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.


Mark Carthew's Poetry Sucks! post on Monday means that vacuuming in this household will never be the same.  I'll now be saying, "dusting, sucking,...swizZing, SwozZling...Nozzling, Nuzzling" as I think of ducklings and (dust) bunnies and sinewy snaky shapes as I re-imagine this mundane chore into something much more interesting.

See some of the many ways poetry can add colour and imagination to our lives in Mark's lively and visually interesting post.   I wonder, where does that three-legged cat go?

On Tuesday,  Sarah Davis provided a fascinating insight into the work of a book illustrator in her post, Someone Else's Story.   I liked Sarah's description of her first creative step, after reading the story she is to illustrate:

But when I read, I have to disappear inside the story for a while.

I have to see the characters in my head, moving, breathing, coming to life. I have to see the story unfolding into three dimensions. I have to be awake to how the words make me feel - I don’t just think about what happens in the story, but also about the way it echoes inside me.

Sarah feels that there has to be an emotional response to the words before the images can take shape and form.  Her clear explanation and the examples she gives of the ways in which different art techniques give each story exactly the right tone and substance - the right feel - is brilliant.

At last, Harry Potter makes an appearance (apparates?!) on Reading for Australia.  Donna Hosie's post on Wednesday left many of us green with envy.  In what would have been a dream job for so many, working as a Fan Consultant for Warner Bros and EA Games, Donna gave us a different perspective on the publishing phenomenon that is the Harry Potter series of books.

I'd been wanting to post  something on Harry Potter since we started this site in May but what could be written that hadn't already been said?  What new angle could we give?  Every child I've met through the Kids' Lit Quiz is an expert on Harry Potter - what new thing could we tell them?  How lucky to discover Donna, an English writer currently living in Australia, in our very own school community!

In the second of our series of articles on the book industry, on Thursday, Jacqui Dent wrote about the services the Australian Society of Authors provides to advance and protect the interests of Australian writers and illustrators.   I think that the Authors in Schools program is particularly relevant to our Australian audience, with its focus on remote and regional communities.

I confess I have a soft spot for the ASA.  Many (too many!) years ago, I worked at the Australian Copyright Council in an old terrace house in Sydney where, in the odd idle moment, we could look across the park and see Red Rattlers rattling over the Harbour Bridge to Milson's Point train station.

Our office was on the first floor while the ASA was on the ground floor and a frequent visitor to both offices was Gus O'Donnell.  The founder of the Copyright Council and, from 1967 to 1975, Chairman of the ASA, Gus' tireless, infectious energy was instrumental in bringing about recognition of authors' rights.  Gus was a lovely man and the reforms he achieved are significant.  You can read more about him here.

And, today - to close the second week of our online festival, more wonderful reviews by kids.  I haven't read any of these books and love that I'm being introduced to them by keen young readers from different parts of the world:

Dancing Jax by Robin Jarvis (reviewed by Leo)
Rescued by a Dog Called Flow by Pippa Goodhart (reviewed by Jessica)
Love that Dog by Sharon Creech (reviewed by Madeleine); and
The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean (reviewed by Nicholas)

If you would like to recommend a book to the international Kids' Lit Quiz community, please have a look at the Kids' Contributions tab under the Reading for Australia header for guidelines on writing book reviews.  If you've read any of these books, please add your comments to that review.

A little news

The UK heats of the Kids' Lit Quiz are going well.  The UK final is on 6 December before the inaugural Hong Kong Quiz on 11 December.  Interested schools should contact Nick Atkinson at for more information on the Hong Kong Quiz.

Wayne Mills with authors Mark Robson, Anne Fine and Linda Strachan at the 2014 NE England heat

In Australia,  schools near Ipswich, Orange, Canberra and Sydney are encouraged to register their teams for the 2014 Australian Kids' Lit Quiz competition before 30 November.  Schools in other parts of Australia who are interested in bringing the Kids' Lit Quiz to their state or town should contact the National Coordinator, Nicole Deans, at

In other news, there is a fantastic interview with the author/translator David Colmer by Anouska Jones on Kids' Book Review this week.  You can find the full interview here.  I was especially interested to read about how David approaches translation of children's poetry.  Here's an excerpt:

If you want your translated poems to be fresh and exciting in English, something has to give from a translation point of view, and it’s up to the translator to decide which facet of the original is least important in each case.
Generally with ‘serious’ poetry for adults, the content and meaning are sacrosanct and rhyme is the area where you have the most leeway, but with light verse or children’s poetry, where so much of the fun comes from the strict rhythm and regular, full rhyme, you’re often better off taking liberties with the content.  Not with the essence of the poem, but with the details. Often it really doesn’t matter if the animal they see at the zoo is a crocodile or an elephant.  And it’s usually the case that the original poet was clearly guided by the sound of the words, so if you let yourself be guided by your ear as well, you’re actually translating in the spirit of the original. 
This is a fascinating insight into the art of translation.  Really worth reading.

Finally, a friend has just told me about Teen Read Week, an American libraries initiative that began in 1998 and is held annually in the third week of October.  Here's a link to a list of 11 YA books sure to make you cry, posted by Molly Horan to mark this year's Teen Read Week.

Enjoy your reading - even if it makes you cry!


  1. It was wonderful reminiscing! Thank you for hosting me and good luck to the Australian and UK teams :)

    1. It was our pleasure, Donna. Thank you for writing for us. It's always fun to revisit the magic of Harry and his mates...

  2. More KLQ UK news...our friends at Cockermouth School have won their heat for the fifth time! Well done Cockermouth.