Category Archives: Other

Sharing our Advent Calendar 1st-4th December

What is advent and what does it mean? Well,  Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas.  It literally means ‘Coming’ in Latin. This for Christians, therefore, means the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.

So, I have decided to share a tradition from my home. Each year, we take it in turns to write the messages for our advent calendar, which consists of small boxes like houses, hung individually.

This year the task fell to me. It always takes me a bit to get going and I do not claim that all the ideas came from myself,  some were inspired by websites, however, once I did get going and into the Christmas Spirit, it became easier.

So, here are the first four days sayings, which I hope you will enjoy:

  • A PINCH OF LOVE                                                                                                    MIX IN A LARGE POT AND POUR OVER THE ONE YOU LOVE.

WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS,                                                        WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS,                                                        WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR  – THERE YOU GO, THAT’S YOUR EARWORM FOR THIS YEAR-


and an extra one for good measure;


Enjoy the build up to this special time of the year folks, and remember always those less fortunate than us.


Pop-up Book Fairs – Southern Courier

A few months ago, I decided to start Pop-up book fairs in Johannesburg. I had seen authors go to coffee shops and have book launches but I wanted more. More authors and more people.

Southern Courier reported our visit to Cafe La Plume here is what they had to say…

Promoting reading is the way to go

READING IS GREAT: The group of authors who gathered at Café La Plume recently. Front: Ashleigh Giannoccaro, Cora Groenewald and Kim Hunter. Back: Silke Kaiser, Gerry Pelser, Evadeen Brickwood and Jann Weeratunga.

JANN Weeratunga who lives in Winchester Hills began writing about 10 years ago with a few pieces of poetry. Since then she has written many children’s books, including the Polly’s Piralympics series, inspired by the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympic Games, and is for readers aged between eight and 12 years old.

Polly’s Piralympics series of books are both unique in concept as well as content and format. They deal with disabilities, bullying and cheating. The books also have a comprehension page at the end of each chapter, where the participants can answer questions and draw their own characters etc.

“I’ve been to many primary schools with my parrots, and the children really relate to them and the stories about Polly,” said Jann.

Recently, her and other authors from around Johannesburg, including Kim Hunter, Gerry Pelser, Silke Kaiser, Cora Groenewald, Ashleigh Giannoccaro and Evadeen Brickwood, met at Café La Plume in Glenanda for a morning of poetry and reading.

“It was a fun time getting together, and we are planning on more mornings in the near future where we can promote reading among children and adults,” said Jann.

Thank you Southern Courier for the support of local Indie authors and to Cafe la Plume for once again hosting us.

Who is Jann Weeratunga?

As an author, I am always being asked about my life, who I am and why I started writing.

Where was I born? I was born in Perivale Maternity Hospital, Ealing in West London. (Sadly this institution which delivered thousands of babies was flattened and re-designated for housing, as births moved into mainstream hospitals.

Mum would recall how it was the coldest Winter last century and dad arrived, as did many excited fathers, to be greeted by the matron who scolded them, made them take off their overcoats and jump up and down until they had warmed themselves up, before allowing them through to wives and newborns.

I grew up happily in Ealing, went to Wood End Primary School, followed by Woodend Girls school, before someone had the bright idea of changing its name! Then we moved within Ealing to another suburb and I attended North Ealing Primary. In fact, my father and Aunt, Grandmother and Great Aunt had all attended this school, there I blossomed into a long lanky child who was nicknamed ‘Spoon,’ and became a defender of other odd-ball because I was head and shoulders taller than the bullies.

High School consisted of endless happy days. My peers caught up with me height-wise and as an ex-grammar school, (gosh I seemed to be a child whose surrounding formed change of the times,) anyway I loved high school. I played French horn and eventually went to Ealing Tech Saturday Music School, I remember my horn teacher was Lyn Morgan, a Welshman in the air force. the various choirs, orchestras, wind bands and wind ensembles I belonged to became quite good, culminating in two performances at the Albert Hall and one at the Festival Hall – the latter a competition where we came 2nd. I recall my father reading from the Times that had we had a stronger string section we would have come first. I don’t recall we even knew it was a competition, we just thought it was another concert – we performed a lot of concerts!

