Friday, May 09, 2014

Friday Recap - Week Two

Week Two and lots of interesting things to discover and think about in our first guest authors' posts and loads of new (and old) books to discover too.

Have a look after the jump to see what happened here this week:

Monday, and the 2014 Australian Children's Laureate, Jackie French, started our literary adventure by writing about some of the places books can take us; into the past and into the future, into ourselves and our future-selves. Surfing Strange Tsunamis is a giant wave of ideas and information about the value of reading.

I especially like Jackie's comment that being wise is not the same thing as being clever.

Also, the idea of travelling through a story with the author is a wonderful image of being taken to a new and exciting place with a really excellent guide. Someone you can trust, who's been there before and, most importantly, someone who will manage the problems - the dead ends and the discomfort that can make travelling tedious - and ensure that the destination is worth the journey.

I was reminded of Isobelle Carmody's atmospheric photo essay, The Story Road. Last November, Isobelle took our readers on a writer's journey, where the transport and the destination may be known but the route is still uncertain. It's definitely worth revisiting The Story Road after you've read Surfing Strange Tsunamis.

On Tuesday, Tania McCartney wrote about challenging yourself as a reader in Reading Up: Why it's important to stretch yourself.

Using the example of the children's classic, The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, Tania shows why it is never a good idea to "dumb down" books for kids. There's a danger the story will lose its magic and become dull as kids see through the obvious and unnecessary reworking.

I also like what Tania says about reading down - there's nothing wrong with re-reading the books you enjoyed when you were younger. Some of us of us do it all the time - how many times have you read the Harry Potter series? Or the Chronicles of Narnia? Or the picture books you loved before you could even read?!

The important thing is to choose your books for the right reason. As Doris Lessing said:
“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag - and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty-and vise versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.” [my emphasis]
Of course, Doris was speaking to adults but the same is true of children's books - always read what interests you and you will enjoy reading.

In Research? But I write Fiction! on Wednesday, Sherryl Clark told us about some of the research she's done for her books.

I suppose that I knew that fiction is grounded in fact but until I read about Sherryl's research I hadn't really thought much about how an author puts together the back story, the background that gives a story depth and authenticity. What foods did people eat in the 1700s? I wonder if it's hard to know when to stop researching and start writing?

If I was an author, I expect that I'd get distracted by the research and never get around to actually writing. I also think that I might get a little carried away by the travel part of the research and would probably base all my stories in beach resorts in Bali...just a little more research, I'd say from my sunbed by the pool. Just as well I'm not an author and we have well-researched books like the ones Sherryl's written to read instead.

On Thursday we introduced Team Australia and learned about Canberra Grammar School's amazing Kids' Lit Quiz story. Good luck in Cornwall, boys! If you are anywhere near the Tuggeranong Officeworks in Canberra tomorrow stop and buy a sausage from the BBQ there - it'll help get our team to the World Final.

Next Thursday, we're looking forward to meeting Team Canada.

Last but not least, we have three kids' book reviews for you today from some of our younger readers - Arun (8), Evie and Archie (both 9). They're all great books you've chosen to share with us, thank you!

I hope you enjoy this week's program on Reading for Australia.

A Little News

Star Wars fans will know that last Sunday was Star Wars Day. Did you also know that Reading for Australia supporter, Sean Williams, writes Star Wars books? Have a look at Twins, the piece that Sean wrote for us and check out Sean's books here.

Copyright, ABC, 2014

In June last year, CS McMullen told us about the Nowhere Boys, a new TV series, then in production and soon to be screened on ABC 3.

We were thrilled to read that Nowhere Boys recently won a Logie Award for Most Outstanding Children's Program. It's also been nominated for a Rockie Award in Banff, Canada and the TV rights have been sold to the BBC in the UK so children in Canada and the UK should look out for it. The first series is now available in Australia on DVD and production on the second series starts in June. Well done, Matchbox Pictures!

Copyright, Australian Conservation Foundation, 2014

And, finally, to close, a photo of a baby wombat from the Australian Conservation Foundation. As you may know, Jackie French loves wombats and the environment and this photo clearly reminds us why it's important to look after both. Click on the link to find out more or check out the Foundation's Facebook page.

Have a good weekend!

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