Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Friday, 15 September 2017

2017 Reading Challenge continues...

Earlier this year, Nella posted her personal reading list for the year with some alternative and varied selection criteria. She continues to challenge and encourage us to read outside our comfort zones and broaden our horizons. If you can't identify a title for each category then read on for some tasters from Nella's selections. There are some excellent leads for  further great reads from early childhood through to older teens to cap off the year. Are you up to the challenge?

First book in a series
Aussie outback
YA with no romance
Green cover
Set in Tasmania
Mental Health
On your TBR pile
Award winner
Truly frightening
Would make a great movie
400 + pages

Investigate the original range of genres on the 2017 Reading Challenge - A Personal List post.

First book in a series
Six of Crows Leigh Bardugo Orion
Nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017. I have a love-hate relationship with series books; thankfully this is part of a duology although I may be tempted by the other books set in the Grishaverse.
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams - but he can't pull it off alone. Chapters are told from the differing POV of all six heist team members.

Aussie outback
Mrs White and the Red Desert Josie Boyle & Maggie Prewett  Magabala Books

When a group of desert children invite their school teacher, Mrs White, home for dinner to show her why their homework is always grubby, no-one expects what is to come!
YA with no romance
You Don’t Even Know Sue Lawson Black Dog (2013)
Alex is the misfit of a bullying family. He prefers water-polo to rowing; he loves his little sister Mia. Through random flashbacks, we learn how and why Alex  is in hospital recovering from an accident. Heartbreakingly real.

Green cover

Florette Anna Walker Viking
Mae moves from a house with a garden into a city apartment surrounded by cobblestones. Outside Florette, a florist shop, Mae finds a tiny plant growing from a crack between the path and the front wall of the shop. Mae takes it home, plants it in a jar. This is the beginning of Mae’s new garden.
Set in Tasmania
Gaolbird: The True Story of William Swallow Convict & Pirate Simon Barnard Text Publishing
Fantastic story that deserves to be told - truth really is stranger than fiction. William Walker aka William Swallow was an English convict taken to ‘the far end of the earth’, Van Diemen’s Land, in the 1820s...three times.  Illustrated in exaggerated cartoon style.

Mental Health
Girl in Pieces Kathleen Glasgow HarperCollins
Gritty debut novel about the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression

On your TBR pile
Everything Leads to You Nina LaCour Penguin Random House
Emi Price is a talented young set designer; she finds a mysterious letter at an estate sale, and it sends her chasing down the loose ends of a movie icon’s hidden life. And along the way, she finds Ava.

Award winner 
Winner Aurealis Awards - Best Children's Fiction 2016
When the Lyrebird Calls Kim Kane Allen & Unwin
While helping her grandmother, Madeleine finds a pair of shoes in a hidden compartment. Wearing these shoes while a lyrebird calls in an old grotto she timeslips to Lyrebird Muse, the grand home of the Williamson family just prior to the Federation of Australia.
Truly frightening
Forgetting Foster Dianne Touchell Allen & Unwin
Forget monsters and aliens.  True fear is found in everyday events. A powerful story of a seven-year-old boy whose father develops Alzheimer’s disease.  Everything in Foster’s life changes, his father starts forgetting things and his mother stops laughing.

Would make a great movie
Mr Romanov’s garden in the sky Robert Newton Penguin 
Lexie lives in a ‘Commission’ apartment, with her junkie mother. Lexie remembers better times with her father —games of pretend camping, taken seriously with map reading and with Lexie given the choice of location (which is always Surfers Paradise). Other residents include the Creeper, an elderly man with a rooftop garden (Mr Romanov) and know-it-all Davey Goodman. The three travel to Surfers Paradise pursued by police.  Sentimental and compelling
400 + pages
Windfall Jennifer E Smith Pan Macmillan

At 416 pages, this just meets the criteria.  Jennifer E Smith’s YA novels (she also writes middle grade books) are heart-warming and generally about first love.  Alice buys her best friend Teddy a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday. He wins. A story of loss, death and Alice’s need to live up to her perceptions of her parents’ selflessness. 

