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

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Reading! by Nella Pickup


Christmas – four days off work!  Of course the time will go quickly - trips to the airport, family commitments, cooking, eating and unwrapping gifts but most importantly there’ll be time to read.  As you can see my bedside pile of books could be considered overwhelming – what a delicious problem to have. What do I read first?

As book sales in Australia, UK and USA have dropped between 9%-12% (that includes online sales & ebook sales), authors have been busy producing wonderful picture books that are rallying cries in the defence of the printed book.  If you haven’t read them already, add these on your reading pile.

Katie Cleminson Otto the Book Bear (Random House)

Otto, the bear, lives in a book and is happiest when his story is being read. Otto is no ordinary book character; at night, he comes to life and explores the house. When he is left behind in a house move, Otto has to find a new home.

But the city is an awfully big world for such a small bear and Otto misses his warm book. Eventually, he finds the best possible home for a book bear, a magical place... a library.

Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood Look, A Book (Little Hare)

Two children walking through a run-down city find a book lying open, and face down in the dirt.  The dreary landscape becomes magical. Hens are large enough to carry the children as they chase a dog holding the book in his jaws, a sheet of corrugated iron and a sheet becomes a glider and a tea cup becomes a row boat. Reading a book can change your life.

Emily Gravett Again! (Macmillan)

A baby dragon cuddles up with Mum for his favourite going-to-bed story. It's about Cedric, a naughty dragon who annoys trolls and grabs princesses to turn into pies. As soon as the story is told, the baby asks Again! After a third reading Mum is very tired and baby is turning into a Cedric lookalike with incendiary consequences.

Don't overlook the end papers.

Meg McKinlay No Bears (Walker Books)

Ruby is creating her own book. She is tired of bears; they aren’t needed for a book, unlike ‘pretty things’, ‘maybe a monster’ and a handful of other ‘things’. Meanwhile, in the background, a friendly looking bear is determined to join in – and just as well as he saves the princess (Ruby) when she is kidnapped by a monster.

Colin McNaughton Have you ever ever ever (Walker Books)

A little boy is alone in a deserted playground, clearly unhappy. As he replies to the narrator, it becomes obvious he (like many of today’s children) is not familiar with many classical nursery rhyme characters. But in the distance Mother Goose is flying down towards him to lead him boy to a special place (a library) where he can meet new friends

Reeve Lindbergh Homer the library cat (Walker Books)


Homer’s quiet life is disrupted one day when a window is broken. After several frustrating attempts to find a suitable place, he winds up in the perfect spot.

Lane Smith’s It’s a book (Walker) has been rereleased in a midi format. Monkey is besieged by Jackass’s questions – no, the book doesn’t tweet, text, need charging or need a password; it’s book.

Happy Reading.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Universal Language - by Penny Garnsworthy



I have only recently returned from a glorious seven weeks in Greece, Italy and Paris where the history and scenery were magnificent and the food and wine were pretty good too. When we left I had visions of spending several of the twenty or so hours in flight catching up on my reading. But a lot has happened in the airline world since my last overseas trip and this time I found myself enjoying the inflight movies, educational television shows and interactive language programs. So unfortunately my reading tended to take a back seat. Having said that I did manage to read Ruth Rendell's A Judgement in Stone and the original Peter Pan by J M Barrie, via my Kindle.



In Rome I happened upon a book store (as one does) and found myself engrossed in the children's section. Many of the books were in English but never one to do anything in half measures I decided to buy some small and beautifully illustrated picture books in Italian, knowing my other half has an Italian/English dictionary at home. So it was I purchased Pinocchio (written by an Italian anyway), I tre porcellini (or as we know it, the Three Little Pigs) and Riccioli d'Oro e i tre orsi (Goldilocks and the Three Bears).

Then, having not seen Paris for thirty years I fell completely in love with that vibrant yet historic city and found myself using school-girl French at every opportunity. By day three I was confidently ordering coffee and croissants in the local language and finding that the staff in the hotel and in the stores could even understand most of what I was saying. And so it was I decided that when I arrived home I would once again seek to learn conversational French.

As I was wandering through Galleries Lafayette, one of two enormous department stores in the Opera district, I found myself in the book department (as one does) and it was there I found the most fantastic collection of children's books; hundreds of books I have never seen before published by publishers I have never heard of. But what a selection! The picture books were just beautiful and there were so many. How could I help myself?



And so, as I practice my newly adopted language, I look forward to reading a couple of classics: Blanche-Neige (or Snow White as we know it) illustrated by Nicolas Duffaut and Thesee et le Minotaure (or Theseus and the Minotaur) adapted by Christine Palluy and illustrated by Elodie Nouhen. I then decided that it was all very well to purchase picture books with limited text but that to really test my understanding of the language I should read a title that is little more challenging. And so L Frank Baum's Le magicien d'Oz was my final purchase and I can't wait to read it.

They say that music is the universal language. Well, perhaps children's books aren't far behind. Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Bending the Truth - by Jenni Connor



When I was younger and fresh from a History Degree, I couldn’t enjoy historical fiction; I felt like the authors were ‘bending the truth’. Now, it’s one of my favourite forms of fiction.
I first ‘met’ Geraldine Brooks when she wrote about the lives of Muslim women in Nine Parts of Desire (1994) and found her engaging talk at a writers’ festival soon after, entertaining, empathetic and insightful. When her novel, March (2005) won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006, it came as no surprise, revealing as it did Brooks’ amazing capacity to depict deeply personal stories against the backdrop of world events – in this case, the American Civil War which had been the setting for Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

Then came her extraordinary tour-de-force People of the Book (2008) which employed the device of the history of an illuminated manuscript to explore pivotal points in the wider history of religion, intolerance and persecution.

This year, I’ve been immersed in Caleb’s Crossing (2011) set in the early days of pilgrim settlement in America’s Martha’s Vineyard. Told through the convincing, sensitive voice of the motherless Bethia, the novel charts the journey of the young indigenous Indian man who comes to call himself ‘Caleb’ so that he can gain an education and succeed in a ‘white coat’ world. The novel is underpinned by Brook’s usual meticulous research, but its real power arises from \the author’s ability to enter the lives of the people of the times and her complete mastery of the language of the day that is so strongly connected to culture and identity.

