined their kind invitations to come for an extended stay in Hotel Charlies sometimes they even managed to bully me into submission. Everything they did, they always did with my best interests at heart.

About ten years ago, rumours were abounding that Gerry or Sue or perhaps even both, were thinking of retirement. Sue brushed my concerns aside and assured me she’d be here at least ten more years … Gerry though wasn’t so forthcoming. In the end, I promised him that I wouldn’t die on his watch, if he promised not to retire. I kept my promise by the skin of my teeth, thanks to the wonderful transplant team at Royal Perth and of course an anonymous family who said yes to organ donation.

One of the worst kept secrets at Charlies is that some of us older CF patients referred to Gerry and Sue as ‘Uncle Gerry’ and ‘Aunty Sue’. The cat is well and truly out of the bag now, and I would ask that Uncle Gerry and Aunty Sue, please come up as I have a copy of my book for each of you.

With 'Aunty Sue' & 'Uncle Gerry"

With ‘Aunty Sue’ & ‘Uncle Gerry”

The Mystery of the Sixty-Five Roses

The Mystery of the Sixty-Five Roses

by Sandi Bowie and S.J. Hutton

A picture book about a boy, his sneakers and a quest to find sixty-five roses.

Learn about Cystic Fibrosis through Jeremy, a cheeky 10-year-old, as he slips into ‘Super Stealth Mode’.
When Darcy tells Jeremy that she hasn’t been to school all week because she has sixty-five roses, Jeremy is determined to find the roses for himself and see if he can get extra time off school.

(December 2012, Cystic Fibrosis WA, $12, paperback, 9780646557250)
(May 2015, Cystic Fibrosis WA, $4.99, e-Book, 9780646938837)

eBook Launch information

The Mystery of the Sixty-Five Roses is available on Amazon, iTunes & Kobo

Stacey J. Hutton is a young aspiring artist who kindly illustrated the book with her colourful Manga style pro bono.
Prior to working on the book she had no connection with cystic fibrosis.

All proceeds from the sale of this book go towards helping Cystic Fibrosis Western Australia achieve its vision of “Lives unaffected by CF“.

Buy the print edition directly from the Cystic Fibrosis Association of WA (Australian address only – limited copies available.)
Buy from the Amazon kindle store
Buy from the Kobo store
Buy from iTunes (Australia only)
Access Teaching Notes & Colouring Pages

Post updated 2015 to include eBook details