Author Study: Morris Gleitzman
“An ageing bloke with no hair and a bit too much tummy,” * Morris Gleitzman, (“rhymes with like, white and bite, which makes” him “sound more like a dairy product” * than a writer) is one of Australia’s bestselling authors. As well as novels, he has written for television and stage. He has a knack for presenting serious subjects in humorous and unexpected ways.
Morris was born in England in 1953, moving to Australia at the age of sixteen (1969). Growing up he says his mother taught him how to be neat and tidy while his father taught him how to be funny. He didn’t like school much preferring to play the class clown. He had high hopes of becoming a professional soccer player but that didn’t work out. While studying to obtain a degree in professional writing he worked as a chicken thawer, a store Santa Claus, an assistant fashion designer and a sugar mill stockman.
As a writer, he began writing for television, including feature film and telemovie scripts for children’s television. He wrote for the famous Norman Gunston Show as well as stage material for actress/comedian Pamela Stephenson and the Governor General of Australia. He wrote his first children’s novel in 1985 (at the age of 32), The Facts of Life followed by Two weeks with the Queen, which received high acclaim and was an international best seller, and was later converted into a play performed in Australia, London, South Africa, Canada, Japan and the USA.
He has been published in over 20 countries and by 1999 was one of Australia’s most popular writers. He speaks at schools (which he like mush more as an adult that he did as a child), has collaborated with Paul Jennings for a series and continues to write between his two homes, one in Sydney and one in Brisbane. Each house has an identical office, with identical knick-knacks and pen jars, with each novel spending time at each venue: “I think the Sydney pen jar is better at endings.” *
He says he enjoyed reading when he was young, anything would do even “knitting patterns.” * Now he prefers nonfiction works, “things I slept through at school.” * With the William series by Richmal Crompton being his all-time favourites.
All of his books have received awards including the Yabba, the Awgie, Book of the Year, the Cool Award the Bilby Award and the Koala Award. But that’s not what he writes for, in his own words “awards are a bit like pimples – if you get some it’s best not to think about them or squeeze them to much…. The awards I really like getting are the ones voted for by the actual readers.” *
For Gleitzman and book can take from 2 weeks to 10 years to write, but the average is 9 months, 2 months planning, 2 months writing and 2 months recrafting with breaks in between. His stories are made up but often have tiny bits of his own life snuck in. Gleitzman says his goal is to make people laugh and cry, he loves making characters that are “braver, funnier, wiser, sillier and more determined” * than himself, and then loves to make friends with them. He finds reward in the idea that his books will continue to be read after he’s dead. And on a more basic level he enjoys writing because he gets to use stationery, and he like stationery, he gets to work in his pyjamas, see his work in book store windows and makes money he can travel with.
On the down side: he says writing has given him a bad back and it can get lonely, “now and then I crave the company of people who are not inside my head.” *
Morris wrote Doubting Thomas in 2006, it was short listed for the REAL Children’s Choice Book Awards in 2008. Thomas is eleven and lives with his mum and dad and big sister Alisha. He was a pretty normal kid until he discovered he had developed a startling new ability. Every time anyone tells a lie Thomas develops a violent itch in his nipples. It's uncomfortable, embarrassing and gets Thomas into all sorts of trouble and he just wants it to go away. So, with the help of his two friends, Holly and Kevin, he sets out to find a cure. For me Kevin was the glue that held the farcical events together.
In Gleitzman’s first draft it wasn’t itchy nipples. It was itchy ears, but thanks to another author who had already used the idea, Morris had to work his way through possible body part alternatives and before finally settling on the hilarious image of nipples going “feather duster” that had me squirming and avoiding nipple contact every time I read it. This is standard, humorous Gleitzman and, as such, will appeal to those who enjoy a relaxing read with no particular challenges.
It’s a light-hearted romp from Australia to Paris while Gleitzman makes it clear that he is reacting to present day dilemmas along the way: with passing comments on such things as the 'Wheaties' scandal and Thomas' agony when he passes TVs broadcasting interviews with politicians. However, what takes central stage is social and familial dishonesty. Perhaps the message is honesty begins at home, something that young readers with little political influence can relate to, or at least think about.
I enjoyed this book, it didn’t make me think too hard, and gave me more than one giggle along the way. If that’s what you’re looking for its perfect.
Morris Gleitzman is a self-confessed clown, which I can relate to. I enjoy his way of exploring the world, serious topics camouflaged in quirky stories, full of likeable characters and idealism.
Long may he write.
By Miss. Armstrong
* Quotes from interviews with Morris Gleitzman
• http://www.morrisgleitzman.com/biographies.htm, Wednesday, 29 March 2017
• Wikipedia contributors. "Morris Gleitzman." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
• http://biography.jrank.org/pages/1068/Gleitzman-Morris-1953.html, Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Science and Invention in the Elizabethan Era:
The Dark Ages, circa A.D. 500 to 1100, were characterized by a general erosion of civilization. Knowledge from the ancient Romans survived in only a few monasteries and cathedral and palace schools, while knowledge from ancient Greece almost disappeared completely. From right before the Dark Ages until about a century after, there were almost no important scientific advances. The Catholic Church became very powerful in Europe, and religious dogma governed much of what people thought and believed. Those whose beliefs or practices strayed from the church were "rehabilitated" and brought back into the fold. Resistance often led to persecution. The Elizabethan Era was a time of great advancements in science. In fact, one of the most renowned scientists of all time lived during this era.