Interestingly, today’s younger readers and young adults are also often attracted to historical fiction. Jackie French’s Oracle, set in ancient Greece, her great Australian saga, A Waltz for Matilda which portrays the experience of a young woman in 1894 and The Horse that Bit the Bushranger, which is a playful fiction about meeting the notorious Ben Hall in 1865 are all popular.  The Our Australian Girl series titles (Puffin) starring Poppy, Letty, Rose and Grace are walking off the shelves in primary libraries. And Jane Caro’s Just a Girl is a compelling description of the crumbling House of Tudor, told though the eyes of adolescent Elizabeth 1.

 Older Readers who appreciate Australia’s migrant history are intrigued by Gabrielle Wang’s novels A Ghost in My Suitcase and Little Paradise which explore her Chinese heritage.

So, it would seem, ‘bending the truth’ is fine; the ‘truth’ is in the integrity of the storytelling.

Remember to bid on Kate Gordon and Christina Booth's Tasmanian Devil auction - less than two weeks to go! http://www.kategordon.com.au/devil-auction/

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Help Save a Tassie Devil This Christmas - Kate Gordon

As you’ll be aware if you’ve read Thyla, the Tasmanian Devil features prominently in the story. As you may also be aware, the Tassie Devils are in a bit of strife, due to Devil Facial Tumour Disease. The following is from the website of “Save The Tasmanian Devil”:

Tasmanian devils with large facial tumours were photographed in north-east Tasmania during 1996. A decade later, we know these characteristics are consistent with Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).
DFTD is a fatal condition in Tasmanian devils, characterised by cancers around the mouth and head.
DFTD appears to be a new disease that is restricted to Tasmanian devils. No affected animals were detected among the 2000-plus devils trapped by six biologists between 1964 and 1995.

As at February 2010, DFTD had been confirmed across more than 60% of the State. To date, no confirmed cases have been recorded west of the Murchison Highway.

DFTD is extremely unusual: it is one of only three recorded cancers that can spread like a contagious disease. It is spread between individuals through biting. 

Animals usually die within a few months of the cancer becoming visible. Tasmanian devils with facial tumours find it difficult to eat. Death results from starvation and the breakdown of body functions.
In diseased areas, nearly all sexually mature Tasmanian devils (older than two years of age) become infected and succumb to the disease. Juveniles as young as one year old can also be infected. This is resulting in populations with a very young age-structure in which females have only one breeding event, whereas they would normally have three.

Populations in which DFTD has been observed for several years have declined by up to 95% (approximate, due to low sample size in recent years), with no evidence to date of either of the decline stopping or the prevalence of the disease decreasing.

The Tasmanian devil has been listed as Endangered by the Federal and State governments, as well as the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The Tasmanian devil is now wholly protected.

As you can see the situation is pretty dire, and I’ve been thinking for a long time about ways I could help. What I have decided is to run a charity auction. Those of who took part in the Authors For Queensland auction earlier in the year will know what an amazing result can be achieved from this sort of initiative.


I’ve joined forces with the amazing Christina Booth to put this on and together we have five wonderful auction items for you to bid on. They are:
  1. A signed copy of Thyla
  2. A signed copy of the very first hot-off-the-press Vulpi (the sequel to Thyla) – read it before anyone else does!
  3. A signed very rare hardback copy of Christina Booth’s acclaimed picture book, Potato Music
  4. A manuscript assessment of the first thirty pages of a Young Adult Novel, compiled by me!
  5. And the most wonderful prize of all, an original illustration from Christina’s beautiful Tasmanian Devil book, Purinina.
For more information on how to bid and donate, go to the Devil Auction homepage! Share the page with your friends, think about bidding yourself and help me raise much-needed funds for Tasmania’s beloved devils, and score yourself – or a loved one – a fantastic Chrissie present to boot!

- Kate Gordon

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Writing Fantasy 101 by Paul Collins (part two)





* This is part two of Paul's Writing Fantasy post. Part one can be found here: http://cbcatas.blogspot.com/2011/11/writing-fantasy-101-by-paul-collins.html. Now, the journey continues ...


6. TESTS, ALLIES & ENEMIES

The Hero meets difficulties that test his or her strength and commitment. At this point they are usually not huge tests, but they will grow as the journey develops. In the process they will also enlist the help of allies (who may become permanent companions) and they may make enemies. Frodo ─ along with Sam, Pippin and Merry ─ have their first near misses with the dreaded Black Riders and only narrowly escape them. In the process Frodo is strongly tempted to put on the ring, an action that would bring instant doom to him and his companions, but he manages to pass this test. Cinderella’s enemies are her ‘family’, and an unexpected ally is the fairy godmother and prince. Part of her test is not being recognised by her hateful step-mother and step-sisters and in not becoming so caught up in all the wonder and riches of the Ball that she forgets the time. Harry’s news friends are Ron and Hermione; his enemies are Malfoy, Goyle and Crabbe ─ although these are underlings to Harry’s main foe, Lord Voldemort. His tests are many: the sorting hat, moving stairways, Quidditch. Dorothy makes friends with the Scarecrow and Tinman, and later the lion and learns of the Wicked Witch. Jelindel survives various dangers and adversaries, learns more about her companions, becoming friends to some extent, and finds the map to the other links.

This is also the section where we start to learn about the Hero (and their companions and adversaries) by seeing how they deal with the challenges and tests (such as the fights and negotiations in the cantina in Star Wars). This section may take up a large part of the book or the film.

7. APPROACH TO THE INMOST CAVE

The Hero approaches the most dangerous place in the story (keep in mind that this sequence of crossing a threshold, undergoing tests, making allies and enemies, and approaching a very dangerous place may be run over and over again, each time increasing in deadliness and difficulty). The hero makes plans or preparations here, often girding him or herself for what is ahead. Here Luke approaches the Death Star and Frodo approaches Mordor (this is the biggest and deadliest ‘inmost cave’ in LOTR; there are many others on the way of course). Cinderella is scared to meet the prince, and also scared when she falls in love with him. Harry must study hard, learn to fly a broomstick, and decide whether to break Hogwarts rules. Dorothy and her friends approach the Emerald City. Jelindel must go to the Valley of Clouds and fight paraworld beasts to find the next link. Someone tries to kill her.

