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contents THE MAGAZINE FOR BOO
KS FROM K TO 12
term 2 2011
Welcome back to Term 2 and the second issue of Junior for the year. In this issue Portia Lindsay takes a look at the schoolspeakers circuit, which has become a lucrative business for children’s and YA authors, but also offers opportunities for enterprising booksellers. We speak to Australian author Tristan Bancks and US author Lauren Kate, who is touring Australia in July, and go behind the scenes in children’s book publishing with a profile piece from Walker Books editor Suzanne O’Sullivan. Our reviews section features 14 Australian and New Zealand titles coming out in July and August, with an impressive eight titles scoring four stars or more from our reviewers. We also look at some of the highly anticipated children’s and YA books coming out later in the year (expect some tears as a lot of popular series are coming to an end). In the meantime, happy reading. —Andrea Hanke, editor.
on the cover ‘The Text Prize is going from strength to strength, as the publisher continues to choose winners that push the boundaries of young-adult fiction. The latest winner, The Bridge, is brilliant.’ Read Bec Kavanagh’s full review on page 16.
8 Take-off James Paull asks Tristan Bancks about his new book Galactic Adventures: First Kids in Space
9 How did I get here? Walker Books editor Suzanne O’Sullivan tells us how she broke into the business
10 On the school circuit Lots of children’s and YA authors are signing up to school events. Portia Lindsay finds out what’s involved
12 A strong second half (for kids) Publishers share their favourite titles for the second half of the year
departments 4 On tour 4 Wheeling and dealing 5 News 14 Reviews 18 Book bites 19 Get smart
On tour / rights
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What would you put on a shelf-talker for your book? My grandmother’s second cousin, Harriet, travels a lot and apparently does a great job talking up my books. I get emails from girls from Utah to New York, saying that a woman who claimed to be related to me came up to them while they were standing at the bookstore and told them all about why they had to purchase Fallen!
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If you had to spend the rest of your life on a book tour, which country would you choose? Australia sounds pretty ideal! I also love France, Croatia and Brazil.
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What is the silliest question you’ve ever been asked on a book tour? ‘Did you co-write your books with that author of the “Twilight” series?’
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And the most profound? ‘Do you really believe in true love as powerful as the love you write about in your books?’ (I do!)
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What are you reading right now? The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). It’s wonderful, so far. After that, I’m taking the final Harry Potter plunge—book seven. I was so behind in the series and spent the past two months catching up, alternating between one HP book and one non-HP book. So far, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (J K Rowling, Bloomsbury) was my favourite.
What was your favourite book of the past year? The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (Scholastic). My husband and I listened to it on a long crosscountry drive. It blew both of our minds. What was the defining book of your childhood? Matilda by Roald Dahl (Puffin). I love books about exceptional children who are misunderstood by a cruel world. Which is your favourite bookstore? It’s a lovely independent store called Book Soup, which is right down the street from my house [in Los Angeles]. It’s tiny and cramped but the booksellers know SO much and the store is always crowded. Who would you like to challenge to a literary spat? William Faulkner. I’d like to compete with him for who could write the longest sentence. I am a huge Faulkner fan. Facebook or Twitter? Twitter by a mile. I love it. If I were a literary character I’d be … Lyra Belacqua (in my dreams!). In 50 years’ time books will be … The place we go for great stories, as ever. Lauren Kate, author of the ‘Fallen’ series including the forthcoming Passion (Random House, June), is touring Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in July.
wheeling and dealing A round-up of recent rights sales
Term 2 2011
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Term 2 2011
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Allen & Unwin has sold Dutch rights for the forthcoming When We Have Wings (Claire Corbett) to A W Bruna/Signatuur; Russian rights for Tales from Outer Suburbia (Shaun Tan) to MD Media; Chinese complex rights for Being Here (Barry Jonsberg) to Spring International Publishers Co.; Chinese simplified rights for ABC and My Farm (both Alison Lester) and Mannie and the Long Brave Day (Martine Murray) to 21st Century Publishing House; Dutch rights for 45 & 47 Stella Street and Everything That Happened, The Ballad of Cauldron Bay and What Do You Think Feezal? (all Elizabeth Honey) to Dutch Media/Moon; Dutch rights for About a Girl (Joanne Horniman) to La Vita Publishing; German rights for City of Lies (Lian Tanner) to Arena; German rights for The Dream (Margaret Wild) to Carlsen; German rights for The Golden Day (Ursula Dubosarsky) to Ueberreuter; Italian rights for POD (Stephen Wallenfels) to Piemme and Brazilian Portuguese rights to Bertrand Editora, Lda; Russian rights for Tashi, Tashi and the Genie, Tashi and the Ghosts and Tashi
and the Giants (all Anna Fienberg) to Clever Media; and Thai rights for Museum of Thieves (Lian Tanner) to True Digital Content and Media. Hachette Australia has sold ‘Dragon Blood Pirates’ books 1 to 3 (Dan Jerris) and Embrace (Jessica Shirvington) to Turkey; and Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair (Lee Fox & Cathy Wilcox) and Ginger McFlea Will Not Clean Her Teeth (Lee Fox & Mitch Vane) to Israel. Scholastic Australia has sold Chinese translation rights to Pocket Dogs Go on Holiday (Margaret Wild & Stephen Michael King); Donald Loves Drumming and The Very Cranky Bear (Nick Bland); Puffling (Margaret Wild & Julie Vivas) and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (Mem Fox & Julie Vivas). Scholastic Australia has also sold Harry and Hopper (Margaret Wild & Freya Blackwood) to Germany and The Runaway Hug (Freya Blackwood & Nick Bland) to Korea; Don’t Call Me Ishmael and Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs (both Michael Gerard Bauer) to the UK; and Danish translation rights to The Wizard of Rondo (Emily Rodda).
A round-up of news and events in
the children’s and YA book industry
2011 CBCA Awards shortlists announced This year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards shortlist has been announced. The shortlisted titles are: Older Readers: • Graffiti Moon (Cath Crowley, Pan Macmillan) • The Midnight Zoo (Sonya Hartnett, Viking) • About a Girl (Joanne Horniman, A&U) • The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher (Doug MacLeod, Penguin) • The Piper’s Son (Melina Marchetta, Penguin) • Six Impossible Things (Fiona Wood, Pan Macmillan). Younger Readers: • Just a Dog (Michael Gerard Bauer, Omnibus) • Henry Hoey Hobson (Christine Bongers, Random House) • Violet Mackerel’s Brillant Plot (Anna Branford & Sarah Davis, Walker Books) • The Red Wind (Isobelle Carmody, Viking) • Duck for a Day (Meg McKinlay & Leila Rudge, Walker Books) • Toppling (Sally Murphy & Rhian Nest James, Walker Books) Early Childhood: • The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies (Tom Champion, Kilmeny Niland & Deborah Niland, A&U) • The Deep End (Ursula Dubosarsky & Mitch Vane, Puffin) • Noni the Pony (Alison Lester, A&U) • It’s Bedtime, William! (Deborah Niland, Viking) • Look See, Look at Me! (Leonie Norrington & Dee Huxley, A&U) • Maudie and Bear (Jan Ormerod & Freya Blackwood, Little Hare). Picture Books: • Mirror (Jeannie Baker, Walker Books) • Why I Love Australia (Bronwyn Bancroft, Little Hare) • Hamlet (Nikki Greenberg, A&U)
Crichton shortlist The shortlisted titles for the Crichton Award for new illustrators, administered by the Victorian branch of the CBCA, were also announced: • The Flying Orchestra (Clare McFadden, UQP) • Starry Starry Night (Sarah Kate Mitchell, Pier 9) • Can I Cuddle the Moon? (Lisa Stewart & Kerry Brown, Scholastic) • The Monster Maintenance Manual (Adele K Thomas & Peter Mcinnes, Pier 9). • The Glasshouse (Jo Thompson & Paul Collins, Ford Street Publishing) • The Lighthouse Kids of Maatsuyker Island (Jonah Wiltshire, Evie Wiltshire & Sheryl Hamilton, Forty Degrees South). The winners of this year’s awards will be announced on 19 August, which marks the beginning of Children’s Book Week (20-26 August).
