Thursday, 16 August 2018

The Fastest Ship in Space


Today’s illustration is by Yvonne Low from a book she illustrated, The Fastest Ship in Space by Pamela Freeman (Second Look Publishing, an imprint of Christmas Press, 2018).


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Buzz Words Achievers


Cameron Macintosh has had the third book in his children's sci-fi series, Max Booth Future Sleuth, published by Big Sky Publishing. It's called Stamp Safari and is illustrated by Dave Atze. More info at http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/books/max-booth-future-sleuth-book-3/

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Institute of Fantastical Inventions


The Institute of Fantastical Inventions by Dave Leys, illustrated by Shane Ogilvie (Harbour Publishing House) PP RRP  $14.99 ISBN: 978-1-922134-93-6

Reviewed by Julie Dascoli

For all your wildest fantasies, the Institute of Fantastical Inventions is the go to place. The more absurd your fantasy is, the more they like it at IFI.

With a huge team of scientists, headed by Director Baldy Bob, we have Leo McGuffin, the main character, Edward Bump, the child genius, Andrea Allsop, and many others. The teams put their expertise together to make the zaniest of requests come true for their clients. The outrageous requests include a person who wants a third leg that glows in the dark and a young  girl who wants steam to blow out of her ears like a locomotive.

After discovering the plans for all of the fantasies from IFI have been stolen by Pip Poplet, the villain and in secret partnership with their Director, Director Baldybob, Leo and his wacky science mates set out to catch the crook and expose the director for the traitor that he is. 

Leo’s prickly relationship with Andrea Allsop is set aside to solve the crime, and almost becomes a romance. (Not that Leo realizes it.) The Outrageous plan the scientists plot to save the company is every bit as crazy as the ideas they come up with for their clients.

This is Dave Leys’ first young adult novel. From Sydney, Leys is an English teacher who, according to him, wishes he was good at science. Undoubtedly, he has tapped into the wacky craziness that children enjoy reading, and just maybe McGuffin is his alter ego.

When I picked up this small, novel, the colourful cover with the wacky, illustrated characters, intertwined in the title, I somehow had a good idea where this story was going to take me. The black and white illustrations throughout, in a cartoon style, are funny and engaging and assist in the telling of this story: Shane Ogilvie certainly helped us know the characters.

This is a great read for both boys and girls between the ages of 8 to 11 years. The wacky adventure and sense of humour will keep them reading on. It’s a book suitable for readers of David Walliams and those who enjoy light mystery/sleuth bookswith a crazy slant -- lovers.


 

  

Monday, 13 August 2018

PICTURE BOOKS: TEXT AND ILLUSTRATION


A children's picture book needs to strike a balance between the written text and the illustrations. The text should be able to be divided up evenly, with an equal amount of text on each page. Each page - or each double page spread - has a sentence or two, or a paragraph. Each of these sentences or paragraphs must lend themselves to an illustration, and so the written text should provide a variety of scenes, characters, or actions. You could think of this as writing "captions" for the (not-yet-drawn) pictures.


 However, these "captions" must flow, as they should in any other well-written story, 
The problem with many picture book manuscripts submitted to publishers is that writers do not give sufficient thought to the role of illustrator as co-creator of the finished book. 

Publishing Manager of Penguin Books, Laura Harris, has said that one of the main reasons picture book texts get rejected is that “the writer doesn’t give the illustrator enough to work with.” A writer needs to read her text with the eye of an illustrator, looking at each and every paragraph to consider what pictorial images might complement them. If she cannot imagine illustrations for each paragraph, then she can be said to have failed the illustrator, and so she must re-write.

In her book Making Picture Books (Scholastic Australia 2003), Libby Gleeson writes: “In the best picture books, the illustrations are absolutely necessary. They carry parts of the story or the narrative and in some cases the language is dropped, and pictures alone are all that is needed. The process is like a film where words and pictures work together but sometimes silence is a powerful way to tell part of a story.