8. THE SUPREME ORDEAL

Here the Hero risks death, risks failure, risks losing everything ─ often not just for themselves but for their world as well. It usually also brings the Hero to their lowest darkest moment in the story, when everything appears to be over due to their apparent failure, and they cannot go on. They must give up. But they don’t. However, this is also where the Hero undergoes a real or symbolic death (or ‘shares’ in one, as Elliot does in E.T. when his alien friend dies). This allows the Hero to be reborn, an important part of the mythical story. In LOTR, Frodo and Sam enter Mordor ─ the most dangerous place in Middle Earth ─ and Frodo ‘dies’ after being stung by the great spider, Shelob. He is then reborn in time to carry out the final part of the quest. Cinderella must escape from the ball before she turns back to her former self. Harry must defeat the fearsome troll, and partake in his first Quidditch match. Dorothy has to confront the Wicked Witch, enraged at the loss of her ruby slippers. Jelindel faces a paraworld beast much more powerful than she is and one who is intent on killing her. She nearly dies. A demon saves her life.

9. REWARD (SEIZING THE SWORD)

The Hero ─ through bravery, loyalty and determination ─ wins through and obtains the treasure, which may be a magical object such as a gem, a sword, a suit of armour, or sometimes special knowledge or power or ─ as in LOTR with a twist on the fairy story ─ is the destruction of the object that is too powerful and too perilous to keep. Cinderella learns that the prince is in love and will marry the woman whose foot fits the lost slipper. Harry is rewarded with Hermione’s friendship and becomes popular when he wins the Quidditch match against Slitherin. After some difficulty, Dorothy persuades the Wizard to grant all their wishes. The demon that saved Jelindel’s life tells her how to use the power of the link without dissipating it. She also finds a flying craft.

By the Hero’s action the world is saved, especially the Ordinary World from where they started.

10. THE ROAD BACK

In many stories the road back is almost as dangerous as the one coming. Sometimes the dark forces chase the Hero for some way as Darth Vader goes after Luke when the Death Star has been destroyed. Frodo’s road back isn’t just the return to the Shire, which is fairly uneventful, but it’s also what happens when he gets there. Cinderella doesn’t think her step-sisters will let the prince anywhere near her and she’ll have to stay in the ordinary world. Harry’s home is now Hogwarts. But he must face a dangerous journey through the Forbidden Forest. Dorothy goes looking for her way back to Kansas when the Wizard’s hot-air balloon takes off with him in it. Jelindel battles Korok, an alien, and his deadly spacecraft. She must then deal with Daretor and Zimak, who pose a threat of another kind.

11. RESURRECTION

Usually there is a final struggle when the Hero returns to the Ordinary World (or is on the border of it). It can be nearly as dark and deadly as what took place in the Supreme Ordeal and can be seen as a smaller version of that challenge. It’s as if darkness has not been fully vanquished yet and whatever residue of it remains in the world is intent on having one last go. Cinderella tries on the glass slipper that fits. She and the prince fall in love. Harry gets past Fluffy, the three-headed dog, and outwits the flying keys and plays a deadly game of wizard chess in order to stop Voldemort getting the philosopher’s stone, but he’s struck down and seems to die. Dorothy’s greatest danger has already passed when she took on the Wicked Witch, but her own symbolic death occurs when she wakes in Kansas from a death-like sleep. Jelindel has one final battle with the almost omnipotent mailshirt entity, and nearly loses, but narrowly manages to stop it winning.

This stage reminds me of horror movies where the heroes embrace one another, say on the boat in Anaconda, after the villain has been knocked on the head and dumped overboard. Just when you think it’s all over, the villain’s hand leaps from the water, he drags himself back on board, and the fight resumes as though the villain never received an injury.

12. RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR/TREASURE

The Hero comes home ─ though ‘home’ may have changed due to what has happened throughout the story and in the resurrection stage. With them, the Hero brings back the treasure, the elixir, the magical device, the special knowledge that is needed, or restores peace (for the time being) as in Star Wars. [The elixir may also be love, freedom, wisdom, etc.] In LOTR, Frodo brings back an ‘absence’ ─ the ring has been destroyed. This absence is symbolised by his missing finger, bitten off by Gollum who then fell into the furnaces of Mount Doom with it. By his struggles Frodo has saved Middle Earth and his beloved Shire, though not for himself and it is a bittersweet ending for him. Cinderella marries her prince and lives happily ever after, no longer a lowly servant. Harry wakes in hospital and is a hero. He now knows that his parents had loved him, and returns ‘home’ with photos of them. Dorothy learns that home is where it always was, in Kansas with her Aunt Em who really does love her. Like Frodo, Jelindel has saved the world from a terrible evil, but at great cost to herself and others. She has lost her family and had to grow up really fast. She cares about her companions but banishes them to a paraworld. It’s the best choice she can make at that time.

In summary:

1) Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where
2) they receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE
3) They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but
4) are encouraged by a MENTOR (taking on the added role of the HERALD) to
5) CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the Special World where
6) they encounter TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES
7) They APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE, crossing a second threshold
8) where they endure the SUPREME ORDEAL.
9) They take possession of their REWARD and
10) are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.
11) They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are                                                    
   transformed by the experience.
12) They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the
   Ordinary World.

Not all of these stages occur in every fantasy novel but they generally appear in this order (even if some are left out). The approach to the inmost cave and the subsequent facing of the ‘supreme’ ordeal is a sequence that occurs several times, growing in significance and danger each time, until the ultimate ‘supreme’ ordeal is reached (it may be worth thinking of the earlier confrontations just as ordeals, though each one is worse than the one before).

Paul’s many books for young people include series such as The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars, The Quentaris Chronicles and The World of Grrym in collaboration with Danny Willis. His latest book is Mole Hunt, book one in The Maximus Black Files. The trailers are available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S-eKDYqpEs and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4tTn_WXCiw.

Paul has been the recipient of the A Bertram Chandler, Aurealis, William Atheling and Peter McNamara awards and has been shortlisted for many others including the Speech Pathology, Mary Grant Bruce, Ditmar and Chronos awards.

*Paul will be in Tasmania giving writing workshops during April and May 2012. Email him at fordstr@internode.on.net if you would like him to visit your school or library. www.paulcollins.com.au

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Writing Fantasy 101 by Paul Collins (part one)


The most popular (read notorious) question authors get asked is: ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ I built a workshop around this theme to satisfy that question. But how to explain where ideas for fantasy novels come from? I pondered this aspect and realised that the 12 point structure of fantasy is as good a place as any to explain how authors writer humongous tomes. Yes, imagination features heavily, but once students answer the fundamental questions as espoused by the 12 points, they’re well on their way to writing their own fantasy novels. I then built a workshop around that particular theme, too.

