Hello, almost Spring! book production, events, Book Week, book gobbling, costumes, illustration, apps, everything!

Monday, 26 August 2019

Hello, peeps. How is your winter going? Cosy? Good. Perfect book-reading weather (though which weather is not perfect for book reading?).

It's been a heads-down time of late, so I'm coming up for air before diving back in again. I'm squirrelling away on Book 2 of my junior fiction series, Evie and Pog, before diving into my next NLA book with Stephanie Owen Reeder. Then it's on to Book 3 of Evie and Pog, which I hope to finish mid-January, and somewhere Christmas might be (I said might be) wedge in between!

I'm also resurfacing because this is my favourite time of year - so much happening, especially CBCA Book Week. There's a heap of glorious KidLit events happening, too. See my recent post on the opening of the Story Time Australian Children's Literature Exhibition right here.

I'm starting this post with Story Box Library. I have always loved what they do. I still remember when Nicole Brownlee started the site, and it continues to go from strength to strength. It was a joy and an honour to film with them at the National Library of Australia recently, where I recorded two story readings--one of them Mamie. (Will reveal the second one soon!)

I recently gifted a SBL subscription to my little great niece Lexi, so she can see her great aunt reading Mamie (of which she has a copy) and so she can enjoy the jam-packed line-up of story readings. I love that her mum and dad know how important books are for little ones. Anyhoo, I can't recommend SBL heartily enough--for both schools and home. What a treat to immerse in brilliant stories, read by a cornucopia of talent.

Here is my Mamie preview, below, or you can view it on the SBL site right here. We also filmed a little bonus video where I show original artwork and talk about the production process behind the book. You can see it, and my SBL Testimonial, right here.


I was thrilled to contribute a story to the Funny Bones anthology - the latest thigh-slapping collection of short stories, with royalties in support of War Child. My story - The Helper Monkeys - was a hoot to write, and the Helper Monkeys even have their own Twitter account! You'll understand why when you read the story. This book would make a brilliant stocking stuffer this Christmas. Featuring Australia's funniest comedians, authors and illustrators, learn more about it here and pre-order here. The book is out 5 November with Allen and Unwin, edited by the amazing Kate and Jol Temple, and Oliver Phommavanh.

Book Week continues to inspire a love of books and story, and schools all over Australia host wonderful events, including book character parades. Here is Kitten (permission given by her mum, Kylie). She's totally rocking Mamie--I absolutely LOVE this costume! Look at her Mamie-pink cheeks; beyond adorable. It's the most amazing feeling to see your works inspiring children. Thank you, Kitten.

And here are three more beautiful possums dressed as Mamie - one in her tutu and two in her boronia costume at the end of the book--how good are they? These are some seriously talented mums, dedicating so much time to creating unique and beautiful costumes for their kids. I just love them so much. Thank you, Joce, Cyn and Amie for sending me these gorgeous pics of your girls!

And look at this beautiful teacher/librarian, Karen, dressed as Mamie. Check out those sunnies - and yes she made them herself. Want! Just the most gorgeous outfit.

Did you know that there's an Instagram account that features Book Week parade costumes? Of both kids and teachers/librarians/school staff. It's called Book Week Costumes and you can find it by clicking the image below. There's some super impressive creations, and it's fabulous inspiration for next year (and the year after, and the year after that...).



Creative Kids' Tales have published a wonderful interview all about Kids' Book Review. The glorious Dimity Powell and I chatted with Georgie Donaghey about where KBR came from and where it's going. Read it right here.

I was too crushed with book production to do any Book Week visits, alas, but I did have my school visit for the Chief Minister's Reading Challenge recently--at Torrens PS. I did two readings and showed the kids some sneak peeks at production and upcoming works. Every time I do a school visit, I realise how much I miss them, and always come away so incredibly uplifted and inspired.

Of course, it's Book Season (although which season is NOT book season??). The CBCA Book of the Year event was held at the National Library again this year, and was as special as always. Kids from St Bede's Braidwood and Canberra Girls' Grammar performed (so GOOD!) and then we clapped and cheered our way through the announcements. It's also a lovely opp to catch up with local creators.

Krys Saclier, Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern, Leanne Barrett, Holly Bidwell, Shelley Unwin,
Cate Whittle, moi, Tracey Hawkins, Stephanie Owen Reeder

Glorious to see so many NLA books as Notables this year, and huge congrats to friend Coral Vass and illustrator Dub Leffler for their Eve Pownall win for Sorry Day. Such an important book!

