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.