Award-winning Brisbane writer, teacher and mother Karen Tyrrell knows a lot about bullying.
When she was in Year 6, a 'frenemy' bullied her, taking away her self-confidence. Then many years later, when Karen was a primary school teacher and after having taught happily for twenty years, the parent of one of her students bullied her so badly that she had a major break down. "I became stressed, anxious and mentally ill," she told me.
Karen, however, has used creative writing as a form of therapy, to help her mental health recovery and to tackle the very harmful problem that is bullying. She wrote and published her first book, Me and Her: A Memoir of Madness, in 2012. The following year, she published Me and Him: A Guide to Recovery, with 30 steps to recovery and well-being. She has also written several children's books that deal with bullying and that help to empower kids to live strong through humour and self-belief.
Karen's latest children's series deals very imaginatively with the theme of bullying. Plus there's a very appealing superhero who can fly, as well as villains called Frank Furter and Destructo, both hellbent on destroying the world as we know it. Welcome to the world of Song Bird, the half bird, half girl, all superhero!
Song Bird Song Bird is a bullied girl named Rosella Ava Bird who discovers her superpowers when she sings. The inspiration for Rosella came from Karen herself. When her frenemy in Year 6 bullied her, Karen joined her school's choir. "Singing lifted me up until 'I could fly,' boosting my self-esteem and my self-belief," Karen says.
Flying is indeed Song Bird's super power. And with that, she challenges evil bully Frank Furter in book 1, Songbird Superhero, and the equally evilly-named bully Destructo in book 2, Songbird: The Battle of Bug World. Songbird meets Destructo again in Karen's third book, Songbird: Rainforest Rescue.
But the Songbird series doesn't just tackle the issue of bullying; it also has a very important environmental message. Karen has a strong passion for the environment. In book 2, she deals with the problem of the world's bees. And in Rainforest Rescue, Gondwana Rainforest is the setting for a fast-paced eco fantasy adventure, where the forest is dying, kids are disappearing, and strange mythical creatures begin to materialize. Karen is currently writing her fourth book in the Songbird series (out in 2019), and this one is all about children saving the Great Barrier Reef. "Children can make a huge difference to the planet by making small changes and standing up for what they believe in," Karen says.
Karen with her husband, Steve, at Binna Burra, Gondwana Rainforest
Karen loves her job as an author, but she is still a teacher at heart. "I love speaking to children in schools," Karen says, "sharing my pro-active strategies on bully prevention, child empowerment and caring for the environment." Her book launches and other author events are events not to be missed, with multi-media presentations, costumes, props, guest speakers, power point, dramatic book readings, kid's activities and free goodie bags.
Come along to Karen's next author events and meet Songbird (and maybe even a villain or two!): 25 AUG 9.30am-12.30pm Dymocks Indooroopilly - Book signing 8 SEP 1pm-4pm Under the Greenwood Tree Mt Tamborine - Book signing 25 SEP 10am Logan Hyperdome Library – Storytelling
To order copies of Karen's books and to download free teacher notes and kids' activities, go to Karen Tyrrell.