Hazel Edwards & Ryan Kennedy (F2m. The Boy Within, Ford Street) Sonya Hartnett (The Midnight Zoo, Viking) Belinda Jeffrey (Big River, Little Fish, UQP) Peter Macinnis (Australian Backyard Explorer, National Library of Australia) Margaret Mahy (Organ Music, Gecko Press) Kate McCaffrey (Beautiful Monster, Fremantle Press)
• Simon Mitchell & Ben Wood (Louie the Pirate Chef, Working Title Press) • Aimee Said (Finding Freia Lockhart, Walker Books) • Lian Tanner (Museum of Thieves, A&U) • Trudie Trewin & Cheryl Orsini (Wibbly Wobbly Street, Scholastic) • Carole Wilkinson (Sugar Sugar, Black Dog Books).
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Oz, NZ authors make 2011 White Ravens list The following Australian and New Zealand • authors and illustrators have been recognised on the 2011 White Ravens list for international • children’s and youth literature, produced by the • International Youth Library in Germany and • announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair: • Bronwyn Bancroft (Why I love Australia, • Little Hare) •
• Family Forest (Kim Kane & Lucia Masciullo, Hardie Grant Egmont) • Two Peas in a Pod (Chris McKimmie, A&U) • My Uncle’s Donkey (Tohby Riddle, Viking). • Eve Pownall Award for Information Books: • Theme Parks, Playgrounds and Toys (Nicolas Brasch, Macmillan Education) • Drawn from the Heart: A Memoir (Ron Brooks, A&U) • Zero Hour: The Anzacs on the Western Front (Leon Davidson, Text) • The Return of the Word Spy (Ursula Dubosarsky & Tohby Riddle, Viking) • Wicked Warriors & Evil Emperors (Alison Lloyd & Terry Denton, Puffin) • Our World: Bardi Jaawi, Life at Ardiyooloon (One Arm Point Remote Community School, Magabala). The notable books in each category can be found on the CBCA website.
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Term 2 2011
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Graham shortlisted for 2011 Kate Greenaway Medal Australian author Bob Graham has been shortlisted for the 2011 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, which is presented each year for distinguished illustration in children’s books, for his book April Underhill, Tooth Fairy (Walker Books). The winner of the medal will be announced on 23 June.
Children’s book to raise money for Christchurch All proceeds from the sale of a new children’s book will be donated to the Red Cross to support the rebuilding of Christchurch following the city’s earthquake earlier this year. Curly from Shirley, the Christchurch Dog by Emma Pullar and Victoria M Azaro (Pear Jam Books) can be purchased from New Zealand bookshops or online.
Australian author and illustrator Shaun Tan has won the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest prize for children’s and young adult literature, which is announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair each year. Tan will be presented with the award, which is worth five million Swedish Kroner (approximately A$767,000) at a special ceremony in Stockholm on 31 May. Tan is the second Australian to win the prestigious award, following Sonya Hartnett’s win in 2008. Tan said it was ‘an incredible honour to be simply considered for [the] award, let alone to win it’. He said he hopes to donate a portion of the prize money to a number of organisations he regularly supports, including the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (Formerly Indigenous Literacy Project). Awarded annually, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is designed ‘to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature, and in children’s rights, globally’. A jury selects winners from candidates nominated by institutions and organisations around the world.
Wheeler Centre and SLV host Children’s Book Festival An estimated 10,000 children and parents flocked to the inaugural Children’s Book Festival in Melbourne in March, an event cohosted by The Wheeler Centre and State Library of Victoria. The festival featured outdoor activities on the library lawns, including sing-a-longs, appearances by large furry characters, a petting stall with goats and hens, and tents set up for illustrating and book-making. Inside the library authors were on hand for book readings, Leigh Hobbs taught children how to draw his character Mr Chicken, and Sally Rippin held a birthday party for her character Billie B Brown. An exhibition room showcased the original artworks from picture books, including illustrations from Bob Graham and Terry Denton, who spoke at the festival, while Shaun Tan’s award-winning short film The Lost Thing was screened several times during the day. The Wheeler Centre also ran a schools program as part of the festival, with 700 children from 11 different schools attending workshops and sessions with authors and illustrators over two days.
Term 2 2011
CBCA WA’s starry night A sparkling evening was enjoyed at Westbooks in Perth in early March for the eighth annual ‘A Night With Our Stars’, presented by the WA branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Twenty-one West Australian authors and illustrators gave brief presentations on their latest books to an audience of around 200 teachers, librarians, publishers, and emerging authors and illustrators, who were captivated by tales of how rollicking adventures, bedtime stories, fantasy novels, Indigenous stories and much more came into being. Sally Morgan told of writing a story of only 49 words with her son Ezekiel; Shannon Melville highlighted the challenges of drawing 35 wheelchairs; Michael Thompson related how watching the racial riots in Cronulla, NSW led to his picture book The Other Bears (Fremantle Press); and Jan Ramage shared a story of a community’s efforts to save a pod of beached whales, which inspired her to write Stranded (Black Dog Books). Frané Lessac and Mark Greenwood, authors of Ned Kelly and the Green Sash (Walker Books), adding poignancy to the evening by referring to the DNA of Kelly’s words being more revealing than the blood on his famous sash; and Ken Spillman, author of Jake’s Balloon Blast (Fremantle Press) and other stories, was the only presenter who wore his book on his T-shirt, and revealed that Jake’s adventures are spreading through south-east Asia and elsewhere. —Jenni Woodroffe, convenor, 2011 A Night With Our Stars
Pictured above: Bob Graham at the Children’s Book Festival.
Pictured below from far left: Jan Ramage, Shirley Marr and Deb Fitzpatrick; Raewyn Caisley, Sally Murphy, Geoff Havel and Ken Spillman; Sally Morgan (photographs by Jan Nicholls)
Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2011 I t was a sunny Sunday in Bologna as publishers set up their stands for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (28-31 March) and attended the fair’s first-ever Tools of Change (TOC) conference (27 March). TOC set the tone for the fair: publishers were keen to hear about the latest developments in ebooks and apps and eager to experiment with new ways to deliver content—though there were sobering reports about the financial risks of creating apps. Hardie Grant Egmont MD Natasha Besliev observed: ‘People have moved on from merely dipping their toe into digital waters, but it appears anticipation continues to be the driving force rather than the revenue generated by these endeavours so far.’ Happily there was plenty of enthusiasm in the next few days of fair appointments. Rod Hare of ALC reported that ‘Bologna was the busiest in memory, with many new international publishers visiting the fair [and] a renewed level of interest in illustrated books’. Peter Whitfield of New Frontier reported a great deal of interest in Mr Darcy, a picture
book in which the protagonist is an ‘elegant but proud and gentle duck’. ‘The poster of the front cover alone attracted tweets, blogs and more importantly book deals from across the globe,’ said Whitfield. Ice Water Press publisher Janet Rowe also had good news. ‘Although passing traffic appeared to be less, the major customer meetings we had were just as productive. There was more downward pressure on pricing for co-editions [but] we are confident that we will conclude all the deals we were hoping for.’ Hardie Grant Egmont’s rights manager Charlotte Bodman reported ‘huge excitement’ around YA title Shift. ‘UK and US/ Canadian rights were snapped-up on option just before the fair [and] we already have a post-fair offer from Germany.’ Vampires were not so big at this year’s fair, although other paranormal folk were popping up regularly. The trend for dystopian fiction remains strong and there was a big demand for middle fiction series. Some things at Bologna never change, including transport strikes and endless
queuing for ladies toilets—although this year Louise Park of Paddle Pop Press made the most of her time, successfully selling some rights during her bathroom break. Sarah Mayor Cox, a lecturer in education at La Trobe University, was a first-time attendee at the fair. ‘I went expecting to see and hear and smell all that makes up the “horse trading” nature of Bologna, and I was not let down. The APA/CAL stand was a standout among the hundreds of others.’ I am sure everyone would agree that the exhibition of Australian illustrators’ work— funded by CAL, curated by Ann James and Ann Haddon, and attached to the APA’s stand—was outstanding and drew an enormous amount of interest and rights enquiries for all the books displayed. Of course, the highlight of the fair was the wonderful news that Shaun Tan had won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which Ann James was able to accept on Shaun’s behalf. —Maryann Ballantyne, publishing director, Black Dog Books
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Term 2 2011
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Take-off Tristan Bancks’ new series for middle-grade readers is sending kids into orbit. He spoke to James Paull. Dash’s obsession with space travel starts after visiting his grandfather and seeing planes take off. How did your fascination with space begin? When I was seven years old I built a spaceship with my friend, Luke. It was made out of chipboard and u-nails and we planned to attach an outboard motor to get us into space. One of my strongest memories of childhood was, on my first day of year six, watching the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on TV. I was a kid of the 80s so playing the role of Chewbacca in the playground at school each day also helped to fuel my space fixation.
