Archive for the ‘Children’s fiction’ Category

20181214_095715.jpgAfter nine years as a novelist, bad reviews still hit me in the gut, but the good ones, man, they really really touch my heart.

This week, I was privileged to receive twenty-six letters from the Soldiers Point Public School on the NSW Central coast that were the best early Christmas present a writer could ask for.

The first, from Assistant Principal Rachel Wagland, was full of heart, reminding me, once again, why I love writing for young people.

“This is now the fourth time I have used your novel Henry Hoey Hobson as part of my English unit and I cannot express enough the pure enjoyment that both myself and the students get from reading it.”

“If only I had a camera on the children at times when reading parts of the book. They were often on their knees in anticipation or constantly begging for more to be read at the end of each chapter. It is simply my favourite book and that is saying something considering my obsession with Harry Potter.”

Thanks Rachel, that made me laugh! But by the end of the letter, I found myself in tears:

There are a few children that have difficult home lives in my class and the connections they made with Henry were heart-warming. I think also they really loved the ‘happy ending’ so to speak. There is enough sadness in the world and your story was incredibly uplifting … I have yet to find such a quality book that matches Henry Hoey Hobson to read to my Stage Three children and apart from ‘The Secret Garden’ it has been the only book that on finishing the reading, the children stood up and applauded.

20181214_095749 (2)It is incredibly humbling to hear such feedback from the very people for whom I wrote this book: kids who’ve made it through tough times; teachers who care and want to build literacy, resilience and life skills in their classrooms.

I have written back, of course, and the children were ‘stoked’ to hear that their letters would feature on my website.

[Spoiler Alert: Many of these letters reveal the twist ending so read the book first BEFORE clicking on this link – Soldiers Point Public School – Henry Hoey Hobson Letters ]

Seriously though I hope you enjoy my early Christmas present as much as I did.

I do a lot of school visits and would love to visit Soldier’s Point to thank them in person for being part of Team Triple H. The nine-hour drive from Brisbane makes it a bit tricky, but thanks anyway Year 4/5 for the generous offers of a spare bunk if I’m ever down your way! (Until then we’ll just have to settle for facetiming.)

Merry Christmas everyone and may the unexpected gifts of the season bring delight and wonder to you all.

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Find Your Treasure 2018 CBCA Shortlist Announcement

Find Your Treasure: CBCA 2018

Lovers of children’s literature, don’t miss this star-studded event: the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s short list announcement for the 2018 Book of the Year Awards.

I’ll be there, along with a treasure chest of local authors and illustrators who’ve featured on CBCA Book of the Year Award short lists over the years.

Qld treasures CBCA Shortlist announcement.jpgAlong with Michael Gerard Bauer and Lucia Masciullo, I’ll be sharing what being short listed has meant to my life and career.

And I’ll hanging out to hear the official announcement of the 2018 CBCA Book of the Year Short List by local literary luminaries Nick Earls, Isobelle Carmody, Gary Crew, Tania Cox, Jill Morris and Caroline Magerl.

To register, please click the following link and I’ll see you there!

Official CBCA Book of the Year Awards Short List Announcement 2018 Registration, Tue, 27/03/2018 at 10:00 am | Eventbrite

 

 

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So tell me, whaddaya think of the new look Henry Hoey Hobson?

Penguin Random House has shouted my adored middle child a brand new jacket and I couldn’t be happier.

‘Henry is an in-house favourite,’ says my lovely publisher Zoe Walton. ‘We wanted to give him a fresh new look that’s fun and grabs young readers’ attention.’

So brace yourself young readers, the rejacketed Henry Hoey Hobson is heading your way soon. Look for him in bookstores from 1 March. 🙂

(Cover design by Christa Moffitt of Christabella Designs, who also designed covers for fellow Random House award winners Two Wolves and Are You Seeing Me?)

 

256x256_fit_one_bestfit (10)Oh you can book me in anytime, Somerset – fifteen thousand school kids, 120 parent volunteers, thirty-three authors and thirty-plus temperatures over a jam-packed four days at the Gold Coast – another sizzlingly superlative Celebration of Literature!

The kids were all inspired and inspiring, but a special shout-out to the Macintyre Young Writers for their enthusiasm despite the seven-hour bus trip via Goondawindi  to be part of the festival; and to the Somerset College kids for their brilliant hosting of the event.Macintyre Young Writers

After 22 years, Somerset has a fair idea just how disoriented authors can get when taken out of their native habitat. That’s why they allocate two hardworking elves to each of us, to guide and assist, fetch coffee, steer us into our sessions, and make sure we don’t get lost in between times.

I had the finest elves any author could ask for – Rosalie and Nick, Year 10 members of the Wordsmiths club, seen here behaving themselves beautifully while I ham it up with Clare Atkins, author of the brilliant debut novel, Nona and Me. With my brilliant Wordsmith elves and debut author sensation Clare Atkins

Clearly, literature festivals are hard work. Hanging out with old friends Michael Gerard Bauer,and James Moloney. Dining out with our wonderful Scholastic publisher Dyan Blacklock. Breakfasting with my brilliant Random House publicist Zoe Bechara and fellow Authors Belinda Murrell, Keith AustinR.A. Spratt and George Ivanoff.RHA authors

And don’t get me started on my fan girl moments, sharing the Green Room with so many talented authors including Ellie Marney (Author of Every Breath), and Melissa Keil (The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl).

What can I say? It’s a tough gig . . . but I did miss my dog, my kids, and my husband (possibly in that order). It’s good to be home. 🙂

 

Orphelia and the Marvellous Boy 17910570One of the great pleasures of the writing life  is welcoming a new book into the world. Especially when it is a simply marvelous story by a favourite author.