So this is how it all works:

Fantasy Cycle

"Real Life" Cycle

Our hero's journey proceeds in stages ─ leaping from their Ordinary World out into the unknown. Eventually, they find their way back home again. During the course of the journey, our hero makes friends and meets foes who help or hinder the rite of passage: this refers to a stage in the journey of life, one that’s difficult and often traumatic, but will affect everything that comes after. The most significant rite-of-passage for humans is the transition from childhood\adolescence into adulthood. [Compare the fantasy cycle with the reality cycle that Isobelle Carmody drew for me after a Hero’s Journey workshop I gave.] Many fantasy stories attempt to emulate this journey (think Star Wars with its adolescent hero). This process is universal and happens to us all. We leave home; this is sometimes scary or exciting and can be both. We leave our ordinary world – our comfort zone, the world of our familiar childhood – to venture out into the unknown, referred to in the ‘structure’ as the Special World. In smaller ways, this journey is repeated again and again throughout our lives. This mythic journey is the underlying structure of most successful fantasy plots.

We kick off our fantasy novel in . . .

1. THE ORDINARY WORLD

This is where our story begins, the world in which the character (they’re not a hero yet!) feels comfortable, which is familiar to them. It’s also the world they are usually reluctant to leave. Frodo hates the thought of leaving the shire and is scared to do so, even though he is also excited at the same time. Cinderella’s ordinary life is spent cleaning up after her step-mother and step-sisters. Her special world is the Ball. Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone: Harry’s is a life of unhappy drudgery with his aunt, uncle and cousin. His special world is Hogwarts. The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy lives with her uncle and aunt on a farm. Her special world is The Land of Oz. Jelindel, in book #1 of my own series The Jelindel Chronicles, Dragonlinks, is anticipating a feast and playing. Her world is safe and, to her, ‘normal’.

Taking the character from their familiar world to an alien one disorients them and makes them vulnerable and adds to the drama of the situation.

2. THE CALL TO ADVENTURE

This is a challenge or a problem that the character can’t ignore. They are compelled to leave the ordinary world, to leave comfort and safety behind. In Star Wars, the call is Princess Leia’s holographic message to Obiwan that Luke Skywalker overhears. In Lord of the Rings, the problem that can’t be ignored ─ that can’t be hidden or destroyed ─ is the ring itself. Here Frodo ─ the keeper of the ring ─ is forced onto the first leg of his journey (not knowing where it will end). Cinderella is invited to the ball; Harry gets a flood of letters in the mail. Dorothy’s dog Toto runs off and Dorothy gives chase. Jelindel is driven from her home by assassins and the subsequent fire and must survive on the streets of D'Loom. This is the first call. The second call is when she and her companions are forced to flee D’Loom.

3. REFUSAL TO THE CALL TO ADVENTURE

The hero isn’t quite a hero yet (he/she becomes one by going on the journey) and they’re quite rightly scared to leave the known and familiar world, or to leave a lesser evil for what might be a greater one. So they refuse or drag their feet or declare their reluctance or happily sleep in like Bilbo in The Hobbit. Luke in Star Wars refuses and actually goes home but then discovers his family has been murdered. Frodo begs Gandalf for time and expresses reluctance. Our protagonist resists the call. Cinderella says, ‘But I haven’t got anything to wear!’ Harry, with a twist to the theme, doesn’t refuse the call to adventure; the Dursleys do it for him. Dorothy runs away from home because she doesn’t want to grow up. Everything has been destroyed so Jelindel has no reason to refuse. She needs the adventure on some level ─ to come into her own.

Again, this is something that every reader and viewer can relate to. The universal fear of the unknown.

4. THE MENTOR (THE WISE OLD MAN OR WOMAN)

This is one of the most important roles in the story and one that occurs early. A wise old man or woman ─ Merlin, Gandalf, Obiwan, Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz ─ is introduced and offers the hero guidance and help for the journey and often gives them some powerful or magical device (Obiwan gives Luke his father’s light sabre; Cinderella’s fairy godmother sends her to the Ball. Hagrid is Harry’s mentor (Dumbledore is often mistaken as Harry’s mentor). Hagrid tells Harry that he’s a wizard and takes him shopping for supplies. Professor Marvel tells Dorothy she is loved and sends her off to find home. Glinda gives Dorothy the ruby slippers that will later get her home again) Jelindel meets Zimak who teaches her kick-fist. The spells at the Temple of verity also help her. Zimak is also a trickster, an archetype found in fantasy.

The mentor’s main aim is to give our future heroes good advice – which the hero sometimes ignores, to their near peril. This relationship between hero and mentor represents a fundamental and universal relationship in human societies and human history: that between parent and child, teacher and student, the old and the new, the past and the future (and how to bridge them). Often the Mentor may be combined with another role, that of getting the Hero started on his/her journey, of bolstering their courage or simply by putting the fear of God into them at what will happen if they don’t undertake the adventure. The Mentor usually doesn’t complete the journey with the Hero since they must do this on their own, proving themselves by doing so.

5. CROSSING THE FIRST THRESHOLD (boundary)

This is the first step upon the road the hero must embark upon. It may take the form of setting out on the journey or dealing with the problem in some fashion (though it will turn out not to be a final solution and the problem will usually return but by this time it will be much bigger and more dangerous).

Luke goes with Obiwan to Mos Eisley and Frodo leaves the Shire. Cinderella travels to the Ball in her magical pumpkin carriage Harry passes through the brick wall at Platform 9 ¾ and steps into the wizard world via the Hogwarts Express. Dorothy travels to Oz via a tornado. Jelindel crosses this boundary when she decides to go after the dragonlinks.

The story now enters a new territory. Here, old skills or knowledge may no longer be useful but fundamentals such as loyalty, bravery and integrity will prove to be lifesavers.

6. TESTS, ALLIES & ENEMIES

The Hero meets difficulties that test his or her strength and commitment. At this point they are usually not huge tests, but they will grow as the journey develops. In the process they will also enlist the help of allies (who may become permanent companions) and they may make enemies. Frodo ─ along with Sam, Pippin and Merry ─ have their first near misses with the dreaded Black Riders and only narrowly escape them. In the process Frodo is strongly tempted to put on the ring, an action that would bring instant doom to him and his companions, but he manages to pass this test. Cinderella’s enemies are her ‘family’, and an unexpected ally is the fairy godmother and prince. Part of her test is not being recognised by her hateful step-mother and step-sisters and in not becoming so caught up in all the wonder and riches of the Ball that she forgets the time. Harry’s news friends are Ron and Hermione; his enemies are Malfoy, Goyle and Crabbe ─ although these are underlings to Harry’s main foe, Lord Voldemort. His tests are many: the sorting hat, moving stairways, Quidditch. Dorothy makes friends with the Scarecrow and Tinman, and later the lion and learns of the Wicked Witch. Jelindel survives various dangers and adversaries, learns more about her companions, becoming friends to some extent, and finds the map to the other links.