A picture book is not the same as an illustrated short story: in the latter words alone could tell the story and the illustrations simply break up the words or decorate the text. Illustrations in a successful picture book not only complement written text; they can, as Gleeson says, take the place of text, interpreting and extending the meaning of what the writer is trying to say in a way that might never have occurred to the writer (or to her editor). Colour – or lines or shapes - in artwork, for example, might convey personalities of the book’s characters, be symbolic of a mood (doom or humour) that the writer wishes to capture, produce an illusion (say of movement and surprise) or convey greater level of meaning.

To provide an illustrative brief or to instead allow the illustrator total freedom to make his interpretation is a problem which often besets a picture book writer. Many editors do not like writers to provide illustrative briefs. Illustrators like Shaun Tan say, “Manuscripts that pre-suppose or suggest what the visuals might be in advance, or even the breakdown of text per page, are quite uninviting to me.” In most cases where a writer has provided an illustrative brief, illustrators have totally disregarded them and gone on with their own interpretation of the written text. In any case, what is sure is that it is the written text alone which an editor judges as acceptable or not. If a creator submits a poor text accompanied by brilliant illustrations, then no matter how impressive the illustrations, the editor will have no hesitation in rejecting the submission.

And what of a picture book text? Illustrator Ann James says, “To write a picture book the writer knows less is more, but that each word is potent and a cue for interpretation by the artist.” She knows that the successful picture book writer needs to provide a strong, rich and streamlined text. Author Alan Baillie adds to this: “A picture book can only be about five hundred words, which means that every word has to pull its weight. The tension, the atmosphere, the characters, the humour.”

In general, the picture book writer needs to remember that the text is short and some of the story is contained in the illustrations. She needs to keep the language simple and direct. Not to overuse adjectives and adverbs. Not to clutter up sentences. To use simple – (as opposed to complex) verbs that are also appropriate. And, too, the writer needs to forget about descriptive language – for description is the illustrator’s domain.

Finally, here is what some Australian illustrators say about picture book texts:

Kerry Argent: “I like a text to move . . . minimal enough so that I can create extra layers and stories, visually.”

Shaun Tan: “I accept manuscripts ... that give much room for me to play and to tell my own stories visually, (that have) a certain ambiguity . . . that resist being fully explained.”

Ron Brooks: “To make a book, the words have to turn my heart around, make me go hollow in the belly, weak at the knees.”

 © Dianne Bates

Articles as interesting and informative as this, appear in every issue of the Buzz Words magazine, along with markets, opportunities, competitions, interviews and much more. Write to us and we'll send you a free copy to check out Australia's premier magazine for those in the children's book industry.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

The dog with seven names


The dog with seven names by Dianne Wolfer, (Random House) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN: 9780143787457

Reviewed by Pauline Hosking

A puppy is born on a cattle station in the Pilbara. The runt of the litter, she is cared for by Elsie, the daughter of the station owner, and receives her first name – Princess. In February 1942, with the Japanese air raids moving closer, the family leave the Pilbara and go south for safety leaving Princess in the care of a kind drover. Later Princess (now named Flynn) flies with the Flying Doctor Service and stays in Port Hedland hospital, calming and giving courage to those hurt and in danger. The little golden-eyed dog, a cross between an Australian terrier and a dingo, has many adventures and is renamed many times before reuniting with Elsie.

The book gives well-researched information about the Japanese raids on Darwin, Wyndham and Broome. There’s also mention of the secret airstrip constructed at Corunna Downs by the US Army.

Events are related by Princess in the first person. According to Dianne Wolfer’s acknowledgements, The dog with seven names was one of two creative works accompanying research into anthropomorphism in Australian children’s literature. While much of what Princess recounts seems in keeping with a doggy view of the world, some of her wider understanding of places and events is problematic. However, this will not worry young readers who will enjoy the tale of a cute and brave animal in a time of war.

The author supplies a detailed timeline connecting World War II events to the story and some pages of additional historical information. These make the book a valuable classroom resource for students studying recent Australian History.