Thrilled to see my friend and partner in book creation, Stephanie Owen Reeder, win the biennial CBCA Laurie Copping Award for Distinguished Service to Australian Children's Literature. Here she is, below, in front of the poster for the Story Time Exhibition, which starts next Thursday and runs into February. Stephanie created the divine Story Time Stars companion book for the exhibition, and it's truly superb--you won't want to miss the exhibition OR the book, which features adorable bios on Australia's most memorable book characters! It's out September and you can learn more (and pre-order!) right here.

If you've not seen it yet, click the picture below to see my comprehensive post on the opening night of Story Time, including an exhibition peek.


Speaking of events, here are some that are coming up soon. If you're a book creator, you can't miss our local SCBWI event here in the ACT - Path to Publication. It's going to be super special, and I'll be doing some folio assessments. Click the poster for more info.

I'm on a panel at Book Face in Gungahlin, for the Australian Reading Hour. It's going to be a wonderful event. More info below, and click on the poster to see the event proper.


This Australian Reading hour join authors Emma Grey (Tilly Maguire and the Royal Wedding Mess), Kathryn Hind (Hitch), Rick Morton (100 Years of Dirt), Tania McCartney (Mamie) and Michael Roddan (The People vs the Banks) as they discuss they ways in which their personal experiences have impacted upon their writing.

With authors across a range of genres this is set to be a lively and humorous night with wine and refreshments provided.

On Thursday September 19 2019, stop what you’re doing for one hour and pick up a book. We want Australians to either rediscover or introduce themselves to the benefits of reading. Take the time to learn, escape and relax.

In children, reading has been shown to help with identity formation, setting them up for success in the future. In adults, reading has been shown to reduce stress by 68% more than listening to music, going for a walk, or having a cup of tea.

I have a new Instagram crush, yes I do. Check out Terry Runyan's beautiful work. I love her characterisations, colour palettes and charming quirk. I also love how she mixes her work up, using different styles and perspectives. Just heavenly.

On illustration, here is a little peek at Pog from my junior fiction series, Evie and Pog (Feb 2020, HarperCollins). He's wondering which of Terry's illos he loves best. He simply can't decide.

And here is another slice of my upcoming book for Hardie Grant Travel - it's out in Feb 2020. Can't wait to reveal more!

More on illustration, I recently signed up to two online courses--even though I know I'll struggle to complete either. I'm trying!

The first is with Adolfo Serra, via Domestika. I adore his work. I'm hoping to carve out a little time over Christmas to immerse fully.

The other course is with the University of Newcastle - Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101. The course was recently offered for free and it's exquisitely produced. The content - OMG. It's too good to be true. I've snuck in a few intro modules and am already inspired. I need to hop to it with this one because free access expires in a month. Might have to just buy it, you know? Only 49 bucks. And it's pure heaven. Screw it, I'm going to buy it.

In perusing this course, I've already learned so much. Did you know that the Australian Museum has a bunch of super cool apps? You can see them here. They include the following enticing creations, and guess what, they're all free! I'm off to upload the Scott Sisters. What a remarkable duo they were.

Right. We need to end with books. Shock!

Here are my latest purchases. A little light-on of late because of my limited browsing time right now. Yes, it's unacceptable, I know. Check out these treasures, in no particular order.

This is one of the best books of the past year - without question. Do me a favour and give new creators a go - don't just buy books by famous creators. This one is absolutely as beautiful, if not better, than any book created by someone famous/established. It's pure beauty and I'm not just saying that because Jess is a friend! I really mean it.

okay, this one was actually gifted to me by Stephanie, but I had to sneak it in
because it's SOOOOO good!!

I scored Uhu on Abe Books for a bargain price. Hardcover, dust jacket!!! Thrilled. All inspired by Story Time Stars. That book made me realise how few classics I have in my clutches. I'm thinking of one new classic a month, what say you?

Please to insert 12 more days into my week so I can read these.

I need to end this blog post! It's been a week in the making. I hope you find some inspiration or new treasures/ideas in there somewhere. Have a happy hop into spring. We're already thawing here in Canberra and I have to admit, I am NOT looking forward to another ferocious summer. I can't remember the last time we had rain. But that's a whole other heart-wrenching topic.

Chat again soon!


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