This is also the section where we start to learn about the Hero (and their companions and adversaries) by seeing how they deal with the challenges and tests (such as the fights and negotiations in the cantina in Star Wars). This section may take up a large part of the book or the film.

Look out for Part Two of Paul's post next week!


Paul’s many books for young people include series such as The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars, The Quentaris Chronicles and The World of Grrym in collaboration with Danny Willis. His latest book is Mole Hunt, book one in The Maximus Black Files. The trailers are available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S-eKDYqpEs and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4tTn_WXCiw.

Paul has been the recipient of the A Bertram Chandler, Aurealis, William Atheling and Peter McNamara awards and has been shortlisted for many others including the Speech Pathology, Mary Grant Bruce, Ditmar and Chronos awards.

*Paul will be in Tasmania giving writing workshops during April and May 2012. Email him at fordstr@internode.on.net if you would like him to visit your school or library. www.paulcollins.com.au

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Discovering Peter Gouldthorpe - by Patsy Jones



Scientific interest in the Antarctic and Arctic areas was strong in the first years of the twentieth century, with expeditions mounted to attempt to reach both poles.

The British National Antarctic Expedition of 1901, led by Robert Falcon Scott, was forced to return in 1904 having been unsuccessful in the attempt to reach the South Pole. A United States expedition under Robert Peary’s leadership reached the North Pole in 1909, but Peary’s claim to have been the first person to reach the North Pole is not universally accepted.

Then on November 1, 1911, a few days over a hundred years ago, Robert Scott’s ill-fated second expedition to the South Pole set out overland for the Pole, having spent most of that year at their base at Cape Evans.



Peter Gouldthorpe’s latest work, No return : Captain Scott’s race to the Pole, recently published, tells the story of this expedition, accompanied by many full-page illustrations in Peter’s realistic style. Enjoying it reminded me of other work of his, so I spent some time recently revisiting these particular landmarks in Hobart and in Oatlands.

The Oatlands Community Library, which shares the premises of the Oatlands District High School, has an amazing collection of Peter’s work – for any of you planning to visit Oatlands, please ensure you will be there when the library is open (2.00pm – 5.00 pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 10.00am -1.00pm Friday) so you can call in and visit this display.



The material in the library actually consists of some faux books attached to one wall in the library – very realistic indeed, and some even interactive! The Callington Mill at Oatlands is well worth a visit too, while you’re there.



His other works in public display are the trompe l’oeil murals in North Hobart (on the veterinary surgery on the corner of Tasma and Elizabeth Streets, and in Tony Haigh Walk, off Elizabeth Street) and in South Hobart (on a warehouse wall at the bottom of Denison Lane, off Macquarie Street). Perhaps you could arrange a class or family visit to a few of these places and tie it in with polar exploration, Peter’s published books, or just as an enjoyable excursion.



I have often wondered at the story/stories behind all this fascinating public art – can anyone enlighten me? And I wonder if the Hobart City Council has acted to preserve the Hobart examples?


Sunday, 30 October 2011

Bulging Bookshelves! Book expert Maureen Mann talks shelf-purging & discovers some new favourites!



I’ve spent quite some time recently looking at my own collection of books, and making decisions about which one will remain on my shelves. I do it every few years as the collection begins to spill out of the confines of our bookshelves, and each time go through the same angst over the process. I am one of those people who rarely re-reads a book, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that there are some books which I want to have at home. I may not remember the specifics of many of the titles, but I do remember my reaction to each one. I remember the reactions to the very bad, as well as to the brilliant. And so, through the process I have dipped in and out of a few titles. Almost each time I have had my positive impression reinforced. Occasionally I change my mind. So, the discard pile grows, giving me more room for new titles to come.

Do you go through your bookshelves regularly? Do you keep everything, or do you pass on loved books so others can enjoy them too?



So what new (to me) books have I been reading?
Frank Cottrell Boyce has written Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again, the first in a series of sequels to Ian Fleming’s only children’s story. Boyce is the author of the very successful Millions and Cosmic. The Tooting family set off on a life-changing adventure in their campervan which has been modified by adding a huge old engine that was once in an amazing car. This is a story for children of all ages – the ones who remember the original story and/or film, as well as the ones being introduced to the magic for the first time.

Have you been a fan of Ann Brashares’ series which started with The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants? Well, the fifth and final in the series has recently been published. Titled Sisterhood Everlasting, it traces the lives of the girls ten years on, after they have moved apart. Each feels that life is no longer as fulfilling as it had been. Tibby bridges the distance between them but it’s not a happily-ever-after ending. The book sometimes grabs the reader and at other times it’s more of a chore, but for those who have come of age with these characters, you’re sure to want to know what happens.

As always, I’ve also been enjoying several picture books, not all of them recent publications. I came across Mike Dumbleton’s Muddled Up Farm (2003). Why didn’t I know about it earlier? Sadly, it is out of stock, so we have to hope that it might be reprinted. The animals make lots of noise, but not the noises we expect. The farm inspector tries to correct things, but the changes aren’t quite what he intended.
In Jeanne Willis’s Stomp(2011), the blue monster stomps through various rooms in the house, making lots of noise till he finds what he’s looking for. And again, it’s not quite what we expect. The illustrations use primary colours and the text is repetitive and child-friendly. Good fun!

Pete the Cat (by Eric Litwin and James Dean, 2010) with his white shoes sings along his way, “I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes …” But then he steps into a huge pile of strawberries and now has red shoes. There are no tears, the song changes and Pete goes on his way. Because of various accidents, his shoe colours change and each time Pete modifies his song, maintaining his positive outlook on life.