Saturday, 11 August 2018

High Five to the Boys


High Five to the Boys (a Random House book) HB RRP $29.99 ISBN 9780143791782

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Seventeen men and women on the Random House publishing team volunteered to write the biographies of dozens of Australian men who are featured in this book which follows Shout out to the Girls published earlier this year. All the men depicted – some Anglo, some Aboriginal and some from migrant backgrounds, some deceased, most still living – are honoured for the contribution they have made to our society.

Fifty men, all prominent in their respective fields, are listed in the contents. Many, such as John Curtain, Michael Kirby, Weary Dunlop and Steve Irwin, are household names but others – Eddie Ayres, Troye Sivan, Briggs and Elvis Abrahanowicz to mention just a few – are lesser known. Each of the book’s sections offers a high five (defined in the book as ‘a public salutation to express gratitude or solidarity’) – to sportsmen, politicians, activists, engineers and philanthropists, and more.

One man who intrigues and who deserves a high five is David Walsh (1961-) whose winnings at a casino made him a millionaire; Walsh used his wealth to founded MONA, The Museum of Old and New Art, which has since become one of his home state’s foremost tourist attractions. Another man is Taj Pabari who has educated more than 100,000 children in how computer tablets work and how easy they are to build. Jordan Nguyen has invented a wheelchair which works by mind-control. There are so many fascinating stories in his book!

 Accompanying the story of each of the mean's achievement are coloured portraits by  numerous illustrators employed in the book such as Andrew Joyner, Andrew Weldon, Tohby Riddle and Tom Jellett. Most of the illustrations are cartoons but some, such as that of Harley Windsor (figure skater), John Curtin (politician) and Paul De Gelder (Navy diver) are realistic. 

There are many stories like Walsh’s which give a background to the man’s achievements. Other positive role models depicted in High Five to the Boys are businessman and philanthropist Mei Quong Tart, biomedical engineer Jordan Nguyen, activist and mental health advocate Jason Ball and comedian and environmental campaigner, Craig Reucassell. This list only scrapes the barrel of many fascinating short biographies which are sure to be read avidly by boys and young men interested in not only amazing Australians, but the occupations they are engaged in, such as fashion designing, architect, justice -- and more.

The book is designed in-house by Astred Hicks who has used bright pink fly pages and strong, bright coloured pages to introduce each man. Certainly, the book which has highlighted many lives and was created by many, is sure to find a welcome spot in school and home librarians. Full marks to Random House which is donating all royalties from the sale of the book to The Smith Family.


Friday, 10 August 2018

Issue 278 August 1 2018

(Request a free sample of Buzz Words here)




The latest issue of Buzz Words – 1 August 2018 -- is jam-packed and oozing at the seams with children's literature goodness.

Here are some of the things you'll find inside the latest issue:
·                  63 markets to investigate (Australian and overseas) plus a profile of an Australian children’s book publisher
·                  15 Opportunities and Events
·                  11 Festivals and Conferences
·                  11 courses for writers and illustrators
·                  2 competitions (plus numerous announcements of award winners)
·                  The Inside Scoop where authors talk about their journey to publication featuring Ruth Waters and Anne Donnelly who talk about their latest books.
·                  How I Promote My Book with ideas from Hazel Edwards who must be one of Australia’s most productive authors and book promoters.
·                  An Interview with prize-winning Australian children’s author and illustrator Peter Carnavas
·                  A profile of April Murdoch, Faber Writing Academy Manager in Who’s Who in Publishing
·                  Our new section titled Resources shows readers Galleries and Centres for Children’s Literature in Australia and overseas.
and the usual segments of industry news, articles, useful tips and classifieds.

Don’t forget, either, to check out www.buzzwordsmagazine.com where we review children’s books and showcase writing and illustrations by members as well as their many achievements.

(Request a free sample of Buzz Words here)

At the End of Holyrood Lane


At the End of Holyrood Lane by Dimity Fletcher & Nicky Johnston (EK Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN9781925335767

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This picture book tells of Flick, a small girl who loves to chase butterflies and jump in heaps of leaves, but who is terrified of storms. The first storm which arrives is shown in an illustration of Flick indoors looking to outside where ‘angry clouds muscle in and wild winds bully the curtains.’ Doubtless any child reader with a fear of storms would take the visual and written text as depicted on surface value.

