Ali Smith and the Answer to Everything

We sometimes become so bogged down that we forget to check-in with favourite authors, whose latest releases have not appeared on our radar at the time.  Ali Smith is one of my favourite British writers and reading “Autumn” published last year, is profoundly delightful for many reasons – most importantly because of her simple but profound explorations of the meaning of life.  Great satire  resulted from choosing to set her book at the time of Brexit, and this is well described a few weeks ago on The Conversation.  But it is her homage to stories and reading,  sustained by the discourses between the protagonist and her great platonic love, which are mind blowing.

I wonder if you can name the book read to Daniel in his hospital bed below?  Email Mrs Robins if you can.  I hope this excerpt resonates with you and helps you to explain better, why you read fiction.

“She’d opened the book she bought today. She’d started to read, from the beginning, quite quietly, out loud.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. 

The words had acted like a charm. They’d released it all, in seconds. They’d made everything happening stand just far enough away.

It was nothing less than magic.  Who needs a passport? Who am I? Where am I? What am I? I’m reading.(p201)

“Autumn” (Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2017) is the first of a quartet (you can guess the other titles) and I look forward to them all.  Don’t forget if you have any suggestions for book purchases, use the suggestion box on the front counter.

NaNoWriMo Guest Speaker

NaNoWriMo Update

The writer’s group are all over half way towards our goal of writing novels this month.  Four of our six novelists were available to host the Municipal Liaison for North Queensland, Ms Tash Grace, from CQU.  As an accomplished writer, Tash was very helpful in sharing her own involvement with NaNoWriMo and a good many writing tips.  We completed a quick word sprint and Tash gave us  feedback. It wasn’t easy to describe fire without using any colour adjectives to do that – but the challenge honed our ability to use our other senses – and our imagination!

We were fascinated by one of her take-home messages:

Research – If your scene is set in a Japanese temple and you haven’t been in one, research what is likely to be there.  You may not be able to use your eyes, but you can use your mind’s eye.  An even better way to immerse yourself in the context of your novel is via direct research/experiences.  Why not take up pastimes that will make you knowledgeable? Tash has learned both archery, firearms and the ancient art of building chain mail in order to suspend disbelief in her writing. Knowing more will help with writing descriptions that transport the reader into the character’s world. Google Earth is another recommended tool.

Lastly, it was reassuring to know that the main purpose of this annual novel writing challenge throughout November,  is quantity.  We are already succeeding in developing the discipline and the grit to write a significant story. We are learning that our characters grow on the page, waiting for us to return day after day.  Not having written such long stories before, on more than one occasion we were enlightened to find the characters have not run away because we are so well acquainted.

After November 30th, we will rest.  But for a writer, this first draft will be only the start of the challenge – we will have to spend many months editing and polishing our novels. NaNoWriMo can assist us with these stages of the process too.

We really appreciated the stickers and pens that made us feel like real authors, connected to a global community of writers. Thank you very sincerely Ms Grace,  for driving out to Smithfield on your day off  to spend time with us. We look forward to participating again next year and to inviting you back for a Young Writers Program write-in.


Thank you Ms Campbell & Year 7 Creatives

The Information Hub of the school welcomes your donations, because we share with everyone – without fear or favour.  If you are a member of our school community (parents too), you can borrow our resources. Just ask and we’ll add you to our database.  Students and staff are added automatically and can access eBooks as well.  If you need help to do that, visit our catalogue  online, or ask the library staff.

We wish to thank Smithfield teacher, Ms Natalie Campbell for her recent donation of dozens of Young Adult and adult titles.  We can always use more good books.  Knowing Ms Campbell, they will be novels that are  good for the soul as well as for entertainment and literacy.


Having recently hosted Primary Industries and Non-Fiction November, currently our intricately made Year 7 Ancient Rome dioramas are proving a curiosity. Thank  you for the display Year 7.  We wish we could answer all the questions from patrons.  In future, we will need to ask  creators to caption their work. Our visitors want to know things like:  Who made them?  How the various elements were made?  Where they found their information? If you own one of the dioramas please come in next week and we’ll caption your project together.