Perfect Square (2011) by Michael Hall is another book using primary colours, but otherwise a different concept. On each double page spread, a square is transformed by changing its format – holes punched, torn, cut, etc – and a new creation appears. It leads children to want to experiment with a piece of square paper and their own imagination. A great addition to early years mathematical concepts.
Please share some of your recent favourites. And let us know how you cope with bulging bookshelves.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Other Cup That Stops the Nation - Maureen's Readers Cup Wrap-up!

Reader's Cup - Book Club just got cool!

Congratulations to all schools involved in his year’s Southern Tasmanian Readers’ Cup. Finals for this competition have been held, for southern schools, over the past two Wednesdays in Hobart: the first for grade 5/6 students and the second for grade 7/8 students. As always, the standard of the students was fantastic, both in their knowledge of the books and in their creativity and there were wonderful contributions from all involved. I’ve had the great pleasure of coordinating the challenge this year and we had 2 wonderful days of competition.

Readers’ Cup was introduced into South Australia by Judy Styles in 1987 after a trip to the USA and the concept has spread to several Australian states. It is a competition in which teams of school students read a set of books, which varies each year, and then compete against each other, based on their knowledge and interpretation of the books. The aim of Readers’ Cup is to encourage all children – not just ‘good readers’ – to read, and to enjoy what they read. It is also a way to reward enthusiastic readers in the context of a team activity.

There are wider benefits as well. Readers' Cup:
  • encourages reading, not only among competitors
  • is a visible way to promote and recognise reading and children’s literature
  • creates a competitive framework for those who enjoy reading
  • provides non-sporting inter-school competition
  • encourages insightful reflection about literature
  • focuses on student achievement
  • provides inter-school communication and interaction
  • is fun!

Tasmania has an extra element which we believe expands the benefits of the competition. It evolved years ago when Tasmania was modifying the curriculum. One of the major focuses then was on thinking skills. It was decided that Readers’ Cup didn’t give students the opportunity to demonstrate their deep understanding of the themes and issues of any of the books. So we introduced a ‘creative element’ in which each team interprets, using a format chosen by them, an aspect or aspects of one or more of the books and presents their interpretation to an audience. Each presentation is expected to last a maximum of five minutes.

The presentations included the use of PowerPoint, plays and movies written by the students, songs and dance. We had 3 judges for each of the finals and thanks go to them for giving up their time and enthusiasm. Thanks also go to our MC for both events, who was able to fit Readers’ Cup in between his university tutorials. The adults involved enjoyed things as much as did the students.
We had six schools register for each level of the event, but unfortunately one of the secondary schools had to withdraw at the last minute. We’d love to have more involvement in 2012 so keep your eyes and ears open for the notification about the preliminary meeting early in term 1. It’s usually held in March. (Readers’ Cup is also alive well in other parts of the state but is run by ASLA).

So, after all that information, who won? Congratulations go to Princes Street Primary School and the Fahan School, in the secondary section. But all those who competed, whether they were the teams in individual schools who didn’t make the cut for the inter-school competition or the ones who came to the finals, gained a great deal from their reading, their team spirit and the fun they had through the process.

Information about the books used in the 2011 Southern Schools Readers Cup competition can be found on the CBCA (Tasmania) website: www.cbcatas.org. Early in 2012 the Guidelines for next years’ Readers’ Cup will be posted here too.

Just before I finish. In my last blog back in August, I talked about the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, administered by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. The winner was announced at the beginning of October and congratulations go to I Know Here by Laurel Croza.



Happy reading and see you next time.

The Other Cup That Stops the Nation - Maureen's Reader's Cup Wrap-up!

Reader's Cup - Book Club just got cool!

Congratulations to all schools involved in his year’s Southern Tasmanian Readers’ Cup. Finals for this competition have been held, for southern schools, over the past two Wednesdays in Hobart: the first for grade 5/6 students and the second for grade 7/8 students. As always, the standard of the students was fantastic, both in their knowledge of the books and in their creativity and there were wonderful contributions from all involved. I’ve had the great pleasure of coordinating the challenge this year and we had 2 wonderful days of competition.

Readers’ Cup was introduced into South Australia by Judy Styles in 1987 after a trip to the USA and the concept has spread to several Australian states. It is a competition in which teams of school students read a set of books, which varies each year, and then compete against each other, based on their knowledge and interpretation of the books. The aim of Readers’ Cup is to encourage all children – not just ‘good readers’ – to read, and to enjoy what they read. It is also a way to reward enthusiastic readers in the context of a team activity.

There are wider benefits as well. Readers' Cup:
  • encourages reading, not only among competitors
  • is a visible way to promote and recognise reading and children’s literature
  • creates a competitive framework for those who enjoy reading
  • provides non-sporting inter-school competition
  • encourages insightful reflection about literature
  • focuses on student achievement
  • provides inter-school communication and interaction
  • is fun!

Tasmania has an extra element which we believe expands the benefits of the competition. It evolved years ago when Tasmania was modifying the curriculum. One of the major focuses then was on thinking skills. It was decided that Readers’ Cup didn’t give students the opportunity to demonstrate their deep understanding of the themes and issues of any of the books. So we introduced a ‘creative element’ in which each team interprets, using a format chosen by them, an aspect or aspects of one or more of the books and presents their interpretation to an audience. Each presentation is expected to last a maximum of five minutes.

The presentations included the use of PowerPoint, plays and movies written by the students, songs and dance. We had 3 judges for each of the finals and thanks go to them for giving up their time and enthusiasm. Thanks also go to our MC for both events, who was able to fit Readers’ Cup in between his university tutorials. The adults involved enjoyed things as much as did the students.
We had six schools register for each level of the event, but unfortunately one of the secondary schools had to withdraw at the last minute. We’d love to have more involvement in 2012 so keep your eyes and ears open for the notification about the preliminary meeting early in term 1. It’s usually held in March. (Readers’ Cup is also alive well in other parts of the state but is run by ASLA).

So, after all that information, who won? Congratulations go to Princes Street Primary School and the Fahan School, in the secondary section. But all those who competed, whether they were the teams in individual schools who didn’t make the cut for the inter-school competition or the ones who came to the finals, gained a great deal from their reading, their team spirit and the fun they had through the process.

Information about the books used in the 2011 Southern Schools Readers Cup competition can be found on the CBCA (Tasmania) website: www.cbcatas.org. Early in 2012 the Guidelines for next years’ Readers’ Cup will be posted here too.

Just before I finish. In my last blog back in August, I talked about the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, administered by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. The winner was announced at the beginning of October and congratulations go to I Know Here by Laurel Croza.