The story is full of interesting facts and detailed action scenes that take the reader right into the experience—I’m thinking of the sky-diving and centrifuge challenges in particular. How did you go about researching this book? This book involved TONS of research. I read obsessively about civilian space travellers who have been to the International Space Station. I visited their blogs and watched videos of their training and journeys. There is a fantastic, very detailed article on Wired.com about these maverick space travellers. I also met Alexis, a French fighter pilot, who provided insight into
what it’s like being a young boy with serious dreams of flying aircraft. He also shared with me the gruelling selection and training process for the French airforce and the dangers of flight. I visited observatories, I interviewed skydivers, I collected hundreds of space travel images. I listened to music by Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks; the energy of their music dictated the frenetic pace of the story. Although I also listened to Tibetan chants. And, finally, I thought a lot about my own feelings, fears and desires around space travel. It feels like certain parts of the story could be explored further in subsequent books— Dash’s absent mother, his friendship with Yada and the failed mission 40 years earlier, just to name a few. What can we expect from future titles? I am excited by the thought of putting these kids from all over the world into a tin can, spinning around Earth 18 times a day and seeing what happens to them. I love the idea of exploring close human relationships in a highly pressurised situation against a vast and exciting backdrop like space. For me, it has interesting parallels with moving from the known world of childhood into the immense and mysterious expanse of teenhood.
I listened to music by Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks; the energy of their music dictated the frenetic pace of the story.
What was the last book you read and loved?
Can you tell us about the writing process? How much did you plan before sitting down to write? And what advice do you give aspiring writers of children’s/YA fiction? I did a lot of research and made reams of notes to begin with. But I’m always sketching scenes and chapters as I research because I’m wary of using research as an excuse not to begin. I started writing with a ‘zero draft’—a freewritten draft, totally uncensored, waiting to see what emerged. I re-read this, kept the good stuff, threw out the bad and then wrote a step outline on 1/4 A4 page cards, which I followed for the first ‘proper’ draft. The finished book is about seven drafts and was written over the space of 15 months. It’s the ‘biggest’ book that I’ve written in terms of the world it explores. My advice for aspiring children’s/YA authors is just to jump in. Don’t stand outside the process. Write three pages a day and in a month you’ll have a first draft. And try to enjoy it, even when you’re in third-draft purgatory. What authors did you love most as a child? And what are they now that you’re older? I loved Jean Craighead George’s ‘My Side of the Mountain’ series (Penguin US). I loved the Paul Jennings short stories, and Roald Dahl and Mark Twain. I also devoured the ‘Hardy Boys’ books. Now that I’m big I still read lots of kids’ books. I’m loving Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet (Pan Macmillan) right now. And I still love My Side of the Mountain. I like books about kids who are forced to face their fears, be resourceful and grow as a result. Galactic Adventures: First Kids in Space is published by UQP in July. See review, page 15.
The bio of children’s author Paul Jennings (Paul Jennings: The Boy in the Story Is Always Me: A Biography, Matthew Ricketson). And I’m re-reading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (say that quickly three times) Flow: The Psychology of Above:(HarperCollins This is a caption that Optimal Experience US),fills a the classic on creativity. Flow is the feeling you get when you’re so involved in space and descibes the pics. an activity that time disappears (like when I’m writing). I search for flow in every moment.
t a party recently, I met an author of books for adults. When he heard what I did, he said, ‘That must be pretty easy. I mean, how many words are there in a kids’ book?’ But oddly enough, it wasn’t laziness or a short attention span that made me want to work in children’s publishing—it was the fact that I really love kids’ books. I’d worked in bookstores throughout high school and uni, and found myself gravitating towards the kids section, a place where the genre boundaries that exist in adult fiction don’t seem to apply, where experimentation, innovation and genre-bending thrive. Kids are willing to embrace any new idea—as long as it’s done well. By the time I finished my honours degree in English, I knew I wanted to work with books— and editing, where I could actually be part of the process of making a book, seemed like the perfect area. How did one break into this hallowed world? When I was studying for my Diploma in Book Editing and Publishing, the guest speakers’ ‘How Did I Get Here?’ stories all seemed to be variations of ‘I fell into it’ or ‘It was just luck’. Not particularly instructive. But when I think about how I came to be working as a children’s book editor, I realise that there was quite a lot of luck involved. Mostly bad luck.
than a year when it was announced that the company would be outsourcing production to Malaysia and, over the coming year, the 40-odd production editors would be made redundant. My first piece of bad luck. But I took it as my cue to look for something more engaging and, fortuitously, that same week I heard about a vacancy for a junior editor at Horwitz Education. I applied and got the job, and as soon as I started I knew I’d made the right decision. I was working in a fantastic team, liaising with authors and illustrators, and helping to produce a great list of primary education titles. It was a job that I really loved. So this time I was a little more put out when—again, less than a year after I started there—management announced that the education list had been sold to Oxford University Press, and we were all being made redundant. My second piece of bad luck. Frankly, I began to suspect I might be cursed. I went backpacking in Europe for a few months, and came back knowing that I still wanted to be an editor (despite having experienced how unstable publishing can be). Whether out of stubbornness, obliviousness or blind optimism, I decided that only two areas would do: educational publishing or—and this is what I really wanted—children’s trade publishing. I wanted to be part of creating the books in that section of the bookstore that I always went to first. In the meantime I did freelance editorial work, studied for my MA in Children’s Literature, and worked part-time in a specialist children’s bookstore. Getting the bookstore job turned out to be one of the biggest pieces of good luck I’d had: I was surrounded by amazing kids’ books all day, and I learned a huge amount
I wanted to be part of creating the books in that section of the bookstore that I always went to first.
What I’m reading
I have just finished A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Walker Books), based on Siobhan Dowd’s notes for a book she was planning when she died. Beautiful, heartbreaking and true, it reminded me just how powerful young-adult fiction can be. It’s due out in July, and an advance copy is being eagerly passed around the office.
about what sells, and what kids and parents are looking for. When Scholastic Press advertised for a children’s book editor, I applied. I don’t know which part of my CV appealed to them, but I got the job and become part of a two-person team producing a list that grew to over 40 picture books and novels a year. Six years later, I am now part of the fantastic editorial team at Walker Books. A typical day for me might involve talking to an author about the structural edit for their novel, looking at an illustrator’s rough picture-book storyboard with a designer, checking a cover proof, having a manuscript meeting with the rest of the editorial team, working on a copyedit, sending an author advance copies of their new book, and dissolving into giggles with the other editors at least twice. All essential steps in helping to bring some wonderful books into the world! When I think about how I got here, I realise: it was just luck, really.
Term 2 2011
Walker Books editor Suzanne O’Sullivan believes it was a series of bad luck that eventually led to her dream job in children’s publishing.
Things started off promisingly enough when I got my first editing job: production editor at CCH, a legal publisher. I learned a lot about copyediting, proofreading, deadlines and publishing processes. I also learned that legal publishing was not for me—which was probably just as well, since I’d been there less
w o H
did I get here?