Nella Pickup
Avid reader (and inspiration to us all to...keep on reading)

From the editor: Why not share your alternative suggestions. Under the First in a Series category I have recently read Tokens and Omens by Jeri Baird and am eagerly awaiting the sequel - out next month.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Creativity with Nature

Join Coral Tulloch, Tasmanian illustrator and children's book creator, on her mission to bring students and the natural world together through an innovative Natural Pedagogy program in Western Australia.

I have been so incredibly fortunate for many years now to have been asked to go to Western Australia to work at schools for the Association of Independent School of Western Australia (AISWA). Apart from the many school visits I have done with them – covering a broad span of schools from the long established to the tiny and low ICSEA, from community schools in remote areas, to bustling inner city - and schools specifically for disengaged students to the most interesting community schools –  each time there has been so much for me to learn, apart from what they believe I can deliver and bring to both the students and teachers. Each time they have challenged me incredibly.

This time I was nervous! Sure, I’ve been asked to do early childhood before, but it’s not my area of expertise, and I was nervous. But I also knew that AISWA have faith in the people they bring across and believe we can achieve the outcomes they desire. Even after all these years of being with them, I was still shaking at the concept of three days working with four year olds!

My role this time was to work in Nature Pedagogy with early childhood. Our first stop was at Margaret River Independent School, (one I had worked with previously and loved), to help them create a work that would be saleable to the public for their Nature Trail associated with their school.
We  set up an art studio for them, and worked on various mediums before settling on the concept of a b/w map, to be rolled like a scroll, for people to add their own experiences to and to colour in. The photo that is attached is before the Noongar names of the plants have been added. The back of the scroll contains the Noongar seasons and explanation of the plants and their usage.

The second week, I went to Heritage College in Perth and worked with 4 year olds, going to their bush school outing, collecting and then interpreting what we had found. Also working with various materials in scientific drawing. A challenge for me to see the four year olds, concentrated and loving the interpretation of each object that caught their attention. They felt and smelt and drew and painted the natural world, translating in both realism and abstract.

We also set up an art studio for them to continue with their work. But I think some of the things they loved the most was making paint with the pebbles, dirt and water from the creek, embossing paper while it was wet in the bush, hunting out strange and beautiful forms and shapes and making their own paints back at school with everyday items, such as turmeric, five spice, mud, and salts.

I thank AISWA for getting me out of my area of comfort, for extending my abilities and confidence and joy in this engaging project. I received the same back from all of the gorgeous children and engaged teachers that I was so privileged to work with.

Coral Tulloch
Children's illustrator
FB: www.facebook.com/cloudyseas

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Review: All the Light We Cannot See

Leanne Rands has recently finished reading a book that she enjoyed so much that she had to write a blog post. Enjoy the post and maybe dash out and get hold of a copy to read yourself.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Recently l had the pleasure of reading this book for the first time and was amazed at the depth of my emotional response to the plot and plight of Marie-Laurie and Werner. I particularly enjoyed the intriguing manner in which Anthony Doerr deftly interweaves the lives of Marie-Laurie and Werner, encapsulating the theme that against all odds people should try to be good to one another. It is not surprising that All the light we cannot see was the 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Fiction.
Doerr skilfully uses a variety of metaphors and vivid, often challenging descriptions to engage the reader. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times)
Anthony Doer talks about the inspiration and investigation
underpinning the story.

