Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Festival Wrap

I did intend to write this post on Friday, to close our online literary festival as we all head off to enjoy the festive season.  However, marking the achievements of Nelson Mandela seemed more appropriate.

There's been a lot written about Mr Mandela over the last week but here's something that I think ties together so many good things for kids who like stories - an audio book of Nelson Mandela's Favourite African Folktales (Hachette Book Group, 2011).  There are some great readers (including Alan Rickman, better known as Professor Snape to many Harry Potter fans) and, at this time of year when we particularly think of those less fortunate than ourselves, it is important to note that proceeds of the book go to children in South Africa orphaned and impacted by HIV/AIDS.

See also The Big Five for more recommended books about African animals, including Madiba Magic, another book by Nelson Mandela and the books on apartheid-era South Africa recommended by South African teacher/librarians, Marj Brown and Gill Murdoch in this post, Prisoner 44664.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Nelson Mandela (1918 - 2013)

News just in that Nelson Mandela's death was announced at 10 pm last night, South African time.

Here, by way of tribute, is the piece I wrote on our visit to Robben Island in July and posted on Reading for Australia on Monday:  Prisoner 44664:  Master of his fate, Captain of his soul.  Former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser has also written a tribute in today's Canberra Times, Nelson Mandela: 'by far the greatest man'.

Children's version of Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom, abridged by Chris van Wyk (2010, Pan McMillan)

There is much to remember and honour about Mr Mandela.  I leave you with this quote from his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom:

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
(1995, Back Bay Books, first published in 1994 by Little Brown and Co)

Book Review: Ender's Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Tor Books, first published in 1985, revised edition 1991)

Rose, 14, Canberra

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Book Review - Wolf Brother

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver (Orion Children's Books, 2004)

Madeleine, 13, Cockermouth UK

Looking for a Good Book?

Some of the best books I've read have been recommended by keen readers, usually family and friends. So I asked our guest authors, all avid readers, to tell us the titles of books they enjoyed as children and of any books they've read recently which they'd recommend to other readers. Here are many of the titles (I may have missed a few so there's another reason for reading the guest posts as well!) recommended during November.

New York Public Library

Recently Read Book Recommendations

The Diviners by Libba Bray
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
the Little Fur series by Isabelle Carmody
Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Task Force – Recon Team Angel by Brian Falkner (Book 2- best to read Book 1, Assault first)
Ships in the Field by Suzanne Gervay
Isaac Campion by Janni Howker
Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt
A Very Unusual Pursuit by Catherine Jinks
City of Orphans by Catherine Jinks
Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Lucien by James Moloney (Book 3 of the Silvermay series – best to read Silvermay and Tamlyn first)
the Chaos Walking trilogy (starting with The Knife of Never Letting Go) by Patrick Ness
the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
Battle Bunny by Jon Sciescka and Matt Barnett
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
A Crock of Gold by James Stephens
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth E Wein

Childhood Favourites

the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series by Joan Aiken
Tim to the Lighthouse by Edward Ardizzone
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J M Barrie
The Land of Far Beyond by Enid Blyton
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
Take The Long Path by Joan De Hamel
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
Under The Mountain by Maurice Gee
Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Grimms Fairy Tales by the brothers Grimm
The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Narnia Chronicles by C S Lewis (especially The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Moomintroll books( especially Moomintroll Midwinter and A Comet in Moominland) by Tove Jansson
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner
The Flight of the Cassowary by John LeVert
The Librarian and the Robber by Margaret Mahy
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Treasure Island by R L Stevenson
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Doctor Who books

Favourite Authors

Enid Blyton
Susan Cooper
Roald Dahl
Justin D’Ath
Russell Hoban
Alan Garner
Ursula Le Guin
Margaret Mahy
Maurice Sendak

Books by Indigenous Authors

Demon Guards the School Yard by The Students of La Perouse Public School with Anita Heiss
Jali Boy by Ricky Macour
My Girragundji by Meme McDonald and Boori Monty Pryor
The Chainsaw File by Bruce Pascoe

Advanced Readers

The Mountains of my Life by Walter Bonatti
The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon
The Weight of the World and Afternoon of a Writer by Peter Handke
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg


(some favourite poems and recommended poets)

Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc
Matilda, who told Lies and was Burned to Death by Hilaire Belloc
The Bear on the Delhi Road by Earle Birney
Disobedience by A A Milne
The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