On the school circuit For children’s and YA authors, school events can be a great way to boost their profile—and their income. Portia Lindsay reports.
here is no shortage of amusing anecdotes from authors who regularly appear at school events. One author, on visiting a rural school, was completely upstaged by a bull that had swallowed a golf ball earlier that day. Another author received a complaint from a parent after he autographed a child’s arm with permanent marker. Everyone knows that working with kids (and animals) can be challenging, but when schools events are efficiently organised, they can be a rewarding experience for all involved. For children’s authors, school events can be an indispensible part of their income. Author James Roy, who visits over 50 schools a year, describes school events as hugely important, suggesting that only a small amount of children’s and YA authors can make a living from royalties alone. Random House publicist Peri Wilson considers school events to be ‘of the utmost importance for an author’s profile’. While the publisher’s authors do not receive a fee for events that are part of a broader publicity tour, there’s usually a bump in book sales, as Wilson ensures that copies of the author’s titles are available for sale at the event. The agency model Many school events are organised by speakers agencies, which have become successful intermediaries between authors and illustrators, and schools, libraries and festivals. Melbourne-based speakers agency Booked Out works with hundreds of authors each year to organise events across the country, with the busiest time of year coming in late August during Children’s Book Week. While its main clientele is schools, company director Esther Kennedy has noticed an increase in bookings from corporate organisations looking for speakers with a creative edge. The booking process is simple: schools contact the agency with their requirements, and unless a
request is made for a specific speaker, Kennedy will provide teachers with a shortlist of suitable authors. Once the event is confirmed, the school and the author are put in touch to finalise the details. The agency charges the school a fee for this service. Another Melbourne-based speakers agency, Creative Net, began as an offshoot of publishing house Ford Street, and was originally designed to promote Ford Street’s authors. Creative Net does not charge schools a booking fee, which publisher Paul Collins believes ‘can cripple some budgets’, but charges a small fee to the authors to cover the cost of maintaining the agency’s website. The primary aim, says Collins, is to provide authors with opportunities to interact with their audience and consequently promote their books. Collins has been pleased with the response so far. A few months after its launch, Creative Net already lists around 50 presenters and has booked around a dozen events. A relationship with Queensland’s Speakers Ink means the two agencies share authors, since both believe it is more important to give the authors exposure than to quibble over which agency made the booking. The feedback from authors who have signed with speakers agencies has been overwhelmingly positive. Author Alice Pung describes her agency representation as ‘the best thing that has happened to me as a writer’, connecting her with a wide variety of audiences and saving her the job of promoting herself as a presenter.
The feedback from authors who have signed with speakers agencies has been overwhelmingly positive.
Speakers agencies fulfil another important role for jobbing authors by offering networking opportunities through regular festival events, Christmas parties and social media. Authors Cath Crowley and Tim Pegler both observed that networking with other presenters has opened them to other speaking opportunities. Author Andrew McDonald launched himself onto the speakers’ circuit by organising his first events through his own contacts, demonstrating his ability as a speaker before signing with an agency. This is a common way for authors to get signed, says Booked Out’s Esther Kennedy, who ‘definitely prefers authors with some speaking experience’. Once they have a few events under their belt, it’s common for authors to build relationships with certain schools, which may involve authors returning each year or even more frequently. Last year Cath Crowley and Lia Hills were writers in residence at a school in the Melbourne suburb of Windsor, and later returned for the launch of the resulting magazine, an experience that Crowley found extremely gratifying. At other schools, Crowley has returned to see projects started in writing workshops take form.
By pairing with local schools, publishers and speakers agencies, booksellers can also find new ways to connect with younger readers. Bookshops such as Sydney’s The Children’s Bookshop and Melbourne’s The Little Bookroom are regularly involved in a variety of events—some requiring coordination with speakers agencies and publishers, others involving local schools, but all involving hard work. At The Children’s Bookshop, for example, Paul MacDonald liaises with speakers agencies in order to employ a writer and illustrator in residence in his store during the school holidays, while The Little Bookroom has cultivated close relationships with local schools, and even sends a mobile bookstore to one school so that each child can buy a novel. This event involves close collaboration with the school librarian and the need to be ‘price-conscious’ about the list of titles on offer, says bookseller Elvira Ralston. Ralston points out that these events are not necessarily always run to make money, but are more about building relationships with the local community. MacDonald echoes this sentiment, stressing just how much careful coordination is involved in organising a school events, from organising sufficient copies to managing pre-orders. For any collaboration to be successful, schools needs to be willing to spread the word and, if necessary, send out pre-order forms, says MacDonald, who will avoid schools for future events if this requirement is not met. Kate Colley from Sydney’s Bloomin’ Books stresses that the teacher and/or librarian must be involved for the event to be a success, relating a tale of a dismal event with an ex-poet laureate, where the librarian failed to attend because it was her day off. Sending out pre-order forms can streamline the process, and helps booksellers manage their stock levels. Another option is to set up an account with the school, whereby the school pays for the books in bulk and organises the individual sales directly with the students. Once the organisation is under control, Ralston advises booksellers to be prepared for the most rewarding part of the event—being mobbed by excited children trying to get their hands on the latest book by their favourite author.
Booked Out Speakers Agency www.bookedout.com.au PO Box 580 South Yarra VIC 3141 firstname.lastname@example.org, (03) 9824 0177
Term 2 2011
Australia’s leading national speakers agency for writers, artists and thinkers.
Authors speak out What makes an author a successful school speaker? Authenticity is important, says Alice Pung, who finds that young adults benefit from personal stories. While Pung is often asked to speak from a motivational perspective, she notes the importance of not lecturing to young people, who have a strong ‘built-in bull-detector’. Many school events get kids to put pen to paper. Cath Crowley begins workshops by explaining her own writing process, then encourages her audience to consider how they might express themselves. Deborah Abela has found that the introduction of NAPLAN (National Assessment Programme: Literacy and Numeracy) has increased the demand for writing workshops. Andrew McDonald advocates blogging—the subject of his debut novel—as a great way to engage children in reading and writing. His sessions are interactive, often culminating in the joint creation of stories, which he then posts on his blog, adding links to the children’s own blogs. Online communication, such as video link-ups, can also be used where face-to-face interaction between authors and students is difficult to arrange, in particular for schools in remote areas. However, while Kris Fegent of the speakers agency Lateral Learning has noticed an increasing interest in video sessions, and Helen Bain of Speakers Ink is currently exploring this option, both believe it cannot replace the spontaneity and impact of an in-person visit. In addition to school visits, Lateral Learning organises evening talks at local libraries or councils as a way of dispersing the cost of bringing an author to regional areas. Alongside the amusing anecdotes are the heartwarming ones. As one primary school teacher observes, it’s often the children who do not respond to the structure of the classroom environment that can shine in the creative environment offered by visiting authors, and author Cath Crowley agrees. She is often surprised by the responses from some kids, from the one who ‘doesn’t say anything in class and then emails you this beautiful piece that they wrote’ to the ‘group of boys who were willing to come on stage and make up a poem on the spot’.
How can booksellers get involved?
ome highly anticipated pictures books are due in the second half of the year. Allen & Unwin publisher Erica Wagner is looking forward to The Road to Goonong by David Cox (August)—a ‘touching story of growing up on the family farm’ which ‘captures the enduring spirit of people who live on the land’ and is ‘destined to become a classic’. Also ‘sure to be a classic in years to come’, says Walker Books managing director/ publisher Sarah Foster, is Margaret Wild and Andrew Yeo’s Vampyre, (September)—‘a stunningly illustrated tale about identity, making choices and being true to oneself’. Ford Street publisher Paul Collins describes Ships in the Field as a ‘very special, deeply personal work’ from Susanne Gervay and Anna Pignataro—both children of refugees. ‘Using a gentle narrative of domesticity and following a child’s simple desire for a pet, Ships in the Field explores themes of war, dislocation and the search for a sense of place,’ says Collins. From Hardie Grant Egmont imprint Little Hare, publisher Margrete Lamond is excited about Look! A Book! (October), ‘a celebration of the places a book can take you and the way it can make you feel’, which ‘reunites the award-winning team of Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood’. A Jackie French and Bruce Whatley collaboration is always a cause for celebration. Christmas Wombat (October) ‘sees our favourite wombat, Mothball, accidentally stowing away on Santa’s sleigh’, says HarperCollins head of children’s publishing Cristina Cappelluto. Her other picture book pick for the second half is Rudie Nudie (November), ‘the gorgeous new picture book from Emma Quay’. Craig Smith has teamed up again with his Wonky Donkey partner Katz Cowley in the monkey tale All I Want for Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth (book and CD, Scholastic, October). He’s also collaborated with Brett Avison in Stuck in the Muck (The Five Mile Press, October)—a humorous tale about a bogged family cow. Penguin publisher Jane Godwin is excited about a new picture-book partnership. ‘One of Australia’s best writers, Ursula Dubosarsky, has teamed with talented Sydney artist Walter Di Qual to create The Carousel (November), a stunning new picture book that celebrates the wonder of this enduring symbol of childhood.’ Also look out for Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck (Michelle Gillespie & Sonia Martinez, Fremantle Press, August), an ‘exciting story about a real-life shipwreck and rescue operation’; See You Later Alligator (Rin A Foti & Ben Redlich, Koala Books, August) ‘about how a group of clever swamp animals pluck up the courage to outsmart the bossy alligator’; and Wombat Went a’ Walking (Lachlan Creagh, Hachette, October), which is set to the tune of ‘A Frog Went a’Courting’.
