Term 3 THE MAGAZINE FOR BO
OKS FROM K TO 12
From Australia’s best-selling children’s author
contents Feature: Christmas
All I want for Christmas ...
Young Readers A
without a new book this or nice, no child should be Whether they’ve been naughty rounds up some of the best. Christmas. Andrea Hanke
The 13-Storey series in September with a Denton kick off a new complete with a bowling alley, ndy Griffiths and Terry guessed it) a 13-storey treehouse, $9.99 to Treehouse (Pan), set in (you much more. It’s priced at a library full of comics, and see-through swimming pool, literary sell to booksellers. make it an even more attractive Bean’ books will be excited to hear that Clarice’s favourite Eyes (HarperCollins, Fans of Lauren Child’s ‘Clarice Ruby Redfort: Look into My is getting her own series. for code-cracking. detective, Ruby Redfort, special agent with a knack 13-year-old a as (Random beginnings Stories Ruby’s October) goes back to to a close with The Lost Apprentice’ series is drawing fans can look forward to Flanagan’s John Flanagan’s ‘Ranger’s 12, due out in October. However, is set in the fantasy world where House), book 11 of a proposed November) The Outcasts (Random House, new series; Brotherband 1: October) to become warriors. Wonderstruck (Scholastic, boys must compete in teams a new book from Brian Selznick. words, the other entirely in pictures. Creating plenty of buzz is told in living 50 years apart: one is Kid 6: Cabin Fever (Penguin, tells the stories of two children are Jeff Kenney’s latest Wimpy (HarperCollins, Also out in time for Christmas Pleasant: Death Bringer genre-mashing Skulduggery Two: City of Lies (A&U, October). Book November), Derek Landy’s author Lian Tanner, The Keepers Parents: The Travel September); and from local adapted for kids. Not for The Travel Book has been lingo of every country and city Lonely Planet’s bestselling capital the as essential information such that make each Book (October) ‘includes histories, food and wildlife the epic events, hideous in the world, along with November); destination unique’. Life of Bindi, Random House, Bindi Irwin (A Year in the get creative Scholastic, October); and Take a peek into the life of (Where’s Santa, Louis Shea, September). search for Santa, Where’s Wally?-style for Kids (Fiona Hammond, The Five Mile Press, Cooking in the kitchen with Christmas
Picture Books W
Roland Harvey, Colin illustrators Graeme Base, ith new titles from much-loved Bruce Whatley, it’s shaping up to be a promising and Thompson, Freya Blackwood Wild on his Christmas for picture books. collaborated with Margaret search illustrator Andrew Yeo has But first, a new talent. Sydney story of a young boy-vampyre’s (Walker Books), a spine-tingling books. first picture book, Vampyre picture appeal to fans of Shaun Tan’s latest collaboration, will which Blackwood’s belonging, Freya for popular is Libby Gleeson and as well as the Another title that should prove the magic of the printed book, October), which celebrates Little Refugee Look, A Book!, (Little Hare, Happiest Refugee, retitled The Do’s bestselling memoir The picture-book edition of Anh of drawings from some of collection a is (A&U, November). HarperCollins, September) humble bicycle. The Bicycle (Colin Thompson, Shaun Tan, celebrating the including Quentin Blake and the Children. the world’s best illustrators, be donated to the charity Save and fuzzy, all royalties will (Viking, October) And to make you feel warm in The Jewel Fish of Karnak in time to Ancient Egypt (A&U, November). Graeme Base travels back west in All the Way to W.A. in a Toy his readers on road trip out 3D-animation illustrations while Roland Harvey takes busy, experimenting with with Jackie Bruce Whatley has been particularly October). He’s also collaborated October). Tin Toys (Random House, Wombat, Angus & Robertson, Story-inspired picture-book at Christmas time (Christmas moments between bath French on a diary of a wombat which celebrates ‘those nudie Nudie, Rudie Quay’s & Tony Lowe, Also look out for Emma Ate Himself (Colin Cardwell he is November); The Boy Who takes drastic measures when and bedtime’ (HarperCollins, absurd story of a boy who delightfully a (HarperCollins, Random House, December), Andy Jones’ The Fart-ionary slightly older (6-plus) readers, in the world. denied junk food; and for the most hilarious subject jokes, trivia and cartoons on November) is packed with
term 3 2011
Once more with feeling
Back by popular demand
Newton’s historical novel. of would-be soldiers in Robert Two brothers fall in with a group and makes it special. author. something that drives it Meredith Tate spoke to the the space of an hour. In When The secret to writing good historical fiction is Is the look different in
8 Drawing inspiration
Sarina Gale explores sales trends in children’s bookselling
12 All I want for Christmas
FROM K TO
14 Australian Curriculum: an update
Title goes her fills the Above: This is a caption that space and descibes the pics.
kids are alright
titles are not sales of children’s and YA Recent statistics indicate local Gale reports. novels for adults are. Sarina dropping the way sales of
24/06/11 4:15 PM
weather a difficult helped children’s booksellers retail period. Sun and the Deb Force, owner of The Melbourne, says the Younger Sun bookshop in for a number of children’s shop remains strong to read to their kids. reasons. ‘Parents still want as well who It’s the friends and grandparents ns. Being in come in wanting recommendatioseeing a slight I’m an urban inner city location, and a real support backlash against technology for local business,’ she says. at Readings Leanne Hall, children’s specialist ‘people want to that believes also in Melbourne, when it comes talk face-to-face’, in particular ‘They want to know to the children’s section. and especially with content, what’s suitable of knowing what regulars, it’s having a history of being attuned they’ve already read and liked, adding ‘I have says, to their tastes as a reader,’ she what ereader to buy not had one parent ask me for their kids’. children’s Many general and specialty considerable success booksellers have also had with in-store drawing the younger crowds teen bookclubs and events such as storytime, Other initiatives author visits and signings. and information include movie tie-in screenings and librarians. Not nights for parents, teachers which is where a everything can be digitised, nostalgia and connection sense of community, comes into play. encouraging, how While the anecdotes are Nielsen bear up? According to Bookshop do the stats books in and Lindfield Children’s children’s (including YA) fantasy, realism Bookshop sales in his BookScan, in value by 3.2% in the historical fiction, sci-fi, mystery, trends, which in Sydney, also reports ‘buoyant’ Australia have contracted biggest ‘In the past year or two to the same period compared bookshop. and humour. The three 2011, of children’s half first genres in their own tightened the belts for themselves, last year. This compares to a 10% contraction have become fully fledged and post- people have has belts for their right, are steampunk, mythologycan see how but they haven’t tightened the fiction, while adult nonfiction we says, adding in adult when and grandchildren,’ he apocalyptic novels. Already a modest 0.2%. Interestingly, other fields such children have also increased by these intersect and influence sales to schools and libraries that and design sandals), as fashion (think gladiator
landscape of n today’s rapidly changing online shopping, digital publishing and environment and the challenging retail booksellers, it appears facing bricks-and-mortar sales are bucking the children’s and YA book retail doom and gloom. to the boom attributed be can this Part of Thanks to the J K in children’s and YA books. saga, Suzanne ‘Twilight’ the juggernaut, Rowling and Jeff Kinney’s Collin’s ‘The Hunger Games’ sector of the market ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’, this spots in an otherwise is one of the few bright tough publishing climate. a reputation as YA in particular has gained embraces new ideas being ‘cutting edge’ as it including romance, and crosses multiple genres,
2011 Term 3
R 10 Junior BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHE
g children’s author
4 News 6 On tour 15 Reviews 19 Get smart
Intro para goes here.
Andrew Wrathall asks educational publishers about their preparations for the Australian Curriculum
Oz’s latest spectacular entertainment, with Circus Australia. Steampowered currently touring taking notice. are And it’s not just the kids that and publisher David In the LA Times, YA author go on the subway and Levithan observed: ‘You reading Twilight. see 40-year-old stockbrokers five years ago.’ That wouldn’t have happened booksellers Australian several Anecdotally, in children’s books. have reported strong sales in June, Magazine Sydney Central Speaking to owner Derek Dryden Better Read Than Dead have only dropped observed that ‘sales as a whole year … and in some a couple per cent this books, sales are areas, particularly children’s actually increasing’. of Lindfield Scott Whitmont, owner
people have ‘In the past year or two themselves, but tightened the belts for the belts for they haven’t tightened hildren’ their children and grandc —Scott Whitmont
Backed by a major marketing campaign including a retail and a consumer competition
10 The kids are alright
reading a story There’s nothing worse than lesson. that comes off as a history
Meet writer, reviewer, ex-bookseller, schools speaker and children’s book festival director Bec Kavanagh
as an almost Enlisting in the war is portrayed tied to a characters, positive thing for the and mateship. sense of purpose, identity readers What do you think contemporary in this is portrayed will make of the way war do you hope they’ll novel, and what messages take away from it? have ventured far A lot of young men wouldn’t so going off to in up from the towns they grew to see the world. war was an adventure, a chance war would be the that believed Many of them desperate to be a part over soon enough and were went to war, the men of it. Like most men who over the hills to in the story who are marching and brutality horror enlist have little idea of the battlefields. When I that wait for them on the kind-hearted men, it was writing about these and imagine them was hard not to fast-forward they might feel as in the trenches, imagine how story a write to guts idea has enough signal to attack. Thousands with the they waited for the to drum up support my little on the battlefields and went on recruiting marches If I feel it has, I’ll get to work a car and of men were slaughtered to enlist, they’d pass around. way hired their On senseless nature Tamworth, war. the to the flew for I to remember they’d encourage research. the same route while we need and give through other towns and along the Oxley Highway, also need to stop a moment to slip into line and drove Gunnedah to Port of war, we the men who lived there Dan and Eddie took, from worse than reading them thanks. join them. Macquarie. There’s nothing lesson so Penguin in that comes off as a history Were Two is published by landscape that a story research when I’m When We What is it about the Australian page 18. I’m always mindful of the has a heart, October. See review, it? I think every good story inspired you to write about writing. when lot a around Maybe it’s because I moved a fascination with I was younger, but I have there that idea loved? the love you read and small country towns. I dotted around the What was the last book by Patrick McCabe (Picador). are people everywhere, Butcher Boy a living and getting I recently picked up The It is an absolutely country, knocking out sentence I’ve ever read. never ceases to Possibly the best first my top five. by. The Australian landscape way it colours thundered its way into the harrowing book that has inspire me. I love the sun, the same spot can the landscape and the way
9 How did I get here?
From Australia’s best-sellin
special then hide the to find that something to teenagers, I’m research. Whenever I talk they know about our always struck by how little for teenagers to know past. I think it’s important it helps us make what we’ve come from because sense of who we are today.