However, the information sheet which accompanies the review copy says, ‘(the book) provides a sensitive glimpse into one aspect of domestic violence and how it can affect young lives’. Yes, Flick is shown hiding indoors day and night ‘in places where the thunder cannot reach her’. But until there’s an illustration – just one – which shows the silhouetted profile of a person in a storm cloud, there’s no real indication that the storm Flick is reacting to, could possibly be caused by an adult.

Flick flees outdoors where a black storm ‘seethes and snarls… drenching her in its fury’. There she does something she’s never done before – she seeks help. Once again, outdoors in an angry storm, she is embraced by a woman with an umbrella. Her confession works, the story tells, and ‘the sun comes out’.

This book is visually arresting and the words well written. And it’s one of the most difficult things in a book for young children to depict domestic violence. But one must question whether a child would see the duality of meaning in this picture book given its text. And, too, finding a solution to domestic violence is never easy for anyone – adult or child. Just telling an adult is not as easy as it seems. And too, in this book the simple act of telling immediately solves the problem.

Doubtless the book creators and the publisher mean well. They have tried valiantly to highlight and remedy a malaise which is too common in our society. Certainly, the book shows a child’s anxiety and fear of a storm. And at the end of the story when the storm has gone, we see the little girl still anxious that the storm might return.

The only way to see if this book can be understood by small readers is the test of time. A caring adult reading it to a child could use At the End of Holyrood Lane to prise out the underlying meaning through probing questions and sensitive disclosure of the book’s message.


Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Fastest Ship In Space


The Fastest Ship In Space by Pamela Freeman and illustrations by Yvonne Low (Second Look) PB RRP $15.99 ISBN 978-0-994528063

Reviewed by Stacey Gladman

What young boy or girl doesn't dream about what it would be like to live in space? Well with Pamela Freeman's The Fastest Ship In Space, imagination is only a turn of a page away, and what an adventure it is!

The Fastest Ship in Space is a space adventure for young readers which follows brother and sister duo - Katie and Sam -- who live on a space station. A chance encounter with a meteorite sees part of their ship damaged which requires a docking at Space Station for repairs.

The pair's gran, who also lives with them aboard the space ship, thinks the accident was too close for comfort and wants to return to live with her daughter on Earth: the family drama begins when she also suggests Katie and Sam may be safer with her.

Gran decides to make a break for earth unbeknown to Katie and Sam's parents while at home station. Unfortunately for them, they find themselves aboard a ship destined for earth with smugglers, thanks to Gran's connections.

Will they make it safely to earth, and will they want to return to space again? Young readers will have fun figuring out the answers to these questions. The Fastest Ship in Space is a fun and adventure-filled story, with space pirates, smugglers and spaceships.

Boys and girls alike will enjoy this story, which is fast-paced and action-packed. The images throughout the book add to the story, helping to break up chapters and getting readers involved in the story.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock


The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock by Stephen Hart and illustrations by Kathy Creamer (Eagle Books) PB RRP $17.99 ISBN 978-0-994528056

Reviewed by Stacey Gladman

The Lighthouse at Pelican Rock, geared towards young readers aged nine to 12, is a memorable story about a young girl - Megan Evans - who faces a health crisis and almost dies.

Megan is sent to live in a tiny coastal village called Pelican Rock with her aunt Rachel in a bid to recover after her near-death experience. On the long train ride, she encounters a man - Rhys - who not only grew up in Pelican Rock, but knows her aunt.

Upon arriving Megan learns a little about the history of Pelican Rock and becomes enthralled with the island’s pelican inhabitants and the mythical stories surrounding their place at Pelican Rock.

A day trip to visit the ruins of the old lighthouse leads Megan to wanting to discover more about its history and that's where the magic of this book really come into its own. It's not long before Megan finds out just how magical the pelicans are, and Megan finds herself back in time, or is it just a dream?

