Easter is one of my favourite holidays. I love the opportunity to slow and reflect, and appreciate the beauty of the natural world as the weather cools and buds bloom. We’ve had some stunning Autumn days in Sydney this Easter and I’ve taken a few shots around my garden to share.
There have also been some blooming good times in my little patch of the kidlit world this month. Like the CBCA Northern Sydney sub-branch event and AGM. The crew behind One More Page podcast wowed us with a fun, engaging and fascinating behind the scenes look into the making of the podcast, with even a quiz and book give-aways! The evening was held at The Children’s Bookshop, and I got to hold and have a sneak peek at Ben and Beth MacDonald’s first picture book, The Hole Idea, published by their company, Book Trail and illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom – it’s fabulous! Watch out for an interview with Paul and Beth on the JWFK blog in the coming months. Also keep an eye on their Facebook page for launch details, in May. At the AGM, I was voted in to resume as secretary of the sub branch and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the marvellous team with Jan Latta as this year’s sub branch president.
I also attended the Creative Kids Tales festival in Gymea, with this year's theme being Invest – it certainly was well worth investing in! Inspiring, encouraging, thought provoking, moving. There were so many highlights but I only managed to capture one photo - finally meeting Emily Lighezzolo from Wombat Books! Check out the CKT blog for a wrap up of the day.
It was a joy to be able to celebrate the launch of Georgie Donaghey and Sandra Severgnini’s Picture book with Little Pink Dog Books, In the Shadow of an Elephant, at the festival. This is such a beautiful, stunning, moving book with text and pictures so perfectly intertwined that it's nothing less than magical. I was thrilled to hear that the book sold out even before it hit the shelves. It is that good!
On the subject of pachyderms, it was a pleasure to interview Jo Sandhu, author of Tarin of the Mammoths, on the Just Write for Kids blog this month. Don't forget to look out for part two of the interview this Friday. Catch up with Part one here.
As well as elephants, there's been a bit of a canine theme running through this month:
On Hope 103.2 radio I spoke with Katrina Roe about books featuring canine companions that would be perfect for the school holidays. The gorgeous, gentle, Mr Walker by Jess Back and Sarah Acton was my junior fiction choice - I mentioned this book in my Nov/Dec news. Then, for a totally different canine experience, The Peski Kids by RA Spratt with scruffy Pumpkin's 'take no prisoners' approach, was my middle-grade choice.
I attended the launch of Katrina McKelvey and Cherri Hughes' No baths week. This wasn't a launch, it was a festival! Put on in conjunction with the Newcastle Libraries, there was an array of stalls with all things doggie - vets, pet portraits and products, dog wash etc- plus competitions, like the dog with the longest ears. Katrina also spoke about her reading initiative, the RUFF challenge encouraging children to read to their dog for a comforting non-judgemental reading experience. Find out more about it here. What a fun and engaging way to inspire kids to read! Katrina read and launched her book, with illustrator Cherri, to a crowd of human and canine listeners. I also got to catch up with illustrators Gwynneth Jones and Kirrili Lonergan. It was so worth the trip from Sydney!
Inspired by Katrina’s RUFF challenge and Paul MacDonald at the CBCA event encouraging people to post pics of books, not food, on social media, Archie, my French Bulldog buddy and I launched a new Instagram account, story_hound. The idea is simple – to showcase kids and YA books with Archie as the pin-up boy. Here’s our logo and the two photos with equal most likes so far. Do check us out!
What's on my radar?:
A couple of book launches on the same day in May – sadly you’ll have to choose between them! I don’t have to agonise over the decision as I had already RSVP’s to a wedding that day, so that’s where I’ll be :)
1. Oliver Phommavanh has a launch for his new book, Don't Follow Vee on the 18th May at 3.30 at Gleebooks. It will also be a celebration of the 10th anniversary of launching his first book, Thai-riffic! Details here.
2. Serena Geddes is launching Rosie and Rasmus, a picture book that she both wrote and illustrated, at The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft at 4pm on the 18th May. She also has a Melbourne launch on the 11th May.
This event/exhibition at Lost In Books, Fairfield, (pictured) put on in conjunction with IBBY and the National Centre for Australian Children's Literature, also looks interesting, but I'm not sure if I'll manage to get there. Details here.
Also on my radar is The KidLit Club facebook page and group, where kidlit is top of the pops! Moderated by the delightful duo, Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck, this is a great online place to find out about everything kidlit and hang out with other devotees. Every second Tuesday there's a vodcast and the interview between Sally Rippin and Davina Bell was a highlight for me. If you’re a writer or illustrator, you’ll find it a fascinating insight into the interplay between creatives and the publishing house – Davina speaking as both an author and publisher. This episode was on the 2nd April, if you want to find it.
If you're a SCBWI member, the Crystal Kite award voting is closing in a couple of days, so be quick to vote. I still get a thrill thinking about when I found out I won this award last year. This year it will be one of these finalists -the amazing Dimity Powell with Nicky Johnston, Tania McCartney and Kelly Canby. Three fabulous books and four amazing creators! Who to choose???
Totally unrelated, I'm loving Lego Masters, hosted by Hamish Blake, on TV, although blowing up a Noah's Ark lego spaceship was mildly disturbing!
What I'm looking forward to:
Sydney writers festival. I'm going to check out the family day on Sunday and I've got tickets to a couple of events on the day.
Unfortunately, I couldn't manage to wrangle my way to the Flash fiction Fun weekend in Canberra this time, but I am keen to get my hands on the anthology that was launched on the weekend. I am, however, excited to be reading my story from the anthology at a Flash Fiction evening at a new art gallery in the Blue Mountains at the end of the month.
And one for the diary - Wombat books writers conference in September 28 in Brisbane. It’s a great line-up so get in early if you’re interested! Details here.
Wishing you a marvellous May!
Until next time,