authentic. became a character Your characters feel very We Were Two the landscape people or events? story inspired by real-life itself. type of story came in When the idea of a road-trip you have any tossing around who you were writing, did to me, I spent a lot of time itself. I coupled When or otherwise—in I might take on the journey other stories—Australian someone young, a boy together someone old and the back of your mind? when I’m about the possibilities. think about other stories to not and a girl, and I wondered try I on two brothers, were certainly deep in the writing but there In the end, though, I decided I suspect this stems knee stage—The Shiralee, Dan and Eddie Wheelan. a few around at that early and Louise. from a family of boys from the fact that I am Mice and Men, even Thelma up feeling safe, as Of myself. I remember growing to had we for that rule of research do you undertake if there was this unwritten for the men in What kind think this look after each other. Inspiration to enlist came historical fiction, and why do you hills the over march teenagers? the story who is important for marches that started genre done before the from the many recruiting bulk of my research is during World War I. The as something up around the country stage. My story idea starts toss it back from the front writing like to sit with it for a while, When news started coming endured, there small and I of the possibilities. think and head my about the casualties our soldiers in the numbers joining around as to whether was a dramatic decrease in while I’ll make a decision from country towns After a up at home. As a result, men
Meaghan Dew profiles three children’s book centres with picture-book galleries
The Golden Door (Scholastic, September) is the first book in Emily Rodda’s new fantasy series, ‘The Three Doors’. Our reviewer Claire Hingston describes it as ‘a fantasy story with all the classic elements; there are helpless (and, pleasingly, helpful, clever and occasionally crotchety) maidens, terrible creatures, deceptively magical objects and awful villains that meet satisfying ends’. Read Hingston’s full review on page 18.
Meredith Tate interviews Robert Newton about his historical novel When We Were Two
Term 3 NE FOR BOOKS
7 Of boys and battlefields
Andrea Hanke previews this year’s stocking-fillers
Judith Ridge asks: why is no-one publishing classic children’s novels anymore?
—Andrea Hanke, editor
on the cover
6 Whither the children’s book?
There’s much to cover before we return in 2012 to do it all again. Sarina Gale explores sales trends in children’s and YA bookselling, including the effects of ebooks and online shopping on bricks-and-mortar stores; Judith Ridge considers the decline of the junior novel; and Meaghan Dew profiles three children’s book centres with substantial picture-book galleries. Looking ahead, we preview some of the big kids’ books for Christmas, and even further ahead, we ask educational publishers to tell us how they’re responding to the new Australian Curriculum. Our reviewers consider 13 new books and one new series (about unicorn riders!), we interview local author Robert Newton and touring author Maggie Stiefvater, and Bec Kavanagh tells us how she established her own children’s book festival. Happy Reading!
It’s tactile! It’s a book!
Cousins, Walker Books, October) Maisy’s Snuggle Book (Lucy Much an you snuggle up to an ebook? asleep with, while Guess How and snuggly enough to fall is a bedtime story that’s soft Jeram, Walker Books, September) (Sam McBratney & Anita are, and just I Love You Pop-up Edition Big Nutbrown’s Hare’s arms to show you just how long embraces old-school technology Nutbrown Hare. how high he can swing Little
features Welcome to the final issue of Junior for the year.
The believes a new edition of McKay’s Children’s Bookshop beautifully illustrated by Robert ilary Adams from Lesley L Baum, Walker Books), recommends the ‘clever and Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Frank and for young adults she on a dangerous Ingpen, will do well this Christmas, ‘two young teenagers embark (Maile Meloy, Text), in which intriguing’ The Apothecary and valuable book from falling into the wrong hands’. the picture strong Christmas sales for mission to protect a precious She’s Read Than Dead is predicting to Wanted: The Perfect Pet. Amelia Vahtrick from Better Robertson, Penguin)—a follow-up overtones. book The Perfect Present (Fiona magical adventure with Narnian (Colin Meloy, Penguin): ‘a 10+.’ also excited about Wildwood for book make this a gorgeous gift The beautiful illustrations
a hit with Wombles are likely to be Sendak, Dr Seuss and The ew releases from Maurice too—this Christmas. Wild kids—and possibly their parents October) is the first picture book from Where the birthday party. Bumble-Ardy (HarperCollins, the story of a pig’s first-ever previously Sendak in 30 years, and tells October) contains seven Things Are author Maurice Lost Stories (HarperCollins, (Bloomsbury, The Bippolo Seed and Other edition of The Wombles Dr Seuss, and a new giftbook stories. unpublished stories from audiobook recording of several an and illustrations November) featuries all-new
has written a four-book fantasy author Andrew McGahan iles Franklin Award-winning with The Coming of the Whirlpool: on the high seas, beginning series for young adults, set takes up the Ship Kings 1 (A&U, November). Shelter (Orion, September) thriller writer Harlan Coben. of series that Also crossing over to YA is character Myron, in the first nephew of Coben’s much-loved story of Micky Bolitar, the ‘The Mortal between new releases in promises plenty of cliffhangers. Clare has been alternating Prince (Walker Books, Clockwork Bestselling author Cassandra Devices’. steampunk prequel, ‘Infernal London. Instruments’ series and its in the latter series, set in Victorian-era Falkner. Assault, the first book Brian December) is the latest book author Kiwi from world is to a new series is set in the year 2030. The Sci-fi fans can look forward series (Walker Books, November), teenagers to infiltrate enemy lines. of in the ‘Recon Team Angel’ 1: The alien race and it’s up to a group trilogy. The Extraordinaires at war with a small-statured and has also embarked on a new readers to aspiring escapologist Fantasy author Michael Pryor introduces December) Kipling. House, and the real-life author Rudyard Extinction Gambit (Random include an albino heroine a cast of conjurer Kingsley, whose sidekicks her latest series—which features ‘Vampire Academy’, has set the two—in a human boarding Richelle Mead, author of who keep the peace between vampires, humans and ‘alchemists’,Book 1: Blood Doesn’t Lie, Razorbill, September). Maggie author (Bloodlines Falls’ of Mercy school in Palm Springs fantasy novel from ‘The Wolves up publicity for her new The Scorpio Races is a stand-alone race. Stiefvater will be whipping horse cliff-top daring a Stiefvater about on page 6). of in September (see interview with the worldwide release book when she tours Australia comes to an end on 9 November the tree—if his fans can hold under And finally, a Very Big Series which should wrap up nicely Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance, out that long.
R 12 Junior BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHE
Young Adult M
between October) is a collaboration Two Front Teeth (Scholastic, loveable, gapll I Want for Christmas is My and Craig Smith about a Donkey duo Katz Cowley recording Don Gardner and Wonky picture book includes a CD sing along with gusto—the toothed monkey. Read and written is another sing-along story by Craig Smith. Creagh, Lothian, October) Wombat Went a’ Walking (Lachlan which includes a musical score on the back page. Aussie songs a Courting’, Spencer has collected his to the tune of ‘Frog Went long-time Playschool-er Don Aussie Songs Australian entertainer and Me a Koala Bear & Other Call Don’t Pike. Mile by Michelle Strut’) is published by Five into a picture book, illustrated Glider’ and the ‘Fairy Penguin (including the catchy ‘Sh-Sh-Sugar a CD recording. with Eric Puybaret, Press in November, and comes is The Night before Christmas (Clement C Moore & the famous poem Also back by popular demand includes a CD recording of that book picture a October), Koala Books, reprinted in sung by Peter, Paul and Mary.
12 FOR BOOKS FROM K TO
5/07/11 4:06 PM
(ie stripping out the you remove the ‘SM effect’ books, which blitzed sales of Stephenie Meyer on its own is up the charts in 2010), YA fiction 10% this year.
changing the wa Technology is undoubtedly They read boo teens find out about books. other readers an blogs and communicate with such as Twitt authors through social media and a host of oth Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube forums, an networking sites and community media as social savvy authors are now using buzz and inter literary megaphone to generate in their work. Looking for Ala John Green, author of pos and Paper Towns (both HarperCollins), no his forthcoming a YouTube reading from in April 2012), wh The Fault in Our Stars (out d book to num propelled the yet-to-be-release and Noble ba one on Amazon and Barnes helps that Green on pre-orders. It certainly but it is this d 1.1 million Twitter followers, that resonates yourself marketing approach authenticity crave who today’s young adults, a very crowded sp a sense of individuality in taken off o Another trend that has books to film is the cross-pollination of news is annou television series. When the a film—and that a YA book is to become recent examp Hunger Games is a great with comm this—online traffic explodes and rumou casting recommendations This cre actors, directors and locations. gives te and community around a book, sense of ownership. are increa However, while children book inform turning to the web for translate to this doesn’t necessarily
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Black Dog Books becomes Walker Books imprint Walker Books Australia announced in June that it has acquired the Black Dogs Books imprint. Black Dog Books is now an imprint of Walker Books, and former Black Dog Books publishing director Maryanne Ballantyne has been appointed to the role of publisher. Former Black Dog Books managing director Andrew Kelly has taken on new roles as publisher and director of Red Dog Books, which publishes adult titles, and Wild Dog Books, which publishes photographic nonfiction for young readers. Sarah Foster, MD and publisher of Walker Books Australia, said in a statement: ‘I have long admired what Andrew Kelly and Maryann Ballantyne have achieved with the Black Dog Books list—it will be a real addition to our local publishing offering and we are all really looking forward to working with Maryann.’ Ballantyne said: ‘This is a great fit for Black Dog. Andrew and I are so pleased that the Black Dog Books imprint and Black Dog’s authors and illustrators will be able to go from strength to strength under the Walker umbrella.’ Black Dog titles in Australia and New Zealand are now distributed by TL Distribution, while Dennis Jones and Associates has taken over distribution of Red Dog Books.
Scholastic to cease funding Dromkeen Scholastic will cease funding the Dromkeen Foundation at the end of 2012, ending 30 years of financial support for the foundation. Director of the Dromkeen Foundation John Oldmeadow told Junior that he is currently ‘exploring strategic relationships’ with a number of organisations including libraries and universities to secure the funding needed to maintain the foundation, which includes the National Centre for Picture Book Art. Oldmeadow also said that the change in funding will mean moving the Dromkeen collection and programs from the Dromkeen homestead, located at Riddells Creek in Victoria. Dromkeen will continue to offer educational programs from its current site until the end of 2012. Oldmeadow said he wished to thank Scholastic Australia chairman Ken Jolly and CEO and chairman of Scholastic worldwide Dick Robinson for their personal commitment to funding the foundation.