We are asking for your opinion, so check your emails.  If you haven’t completed your quick library survey in the past week,  you can do it here:  

School Libraries Matter

Parent Survey

This post is mainly for our parents.  Please ask your parents to fill it out this national online survey they haven’t already.

A coalition of Australian school library associations are asking parents to answer this brief survey to garner support for the continuance of both school Libraries and Teacher librarians to manage the libraries and all resources needed by staff and students.

As background reading to the issue, there’s an 5min podcast and a flyer:

Thanks if you can possibly respond to this national survey and pass the survey on please, to other parents in both state and private schools? 

Students, you’ll have your turn later this month. Our school is sending out a survey and is interested in your feedback about the kinds of tools, furniture and services that you would like to see in our school Information Centre.


Each semester, we are fortunate to be able to access the regional loans boxes from the Qld Museum.  A big thank you to Justin at KickArts regional gallery for circulating these specimens to schools and community groups.

The Marsupial Lion box was pretty cool. We learned that Thylacoleo was nothing like the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) or the Dingo. It was in a class of it’s own. The box included casts of both a skull and a realistic iteration of the lion’s head.

Apparently the Lion participated in a race with a Cheetah and the Cheetah won.  The lion said, “You cheated”. The Cheetah replied,  “Nah, you lion.”  LOL

Seriously, we have enjoyed some great displays this year.  Thank you Justin, KickArts and of course the Queensland Museum.

Official Farewell for Mrs Anderson

Presentation night featured a special guest we hadn’t seen around since April.  Mrs Anderson officially resigned after over 20 yrs service to Smithfield State High School – the last 6 years as our Library Officer.  She was among 3 senior staff members who will be leaving the school after this year. Thank you Mrs Anderson for your diligence, grace and wit.  You are still missed after all these months.  Mrs Anderson is pictured with Mrs Harrison (middle) and Mrs Joyce (far right).


Giving and Gratitude


Feeling grateful is a form of savouring and being mindful of all your blessings – human, natural and man-made. Try it?  Take a mindful walk between classes and both savour and be thankful for the breeze, the gardens, the sunlight and blue skies and the people you pass just for a few minutes. You’ll be amazed at how your mood will be lifted by the time you get to your next class. (Walters, L. The Strength Switch, 2017)

On the other hand, showing kindness to others gives a big boost to our own well-being. We should savour it too by recounting how they were lifted by our thoughtfulness.  Equally, tell friends, family, teachers that you’re grateful for them and direct your attention to letting them know that you appreciate the gifts and services they have given you.  Seniors will be reflecting on this now as they exit school one final time and begin the rest of their lives.  It could be as simple as a comment or post-it note?

We were recently in receipt of a kindness – a donation of a prized book collection.  I asked Karin Zitzelsperger if I could take her photo to acknowledge that she and her husband Walter decided to donate their Classics collection to Smithfield SHS Resource Centre.  We hope it makes Karin and Walter feel expansive to know that we will find a very good home for the Complete Works of Charles Dickens and the other items.  We are planning to gentrify our Fiction section early next year.  The Zitzelsperger’s Dickens collection will have pride of place in our new Classics section.  We do hold a good many classic novels but Karin and Walter’s gift will give that section a real boost.  Other sections planned include: Adventure, Suspense, Biography, Humour  etc.  You heard it first here, but call in first thing next year to check we have ‘made good’ on this promised rennovation.

Karin Zitzelsperger donates her Charles Dickens collection.


On the subject of gratitude. A big thank you to Senior, Eryn, who is taking time to mentor our writer’s group through a very challenging initiative – the writing of a novel in just ONE month.  The grit, motivation and organization required is our biggest challenge.  Participants can still sign up these first few days in November but should try to make the Wednesday meetings for support and boosts to your word count. One day down – 2% finished my novel draft.  How about you?


With resources all needing to come back for stocktake before the Christmas holidays, we’re encouraging students to ease off on borrowing them by the end of November.  You can read our eBooks and participate in our free trial of AudioBooks by using your Smartphone, Table or Computer to borrow and read from our online Wheelers Website.  Download ePlatform today for your phone or tablet and let us know if you need help.