I really enjoyed the story, it evokes feelings as a reader as you learn more about Megan's home life and her yearning to find a place where she truly feels at home.

The scene that is set throughout the book feels historical and really lends itself well to the storyline. The writing is clean and easy to follow and keeps you guessing about what magic is happening on the little seaside town of Pelican Rock.

The images by Kathy Creamer help add to the storyline and give you a feel for Megan and what is being told.


Tuesday, 7 August 2018

‘Saving Saria’ by Jill Jackson


Scrambling up, she blinked to focus her eyes. Where were the tangled roots outside her home? She swung her head looking for clues until her eyes fell on the rope. It was hanging limp from the boat. Her gut turned.
      She tried to gather her thoughts when the boat jolted and lurched from side to side. A huge silver scaled fish swept by in a trail of ripples. Its tail fin gleamed. 
          Terror shot through her body as she remembered what her elders told her. The creek goes all the way to the big sea. When the tide comes in fish swim up the creek and when it goes out they swim back to the sea.
                               ***
Kendo stomped up and down the bank his face growing redder with every step. His shrill whistle sent birds flying.
          Willum appeared within seconds his long face like thunder. 
          Kendo leapt onto his back. “Go!” he commanded.
          Willum scampered through the bush before he froze, his hairs on end.  
          Kendo’s sharp eyes scanned for danger. “Don’t even think about diving down a hole,” he warned.
          But Willum was already bolting for the water.
          Kendo braced as they slid down the bank at an alarming speed. At the same time a Hunter bird soared away over the trees. So that’s what spooked Willum!
          The quick current unnerved him as he scoured the creek for his boat. The cold place with no light! They couldn’t end up there. “Get out of the water,” he yelled.

Monday, 6 August 2018

PICTURE BOOKS: TEXT AND ILLUSTRATION

A children's picture book needs to strike a balance between the written text and the illustrations. The text should be able to be divided up evenly, with an equal amount of text on each page. Each page - or each double page spread - has a sentence or two, or a paragraph. Each of these sentences or paragraphs must lend themselves to an illustration, and so the written text should provide a variety of scenes, characters, or actions. You could think of this as writing "captions" for the (not-yet-drawn) pictures. However, these "captions" must flow, as they should in any other well-written story, with an intriguing beginning, a rousing middle, and a good, satisfying ending.


The problem with many picture book manuscripts submitted to publishers is that writers do not give sufficient thought to the role of illustrator as co-creator of the finished book. Publishing Manager of Penguin Books, Laura Harris, has said that one of the main reasons picture book texts get rejected is that “the writer doesn’t give the illustrator enough to work with.” A writer needs to read her text with the eye of an illustrator, looking at each and every paragraph to consider what pictorial images might complement them. If she cannot imagine illustrations for each paragraph, then she can be said to have failed the illustrator, and so she must re-write.

In her book Making Picture Books (Scholastic Australia2003), Libby Gleeson writes: “In the best picture books, the illustrations are absolutely necessary. They carry parts of the story or the narrative and in some cases the language is dropped, and pictures alone are all that is needed. The process is like a film where words and pictures work together but sometimes silence is a powerful way to tell part of a story.

A picture book is not the same as an illustrated short story: in the latter words alone could tell the story and the illustrations simply break up the words or decorate the text. Illustrations in a successful picture book not only complement written text; they can, as Gleeson says, take the place of text, interpreting and extending the meaning of what the writer is trying to say in a way that might never have occurred to the writer (or to her editor). Colour – or lines or shapes - in artwork, for example, might convey personalities of the book’s characters, be symbolic of a mood (doom or humour) that the writer wishes to capture, produce an illusion (say of movement and surprise) or convey greater level of meaning.