Janeen Brian
Sherryl Clark
Dr Seuss (Theodore Geisel)
Max Fatchen
Sheree Fitch
Dennis Lee
Margaret Mahy
Lorraine Marwood
Tony Mitton
Kenn Nesbitt
Jack Prelutsky
Michael Rosen

Books about Apartheid-era South Africa

92 Queen’s Road by Diane Case
Solomon's Story by Judy Froman
Ruby Red by Linzi Glass
Long walk to Lavender Street by Belinda Hollyer
Journey to Jo'burg by Beverley Naidoo
Soweto by Peter Magubane
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Blood Runner: The Long Race to Freedom by James Riordan
(abridged version of) Long Walk to Freedom by Chris van Wyk
Shirley, Goodness and Mercy by Chris van Wyk

Books about African Animals

The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony
The Last Rhinos by Lawrence Anthony
Jock of the Bushveld by Lesley Beake
Little Lion by Lesley Beake, illustrated by Erika Pal
African Animal Tales by Jay Heale
Madiba Magic: Nelson Mandela’s favourite stories for children
Stories of Africa by Gcina Mhlophe
Aesop's Fables by Beverley Naidoo
The Mantis and the Moon by Marguerite Poland
Killing for Profit by Julian Radymeyer
the White Giraffe series by Lauren St John
The Zebra's Stripes and other African Animals Tales by Dianne Stewart
Bush Zone series by Kate Ter-Morshuizen

Books to Films

the Artemis Fowl series by Eion Colfer (in production)
the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness (film development)
Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan, the second book in the Percy Jackson series (due for release in 2013)
Magyk, the first of the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage (in production)
Spud 2: The Madness Continues by John van de Ruit (released 2013)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (due for release 2013)

Audio Books

Our most recent author supporter is Miriam Margolyes, better known as Professor Sprout from the Harry Potter films to most children in this age group. Welcome Miriam!

Miriam has voiced a huge number of great books. Here are some I've selected (listed in no particular order) but do have a look at the full list of Miriam's audio books. It is a brilliant range of titles, perfect for long drives over the summer holidays:

Troubletwisters by Garth Nix and Sean Williams
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Selected Poems of the Brontes
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Broken Bridge by Philip Pullman
The Large Family by Jill Murphy
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
the Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy
Selected Poems of Christina Rossetti
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Roses from the Earth: biography of Anne Frank by Carol Ann Lee
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Some Recent Award-winners

The Terrible Suitcase by Emma Allen
Too Many Elephants in this House by Ursula Dubosarsky
Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French
Red by Libby Gleeson
The 26th Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
The Forgotten Pearl by Belinda Murrell
Fog a Dox by Bruce Pascoe
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Guest Authors' Book Lists

Wayne Mills, Good Books Not to be Missed!
Curtis Brown's Frankfurt Book Fair, 2013 catalogue
Curtis Brown's Melbourne International Film Festival, 2013 catalogue

If you've read this far and are still looking for a book, check out the books reviewed by kids on the left sidebar (and consider contributing your own reviews of books you'd recommend to others). Also see the links to books at 'Find Great Books' above the Kids' Book Reviews, also on the left sidebar. Or drop us a line - other readers may be able to recommend books for you if you tell us the types of books you like to read.

Happy Reading!

Book Review - A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Walker Books, 2011)

Madeleine, 13, Cockermouth UK

Book Review: The Best Christmas Present Ever

The Best Christmas Present Ever  by Sylvia Green (Scholastic Books, 2011)

Bethany, 9, Williamstown, South Australia

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

How to Find Posts that Interest You

The last guest post was published last Friday to complete this online literary festival -  36 posts altogether and 18 brilliant guest authors. That's a lot of good writing - which mention, discuss and feature lots of books, also raising lots of interesting ideas for us to think about and consider. 

To make it easier to find posts you find interesting, I've listed all the featured guest posts here with brief descriptions of the topics covered:

Kids' Lit Quiz

Wayne Mills, the founder and quizmaster of the Kids' Lit Quiz opened our festival on 1 November by welcoming both our guest authors and our international audience to this month-long reading adventure. Wayne also reviewed the 2013 Kids' Lit Quiz competition and previewed the 2014 competition.

A few weeks earlier, Nicole Deans,  the Australian national coordinator, detailed the 2014 Kids' Lit Quiz Australia competition and invited schools near Ipswich, Orange, Canberra and western Sydney to register their teams for the "sport of reading".  It's still not too late to join!  And it's easy to get involved - just contact Nicole at kidslitquizaustralia@gmail.com.  The Australian heats take place in February and March 2014.