What will keep the kids turning the pages in the second half of 2011? We ask publishers to tell us their highlights.
Photo credit: Stuart Spence 2006
A strong second half
everal new series are being launched in the second half of the year that are creating some buzz. From Scholastic, Omnibus publisher and general manager Dyan Blacklock is excited about the first book in a new Emily Rodda series, The Golden Door (September), which is ‘set in the seas of Deltora’ and is ‘full of twists and turns’. Random House publisher Zoe Walton can’t wait for the launch of John Flanagan’s new series ‘Brotherband’ (November). ‘John has taken the same world as “Ranger’s Apprentice”, setting this series in Skandia with its wolfships (longboats) [and] skirls (ship’s captains), and created a whole new cast of characters.’ Text editor Ali Arnold says she instantly fell in love with The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (September), ‘a fantasy adventure for middle-grade readers, set in a world where ancient potions can make kids invisible or turn them into birds, and Russian spies are after precious secrets’. And in nonfiction, Hachette sales and marketing director Chris Raine is looking forward to No Return: Captain Scott and the Race to the Pole (Peter Gouldthorpe, August), ‘a striking retelling of Captain Scott’s quest to become the first man to reach the South Pole’.
iles Franklin winner Andrew McGahan has penned his first YA novel. Allen & Unwin publisher Anna McFarlane describes The Coming of the Whirlpool: Ship Kings Book One (November) as ‘a stunning fantasy adventure about destiny and desire set in an alternate-world Scotland of the 1700s and a beautifully crafted and compelling sea-faring story about a boy’s pursuit of a forbidden life’. At Hachette, Hodder sales and marketing director Louise Sherwin-Stark says: ‘Our biggest debut for the year is a YA fantasy novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Laini Taylor has created an incredibly vivid world of angels, monsters and demons with a blue-haired heroine who flits between their world and Prague.’ HarperCollins head of children’s publishing Cristina Cappelluto is excited about Fateful by ‘Evernight’ author Claudia Gray (September), which she says ‘stays true to Claudia’s paranormal roots, but sees us stepping back in time and onto the Titanic—with werewolves’; while Simon & Schuster group product manager Melanie Barton is looking forward to Fury (Elizabeth Miles, September)—‘a big sexy and suspenseful supernatural crossover novel’. Text editor Ali Arnold’s second half picks are All I Ever Wanted (Vikki Wakefield, July), ‘a brilliant coming-of-age novel about a girl called Mim, the dodgy street she lives on, her petty-crim family, and the dreams she has of a different life’; and The Bridge by Jane Higgins (August), ‘a superb action novel in the vein of John Marsden’s Tomorrow series’ that is ‘set in a post-apocalyptic world’. Hardie Grant Egmont publishing director Hilary Rogers is looking forward to Whisper by Chrissie Keighery (August)—‘a beautiful exploration of life for a deaf teenager’, which ‘will enable a school kid to imagine a deaf girl’s silent world’ and, for ‘an admittedly smaller number of deaf readers … be a rare and wonderful opportunity to read a book that reflects some of the issues they face on daily basis’. Her colleague, senior editor Marisa Pintado, is also excited about the ‘deeply unsettling thriller’ Shift (Em Bailey, September), which is ‘built on the games girls play with each other, a genius take on the paranormal romance genre mixed with Single White Female-style destructiveness’. Walker Books managing director/publisher Sarah Foster ‘can’t wait to see the release of Costa Award winner Patrick Ness’s achingly beautiful new novel, A Monster Calls (July), from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself’. The story is about coming to terms with loss. UQP’s children’s and young adult publisher Kristina Schulz is thrilled to be publishing Penny Tangey’s Clara in Washington—‘a funny and warm coming-of-age story about first love, politics and finding yourself ’; and The Invisible Hero by Elizabeth Fensham, ‘a beautiful tale that will tug at your heartstrings and has been a favourite in our office’.
To be continued …
Photo credit: Jason Froome
he second half of the year brings new installments in a number of popular series. Undoubtedly one of the biggest releases will be Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance (Random House, November), the final in his series of books that began with Eragon in 2002. Also highly anticipated are the second and third books in James Phelan’s ‘Alone’ series, Survivor and Quarantine (Hachette, July and October respectively). The story continues to follow four teenagers who survive a devastating pandemic in New York City. In July, Hachette will publish the second ‘Heist Society’ book by Ally Carter, Uncommon Criminals. The publisher is excited to report that the movie rights for the first book have been won in a bidding war by Warner Bros. Coming to a dramatic conclusion this year are Tamora Pierce’s ‘Beka Cooper’ trilogy (Mastiff, Omnibus, December), Becca Fitzpatrick’s ‘Hush Hush’ trilogy (Silence, Simon & Schuster, October) and Alyson Noel’s ‘Immortals’ series (Everlasting, Pan Macmillan, July). But there’s always a chance of a prequel series if these authors follow in the footsteps of Cassandra Clare. The second installment in the ‘Infernal Devices’ series, Clockwork Prince (Walker Books), will be released in December. From local authors, Alexandra Adornetto follows up her NY Times bestseller Halo with the ‘darker’ Hades (HarperCollins, September) and Jessica Shirvington has written a third book in ‘The Violet Eden Chapters’ (Emblaze, Hachette, October). For fantasy fans, Isobelle Carmody’s The Sending (Penguin, November) is the sixth volume in the ‘Obernewtyn Chronicles’; and Foz Meadows’ The Key to Starveldt (Ford Street, September) is the sequel to Solace and Grief. Finally, in October, Walker Books is looking forward to Equinox, the second installment in Lara Morgan’s futuristic teen series ‘The Rosie Black Chronicles’, and Text is publishing the third book in Richard Newsome’s ‘Billionaire Trilogy’, The Mask of Destiny (October).
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Reviews: Picture books (July to August)
Ransom (David Malouf, Vintage, $29.95 hb, ISBN 9781741668377, April)
You might say that Felix is not a very original name for a cat. You won’t care when you read this delightful book. Felix is a big cat who sleeps on Molly’s bed. One night an intruder is discovered in the kitchen and Felix is suspected. He decides to clear his name and find out himself who has invadedof the kitchen. Junior BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER’s star ratingfor system gives readers an indication the quality of theSo he creeps downstairs. Little does what he will see there publication being reviewed in its context. Our reviewers have been asked to usehetheknow following guidelines and what a predicament he will find himself in. What to rate the book: develops is hilarious and great fun to read. With almost HHH H an exceptional book of the very highest quality, regardless of genre 40 picture books to her credit, Pamela Allen is an expert H H H H an excellent book at the genre. She is very good at creating ‘noisy’ books, genre H H H good book, within its which contain lots of action, expression and excitement, of the genre H H a passable exampleand are most effective when read aloud. She seems to H caution advised keep improving and coming up with highly inventive
and original ideas—like this one. Turn-the-page action is achieved in the pictures and word placement on every double-page spread. The trademark illustrations, with fine cross-hatching and gentle detail, are cleverly repetitive when Felix becomes frantic, and the action gathers pace until theissue, dramatic after which the family can Junior climax, asks booksellers, teachers, librarians Each return to bed in peace. Another winner from Pamela and others in the publishing industry to review books in Allen. of their publication. All books reviewed originate in advance Australia or New Zealand.
Margaret Hamilton is a former children’s publisher. She now provides freelance publishing services andebooks reviews
(simultaneous release unless otherwise specified)
Among our reviewers’ top picks this issue are:
Passarola Rising (Azhar Abidi, Viking, $29.95 tpb, ISBN 067004296X, February)
Passarola Rising is a charming novella by Pakistan-born ‘sees’ fabulous cities in the clouds before succumbing to writer Azhar Abidi. An engineer by profession, Abidi fever and adopting an earth-bound life of normality. His made a name for himself previously as a literary larrikin brother, however, continues to fly to the outer realms of after the publication of a tongue-in-cheek ‘scholarly human experience. This is imaginative and adventurous essay’ (complete with footnotes) detailing the history and writing that should appeal to readers of historical fiction. science of the flying blanket. This work also plays with However, despite some passages of startling beauty the meaning and interpretation of truth. It tells the tale (notably the relationship between one of the brothers and of two 18th-century Portuguese brothers who build an a fantastical part-vulture, part-human female), it fails to Nogairship, and the of In this Ishmaelgood andread, the lacking The Last Viking The Bridge theLand Passarola. flying machine they explore Clara reachin theWashington great heights of a compelling H H Htravel H to far-off lands, H clarity Noses H H Hunmapped H HHH H HHH previously territories, and a strong narrative. Hoops of Steel 16 Pageare 15 shot at, become party Page Page 14 HHH H to kidnappings, and push the Page 17 Page 17 boundaries of scientific knowledge. It is their quest for Becky Edwards is a bookseller at Bookcaffe in Perth ‘This is a breathtaking first Kavanagh Bridge factnovel’—Bec that sees them unwittingly blur on the The line between reality andsharing fantasy. the Thehonour youngerinbrother andwith narrator The Text Prize-winner received five stars, this issue Bruce Whatley’s Nog and the Land of Noses.
