June started off with a book launch extravaganza which sadly fizzled to nothing by the end of July, with restrictions in Sydney and many other places. I’m writing this from Canberra (cue frosty seat and boardwalk pic) having narrowly escaped Sydney lock-down, and It’s been a joy to share book-baby sightings and encourage my Sydney friends whose new releases are arriving into the world without the deserved fanfare.
To that end, let me acknowledge some of them here (apologies to those I've missed):
Penny Jaye and Alicia Rogerson’s One Potoroo is a very special, beautiful and evocative picture book telling the story of the world's most endangered marsupial, the Gilbert's Potoroo. This is a moving story of survival with Penny Jaye's rich, poetic language and the stunning artwork by Alicia Rogerson. This book does it all: entertains, inspires and educates. I would have loved this book on my bookshelf as a child. You can read my full review on Goodreads.
Another picture book about the relationship between an animal and a human is Irma Gold’s Where the Heart Is, illustrated by Susannah Crispe. This did get a Canberra launch, but plans to go further afield were kyboshed by Covid. You can watch it being hilariously read by Fergie, Duchess of York, if you check out Irma’s blog, here.
Lesley Gibbes and Marjory Crosby-Fairall have a colourful rhyming dino-romp, Dinosaur Dads, which will be perfect for Father’s Day. I love the work of each these creators separately, so together, they're a fantastic combo!
Lisa Shanahan and Leila Rudge are a great picture book duo and they have another gorgeous book together, told through the eyes of a toddler, Hello World!
The book launch extravaganza I mentioned was of, course, Nat Amoore’s launch for her third mid-grade novel, The Right Way to Rock! What a super-star Nat is! Such a fabulous Broadway-style performance. It was a spectacular! And the book is fabulous too – it has some of THE MOST LIKEABLE characters in a book I’ve ever read! I love Mac and Flynn. I also really enjoyed listening to Nat’s interview with her sensitivity reader for the book, Jess Thom, on the One More Page Podcast. It was a really eye-opening and thought provoking, and I learnt a lot about Tourette’s syndrome and representation of people with disabilities in general. I highly recommend listening in here.
Whilst I feel like I’m in a bit of suspended reality in Canberra, it’s been fabulous to catch up with bookish friends here. I managed a real-life launch of Catherine Meatheringham’s new picture book, All Dogs Bark, which is a brilliantly simple, yet fascinating and sublimely illustrated book, by Deb Hudson, about dogs barking in different countries. The French patisserie page is adorable - of course it's Story Hound Archie's favourite, and he's learnt how to bark in French - Jappe! (see his Insta photos at the end of this post.) And yes, the way dogs bark in different countries is heard differently! Who knew?? Catherine, obviously! It's a delight! I went to the 'launch with dogs' - and caught up with some human friends too! Fun!
Something that brightened my little author's heart recently was some fan mail! I was sent this photo of a school assignment, to 'read a book and say why you relate to it' - and look what this young fan chose! The Scared Book! How amazing is it to write books that speak into children’s lives?? Thanks so much to the parent who sent this to me - you can’t get more encouraging than that!
I’ve taken advantage of things slowing down a bit by attending some great online conferences over June/July. I’ve got so much out of the CKT festival and CYA Conference and I’ve also been catching up on some of the wonderful workshops offered by SCBWI in the US. There’s been a lot to help me think through writing issues and see my works in progress with new eyes. Thank you to all the presenters – I’ve taken away some great stuff from each of you!
Of note for creators, I loved Kathryn Apel’s poem Perseverance, found on her website – the last line especially resonated: ‘Endurance sweetens success.’ You’ll find the poem at the end of her post about her gorgeous new rhyming picture book, with Renee Treml as illustrator, The Bird in the Herd, here. It’s a fun cumulative tale- I’ve got myself a copy and recommend you do to.
I took advantage of a publisher assessment in conjunction with the CYA conference, and got some really positive feedback! Fingers crossed that something comes of it!
I always love talking kids books with Katrina Roe at Hope 103.2 radio, and these are my latest reviews:
Amelia McInerney and Adam Nickel’s Who Fed Zed: A darkly humorous book with a subtly disguised message about food allergies and reading food labels. The fun mono-rhyme has a Dr Zeus feel and it has fabulous retro illustrations.
Pawcasso by Remi Lai. I can’t tell you how much I love this book! Warm and wise, covering deep themes of friendship and fitting in, family, love and loss, lies, misunderstandings, responsible dog ownership and more! I loved the multi-dimensional storytelling in this graphic novel, that adds layers of meaning, and left me with a warm, fuzzy afterglow! This book would delight any mid-grade reader – especially those who love dogs.
Found by Bruce Pasco and Charmaine Ledden-Lewis. Such a stunningly illustrated and evocative book about a calf whose family is taken away in a rumbling truck, with echoes of the Stolen Generations in this heart-tugging and yet hopeful picture book.
It’s great to see the CBCA anthology Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds, getting some great coverage, despite now being unable to take it ‘on the road’ for book week. Here's an article in The Beast Magazine. And talking about book week, if kids are at school by then, I have some ideas about how to dress up in The Scared Book theme, from a blog post I did few years ago here, and check out the costumes kids came up with, below.
I also wanted to give a big SHOUT OUT to author Wai Chim who is a contestant on Australian Survivor! How amazing is that? I’ve raved about Wai’s books in prior posts (The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling was her latest YA novel). On Survivor, she’s on team Brains. I'm yet to tune in, but that doesn't stop me being amazed and cheering her on! And I know she survives because she lives to post on her Instagram account! GO Wai!
Things I'm looking forward to:
My second Covid vax and lockdown ending!
Book week (I'll be celebrating even if kids aren't at school!) and the 75th Book of the Year Awards - online at cbca.org.au 20th August at noon, Sydney time.
SCBWI Queensland Bibliotherapy Symposium, 29th August, online. Details here.
My birthday - I've asked for a KOBO e-reader this year. I reckon it's a great way to borrow books when I can't get to a library, as well as maybe buy a few. Thanks to Kate Simpson who started a twitter chat about e-readers a while ago - it was really helpful!.
Wishing you all safe and well.
I'll leave you with Archie's French lessons :-)