Wednesday, 18 July 2018

My Mum is a Magician

My Mum is a Magician by Damon Young, illustrated by Peter Carnavas (UQP)
HB RRP $24.95  ISBN 9780702259944

Reviewed by Brook Tayla

This book is filled with fun and frivolity from beginning to end and is sure to delight pre-school children. It is full of amazing Mums in diverse and unusual roles who get up to all sorts of antics both in the workplace and at home. The main Mum is a magician and will keep children wondering how mothers just seem to know what’s going on – even when you think they’re not looking!

The rhyming text is well written, making the flow an easy out-loud read. The illustrations are funny and will have children laughing.  There are a lot of animal characters to discover on each page and they are placed in very comedic situations.

This is a light-hearted, fun book that is the latest release in the family series: My Sister is a Superhero, My Pop is a Pirate, My Brother is a Beast and My Nanna is a Ninja. I predict that Dad will be next and wonder what he will get up to !

This would be a great book to share with young children. I can imagine teachers using this for Mothers Day prompts or discussions about mothers.

Brook Tayla writes a picture book review blog at 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.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Finding a Publisher

by author and compiler of Buzz Words magazine Dianne Bates

1) Write your book.
When you're starting out, publishers want to see a finished product, or at least part of a finished product. They want to know that you're capable of writing the whole novel. So, before you approach a publisher or, even research the market, write your novel.

2) Research the market.
First you need to know what sort of book you've written. Who is your reader? Males? Females? Both? What is the age of your audience? Is your book genre fiction? What genre? What about the length?

Visit local book stores and look for books like your own in length and genre. You'll find the publisher's information easily, both on the cover and inside the book. Write down a list of the publishers you find that might be interested in work similar to your own.

3) Research the publishers                                                                                                 Create – and keep up to date - a list of publishers who publish in your chosen genre. As a writer of books for young people, I have a comprehensive contact list which I regularly update by keeping my eye on publishers’ details in trade magazines, by swapping information with other writers with whom I network and by phoning publishers at least once annually. If you’d like a copy, write to me at with subject heading ‘Children’s Publishers’.

The Internet has made finding publishers a much easier task. If a publisher has a website, and most of them do, then visit their website. Research what they are publishing. And look for submission information. Firstly, do they accept unsolicited manuscripts? Your manuscript is unsolicited if a publisher or editor hasn't requested to read it. In other words, your manuscript is unsolicited if you're sending it to a publisher without their prior knowledge.

A lot of publishers include submission guidelines on their websites, which you can easily downloaded. Always read a publisher's guidelines and always follow their instructions. Give your manuscript the best chance. If guidelines aren't readily available on a publisher's website, then send them a polite and professional email asking for a copy of their guidelines. The reason you conduct research on publishers before you submit a manuscript is to save you time and money. There's no point sending your horror novel to a publisher that only publishes romance novels. There's no point sending your children's picture book to a publisher that doesn't publish children's books or picture books. There's no point sending your unsolicited manuscript to a publisher that doesn't accept unsolicited manuscripts.

4) Be professional
When you deal with publishers or anyone associated with the publishing industry it pays to always be polite, friendly and professional. Publishers are looking for writers who can produce great novels and conduct themselves professionally. This includes submitting your work in a professional manner. A neatly formatted manuscript, accompanied by a well-written query letter will be more readily accepted than a hand-written, unedited story!

You can find plenty of articles about query letters, manuscript submission and formatting here:

5) Be Realistic
Biggest does not equal best! Almost every writer wants to see his or her own book up there on the best seller lists. But aiming your book at the biggest name publishing house you can locate is not always realistic - nor is it always the best possible publishing home for your precious work. In many cases, a smaller, more specialised publisher might have a better chance of placing your book in front of the right readers for your genre.

6) Research again!
Just because you may have found the name of a publisher willing to publish a book similar to yours does not necessarily mean they are still accepting submissions! Keep a close eye on websites that list publishers actively seeking manuscripts. Some of these even list publishers who are no longer accepting submissions, so you'll at least have some idea of where NOT to send your work.

You can also access the names of Australian publishers by purchasing the Australian Publishers’ Association (APA) annual list of members.

You are in the driver's seat of your writing career. Take control and target your submissions to the best of your ability. And that means researching the market and researching publishers.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Leave Taking

Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood (UQP) PB   RRP $14.95 ISBN: 978 0 7022 6011 7

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Here is a new verse novel for younger readers from the celebrated author of Star Jumps, the 2010 winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Children’s Fiction. The theme of Leave Taking had its genesis in the author’s own (successful) battle with cancer and her move away from the farm where she raised her children. Basically, this book is a journey through grief and a celebration of hope, with Toby, his mum and dad, leaving their family farm after the death of Toby’s younger sister, Leah. Together, they sort through all their belongings and put things aside to sell or throw out. It’s a big task, and naturally Toby doesn’t want to leave the only place he’s called home.

As his last day on the farm approaches, Toby has a plan -- to say goodbye to all the things and places that mean something special to him and Leah, from the machinery shed and Pa’s old truck to the chook house. With the help of his best friend, Trigger the dog, he learns what it means to take your leave.

