Welcome to my first KidLitLand for 2023! What may look like a sluggish start to the year, has actually been my engines on full-throttle, propelling my latest picture book, Anchored, into the world! Just like a tugboat, a lot of the action happens beneath the surface! But finally, here I am with a whole lot of writing-related goodness!
Firstly, as my subscribers will know, I have been organising book launches and events for when Anchored sails into bookshops on April 5th! Note the ‘Save the date’ tile (left). In addition to the big launch in Kirribilli on the 29th, Dymocks in Neutral Bay is hosting a smaller, bookshop launch Thursday afternoon, the 13th April. I hope I can see many of you at one or the other!
Books and Publishing has already written a stunning review. It’s behind a paywall, but here’s the first sentence: “A sensitive tale of connection near, far and across the waters, Anchored is a hopeful, heartwarming story demonstrating to young children that no matter the distance between them and a loved one, fondness always remains with a little tug on the heart.”
I’ve also been excited to see the gorgeous colour character sketches and initial roughs for my picture book with HarperCollins that comes out next year. It’s another fun, interactive book, this time with a very cute child narrator and dragon. I can’t wait to introduce you to them next year!
Something a little bit different for me, is having a non-fiction article published in The School Magazine (March 2032, Touchdown). It’s all about something that kids wear to school every day, but have they ever really thought about the unsung heroes of the clothing drawer… the mighty sock?? This non-fiction piece is truly a testament to my ‘dream team’ writing group - the finished piece is unrecognisable from the first draft I brought to group! It’s always fun seeing the finished piece illustrated (this one by Fifi Colston and with photographs).
Part of the fun of having a book out in the world is opportunities to share it with kids – picture books are begging to be ‘performed!’ So I’ve collected an assortment of bits and bobs to help bring Ship and Tug alive to young readers!
And I’m not forgetting the adults! I’m off to Sydney Uni this month to talk with some 4th year early childhood students about how books impact children’s lives, and then I’m speaking at the first CBCA NSW Branch Northern Sydney Sub-branch event on the eve of Anchored’s launch, about ‘Pathway to a Picture book.’
OUT AND ABOUT
I had the joy of attending a YA book launch at Kinokuniya recently: Two Can Play That Game by debut Asian-Australian writer Leanne Yong. It’s a YA gamer rom-com and it sounds like great fun. I’m yet to read it, but you can find a review by Oliver Phommavanh here.
Talking about Oliver, I saw him at the launch AND at the Night of the Notables in Sydney this year – and I was thrilled that his What About Thao is a CBCA Notable! I love this book so much! Congratulations Oliver! Congratulations also to all the creatives on the Notable list – it is a hotly contested space, with a record number of entries this year. The Notables announcement is always bitter-sweet, as not all of my author/illustrator friends make the list – but I reckon to have a book out in the world and impacting young lives makes every book creator a WINNER!
It was great to hear from Rebecca Young, about her Simultaneous Storytime book The Speedy Sloth, and from Kate Foster about her books and neurodiverse representation more generally. It was great to finally meet Kate in real life, and I'm excited to be part of the Author Pen Pals program that she's organising with Dee White (more details here.) Sue Whiting also spoke about her history with Walker Books - celebrating 30 years in Australia this year! - and how reading the right book for a child can change them from a non-reader to an enthusiastic reader!
For Library Lovers Day and International Book Giving Day this year, I showed some library love to Lindfield Library by dropping by and gifting them a copy of The Scared Book (photo above right). They used to have several copies, but they were loved out of circulation! One of the downsides of have an interactive book, I reckon! I’ve been told some heart-warming stories lately, about how The Scared Book is still impacting children’s lives.
Over the Christmas holidays I got to see the brilliant Cressida Campbell exhibition at the National Gallery. I was blown away with Cressida’s artwork – both the technique she uses and the finished products! Mind blowing!! I was even more delighted to find a tugboat in her work!! Bellow, as a triptych (left) and close up (right).
Substack seems to be gaining momentum for all sorts of kidlit people. Here are a few I’ve signed up to: Books on Tour; Katrina Germein; and YKNR (as well as listening to their podcast!). You might like to look them up too!
Here are some of my latest purchases (with a note on a few):
Dani Vee’s My Epic Dad: Camping (Illustrated by Marina Verola) is an hilarious story about an indomitable Dad who’s camping exploits are the stuff of horror campfire stories! It’s the first in a funny picture book series. And as a double bonus for buying the book, I WON a spot on Dani’s podcast, Words and Nerds!! Winner! Thanks Dani! Look out for that!
The Whole Story by Kelly Canby is not a recent release, but it has played on my mind since I saw it in a bookshop a while ago – so when I saw it again, I HAD to buy it!
I bought What to Say… by Davina Bell and Hilary Jean Tapper, on the review of my friend, Penny J Reeve, on LinkedIn. I’m not usually on that platform, but I clicked a link and was rewarded!
And I can never go past a Magnolia Moon book (Edwina Wyatt). They are all so charming, wise and gently deep.
Not pictured: Kristin Darell’s Junior Fiction Series Football Fever, which is selling like hotcakes to all the football (soccer) obsessed fans!
ON MY RADAR:
Joining in the nautical theme: Amelia McInerney’s Neil, the Amazing Sea Cucumber (illustrated by Lucinda Gifford) is getting stand-out reviews ahead of its release at the end of next month.
Aura Parker has another incredibly stunning new picture book out this month, Bowerbird Blues.
A story close to StoryHound Archie's heart is Hedgehog the Wonderdog by Dannika Patterson and Ross Morgan, about the healing power of dogs. Something Archie knows to be all to true!
And one close to my heart is Mama's Chickens by Michelle Worthington and Nicky Johnston, about a mum with early onset dementia (my mum had this, but not quite so young!) … and chickens (I'm a mad chicken fan)!
And I love the sound of Dannielle Viera’s The Leftover Lemon Dilemma (illustrated by Paula Deuber): ‘A multicultural celebration of food and community.'
LOOKING FORWARD TO… SO MUCH!
Anchored book launches and events!
Speaking to trainee teachers at Sydney Uni.
Speaking at CBCA NSW Branch Northern Sydney Sub-branch meeting and AGM in April.
Gleebooks Housewarming Party and book launch with James Foley and Sue Whiting on the 9th March.
Being on Words and Nerds Podcast!
Thanks for joining in on all these adventures!
Until next time,
If you’re excited for the release of Anchored and want to dive in early and pre-order: in Australia, my publisher’s website works best, here, and Amazon in other countries will be great. Asking your local and/or school library to order a copy is always a super-duper helpful thing for book creators too!