Anyway, at highschool, I loved sport, but with glasses that never seemed to want to stay on my face I ended up refereeing netball more than playing (actually I was quite good at it and refereed whilst at school for age groups 3 years my senior as well and 3 years my junior.)

But my love of sports and music resulted only in joining dad at the local Wasps rugby matches (I think he had secretly hope for a son first,) though I developed a passion for cricket and rugby that extend even to today.

Here with the Chief Scout at my lads CSA presentation

Life in my late teens through to my early 30’s was filled with Scouting. I devoted countless evenings and weekends to cubs and scout, ending with unarguably the best scout troops in the Greenford District for many years. I had something to prove you see, after ‘uncle Ted’ remarked, “Oh my god it’s a bl**dy woman.” as I entered the Scout HQ. It took less than 3 months for my lads to win their first trophy after I told them about it, and within the year we had won 12/13 trophies which we held for the next 7 years, – that darn swimming trophy always just alluded us, ha, ha, ha.

After marrying and moving to Sri Lanka I was widowed within four years, but determined to give back to a community who had given me so much, so, I remained in the country and helped set up new libraries and English Schools (to develop and promote spoken English.)

Whilst I was still living in Sri Lanka I became an NPO following the Tsunami in 2005. I had been on holiday in the UK visiting my mother, she woke me on the Sunday morning of 23rd December 2005.                            “Something terrible has happened in Sri Lanka.”

Mum buried under a building mountain of clothes etc

I ran to the lounge to see the results of the Tsunami in my beloved Sri Lanka. I immediately called my nephew Rukshan Jayawardene and asked what I could do? 5 days earlier we had been staying in Yala National Park. I waved to friends as they entered and we left, and that was the last time she saw them, as the wave took their lives. Determined to help, I turned my mother’s lounge and most of her house as well as a neighbour’s double garage into a Tsunami collection point. I had stayed on in the UK for a month after the Tsunami and been helped by mum’s neighbours, golfing acquaintances, sponsors and scout to collect all manner of things needy things for a people who had literally had their homes and lives torn away from them. Everything was packed into a 40ft trailer and sent to Sri Lanka, and then over the next 6 months distributed to the needy in A-bay, with the help of friends foreign and local.

I then spent the next 2 years in Aragum Bay helping villagers where I could. Sewing machine and material to set up small cottage industries. Helping to rebuild a Montessori on higher ground – a place of safety where the children will always run to should another Tsunami ever hit. Providing hundreds of books to set up a new library at the school, and helping to rebuild a small B&B. I chose ‘my Sri Lankan family,’ as they were a mixed marriage (Singhalese and Tamil.) and one in war-torn Sri Lanka that no-one else wanted to help.

I dodged mined-lined narrow roads, as I drove between Kandy in the Central Highlands of the Island, and home for nearly 10 years, to Arugam Bay on the Tamil Tiger-held East Coast. Was it dangerous? Yes, probably, but I didn’t think about that at the time. I just did it.

Sri Lanka '07 231By mid-2006 I was all but burnt out. I had achieved much, helped ‘my family’ build a business that would sustain them into the future, co-rebuild a Montisourri with my friend Tim and help bring books into the village to start a new library. But now it was time to move on.

I spent almost a year in the Middle East (UAE and Bahrain) teaching KG2 graders before moving to South Africa where I started to write, fell in love and remain to this day living in Johannesburg with my four dogs. I believe I have established myself withing the literary Indies community and regularly organise meeting and book fairs for same. But my real passion is taking Polly into schools to talk about bullying, or Toucane to talk about Stranger Danger or Keeping our world clean.

It’s what I have always been good at really – talking to children. My books and puppet are just another way to do this and get the message over. I love my life and what I do and I must be one of the luckiest people I know to be able to follow my passion in this regard.