Happy reading and see you next time.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Popular versus "literary" - where do you stand?



I used to work in the children's section of an independent book shop. I made it my duty to read just about every children's book that hit the shelves, so I could knowledgeably recommend the books to both children and parents.

Some days, I wondered why I bothered.

Parents (and grandparents) would come up to me and ask for recommendations for birthday presents or occasional gifts. "She's fifteen," they'd say. "What do you recommend for a fifteen year old?"

That question in itself always made me cringe. As if all fifteen year olds are the same and enjoy reading exactly the same kind of book! But I was used to this question. I was used to having to dig a little bit deeper. So I'd ask, "Do you know what other books they've read and enjoyed?"

Often this question would get met with a blank look, or a look of aggravation - like why was I annoying them with all these questions? Why couldn't I just pick a book off the shelf and give it to them? Why was I wasting their time? If the parent did answer the question with any degree of certainty, at least fifty percent of the time the answer went something along the lines of, "Well, she liked that [insert name of popular book of the moment] book. But I don't want her reading stuff like that. I want her reading 'good books'."

At this point my soul would die a little bit.

For me, reading is pleasure. It's entertainment. Like the great Jacqueline Wilson said (and I'm paraphrasing enormously here) when asked how parents should go about getting their children to read: "Don't tell them they have to get off their computer or their video games and go and read. Don't make it sound like a punishment. Surround them with books from an early age. Set an example by reading yourself and showing them that reading is fun."

Reading is fun. And rewarding. And life-changing. And who know, parents? That [popular book] you were so quick to dismiss could well be the book that allows your child to cope with bullying - a role the very popular Tamora Pierce books had in my life - or turn them on to reading hundreds of other books and starting a lifelong love of reading. Harry Potter did this for millions of children. And I lost count of the number of teenagers who'd come into my old workplace saying "I just read Twilight. I love reading now. What else would you recommend?"

I'd take absolute pleasure in recommending a Maggie Stiefvater or a Claudia Gray or, if they were older, the delicious Gail Carriger Alexia Tarabotti series, or even (if I got the feeling they might be into it), Justine Larbalestier's incredible Liar. If they were ready to move on from vampires (but really, why should they have to?), we'd chat about the superlative John Green, or the wickedly funny and incisive Libba Bray or Scott Westerfeld or, if they were after a bit of action and suspense, maybe some Chris Morphew or even the gut-wrenching (and, yes, incredibly popular) Hunger Games series.

The kids who came into my workplace after having read Twilight were so excited about reading; so switched on; so open to new ideas, new genres, the new worlds that reading could give them.

The parents? Half the time they were the same. Half the time they just wanted their kids to read and they were happy to discuss their child's reading with me and work with me to find a book they'd actually enjoy. The other half? Notsomuch. "Is that about vampires? No thanks. That's popular rubbish, isn't it? Don't you have any Enid Blyton?"

As a side issue, my favourite comment was a common one, often from grandparents who, after I showed them piles of brilliant new kids' books, would say, "They all look a bit dark and violent. Do you have any Roald Dahl?"

I'll leave that one with you.

Back to the popular versus literary argument - or "bad books" versus "good books", if you like. I once had a brilliant conversation with a hugely popular bestselling Australian author of teen science fiction action bestsellers who told me that he didn't care if he never won an award because the main thing was that kids loved his books and that he made a difference to them, not the adults who judged children's book awards. I guess it leads to the question: Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can't he be hugely popular and win awards, because he writes books kids want to read? Surely that's the ultimate goal?

I watched "Compass" on Sunday night and had to smirk when Geraldine Doogue introduced Christos Tsiolkas as the writer of "that rarest of things: the literary bestseller." I also rolled my eyes when listening to a podcast by the (I think) wonderful Anita Shreeve who talked about the numerous newspapers who condescendingly called her books "not quite literary" and was then thrilled at all the men in her Wheeler Centre talk who stood up and "outed" themselves as readers of her supposed "women's novels".

Why shouldn't men read women's novels?

Why shouldn't science fiction books be shelved in the literary section and (my personal bugbear) books by literary writers that are blatantly science fiction or fantasy (I'm talking to you, Margaret Atwood and Jeanette Winterson) be shelved in speculative fiction? This literary snobbery might be useful in some circles but most of us just want to read. We want it to be pleasurable, not hard work. Kids especially. And you never know, if you let them read anything (within, of course, the bounds of your personal morality) - like Christos Tsiolkas' non-English-speaking father did when he bought him Mills and Boon and Charles Dickens and all manner of other random books because he had no idea what the titles meant -  they just might chance upon a few "literary" books along the way.

Reading shouldn't be a chore. I'm as happy reading the latest Joanna Trollope as I am reading Anthony Trollope (and, you know, he was pretty "popular" back in the day); as happy reading Martin Amis as I am reading Ann M Martin.

Every single author I've heard speak has said they read voraciously on a range of subjects. Popular and "literary". Wide reading means open minds and - to use Tsiolkas' own terminology - "free thinkers".

If only free thinking was more "popular".

What do you think? What's more important: that kids love reading or that they read books with "literary merit" (prepared for healthy debate here)!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

How my heroes are changing - by CBCA judge, Jenni Connor


I grew up on Detective fiction really, devouring every Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham in my youth and becoming addicted to the pantheon of Elizabeth George, PD James and Ruth Rendell as they came on the scene. The very early ‘lady writers’ invariably created an elegant, dignified gentleman as their brilliant crime solver. Lord Peter Wimsey, Inspector Alleyn and Albert Campion (not to mention Christie’s indubitable Poirot) used their incisive wit and extraordinary minds to seek out and destroy the most cunning villain and restore polite society to its rightful balance.

Have you read any of these recently? I have a friend in London who re-reads them all, regularly. I don’t know how she can bear to; the style now seems infuriatingly archaic, posturing and lacking in reality.
The same cannot be said for contemporary masters of the genre!

For 20 years, Ian Rankin took his tough, hard drinking cop, Detective Inspector Rebus, into Edinburg’s grimy underbelly – where he felt perfectly at home. Rankin describes his influences as Robert Louis Stevenson and the Gothic tradition which leads him to explore the Jekyll and Hyde qualities of a contemporary urban environment. I imagine I wasn’t the only devotee to mourn Rebus’ departure in Exit Music.

All of this grimness, of course, paled into insignificance when Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy burst on the scene, with Lisbeth Salander possibly the most oppressed and indomitable heroine of contemporary fiction.