Tan wins Locus Award
School library budgets decreasing
Term 3 2011
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Term 3 2011
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A survey conducted by Softlink has found that the budgets for libraries in Australian schools are decreasing. Of the 1200 Australian schools surveyed, four out of five school libraries indicated that their budgets had either remained the same or decreased from the year before, with 16% of respondents experiencing more than a 10% budget decrease.
Shaun Tan has won the best artist category in the 2011 Locus Awards for science-fiction and fantasy writing, presented by the Locus Science Fiction Foundation in the US. Tan was one of five artists to be nominated in the category, which recognises an artist’s entire body of work. Tan was also shortlisted for the art book prize for The Bird King and Other Sketches (Windy Hollow Books).
There Was an Old Sailor wins Crystal Kite Award There Was an Old Sailor by Claire Saxby and Cassandra Allen (Walker Books) has won the Australian and New Zealand division of this year’s Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards, presented by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
2011 Carnegie, Greenaway Medals winners announced Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (Walker Books) has won this year’s CILIP Carnegie Award, presented for outstanding writing in children’s books. The CILIP Kate Greenaway Award for distinguished illustration in children’s books has been awarded to FArTHER by Grahame Baker-Smith (Hardie Grant Egmont).
Pantera Press sponsors children’s literacy program
The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) advised in June that former speaker’s agency Show & Tell Promotions has designed a ‘repayment schedule’ to repay authors for unpaid speaking events. The ASA said that the repayment schedule ‘comprises an offer to pay half the fees owing immediately or for the total balance owing to be payable over two years’. The ASA expressed disappointment at the news, saying the schedule ‘does not fully compensate the authors for their total loss and damage and places the authors at the risk over the two-year period of continuing as unsecured creditors’.
Pantera Press announced in June that it is financially supporting the establishment of a new children’s literacy program in Claymore, NSW, as part of a three-year national partnership with The Smith Family. The Claymore program is part of the Let’s Read initiative, which was established by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in partnership with The Smith Family in 2005, and now exists in more than 90 communities across the country. The program provides local families with information on how to read to babies and toddlers, a suggested book list, a DVD demonstrating ways to read to children and an age-appropriate book.
Children’s authors, illustrator launch Literature Live!
Gecko Press partners with Lerner to enter North American markets
Five children’s book creators have joined together to form Literature Live!, an organisation which provides virtual creative writing and illustration workshops to Australian schools through video conferencing and interactive whiteboards. The team behind the venture, which was officially launched last year, are authors Susanne Gervay, Jeni Mawter, Laurine Croasdale and Aleesah Darlison, and illustrator Nina Rycroft. This year the group will present a series of shows as part of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week in August. The shows will be screened in schools across New South Wales through the NSW Department of Education’s Connected Classrooms program.
Independent New Zealand publisher Gecko Press has announced a new partnership with Lerner Publishing Services, the book distribution division of Lerner Publishing Group, which will involve the children’s publisher releasing 10-12 titles in Canada and the US each year. Gecko Press publisher Julia Marshall told Junior that the new distribution arrangement will involve the release of both frontlist and backlist titles. Marshall said that while the partnership is a distribution arrangement, Lerner will be involved in the selection of titles to be released.
Clockwise from left: Rebecca Stead signs autographs, a performance of The Book Thief, a full house at Reading Matters Conference 2011
Reading Matters Conference 2011
FROM K TO
M AJ O R� AD VE RT IS IN G �C AM PA IG N
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Term 1 THE MAGAZINE
THE MAGAZINE FOR BOOKS
THE MAGAZINE FOR BOOKS FROM K TO 12
The city divided. His school blown up. His friend taken…
A�SPECTACULAR�THRILLER� THAT�WILL�KEEP�READERS� UP�AT�NIGHTS
... … 1 girl ... 3 brothers ...… 4 daring young heroesquest treachery ... transformations ... and a deadly out now www.panterapress.com
A boy crosses the bridge.
ISABEL DIAZ IS BORN TO RUN... BUT CAN SHE EVER WIN?
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FROM K TO 12
The State Library of Victoria’s Centre for Youth Literature (CYL) hosted the biennial Reading Matters conference over 25-28 May, bringing together 400 authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, publishers and booksellers. Guests included YA superstars Cassandra Clare, Melina Marchetta and Markus Zusak, rising talents Rebecca Stead and Lucy Christopher, and local authors Karen Healey, Leanne Hall and Indigenous graphic novelist Brenton McKenna. Highlights included the Wednesday night keynote on favourite children’s books, an action-packed students’ day on Thursday featuring workshops and presentations, and the conference proper on Friday and Saturday. Conference panels covered monsters in literature, female heroes, boys and mateship, fame and the pressures of success, and more. There were also author talks, signings and readings, short performances based on The Book Thief, When You Reach Me and Clockwork Angel, and a fascinating session on book cover design featuring a Gruen Transfer-style pitch session. This was the first Reading Matters conference for new CYL program coordinator Adele Walsh, and the success of the event is a tribute to the hard work of her and her team. The next Reading Matters conference will be held in 2013. —Heath Graham, learning programs officer of online education, State Library of Victoria
Show & Tell Promotions to repay authors for speaking events
On tour / opinion
Meet the author ...
book? T What would you put on a shelf-talker for your book? ‘Would you like to bawl your eyes out? Try these bittersweet, supernatural love stories by Maggie Stiefvater.’ What is the silliest question you’ve ever been asked on a book tour? ‘If you were a cookie, what kind of cookie would you be?’ And the most profound? A single mother in high school asked me how she could manage her time so that she could finish school, raise her child, and become successful at a creative career. What are you reading right now? König der Marionetten by Joanne Owen (Loewe). Slowly. In German. I realise it was originally written in English, but I didn’t know that when I started. What was your favourite book of the past year? Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (Vintage). I can’t believe that I found this zombie book so warm and fuzzy.
What was the defining book of your childhood? I see that this is a trick question, asking a book lover to pick a single book. Really, anything by Diana Wynne Jones, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, Madeline L’Engle, C S Lewis ...
Which is your favourite bookstore? There’s an independent bookstore in Virginia, Fountain Bookstore, that I always go to. It is all narrow shelves and cobblestone streets and helpful bookstore staff suddenly popping round corners. Who would you like to challenge to a literary spat? Spat seems so unspecific. Are we talking mud wrestling or duel? Because if so, Shakespeare and J K Rowling, respectively. Because if I’m going to go down, it might as well be with the best. Facebook or Twitter? Both, please and thank you. Also Livejournal, while you’re at it. If I were a literary character I’d be … ... the girl playing the bagpipes in Chapter Three. In 50 years’ time books will be … ... available as gorgeous hardcovers that are pieces of art, more impressive physically than they’ve been for a hundred years, and also as ebooks for under 10 bucks. Stories will never die. Maggie Stiefvater is the author of Forever (Scholastic). She is touring Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane in September.
he near-demise of the children’s novel, in this country at least, has been a concern of mine for more than a decade. YA gets vastly more media attention, and increasingly, when a children’s novel does get attention, it’s suddenly claimed as being young adult. It happened to Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. It happened to Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me. These are both literary, meta-textual, substantial books full of ideas and complex plotting. They’re books that need time to read and consider and digest. Books that take, as a frustrated parent of a frustrated 12-year-old reader once said to me, longer than an afternoon to read. But complex doesn’t necessarily mean older. It seems to me that the huge emphasis on writing and publishing books for ‘reluctant readers’ over the past 20 years has pushed the classic children’s novel so far out of our collective consciousness that we don’t even recognise it when we see it any more. If it’s longer than 200 pages, if it has serious ideas and challenging language, it has to be for young adults—almost seemingly regardless of the age of the protagonists and the thematic interests of the story. And it bothers me enormously that the gifted, devoted, passionate child reader doesn’t seem worthy of our attention any more. It’s not just that YA is considered sexy and dark and dangerous. It’s more that the categories—children’s and young adult—seem to have been pushed so far apart, in awards in particular, that there seems to be this huge gaping space into which the children’s novel has fallen. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about go to the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s website and compare the shortlists for the Book of the Year Award. Look at the books shortlisted in the 1960s, 70s and even 80s for the 8- to 12-year-old reader compared to the (renamed) Younger Readers shortlists of the past 10-15 years. Note how these days there are only one or two really substantial novels for this age group, with the rest of the shortlist made up of short, illustrated chapter books, typically for children under eight, and even picture books. I’m not saying these books should not have been selected as books of merit. I just look at these shortlists and wonder: where are all the great novels for children? Isn’t anyone writing them any more? Or is no-one publishing them any more? Over the years I’ve heard different views on this from Australian publishers. A decade ago they were telling me they weren’t publishing them because it wasn’t economical to publish literary fiction for that age. More recently they tell me the problem is that writing a really great children’s novel is incredibly difficult, and they just don’t see the quality manuscripts. I can’t imagine the level of gift it would take to write a Hazel Green novel or a Tom’s Midnight Garden, but it’s still an odd argument. Has it somehow become harder to write a great children’s novel, or have writers turned their attention to other audiences? What I am sure is true is that there are vastly more books published for young readers now, and indeed more books for different kinds (and abilities) of young readers than ever before, and that’s a great thing. So maybe it’s just that there are more books vying for incrementally less and less attention. But I can’t help but think that there are fewer contemporary children’s novels of the type I grew up devouring, and that’s emphatically not a good thing. This is an edited version of a post originally published on the Misrule blog www.misrule.com.au on 15 June 2011. The Misrule Blog is kept by children’s and youth literature specialist Judith Ridge.
Two brothers fall in with a group of would-be soldiers in Robert Newton’s historical novel. Meredith Tate spoke to the author. Your characters feel very authentic. Is the story inspired by real-life people or events? When the idea of a road-trip type of story came to me, I spent a lot of time tossing around who I might take on the journey itself. I coupled together someone old and someone young, a boy and a girl, and I wondered about the possibilities. In the end, though, I decided on two brothers, Dan and Eddie Wheelan. I suspect this stems from the fact that I am from a family of boys myself. I remember growing up feeling safe, as if there was this unwritten rule that we had to look after each other. Inspiration for the men in the story who march over the hills to enlist came from the many recruiting marches that started up around the country during World War I. When news started coming back from the front about the casualties our soldiers endured, there was a dramatic decrease in the numbers joining up at home. As a result, men from country towns
When you were writing, did you have any other stories—Australian or otherwise—in the back of your mind? I try not to think about other stories when I’m knee deep in the writing but there were certainly a few around at that early stage—The Shiralee, Of Mice and Men, even Thelma and Louise. What kind of research do you undertake for historical fiction, and why do you think this genre is important for teenagers? The bulk of my research is done before the writing stage. My story idea starts as something small and I like to sit with it for a while, toss it around in my head and think of the possibilities. After a while I’ll make a decision as to whether
There’s nothing worse than reading a story that comes off as a history lesson.
went on recruiting marches to drum up support for the war. On their way to enlist, they’d pass through other towns and they’d encourage the men who lived there to slip into line and join them.
