I had such fun in Canberra recently, catching up with author friends Amelia McInerney and Shelly Unwin, to celebrate the CBCA Night of the Notables. Here’s us (at left) cheering on all the notable creators! You can see all the notable books here.
But the most exciting thing was seeing the advance author copies of Shelly and Amelia’s latest books. True to form, Amelia’s upcoming picture book is another fun, quirky, rhyming tale. It’s hilarious! Keep your eye out for it in July. I also got her to sign my copy of My Bird Bertie, (illustrated by Shane McG) which has the strongest rhyme and beat in a book I’ve read for ages – you’ll be guaranteed to be tapping along to the rhythm (for days later… be warned!).
Shelly’s new picture book (illustrated by Jedda Robaard) is a prequel to her You’re series and it’s a divine, rhyming celebration of a new born baby. The illustrations of baby and parent animals are absolutely gorgeous. Perfect for new parents and babies. I'm excited to get along to her Sydney 'drop-in' launch on the 24th April between 10.30-2.30 at the Lindfield Learning Hub. Shelly's also doing a roving book signing in Canberra on the 17th April. Find out more about the Canberra and Sydney events here.
While in Canberra, I also caught up with Instagram friend, Rhian Williams, and got to congratulate her on her picture book, Ten Little Figs (illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom) being included on the Notable list. I also met her Gidi-dog, an Insta-friend of StoryHound Archie.
Back in Sydney, it was so lovely to once again catch up with my CBCA NSW Northern Sydney sub-branch friends at a meeting IN REAL LIFE this month! Amazing sub-branch authors Belinda Murrell and Jacqueline Harvey talked about their recent books, and Wendy Blaxland inspired us with her poetry.
Another treat was getting along to the launch of Paul and Beth MacDonald’s Book Trail Press’ second picture book, this time written by Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrated by Tohby Riddle, The March of the Ants. This is a delightful book about the power of story to help through hard times, and a message that couldn’t be more pertinent with all that the world has been through this past year.
I love a book launch and all the behind-the-scenes glimpses about breathing life into a book. Ursula and Tohby have a long friendship, formed during time they spent at The School Magazine. Ursula was inspired to write March of the Ants when a friend said ‘Books can give you something no-one else can give you.’ Then to bring the ants to life, Tohby had to look no further than his own kitchen where ants love to hang out! He was relieved to know that his illustrations got the tick of approval from not only child readers (a hard audience) but also Paul’s entomologist brother!
StoryHound Archie and I had a ball helping launch Liz Ledden's Walking Your Human, on Twitter. So much tail-wagging fun! (Photo at the end of the post.)
Talking about The School Magazine, I was thrilled to have two writing successes recently. One is a play I wrote that has been accepted by the iconic magazine, and the second is a flash fiction/poem I wrote being included in the Book Week anthology, put together by the amazing, energetic Eastern Suburbs CBCA NSW sub-branch. I can’t wait to see them both in print.
I’ve also sent some stories away to the CYA Competition and I’ve booked for the online conference this year. I've always wanted to go, but the timing has never worked. So this year, being online, I have no excuse! I’m also going to enter some stories into the Writer’s Unleashed Picture Book competition.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Katrina Roe on Hope 103.2 radio about A Clue For Clara, (Lian Tanner/ Cheryl Orsini) a middle grade novel that I’ve written about previously, Ling Li’s Lantern, (Steve Heron/ Benjamin Johnston) a beautiful, philosophical Chinese Fable-like picture book, and All of the Factors Of Why I Love Tractors, (Davina Bell/ Jenny Lovlie) an hilarious rhyming romp of a picture book, as much about books and libraries as it is about kid’s obsessions (in this case, tractors).
With ANZAC day approaching, I recommend a book that came out last year in lockdown, and I’ve only just discovered - Red Day by Sandy Fussell. This is an amazing middle grade novel with so much that is fresh and new. The protagonist, Charlie, is in Year 7 and has synaesthesia. When a Japanese exchange student comes to stay, Charlie starts to relive events of the Japanese break out from the Cowra POW camp in WW2, as if she was there, and she and Kenichi are drawn into a mystery from the past. This is a great novel about a part of history that I really knew nothing about, with so many satisfying layers.
I finally got around to reading Nat Amoore's The Power of Positive Pranking. I loved her Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire, and didn't think it could get any better - but I was wrong! I adored this cheeky, fun midgrade novel with a whole lot of heart! It's even been shortlisted for the Readings Children's Book Prize. You can watch a star-studded reading of the hilarious first chapter here.
StoryHound Archie reviewed an exquisite picture book recently, Claudette, by Helene Magisson. This is a visually stunning book with an enchanting story about finding your place and the value of story. I fell in love with the sumptuous artwork with a French flair, and the adorable puppet, Claudette.
I've also been reading about reading, in this article on the TBR Blog recently, which is a great exploration of the value of re-reading books to children.
I was then fascinated to hear Louise Park, on a panel with Ursula Dubosarsky, hosted by The State Library of NSW, talking about getting children to read (the topic of her most recent book, Seven Steps to Get Your Child Reading). She said that a 20-year study over 27 nations found that the biggest predictor of how far a person goes with education is having 20 books in the home as children. Having books to re-read is that valuable! It made me think about how important a program like Books In Homes is. Ursula followed this up with saying that a good idea is to borrow books from a library and then buy the ones your kids love, to have at home.
I always find Easter a great time for reading, and if you’re interested in the what I think about the grown up books I've read recently, you can find me on Goodreads here.
The wonderful Belinda Murrell (who is getting around everywhere at the moment promoting her latest MG novel, The Golden Tower) sent me this snap of The Scared Book front and centre at Kinokuniya, Sydney. After doing some detective work, I discovered the clue as to why… the mural underneath is the key! Can you guess? The illustrator, Kim Siew, did the artwork for the All About Women Festival this year! Isn't it brilliant? Check it all out on her website here.
Looking forward to:
I'm excited to go to the Sydney launch of Shelly Unwin’s adorable new book, Hello Baby, 24TH April.
Chatting to Katrina Roe on Hope 103.2 this week.
Seeing Kazuo Ishiguro at the Sydney Writer's Festival via video link on the 29th April.
Launch of the CBCA anthology on the 28th May.
Launch of Nat Amoore's new book, AND Creative Kids Tales conference (online) 5th June.
PLUS: Updating you with all the April events that have escaped this news!
Until next time,