To provide an illustrative brief or to instead allow the illustrator total freedom to make his interpretation is a problem which often besets a picture book writer. Many editors do not like writers to provide illustrative briefs. Illustrators like Shaun Tan say, “Manuscripts that presuppose or suggest what the visuals might be in advance, or even the breakdown of text per page, are quite uninviting to me.” In most cases where a writer has provided an illustrative brief, illustrators have totally disregarded them and gone on with their own interpretation of the written text. In any case, what is sure is that it is the written text alone which an editor judges as acceptable or not. If a creator submits a poor text accompanied by brilliant illustrations, then no matter how impressive the illustrations, the editor will have no hesitation in rejecting the submission.

And what of a picture book text? Illustrator Ann James says, “To write a picture book the writer knows less is more, but that each word is potent and a cue for interpretation by the artist.” She knows that the successful picture book writer needs to provide a strong, rich and streamlined text. Author Alan Baillie adds to this: “A picture book can only be about five hundred words, which means that every word has to pull its weight. The tension, the atmosphere, the characters, the humour.”

In general, the picture book writer needs to remember that the text is short and some of the story is contained in the illustrations. She needs to keep the language simple and direct. Not to overuse adjectives and adverbs. Not to clutter up sentences. To use simple – (as opposed to complex) verbs that are also appropriate. And, too, the writer needs to forget about descriptive language – for description is the illustrator’s domain.

Finally, here is what some Australian illustrators say about picture book texts:
Kerry Argent: “I like a text to move . . . minimal enough so that I can create extra layers and stories, visually.”
Shaun Tan: “I accept manuscripts ... that give much room for me to play and to tell my own stories visually, (that have) a certain ambiguity . . . that resist being fully explained.”
Ron Brooks: “To make a book, the words have to turn my heart around, make me go hollow in the belly, weak at the knees.”

© Dianne Bates

Dianne (Di) Bates is the founder/compiler of Buzz Words, an online twice monthly magazine for those in the children’s book industry. The author of 130+ books for young readers, she has published only one children’s picture book, Big Bad Bruce, illustrated by Cheryl Johns (Koala Books) which is in the KOALA Hall of Fame.


Sunday, 5 August 2018

More and More and More


More and More and More written and illustrated by Ian Mutch (Fremantle Press) HB RRP $24.00 ISBN 9781925591545

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

More and more and more would seem to be the mantra of most of us in our over-consuming Western world. Designer and magazine publisher Ian Mutch from WA address this theme in his debut picture book which is geared towards readers aged 4 and 8 years.

Henry Harper is a collector, who, in his quest for treasures – and he has many – one day discovers Kate, a fellow collector. Together, like many consumer couples, they amass an amazing amount of stuff which like most of us wishing to down-size, eventually threatens to overwhelm them.

In this book ‘Things were untying, their stuff went flying. Henry cried, ‘EVACUATE’! And like some who decide on a simpler, less junk-filled life, the couple loses their home and all their stuff. But, happily, they discover the best thing of all – that in their quest to collect, they have found each other! Thus, the final illustration shows, in watercolour wash, Henry and Kate in embrace watching the sun set.

Appropriately, the fly pages of this book about over-consumption are filled with pen and ink sketches of all kinds of stuff from bikes to umbrellas (and much more!) The opening pages show Henry in outer space on his quest for stuff (‘The more stuff he had, the happier he felt.’) Much of the action of the book, except the last few pages, is shown in space, planet Earth spinning with stuff issuing from it. Thus, most of the pages have dark backgrounds with muted coloured pictures of characters (which don’t look at all human).

Some of the lines make use of rhyming end words which doubtless would aid adults reading aloud to small children. The book’s creator no doubt believes that change starts at a very young age! Recommended.


Friday, 3 August 2018

The Garden of Hope


The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter, illustrated by Katie Rewse (Caterpillar Books) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9781848577138

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Since Mum went, Maya, Dad and Pip find the garden’s grown wild and overgrown. Maya, a dark-skinned girl (like Dad) takes it upon herself to tidy it up, planting sunflower seeds at first but later being joined by Dad who helps too. Before long there are benefits with flowers growing which attract insects then birds, and -- because this story is set in England -- voles and hedgehogs, rabbits, squirrels, and even foxes.