Enlisting in the war is portrayed as an almost positive thing for the characters, tied to a sense of purpose, identity and mateship. What do you think contemporary readers will make of the way war is portrayed in this novel, and what messages do you hope they’ll take away from it? A lot of young men wouldn’t have ventured far from the towns they grew up in so going off to war was an adventure, a chance to see the world. Many of them believed that the war would be over soon enough and were desperate to be a part of it. Like most men who went to war, the men in the story who are marching over the hills to enlist have little idea of the horror and brutality that wait for them on the battlefields. When I was writing about these kind-hearted men, it was hard not to fast-forward and imagine them in the trenches, imagine how they might feel as they waited for the signal to attack. Thousands of men were slaughtered on the battlefields and while we need to remember the senseless nature of war, we also need to stop a moment and give them thanks. When We Were Two is published by Penguin in October. See review, page 18.
I recently picked up The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe (Picador). Possibly the best first sentence I’ve ever read. It is an absolutely harrowing book that has thundered its way into my top five.
What was the last book you read and loved?
What is it about the Australian landscape that inspired you to write about it? Maybe it’s because I moved around a lot when I was younger, but I have a fascination with small country towns. I love the idea that there are people everywhere, dotted around the country, knocking out a living and getting by. The Australian landscape never ceases to inspire me. I love the sun, the way it colours the landscape and the way the same spot can
my little idea has enough guts to write a story around. If I feel it has, I’ll get to work with the research. I flew to Tamworth, hired a car and drove along the Oxley Highway, the same route Dan and Eddie took, from Gunnedah to Port Macquarie. There’s nothing worse than reading a story that comes off as a history lesson so I’m always mindful of the research when I’m writing. I think every good story has a heart,
something that drives it and makes it special. The secret to writing good historical fiction is to find that something special then hide the research. Whenever I talk to teenagers, I’m always struck by how little they know about our past. I think it’s important for teenagers to know what we’ve come from because it helps us make sense of who we are today.
look different in the space of an hour. In When We Were Two the landscape became a character in itself.
Drawing inspiration Shaun Tan has raised the profile of children’s book illustration enormously over the past year, but he’s not the only one. Meaghan Dew profiles three children’s book centres that are spreading the word—and the pictures. Books Illustrated Books Illustrated was conceived in 1988 by art teacher and illustrator Ann James and teacher-librarian Ann Haddon and inspired, in a way, by Terry Denton. When ‘the two Anns’ saw Denton’s original artwork, stored under his bed at the time, they decided to create a place where children’s book illustrators could display and sell their work instead of having it gather dust. Today, Books Illustrated is far more than just the gallery they first envisaged. The centre now operates out of a showroom in bayside Melbourne, open by appointment, where Australian picture books, illustrations and limited-edition prints are available for purchase (these are also available via the centre’s website). However, the main focus is the promotion of Australian picture books and their creators, and support for creators is provided though a consultation service, including folio appraisals. The centre also tours exhibitions to regional galleries around Australia and internationally, promoting the importance of picture books as widely as possible. For the past several years, Books Illustrated has created the muchadmired exhibitions of Australian illustrations at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. ‘The role of illustrators is better understood now than 20 years ago,’ says James. ‘There’s a huge interest in picture books and other forms of visual narrative now, and I think that’s due to a whole range of people who are passionate about picture books pushing the understanding of illustration.’ Reflecting on the role of the centre she adds, ‘I think what we were trying to do was make people aware of illustrators as the co-authors of picture books, and we’re quite proud of the role we’ve played in that.’
Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre
Opening Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage in NSW’s Blue Mountains was a way for Margaret Hamilton to share her passion for picture books and the people who work to create them. Previous careers as a librarian, a bookseller and a publisher under her own imprint has given Hamilton more than just experience—the collection of picture books and original artwork she has accumulated is now one of Pinerolo’s biggest features. Along with the permanent exhibition of Hamilton’s collection, which covers over five decades of Australian children’s illustration, Pinerolo also displays and sells work from illustrators such as Stephen Michael King, Dee Huxley and Patricia Mullins. Open by appointment, the cottage is regularly visited by teachers, librarians, booksellers, authors, illustrators and children. Several times a year Hamilton runs one-day courses on creating children’s picture books, with illustrator Dee Huxley. She also offers talks on a variety of topics, most recently on ‘The Miraculous Journey from Manuscript to Finished Picture Book’. In the future, Hamilton would like to see both established and aspiring illustrators and authors make more use of Pinerolo. ‘I’d like more people to be aware that there is self-contained accommodation here. Writers could use it as a retreat to finish a work and people researching children’s picture books would find the reference collection and my large library of Australian picture books a valuable resource.’
Established in 1993 in the restored Fremantle Prison Hospital, the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre boasts a busy roster of exhibitions and events that explore the creative process behind the children’s picture book. ‘I was very determined in setting up the centre to showcase how fabulous picture books are created,’ says director Lesley Reece, who describes the centre as ‘absolutely unique in the world’. Each year the centre stages 16 exhibitions of Australian picture books (four per school term), comprising original artwork, preliminary sketches,
storyboards, reference materials, draft manuscripts and correspondence between the publisher, author and illustrator. Workshops are held in conjunction with each exhibition for students from pre-primary to tertiary, as well as professional development seminars for teachers, librarians, writers and illustrators, while the general public has the opportunity to view the exhibitions, meet local and interstate authors and illustrators and purchase books and artwork during open days. Another feature of the centre is its archive of 26 travelling exhibitions, containing artwork from some of Australia’s best-loved illustrators, which regularly travel to locations across Australia, including remote Indigenous communities. The centre also runs an ‘authors and illustrators in residence’ program, hosts evening events with writers and illustrators, and much more.
Books Illustrated 14-30 September: Exhibition: Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing (including a talk by Tan on 21 September), Australian Academy of Design, Melbourne September to October: Exhibition: Digital Prints from Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing, Port Fairy Festival, Victoria 7 October to 26 November: Exhibition: Alison Lester’s ‘Kids Antarctic Art Project’, McAleese Gallery, Mackay, Queensland www.booksillustrated.com.au
Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre Term 4 exhibitions: Tick Tock Tick Tock What’s Up Croc? (Kim Michelle Toft); The Last Viking (Norman Jorgensen & James Foley); Christmas Wombat (Jackie French & Bruce Whatley); and The Legend of Moondyne Joe (Mark Greenwood & Frané Lessac) Term 4 author/illustrator in residence: Jan Ormerod www.fclc.com.au
Pinerolo September: A visit from New Zealand author Raymond Huber 22 October: Course: ‘Creating Picture Books’ with Dee Huxley (pictured above) November: First anniversary open day www.pinerolo.com.au
have been a reader all my life. As an only child, living just far enough out of the city that my close friends weren’t within walking distance, characters from my favourite books became my early companions. This love affair with books didn’t always run smoothly—we had a brief falling out when I reached high school and wanted to expand my reading repertoire, but didn’t know where to start. I stopped reading all together until a good friend introduced me to John Irving. I
did I get here? Writer, reviewer, ex-bookseller, schools speaker and children’s book festival director Bec Kavanagh reveals the life of a freelancer is never dull.
had regular customers who would come in to the store to spend the afternoon talking about the books we loved or would love. My next job was at The Little Bookroom, which gave me my first real taste of the incredible community surrounding books for children and young adults. I left the security of my bookshop counter to take the wheel of their little van, heading out on the road to visit schools, libraries and book clubs. It was more than just driving. Students came to know me and respect my taste
The freedom of working for myself is incredible, although I’m still wrapping my head around running my own work as a business and not a side project.
in fiction. I was called on to create reading lists and talk about further reading based on popular titles. And I rekindled my own love of youngadult fiction. I was also studying arts management at the time and had the idea to combine my study with my job. I decided to launch a new book festival where readers and creators of YA fiction could share their love of the genre, demystifying the act of writing. And so A Thousand Words Festival was born. The Little Bookroom funded and supported the project in its infant year. We held the one-
day event at the Abbotsford Convent, bringing together over 100 enthusiastic readers with authors such as Sally Rippin, Andrew Daddo, Michael Pryor, Lili Wilkinson and many more. After the festival I decided to leave the security of full-time work to become a freelance writer and reviewer and devote more time and energy to the running of A Thousand Words. Almost immediately I picked up a part-time job at Booked Out speakers agency, which still gives me the freedom of having most of my days to write and work on A Thousand Words. It also gave me the opportunity to continue speaking to schools and book clubs as an actual speaker through the agency. There is never a dull moment for a freelancer. On top of planning the next festival, I am constantly managing the stream of deadlines for reviews, teacher notes and other articles, as well as working on my own short stories. I have also developed creative partnerships with youth literary organisations such as Express Media and have just taken on a volunteer position with the Pigeons project as their online communications coordinator. The freedom of working for myself is incredible, although I’m still wrapping my head around running a business rather than a side project. And while I spend a lot of time working from home, I always feel part of a community and the strength of that is what motivates me to get up and work rather than staying in my pyjamas and watching TV.
A Thousand Words Festival 2011
What I’m reading
I’m currently reading Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (Faber), because I was swept off my feet recently by A Fine Balance. I’ve also just finished The Comet Box by Adrian Stirling (Penguin).
