The thrill of Hope,
The weary world rejoices...
Never have the words to my favourite Christmas carol meant so much, at the end of this year, when the whole world is weary. My family and I have felt this on a global and personal scale. Pandemic aside, we have orchestrated three moves this year (if you want the name of fantastic removalists, let me know – they are certainly tried and tested!). My kidlitland adventures have been squished and squeezed around taping guns and boxcutters, scrubbing brushes and long lists, never-ending on-hold phone calls, open houses, negotiations, and even furniture stores. So you can see why it's been a long time between write-ups. But here I am in December - the Christmas tree is up in a new house and I'm thankful to have squeezed in at least a few bookish treats!
There was a lot of bookish love in October, with Love Your Bookshop Day and the CBCA Book of the Year awards, as well as time for bit of reading for #AustraliaReads. To show my local bookshop love, I went all metafictive and bought a book about a bookshop, in a bookshop, on Love Your Bookshop Day. (I can't tell you much about the book, The Grandest Bookshop in the World because my daughter snavelled it. It is very pretty, though, and I'm hearing great things about it.) Some of my friends went all-out for LYBD and put together this crazy funny video. It's sure to make you giggle. (Thanks Nat Amoore and merry band of helpers.)
Of course, the excitement of book week never fades, even during a pandemic. It was delayed and sent online, but the fanfare this year was the same! Congratulations to all the winning book creators! And more broadly, to everyone who had a book published this year – you are all winners too!
Talking about awards, I was thrilled to see that Deborah Kelly’s The Thing About Oliver won the Australian Association of Family Therapy Book of the Year in the younger readers category, and that the winning books in both categories (older reader category was Memphis Grace by Catriona McKeown) are Wombat Books titles. That’s a big deal for an independent publisher, and an especially big deal because these awards are not given lightly – they don’t automatically award books each year unless they are worthy. Find out more here.
Talking about Deb Kelly’s book, it was a pleasure to chat with Katrina Roe about it on Hope 103.2 radio recently, as well as the delightful picture book, My Possum Plays the Drums by Catherine Meatheringham and Max Hamilton.
Talking about radio interviews, many thanks to BrydieWright who replayed our Halloween interview on Northern Beaches radio in November.
Out and/or about:
I managed to catch a beautiful little exhibition at the Sate Library of NSW of author/illustrator Pamela Allen’s work. Pamela’s books hold a special place in my family’s heart, with Alexander’s Outing a particular stand out. I got to see original manuscripts and drawings of Alexander and others. It was pure delight! And topped off with a ferry ride on the May Gibbs thrown into the bargain!
I was so excited to be able to attend an event In Real Life last month, for the first time in AGES! (See photo evidence below!) It was so wonderful to catch up with friends and hear Libby Hathorn speak as she was presented with the CBCA Lady Cutler Award, at the CBCA NSW event. I also got to hear Belinda Murrell and Kate Forsyth speak on their new book collaboration, Searching for Charlotte, about their 4xGreat grandmother and Australian’s first published children’s author. It’s a fascinating tale, and I have it on my wish list for Christmas. It was also wonderful to watch authors giving a quick pitch about their latest and upcoming books. I'm particularly excited for Amelia McInerney's picture book, My Bird, Bertie (with illustrator Shane McG), and Jess Black's junior reader series, Pepper Creek Ponies (with illustrator Serena Geddes) - ones to look out for next year.
Zoom has continued to be a safe and happy place for many events, like my CBCA NSW Northern Sydney Sub-branch Christmas celebration. We heard from Melbourne based publishers Eva Mills from Allen and Unwin, and Alexandra Yatomi-Clark from Berbay Publishing, as well as help launch a new junior fiction series by Amy Adeney, called Tilda Teaches. We had prizes for a Christmas book themed quiz, and the best decorated zoom room. A fun and informative combo!
Sadly I couldn’t get to the SCBWI celebration, despite it being on zoom – blame it on the moving!
I had disappointing news recently, when a manuscript I’ve been working on with a publisher, and which we both loved, fell down at the acquisitions stage. This is a disappointment not only for me but also the publisher who puts their all into backing a project they believe in. It was a mixed blessing that I didn’t have time to wallow in self pity as I needed to throw myself into the final push of moving house! And today I’ve pressed ‘send’ on another manuscript to see if that’s the right fit. You’ve got have deep reserves of perseverance in this writing game!
Like everyone other grown-up I know, I’m watching and loving The Queen’s Gambit. The filming and the costumes especially, are stunning. I’m also keen to watch the latest series of The Crown. And I always enjoy catching up on a few episodes of the delightful cattle-dog, Bluey. My friend, Gemma Patience, wrote a brilliant article for Kidspot about the magic of Bluey earlier this year, and it's just as timely now - you can read it here.
A Clue for Clara by Lian Tanner. I'm loving this middle grade novel so much. Lots of chuckles and heart-warming chookish mystery/action/drama – It couldn’t get better than that! It's a light and easy read but with deceptively sophisticated humour and a deep emotional core (think grief, loss and bullying) all rendered with a light touch. Highly recommended for 8 year olds and up.
I was excited to receive a copy of Lilah the Lyrebird, companion picture book to award winning Leonard the Lyrebird by Blue Mountains locals Jodie McLeod and Eloise Short. These books so evocatively capture the Blue Mountains, which hold a fond place in my heart, having grown up at the foot of the mountains, and having lived in Warrimoo and Blaxland for a number of years.
Things I’m looking forward to:
A calm Christmas settled into our new hopefully-almost-forever home… box free!
Catching up with family and friends – restriction free! (Although that may be premature!?)
A New Year – Covid free! (Something to aim for, at least!)
Wishing you joy, love and peace this Christmas… and the shining light of hope, of which the angles sing!
Until the New Year,