A Texas Year and A New York Year reviews

Thursday, 22 September 2016

I love Kids' Book Buzz because the reviews are by kids--and I just love what kids have to say!

unremarkable moments

Sunday, 18 September 2016

You know those magical moments--those really magical moments--that are literally just a moment? A snapshot that stays with you forever, on multiple levels, and elicits an intense flood of emotion where you are sent back in time... you can feel the temperature of the air, the breeze on your skin, the rain on your face, the water lapping around you, the aroma of coffee--it's as though you've been snatched up and tossed back into the past.

I'm not talking about Big Moments like babies being born or plucking choux buns from your wedding cake--I'm talking of unremarkable moments. The ones that seem so enormous because they WERE so unremarkable, yet they hold such magic in them--perhaps because they were a skerrick of time when you were so purely happy. When you were doing nothing more than smiling.

Not thinking. Just being.

Here is one of mine, Paris, 9 January 2013 when Riley threw a balloon (he had found lolling along the street) into the Seine. We had been walking in the rain, crossing the Pont de Sully towards l'Ile Saint-Louis--on the hunt for ice cream, and he just lobbed it into the sky.

It was one of those moments where time stood still. And it was so overwhelmingly beautiful. I don't know why.

It was nothing and it was everything.

Do you know what I mean?

I have others--particularly a time in the ocean off Langkawi Island (Malaysia), floating on my back, staring above at the palm trees swaying overhead and feeling nothing but the present moment. Pure happiness. Nowhere to be. Nothing to think about other than telling myself 'remember this moment, remember this moment'. And I do.

What unremarkable moments do you remember? I would so love to know.

Australia Illustrated - COVER REVEAL!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Beside myself with happiness (and quiet terror!) to reveal the cover of Australia Illustrated, my very first self-illustrated picture book, out in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA on 1 November 2016, and in the UK on 28 November.

This book has been a lifelong dream of mine--and even two years ago, I would never have believed that dream could come true.

Huge thanks to EK Books and the ACT Government (artsACT) for the grant that helped make this book a reality. I'm hosting a week-long virtual launch on my blog from Monday 24 - 31 October, and a book launch party at Harry Hartog Woden store here in Canberra on Saturday 5 November, so stay tuned for more on that.

In the meantime, OMG--here is the cover! I can't breathe!


Australia Illustrated is in my hands - GASP!

Monday, 5 September 2016

GASP! It's in my hands! Like, my fingers are touching it! My first illustrated book, Australia Illustrated, out 1 November 2016--with a week-long celebration here on my blog from 24 October. More on that soon...

In the meantime, GASP! It's real!

Ask Tania: Non-Fiction Picture Books--where do I start when submitting to publishers?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Dear Tania
My question is about approaching publishers with non-fiction picture books. I'm aware how to submit fiction picture books, but is there a difference with non-fiction? If I was interested in writing a book about a person in history, should I go full throttle, researching meticulously, honing my text and sending off a fully-polished manuscript, knowing that all that research could be of no use if the ms is rejected?

Hi, Emma,

A girl after my own heart--I adore non-fiction PBs! And I most particularly love books on people from history. I'm busting to know who you want to research; might have to ask you privately (sorry readers!).

But to your question. The very first thing you need to tell yourself when it comes to dedicating the endless hours to researching and penning a non-fiction book is this:

Ask Tania: Picture Book structure--circular, narrative, characters, rhyming--HELP!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Dear Tania,

I've started writing children's stories and am dreaming up some picture books. I've been reading a lot about typical book structures (set-up, incident, events, climax, result, resolution) and I've found reference to other structures sometimes used (circular, concept, cumulative, mirror, parallel and reversal). How strictly should an author keep to these structures? Do you write with this in mind or do you just write? 

On characters, must the main character always have an obstacle to overcome for the story to be successful?

I'm also interested in your thoughts on rhyming books, as I know (particularly emerging) authors are advised against it - and yet, so many picture books still seem to use rhyme and meter.


Hi Paula,

First thing I have to say is how great it is that you're reading up on book structure and the associated elements that make a story wonderful, particularly picture books. When we were running the Kids' Book Review Unpublished Manuscript Award, so many of the entries suffered from a lack of understanding of story structure, so even when the writing itself was good, the story was little more than an 'account' or a set of descriptions. So understanding story structure is a fine way to embark on your picture book writing journey.

Let's explore your questions--I'll break them down into parts:

Book Week 2016 Highlights

Friday, 26 August 2016

I've just hung up my book bag after a full and sensational Book Week here in Canberra. It's such an enriching, fulfilling week of talks, presentations, book readings and conversations with the very people we create books for (and their highly supportive teachers and librarians!).