2011 Term 2
Bilby Secrets is a beautiful picture book which chronicles the relatively unknown life of the endangered bilby. Told through narrative and fact and beautiful illustrations, Wignell reveals the day-to-day life of a bilby from birth to adulthood, as well as the natural world which the bilby inhabits. Bilby Secrets works both as a story as well as a nonfiction resource and is accompanied by vivid illustrations which bring the text to life—and it is this combination of story and fact that will interest readers and see this book used as a resource for children aged five and up. From a retail perspective, these sorts of books are always difficult to place but it should sit comfortably in the picture-book section as well as the children’s nonfiction area. It will also make an ideal resource for
libraries and schools. Its only shame is that Bilby Secrets will not be available until after Easter when interest in the bilby usually increases. Natalie Crawford is a freelance reviewer and bookseller at Dymocks Claremont, WA
The Last Viking (Norman Jorgensen & James Foley, Fremantle Press, $24.95 hb, ISBN 9781921888106, July) H H H H Josh isn’t scared of anything. Well, anything much. The dark. Pirates. Dinosaurs. Other than that, he’s pretty much fearless. On a visit to his grandparents’ house, Josh learns about Vikings, the bravest, fiercest warriors the world had ever seen. Naturally, Josh decides to become a Viking himself. He changes his name to Knut and makes his own shield, sword and longship to go a-viking in his grandparents’ backyard. When he runs into some real-world bullies, Josh’s new life as Knut might just save the day. Norman Jorgensen’s writing and James Foley’s illustrations complement each other perfectly in this charming story about courage and imagination. As in all the best picture books, the words allow room for the cartoonish, expressive art to expand and deepen the story.
Keen readers can even decipher the runic inscriptions adorning the illustrations with the help of the decoder in the endpapers. The creators have also chronicled the process of creating this book, along with some of their inspirations and sources, at http://knutthelastviking. wordpress.com/. This is recommended fun for primary school readers. Heath Graham is an educator currently working at the State Library of Victoria
Bilby Secrets (Edel Wignell & Mark Jackson, Walker Books, $29.95 hb, ISBN 9781921529320, July) H H H
14 Junior BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER
July to August Children's
Ever wondered what your purpose is? Where you fit in? Why everyone seems to know what to do but you? A child wonders all of these things and more, especially when they begin to venture out into the world of day care, kindergarten and school. Nog is just same. Everywhere he goes he sees many noses of all shapes and sizes. And while they all have something important to do, he laments that his nose does nothing. Nog’s Granny knows that Nog has an important nose. He has a nose for trouble—not that he knows what that means. All Nog thinks he can do with his nose is catch a cold. One day a sneeze builds up and up, until he sneezes the biggest sneeze ever, and then he smells something odd. His nose itches and itches, until he realises—he smells pepper! Nog warns the town—
finally he has an important job! Bruce Whatley is well known for his collaborations with Jackie French on titles such as Diary of a Wombat and Pete the Sheep. He doesn’t disappoint in his latest solo effort. The story is endearing and the prose is well balanced, with quirky illustrations throughout. This picture book is perfect for children of all ages. Anne Copeland is a freelance reviewer and education accounts manager for Dymocks, Collins St in Melbourne
No Thanks Hanks and Other Unmannerly Tales (Danny Katz, illus by Mitch Vane, The Five Mile Press, $16.95 pb, ISBN 9781742485829, July) H H H Danny Katz—popular newspaper columnist and Modern Guru for the Good Weekend magazine—sets his sights on unruly children and unpleasant behaviours with this collection of ‘unmannerly’ poems and cautionary tales. A picture book precursor to Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, it’s aimed at younger children just learning to negotiate their way through new and unfamiliar social situations. And, as with all good cautionary tales, what better way to show us the light than with an entertaining dose of just how not to behave? In this catalogue of transgressions you’ll find lessons on gratitude, laziness, sportsmanship and the odd issue surrounding personal hygiene and body parts. But despite the didactic bent, it’s all in good fun and there’s plenty of variation to keep
young kids interested. I often found Katz’s rhyming text to be offbeat and awkward, making for tricky and stumbling reading—particularly out loud. But what it lacks in overall finesse, it more than makes up for in exuberance, and the (often bum-themed) whimsical humour will have kids of this age group in giggling fits. Mitch Vane—illustrator, cartoonist and Katz’s long-time collaborator—provides brightly raucous and lovingly grotesque pictures, which perfectly match Katz’s humour and brings everything together. Meredith Tate is a freelance proofreader, editor and reviewer who has worked for a children’s publisher
Galactic Adventures: First Kids in Space (Tristan Bancks, UQP, $16.95 pb, ISBN 9780702238697, July)
Tristan Bancks has a real knack for seamlessly inserting factual information into the storyline in a way that pulls the reader into the experience. The explanation of how to use a toilet in space is one of the many fascinating facts revealed with wonderful Roald Dahl-style humour that children will love. This is the perfect book to recommend to reluctant middle-school readers, especially boys who aren’t interested in fantasy or vampires. Bancks understands his audience and delivers an emotionally engaging adventure story that manages to be engrossing without leaving earth’s orbit—that is until (fingers crossed) the next book. (See interview, page 8.) James Paull is a bookseller for Books Plus, Bathurst
The Paradise Trap (Catherine Jinks, A&U, $15.99 pb, ISBN 9781742375748, July)
times. The two families, and especially Marcus, have to use every gram of wit and courage to survive. I love that Catherine Jinks’ stories are never predictable. Who else could take readers from a sadly altered Australian caravan park to a confrontation with a leftover creature from Odysseus’ voyages? Scary in parts, and truly thrilling, this novel will keep upper primary school readers enthralled as they travel towards their own holiday destinations. Kerry White is the author of Australian Children’s Books, a Bibliography (MUP) and a major contributor to The Source
Term 2 2011
Marcus’ mother Holly wants her son to have the experience of a beachside holiday. Holly’s own memories of childhood summers at Diamond Beach are as sparkly as the park’s name, but the reality is disappointing. If it is possible to have a McMansion caravan, then this is where they are parked, with hundreds of them blocking the way to the crowded beach. In one of these outlandish caravans is Coco, a friend from the past, now married to a rich inventor with two children and a robot. Coco is thrilled to see Holly, and just as excited to visit the old, smelly caravan Holly has bought, convinced it used to belong to a former park resident, the elderly Mrs Molpe. Their excitement turns to horror when memory and desire open paths to a trap laid by the wicked Mrs Molpe, who has supernatural powers from ancient
Dash Campbell is a self-confessed ordinary kid living out a mundane life, one chore at a time. So when billionaire James Johnston announces a competition that will see five kids spend 10 days on his space station Utopia, Dash finally has something to live for. His video entry ensures he’s a finalist and his performance in preliminary training is his golden ticket to the final five. The action of the story takes place in the month of preparation leading up to take-off. During this time friendships are forged, rivalries established, and the real possibility of not making the cut and being sent home looms over the potential astronauts’ heads. Adding to the drama is a rumour that a similar mission failed tragically 40 years earlier, and a phantom of one of those doomed children, who only Dash encounters.
