I find that nothing quite lifts my spirits as the scent of spring, which came to us late this year but now wafts intermittently as I walk the dog around the neighbourhood. Its companions are the striking pink and white blossoms that are bursting from once naked, craggy branches. And I can’t help also being buoyed by the tropical-sounding calls of the channel-billed cuckoo. I look forward to its arrival every spring, despite its unfortunate looks and lack of civic manners. A walk around the block has become a feast for the senses. The only sense I am on guard against, however, is the jab of Magpie’s beak! I saw one taking on a cyclist the other day – it takes road rage to a new level!
I’m delighted that spring this year also saw the arrival of a number of book babies that I had been anticipating. The first was my writing buddy, Katrina Roe’s Lily’s Balloon, which I was honoured to launch for her, with the wave of my magic bubble wand. This is a beautifully whimsical and philosophical book that can be read on many levels. Katrina wrote it as a reflection on letting go of things we value and how our loss can be someone else’s gain. To me, it spoke of finding joy in the small things and how disparate people can be united by sharing in that moment. (You can see an interview I did a while ago with Katrina for JWFK here).
Next, was Shelly Unwin’s There’s a Baddie Running Through this Book, which is an hilarious rhyming romp as the racoon baddie is chased through the book, ripping things off the page as he goes. I love the playful, metafictive elements and how the narrative engages the reader. Kids will want this read again and again – it’s such fun! I went to the Sydney launch, complete with gate-crashing raccoon - here are a few photos:
(You can read an earlier interview I did with Shelly here).
Another was Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnston’s new picture book, At The End of Holyrood Lane. I was fortunate to win a copy of this and their latest collaboration, The Fix-it Man, in an online competition. One of the things I adore about picture books is their ability to render sombre and difficult themes with a lightness of touch that is also deeply profound, and Dimity and Nicky are masters in this field. I commend these books to you – The Fix-it Man is about the death of a mother, and Holyrood Lane is about a child weathering storms as a metaphor for domestic violence.
As I said in my last news, The Scared Book has turned one, and coinciding with the anniversary of its launch in September last year, Kim Siew made a cute little animation to celebrate. I couldn't work out how to attach it in this blog, but you can view it in twitter here.
I was thrilled to see The Scared Book Book Week costumes on social media - how gorgeous!
I have been out on the road with my books a bit this month, starting with a full day at Orchard Hills Public School speaking with classes K-6. It took me good few days to recover my voice! I loved the question from a year 1 boy – ‘How many friends helped you write your book?’ You couldn’t get a better intro into the importance of feedback and the value of a writing group!
Lunch with the Stars, put on by the Northern Sydney Sub-branch of the CBCA and organised by the amazing Belinda Murrell, was another brilliant success. Such a buzz in the room as the authors and illustrators were treated like rock stars and we listened to John Flanagan and Serena Geddes, and even tried our hand at drawing a dragon! My school, St Thomas’ Willoughby, won the best decorated table, and well deserved too. They had taken photos of themselves being scared of The Scared Book, and came dressed as monsters. So creative!
Authors and illustrators from the Northern Sydney sub-branch also ventured west this month to attend Our Lady of Lourdes primary school in Seven Hills. It’s always a thrill to see kids getting excited about books!
I was also at Westfield Hornsby for Australian Reading Hour this month, thanks to Berkelouw Books for hosting and organising. I was in picture-book heaven, reading for an hour to the cosy crowd that joined me.
In cyberspace, I posted the final instalment of my interview with the fascinating Catherine Pelosi on the Just Write For Kids blog this month, and I’m looking forward to interviewing YA author Penny Jaye (AKA children’s author Penny Reeve) over the next few months, starting with the 5th October.
I was also thrilled to see that two of my cyberspace friends, were publicly celebrated this month. Michelle Worthington, creative dynamo behind Share Your Story, won gold at the AusMumpreneur awards, for her business which helps authors and illustrators on their journey to publication. But of course, Michelle has established so much more than a business, she has developed a community, and one that has been a blessing to me. Congratulations Michelle!
Sally Odgers won the Alice Award from the Society of Women Writers for her distinguished, long term contribution to Australian literature. Sally is a generous member of the Australian kid’s lit scene, and I have been privileged to be part of her Prints Charming anthologies. Congratulations Sally!
Now for what's on my radar: this month I have been binge-watching Anne With an E on Netflix. The cinematography is sumptuous and I've fallen in love with Anne, Mathew and Marilla at Green Gables. I wish it will never end!
What I am looking forward to in October:
1. I’m the special guest at the Picture-book Book Club twitter chat on the 4th October. I’d love for you to join in on Twitter 8-9pm. These parties are such fun – bring out your favourite scary picture books.
For more info and to check out past chats, go here.
2. Book launches at The Children’s Bookshop. The bookshop has a range of fantastic authors and illustrators over the school holidays. I’m planning to see Francis Watts and David Legge (2nd Oct) and Sue Whiting (5th Oct). Check out what’s on offer here.
3. CBCA Northern Sydney sub-branch publisher’s panel event at the Lindfield Learning Hub on 17th October.
5. I’m doing a Monster Mayhem storytime and craft session on the 24th October at 4.30 at Gordon Library.
6. Reading all the entries for the Just Write For Kids Pitch It competition.
7. SCBWI Sketch and Scribble event at the Art Gallery. I’m looking forward to being inspired!
8. My niece has a lead role in the musical We Will Rock You put on by the Blue Mountains Musical Society. It looks like so much fun – I can’t wait to see it. You can find out more here.
And looking further ahead... I booked for two conferences next year:
So much to look forward to! Hope to see you in the real world or online! Here are some cheery flowers from my walks...