The 2013 Kids' Lit Quiz world final, held in Durban South Africa in the first week of July was a wonderful occasion.  Have a look at the reports here and here.

Author Posts

Isobelle Carmody began our guest author series of posts with her aptly-titled photo essay, The Story Road. Accompanied by Jan Stolba's photographs, Isobelle takes readers on a writer's journey, where the transport and the destination may be known but the route is uncertain.

Meredith Costain shares her love of poetry with us in Playing with Words and introduced us to a number of poets and some of her favourite poems, including Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children, first published in 1907.  

How Scary is too Scary? As Clare Havens observes, dark themes and scary subjects have long been an integral part of children's literature. Where do you draw the line? Does a line need to be drawn?

Mark Carthew's Poetry Sucks! introduces some of the writing tools that poets use in their poetry and reminds us that the main thing that a good poem does is make the reader or listeners respond and think.

Sarah Davis provides a fascinating insight into the work of a book illustrator in Someone Else's Story.  

In The Magic Exists, Donna Hosie writes about her work as a Fan Consultant with Warner Bros and EA Games,  providing a different perspective on the publishing phenomenon that is the Harry Potter series of books.

Anita Heiss' My Top Ten Indigenous-authored Books reviews a diverse and beautifully illustrated selection of recently published picture books by Indigenous writers and illustrators.

A Reader's Story is an understated, elegant piece of writing by playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer, reminding us of the power of language and the importance of communication.

In Beyond Godzilla, Cristy Burne, introduces us to some fabulous Japanese monsters (and also explains the inspiring relevance of science and history).

Rod Clement reminds us why reading is everything in his entertaining and extremely visual short story, The Squid and the Whale.

In Twins, Sean Williams introduces the concept of d-mat, a cloning device that could change the world.  It seems like a good idea, doesn't it?!

Favourite Picture Books is Emma Allen's thought provoking reflection on the picture books she loved as a child.

Book Industry Posts

Erica Wagner's Mirrors and Windows was the first in our series of posts on the book publishing industry, intended to give our audience an introduction to various aspects of the book industry from the perspective of people who work with authors and books.

Erica says that "books at their best are mirrors and windows - as mirrors, reflecting ourselves back to ourselves, and as windows revealing different lives and cultures and ideas. This ability of books to facilitate self-knowledge as well as compassion and empathy is what keeps us all doing what we do."

In Supporting Creativity, Jacqui Dent tells about the services the Australian Society of Authors provides to advance and protect the interests of Australian writers and illustrators. 

Fiona Inglis outlines the work of a literary agent in The Business of Writing.  Fiona also recommends some fantastic books, many of which are recent award-winners.

A Thrilling Journey by Shelley Kenigsberg describes the work of book editors, how they "do the needful" to make authors' manuscripts the best they can be. (I wish I had an editor!)

In Working with Books, Jenny Stubbs tells us about her work as director of the StoryArts Festival Ipswich, a children's literature festival which is ENTIRELY FREE for children to attend!

And, throughout each of these posts, intended to promote discussion and provoke thought, are lots and lots of recommended books, authors, poets, illustrators and other creators for you to discover and explore in your continuing reading adventures.

Guest Posts: May 2013

There are also the guest posts from our May festival, some very good writing by more of our generous and talented guest authors.

Other Posts

From time to time, we write about subjects we think you might find interesting:

Friday Recaps:  written each Friday during the on-line literary festivals to sum up that week's activities and provide updates and news.  The last recap from the last festival can be found here.  See also the November 2013 Festival Wrap post, here.

Other topics you can read about (and find some recommended books):

Prisoner 44664: A visit to Robben Island in July 2013;
The Big Five: Photographs and book recommendations about iconic African animals;
Movies from Books: Information about recent films being made from popular books;
On John Steinbeck, Gratitude and Dedications.

Happy reading, everyone!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Book Review - Life on the Refrigerator Door

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers (2007)

by Madeleine, 13, Cockermouth, UK

Book Review - The Declaration

The Declaration by Gemma Malley (Bloomsbury USA, 2007)

by Anelisa, 11, Durban, South Africa

Monday, December 02, 2013

Prisoner 44664 :

Master of his fate. Captain of his soul.