Things have changed since Mum has gone but now, even though the house is ‘still rather a mess’, the garden has been transformed.

This is a simple tale, simply told with full-page watercolour illustrations which show the blossoming of colourful flowers in a once gloomy garden. It’s likely to be a book of interest to children of 4 to 6 whose parents read to them as the text is rather long.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Wonders of the World


Wonders of the World by Isabel Otter and Margaux Carpenter (Caterpillar Books) HB RRP $29.99   ISBN 9781848577251

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Sub-titled ‘An Interactive Tour of Marvels and Monuments,’ this book has thick, heavy cardboard pages which will withstand much opening and closing of pages and is likely to be enjoyed by readers from ages 7 to 10. Though in a board-format, the information is printed in small typeface, usually in boxes or other shapes.

The book begins with a map of the world showing thirteen sites in Europe, Asia and South America, each with a key to indicate it as either a modern or ancient wonder. Some of the sites are of the seven wonders of the ancient world, such as the Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and (the only still-standing ancient wonder), the Pyramid of Giza.

The book then proceeds with full-page depictions of other world wonders, such as the Colossus of Rhodes, built around 200 BC on the Greek Island of Rhodes. We are told in one of the outbreak boxes that the Colossus was the inspiration for the Statue of Liberty in New York.

On most of the pages are flaps which open to reveal more information. For example, there’s a little book titled ‘Olympic Games’ in the page about the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, and information under the reflection pool at the Taj Mahal in India.
One of the more modern wonders shown is Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, completed in 1931, with most of the wonders built long ago, such as Machu Picchu (about 1450) and the Great Wall of China, started in 221 BC and the longest man-made structure ever built.

The full-page illustrations are bright and colourful with lots of interesting information included on every one of the book’s 18 pages. On the final double-spread are natural wonders of the world, including a pop-up Paricutin Volcano, the world’s youngest volcano which appeared a small crack in the ground in Mexico in 1943, and then grew to 304m high in ten days! Happily, it is now dormant though it erupted on and off for eight years. One of the seven natural wonders that appear is Australia’s own Great Barrier Reef.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Buzz Words Achievers


Well done to Maura Finn whose picture book Rose's Red Boots is short-listed for the 2018 Speech Pathology Awards.

Congratulations to Virginia Lowe who has been made a CBCA Honorary Life Member (for services to children’s books). Certainly, well deserved!

Good news for Mary-Ellen Quirk  whose manuscript Jellyfish Blues, judged by Lisa Berryman, Children’s Publisher at HarperCollins Publishers  won the Category 6 in the Young Adults competition run by CYA.

Someone else who did very well in the CYA competition was Liz Ledden who took out two second places in the picture book categories, hooray! If you want to see the full sheet of winners, check out http://www.cyaconference.com/news--updates

Well done to Josh Reid who has recently published Mackenzie Tanaya and the Faerie Key, an adventure serial novel for children. Target range 7 - 12 years. Told in monthly episodes, the sixth installment in this series has now been released, published by Fernhill Clockwork Story Factory, Wollongong, Australia. This story, centred around 10-year-old Mackenzie Tanaya, is a compelling adventure series which teaches children to become strong, brave and courageous. Frequent themes throughout the episodes include: making good friend choices, choosing which adults to trust, being brave enough to do the right thing. 

Each episode of the children's serial novel is written and illustrated by Josh Reid, who wrote the book for his daughter. Reid paints half a dozen original paintings for each monthly publication, which are published in full-colour A5 paperback. The novel series is ongoing and Reid estimates there will be about 30 episodes.


The monthly publications are available from selected retailers including The Comic Cafe in Wollongong, and Fairy Meadow Post Office. The first 3 episodes are also available digitally as Amazon Kindle e-books.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Pig in a Wig


Pig in a Wig by Chrissie Krebs (Omnibus Books) HB RRP $16.99 ISBN 9781742762654

Reviewed by Brook Tayla

This is a delightfully funny story of a pig that finds a wig, and although he is very smitten with himself and his new look, it actually sets him up for lots of trouble and danger as the other farmyard animals do not recognise him.