Reviews: Picture books / young readers (July to August)
Nog and the Land of Noses (Bruce Whatley, Scholastic, $26.99 hb, ISBN 9781741698091, July) H H H H
Reviews: Young readers / young adult (July to August) 2011 Term 2
Jasper Ludlow has a special skill—he can trick young children into eating their dinner by arranging food in attractive patterns on tiny plates. Unlikely as it seems, this ability helps him save the kingdom of Fontania from the despotic rule of Lady Gall (Provisional Monarch), resurrect the true rulers, and restore long suppressed magic. Trickery and food are reoccurring themes in this witty fairytale-like adventure featuring the supposedly plain and dim Jasper and his infant sister Sibella. Readers will know from the very first pages that Jasper is a true hero. He is curious, ignores instructions and is always looking to move things along. His original thinking and independent nature stands him in good stead when faced with a cast of unreliable adults including his own parents who appear to have abandoned
him. Even Jasper’s companions on the travelling restaurant of the title (a magical ship) treat him with disdain. The plot is less original, becoming, after the first gripping third, a quest adventure that falls into familiar patterns. Further, the notion of good government needing a ‘true’ royal won’t appeal to republicans! Attractively bound, and illustrated with maps printed inside extended jacket flaps, this is a fine gift book for competent readers from nine years and up. Kerry White is the author of Australian Children’s Books, a Bibliography (MUP) and a major contributor to The Source
Act of Faith (Kelly Gardiner, HarperCollins, $19.99 pb, ISBN 9780732292805, July) Act of Faith begins at Cambridge University in the 17th century. Isabella has grown up helping her academic father write outspoken pamphlets. But when his work brings him to the attention of Oliver Cromwell, Isabella and her father flee England for refuge in Amsterdam. In the more tolerant Netherlands, Isabella finds a job in the home of Master de Aquila, an elderly Jewish printer. For a while Isabella is content in her new life. De Aquila and his apprentice William begin to train Isabella in the intricacies of the printing world. A like-minded contemporary of her father, de Aquila and his associates are printing a broad range of material, much of which is frowned upon by the church. So it comes as no great shock when, on a working holiday in Italy, de Aquila is taken by the Inquisition.
When they learn of his fate, Isabella and William embark on a daring chase across Europe to save their master from an auto-da-fé in Spain. Aimed at teenage readers, Act of Faith is an enjoyable, though at times over-simplistic, glimpse at life for the oppressed in 17th-century Europe. Emily Smith is a Melbourne-based freelance reviewer
Alaska (Sue Saliba, Penguin, $19.95 pb, ISBN 9780143206118, July) H H Alaska is the new YA novel from Sue Saliba, the awardwinning author of Something in the World Called Love. It’s about Mia, a teenager who travels to Alaska from Melbourne to stay with Em, her older sister, who is now married with a child. The sisters had a close relationship growing up, however, things have changed between them and Mia finds herself in love with Ethan, who she meets when she first arrives. The language and imagery in Alaska is beautiful, and Saliba’s description of a remote Alaskan town on the edge of a forest is beguiling. Unfortunately, for me the story lacked substance and pace, and I couldn’t help feeling it would work better as a short story for adults rather than a novel aimed at young adults. Writing in lower case throughout was also offputting, although I know this
to be a trait of the author’s. Fans of Saliba’s other books may get into Alaska, but I found it meandered a bit too much. Katie Horner is the former assistant editor of Bookseller+Publisher magazine and a freelance reviewer
The Bridge (Jane Higgins, Text, $19.95 pb, ISBN 9781921758331, August) The Text Prize is going from strength to strength, as the publisher continues to choose winners that push the boundaries of young adult fiction. The latest winner, The Bridge, is brilliant. Every sentence is skillfully crafted, with just enough left unsaid that the reader is always hungry for more. In a futuristic world, Nik and his friends must choose their loyalties in a war that is not as clear as they were brought up to think. Nik has spent his life training to join an elite group fighting the hostiles across the eponymous bridge. But when his college is blown up, and his friend kidnapped, Nik must venture into hostile territory, where he finds answers to questions that he never thought to ask. With YA dystopia still going strong, older readers of the genre will love this latest offering. Like all good dystopian
fiction, there are plenty of parallels between the book and issues in our own society: racism, loyalty, fear and the futility of war are all themes that are addressed in a thoughtful and considered manner by the author. Importantly, the issues in The Bridge do not come at the expense of the action, and a fast pace is maintained throughout, while the characters are complex and interesting enough that it is virtually impossible to leave their side as the story crashes on. This is a breathtaking first novel. Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne-based writer and reviewer and an ex-bookseller
16 Junior BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER
The Travelling Restaurant (Barbara Else, Gecko Press, $18.99 pb, ISBN 9781877467776, July) H H H
It’s the end of high school, the end of an era, and Clara decides to break with tradition and go to Washington with her mother for the holidays rather than spend time with her father at their beach house. But Washington isn’t quite the adventure Clara expected, and she feels alone with her thoughts in a strange city and detached from her friends and family. Clara is on the verge of adulthood, and as her own life and the world around her changes, she struggles to connect with people and maintain her sense of identity. Clara is a wonderfully textured character whose fears and insecurities will ring true to all readers on the verge of leaving high school and entering the next stage of their lives. Her fears and insecurities almost cripple her when she arrives in Washington, but as she
(August) H H H H
pushes her own boundaries, she discovers her own limits. It is impossible not to empathise with Clara’s journey. Clara in Washington is based on the author’s own time in the city, and her experiences are evident in the level of detail in this book. The surroundings come to life as Clara strives to find an experience that is more real than a postcard. Wrapped in a very entertaining coming-of-age story, this is a fun read, but also quite a thoughtful one. Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne-based writer and reviewer and ex-bookseller
Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel (Michael Gerard Bauer, Scholastic, $19.99 pb, ISBN 9781862919174, July) HHH H
Ishmael Leseur is the world’s only known sufferer of ILS (Ishmael Leseur’s Syndrome)—an affliction responsible for revealing his innermost idiot to the world. Ishmael hopes senior school will see a turn in his fortunes, until he learns the girl of his dreams has moved to New Zealand weeks after their first kiss. Luckily he’s surrounded by a wonderfully eclectic group of friends, and together they navigate all that life can throw at a senior school student. Over the course of the next two years, Ishmael is set up with a friend’s overly enthusiastic ‘third cousin’, inadvertently gets drunk and kisses his best mate’s girlfriend, and helps form possibly the most mismatched volleyball team in the history of sport. Choices and consequences are two themes subtly explored in this novel, but what really grips
the reader are the characters and the friendships that bond them through all kinds of surprising revelations. Not since Fiona Wood’s Six Impossible Things have I been so beguiled by a teenage narrator’s honesty and humour—there’s barely a page where I didn’t laugh out loud at a unique comment or observation, delivered in a wonderful teen vernacular— which the author nails, without being condescending to a 15-plus reader. This is the third and final book in Michael Gerard Bauer’s ‘Ishmael’ series.
Reviews: Young adult (July to August)
Clara in Washington (Penny Tangey, UQP, $19.95 pb, ISBN 9780702238871, July)
James Paull is a bookseller for Books Plus, Bathurst
The Scourge of Jericho: The Witch Hunter Chronicles Book 1 (Stuart Daly, Random House, $17.95 pb, ISBN 9781742750521, July) H H H paced and unflinching in their violence. Daly’s witches and demons are relentless and malevolent servants of Satan— although he does in passing mention that innocents were also persecuted for little more than unusual birthmarks. This action-packed story would suit secondary school readers with a taste for violence, witchcraft and history. Heath Graham is an educator currently working at the State Library of Victoria
The Shattering (Karen Healey, A&U, $17.99 pb, ISBN 9781741758818, July)
loss. And as with her debut novel Guardian of the Dead, it’s an approach that feels both meaningful and relevant, allowing her to build a disquieting sense of menace while exploring the all-too-real issue of teenage depression—and, in particular, the high rate of male suicide. It’s a fresh and dynamic twist on an old tale that will likely cement Healey as one of the best emerging YA writers of our time. Meredith Tate is a freelance proofreader, editor and reviewer who has worked for a children’s publisher
Term 2 2011
Perfection, in horror, is always a wicked and unnerving thing, and the tourist town of Summerton in New Zealand is no different. It’s a thriving paradise on earth that no-one wants to leave—what the locals call ‘the Summerton effect’. But beneath its dazzling surface lies a tragic secret. Every winter, without warning, a teenage boy commits suicide. Three friends, haunted by their elder brothers’ inexplicable deaths, believe a serial killer lives among them and set about uncovering the killer’s identity. But in exploring the town’s relationships between the living and the dead, they discover Summerton’s secrets run deeper, and darker, than the natural world allows. In what is ostensibly The Wicker Man for teens, Karen Healey blends ancient myths and modern anxieties to deliver a healing narrative about coping with
Orphan Jakob von Drachenfels has never wanted anything more than to be a warrior like the father he never met. Frustrated by his life as a stable hand with his uncle, Jakob forges a letter of introduction, designed to get him admitted to an elite military order, the Hexenjäger: elite witch hunters, sworn to fight the devil and his servants. Jakob and his companions are sent on a mission to retrieve a holy artifact from a witch stronghold, but the mission soon goes drastically wrong, and Jakob and his Hexenjäger companions are fighting just to survive. The Scourge of Jericho is set in 1660s Europe, and Stuart Daly’s depth of knowledge of the culture, politics and military of the time is on full display in this novel, leading to occasional passages of dense historical exposition. His action scenes are well
book A taste of books to come Grug’s new adventure
A groundbreaking graphic novel
Simon & Schuster Australia, with the support of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, has translated Grug Learns to Read by Ted Prior into Karrawa, one of the languages from the Borroloola region of the Northern Territory. The new edition is being distributed to the Borroloola community to help improve language and literacy levels among the children. The idea was conceived by former S&S Australia managing director Francois McHardy and championed by current managing director Lou Johnson, who believes that ‘Grug is a perfect fit to be translated into Karrawa. Grug has been teaching children how to read for the last 30 years. Now he’s heading back to the bush.’