Seeing Stories Finale Event wrap-up

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Today I had the great pleasure of attending the Seeing Stories Exhibition Finale Event at the University of Canberra. Organised by the National Centre for Australian Children's Literature (NCACL) and featuring hand-picked originals by some of our finest illustration talent, including Terry Denton, Ann James, Alison Lester and Bob Graham, The Hub was alive with stunning artworks, authors, illustrators, kids and book lovers.

This exhibit is but a small slice of the precious John Barrow collection, now owned by the NCACL.

Bob Graham

Ask Tania: How do I throw an amazing kids' book launch?

Monday, 15 August 2016

Dear Tania,
I'm launching my first children's book soon and wondered if you had any advice to help me? I've never done this before! What's usually expected? And weekday or weekend? How do I throw an amazing book launch?
Thank you!


Hi Katherine,

Congratulations on your first kids' book--how wonderful! I would love to help you with some advice for a fabulous launch, and so, below, you will find a full chapter from my Fantastical Flying Creator e-course (more here). I hope you find it helpful ... and I hope you have a wonderful launch!


The Kids' Book Launch (from The Fantastical Flying Creator)

Your first book launch is a true Life Moment. It's one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do, and will be packed with supporters. The more books you launch, like anything in life, really, the more the shine wears off, but I must admit they’re still a lot of fun and I still do launches for most of my books.

Your publisher is unlikely to throw you a launch unless you’re Jeff Kinney, but don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

You can absolutely have more than one launch, and you can host them locally or interstate. If you have family or friends to stay with, it makes things even cheaper.

To attract guests, you should offer something to your audience—a giveaway, bookmarks, cake, goodie bags, balloons and activities for kids … any of these things will attract people, especially cake. People will come for cake.

A Scottish, English, New Yorker, Texan Year

Thursday, 11 August 2016

It's so lovely to see books 2 through 5 in the A Kids' Year series powering along. These books took a lot of dedication and a lot of work, and a lot of falling in love all over again with these amazing places! Remember, if you can't book a flight to the other side of the world right now, you can always travel through the pages of a book ...

I particularly love these reviews on The Mummy Project:

I wonder which two destinations will be next in the series??? Two more out in 2017. Post a guess in the comments below, if you like.

One Word Wisdom with author/illustrator Christina Booth

Sunday, 7 August 2016

1. What is the best thing about being an author? 

2. What’s the worst thing? 

3. How did creating your picture book Too Many Sheep make you feel? 

4. What do you hope it brings its readers? 

5. What else do you like to do? 

6. Who has influenced your writing the most? 

7. What has been your biggest career reward?

8. What is the most important contribution an author/illustrator can make to the world?

9. What’s your biggest writing goal? 

10. What’s next? 

Christina works from her Launceston studio overlooking a lake and a variety of wildlife. She illustrates her own books and great stories for other authors. A number of her books have won awards including Kip (Windy Hollow Books), the story of a noisy rooster living in the city, which won an Honour Book Award in the 2010 CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) Book of the Year Awards and Welcome Home (Ford Street Publishing), the story of a whale as she returns to her ancestors home, which won the Environmental Award for Children's Literature in 2014.

Christina's latest book, Too Many Sheep, is out now! Learn more about her fabulous books at her website.

Ask Tania: What's the process when someone is commissioned to illustrate a book?

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Dear Tania,
What's the process when someone is commissioned to illustrate a book?
Thank you!


Hi Jolanda,

Like most things in publishing, this is a far-reaching question and has many moving parts, but I'll do my best to give you a general overview!


Traditionally, publishers (both trade and independent) like to appoint illustrators to books. They use either in-house illustrators whose work resonates with their overall book list, and with whom they have an established relationship, or they commission illustrators they've had their eye on, or whose work might complement the book's text, genre and 'feel'.

Commissioned illustrators may be experienced or emerging--and again, this is dependent on many factors. A lot of the time, publishers like to go with someone who understands the book creation process and how to interpret and add visual value to a manuscript, but this doesn't mean emerging creators can't achieve contracts, especially if they spend time reading and studying picture books (or other types of illustrated books) to familiarise themselves with layout, design, construct and the priceless nuance that imagery can add to text.

Many illustrators submit their work to publishers, and most are willing to receive unsolicited portfolios, as looking over artwork takes just a fraction of the time than reviewing a manuscript. Visit publisher websites and check out their illustration-receipt process. There's absolutely no harm in having your work out there. You can also showcase your work at many children's book festivals and conferences. It's well worth doing this.

If you're unsure how to present your work/create a portfolio, there are countless tips online--just google it. You can also google what publishers particularly esteem in regard to illustration. Being able to effect 'movement', emotion and character consistency are all highly regarded, as is an understanding of attractive colour palettes.
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