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Showing posts from 2019

Review: A Dog's Journey

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I absolutely love getting inside the head of canines and living their stories and Cameron provides the conduit to do so with consummate grace, humour and palpable realness. How a dog thinks, reacts and feels is delivered so well that if this is not really how dogs behave, then it ought to be. That they should find us such a bewildering mix of befuddlement and wonderment is hilarious as well as far-reaching.

A Dog’s Journey is the second in a duo of doggie / man friendship stories, and will require something to mop your eyes with for it is no less of a heart tug than its predecessor,A Dog’s Purpose. Our endearing canine character again bounds his and her way through a handful of different dog lives somehow miraculously always reconnecting with the person he needs to most, his girl - Clarity.

It's a simultaneously heart wrenching and uplifting story about a troubled teen and her relationship with her narcissist, self-indulgent mother that somehow manages to end gently despite a …

Flying My Kite: Crystal Kite Awards Shortlist

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I would not be human if I did not admit to feeling the love and soaking up the joy of being in the limelight, the kind of limelight created by a book award listing. In this instance, that award listing is the SCBWI Crystal Kite Members' Choice Award - Shortlist.

Many know my stance on awards. I would never say no to one of course (remember that bit about being human) but at the same time, I really feel that awards by themselves are not the definitive measure of the true worth, value or intrinsic beauty of a story. Many other factors combine deeming the success of a story not least of which is the emotion resonated within a reader's heart by what they are seeing and experiencing. Whether your words or pictures make them laugh or cry or snort or frown, it's the profound personal connection between reader and character that makes them want to continue to laugh and cry more with them. For me this represents success as a writer and is ultimately worth more than any shiny stick…

Book Bites: Hunting for the Perfect Easter Picture Book

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Slam Dunk: Game Changing Poetry with Solli Raphael

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Limelight by the youngest winner of the Australian Poetry Slam, Solli Raphael, is a slip of a book, barely a shiver of autumn breeze, yet between its snappy tri-coloured covers beats an enormous heart of passionate ability.

Barely 13, Raphael tentatively turned his attention from writing and performing poetry to recording the evolution that resulted in him being a virtual overnight poetry sensation. For those like me that enjoy poetry from afar, dabble in the most basic of poetic structures and, up until a few literary festivals ago, thought slam poetry involved a shot of tequila and a lot of gratuitous shouting (and had no idea why anyone would want to encourage that sort of activity in a children's writing festival), this book is a revelation.

Raphael writes with unfettered, youthful candour describing his passions for sport, music and the arts, namely writing. His zeal translates into an introduction that is both chatty and inspiring. He credits his primary school teachers and …

Review: The Mysterious World of Cosentino - The Missing Ace

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Thrumming with drama, mystery, good guys and bad cards, The Missing Ace, the first adventure in the new magic imbued series of Cosentino's Mysterious World is a knockout crowd-pleaser. Fast, funny, and on-the-edge-of-your-seat page turning, this is an ace for lovers of magic and sleight of hand, and Cosentino fans, like me! Even with the odd reveals thrown in, I am still in awe of all things magical. The teaming of Jack Heath (ace thriller writer and ex-street magician), Cosentino (genius illusionist) and James Hart (cosmic comic artist) works in spades for me. There are even bonus trick cards included. Ace!

But wait, there’s more. Like all great illusions that keep you dangling in anticipation by the tips of your ears, Rabbit Rescue, the second book in this magical series, does not disappoint. Wrongly believing he's safe following his last stoush with the evil King of Coppertown, Cosentino is almost fried by the King’s henchman, Matchman. This leads to a revelation that the …

SCBWI Sydney Conference: Reflections on Reporting

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For the last few SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand Conferences, I've been involved as a Roving Reporter and for the last two, including the most recent 2019 Conference in Sydney in February, I had the absolute good fortune of assuming the mantel of Head Blogger, aka Media Coordinator, aka Head Gardener, aka Rocking Rover.

Not bad for one of the world's biggest Luddites. Fortunately, coordinating social media feeds, compiling a comprehensive blog log of every detail of the conference and directing a merry band of roving reporters is not just a matter of operating a smart phone - thank goodness! We'd be reading conference reports on slabs of slate if it were.