As Toby says good-bye in this final week, he experiences camping, a clearing sale and a bonfire night, meanwhile undertaking chores such as milking cows, tidying up and packing.

This is a gentle story with no dramatic moments; the story action rolling smoothly through the course of the last week on the farm.

Written in easy-to-read free verse, the book will appeal to readers aged 7 to 10 years who prefer short sentences and stanzas with plenty of white space and pared-back descriptions. Simple black and white line illustrations scattered through the book with drawings on the fly pages add to the book’s appeal.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Buzz Words Achievers

Augustus Brown by Margaret Pearce is a rhyming picture book illustrated by 13-year-old Xanthe Turner and published by Turner Books. It is a poem about a pet spider. As most mothers have a bias against spiders Augustus had to settle to only being a fantasy pet. This is not a disappointment as interesting things happen and keep on happening with a fantasy spider that is the cutest pet around. The book is available on Amazon, Booktopia, Fishpond, Angus & Robertson, Barnes and Noble. It is official released in August 2019.

Julie Thorndyke’s
 first children’s picture book Waiting for the Night, with illustrations by Anna Seed, has been published by Interactive Press. A review of it by Dannielle Viera will appear in on 25 July.

Kate Simpson's debut picture book, Finding Granny was released this month through EK Books. Finding Granny is beautifully illustrated by Gwynneth Jones and tells the story of a special relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter that is turned on its head when Granny has a stroke.

Congratulations to Jo Mularczyk who entered the recent Short short short story competition (21 words) run by the Australian Writers’ Centre. They received almost 1000 entries, so naturally Jo was thrilled to have two of her entries placed in the list of finalists and one named among the five winners included in their newsletter.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

To the Moon and Back

To the Moon and Back by Dianne Bates (Big Sky Publishing) PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 978-0-925520-29-3

Reviewed by Stacey Gladman

Dianne Bates’ To the Moon and Back was not what I was expecting - in all the right ways. In the first few chapters I was captivated and very much a part of the story.

To the Moon and Back is aimed at readers aged eight to 12 years that deals with a sensitive subject - parental divorce and its impact on children. In the first two chapters alone I was taken on a ride of emotions and went from thinking how powerful the story was, putting myself in the shoes of young Claire, whose mum is having an affair and ultimately moving in with her lover.

Claire is taken on a roller-coaster ride, moving from her family home to a lodging in Sydney, and just when she is feeling comfortable, another upheaval and she's forced to move into Mum’s boyfriend Mac's house in the country.

Before long Claire begins to make friends, but she longs to be with her Dad who has gone missing. Can she begin to see Mac as a father figure, or will she resent him for taking her Mum away?

I adored the book. Its topic, which I think has been dealt with sensitively, makes it a unique niche read, and certainly something many young readers will understand. The story line is well written, and I could certainly emphasise with Claire which are some hallmarks of a beautiful story.

I think the target market will be enchanted with this heart-warming story, with a number of key themes really standing strong including change, forming new friendships, relationships and parenting struggles.

A beautiful and well-rounded story!

Friday, 13 July 2018

Ori’s Clean-Up

Ori’s Clean-Up by Anne Helen Donnelly (self-published) HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-0-646984131

Reviewed by Stacey Gladman

Ori’s Clean-Up gives young readers an introduction of the importance of recycling. Set under the sea, Ori the octopus asks his friends to help him clean up his home. Before long however the sea bed is a mess again, this time, Ori and his friends decide instead of just tidying the rubbish, they would find ways of recycling the items, including papers, bottles and containers.

The writing style uses repetition such as “The food scraps can feed the plants,” said Cathy Clownfish. "Pick, pick, pick up food scraps for the compost,” which will appeal tohe target audience of three to six year-olds. The story is easy to read, and imagery - also created by Anne Helen Donnelly -- is bright and colourful and stands out.

I like the message of finding new uses for rubbish which is very in-trend right now, and I think it’s a good message to send home to children to clean up and recycle to make “their home a healthier place, now and for later”.

This is an enjoyable read, with an important message and a good tool to use with young readers.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

See Monkey Review

See Monkey by Sophie Masson, Illustrated by Kathy Creamer (Little Pink Dogs) PB RRP: $24.95 ISBN: 9780994626981

Review by Anne Helen Donnelly

Toddler and Monkey are awake and immediately the fun begins. First Monkey jumps, then he dives but can’t stop in time. Monkey likes to go outside and hop, all over the flowers. Then he plays ball and dances, and more mischief ensues. Monkey’s quiet time results in a creative and colourful mess for Mum to clean up, but his energy is limitless! Monkey then sits, then reads. After bath time Monkey swings before bedtime.

What a day! Follow Toddler and his favourite toy through their busy day and all the fun adventures and mischief they get up to. Parents with toddlers will relate to some of these amusing situations of these energetic adventures and after-fun clean-ups.

See Monkey is a children’s picture book for children of ages 3 – 7 years. The themes are universal, and it is a good read for families with babies and young children. The lively and colourful illustrations will capture the minds of a young audience.