It’s so good to be out and about in Sydney again! I hope you’ve been able to enjoy some time with family and friends as restrictions ease. I'm looking forward to catching up with my writer's group in person, for an end of year celebration, FINALLY after nearly two years on zoom! SO exciting! Talking about writing...
I am super-thrilled to have my play Dancing with the Cars published in The School Magazine, ‘Touchdown’ edition, illustrated by the incredible Tohby Riddle! I can hardly believe it! I’ve taken happy snaps of all the pages and posted them here. I’m also excited to be talking to a publisher about a picture book manuscript. Things are progressing very nicely and I’m trying to be 'quietly' hopeful!
I had the privilege of doing a couple of manuscript assessments for Greenleaf Press recently. It was really gratifying helping others polish their stories, and also instructive to be on the other side of the pen!
I was honoured to part of launching Jean Saxby’s YA The Craving, on zoom. Jean is the minutes secretary of our CBCA NSW Northern Sydney Sub-branch and I was chuffed that she asked me to interview her at the launch. The Craving is a fantasy romance with deep themes and steeped in allegory. I love Jean’s visceral way of writing, it pulls you right into the world she’s created. It’s a compelling read.
On the subject of launches, I enjoyed attending Libby Hathorn’s launch of her picture book, The Best Cat, the Est Cat, about the NSW State Library and its collections. The library has such a huge collection of artefacts, so I love how Libby decided what to include – the -est things, like the small-est, the old-est etc. Kids love -est!
Results of the Just Write For Kids Pitch It competition are in and you can see the winners here. I love judging this competition and I'm thrilled about the success of previous winner (and one of this year's judges), Stef Gemmill, whose pitched manuscript has now been turned into a real-life picture book- Toy Mountain is published by EK books and colourfully illustrated by Katharine Hall.
I'm also pleased to be one of the judges of the new Forevability Book Award, for books with themes of disability, illness and inclusion, and own voices creators. You can find out more about these children's book awards (entries closing today, I think) here, and more about Forevability and their aims here. I’m pleased to have both my picture books listed on this website.
On the subjects of awards, I was thrilled that one of my favourite recent picture books was among the winners of the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year awards. Congratulations to Kaye Baillie and Tracie Grimwood for Boo Loves Books (a story close to StoryHound Archie's heart!) You can see the winners here. I interviewed Kaye for the Just Write For Kids blog, and you can read the interview here.
Talking about Archie, he's been lying low for bit. He had an operation to amputate his dew claw due to a (benign) tumour :-( Thankfully he is getting back to being himself again now. It won't be long before he's back in front of the camera!
So many books! It was a pleasure to review some of them with Katrina Roe on Hope 103.2 radio recently (see picture below). Dinosaur Dads by two of my favourite authors/illustrators, Lesley Gibbes and Marjory Crosby-Fairall is a rhyming, rollicking, romping, stomping delight of a book. Full of playful fun between kids and dads.
Where's my Dinosaur? by Ashling Kwok and Jasmine Berry is a fun, sweet, charming book about expecting a new baby - perfect for growing families.
The Song of Lewis Carmichael, is a mid-grade novel by Sofie Laguna & Marc Mcbride. It's an atmospheric, whimsical, moving adventure through the Arctic in a hot air balloon, with a young boy and a talking bird with broken wing. It’s stunning and beautiful. I cried. Gave me all the feels of Charlottes Web.
I’ve also collected these books for Christmas presents:
The Lion Who Came to Stay by Victoria Mackinlay and Ronojoy Ghosh is the remarkable true story of Victoria’s Grandfather getting a lion cub for a present!
Mary Had a Little Lamb: What really Happened, by the hilarious picture book writer, Amelia McInerney and illustrated by Natashia Curtain. This is a wickedly funny fractured fairy-tale guaranteed to get the kids giggling, and maybe even raise a few eyebrows!
Tish and Magnolia Moon both Junior Fiction books by Edwina Wyatt with her trademark heartfelt delight and whimsy. With illustrations by Odette Barberousse and Katherine Quinn respectively.
The travelling Bookshop: Mim and the Baffling Bully, a new JF series by Katrina Nannestead and illustrated by Cheryl Ornsini
I’m also excited to see a new YA book by Sarah Epstein, Sugar Coated. If you sign up to her newsletter, you’ll get a free e-novella set in this world. I can’t wait to start reading mine!
Have you discovered Project ARI podcast yet? It’s written by One More Page podcaster and author Nat Amoore for NOVA FM and the government’s Stop it at the Start campaign about respect. It’s about 10-year-old Ari, who’s the world’s first artificial intelligence prototype, trying to wrap his ‘data brain’ around the human experience. This series is Nat’s trademark funny and silly, with plenty of heart, and has been designed as a tool to help start meaningful conversations with kids about respectful behaviour. And it’s been nominated for two Australian Podcast Awards! Congratulations Nat! Listen here.
I'm late to the party (as usual) but I am so loving Ted Lasso! (NB not for kids). It's such a feel-good, funny, heart-warming, wise show. I don't know what I'm going to do when I've binge-watched the lot! I love what I read in the paper on the weekend about the show: that there are two types of people in the world - those who love Ted Lasso and those who haven't watched it yet!
Looking forward to:
Catching up with my CBCA NSW Sub-branch committee in real life in December.
Catching up with my writer's group for a real life dinner in December!
SCBWI zoom Christmas festivities.
Hoping your December brings with it a chance to unwind a little and spend time in the company of family and friends.
Until next time, I'll leave you with a photo from the launch of The Best Cat, the Est Cat - can you see the small-est book in the library's collection?