The Plot
Marie-Laure, a French girl who has been blind since the age of six lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. To help her navigate the local neighbourhood he father builds a perfect miniature so she can memorise it by touch and find her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and so they flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, to live with her reclusive great-uncle, bringing with them the invaluable and dangerous jewel from the museum. Meanwhile, in a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner, enchanted by a crude radio, becomes an expert at building and fixing these new instruments. This leads him to the brutal academy for Hitler Youth. Later he is assigned to locate the radio communications for the French resistance and eventually realises the human suffering his intelligence causes. At Saint-Malo, the lives of Werner and Marie-Laure converge with unexpected consequences.
For those who have not had the pleasure of reading this brilliant novel l would recommend that you find a copy and immerse yourself as soon as possible.
Book trailer introducing the novel: All the Light We Cannot See

Leanne Rands

President CBCA Tasmania

Saturday, 26 August 2017

School Book Week Escapes

Book Week is always a time of great celebrations, good fun and collegiality in schools as they delve into selected short list titles, get carried a way to new places via displays and activities and immerse themselves in stories. It is a delight to share some of the highlights in schools in Tasmania. Many thanks to institutional and individual members who have shared the Book Week experiences with us.

Hagley Farm School | The Friends School - Primary | Mackillop Catholic College | Glenora District School | The Friends' School - Secondary | St Brigid's Catholic School

Hagley Farm School
Jessica Marston, Teacher Librarian

Book Week at Hagley Farm School (K-6) is spent celebrating the shortlisted books and our love of children's literature. We have:
Creative challenge linked to the shortlist, this year our theme was birds. Children are invited to create a bird for display in the library 
Library lessons with our "buddies"; we display and discuss past winners and shortlisted titles;  
Vote for our favourite shortlisted books which are read during library lessons in the weeks leading up to Book Week. This year our favourites were Chip (K-2) and One Photo (3-6).

Book Parade for the whole school, where we parade with our "buddy classes"

The Friends School - Primary Campus
Sharon Molnar & Catherine Duffett, Teacher Librarians, Margaret Jennings, Library Technician

The Display: We photocopied the book covers and created the letters with the paper, and photocopied templates of things that fly onto paper that had book pages on the other side. The whales were made by Margaret Jennings. The blue sky is made from plastic table-cloths from Shiploads!
The Books: The short-listed books were available to borrow. We also had photocopies of the front covers, with blurbs on the back, so staff and students could still “see” the short-listed titles and reserve them if they were out.

The Action: 
A few years ago, we decided to try a different format for our Book Week assembly. Instead of having a “dress up as your favourite book character parade” (with the inevitable non-book characters, characters from books the students had never read and non-participation by upper students) we asked each year group to choose a short-listed book, author or illustrator; or a non-short-listed Australian book, author or illustrator and present an assembly item of 5 minutes or less. It has been a huge success and, while a few have said they prefer the old parade, the overwhelming majority of parent and staff feedback has been that this is a much richer and more meaningful celebration of Australian literature.

The students dress up in accordance with their year group’s item, and create the (usually simple) costumes in class. The item often fits in with the unit of inquiry they are currently studying (e.g. this year’s Year 4s did “Tom Appleby: Convict boy” because they’re looking at the first fleet). With this year’s theme, each item began with one student saying “Escape to...” and another holding up a sign relevant to their performance. They then put the sign on a book easel at the front of the stage, and began their performance. All the performances linked to the theme and showcased the work of our wonderful Australian authors and illustrators!

Mackillop Catholic College

Tricia Scott, Teacher Librarian & Trudi Fielding, Library Technician

The Display: Walking up the stairwell into a great escape with vibrant displays.
The Books: Inspirational student art featured in the displays. Spellbound and Mechanica being two titles that particularly intrigued.

St Bridgid's Catholic School
Display featured different spaces to escape to.
Mechanic activity was extremely popular as a makerspace challenge.

Glenora District School
Laura Shoobridge, Assistant Principal and staff
Activities: Art and craft activities investigating shortlist titles and other books were popular.

Book Week Character Parade: Students and staff dressed for the occasion with great hilarity.