After launching in 2009, A Thousand Words Festival returns in 2011 with an even bigger program—to be held over 23-24 September at Melbourne’s Northcote Town Hall. The lauch of the schools program will run on Friday 23 September, with a focus on encouraging reluctant readers. The day will close with a professional development session to help teachers cultivate a love of reading in the classroom. On Saturday, writers, readers and lovers of young-adult fiction can come together to celebrate and discuss their craft and learn more about the creators behind the books they love. For more information on the event or ticketing go to the website www.athousandwordsfestival.com.au or email Bec Kavanagh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
was hooked again, and eventually enrolled in an arts degree, studying a combination of creative writing and theatre. It was around this time that I gave in to the pull of the city. I packed my belongings into my tiny car and set off for Melbourne, where I immediately began working at Borders. Before long I moved to Mary Martin Books, managing their shop on Burke Street. Up until this point, I didn’t think there was any difference between general retail and bookselling, but working behind that tiny counter piled high with books felt like home. I
w o H
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kids are alright
Recent statistics indicate local sales of children’s and YA titles are not dropping the way sales of novels for adults are. Sarina Gale reports.
n today’s rapidly changing landscape of digital publishing and online shopping, and the challenging retail environment facing bricks-and-mortar booksellers, it appears children’s and YA book sales are bucking the retail doom and gloom. Part of this can be attributed to the boom in children’s and YA books. Thanks to the J K Rowling juggernaut, the ‘Twilight’ saga, Suzanne Collin’s ‘The Hunger Games’ and Jeff Kinney’s ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’, this sector of the market is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise tough publishing climate. YA in particular has gained a reputation as being ‘cutting edge’ as it embraces new ideas and crosses multiple genres, including romance,
entertainment, with Circus Oz’s latest spectacular Steampowered currently touring Australia. And it’s not just the kids that are taking notice. In the LA Times, YA author and publisher David Levithan observed: ‘You go on the subway and see 40-year-old stockbrokers reading Twilight. That wouldn’t have happened five years ago.’ Anecdotally, several Australian booksellers have reported strong sales in children’s books. Speaking to Central Sydney Magazine in June, Better Read Than Dead owner Derek Dryden observed that ‘sales as a whole have only dropped a couple per cent this year … and in some areas, particularly children’s books, sales are actually increasing’. Scott Whitmont, owner of Lindfield
‘In the past year or two people have tightened the belts for themselves, but they haven’t tightened the belts for their children and grandchildren’ —Scott Whitmont
historical fiction, sci-fi, mystery, fantasy, realism and humour. The three biggest trends, which have become fully fledged genres in their own right, are steampunk, mythology and postapocalyptic novels. Already we can see how these intersect and influence other fields such as fashion (think gladiator sandals), design and
Bookshop and Lindfield Children’s Bookshop in Sydney, also reports ‘buoyant’ sales in his children’s bookshop. ‘In the past year or two people have tightened the belts for themselves, but they haven’t tightened the belts for their children and grandchildren,’ he says, adding that sales to schools and libraries have also
helped children’s booksellers weather a difficult retail period. Deb Force, owner of The Sun and the Younger Sun bookshop in Melbourne, says the children’s shop remains strong for a number of reasons. ‘Parents still want to read to their kids. It’s the friends and grandparents as well who come in wanting recommendations. Being in an urban inner city location, I’m seeing a slight backlash against technology and a real support for local business,’ she says. Leanne Hall, children’s specialist at Readings in Melbourne, also believes that ‘people want to talk face-to-face’, in particular when it comes to the children’s section. ‘They want to know content, what’s suitable and especially with regulars, it’s having a history of knowing what they’ve already read and liked, of being attuned to their tastes as a reader,’ she says, adding ‘I have not had one parent ask me what ereader to buy for their kids’. Many general and specialty children’s booksellers have also had considerable success drawing the younger crowds with in-store events such as storytime, teen bookclubs and author visits and signings. Other initiatives include movie tie-in screenings and information nights for parents, teachers and librarians. Not everything can be digitised, which is where a sense of community, connection and nostalgia comes into play. While the anecdotes are encouraging, how do the stats bear up? According to Nielsen BookScan, children’s (including YA) books in Australia have contracted in value by 3.2% in the first half of 2011, compared to the same period last year. This compares to a 10% contraction in adult fiction, while adult nonfiction has increased by a modest 0.2%. Interestingly, when
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Intro para goes here. From the specialists
Title goes here To help you (and your customers) make the most of your children’s book section, two new children’s reading guides are on offer this year. The annual Kids’ Reading Guide is designed for booksellers to distribute free to their customers and is published in early November (available in print or digital—orders through the Australian Booksellers Association by mid-September). It focuses on books released during the past year, which are chosen and reviewed by children’s specialist booksellers, and also includes some reviews by children. A third edition of the Specialist Children’s Booksellers Group’s Don’t Leave Childhood Without... is also now available (last published in 2004). Booksellers can order this guide through Pages & Pages Bookshop in Sydney to sell to their customers for $6.95, with proceeds being donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Rather than focussing on new releases, the guide features classics and long-term children’s favourites, divided into various age groups and categories such as interactive books, nursery rhymes, Australian classics, poetry, and ‘reading outside the square’.
you remove the ‘SM effect’ (ie stripping out the sales of Stephenie Meyer books, which blitzed the charts in 2010), YA fiction on its own is up 10% this year.
Sarina Gale is a bookseller with The Sun Bookshop in Yarraville, Melbourne
tablets to the same degree that adults do—yet. No doubt this will change in time, possibly after this coming Christmas.’ Personally, having spoken to booksellers as well as many parents in-store, I would observe that the reluctance to spend money on the current ereaders, which are likely to become obsolete as newer versions are released, is a big driving force. The availability of content is also a concern, but far and away the largest worry from parents was that the ereaders will break, be lost or be stolen. For younger readers, the dearth of illustrated ebooks, and devices capable of displaying these titles successfully, is also a significant concern. Jess Speight from The Little Bookroom believes ebooks will struggle to compete with certain titles. ‘Board books, picture books and the touch-and-feel series remain immensely popular. You can’t get that through a computer screen,’ she says. The New York Times recently reported that as ereaders have become cheaper and more plentiful in the US, ‘they have gone mass market, reaching consumers across age and demographic groups, and enticing some members of the younger generation to pick them up for the first time’. Ereaders might yet become must-have devices and a status possession like the iPod, in Australia, but that future is not yet certain. The one thing that remains constant, and that we can all take heart in, is that kids still want to read stories.
Technology is undoubtedly changing the way teens find out about books. They read book blogs and communicate with other readers and authors through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube and a host of other networking sites and community forums, and savvy authors are now using social media as a literary megaphone to generate buzz and interest in their work. John Green, author of Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns (both HarperCollins), posted a YouTube reading from his forthcoming novel, The Fault in Our Stars (out in April 2012), which propelled the yet-to-be-released book to number one on Amazon and Barnes and Noble based on pre-orders. It certainly helps that Green has 1.1 million Twitter followers, but it is this do-ityourself marketing approach that resonates with today’s young adults, who crave authenticity and a sense of individuality in a very crowded space. Another trend that has taken off online is the cross-pollination of books to film and television series. When the news is announced that a YA book is to become a film—and The Hunger Games is a great recent example of this—online traffic explodes with comments, casting recommendations and rumours of actors, directors and locations. This creates a community around a book, and gives teens a sense of ownership. However, while children are increasingly turning to the web for book information, this doesn’t necessarily translate to online
purchasing—after all, kids don’t usually control the family credit cards. Suzie Wilson, owner of Riverbend Books in Brisbane, observes: ‘It’s still the parents who wield the wallet, particularly when younger kids are involved. And children still love coming into the store. They are sensory and tactile. They want to hold, touch, feel, and see the real book.’ And in the case of high-profile new releases, Hall from Readings observes that ‘kids want the book in their hand. They don’t want to wait, and so on release day they want to be part of the excitement.’ And then, of course, there are ebooks. While there has been an enormous growth in ebooks, particularly in the past 12 months, it appears YA and children’s books still represent a much smaller fraction of sales than overall digital sales. In the US, where the ebooks market is more mature, children’s ebooks still represent a much smaller percentage of the overall market. AAP reported in its industry sales statistics for September 2010, compiled from some of the biggest publishers, that adult ebooks comprised around 10% of all adult trade sales, while children’s ebooks comprised only around 1.5% of all children’s trade sales. Andrew McDonald, online manager at Readings, which partnered with Booki.sh earlier this year to offer an ebook platform to its customers, reports that the take-up of children’s ebooks has been slow. ‘We’ve got quite a few thousand ebooks available now—including lots of children’s and young-adult books, but so far sales for these have not been as enthusiastic as sales of adult titles. Broadly speaking, this probably has something to do with kids and teenagers not using and/or buying ebooks as much because they don’t own ereaders and
All I want for Christmas ...
Whether they’ve been naughty or nice, no child should be without a new book this Christmas. Andrea Hanke rounds up some of the best.
Picture Books W
ith new titles from much-loved illustrators Graeme Base, Roland Harvey, Colin Thompson, Freya Blackwood and Bruce Whatley, it’s shaping up to be a promising Christmas for picture books. But first, a new talent. Sydney illustrator Andrew Yeo has collaborated with Margaret Wild on his first picture book, Vampyre (Walker Books), a spine-tingling story of a young boy-vampyre’s search for belonging, which will appeal to fans of Shaun Tan’s picture books. Another title that should prove popular is Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood’s latest collaboration, Look, A Book!, (Little Hare, October), which celebrates the magic of the printed book, as well as the picture-book edition of Anh Do’s bestselling memoir The Happiest Refugee, retitled The Little Refugee (A&U, November). The Bicycle (Colin Thompson, HarperCollins, September) is a collection of drawings from some of the world’s best illustrators, including Quentin Blake and Shaun Tan, celebrating the humble bicycle. And to make you feel warm and fuzzy, all royalties will be donated to the charity Save the Children. Graeme Base travels back in time to Ancient Egypt in The Jewel Fish of Karnak (Viking, October) while Roland Harvey takes his readers on road trip out west in All the Way to W.A. (A&U, November). Bruce Whatley has been particularly busy, experimenting with 3D-animation illustrations in a Toy Story-inspired picture-book Tin Toys (Random House, October). He’s also collaborated with Jackie French on a diary of a wombat at Christmas time (Christmas Wombat, Angus & Robertson, October). Also look out for Emma Quay’s Rudie Nudie, which celebrates ‘those nudie moments between bath and bedtime’ (HarperCollins, November); The Boy Who Ate Himself (Colin Cardwell & Tony Lowe, Random House, December), a delightfully absurd story of a boy who takes drastic measures when he is denied junk food; and for slightly older (6-plus) readers, Andy Jones’ The Fart-ionary (HarperCollins, November) is packed with jokes, trivia and cartoons on the most hilarious subject in the world.