Galileo Galilee is credited with the important invention of the telescope and a variety of laws and theories that include the laws of the pendulum and the laws of dynamics. Other influential scientists that lived during this time include Kepler, famous for his discoveries in astronomy, and Vesalius who was a famous anatomist, physician and author.
Although many scientific discoveries were made during this period science was not encouraged by. In fact, many scientists have fallen victim to the charges of witchcraft or mutiny towards the throne and put to death during this time. Even Galileo was put to death and the true importance of his inventions and theories weren't truly recognized until later.
Throughout the Elizabethan Era, innovations and inventions propelled the technological standards of the average homeowner. Some of these inventions helped to educate the population in schools, and allowed people to learn more about their world and the mysteries and enigmas that it is drowned in.
1537: Tartaglia's gunner's quadrant for aiming cannon, 1st firing tables
1540: Toriano invents a mandolin-playing automaton
1543: John Dee creates a wooden beetle that can fly for an undergraduate production - one of the first robots
1550: John Dee, 'the guiding spirit' of the English school of mathematicians wrote a notable preface to the first edition in English of Euclid's Elements of Geometry
1565: Conrad Gesner of Switzerland invents the pencil
1568: Bottled beer is invented in London
1569: Gerard Mercator invents Mercator map projection
1582: Pope Gregory XIII invents the modern, Gregorian calendar
1583: Leonard and Thomas Digges invent the telescope
1589: William Lee invents the knitting machine
1590: Dutchmen, Hans & Zacharias Janssen invent the compound microscope
1591: Sir John Harington invents the flush toilet in England
1593: Francis Bacon invented the frozen chicken
1593: Galileo invents a water thermometer
1600: William Gilbert publishes treatise "On the Magnet". William Gilbert is referred to as the father of the science of electricity and magnetism
The Scientific Method was further developed during this era. Galileo used controlled experiments and analysed data to prove, or disprove, his theories. The process was later refined by scientists such as Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a successful lawyer and influential philosopher who did much to reform scientific thinking. In his "Instauratio Magna¬," Bacon proposed a new approach to scientific inquiry, which he published in 1621 as the "Novum Organum Scientiarum." This new approach advocated inductive reasoning as the foundation of scientific thinking. Bacon also argued that only a clear system of scientific inquiry would assure man's mastery over the world.
These technological advancements and innovations were created by the several famous scientists and thinkers. A few of the more notable and famous scientists and thinkers, such as Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, and Andreas Vesalius, made a very large impact on the technological advancements in the era. By the time of Galileo's death, the stage had been set for a true revolution in scientific thinking.
1. William Harris "How the Scientific Method Works" 14 January 2008.
HowStuffWorks.com. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/scientific-experiments/scientific-method.htm> 25 March 2017
2. Nelson, Ken. " History: Renaissance Science for Kids." Ducksters. Technological Solutions, Inc. (TSI), Mar. 2017. Web. 25 Mar. 2017. < http://www.ducksters.com/history/renaissance_science.php
3. http://elizabethanmuseum.weebly.com/science-and-technology.html, Saturday, 25 March 2017.
4. http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-inventions.htm , Saturday, 25 March 2017.
by Jan Neil, March 2, 2017.
Polly and Petunia's fate!
It was one of those serene, peaceful, sunny and quiet Sunday afternoons. All the weekend chores done, I sat in the cool spa pool listening to the mesmerising hum of cicadas and the distant drone of a passing small plane. The children were at our friends Joyce and Arthurs’ awaiting my imminent arrival, playing with their besties, but I lingered in the peace a little longer. Tony my ‘never where he should be husband’ had gone to town on the two pm barge, planning to get stock for the garden centre the following day.
My peace was shattered by the loud ringing of the rust coloured, wall mounted phone. An incessant ring that just didn’t want to stop.
“Hello,” I answered eventually, only to hear the neighbour Dave ranting with exasperation about a pig eating all the rubbish in the street and try as he might he could not tether the DAMN pig and EVERYONE had their rubbish out for collection the next day.
My mind was quickly assessing where I last saw Polly and Petunia our two sows, with minds of their own and zero respect for authority or boundaries. They were in their pen just half an hour before, surely, surely it was not them. Alas upon inspection, through the perfectly positioned window, I discovered we had no pigs in our pen.
“Dave,” I said calmly, “Don’t worry, I will get them I can assure you.”
Calm I was not. The cursing and swearing under my breath was as good as any sailors as I hunted down a bucketful of pig pellets. Would they prefer the rubbish or could I lure them back up the street with the aroma of a bucketful of pellets? Why, oh why did this always happen when Tony was not home? Arthur called just as I donned my gumboots and headed out. Highly amused by my predicament he said he would meet me on the corner to prevent them getting any further afield.
As luck would have it Polly and Petunia preferred pellets to the slim pickings in the neighbour’s rubbish and the pandemonium came to an abrupt end as we secured the pigs in the pen. My mind far from relaxed now, I began thinking about how much nicer plants were to livestock. Mmm ‘Buelas Buxus’ sounds like a better plan and Polly and Petunia will be perfect in the pan!
There's a Bee in my Bra.
February 23, 2017