Looking back to Cape Town from the boat heading to Robben Island

One of the highlights of our recent trip to South Africa was a visit to Robben Island, the former prison, now a museum, some 7 kilometres off the coast of Cape Town. A prison since the 17th century, its most famous prisoner was, of course, Nelson Mandela who was the 446th man to be incarcerated at Robben Island in 1964.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Working with Books by Jenny Stubbs

If you're a reader, chances are that you are also interested in meeting your favourite authors and find out more about the processes involved in writing and illustrating. I know I always did! And if you like reading now, you may also want to work with books in the future – whether it’s as an author, illustrator, publisher, editor or – as in my case – children’s literature festival organiser.

Through my job with the StoryArts Festival Ipswich, I get to meet some of my literary heroes and learn more about book craft at each Festival. We've just held our 10th Festival and have grown and learned with each one.  The StoryArts Festival Ipswich is for people like you and me, who love reading and who work – or want to work – with books.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thrilling Journey by Shelley Kenigsberg

It's a thrilling journey — the author–editor relationship.

You’re working with an editor? Great. Having an editor can mean an interesting (even exciting) collaboration is on its way. A journey with a professional who can help a writer make their story the best it can be.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Favourite Picture Books by Emma Allen

It’s interesting – when you are first getting to know someone they often ask, “What are your favourite books?”

published by Scholastic, 2013

When you learn about a person’s favourite books, it can reveal things about them: how they think, what they like, the problems they face, how they see the world, what they like about the world and what they don’t.  So when people ask me what my favourite books were as a child, I am excited to think on the topic because I get to learn about my childhood self: what I was like and what made me feel.

When I was growing up, I loved many books. Here are four of my favourites:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Twins by Sean Williams

Some of you reading this will be twins.

Most will be fraternal twins. A few of you will be identical twins. You might even be mirror twins--identical siblings who are the mirror images of the other. Around three in every thousand births is a set of twins, so whatever kind of twin you are, you’re incredibly special.

I’m not a twin (I’ve asked my mum a dozen times so I’m pretty sure) but I’ve spent a lot of time writing about them.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Squid and the Whale by Rod Clement

Truth is,  I was supposed to have written something last week but due to unruly behaviour of one of our pets I was unable to get to the computer.

A couple of years ago my daughter, who was addicted to stories of mermaids and underwater cities at the time, requested a Giant squid for her birthday.  When I asked about this down at the pet shop, I was told they had sold out the day before but they did have one Colossal squid out the back.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Recap: Week Three

Week Three!  Where has November gone?!

Only one more week of our online literary festival, one more week of great writing from our wonderfully talented guest authors.  Of course, you can always do as I like to do and reread the posts from time time, discovering new bits to enjoy with each reading...like this week's guest posts.

Book Review - When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books (Random House), 2009)

Madeleine, 13, Cockermouth, UK

Book Review - Jump

Jump by Sean Williams (Allen and Unwin, 2013)

Nick, 12, Canberra

Book Review - The Winter Knights

The Winter Knights (The Edge Chronicles) by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (Doubleday, 2005)

by Benedict, 13, Durban, South Africa

Book Review - Outcast

Outcast, Book Four of Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver (Orion Children's Books, 2007)

 Aphiwe, 13, Durban, South Africa

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Business of Writing by Fiona Inglis

Writing can be a lonely business.

I frequently hear writers tell me how difficult it is to find time, inclination, focus, space and inspiration to write.  Many writers work from home, which I imagine can be tricky – there is always a load of washing to be done (the forecast said possible showers), the study floor could do with a vacuum (how much better to work in a clean room), a coffee with a friend (could provide some dialogue to help get over writer’s block)…

2013 KOALA Award, The 26-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

I also hear often that handing over a new piece of work can be agonising. Is it working? How do I know if I’m the only one who’s read it? What will my wife/sister/best friend/teenage son think of it? Will they think it’s about them? Will they say it’s good just because they love me?

This is where a literary agent can come in.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Beyond Godzilla...by Cristy Burne

or why I love science, history and blood-sucking monsters. 

What if I told you that late at night, after you’re tucked up in bed, a frog-like mutant sneaks into your bathroom and licks it till it’s clean?

What if I told you that your umbrella will one day sprout hair on its handle and an eye on its head, and hop up and down your hallway blowing raspberries?

What if I warned you that a tiny snail can grow large enough to crush you to death, or that mermaids harbour vampiric tendencies or that eating fruit is horribly dangerous for your health?

