Hello fellow adventurers,
It’s a joy to share with you many excellent bookish adventures over the past months, and look forward to the extraordinary joy that we celebrate at Christmas.
Starting close to home first, I was so excited to be able to reveal the cover of my picture book, Anchored, with illustrations by the amazing Arielle Li and published by EK Books. I’ve now seen the whole book and it’s gorgeous! It’s already off to the printers for an April release. I’ve been excitedly ordering custom merch to promote it (I’m getting a bit carried away!) – magnetic business card, anyone??? You can pre-order your copy here.
As part of the CBCA NSW Northern Sydney Sub-branch Lunch With The Stars writing competition, I had the privilege of meeting one of the young winners and provide a writing workshop for her class. Ava’s story was about a monster cat, so it fit brilliantly with my workshop theme of creating a monster character. Congratulations Ava!
I’ve been lucky to win a couple of book give-aways recently – a fantastic Koala pack from Shae Millward with her funny Dr Suess-like Koalas Like to… (illustrated by Brent Wilson) and a MG novel, A Little Spark, by a favourite author, Barry Jonsberg. And I ran a give-away for a couple of my When I See Grandma for World Alzheimer’s Day in September – and I was thrilled that they went to a couple of wonderful librarians!
I’ve done a bit of historic adventuring these past few months. Firstly to Ethel Turner’s cottage in Lindfield as part of Historic Houses Open Sydney events. We had an informative tour guide in fellow children’s writer and Ethel Turner aficionado, Abbey Lane who looked the part for the day. And then to Nutcote, May Gibbs’ harbourside home for SCBWI ‘sketch and scribble’ day with sumptuous high tea. It’s been wonderful to spend time in the company of inspiring creatives and immersive experiences.
Talking about inspiring company, none is more so than SCBWI regional advisor, Susanne Gervay. Her latest YA novel, The Edge of Limits, was launched recently at Gleebooks by Melina Marchetta. This is a gripping page turner, with hard-hitting and important themes. I can’t do better than to point you to a review of this book here. Here’s a taster: ‘a searingly important book that addresses issues of connection, courage and consent with a visceral reality that is gripping from start to finish.’
I had the joy of judging the Just Write for Kids 'Pitch It' competition again this year. It’s always so fun to read the fabulous pitches, but so hard to pick a winner!! You can read the winner and runner's up here. Congratulations! And I’m gearing up for some more judging over January with the entries now closed for the Forevability award for books that relate to or include disability, illness, inclusion and diversity.
I managed a flying visit to Brisbane in September and was so happily surprised by the tea towel exhibition at the State Library: 'Queensland to a T.' It’s an art and story form that I’ve never given much thought to, except for collecting them as souvenirs and popping them in my bag to take home from holidays or at special events – like the My Fair Lady teacup tea towel – it makes me smile in remembrance every time I use it. I also recognised quite a few of the tea towels in the exhibition, from our many family trips to Queensland when I was a child. The exhibition was brilliantly curated and the information boards were so clever, funny and 'punny' - I hope you can get a taste of them in these shots:
I’ve been writing this news around corks popping off bottles of bubbly, the aromas of gingerbread and Advent Christmas tea, and the chatter of friends! Christmas is well and truly in the air! With events like my writers’ group Christmas party and the CBCA NSW Branch Northern Sydney Sub-branch dinner at Terrey Hills Tavern, and, of course, the discussion of books! Here are three latest releases we celebrated:
Two picture books that are a MUST for Christmas – both very different but stunning in their own way: A Christmas Rose by Wendy Blaxland and Lucy Hennessy (the soft-cover edition has just been published) is a quiet, heartfelt story about the first Christmas, and Meerkat Christmas by Aura Parker is fun and zany meerkat mayhem. And one picture book that is essential in any dentist surgery - The Fangs Visit the Dentist, by Jean Saxby and Ponyo Nguyen.
Another gorgeous picture book to pop in Christmas stockings is Ashling Kwok’ s A Star For Mamma. The beautiful, whimsical illustrations by Kathy Creamer sit softly on the page alongside the charming story about a child penguin’s love for his mother, and the lengths he will go to show her.
Don't forget to check out Story Hound Archie's recommendations for great books too - he's over on Instagram at @Story_Hound.
And now it’s time for the joy of Christmas preparation. Isn’t that often the best part? (Once the pressure of presents is sorted!) Here’s a photo of me prepping for Christmas in an apron designed by my talented SCBWI friend, Kristian Aus! You can find his website to browse his amazing illustrations here. I’m wearing his Reindeer design t-shirt in the photos above- can you see it peeking out between the books?
If you love reindeer and leaving carrots out for Rudolf, you'll love my present for you… I’m gifting all my subscribers a Christmas story for you to enjoy. You can download it from the email I sent. Didn’t get an email? Pop to my ‘home’ page and hit ‘subscribe!’
Wishing you all a joy-and-book-filled Christmas.
Until next year,