Chrissie Krebs has created a fun-filled adventure that children will enjoy reading over and over again.

The text is composed of well-written rhyming couplets, in comedic but mature language that will surely engage children.  Her illustrations are hilarious - enriching the whole story with a cast of interesting and expressive characters …and the end-papers are imaginative and adorable.

Well done to the talented author-illustrator Chrissie Krebs.

P.S. Looking forward to seeing her version of The Cat in the Hat. (You’ll need to read the book to see what I’m talking about!)


Brook Tayla writes a picture book review blog at telltalestome@wordpress.com and would love you to drop by, read some reviews, leave a comment and subscribe.  Brook also offers editing services for beginning and emerging writers.




Monday, 30 July 2018

How to Find Out about Writers’ Conferences


by Dee White

Following my posts about Why Attend a Writer's Conference and Preparing for a Writer's Conference, I recently had a question from a blog reader, "How do we find out about writer's conferences?"

Thus, this article is designed to give you tips on where to start. I also wanted to mention that there are a lot of writer's festivals around, too. These are great for being inspired by other writers, hearing how they write and learning about their work and what their favourite reads are/were, but I find that conferences are a usually a better place to meet and present your work to publishers and agents. Seeing as I write for children and young adults, I find that the best place to start for these conferences is The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI). Their website is divided into regions, so you can click on any region around the world and it will take you to a specific page that has any upcoming conferences listed.

CONFERENCES BY GENRE                                                                                      One way to find conferences that might be worth going to is to look at the genre you write in and then research organisations for writers in that genre. Some of these organisations host their own conferences; others can give you information about them through newsletters and websites.
For example, there are organisations for
1. Romance Writers - Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Writers of America
2. Speculative Fiction writers - Conflux, Clarion
3. Horror writers - Horror Writers Association
4. Crime writers - Australian Crime Writers Association, Sisters in Crime
5. Children's writers - Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
6. Comedy writers

LIBRARY CONFERENCES                                                                                          Reading Matters Conference - Held every second year by the State Library of Victoria. Check with your state or national library - they may be able to give you information about upcoming conferences.

WRITERS CENTRES IN AUSTRALIA BY STATE
ACT Writers Centre NSW Booranga Writers Centre New England Writers Centre NSW Writers Centre Hunter Writers Centre Northern Rivers Writers Centre South Coast Writers Centre Sydney Writers' Centre Varuna - The Writers' House, NT Writers Centre QLD Queensland Writers Centre, SA Writers Centre TAS Tasmanian Writers Centre VIC Writers Victoria WA Writing WA Katherine Susannah Pritchard Writers Centre
If you're overseas - for example in the US -- Google writers’ centres in your state, area or town

PUBLICATIONS                                                                                                            ASA - Australian Society of Authors newsletters - There may be an author organisation in your country that produces a publication that will list conferences in it. BUZZ WORDS - for Australian Children's and YA writers lists conferences and upcoming events.

There are lots of conferences I haven't been to that I'm sure are fantastic, but I just wanted to finish by mentioning ones I have been to that have been extremely beneficial to me. My book, Letters to Leonardo was picked up by Walker Books after I pitched it at the SCBWI Australia Conference in Sydney. I recently attended the CYA Conference in Brisbane and received three manuscript requests from publishers and one from an agent. I attended the 40th Anniversary SCBWI LA conference and apart from being loads of fun it was a huge global networking experience.

This article first appeared in Buzz Words magazine, 2015. Dee White wanted to be a writer since she was seven-years old. She has published 16 books for children and young adults and many articles, short stories and poems. She has been lucky enough to combine her loves of writing and travel into a career which takes her all over the world writing, researching and presenting workshops. Dee is a certified writing teacher and mentor, passionate about encouraging new writers. Her blogs Writing Classes for Kids and DeeScribe Writing are full of career and writing tips for writers of all ages. https://www.deescribe.com.au