Leaping the Tingles

Leaping the Tingles is about the ordinary and the extra ordinary. It is about being so different from those around you nobody wants to know you and even your parents who love you don’t know what to do with you.

That is the dilemma for Celia until she has a faint memory of a cool dark forest, and things begin to change….

Join Celia by reading her amazing adventure told in the first person as she discovers what it means to be a wohunk kid. There are highs and lows as she tries desperately to understand her need to connect with Aunty Hetty whom she has never met and a forest she has never seen.

Along the way, meet Adam who takes a different slant on things always and DR (the famous Dr McQuade). Will the two ever know what if feels like to be a wohunk kid? Or will they remain believers who pass the test of true friendship and loyalty?

Meet Aunty Hetty and her mysterious adopted son. Is Nat a wohunk kid too? Will he remain aloof or will he help Celia seek knowledge and happiness in the wohunk way?

A magical exciting book… When you read about Celia, you’ll find out about vim levels, ankle axims and a seventh sense, as well as be moved by a story that is full of love, friendship and respect for the environment. The West Australian

Suggested Activities for Writers

If you would like to try some writing activities that relate to a story like Leaping the Tingles, feel free to try some of the suggestions in Helene Smith’s Writer’s Notebook for Leaping the Tingles.

From the Author

A favourite moment:
There they were in their nest, moon-dappled, and strange, big and small. Faces round and gnarled, pointy and elfin. Eyes glinting green, brown, red and moonshine gold. Voices humming….My heart was beating too quickly to argue, and besides, something was happening low in my throat. Nat seemed to be concentrating deeply. He looked at me as if to say, ‘It will be all right.’ And then we both seemed to know that, yes, it would be all right. We opened ourselves to a new way of thinking and being.
            ‘We come in peace.’
            It was a sound neither of us had ever made, like the rustle of grass in the wind or the soft lapping of two streams merging into one. From page 80

A how-to Recipe for making this tale:

Take – a half remembered story of long ago when my grandfather warned his children, ‘Don’t go into the forest alone or the wohunks will take you for one of their own.’ He was a story teller and a forester, one of many who came from all over the world to live and work in lush bushland – a place where the rare Tinglewood trees grow in the southwest corner of Western Australia.

Add –  the mystery of a much loved adopted child who became my aunty … I couldn’t get anyone to tell me about her early life… this auburn haired girl with leaf green eyes.  She danced so lightly her feet barely touched the ground.

Take – long summer nights camping under the Tinglewood trees telling stories with my children…watching the glint of wet leaves in the moonlight… and the bulky dark shapes of burls along the highest branches and down the trunk of the tree to the wide skirt at its base… like strange furry creatures sleeping.

Mix the above with a young teenage girl who feels different from everybody else…. Even those who love her don’t know what to do with her and nor does she… until she has a memory of a cool dark forest…  

Add the many questions that must be asked and answered. Why does she feel the urgent need to meet her Aunty Hetty? Why does she need to touch base with a forest she has never seen? 

Shake and tease until you have a story and an ending that feels right for everyone.


Leaping the Tingles is a book for independent readers in the upper primary grades. The plot is told in a linear fashion and is simple enough for most children in the target audience range to understand easily. All major characters ring true and the depiction of family life is realistic. The vocabulary is appropriate and the story unfolds at a well-paced rate through the use of short chapters. The conclusion is satisfying.
Leaping the Tingles doesn’t rely on magic and hocus pocus to make fanciful things happen. There is no clearly defined baddy, no ultimate source of evil, no clearly defined menace – just different creatures protecting their own kind. As such it is a gentle story about being different.
Neville Barnard in Magpies Volume 16 No. 5

…a strong environmental undertone that never gets preachy…best of all is the truly subtle relationship between Celia and the foster son, Nat. Celia Brennan – Togatus.

Extracts from Letters

letters from a year seven class

We all liked the book so much every time we had to stop reading we all begged for more. I think it would be fun to be a ‘wohunk’ kids like Celia and Nat… my favourite character was Celia, of course!! She was a nice wohunk kid. Nat and Aunty Hetty pretty cool too!!  I’m looking forward to any more books of yours because you are truly a natural!!  L.G.

…I really enjoyed it when Nat and Celia were in the swarm of chylie-bits.  How did you come up with the names such as Wowunk, McQuade, chylie-bits and chics?
 I really hoped that Nat and Celia would kiss as there were a few scenes where it was the perfect time… Wohunks sound like a very weird and wonderful bear-like creature…E.B.

Recently our teacher read us a very descriptive, intriguing book of yours … to be quite honest I was on the edge of my seat! I have thousands, millions of questions about it. Why do the wohunks eyes change colour? How in the world did you come up with the word ‘wohunk’? But the most important question… will there be a sequel to it? If there is, I have some great ideas!    M. B.