Once more with feeling
ll I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth (Scholastic, October) is a collaboration between Don Gardner and Wonky Donkey duo Katz Cowley and Craig Smith about a loveable, gaptoothed monkey. Read and sing along with gusto—the picture book includes a CD recording by Craig Smith. Wombat Went a’ Walking (Lachlan Creagh, Lothian, October) is another sing-along story written to the tune of ‘Frog Went a Courting’, which includes a musical score on the back page. Australian entertainer and long-time Playschool-er Don Spencer has collected his Aussie songs into a picture book, illustrated by Michelle Pike. Don’t Call Me a Koala Bear & Other Aussie Songs (including the catchy ‘Sh-Sh-Sugar Glider’ and the ‘Fairy Penguin Strut’) is published by Five Mile Press in November, and comes with a CD recording. Also back by popular demand is The Night before Christmas (Clement C Moore & Eric Puybaret, Koala Books, reprinted in October), a picture book that includes a CD recording of the famous poem sung by Peter, Paul and Mary.
Back by popular demand
ew releases from Maurice Sendak, Dr Seuss and The Wombles are likely to be a hit with kids—and possibly their parents too—this Christmas. Bumble-Ardy (HarperCollins, October) is the first picture book from Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak in 30 years, and tells the story of a pig’s first-ever birthday party. The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (HarperCollins, October) contains seven previously unpublished stories from Dr Seuss, and a new giftbook edition of The Wombles (Bloomsbury, November) featuries all-new illustrations and an audiobook recording of several stories.
It’s tactile! It’s a book!
an you snuggle up to an ebook? Maisy’s Snuggle Book (Lucy Cousins, Walker Books, October) is a bedtime story that’s soft and snuggly enough to fall asleep with, while Guess How Much I Love You Pop-up Edition (Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram, Walker Books, September) embraces old-school technology to show you just how long Big Nutbrown’s Hare’s arms are, and just how high he can swing Little Nutbrown Hare.
ndy Griffiths and Terry Denton kick off a new series in September with The 13-Storey Treehouse (Pan), set in (you guessed it) a 13-storey treehouse, complete with a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a library full of comics, and much more. It’s priced at $9.99 to make it an even more attractive sell to booksellers. Fans of Lauren Child’s ‘Clarice Bean’ books will be excited to hear that Clarice’s favourite literary detective, Ruby Redfort, is getting her own series. Ruby Redfort: Look into My Eyes (HarperCollins, October) goes back to Ruby’s beginnings as a 13-year-old special agent with a knack for code-cracking. John Flanagan’s ‘Ranger’s Apprentice’ series is drawing to a close with The Lost Stories (Random House), book 11 of a proposed 12, due out in October. However, fans can look forward to Flanagan’s new series; Brotherband 1: The Outcasts (Random House, November) is set in the fantasy world where boys must compete in teams to become warriors. Creating plenty of buzz is a new book from Brian Selznick. Wonderstruck (Scholastic, October) tells the stories of two children living 50 years apart: one is told in words, the other entirely in pictures. Also out in time for Christmas are Jeff Kenney’s latest Wimpy Kid 6: Cabin Fever (Penguin, November), Derek Landy’s genre-mashing Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer (HarperCollins, September); and from local author Lian Tanner, The Keepers Book Two: City of Lies (A&U, October). Lonely Planet’s bestselling The Travel Book has been adapted for kids. Not for Parents: The Travel Book (October) ‘includes essential information such as the capital city and lingo of every country in the world, along with the epic events, hideous histories, food and wildlife that make each destination unique’. Take a peek into the life of Bindi Irwin (A Year in the Life of Bindi, Random House, November); search for Santa, Where’s Wally?-style (Where’s Santa, Louis Shea, Scholastic, October); and get creative in the kitchen with Christmas Cooking for Kids (Fiona Hammond, The Five Mile Press, September).
Young Readers A
Young Adult M
ilary Adams from Lesley McKay’s Children’s Bookshop believes a new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Frank L Baum, Walker Books), beautifully illustrated by Robert Ingpen, will do well this Christmas, and for young adults she recommends the ‘clever and intriguing’ The Apothecary (Maile Meloy, Text), in which ‘two young teenagers embark on a dangerous mission to protect a precious and valuable book from falling into the wrong hands’. Amelia Vahtrick from Better Read Than Dead is predicting strong Christmas sales for the picture book The Perfect Present (Fiona Robertson, Penguin)—a follow-up to Wanted: The Perfect Pet. She’s also excited about Wildwood (Colin Meloy, Penguin): ‘a magical adventure with Narnian overtones. The beautiful illustrations make this a gorgeous gift book for 10+.’
iles Franklin Award-winning author Andrew McGahan has written a four-book fantasy series for young adults, set on the high seas, beginning with The Coming of the Whirlpool: Ship Kings 1 (A&U, November). Also crossing over to YA is thriller writer Harlan Coben. Shelter (Orion, September) takes up the story of Micky Bolitar, the nephew of Coben’s much-loved character Myron, in the first of series that promises plenty of cliffhangers. Bestselling author Cassandra Clare has been alternating between new releases in ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series and its steampunk prequel, ‘Infernal Devices’. Clockwork Prince (Walker Books, December) is the latest book in the latter series, set in Victorian-era London. Sci-fi fans can look forward to a new series from Kiwi author Brian Falkner. Assault, the first book in the ‘Recon Team Angel’ series (Walker Books, November), is set in the year 2030. The world is at war with a small-statured alien race and it’s up to a group of teenagers to infiltrate enemy lines. Fantasy author Michael Pryor has also embarked on a new trilogy. The Extraordinaires 1: The Extinction Gambit (Random House, December) introduces readers to aspiring escapologist and conjurer Kingsley, whose sidekicks include an albino heroine and the real-life author Rudyard Kipling. Richelle Mead, author of ‘Vampire Academy’, has set her latest series—which features a cast of vampires, humans and ‘alchemists’, who keep the peace between the two—in a human boarding school in Palm Springs (Bloodlines Book 1: Blood Doesn’t Lie, Razorbill, September). The Scorpio Races is a stand-alone fantasy novel from ‘The Wolves of Mercy Falls’ author Maggie Stiefvater about a daring cliff-top horse race. Stiefvater will be whipping up publicity for her new book when she tours Australia in September (see interview on page 6). And finally, a Very Big Series comes to an end on 9 November with the worldwide release of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance, which should wrap up nicely under the tree—if his fans can hold out that long.
Schools are slowly shedding state-based curricula for a standardised Australian Curriculum, presenting a number of challenges for educational publishers. Andrew Wrathall reports.
n December last year, the federal government’s Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) released the ‘final’ Australian Curriculum for maths, English, history and science. ACARA has since announced further changes, which should be finalised by October 2011. Meanwhile, the curriculum for geography, languages and the arts should be finalised by 2012, while the curriculum for additional subjects will be written over the next two years. Some states, as well as some schools, are implementing the new curriculum faster than others, says David O’Brien, convener of the Australian Publishers Association’s (APA) Schools Education Publishers Committee and general manager of schools at Cengage Learning. Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT are implementing the new curriculum in 2012 and currently sourcing new textbooks. Victoria is trialling the curriculum in 2012 with the aim of implementing it in 2013, although some Victorian schools are adopting the curriculum before the official announcement. In NSW, the Board of Studies is currently incorporating the Australian Curriculum into its own state curriculum and expects schools to be ready for 2013, though some schools may trial it in 2012. South Australia and Western Australia are expected to phase in the curriculum over 2012-13. Queensland, South Australia and some schools in Western Australia have the added challenge of moving Year 7 students from the primary to the secondary school system in order to fall in line with the other states.
The texts they are a-changin’
‘Publishers are producing varied resources for the new Australian Curriculum and many have released texts and digital support already for maths, English, science and history,’ says Peter Saffin, general manager of secondary publishing at Macmillan Education, adding that publishers have also been running workshops to promote their new products to teachers. ‘For publishers it is full steam ahead in getting our published resources into the market right now.’ Cambridge University Press (CUP) has also been working overtime in order to produce resources for early-adopting schools, says Linda Kowarzik, publishing director of education at CUP. The publisher was the first to distribute maths textbooks integrating the new curriculum, with staff working until Christmas Eve in order to have printed copies available for earlyadopting schools in Term 1 of 2011.
While the industry has a long history of publishing to new curricula, the Australian Curriculum presents a number of challenges for publishers, says O’Brien. These include the convergence of so many states at the same time, the acknowledgement from ACARA that there will still be further changes and the increasing demand in digital publishing. ‘All contribute to the industry being under more pressure than usual,’ he says, adding that this pressure is felt by teachers as well. ‘It is worth pausing and acknowledging that the bulk of the authorship of curriculum-based content is from practicing teachers who work full-time as it is.’ At this stage, sales for Australian Curriculum texts remain negligible. According to O’Brien: ‘Up to June 2011, there has been little to no impact on the market in aggregate as few new Australia Curriculum resources have been available and schools are generally wary to implement the new curriculum for the 2011 school year whilst the curriculum was in draft form only. ‘The impact for the 2012 school year will depend on how many schools “walk the talk” and actually commence implementation in 2012 and commit to published resources ahead of an “absolutely” final Australia Curriculum. ‘For those schools who will wait mostly for 2013 implementation, the publishing industry in aggregate may experience some sale reductions as schools “keep their hands in their pockets” until the following year. This will be a schoolby-school, state-by-state and subject-by-subject decision—making it difficult to generalise too much,’ says O’Brien. Alongside the curriculum changes, educational publishers are also seeing an increasing demand for more digital resources. The industry will be watching with interest ‘the extent that schools seek to acquire interactive ebooks per student per year rather than the currently more common hybrid print-plusdigital product offered by most publishers,’ says O’Brien. ‘Printed textbooks are still the core product for most schools’, says Saffin, ‘although nearly all of these schools that take a printed text expect a digital version and digital support with the textbook.’ ‘A small number of schools are going fully digital, but these are still the minority. To cater for this change, which will increase over the next few years, publishers must have a digital version that can be sold independently of the printed text,’ says Saffin.
Above: This is a caption that fills the space and descibes the pics.
Intro para goes here.
Junior BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER’s star rating system gives readers an indication of the quality of the publication being reviewed in its context. Our reviewers have been asked to use the following guidelines to rate the book:
HHH HHH HHH HH H
an exceptional book of the very highest quality, regardless of genre an excellent book good book, within its genre a passable example of the genre caution advised
Look, A Book!
Each issue, Junior asks booksellers, teachers, librarians and others in the publishing industry to review books in advance of their publication. All books reviewed are Australian. ebooks (simultaneous release unless otherwise specified)
Among our reviewers’ top picks this issue are:
Once There Was a Boy
The Golden Door
Goliath: Leviathan Book 3
‘This is a ripping yarn—highly recommended’—Heath Graham on Goliath Scott Westerfeld’s finale scores five stars, while several picture books also come highly recommended in this issue.