I didn’t invent any of these monsters. They’re all creatures from Japanese mythology. Just as European myths have dragons and fairies and werewolves and vampires, Japanese myths have… well, Japanese myths have some of the craziest, most creative, most dangerous, most hilarious monsters I’ve ever come across.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Reader's Story by Finegan Kruckemeyer

Before I was a writer, I was a reader, and thought that words and stories were things for taking in, instead of sending out.  I ate up stories as fast as I could find them, and enjoyed rainy days as much as sunny ones because of this.  Which was good, because I grew up in the south of Ireland, and there were a lot of rainy days.

The author as a young boy

Then at age eight, my family and I flew halfway around the world to Australia, and started a new life here. There was a new school and new friends and a new park right across the road, and all us local kids played outside a lot, so I started enjoying sunny days as much as rainy ones.  But always the love of words remained.

Monday, November 18, 2013

My Top 10 Indigenous-authored Books by Anita Heiss

It’s always difficult to do a ‘best of’ list, but when push comes to shove, we all know we have favourites.

As part of IndigRead in May, I pulled together ten of my favourite Indigenous-authored children’s books in the last few years and am delighted to now introduce them to Reading for Australia's audience of readers in Australia and around the world.

If you click the links, you can read why I love them so much. This list is in order of publication date:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Recap: Week Two

Another week of guest posts and another week in which I am awed at the creative talent and generosity of our guests in sharing great writing and interesting topics with us.


Book Review - Dancing Jax

Dancing Jax by Robin Jarvis (Harper Collins, 2012)

Leo, 12, Canberra

Book Review - Rescued by a Dog Called Flow

(previously published as) Flow by Pippa Goodhart (Barn Owl Books, 2006)

Jessica, 11, Durban, South Africa

Book Review - The Death-Defying Pepper Roux

 The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean (Harper Collins, 2009)

Nicholas, 12, Durban, South Africa

Book Review - Love that Dog

Love that Dog by Sharon Creech ( Harper Collins, 2001)

 Madeleine, 13, Cockermouth, UK

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Supporting Creativity by Jacqui Dent

The Australian Society of Authors  works to advance and protect the interests of literary creators, so enabling them to make the most of their creativity. 

With around 3000 current members in Australia and overseas, we represent people who write or illustrate for publication.

Our members include children's writers, graphic novelists, biographers, illustrators, academics, cartoonists, scientists, food and wine writers, historians, ghost writers, travel writers, romance writers, editors, bloggers, computer programmers, journalists, poets and novelists.  We even have a special membership category for junior writers.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Magic Exists by Donna Hosie

If I said the word “Muggle” to you, what would you think?

Book cover reproduced here under Allen and Unwin's site licence.  More information about this book here.

If you thought I was making a strange noise, then you probably aren’t going to want to read this post. But if you immediately thought of wizards and wands and good versus evil, then you might want to keep on reading.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Someone Else's Story by Sarah Davis

It’s a hard life, illustrating other people’s stories.

Toucan Can! (written by Juliette MacIver, Gecko Press, 2013)

My work begins when the publisher sends me an email with an innocent-seeming Word document attached - it’s only 2 pages of black and white text, but there’s a whole world of crazy characters and strange adventures locked inside it, and it’s up to me to set them free.

My first task is to select just the right delicious biscuits, make a lovely cup of steaming hot tea, find the comfiest chair in the house, and then sit down and read the story. (It’s a tough job, but someone's got to do it, right?)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Poetry Sucks! by Mark Carthew

Poetry Sucks!  Certainly this one does.

 Mark Carthew: from Machino Supremo! Poems about Machines by Janeen Brian and Mark Carthew (Celapene Press)

This particular poem uses some of the many writing tools that poets work with when they play with words ― ALLITERATION (where letters and other word sounds bounce off each other), RHYME, RHYTHM, REPETITION and ONOMATOPOEIA (where the look and sound of the made up word conjures up its image).

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Friday Recap : Week One

Welcome to our second online literary festival at Reading for Australia.  It's been a big first week!

Each Friday, I’ll be posting a recap of the week’s events in case you missed them and invite you to tell us what you’re reading. If you’d like a recommendation for new books to read, send a comment telling us what sorts of books you like and other readers may be able to give you some suggestions.


