Showing posts from March, 2020

Review: Forever Or A Day

What is the one thing we never seem to have enough, want more of but use the worst? Time. Of course. The supreme paradox.

Sarah Jacoby presents the infinite conflicts of time, its beauty, its mystic, its individual universal completeness with poetic tenderness and simplicity.

Forever or a Day opens not bleakly but cloaked in somber hues representing night, perhaps the beginning of time. Pinpricks of starlight dissolve into a flood of new day colour, awakening one small boy and the reader's immediate curiosity. 'If you look closely you can see it. ...almost touch it.' See what? What is there to hold? As dawn brightens into morning, the boy breakfasts, attempts to dress himself. He is joyously absorbed in his family's morning routines, blissfully unaware of what is passing him by.

But today is a special day, marked by a special occasion for the boy and his family; a train ride through the countryside, to visit his grandparents who live by the sea. Leaving his city home f…


The world is undoubtedly in a state of upset and turmoil. Worry besets fear, besets panic, besets much more than just a corruption of health and well being. Whilst books cannot provide the whole cure or even offer all the solutions, they can help to 'restore resilience, uplift and reconnect humanity'.

It's heartening to see so many people including booksellers, both the bricks and mortar and online kinds and publishers, rally to not only preserve their own business models and staff welfare but more saliently, their customers' best interests by offering incentives to help people decide how best to spend their dwindling pay packets.

I normally abhor catch phrases, but it really does feel like we're all in this together, more than ever before in my time on this planet in any case.

So I'm more than pleased to see that my publisher, EK Books and their parent company, Exisle Publishing are offering...


Book Bites: Easter Basket Goodies

Get out your Easter bonnets and fluff up your cotton tails; it’s time to hit the Easter Egg trail again. While Easter, like Christmas, holds different significances for different people, one thing remains true. It is a time for gathering together around loved ones, celebrating new life and continued hopes for joy and peace. Sharing the pleasure of reading together is an excellent extension of this notion, one I whole heartedly encourage you to do this Easter (with appropriate sanitation procedures in place of course!). This clutch of Easter inspired board and picture books are guaranteed to make snuggle times as sweet as any chocolate egg. Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Little Bilby’s Aussie Easter Egg Hunt
I admit I love a bit of glittery foil bling at Easter time. Little Bilby’s Aussie Easter Egg Hunt features sufficient sparkle and bling to make it a tactile and visual feast. Mes’ eggcellent Australian fauna infused picture book inspires interactive story time sessions encouraging youngste…

Review: And The Ocean Was Our Sky

There’s no question, Patrick Ness's narrative is one hundred per cent magnetic. I was drawn in from Bathsheba's first words so cleverly echoing another unforgettable classic, Moby Dick.

And The Ocean Was Our Sky is a magnificent example of fusing an acknowledged convention, as defined by classic tales of the past, with an equally formidable retelling. This time around, it is the whales, or rather one spirited conflicted whale, Bathsheba that voices this unique saga.

The prose is easy to read, the premise made apparent through Bathsheba's descriptions and internal thoughts, opinions she is reluctant to share because they describe a differing of beliefs.

This tale of two worlds continually at conflict, warring and waging revenge is as old as the seas, yet this time we are experiencing the hunt from a dramatically different point of view, from the gigantic eyes of the masters of the oceans, the whales.

In their world, ours is literally upside, in an abyss that is both desp…

Keep Calm - Creativity is Contagious!

With the world in upheaval and enforced isolation encouraging a surge of forgotten habits such as staying put and reading more, I happened upon an old copy of the Winter 2019 SCBWI Bulletin. The article that caught my eye was by Susan Salzman Raab, a SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) marketing consultant and the author of An Author's Guide to Children's Book Promotion.

Susan spoke about the expression of human rights and how we as creators are obligated in no small way to help the forward movement and enforcement of human rights through our roles as storytellers and story sharers. I found her discussion meaningful and inspiring, ironically, even more so in our current climate of disruption and uncertainty. Judge for yourself.

Excerpt from Sarah's SCBWI article Winter 2019.