Why I did it

One of the most satisfying aspects of this role is the opportunity to nurture a fertile group of talented women (and man!) and witness the creative fruits of their labour flourish into useful, usable resource. (Yes, I adopted a slight flora turn of phrase for the blogging event this year.) Each Rover i…

Space Odysseys: Catch a Falling Star & Moonwalkers

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To mark the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing, several children’s books are now entering orbit. Here are two very different but equally compelling titles that are sure to take young readers on an awesome odyssey of their own.

Moonwalkers by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton

This timely picture book blasts into life from the opening end pages. Suffused with Denton’s trademark, light-hearted line drawings, we are immediately introduced to the Apollo 11 astronauts who crewed the first spaceflight to the moon in July 1969, a feat never done before.

As they soared into space aboard the rocket launcher, Saturn V, half a planet away, Billy and his family watched in awe thanks to live beams from ‘The Dish’, one of the largest telescopes on Earth located in the town of Parkes, NSW Australia.

Inspired by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins’s, daring space mission, Billy and his motley crew of space explorers, Buzz and Mickey, embark on their own ambitious moon mission, replic…

Speed Launching: How to Share Your Story in Three Minutes

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As part of the recent spectacle that was the SCBWI Sydney 2019 Conference, I was fortunate enough to be part of a crackerjack collection of creatives involved in what was billed as 'a celebration of books' at The Children's Bookshop in Beecroft but quickly became known as 'a speed launch event'.

What is a speed launch? Quite simply, it's less a than handful of minutes which said author has at her disposal to extol the many wonders of her latest picture book publication, wax lyrical about its glorious marriage of art and words, regale listeners with the story behind the story, and tease them into loving the characters so much you have them begging for a signed copy before you've even paused for breath. Phew!

It's no mean feat delivering all that in three short minutes. Yes, that's the average amount of time allowed to effectively pitch your wares despite it taking years to write and make. I can't even read a picture book in that space of time.Ye…

Get Appy: Circus School Digital Picture Book

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Ironically, Circus School was one of the first picture book texts I ever penned.

It originated as an assignment for a writing course I was undertaking several years ago and features Elise the Elephant who is about to fulfil her dream of performing in the circus. She embarks on her first day of circus school bursting with excitement but in spite of her Coach Caroline’s enthusiastic encouragement, soon realises she is not exactly cut out for life in the circus. Or is she?

In a delightful twist of reality, Elise is one elephant who can’t wait to join the circus.

This bouncy story of self-discovery and tenacity for pre-schoolers features oodles of fun word play and exuberant onomatopoeia. I just love how Beatriz Mello's illustrations bring Elsie and her circus school chums to bouncy, spinning, teetering life.You simply must discover their antics.

This digital story was also featured in Virgin Australia’s inflight kids’ entertainment program in February 2017 as part of the inau…

Review: Everything I've Never Said

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Sometimes, I delay reading a book not because the cover doesn’t grab me (it did). Not because I was scared of drowning in an emotional whirlpool (I wasn’t, well perhaps a bit). I often dislike the distracting hype surrounding a new release. I like to wait until the book calls to me on its own and in this case, Ava finally called loud enough for me to hear. Which is saying something, for Ava is unable to speak.

I’m glad I waited to take on Everything I’ve Never Said for it is truly something special.

Told without froth and bubble, and very little hand waving, this novel possesses a greatness of heart that will make you weep and chuckle out loud. Ava is sassy and sharp as a whip. She has the observational skills of a bald eagle and the heart of a whale. Opinions and thoughts, words and desires bubble within her without restraint, yet she is unable to express any of them thanks to Rett syndrome, which dominates her physical abilities. Her greatest desire is to be heard. But how can she …

A Perfect Publication: Kookie Magazine

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I am pleased as punch to see my short story, Perfect Prue, published in the latest edition of the Kookie Magazine, Issue 6.

Perfect Prueis a short story about competitive cousins, capsizing catastrophes, fitting in and sailing! Grab yourself a copy of this awesome little mag and read it for yourself, soon. 

KOOKIE (as in smart KOOKIE) is a girl-powered, award-winning print magazine for ages 7 to 12+. It is chock-a-block packed with interviews, fiction, craft, puzzles, comics, articles on science and nature, art and activism, sports and technology plus pages of reader contributions and pics, sure to keep young female tweens exploring and thinking.

This magazine is also 100% ad-free and comes out four times a year (March, June, September, December). I had an absolute ball soaking up its articles and heartily recommend it for any middle grade readers who want a magazine dedicated to thought provoking issues but also FUN!