Friday, November 08, 2013

Book Review: Mister Monday

Mister Monday by Garth Nix (Scholastic, 2006)

Madeleine, 13, Cockermouth, UK

Book Review: Gangsta Granny

Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, (Harper Collins, 2011)

Sonali, 11, Durban, South Africa

Book Review - Meltdown

Meltdown by Sam Hutton (Harper Collins, 2005)

by Bharveer, 13, Durban, South Africa


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Mirrors and Windows by Erica Wagner

Anniversaries of any sort allow for reflection and this year, the 25th anniversary of Allen & Unwin’s publishing for children and teenagers is also, coincidentally, my personal anniversary of working in publishing.

The books I’ve edited or published speak to me like powerful time capsules - taking me right back to when I nervously started off as a trainee editor with Penguin Books in 1988 through the years to Allen & Unwin, where I am so lucky to work today.

More information on this book can be found here.

Publishing remains a mysterious business to outsiders as the main stories that we read in the media feature authors whose work has been plucked from obscurity, become international bestsellers, turn into films or mini-series and everyone lives happily ever after.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

How Scary is Too Scary? by Clare Havens

I recently had a very interesting discussion about my first book, A Bella Street Mystery: The Secret Formula with one of the judges of a literary festival.

More information about this book can be found here

In her introduction to my book, the judge told the audience that the book was truly terrifying.  She said that she had had to get out of bed to check the locks after she finished reading it as it had scared her so much! When a fan said there should be a movie made of my book, the judge said it would have to be rated MA and there should be a parental warning sticker on the book cover!  She was, thank goodness, being tongue in cheek but she raised an interesting point:

 How scary is too scary for middle grade fiction?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Playing with Words by Meredith Costain

Do you like poetry? I love it!

Poetry has always been a big part of my life. I grew up in a house with lots of stories and books. We read and recited poems full of rhythm, such as The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc – who also wrote scary ‘cautionary tales for children’.  My favourite was Matilda, Who Told Lies and was Burned to Death.  I loved reading that one out loud, especially to my annoying sister.  And I also loved the poems of AA Milne, the author of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Story Road by Isobelle Carmody

People often ask writers about writers’ block. I always answer that I do not experience writers’ block. I think regarding writing difficulties as a block is a good way to brick your creativity up forever.

Naming is a powerful thing.

Naming a thing shapes it. Maybe that is why we care so much about the names we give to our children and our pets, and of course, to our characters. Names are not just labels.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Welcome by Wayne Mills

Hello Everyone!  Welcome to the second online literary festival at Reading for Australia.

There are more terrific guest authors, more book reviews by kids, more discussions and comments and, of course, many more books to discover during this month-long reading adventure!

The winning team in Singapore from St Hilda's Primary School.  October 2013

Good Books Not to be Missed!

Wayne Mills is the founder and quizmaster of the Kids' Lit Quiz.  He is passionate about kids reading for pleasure and works to ensure that readers are challenged to read widely across a range of literature.

Over the years, Wayne has read thousands of children's books and it is hard for him to list just a few of his favourite books.  Some of the books he recommends are included in the "Good Books Not to be Missed" lists he provides to students taking his courses at the University of Auckland.  The lists given here are his 2013 Reading Lists.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Big Five

On African safari holidays, your tour operator will tell you about, and sometimes promise sights of, the "Big Five" -  lion, elephant, rhinoceros, leopard and buffalo.

"Big Five" is a game hunting term, first used in Africa to describe the most prized animals for big game hunters.  These animals were chosen as the "big five" because of the element of danger and difficulty involved in hunting them on foot.

Today, four of these animals are now endangered - most critically, the black rhino - and only buffaloes now exist in sufficient numbers to be hunted.  Poaching remains a significant problem for many African animals throughout the native countries of the Big Five (including Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania).

Sunday, October 06, 2013

What's Next...

We have been busy planning our online literary festival for November - lots of guest authors writing about interesting subjects, more book reviews by kids and loads of information about good books to read.  

Also coming up, quite a few great photos of African animals, thanks to Matthew Barnard and Iain Seow.   There's lots to look forward to in the next month or so...

Leopard in tree, South Africa 2013.  Copyright, Iain Seow, 2013

Friday, September 06, 2013

A Letter from Nicole Deans

Dear Friends of Kids' Lit Quiz Australia,

I am delighted to be able to give you news about Kids' Lit Quiz Australia's 2014 program.

With our 2013 team from Canberra Grammar School representing Australia so well at the World Final in Durban this July, we now build toward the 2014 World Final in Cornwall, UK in July next year.