Horror stories have been moving since we whipped up a quick Halloween display. Scary stories will definitely become a new fiction section next year.  Marsupial Lion from the Queensland museum has also been on the floor for the past 2 weeks.


NaNoWriMo is Coming

First we started with a Banned Books display, moved to the Great Barrier Reef and next week to something really mysterious with Thylacine from the Qld Museum regional loans.  Looking forward to that one.

But next month is November and you know what that means?  The NaNoWriMo challenge.  Only those intrepid few with true grit are signing up for the challenge of nominating a word limit and committing to write every day, without stopping, without revision, so that on the last day of November, they sit proudly in front of a whole novel (well a rough draft) of their own making.  It’s not too late to sign up.  We meet in the eLearning Room each Wednesday first break. We have senior writers to mentor us and to rope up with us to achieve our goals. New writers are very welcome but remember you only have until Oct 31st to sign up using our Smithfield Writer’s classroom code.


Writer’s Excursion to Trinity Bay SHS

Trinity Bay Writer’s Festival

“The World of Mystery” festival was held on Aug 10th & 11th at Trinity Bay SHS. Students from Yr 6 to 12 attended the two day workshop with world renowned authors, Lili Wilkinson, Nick Earls, Jack Heath and Anne Spudvillas.

“Seeing some of our students volunteer to read their own work to award-winning authors was a really great experience. Sharing and celebrating their writing, as well as encouraging one another, was something they should all be proud of!” remarked Ms Campbell.

Our budding authors – Jasmine M, Jessica R, Keegan M, Billie W and Tahnia E also commented:

“The writer’s festival was amazing … The authors and illustrators taught us a lot and I made many new friends … I learnt a lot about my friends’ ideas, aspirations and writing styles …

This experience was amazing and a ton of fun! … I cant wait till next year – I even started another book … I found a way to use my charcoal … I found it very interesting and educational … It inspired me to become a junior author… I now know how to illustrate my own book … Thanks for letting me go to that experience … You’re awesome”

CBCA Book Week 2017 – Escape to Everywhere

Books transport us to other places and inspired this year’s signposts to various fictional settings. None of our featured books from the 2017 shortlist were chosen Books of the Year. []

We featured Oliver Huxley’s allegory of grief “My Brother” and information books about design (Spellbound by Marie Coote) and courage (Fabish by Neridah McMullin). Thank you for your artistic assistance Mr Jarman and Sharon B (Yr12). and for the winning Panem travel poster by Dany C. & Vanda R. in 7A. Special thanks to Ms Ellington [pictured] for giving up some of her own time to help set up our display.


New Book Recommendation snipped from a Review by Jackson O. (Yr8)

Anthony Horowitz uses incredible description and storytelling to make a story that is not only intriguing and thrilling, but also engaging and thought-provoking. This unbelievable book constantly entertains and seems to surpass all other books in the Alex Rider series. ‘Alex Rider: Never Say Die’ will keep you on the edge of your seat and wanting more.




Citizen Writers

This month’s update features students writing. Cara has joined our YA novel reviewer scheme to boost our collection development through and Jasmine is one of eight Yr 7 & 8 students involved in Reader’s Cup this term. If you haven’t found your extra-curricular interest yet, Writer’s Group will welcome you next term, on Wednesdays at first break.

Reader’s Cup Report

On the 9th of June, two teams took part in the Readers Cup and visited Cairns State High School to go head to head to find out the winning school. We each had to read the 6 chosen books before the competition and quiz each other. When we arrived at the venue, we took our seats and nervously waited for the competition to begin. Mrs Robins had a job on the marker’s table. Overall, both teams from Smithfield did well and one of the teams was even winning for the first 2 books. In addition, we were able to socialise with students from other schools in the region, who were also interested in reading. The Cairns Book Shop had donated a few books to the competition for teams to win for spot questions. Kurt scored one for us! Both teams from Smithfield State High School enjoyed this competition and I would recommend that any interested readers take part next year.

Written by Jasmine on behalf of Jessica, Billie, Mikaela, Eme-Rose, Elle, Kurt, Keegan and Ms Robins. Photo by Ms Murgatroyd.