In May, Magabala released Australia’s first ever Indigenous graphic novel, Ubbey’s Underdogs: The Legend of the Phoenix Dragon. Created by Broome author and illustrator Brenton E McKenna, the book is the first of a trilogy in which Ubby, a young ruffian, leads a rag-tag gang known as the Underdogs into various adventures in a dusty pearling town in the north-west of Western Australia.
Bat tales Forget rabbits. 2011 is the year of the bat, as declared by the United Nations. In honour of this occasion—and to address the dearth in picture book bats—Working Title Press is publishing Warambi (Aleesah Darlison & Andrew Plant, July), the story of a little bent-wing bat’s struggle for survival after her colony is destroyed and her family dispersed. It’s aimed at children aged five and up and touches on themes of conservation of natural habitats and the preservation of native species.
Term 2 2011
Have kids, will travel ‘2011 is the year of getting kids thinking about the world as a place to explore,’ says Lonely Planet’s associate publisher of trade, Ben Handicott. In October, Lonely Planet is launching its first-ever series of books designed specifically for kids aged 8-11, beginning with the ‘Not For Parents’ edition of the bestselling The Travel Book, which profiles every country in the world—and promises to be ‘packed with fun facts, figures and cultural insight that will give children a hit of the travel bug for sure’. Also due in October are the first four ‘Not for Parents’ destination titles for London, New York, Paris and Rome. ‘Written with perfect pitch for young readers, the intriguing stories and spooky histories are illustrated with an exciting blend of full-colour photos, illustrations, and great cartoons,’ says Handicott.
In the middle According to reports from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, middle-school readers are in hot demand, which might explain why we’re seeing so many new series for younger readers from Australian publishers. Hardie Grant Egmont has given its bestselling ‘Go Girl’ series a makeover to appeal to its newest fans (young girls aged six and up). Five titles were re-launched in April with more to follow in September. In April, Penguin launched a new series called ‘Mission Fox’ for boys aged 6-9. The stories by Justin D’Ath feature ten-year-old twins Harry and Jordan Fox—the younger brothers of Sam Fox from D’Ath’s ‘Extreme Adventures’ series—who, along with their dog Myrtle, have formed a secret rescue service for animals lost or in danger. Book three and four, Dolphin Rescue and Horse Hijack, are due in July and September, respectively. ‘Hazard River’ is a series of action-adventure stories for reluctant readers aged eight and up, which deals with the theme of endangered species. Blood Money! and Toads’ Revenge! (J E Fison, Ford Street) are the latest titles, due in August. Launched last year from Penguin, ‘Our Australian Girl’ series follows four girls growing up in colonial Australia, and is aimed at girls aged 8-11. The first four titles introduced readers to Letty, Poppy, Rose and Grace. Their adventures continue in July with Letty on the Land, Poppy and the Thief, Rose’s Challenge and Grace and Glory. And finally, The Truth about Verity Sparks by Susan Green (Walker Books, August) is a detective story for children aged 10 and up. It’s set in Victorian London and follows 13-year-old orphan and milliner Verity Sparks, who possesses an extraordinary talent for finding lost things. We hope to see more adventures with Verity in the future.
p of the la
Seeking out other cultures Playground: Listening to Stories from Country and from Inside the Heart (ed by Nadia Wheatley, illus by Ken Searle, A&U, June) offers a glimpse into the childhood experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the 1900s to the present day. Eighty elders and 20 secondary school students have contributed their words and artwork to this important collection. Six children from six different religious backgrounds take us into their kitchens in Food and Faith (Susan Reuben, illus by Sophie Pelham, Walker Books, July), which explores various religions through their associations with food, and is aimed at children aged six and up. Colin Thompson visited Cambodia with the children’s rights organisation Save the Children and was struck by the way the humble bicycle was central to so many people’s lives. He shares its story in the picture book The Bicycle (ABC Kids, September). Another picture book, Ayu and the Perfect Moon (David Cox, Walker Books, June), explores traditional Indonesian culture, and is perfect for integrating the new curriculum focus on Asia. Finally, for readers aged seven and up, Pea Boy and Other Stories from Iran (Elizabeth Laird, illus by Shirin Adl, Walker Books, June) is a collection of traditional Iranian stories of fairies, demons, animals and tricksters.
Indigenous artist Bronwyn Bancroft’s illustrated picture book of Australian animals, with its bright colours and beautiful, patterned landscapes, is ideal for teaching children first concepts (Kangaroo and Crocodile: My Big Book of Australian Animals, Little Hare, July). Black Dog Books’ ‘Going To’ series (August) explores the different types of environments that animals inhabit, with full-page pictures that are ideal for emerging readers. Titles include The Desert, The Poles, The Outback and The Ocean. Alison Lester’s Moo, Roar and Purr (ABC Kids, June) are board books that teach infants about various animal sounds; and Garry Fleming’s liftthe-flap books take kids on an animal safari—from the present day to prehistoric times (Animals and Dinosaurs, Five Mile Press, August). There are more animal titles across the pond. The Kōkako birds have been nicknamed ‘grey ghosts’ because they are seldom seen in New Zealand’s forests. They are also known for their incredible song. The Call of the Kōkako (Maria Gill, illus by Heather Arnold, New Holland NZ, June) delves into their world. Also look out for All about New Zealand’s Freshwater Life (Dave Gunson, New Holland NZ, July), which takes readers below the surface to explore New Zealand’s water creatures and plants.
from ed offerings
Big trucks Machines are all around us, and are used every day, children will discover in The ABC Book of Machines (H Martin, J Simpson & C Orsini, ABC Kids, July), which explores all sorts of machines from tip-trucks and toasters to clocks and cranes. The ‘On the Move’ picture-book series also looks at trucks and other forms of transport, with titles such as Diggers and Cranes, Fire Engines, Helicopters and Motorbikes (Philip Bryan, Pearson, May).
Tackling the tough issues
title showcase National Library of Australia Feeling Fine! Author: Stephanie Owen Reeder ISBN: 9780642277206 RRP: $12.95
Author: Susan Hall ISBN: 9780642277213 RRP: $12.95 Old Macdonald’s Aussie Farm uses stunning images by John Gould found in the library’s collection and encourages children to engage with the characters and learn simple facts about each animal.
Distributor: NewSouth Books Tel: (02) 8778-9999 Email: email@example.com Website: http://shop.nla.gov.au
Distributor: NewSouth Books Tel: (02) 8778-9999 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://shop.nla.gov.au
Term 2 2011
Feeling Fine! is an entertaining board book about emotions. This is a perfect interactive board book for babies and preschoolers who are learning to understand their own emotions and how others are feeling.
Old Macdonald’s Farm
Australian personalities reveal how they overcame bullying in school and went on to achieve great things in the inspirational Don’t Peak at High School: From Bullied to A-List (ed by Fiona Scott-Norman, Affirm Press, July). Author David Keefe teaches teens how to gain keep cool in any situation. His techniques are described in Coolmind: The Young Person’s Guide to a Calmer Life (Exisle Publishing, July). Sexpectations (A&U, July) is a sex-education guide that is ‘upfront, matter-of-fact, teenage-friendly’. It’s split into two sections: ‘Sexpectations Girl’ and ‘Sexpecations Boy’, written by sexual-health professionals Leissa Pitts and Craig Murray.
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