So if you’re free this Sunday afternoon at 4pm, please join me and Karen Foxlee to celebrate the release of her brilliant Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy at Riverbend Books at Bulimba.

We’d love to see you there. 🙂

(Note: this is a free event, but please rsvp for numbers to events@riverbendbooks.com.au – and if you can’t make it, be prepared to kick yourself when this book becomes an instant classic. You’ve been warned!)

Orphelia and the Marvellous Boy 17910570There’s nothing better than a new release by a favourite author, and Karen Foxlee is right up there for me, along with Melina Marchetta, Markus Zusak and Peter Temple, to mention just a few.

Ever since Foxlee’s brilliant debut with The Anatomy Of Wings, I’ve counted myself a fan.

Her mesmerising follow-up, The Midnight Dress, recently made the American Library Associations’s list for 2014’s Best Fiction for Young Adults and is a front-runner for the upcoming award season Down Under.

Now her middle grade novel Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy has hit the bookstores. I was lucky enough to score a signed copy direct from the Gympie-based author of the beautiful American hardcover with its exquisitely illustrated end papers.

This modern-day fairy tale reminded me of all the reasons I fell in love with reading as a child. It has it all. A cold and nasty villainess A plucky imperfect eleven-year-old heroine. Magic. Wizards. A marvellous three-hundred-and-three-year-old boy, locked in the highest room of the museum, needing rescue. Oh, and a ticking clock counting down to the end of the world…

For me, the most wonderful character was Ophelia’s dead mother, horror writer Susan Worthington, teller of terrifying night tales to her asthmatic daughter.

‘Can’t you just tell me a simple fairy tale?’ Ophelia might plead.

”Oh, darling, fairy tales are for beginners,’ her mother would reply.

Like all good mothers, she reaches out from the grave to lend her child courage, urging her to stay loyal to her friends, and follow her heart.

I cried at the end for all the right reasons, but most of all, because I just didn’t want it to end.

Perfect for nine years and up (and yes, I’m definitely in the ‘up’ category). 🙂

race wear for drongoes

Look, if you’re going to wear a silly hat, think big I say.

It’s been years since I’ve taken part in our national Silly Hats Day, but this year I’m keen.

drongoes

As revealed at Saturday’s The Inside Story, a racehorse was one of the major inspirations for my children’s book, Drongoes… 

And now, with the Spring Racing Carnival in full swing, Drongo, The Immortal Loser has also hit the adult bookshelves.

Nice to have another drongo author out there….But do you think he has a fascinator to rival mine?

drongo the immortal loser

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The beagle’s depressed.

I’ve been holed up for weeks meeting my publisher’s deadline. And after a final, heroic, sixteen-hour sprint to an after-midnight finish, I am ready for an outing… and the beagle’s not coming.

Sorry, Huggy, but this is strictly for humans – especially those who love books for kids.

THE INSIDE STORY is a free, funtastic event on this Saturday 2 November from 10am, organised by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in assocation with specialist bookshops all over the world. In Brisbane, it’s being held at Black Cat Books at La Trobe Terrace,Paddington.

Inside Story postcard 2

I’ll be there, along with a host of fabulous authors and illustrators including Pamela Rushby, Katherine Battersby, Peter Taylor, Julie Nickerson, Dimity Powell, Michelle Worthington, Judy Paulson, Candice Lemon-Scott, Samantha Wheeler, JR Poulter, Christina Boolenbach, Stephen Axelsen and Angela Sunde.

Love to see you there too. 🙂

For more information, click on QLD INSIDE STORY.

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It’s that time of year again. The Children’s Book Council of Australia has announced its Notable and Shortlisted books in their 2013 Book of the Year Awards.

If, like me, you’re always on the lookout for quality books for kids, click on the following links for this year’s  CBCA Notable Books and Shortlisted books.

It was a big thrill to see Trust Me Too make the Notable list for younger readers. The Ford St Publishing anthology included my Killer Stories as one of more than fifty contributions from some of Australia’s top writers and illustrators for kids.

It caps a great year for Trust Me Too which  has also been chosen for The White Ravens 2013, an annual selection of the top 250 books for young people from around the world prepared by the International Youth Library in Germany.

Congratulations to all Notable and Shortlisted authors and illustrators, and especially to the ever-affable Gus Gordon, whose short-listed picture book Herman and Rosie  I was privileged to launch in Brisbane last year. Always nice to see the good guys get a guernsey!

Oh for heaven’s sakes, what was I thinking???

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Judging a Drongoes art competition at the local school seemed like such a great idea at the time…. but then in came more than a hundred entries from Grades One-to-Three at St Ambrose’s, Newmarket, and every dang one of them was as cute as a bug’s ear.

The Race, by Tessa, Year One

Jack vs Rocket Robson, by Tessa, Year One

Talk about diversity and depth of talent among our local 6-to-8 year olds. After listening to only two chapters from Drongoes , each child created a unique pictorial take on the story.

Some focused on the race between Jack and his arch-rival Rocket Robson….

Best mates, by Charlotte, Year Two

Best mates, by Charlotte, Year Two

others on the strong bond of mateship that sustained Jack and his best bud, Eric through their toughest times….

and more than a few were inspired by the asthmatic Eric’s nickname, Puff the Magic Dragon! P1000629

The special place where Jack went to be alone with his drongo ‘mates’ was one of the most beautifully depicted scenes …

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Down the creek, by Luke, Year 3

…as were the drongoes that flit in at the end of the story to unexpectedly save the day.

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Drongo by Charlotte, Year One

Congratulations – not only to Tessa and Charlotte in Year One, Charlotte (another one!) in Year Two, and Luke in Year Three – but to each and every one of the entrants from St Ambrose’s.

You are all winners in my book. 🙂P1000633
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And the winners are...

And the winners are…