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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

An English Year + A Scottish Year

Books 2 and 3 in the A Kids' Year series are released today!  

An English Year and A Scottish Year were so much fun to create and we're very excited about adding to this cache of books with a cultural focus. The books will be out in the UK in October, but there is a current run of books here in Australia, too. Be sure you snaffle your copy early, as stock is limited.

And be sure to watch this space for the next books in the series ... two more sensational places. I wonder where they'll be ...? Leave a comment below if you want to guess!

A Scottish Year

Meet Isla, Sophie, Dominik, James and Rashida — Scottish children representing a multicultural blend of culture and race that typifies our beautiful country. They will take you through a year in the life of Scottish kids, from celebrations to traditions to events, to our everyday way of life and the little things that make childhood so memorable. They are our Scottish childhood. 

A Scottish Year is a picture book bursting with national pride. It is a snapshot of who we are as a nation, blending our modern-day culture and lifestyle with past traditions and strong heritage. Its pages feature meandering text, dates and gorgeous illustrations, showcasing our five Scottish children at play, at school, at home, and enjoying the sights and sites of Scotland — from our heather-strewn Highlands to our historical cities, pristine outer islands and charming rural towns.


An English Year

Meet Aman, Victoria, Amelia, Tandi and George — English children representing a multicultural blend of culture and race that typifies our beautiful country. They will take you through a year in the life of English kids, from celebrations to traditions to events, to our everyday way of life and the little things that make childhood so memorable. They are our English childhood. 

An English Year is a picture book bursting with national pride. It is a snapshot of who we are as a nation, blending our modern-day culture and lifestyle with past traditions and strong heritage. Its pages feature meandering text, dates and gorgeous illustrations showcasing our five English children at play, at school, at home, and enjoying the sights and sites of England — from the northern moors and breathtaking Lake District, to our pebbly seasides, bustling cities and historical country towns.


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Encouraging Children to Read for Pleasure, Part 2

This is the second in my Reading for Pleasure articles. To see Part 1, click here.


One of the greatest things we can do to encourage kids to read for pleasure is to find ways for them to connect with works they can relate to and enjoy. The bulk and variety of books available on the market is astounding, and our local book industry boasts a formidable amount of quality books. This can overwhelm adults, let alone children, let alone reluctant readers.

My suggestion is to look at genre.

For teachers and librarians, creating some kind of book genre feature or event would be a great way to sift through the literary mire. Book-lovers will be there, on your doorstep but focusing on one genre more intently will bring in the stragglers—if they happen to resonate with that particular genre. So perhaps July is picture book month. August is illustrated junior fiction. September is young adult fiction with a romance focus or a focus on death.

We already know that once a child engages with a particular book, they eagerly lap up any further titles in the series. This sends a clear message that once children engage with a certain style, character, genre or even author, they’ll continue to seek out and read books of this nature. You can find books in varying genre on Kids’ Book Review.

Even when we identify genre, we will need to connect kids to books BEFORE we connect them to reading. We need to make books cool. Indispensable. Worth the time invested, and the literacy effort. We can’t insist. We can’t make it a chore. We can’t expect them to engage in a struggle, whether by content or competency. Kids don’t care about the priceless end-value of full adult literacy. They only know here and now. And here and now is all about them. About enjoyment and pleasure.


So, we know how to encourage kids to read for pleasure, but what are the pleasure deterrents to avoid?

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Encouraging Children to Read for Pleasure, Part 1

Books are extraordinary objects. They may be comprised of ink and paper, but once opened wide, some kind of magic happens, and entire worlds tumble out. Books enchant, enlighten and educate. They befriend and support. They can take you on a journey. They have the capacity to lift, move and surprise. They can provide buoyancy, and sometimes, they can even rescue.