When We Were Two HHH H
Reviews: Picture books (September to November)
September to November Children's Title goes here
A Bus Called Heaven (Bob Graham, Walker Books, $27.95 hb, ISBN 9781406334197, October) H H H with busy street scenes and lots of detail for the little ones to pore over. A community rallying together to save something precious is a simple message that preschoolers can understand. Stella too is a good choice in heroine; normally hiding in the shadows of her mother, she has a chance to come out and shine, as her desire to save the bus enables her to overcome her shyness. Thuy On is a Melbourne reviewer and manuscript assessor
The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon (Aaron Blabey, Viking, $29.95 hb, ISBN 9780670074747, October) H H H H children that they can overcome their fears—emphasising the importance of keeping calm and communicating. Blabey’s pastel-sketched illustrations have a thrilling ghostly style reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s macabre ink drawings in The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Written in sing-along rhyming-verse, this picture book is great for children aged five and up, particularly those who are a little shy. Andrew Wrathall is publishing assistant for Bookseller+Publisher
Term 3 2011
The Ghost of Annabel Spoon is the story of a group of townspeople who are horrified by a miserable ghost-girl called Annabel Spoon. Out of their wits with fear, the people of the village of Twee become hysterical. But then a little boy called Herbert Kettle steps forward and calmly suggests they speak to Annabel. When the Mayor rebuffs his idea as utter madness, Herbert takes the task upon himself. He walks though the forest and up to Annabel’s house, all the while growing increasingly frightened. He enters and comes face-to-face with the ghost-girl. As it turns out, Annabel is simply sad from loneliness as everyone is too frightened to become her friend. Aaron Blabey, author of the CBCA award-winning Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley, has written a simple story that teaches
One day a clapped-out, abandoned old bus appears outside Stella’s house with a hand-painted sign on it saying ‘Heaven’. As forlorn as a beached whale, the bus attracts the curiosity of many bystanders but it is pale little Stella, ‘the colour of moonlight’, who decides to claim it with the help of her neighbours. The resourceful group push the bus into Stella’s front yard and clean, buff and paint it until Heaven is as good as new. It becomes a communal space for everyone to enjoy (to share stories, play games, just to meet up)—that is, until a tow truck arrives, threatening to take it away to the wreckers because it is ‘against regulations’. Bob Graham’s latest picture book is recommended for children age three and above. As usual, the writer/illustrator’s work is whimsical and sweet,
Reviews: Picture books (September to November)
The Jewel Fish of Karnak (Graeme Base, Viking, $29.95 hb, ISBN 9780670074679, October) Graeme Base’s latest picture book is a cautionary tale about avarice—with a puzzling, witty twist—in Ancient Egypt. It follows two thieves, Jackal and Ibis, on a quest to recover a magical Jewel Fish on behalf of the Cat Pharaoh. While stealing the treasure’s the easy part, heeding the Pharaoh’s warnings about taking care of the fish—and not stealing anything else—proves much harder. So when temptation gets the better of the greedy duo, and they end up losing the treasure in the Nile among a school of identical-looking fish, it’s up to the reader to uncover the right one. While the story plays second fiddle to the puzzle somewhat, its clever blend of hieroglyphics and code-cracking will enthral fans of Base’s similar books. The solution, which can only be found online
(unavailable at time of reviewing), shows that Base is keen to push the boundaries of the picture book form into the digital realm, but also raises questions about the ultimate life of a work ‘concluding’ in cyberspace. For the time being, though, there’s plenty to keep readers aged eight and up entertained—not least Base’s sumptuous, velvety illustrations, here brilliantly matched to the Egyptian theme. Meredith Tate is a freelance proofreader, editor and reviewer who has worked for a children’s publisher
Look, A Book! (Libby Gleeson, illus by Freya Blackwood, Little Hare, $24.95 hb, ISBN 9781921541803, October)
Look, A Book! celebrates the magic of the book. Among the decay of the outer suburbs, two children discover a book and it takes them on an extraordinary journey as their imagination transforms the landscape around them. They fly on a monster-sized softdrink bottle over forests of electricity poles; they ride on a duck’s back past huge shopping trolleys. The text extols the virtues of a book as an object to be cherished and protected. It may remind some readers of Lane Smith’s bestselling picture book, It’s a Book. However, unlike Smith’s book, this isn’t a reaction to the digital age but rather an emphasis on the importance of putting books in the hands of those children who rarely come across them. The children in the story live in an underprivileged community and
the book becomes a device which brings them together. The urban landscape is beautifully brought to life in Freya Blackwood’s rough-sketch illustrations, and the characters are depicted in a similar manner to previous collaborations between Blackwood and author Libby Gleeson, such as Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House. Look, A Book! will appeal to anyone who loves reading, and in particular to parents who wish to teach younger children the importance of the book. Andrew Wrathall is publishing assistant for Bookseller+Publisher
This book is really a vehicle for the illustrations, which, even though the story is set on an island, evoke the vastness of the Australian landscape, the colours, the tropical beaches and the sky, especially the spectacular sunsets. A boy lives alone on an ancient boat on a beach, so the illustrations portray vast landscapes inhabited by just one solitary figure. The sense of aloneness is almost palpable. Until a girl appears. Their first encounter occurs while the boy is picking and eating sapotes, a delicious tropical fruit that tastes like chocolate. What follows is a tender story of the power of love and friendship in the face of temptation, and a subsequent broken heart. The language is beautiful and touching. ‘This is my heart,’ the girl says, ‘and because I broke yours, I’m giving it to
you.’ A note from the author states: ‘I wrote Once to show kids that boys have feelings too (just like girls) and that sometimes those feelings can get hurt and that’s okay; especially when you’re willing to let your friends help when you’re feeling sad.’ The sentiment is beautifully achieved. This is an impressive picture book that extends to an amazing 72 pages, which gives the illustrator scope for his wonderful double-page spreads and the sense of place portrayed. It is highly recommended for sensitive readers of all ages. Margaret Hamilton is a former children’s book publisher. She provides freelance publishing services and runs Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage
Once There was a Boy (Dub Leffler, Magabala Books, $24.95 hb, ISBN 9781921248375, September)
The Perfect Present (Fiona Roberton, Viking, $24.95 hb, ISBN 9780670074761, October) It’s exciting when a book comes along that tells an original story in a very engaging way, that has innovative illustrations and endearing characters. This is just such a book. As well as those attributes, this simple picture book is divided into chapters, which serve to break the story up into days and give a realistic sense of tension, leading to a satisfying conclusion. The story begins with Henry being too excited to sleep because tomorrow is his birthday: a scenario that will immediately capture the young reader. Henry guesses the presents he’ll receive in alphabetical order—a nice touch. Henry’s best friend Spot (a duck) has planned the perfect present but his presentation is usurped by a big box from Henry’s grandparents, which contains a very special surprise. Henry is besotted and
totally neglects his best friend. So Spot sadly leaves home. The dangers he encounters threaten to engulf him until at last he is rescued by Henry and the perfect present. The simple illustrations contain extra reading in the labels and conversation, and the split-action pages move the story along and provide extra detail and interest. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book in every way; a touching and heart-warming story about loyalty and friendship that is highly recommended for beginner readers. Margaret Hamilton is a former children’s book publisher. She provides freelance publishing services and runs Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage
Sixteen-year-old Grace Bussell is a real-life Australian heroine. On 1 December 1876, Grace and stockman Sam Isaacs performed a daring rescue, saving the lives of around 50 people from the sinking steamer SS Georgette off the coast of Western Australia. Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck is an evocative picture-book retelling of this incredible event, which gives young readers a fresh look at an inspiring young woman. Impressively, author Michelle Gillespie wrote this book when she was only 19. It’s a simple, straightforward narrative, and the story is beautifully illustrated by Sonia Martinez, whose drawings provide a real sense of the Australian outback. Pitched at lower primary-age children, this book should make an excellent resource for teachers and librarians trying to
encourage young readers to learn more about Australia’s history. Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck is featured as part of a month-long exhibition at the State Library of Western Australia. (The story is also told in Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea. See the review below.) Courtney Nicholas is a blogger and bookseller at TLC Books in Manly, Queensland
Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea (Stephanie Owen Reeder, National Library of Australia, $29.95 hb, ISBN 9780642277435, November) H H H Grace Bussell was a teenage girl living on her family property in 1876. When the steamer Georgette ran aground, Grace became an integral part of the efforts to rescue the passengers and crew of the stricken ship, riding her horse into the surf to save people. This book tells the stories of Grace and the other rescuers, as well as survivors of the Georgette. This book tells a true historical story through an imagined narrative, supplementing the story with information boxes on the period and a wealth of illustrations, some from the period and others by the author. The book includes a glossary, background reading, full references for the illustrations, and an epilogue outlining the lives of the characters after the incident. Stephanie Owen Reeder’s writing style is clear
and engaging, and this style of book can often bring an historical incident to life in a way the simple facts cannot. This is recommended for upper primary school readers with an interest in history and real-life heroism. (The story is also told in Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck. See the review above.) Heath Graham is an educator currently working at the State Library of Victoria
Evangeline, The Wish Keeper’s Helper (Maggie Alderson, Viking, $19.95 hb, ISBN 9780670075355, October) HH
about style (a nod to author Maggie Alderson’s background in fashion writing). This cross-dressing koala could have easily become a caricature but instead seems entirely plausible. While the language lends itself to being read out loud and readers will definitely sympathise with the protagonist, young readers may be perplexed by the barrage of information in this story. The book is pitched at children aged six and up. Fay Helfenbaum is a literature major and bookseller with an interest in children and young adult fiction
‘The Unicorn Riders’ series (Aleesah Darlison, illus by Jill Brailsford, Walker Books, $12.95 pb, October): Quinn’s Riddles (ISBN 9781921529979), Willow’s Challenge (ISBN 9781921529986), Krystal’s Choice (ISBN HHH 9781921529993) and Ellabeth’s Test (ISBN 9781921720000) the girls, each rider also has a different personality type that’s reflected on her uniform by a symbol. ‘The Unicorn Riders’ is pure escapism; fantasy-lite for young readers, with strange beasts and exciting quests to follow. The girls’ motto, ‘We ride as one’, underlines their commitment to work together when challenges confront them and hence reinforces the idea of friendship and teamwork. Though each book is a self-contained story, it’s best if they are read consecutively in a series.