So, there you have it. A bit about who I am. If you have any questions you would like to ask?


What Can I Do?

We’ve all seen the pictures, haven’t we? You know the ones of poor African kids in the news headlines and probably thought “Another plea another African begging bowl. BUT, when you see it close up and personal it brings on a whole new meaning.

I visited the Laura Vicuna Education Center in Ennerdale (Southern Johannesburg, and part of the Don Bosco Educational Project.) a few months ago, it touched me so much that after driving out of the rubbish laden roads it is situated in and getting across the highway I had to park my car and cry.

Cry for the amazing efforts that Sister Lidia Castro and the Salesian Sister are doing there as well as a handful of staff with little or no resources. In fact, I couldn’t stop crying for quite a while, which is why I went back.

Charmaine Venter of Umtunzi Exhibitions gave a generous donation for books for a school, so I asked her to accompany me to give books to this school personally. I can tell you my second visit was also an emotional roller coaster, as it was for Charmaine. A roller coaster to see the happy faces of the kids and teachers receiving the books, but sad because when we left we knew they needed more.

They need volunteers to read to the children and help to teach them to read. They need the rubbish dumps around the school cleaned and formalized.

When I last visited Sister Lidia was related a story by one of the other sisters about a 6-year-old child who lived near Orange Farm who walked to school half of the way with her mother who then went to work, the child then walked the remainder through the rubbish tips on her own! We live in a country where a child or woman gets raped every 4 minutes! Why does her mother do it – because it is the best education she can get.

Coupled with this there are many children who attend irregularly as they head up their household and have to care for younger siblings as there are no parents – these are not young adults here people but 10, 11, 12-year-olds who run their homes due to the death of parents usually from HIV/AIDS.

Those who do have parents are supported by their parents scouring the rubbish tips, or if they are lucky they work as housemaids or gardeners often for as little as R100 per day, (That is less than a dollar a day) because they are taken advantage of and most do not have papers.

Pretty grim eh? Well we can change this, if you can volunteer to read to the kids once a week, or better still help teach a learner to read for themselves you would be changing a child’s life forever (74% Grade 4’s cannot read in SA = 74% of 11-year-olds cannot read in their mother tongue) classes are often 50/60 learners to a class, which translates to 6/7 minutes per day per child. So come on folks let’s make a difference.

#SRRS, #PollysPiralympics


Today an Angel Came Down From Heaven

Today an Angel came down from Heaven, tunnel

She said for just a while;

She visited my mum’s sister in hospital

And gave her a beautiful smile.



My aunt was tired the Angel said

And just needed a little rest;

She held her hand and kissed her cheek

And from an Angel was blessed.


The Angel said it was time to leave,

For God was calling them home;

She took her hand and spread her wings

And in a moment was gone.


Today an Angel came down from Heaven

And took my mum’s sister away;

I hope when it’s my turn to leave,

She’ll come for me that day.


Goodbye Auntie Serena, may you rest peacefully with the Angels, I know you were tired and confused, but they will take care of you now.

I hate Alzheimer’s it is a wicked disease that takes a loved one from their family way too early.

Inspiration created when like-mind merge.

Inspiration is created when like-minds merge, it’s amazing, all the neurons start to fire and ideas bounce around the room. It’s as if you can feel the room come alive with characters dancing about the place.


Well, that’s what happened when I met Tammy a young illustrator and aspiring, very, very different author. And oh boy YA readers does she have something different for you – watch this space.

Here is one of her characters and I am very excited to see what she does with my books. Isn’t he just such a darling?

So I am working on books for younger kids and holding thumbs, crossing finger et al that with the help of Councillor Julie Suddaby my books will reach the correct places.

I’M SO EXCITED!!!!! And it all kicked off just a year ago – Thank you, Deborah Du Plooy at Skoobs Theatre of books, you changed my life.



It Could Have Been Me (Tsumani 2004)

Tsunami 2004 – Sri Lanka – To lost friends never forgotten

(It still haunts me.)