Reading brings colour, vigour, entertainment and satisfaction. It builds self-confidence, competence and intelligence. It fosters hope delight and creativity. It hones aptitude, imagination and independence. Engagement with storytelling links directly to emotional development, greater social skills, wider horizons and broader general knowledge. It can make kids more articulate, develops higher order reasoning, and promotes critical thinking. It brings with it an internal sense of freedom that only fluent readers can ever know.

Alas, there are so many who do not know that freedom. As an ambassador for the National Year of Reading (2012), our central message was to create a book culture in the home—to start with the child when they’re very young. To create a love of reading for PLEASURE. If parents read to their kids from the start, children begin to associate reading with being loved. If children can fall in love with books and reading via the avenue of pleasure and being loved, we have a far greater possibility of fostering life-long readers.

We want kids to see reading as a joy, not a chore.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

It's Book Week! Celebrating 70 Years

It's Book Week! And this year, the Children's Book Council of Australia is celebrating 70 glorious years of connection to story with this year's theme ...

Books Light Up Our World

And indeed they do! All over the country, kids, parents, librarians, teachers, schools and community groups are celebrating story with readings, author and illustrator visits, costume parades and special events that celebrate our love of books.

What will you be doing for Book Week? Be sure to drop into a local book store and stock up on new titles, or visit your local library to brings home a bundle of joy to flick through with the kids.

To celebrate Book Week, I'll soon be posting two articles on encouraging kids to read--or rather, helping them fall in love with books and story (making reading a joy!). These articles are for both parents and teachers/librarians and are excerpted from a recent talk I gave at Marist College Canberra.

Be sure to check out the CBCA's Book of the Year 2015 winners, honour books and notables, too! You can see them all here.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Tottie and Dot at Book Week!

Just look at this divine little poppet, daughter of Her Canberra's Amanda Whitely, dressed as Tottie for Book Week! I am in love! What a joy to see our beautiful book character come alive.

Happy Book Week, everyone! Don't forget the CBCA will be announcing its Books of the Year tomorrow, 21 August, at midday. Check out the shortlist and notables right here.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Book Stall at Brindabella Market

I'm having a (rare!) book stall at the glorious Brindabella Business Park on Thursday 24 September between 11am and 2pm, and will have all of my newest releases available, including the yet-to-be-released (October) Australian Kids Through the Years and the elusive An English Year and A Scottish Year, which have been printed for the UK market.

I'll have very limited quantities of these available, so come down early and see me for a signed copy!

The following books* will also be available, and I'll have some super cute mini Peas in a Pod activity booklets--free with every sale.

*limited quantities of Sleeping Dragon; Jumpy Roo was chosen as the ACT Government's official gift for the royal princess Charlotte of Windsor

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Announcing ... Australian Kids Through the Years!

It's with much excitement that I reveal the cover of my newest book--Australian Kids Through the Years--with one of my favourite illustrators in the whole entire world--Andrew Joyner!

Australian Kids began as a sort of biopic of the Aussie child through time, and has developed into a super fun, fantastical journey into the past (and onwards to the future), celebrating all the little idiosyncrasies and glorious cultural elements that make Australian Kids what they are today.

The book will be released by the National Library of Australia on 1 October, nationwide. You can also order a copy from the National Library Bookshop.

I will be hosting a little get-together/book reading at Harry Hartog bookstore in Woden. This will be during the October school holidays, so watch my blog for more info!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


I'm absolutely thrilled to announce the winner of our Peas in a Pod colouring competition! 

Congratulations to Akila Pallage, age 10, from Victoria! 

You can see his divine colouring, above, to which he has added some very unique touches. I particularly love the messages of peace and harmony. What a gorgeous colouring.

Akila--you have won a signed copy of Peas in a Pod, along with 6 other books and an entire stash of Peas goodies!