The Friends School - Secondary Campus
Katie Stanley, Teacher Librarian & Nicole Parums, Library Technician

Book Week Display: Escape to Everywhere theme building on the Book Week poster and whale, the shortlisted titles were immersed within sea and foam - and whales!
Activity: Students created bookworms in the library during the lunch times.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Book Week 2017 kicks off in Tasmania - BOTY Awards and Gala Dinner

Part 1: Book of the Year Awards Ceremony at Government House

Friday 18 August heralded the long awaited announcements of the winners and honour books for the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year Awards announced at Government House by Her Excellency the Governor in prestigious and historic surroundings.

After being formally welcomed on entry, guests moved past strategically placed displays of the shortlisted titles in each category to be seated in the ballroom. What a lavish and fitting setting for this prestigious event.

After a warm welcome from Governor Warner, The Chair of the National Board, Professor Margot Hillel announced the shortlisted finalists, followed by the Honours and Winners in each category. The results can be viewed on the CBCA Website.

The ceremony was concluded by a presentation from the Outhouse Legends representing Jordon River Learning Federation located in the northernmost suburbs of Hobart. These talented young artists recited Julia Donaldson's 'I opened a book' followed by an energetic countdown, lead by the performers, to mark the official start of Book Week - a joyful and vociferous conclusion to a prestigous ceremony..

Cam Jones, CBCA Tasmanian Board member
with Her Excellency the Governor.
A light afternoon tea was served and provided Her Excellency and Mr Warner, guests, recipients, CBCA Board members and judges to mingle, congratulate, check the books and enjoy the occasion and the surroundings. Other student representatives included the winning teams from the Hobart Readers Cup competitions. 
South Hobart Readers Cup Primary Team
 with Gina Newton, author of
Amazing Animals,winner of the
Eve Pownall Award.
Friends Readers Cup Secondary Team
with Trace Balla, winner of the
Book of the Year: Younger Readers
for Rockhopping.

 Mr Warner and Johanna Bell, winner of
the Book of the Year: Early Childhood,
for Go Home Cheeky Monkeys.

Ross Watkins and partner,
author of One Photo, enjoying the event.

Left: A proud father with daughter, Meg Caddy, author of Waer, shortlisted in the Book of the Year: Older Readers.

Right: Owner of the real life Mrs Whitlam, and wife of Bruce Pascoe, author of Mrs Whitlam.

Jennie Bales
CBCA Tas Social Media Coordinator

Part 2: Book of the Year Celebratory Dinner – Hobart Waterfront 

The Tasmanian Branch of the CBCA had the pleasure of hosting the Book of the Year celebratory dinner at the Hobart Function and Conference Centre on Elizabeth Street Pier. Over 100 people attended the function and enjoyed delicious food and a spectacular night view of the harbour overlooking the Derwent River. Chamber music, played by a group of young talented musicians set the scene as guests arrived and mingled.
Our Master of Ceremonies Steve Martin, a CBCA Tasmanian Committee Member and Mayor of Devonport conducted the proceedings. The evening began with an interactive quiz which challenged our knowledge with quirky questions relating to children’s literature both old and new. 

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Nan Chauncy Award by Jenni Connor to Mem Fox for her contribution to children’s literature over many years. Mem’s acceptance speech was, as always, entertaining, informative and engaging. She paid tribute to the many other talented and creative people involved in producing her popular books and stated that; “Authors are only 50% of a great picture book”. Mem shared some of her memorable experiences as an author, events from her early life and hilarious responses from her child readers.  She concluded by reading her latest book I’m Australian too and encouraged the audience to join her in singing the last verse of the story to the tune of Advance Australia Fair. As Mem Fox said; “The ending is not the end, the story continues!”

The evening was a wonderful opportunity to meet different authors, illustrators, publishers and award winners, members of the National Board of CBCA, branch and territory members and many other people interested in promoting quality children’s literature at the local, state, and national level in Australia. As Gina Newton, the winner of the Eve Pownall Award said; “it was a magical evening”. 

The evening concluded with a special thanks and appreciation to Nella Pickup for her work in organising the Awards ceremony at Government House, and to Gay McKinnon for leading a stalwart team in executing the dinner.

Leanne Rands
President of CBCA Tasmanian Branch