Thuy On is a Melbourne reviewer and manuscript assessor
Marketed at girls in the eight-plus age bracket, this series will surely tempt those obsessed by horses, ponies or indeed unicorns. Illustrated by simple black-and-white line drawings, the novels centre on the adventures of a team of four young riders—Quinn, Willow, Krystal and Ellabeth—and their unicorns in the kingdom of Avamay. Here, at the behest of Queen Heart, the girls are responsible for protecting the regal domain against dark forces, including the machinations of evil Lord Valerian. Their missions are helped by the fact that each unicorn has a unique magical power radiating from its horn, whether it’s the ability to calm and heal, to enchant, to sense danger or to create light. To encourage readers to identify with
Evangeline, The Wish Keeper’s Helper opens strongly as the reader gets the bittersweet sense of a child moving from one toy to the next. After being increasingly ignored by her owner, Evangeline the elephant is finally taken to a mysterious place known as ‘Upstairs’, a sort of toy heaven where children’s wishes are granted. Once Upstairs, though, the story becomes weighed down by its own complexity. There is too much for a young reader to take in: the process of granting wishes, ‘un-wishes’, the evil Kybosh, Upstairs and Downstairs. No sooner is one aspect of wish-granting explained than another puzzle arises. The ‘dainty’ Evangeline is a sweet heroine and her friends are equally kind. However, it is Kylie the Koala who stands out, mixing Aussie slang with observations
Reviews: Picture books / Young readers (September to November)
Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck (Michelle Gillespie, illus by Sonia Martinez, Fremantle Press, $24.95 hb, ISBN HHH 9781921696008, October)
It is ‘skimmer season’ once again, and the ancient walled city of Weld is under nightly attack as the vicious winged beasts come over the wall to prey on animal and humans alike. The people of Weld are worried, so when the warden asks for male volunteers to journey beyond the wall to find and destroy the source of the skimmers, there are plenty of willing citizens. Too young to volunteer, Rye waits anxiously for the return of his heroic older brothers, but when they are both declared lost he realises that it is up to him to find them if there is to be any hope for Weld. This is a fantasy story with all the classic elements; there are helpless (and, pleasingly, helpful, clever and occasionally crotchety) maidens, terrible creatures, deceptively magical objects and awful villains that meet satisfying ends. While
the incorporation of all these elements has the potential to become predictable, and the character of Rye did remind this reader a little of Rowan (of Rin), Emily Rodda weaves the story effortlessly. The Golden Door is a solid start to what is sure to be a popular trilogy. For any readers eight years and older who enjoyed Rodda’s previous titles, or are simply partial to a richly created fantasy, this will not disappoint. Clare Hingston is a bookseller and librarian-in-training
Goliath: Leviathan Book 3 (Scott Westerfeld, illus by Keith Thompson, Viking, $29.95 hb, ISBN 9780670073054, HHH H October)
Alexandar, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, returns to the airship Leviathan, exemplar of Darwinist technology, a living craft 300 metres long. He leaves behind him the Ottoman revolution, but brings with him the perspicacious Loris Bovril, whose English seems to be improving. Alek feels his destiny is to bring peace to the world, and Leviathan’s new mission will introduce him to a potential ally—but can the ultimate weapon really bring peace? Meanwhile, his friend and crewmate Deryn’s secret life seems more precarious than ever: is it only a matter of time until she is found out as a girl, and what will become of her when she is? Mad scientists, media moguls and revolutionaries all enter the mix in this climactic story of a world war in a very different world.
This is the final volume of Scott Westerfeld’s steampunk/ biopunk alternate-history action-adventure trilogy, and it maintains the breakneck pace and wild inventiveness of Leviathan and Behemoth. Alek and Deryn are engaging leads, and Westerfeld’s world is a fascinating one, enriched by Keith Thompson’s illustrations. This is a ripping yarn—highly recommended, and compulsory reading for fans of the earlier volumes. Heath Graham is an educator currently working at the State Library of Victoria
The Key to Starveldt: The Rare Book 2 (Foz Meadows, Ford St, $19.95 pb, ISBN 9781921665257 October) Foz Meadows recently snuck into my reading pile with the first book in ‘The Rare’ series. I was intrigued. A group of teenagers who were in possession of varying powers, brought together on a quest by the vampire Solace, the rightful heir to the castle Starveldt. Amid the overwhelming number of vampire books that were (and still are) filling the shelves, this series came as a welcome surprise. Although Solace is a vampire, the teenagers are not, and Meadows considers the dynamics of their group where each member is marked by a particular difference. These dynamics are probed even further in the second book, as Solace hurtles towards her destiny. The majority of the book is spent in the Rookery, a safe haven for paranormals, misfits and others, and the vivid descriptions
of character and place are a delight to read. The reader is also given the opportunity to learn more of the complex back story. Foz Meadows seems to have hit her stride in the second book, and the characters, plot and setting that started out strong in her 2010 debut have found a steady rhythm, and will no doubt secure her readers’ interest in books to come. Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne-based writer and reviewer and an ex-bookseller
When We Were Two (Robert Newton, Penguin, $17.95 pb, ISBN 9780143566830, October) Reading Robert Newton’s latest historical novel for teens, I was often reminded of the popular Rolf Harris song, ‘Two Little Boys’. Here, in the context of World War I, Newton evokes similar sentiments surrounding mateship and protectiveness with his tale of two young, vulnerable brothers journeying across the dusty Australian landscape. Sick of his father’s abuse, 16-year-old Dan runs away in search of his mum, who abandoned him and his younger brother Eddie years earlier. Trudging through the bush, however, Dan realises he’s not alone—Eddie is following him—and he is left with little choice but to take him along. After much hardship on the road, the two fall in with a group of would-be soldiers, discovering a sense of direction and belonging they’d never experienced
before—until tragedy forces Dan to stand on his own two feet. With an underlying message about how running away isn’t enough, you need to know where you’re going, this richly crafted character piece has all the hallmarks of classic Australian literature. Blending fact with fiction, Newton explores issues around heroism, masculinity and national identity with tenderness and intelligence, making this an excellent resource for sparking an interest in local history among readers aged 12 and up. (See interview, page 7.) Meredith Tate is a freelance proofreader, editor and reviewer who has worked for a children’s publisher
Reviews: Young adult (September to November)
The Golden Door (Emily Rodda, Scholastic, $16.99 pb, ISBN 9781862919129, September)
* Kindergarten (K) and foundation year (F) refer to the two years prior to year 1.
Andrew Wrathall looks at some of the textbooks kids will be using under the new Australian Curriculum.
‘Bug Club: K-2 Literacy’ (Pearson) is a series of fiction, nonfiction and comic readers (featuring Star Wars and Wallace & Gromit characters). It also includes phonic fiction readers. For years 1-6, ‘Macmillan Lesson Essentials: Literature + CD’ (Katy Collis, Macmillan Education, September) features literacy lessons that can be adapted to any literary text, and ‘Focus on Literary Texts’ (Tanya Gibb, Macmillan Education, January 2012) teaches ‘literary elements and devices, language devices and grammar’ through a wide range of children’s books. For years 7-10, ‘English for the Australian Curriculum’ (Natalie Bellis et al, CUP) draws on the best in English teaching tools from around the country, ‘Pearson English’ (Emma Anderson et al, Pearson) features tasks that have been trialled to ensure they are ‘classroom ready’, and the workbook series ‘National English Skills’ (Sadler, Hayllar & Winter, Macmillan Education) is a skills-based course written by leading educational authors, which also comes in digital-only. Teachers will find a useful reference in Working Grammar (Sally Humphrey et al, Pearson), while ‘Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System’ (Irene Fountas & Gay Su Pinnell, Pearson), for years K-8, helps teachers to determine their students’ reading levels. Student reference materials include Look It Up! (Peter Forrestal, Cengage, November), The Complete Guide to English Usage for Australian Students (Margaret Ramsay, Cengage, November) and The New Paper Trails (ed by Robin Garden, CUP), a collection of short-short stories and activities designed for young adults (years 7-8).
For years 7-10, ‘Nelson iScience’ (Sandra Bishop et al, Cengage, November) integrates inquiry, human endeavour and understanding; ‘ScienceWorld’ (Peter Stannard, Ken Williamson, Macmillan Education) connects experiments to the real-world, with supporting workbooks, teacher resources, and digital resource by OneStopScience; ‘Science Essentials’ (Ken Williamson, Anne Garton, Macmillan Education) features theory, questions, activities and experiments that focus on real-life problems; and ‘Science Quest’ (Graeme Lofts et al, Jacaranda) encourages students to examine how they think, learn and understand.
Primary maths texts for the Australian Curriculum include ‘enVisionMATHS’ (Pearson, August) for years K-6, with visual learning strategies to connect known and new maths ideas; and ‘Australian Signpost Maths’ (Alan McSeveny et al, Pearson, December), which features flexible structure, cartoon characters and Interactive Whiteboard DVDs. For years F-6, ‘Primary Maths’ (Dianne Carr et al, CUP) encourages students to talk to others about their ideas, and ‘GO Maths ACE’ (Calvin Irons et al, ORIGO, January 2012) features teacher guides with tests and masters, student journal and mentals workbook. In ‘Macmillan Maths: Problem Solving Boxes’ (Peter Maher, Macmillan Education, September) for years 1-6, each box contains activities printed on individual cards and a CD. ‘Step It Up!’ (Louise Dahlin, Mathew Griffiths, Kevin Orchard, ORIGO, December) for years 2-6 includes worksheets, sticker pages and tips for students and parents, along with online answer keys for easy marking. Maths texts for years 7-10 include ‘Math Quest’ (Boucher et al, Jacaranda), with accompanying eBookPlus lessons and skill sheets. ‘Essential Mathematics’ (David Greenwood et al, CUP) for years 7-8 combines the learning sequences and teaching methods that worked well in the state curricula. And for years 5-10, look out for ‘ICE-EM Mathematics’ (Michael Evans et al, CUP), created by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute and written for students with a range of abilities, needs and levels of interest.
Term 3 2011
‘Nelson Connect with History Year 7’ (Vicki Greer et al, Cengage, November) teaches students about the ancient world, including the Mediterranean and ancient Asia, and is this first secondary text in this school series. For years 7-10, ‘Macmillan History’ (Cameron Paterson, Joanna Clyne et al, Macmillan Education, October) considers the significance of history to human experience and an understanding of people, events and culture, with digital resources by OneStopDigital; and ‘Pearson History’ (Penny Addison et al, Pearson) encourages ‘big picture’ thinking to make connections with society and cultures both past and present.