'Children’s authors and illustrators have always had a unique role – that of being allowed to share their ideas with other people’s children. And the canon of children’s…

Review: Leaping Lola

Pure exuberant fun sums up this glee-filled story of Lola, a little brown Jersey calf (my absolute fave cow!) who, much to the consternation of her mother, Clarissa, wants to go to the cow ball. Her mother insists Jerseys are not designed to dance and most definitely should not attend the Black and White Ball on account that Lola is 100% non-black and white.

Her hitherto carefree pirouette practising comes to a sad muddy halt as Lola relays her lamentable tale to Pearl the pig. Fortunately, Pearl is a pig of purposeful pleasures and immediately offers to 'dress' Lola for the occasion.

Disguised as a black and white kind of Carmen Miranda, Lola is arguably the belle of the ball, belting out rhythmic, graceful, groovy mooves (couldn’t help myself !) until things end in a slippery mess. Her identity and dignity are at steak (er stake), until an unlikely ally establishes Lola's right to dance as much as she wants.

Hawkin's debut picture book reverberates with emotive lang…

International Read To Me Day

It's no secret I love a good read. If books were chocolate, I'd be as big as a whale because I just can't say no to them. Perhaps what I love most about my role as a kids' author is knowing that somewhere out there one of my stories is being savoured and enjoyed as much as a tubful of chocolate. Even better is when that story is being shared.

Reading a story to another human is in my mind, one of the most intimate, caring and valuable shared experiences we can give each other. There is something about hearing another person's voice express a world of wonder and intrigue that simultaneously entrances and soothes. I think that's why Story Time on Playschool is still my favourite part of the show. So to emphasize the wonder of reading, the international reading campaign to encourage kids to get adults to read to them is all set to run again on the 19 March.

International Read To Me Day, was created as another essential cog in the literacy advocacy wheel. It empowe…

Writing Advice: Nette Hilton on Picture Books and Junior Fiction

Occasionally I'll attend a writing workshop or seminar that is so absorbing or entertaining, I completely neglect to record it visually. Nette Hilton's weekend workshop on Picture Books and Junior Fiction hosted by Book Links QLD and its children's writing arm, Write Links, was both these things and more.

Nette Hilton, fellow poultry enthusiast and lover of storytelling, is a proflic writer of children's fiction; many of her award winning works deemed as classics in children's literature such as, A Proper Little Lady and The Web - both favourites in this house. More recent titles include the popular, Smallest Bilby Easters picture book seriesand the hilariousFirst Adventures of Princess Peony. *

A former teacher, Nette has worked with some of the most notable illustrators and publishing houses in Australia but by her own admission was a complete novice when it came to the world of publishing and storytelling. She only knew she enjoyed sharing and telling stories. H…

Review: Goat On A Boat

Goat on a Boat is a fun rhyming romp across a deserted volcanic island that reminds me a lot of places in the Aegean but the end pages and name (Joxx) intimate a more Hebridean nature.

A flock of dismal looking sheep eke out a meager existence among the lower marshes and barren rock faces of Joxx. The grass, what little there is of it there, is thin and unappetising. Life is rudimentary at best.

One day they spy a boat which brings to shore a stranger; a goat of all things. He's different and if the sheep's leader, Bighorn Bill can be believed, must not be allowed to infiltrate their home. Who knows how much he'll eat or who else he might invite to come ashore. Better to stand firm, lock him up, bite him into submission if necessary warns Bill. But among the motley crew, a young, dark-wooled ewe speaks up, imploring the others to give him a chance.

Bill finds it hard to extinguish his prejudices and pre-conceived fear-induced beliefs and while he bleats and bemoans, the …

Review: The Little Wave

This middle grade verse novel is a pure breath of fresh air, both salty and spirited and raw and earthy thanks to Pip Harry who deftly weaves the stories of upper primary school students from a Manly beachside suburb with those from a NSW regional country town far from the ocean.

The main focus is on three different kids: Noah a surfing junkie with sandy hair and refreshing open-mindedness despite his friendship with the school bully; Lottie an entomologist in the making with a huge heart and a bereft father who can't fill the hole left in his by the death of Lottie's mother; and Jack a tough wannabe cricket star who struggles with his dysfunctional family and an inability to improve at school.

It's the lure of the sea that each have in common. Noah can't get enough of it. Lottie loves exploring the lagoons formed by it in search of a new insect. Jack, just wants to experience its vast freedom after only ever knowing the confines of the country and its artificial pool…