“Alex Approximately” by Jenn Bennett

Recommended. 14+ The novel ‘Alex Approximately’ shows that you can know someone behind the computer screen but also face-to-face and not know that it is the same person. The book, written by Jenn Bennett, explores a story of summer, first love, hidden identities and friendship. After moving in with her dad on the other side of the country, 17-year-old Bailey goes on a hunt for a great guy she knew from online, who happens to live close. Alex is a film geek and not nearly as irritating as Bailey’s handsome co-worker at the local cinema. But Porter is also keeping secrets.

Bennett’s female character goes through a thrilling summer into school. On the way, she tests her strength, loyalty and trust against those around her. The book is a wonderful read and Bennett has a great sense of humour making you laugh at casual jokes.

“Alex Approximately” proves that falling in love can happen even when you think it is with the wrong person.

By Cara

Kudos to those students who keep checking their emails to know what’s happening – like our recent YAPS and Muttaburrasaurus displays, or new Red Hot Reads. Check out one new book or ebook this holidays.

Mrs R

Teacher Librarian



Flying Success

Skyrail staff have judged the winner of our “International Year of Sustainable Tourism and Development”  competition and I congratulate Grace K by featuring her competition response below. Grace receives a return family pass aboard Skyrail for four, valued at $188.

A highly commended entry came from Sorami O, who displayed excellent desktop publishing skills as well as some thorough research about Skyrail’s activities.

Skyrail’s Flying Success

Cairns Skyrail Rainforest Cableway receives large success with numerous sustainable tourism awards.

By Grace K

Cairns Skyrail is a successful tourist destination; attracting thousands of tourists a year, who all come from afar to see Australian rainforest at its best. With multiple stops from Cairns to Kuranda, Skyrail provides nature tours and breath-taking views at every stop.   Skyrail officially opened to the public in 1995, attracting lots of attention for the world’s first family-friendly and environmentally safe Australian rainforest experience.

The forests surrounding the cableway attracts many wildlife creatures, as there are many sightings of bush turkeys, tent spiders, cassowary and even the rare sighting of a Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo. Skyrail makes sure to protect these species, native to the rainforest, which are an exciting addition to the Skyrail experience.

Nature journals are kept on the website to showcase Australia’s amazing and rich nature in the rainforests, in an educational way -including facts and statistics of the flora and fauna.

What is the best time to visit the Skyrail? Though Skyrail is breathtaking and fun all year round, the wet season has the perfect temperature and rain capacity to fully bring out the peak of rainforest beauty. The clouds and fog surround the gondolas as they move further up the mountain. The views from each gondola’s windows are picture perfect quality and radiate calming and beautiful scenery.

The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is sustainably beneficial, not only for the wildlife surrounding the area but the local community.

Skyrail purchases local produce and sustains a high rate of local-based employees, including local indigenous people.  A main goal for Skyrail is to improve the understanding and appreciation for the tropical forest environment to ensure the sustainability of local flora and fauna for years to come.

Take more Risks…Like our Young Smithfield SHS Newsreaders

Mt Sheridan Plaza/ Win News Cairns Young Newsreader Competition

Five very commendable senior students and their families drove to Mt Sheridan on Sat March 18 to participate in the Young Newsreader heats. All five shone beside their competitors. They experienced so many new and strange things: sitting behind a news desk in front of a live audience, speaking into a television camera, using a teleprompter and reading the news confidently and fluently. I might be biased but Smithfield impressed! Louise wrote, It was an exceptionally amazing opportunity and I learned a lot in those few moments.  I know what I can do better about my public speaking, and can work on improving beyond my current ability.” A gift bag including a retail voucher and certificate was a bonus. If you are in Yr 10 or 11 and considering nominating next year, ask Sorami O, Jack G, Louise M, Alex C or Tegan M what it felt like to be a “splendid sun” on television for five whole minutes?  [Pictured Sorami O]

Skyrail Competition Closes soon

So, how about taking a risk?  You could win the $200 family return pass on Skyrail.  All you need to do, is compose a 300 word (minimum) newspaper article and email/hand to Mrs Robins. More information @ Your Library