‘Something terrible has happened” it’s on the TV,

As I woke Boxing Day morn, with mum calling me;

I’d just left there, making my annual pilgrimage back to the UK,

When disaster struck on that winters day.


As I watched the carnage unfold on the TV screen,

People I knew, places I’d been

Three days ago I was there,

Then it became only a wasteland, the coastline stripped bare.


The telephones rang but with no reply,

As frantically I tried to see if friends were still alive

And soon my mum’s house became a centre for collecting

All manner of household objects, toys and clothing.


Within the month I’d returned back home,

Travelled the coastline to see homes all gone.

80% of the coast affected or damaged,

Broken buildings and bodies, results of the carnage.


And so it began, the influx of peoples

From all corners of the world, to help where it was needed.

We issued out clothing; towels; linen and toys,

To the expectant faces of young girls and boys.


Slowly over the next couple of years,

I’d listen to stories and wipe away tears.

‘The first wave came when my children were at school’

My wife ran down the beach, there was nothing I could do’


Again and again, I listened to the recall,

How the sea rose up into a terrible wall,

Then came crashing down with power and anger

Leaving in its wake debris and danger.

They all perished, in the bungalow, as the wave struck,

Friends I had known, they’d had no luck

It could have been me, there on the beach

As the tsunami hit, safety out of reach.


And so for the next two years the c, ast became home,

As I helped rebuild homes and a Montessori where all village kids would come,

I met many peoples from all corners of the earth,

All helping rebuild lives and give meaning and worth.


I remember morning showers, a bucket, rope and a well,

Then swimming lessons on the beach, just this side of the swell,

There were times too of laughter as the tears slowly dried,

As we danced in the moonlight, remembering friends and sighed.


Piece by piece, homes were rebuilt,

As piece by piece I relinquished my guilt

Of being alive, when so many had perished

At the edge of the jungle, on a beach, I had cherished.


Their faces are engraved in a corner of my mind,

Tucked away safe forever, a memory to find.

I still recall the elephant song the children sang

As I left the village, shaking each by the hand.


Now on the eve of that fateful day,

I want to take the time to say,

I remember all who lost someone to the Tsunami

For there but for the Grace of God went I


26th December 2004, Sri Lanka’s Tsunami. Just three days earlier I had been there, and it could have been me!

To lost friends and strangers – you are not forgotten


©JEW December 2011

Children’s Independent Authors do it for themselves.

Children’s Independent Authors do it for themselves.

Independent Authors or Indies as we like to be known, are authors who do not have the backing of a publisher, often because of the country they live in, like us in South Africa, and sometimes through choice.

I love being an Indie. I choose my own destiny. That means hard work, lots of hard work, I mean really lots of hard work, but amazingly rewarding.

A while back there was some chitter-chatter and an author I admire immensely remarked that Indies need to do it for themselves in their own genre. Well, that was it, the seed was sown and I banded together the most amazing group of Indies on this planet – Kim Hunter, Corne Groenewald, Christina Harman, Robbie Cheadle and Fatuma Abdullah to help me. This Saturday we will be hosting our own Children’s Book Fayre, so if you want something for the kids to do come and join us, plus meet some awesome Children’s Authors pop in we’d love to see you.

Look out for the Akiki, Sir Chocolate, Silly Willy, Liam and Polly’s Piralympic Series’ as well as many, many more books.

WIN, WIN, WIN with our raffle and let the kids have a great day out. WHAT BETTER WAY TO START THE HOLIDAYS.

Women’s Day Delight

Today was Women’s Day in South Africa, and what better way to kick it off than with amazing present.

When I checked my Facebook these wonderful drawings awaited me.


His dad and I had a bit of a conversation that went like this:



Check out the treasure map trousers – you will definitely be seeing those in a future book. Well done Logan, absolutely brilliant if you ask me. and here’s that artist himself – crewmate Logan from the UK. I think Stuie you have an awful lot to be proud of with your young man.