Showing posts from April, 2019

Review: The Afterwards

Some books exude a need to carry them around with you, clutching them close to your chest. The Afterwards is one of those books; at least the hardback version was for me. Some might argue this is not a book for children however, I think it recognises every note of childhood assumption and optimism and allows them to resonate with all the veracity of a typical ten-year-old.

It is a story about loss and losing, of reuniting and realisations, of hanging on and letting go. December and Happiness (Ember and Ness) are best friends, inseparable and as solid as rock candy. When Ness’ death abruptly separates them, Ember is determined to find her way to the Afterworld, a transitional ethereal facsimile of her own world where the dead linger – echo - until they eventually melt from existence.

The Afterworld is a sad, colourless place devoid of life’s vital spark. Yet Ember is unperturbed by the Afterworld’s morbidity and although she finds it hard to breathe the air of the soulless, she remains …

Review: A Dog's Journey

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

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


Slam Dunk: Game Changing Poetry with Solli Raphael

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

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

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

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…