Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Wonderful Scared Book

Can you tell readers about your new picture book?                                                                 The Scared book is a quirky interactive picture book. The book itself is scared of monsters. It asks readers to help it by blowing away the butterflies that are tickling its insides and flicking the monsters away etc. It will be released on the 29 August!

Why did you choose Hachette as your publisher?  I’m embarrassed to say that it was purely circumstantial! I had recently come up with the idea and written the manuscript when I found myself at Hachette for an open day that was organized by the Emerging Writers Festival, in October 2015. The children’s publisher (Lothian is the children’s imprint), Suzanne O’Sullivan was one of the presenters, and over bubblies at the end of the day I plucked up the courage to ask her if I could pitch a book idea. She graciously accepted. My pitch was very simple and she loved the idea, gave me a card and told me to email it to her. I did, and within a week she had gotten back to me with “Such a terrific concept! I really enjoyed it. Are you open to revising the text a bit, to strengthen it further? It was all a bit surreal! You can read more about this experience on my blog here And the publisher here:

How long did it take from submission of your manuscript to receipt of advance copies? 
Short answer: just under two years. Long answer:  it has been a bit convoluted. The book I initially submitted to Suzanne in October 2015 is not quite the one that it is now! I kept running into Suzanne at various events at the beginning of 2016 and she kept updating me on the progress of my book through the system of approvals – acquisition meetings etc. Just as Hachette was about to make me an offer, I threw a spanner in the works by telling Suzanne at the CBCA conference in May that I had another manuscript in a similar vein, and would she like to see it. She did. I sent it. She felt it was ‘More commercial’ than its cousin so we would publish this new one, and so the process started again (albeit relatively truncated)!

Which editor did you work with at Hachette?                                                   I worked with Suzanne O’Sullivan who is insightful and immensely respectful with making suggestions. As the book is an unusual concept, there was the initial refining of the idea to make it work. I love that Suzanne took her time to mull over ideas in the beginning phase although at times the wait felt interminable! As the deadlines got closer, so too did the email responses, and Suzanne was always ready to hear from me and address any issues.

As the book was sent off to the printers, Hachette called a meeting with the team and both myself and the illustrator. It was a delight to hear the enthusiasm of the publishing house about the book and meet the wonderful illustrator. It was a pleasure to work with the team at Hachette.

Who is the book’s illustrator?                   
Kim Siew is an illustrator and mural artist who works under the name of Akisiew (a-kiss-u). She has a gorgeous website and Etsy shop: This is her second book and first trade published book. She brought an edgy freshness and added another layer of quirk and heart to my already quirky manuscript – I love her concept for the illustrations. Pure brilliance!

Have you written other books for children?                                                    When I see Grandma was published by Wombat Books in 2014. It is on the Premier’s Reading challenge and was shortlisted for the Speech Pathologist Book of the Year.  I also have several other manuscripts that do the rounds of slush piles around the country!

Do you belong to a writing group? And/or a mentor?                                       I started attending a writers group less than two years ago at the NSW Writer’s Centre. I don’t know what I’d do without them now! The help give me courage and inspire me in many ways, including to attend events like the one that led to my book deal!
Di Bates has been an encouraging mentor – over the past year or so I have been her facebook admin in return for manuscript assessments! What a generous deal on her part!

What are you working on at the moment? Do you only write picture book texts?                                                                                                                  I am busy organizing launch things for Scared – blogs etc as well as sending off other picture book manuscripts – keeping an eye on the various publishers as they open or close their books!

I also love flash fiction and have a poem/flash fiction accepted by the School Magazine, which I’m excited about. And I have a few longer stories that Di Bates has helped me with, sitting in my bottom drawer! I also have an early reader idea that has been haunting me for a number of years –when promo for Scared is out of the way,I think I’ll get back to that.

What else do you do in the children’s book world?                                           I am a committee member of my local CBCA sub branch; I blog for Just Write for Kids (the first Friday of each month I feature an author whose career is taking off); I am a Creative Kids Tales member and a member of the Greenleaf Talent team and do school visits where I have been delighted to the response as I’ve ‘road tested’ The Scared Book.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Pitch to a Publisher!

Join in the book blog blast as Debra Tidball et al tour various blogs throughout this week leading up to The Scared Book's launch at The Children's Bookshop, Beecroft, NSW on Saturday 2 September at 2pm.

Debra writes, ‘I am blogging at Just Write for Kids every day this week with break out blogs over a number of other websites. Simply comment on any of the websites or facebook posts with the answer to 'What gives you goose bumps?' to go in the draw to WIN a signed copy of The Scared Book (Australia only). And for any picture book writers out there, if you include #thescaredpitch in your comment, you will go in the draw to win the chance to pitch and submit your picture book manuscript (up to 500 words) direct to Suzanne O’Sullivan at Hachette. Amazing! You can comment on as many of the blogs as you like to give you more chances to WIN. 

Book blog blast websites are: Monday – Friday: Just Write for Kids - ; Wednesday: Creative Kids Tales ; Thursday: On Buzz Words Blog

I’m also running a Draw/Make your own monster competition – more details on my blog here:  Entries will close 9 September. Winners will be announced and contacted by 12 September. My website:

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Scared Book

The Scared Book written by Debra Tidball, illustrated by Kim Siew (Lothian/Hachette)
HB RRP $24.99    ISBN 9780734417497
Reviewed by Liz Ledden

The Scared Book is a fun, interactive picture book for pre-schoolers. The book itself is scared to continue telling the story after introducing a cast of monsters. It needs the reader’s help to scare them away!

Each spread offers a chance to get physically involved with the story, from rubbing goosebumps to fanning bad smells. Suspense is built via the persistent monsters popping up again and again, vibrantly brought to life by Kim Siew, a talented artist and muralist also known as Akisiew. Fortunately, the monsters are far too cute to be truly scary, so be assured even the youngest of readers won’t be freaked out by the monster factor! Tidball’s text is used to clever effect regarding pacing, for example suggesting a moment to calm down while tracing a spiral. The ending empowers the reader, and will no doubt create demand for repeat reads.

This is an energetic story designed to immerse kids in the world of stories, and perhaps inspire them to create their own. The eye-catching, tactile cover and fun use of fonts to convey emotion top off the reading experience.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Reena’s Rainbow, written by Dee White, illustrated by Tracie Grimwood (EK Books) HB RRP $19.99   ISBN 978-1-925335-49-1
Reviewed by Elizabeth Vercoe

This is a heart-warming story of friendship, diversity and acceptance.

When a deaf girl and a homeless dog form a unique bond at the local park, magic is sure to follow.

Reena’s ears might not work like the other children’s ears do, but her eyes see everything at the playground where she joins in with a game of hide and seek. Her eagle-eye vision picks out every hiding place when she is ‘he,’ but alas, when she herself is hiding her eyes cannot see that the game is over – nor can she hear the calls of the other children. Reena is left alone at the park because she cannot hear that the game has ended.

We feel Reena’s sadness and sense of bewilderment about her own difference when she speaks in sign language to her mother:

‘Why am I different? Reena asked.
       ‘Her mother’s fingers danced back. ‘We are like the colours of the rainbow. We are all different. But when we stand together we are one.’

The idea of us each being a unique part of a larger whole is a simple but effective one that plays out through the story.  By the end of the book Reena, the homeless dog and the other children at the park do all ‘come together’ as one.

Friendly, colourful and joy-filled illustrations work beautifully to bring this story to life.

Reena’s Rainbow, with its clear and simple message, reminds us that people’s differences can certainly be something to celebrate.