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Author Dannika Patterson

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by Belladonna (subscribe)
Loves going out and about, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing about her adventures!
Published September 23rd 2020
Award-winning author connecting children with nature
Once upon a time, children in Australia spent a lot of time playing and being outdoors. Then the Digital Age arrived, and children began to spend more of their time indoors. The Digital Age has been so successful that children these days are more comfortable being inside in front of a screen than being outdoors at a playground or park.

Australian author Dannika Patterson is passionate about our children connecting and re-connecting with nature through play. "As a mum, I'm keenly aware that when kids spend time in nature (even if they don't want to go at first!), they end up having the best experiences," Dannika tells me. It is these experiences that our children need more of in this Digital Age and that Dannika has so beautifully captured in her picture books Jacaranda Magic and Scribbly Gum Secrets.

Introducing award-winning author and lifelong nature lover, Dannika Patterson.

About Dannika
Ever since she was little, Dannika had always longed to be an author. "Words and stories have always been my joy," Dannika tells me. "I love to read them, write them, pull them apart, mull over them, search for meaning within them. I have to thank my Mum for that. She read to me from the moment I was born and never said no to my toddler requests of 'again', 'again' and 'again' with my favourite books. I thank her for giving me the opportunity to fall in love with books from such an early age."

Dannika loved writing creatively throughout her primary school and high school years and continued to carry the dream within her of being a published author one day. But her teenage self began to entertain doubts after she spoke to adults who were authors. "They told me how hard it was to make a living writing books, how the constant rejection got them down," she explains. So Dannika came up with a backup plan. She enrolled in degrees in Journalism & Psychology at University and went on to live and work in the UK and USA, creating a successful career writing & creating content to help businesses tell their stories. She got distracted with her back up plan for about 10 years before moving back to Australia and starting a family. "Becoming a Mum and reading to my kids from birth reignited my love of picture books," Dannika says. "Reading to my own children rekindled my childhood dream of becoming an author. Motherhood made me brave. The fear I had felt for so many years about 'putting myself out there' with my creative work as an author just...left, with the arrival of my children. And so I got to work, writing stories in the cracks of toddler and baby-raising and other part-time work on the side. It was (and still is!) messy and erratic, but still, as always, writing is my joy."

In 2018, Dannika published her first picture book, Jacaranda Magic.
Author Dannika Patterson

Jacaranda Magic
Published by Ford Street Publishing, Jacaranda Magic was inspired by a mix of memories from Dannika's own childhood and observations of watching her own children grow up and interact with nature and play imaginatively. "I grew up in a sleepy suburban street where a giant jacaranda tree was the meeting point for all the street kids after school," Dannika tells me. "Every day we played, our imaginations ruled and although our physical space was the same, the games we played were really different, inspired by nature and our imaginations. I noticed that children these days don't tend to jump to imaginative play quite as quickly as I remember doing, without explicit prompt, props or invitation."

Jacaranda Magic is a unique rhyming picture book that celebrates imaginative play and highlights the value of boredom and nature in inspiring creativity. It is stunningly illustrated by twice CBCA Shortlisted illustrator Megan Forward and features a diverse set of characters playing in a relatable and inclusive outdoor environment. Jacaranda Magic addresses a concerning trend emerging from research in early education that points to today's Australian children struggling to develop creative, imaginative and gross motor skills due to diminishing access or encouragement to play outdoors.

Scribbly Gum Secrets
Dannika published her second picture book, Scribbly Gum Secrets, in April this year. Also published by Ford Street Publishing and lavishly illustrated again by Megan Forward, Scribbly Gum Secrets tells the story of four reluctant kids on a walk through the bush as they make all sorts of wild discoveries and try to discover who - or what - scribbled a secret message on the scribbly gum trees. This story is a delightful adventure that stimulates awareness about the beauty to be found in Australia's natural surroundings. It blends fact with fiction to encourage children to explore the outdoors and become environmentally friendly while learning about the role and contribution of each living thing in the world around them.

Other books by Dannika
Dannika has also written and published another nature-based work, SeaSpray17: Ocean Photography & Haiku Poetry, a gorgeous collection of 17 ocean images paired with 17 haiku poems (each with 17 syllables each). "I've always had an affinity with the sea, growing up beside the waters of Moreton Bay in Queensland," Dannika tells me, "and it continues to be an endless source of inspiration for me."
Dannika has also authored several educational reader titles for a not for profit organisation, Library For All. And she will very soon be releasing her latest picture book, Beach Kindy. "Beach Kindy is not a traditional trade publication," Dannika explains. "Rather it is a not-for-profit passion project to give back to a very special community kindergarten in my local area. I try to undertake one purely passion-driven, not-for-profit creative project every year. I believe in continually using my skills to give back, where I can."
Beach Kindy celebrates the pure joy of learning through play and holds a real sense of the very special place (Wynnum General Gordon Community Kindergarten) where it is set. The publication of this book also coincides with Wynnum General Gordon's 70th anniversary of serving the bayside community, making it extra special.

More about Dannika
When she's not busy writing or enjoying school visits, making festival appearances, or connecting with readers via social media, Dannika loves immersing herself in a good book or heading out to the beach or the bush with her family for an outdoor adventure.
You can learn more about and connect with Dannika via her website here or her Facebook page. You can also get your copies of Dannika's books including Jacaranda Magic and Scribbly Gum secrets via her website or Ford Street Publishing.

"I am passionate about connecting children to nature through quality literature. My mission is to help children fall in love with the natural world (because we protect what we love) in a joyful, gentle, age-appropriate way."
Dannika Patterson

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