I received SO MANY gorgeous, creative and colourful entries. All of them were amazing, but I also wanted to highly commend the two pictures below--they are just so unique and beautiful!

by Yaroslava, age 8, ACT

by Skyla, age 7, ACT

Thank you so much to everyone who entered! You are such clever kids. Celebrate your uniqueness!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Recent Picture Book Purchases - July 2015

Some recent picture book purchases that have knocked my socks off--and will more than likely knock yours off, too. None of these will disappoint. Have made a few notes below, to push you over the edge and straight into your local bookstore.

This is just unbelievable. Truly. It's magnificence personified. Maps of all styles, colours, places and time? It's just pure bliss.

I had heard about Rivertime for so, so long and somehow, a copy just kept escaping me. I finally snaffled one and it truly is as beautiful as everyone says it is.

HUGE Blex fan. Colour, form, design, cleverness. He has it all.

A wordless book, this high contrast, poignant story is just awash with life and warmth.

Don't be deceived. This is not just a baby board book with graphic design style imagery. It's overwhelmingly goosebumping. Tears sprung after the first page turn. Divine in its simplicity and splendour.

I've had my eye on this book for some time and was delighted to stumble across it recently. Wordless and powerful. Stunning images.

Love love love Alice Melvin, and this beautiful book with page lift-outs and cut-outs is Alice personified. And I love how much she's personalised this one.

Frank is another love. His use use of retro styling and cleverness is just so Up There. Clever cut-outs form a play on words that will delight kids.

Molly Idle has made a PB series out of Rex. And lo, they are good.

Recent joint winner of the Kate Greenaway, let's just say there's a reason. I ADORE this book--in too many ways to mention, but suffice to say it combines stunning imagery with history, heroics, adventure, high detail and passion. Worthy winner.

A new found love, Julia's work is so free-form and luscious. It's a joy to peruse this book and I adore her colour palettes.

Not really a picture book--really a concertina map, but wow is it wonderful.

I've just ordered in All the Buildings in New York--and Aussie James has also managed to sneak in a Sydney version (of all the buildings he's done so far). Hankering for a collection I can display on my wall shelves.

I bought this from Closetful of Books on my recent trip to Singapore for the AFCC--and it's just toddler heaven. Not that I'm a toddler! But you know ...

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Peas in a Pod Colouring Entries

Some absolutely gorgeous Peas in a Pod colouring entries coming in! Aren't they just scrumptious?

Comp ends 31 July, so get your textas out! Click the poster below for more.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

a dream come true

One of my life dreams has been to illustrate my own picture book - and this dream has finally been realised.

Due for a January 2017 release, I'll be spending the next twelve months adding to this catalogue of adventurous children and hodge-podge objects and animals, for a high-page picture book very dear to my heart. I can hardly wait to show you all the end result!

Keep working towards your most heartfelt goals. With time and dedication, they absolutely can be realised. I couldn't be happier, doing what I love - writing AND illustrating. 

Here is a sneak peek at some of my bits and pieces ...

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Tickle the Imagination Issue 20 - Cocoon

Issue 20 of Tickle the Imagination magazine is almost here!

Here is a behind-the-scenes peek, including my knitting girl illustration. This and many other images from the 52-Week Illustration Challenge are appearing in a special article all about the Challenge. All illustrations used in this article were commissioned by Tickle editor Tanya Collier, with the theme of 'cocoon'.

Tanya says subscriber copies will be packed over the weekend and will be in the post first thing Monday, and the issue will be available from newsagents and other stockists, Australia-wide later next week.

Here's a little more of what's inside this issue... there's a fab 'leather and wood shelves' how-to from Hammered Leatherworks. You can meet maker Jo Rutgers from Little Village. Maya Anderson from House Nerd shares her favourite finds. There's tips for curbing your creative chaos with our favourite organiser Robyn Amott. Craft editor Helen from blossom & cat shows you how to create lovely fabric and rope bowls, and the editor plays with Annie Sloan chalk paint to create pretty platters ... plus so much more!

If you haven't discovered Tickle, you don't know what you're missing. Order a copy right here. Back issues also available. It's one of the most divine magazines on the market today.

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