Having relished the trilogy, like many fellow addicts, I turned to Jo Nesbo for another take on the Nordic landscape and culture. The Snowman (2010) made Nesbo’s name when it won the prestigious Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel – joining Larsson and Henning Mankell in the illustrious list of recipients.

Recently, I tackled The Redbreast (2006), an ambitious and complex novel that spans from the Second World War to the present day. It delves deep into an unpalatable past, when Norwegian troops collaborated with Nazi Germany and fought for Hitler on the Eastern front. In the novel, surviving soldiers are being murdered one by one, and Harry Hole, a good, but troubled cop in the Olso Crime Squad has to stay off the grog long enough to bring matters to a close. There’s a rich palette of characters and the constant switching between the two time zones means it’s wise to keep a list of Dramatis Personae handy. Dedicated readers of the genre will find much to enjoy as well as much to mull over about old wounds, old debts and the grey areas of morality.

Then, a knowledgeable bookseller where I was travelling (don’t you love them?) recommended another Nordic writer – Camilla Lakberg –‘The hottest female writer in Sweden at the moment’ as the cover screams. Interestingly, the novel, The Hidden Child, also deals with a terrible secret from the darkest days of WW11. While the plot is intriguing, the characterisation is slightly stereotyped; the novel may have suffered in translation. There is almost a surfeit of ‘detectives’, including a young policewoman who is in a gay relationship whose partner is having a child through IVF, and a male detective who is on Paternity Leave.

We’ve certainly come a long way from an entertaining effete little man twirling his moustache!


* Who are your literary heroes? Have they changed over time?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Imagination Takes Flight!

Before our newsletter officer, Penny Garnsworthy, flew away to the other side of the world, she filled us in on a couple of books that made her mind travel to new and wondrous places!

I’m still on the adventure of catching up on my reading books for young people, and I've just finished two amazing books for young adults.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile was written by American author Eloise Jarvis McGraw in 1963. It is the story of a slave girl in ancient Egypt who gets herself involved in both sides of the political argument surrounding Hatshepsut and her brother Thutmose. The novel was brilliantly researched (I learned more about life in Egypt reading it than much of the non-fiction I have read over the years) and beautifully written with just the right amounts of romance, intrigue, adventure and suspense. And it has a typical happy ending. I guess you’d say it’s an old fashioned type of book.

By comparison, Triple Ripple was written by Australian author Brigid Lowry in 2011. It is three stories in one: the fairytale set in a typical fairytale setting; the reader’s story as she reads the fairytale; and the writer’s story as she writes it. The premise has been well thought out and this results in a story that’s quirky and fun and at times, very, very different. And it doesn’t have a 'typical' happy ending.

I guess you’d say it’s a modern, contemporary tale.

I just can’t imagine two books for the same age group being such poles apart (and 48 years). And yet I loved them both. I loved the descriptions of the settings, the characters and their respective issues, and I learned a lot about people and places I didn’t previously know.

Just goes to show that books are an enduring medium. And whether they’re a hardcover, a paperback or an electronic file I’ll still be reading them for many years to come!

Have a great trip, Penny! We'll miss you but we know you'll come back with lots of wonderful stories!


What have you been reading lately that's made your imagination take a journey?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Want to be the Tasmanian judge for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards?



Applications are invited for the Tasmanian representative on the interstate judging panel for the 2013 and 2014 CBCA Book of the Year Awards.
The Children’s Book Council of Australia (Tasmanian Branch) Inc. invites applications for the honorary position of CBCA Book of the Year Awards Judge representing Tasmania on the National Awards Judging Panel for the 2012 and 2013 CBCA Book of the Year Awards. Reading commences in May 2012.
Selection Criteria:
· Recognised standing and qualifications in the field of children’s literature
· Wide and recent knowledge of children’s literature, especially Australian children’s literature
· Awareness of illustration techniques, design, editing, printing and production processes
· Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
Eligibility for serving as a judge:
Those seeking the position as Tasmanian judge must be current financial members of The Children’s Book Council of Australia (Tasmanian Branch) Inc.
A person with a current vested interest in the Awards may not be a judge. Examples include authors, illustrators, book editors and publishers.
Notes
Judges are appointed for a two-year term.
The reading period extends from approximately May till February. Reports on each book are compiled and circulated and discussed via email and teleconferences with other members of the panel during this time.
Between the end of February and the Short List announcement, judges prepare for the five-day Judges’ Conference in late March/early April, by rereading and refining potential shortlists. All judges attend the Judges’ Conference at which short lists, honour books and winners of the Awards are decided.
The Tasmanian judge is also expected to promote the Awards in the Tasmanian community, to write brief reports for the newsletter, and to contribute to the compilation of Notable Australian Children’s Books.
Detailed information of the process, role and responsibility can be found in the wards handbook section on the CBCA websitehttp://cbca.org.au/publisherinfo.htm - go to - Judges role and responsibilities
If you wish to apply for this position, please send a letter outlining your interest and addressing the selection criteria to The President, CBCA (Tas Inc.), PO Box 113, MOONAH 7009.
If you wish to send an application in electronic form, or require any further information, please contact the Secretary through the CBCA (TAS) website to be provided with an email address.
Applications close on 30 September.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

To PD nor not to PD by CBCA Tas secretary and bookshop worker, Nella Pickup


The last few weeks I’ve had some interesting PD opportunities.

Recently Carol Fuller & I attended a lecture by Professor Len Unsworth “The literacies of image and languages and the new national English curriculum”.  I wasn’t sure what to expect – education speak and great long ugly words – yes, they were there in abundance but also an explanation/exploration of the visual choices authors make.

As with all PD, you must practise what you’ve learned. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to read graphic novels in the past. So I read an illustrated book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brain Selznick (Scholastic 2007).  When first published, this was a ground breaking book - a unique work of art, of spare text, and of sheer imagination.  The illustrations are essential to the story.  Four years later, it’s still an exceptionally good read.

Next PD was to attend Ellen Forsyth’s Connecting with people: Twitter reading groups, scenarios for the future of public libraries and games.  I’d heard Ellen speak at other sessions.  She’s entertaining and energetic.  Luddite that I am, I just don’t get why people would waste good reading time to twitter about the books they’ve read.  ***

Then some professional reading.  An article about what’s on your bedside table made me reflect about the books I’ve just been reading.  Then I read one of Will Manley’s discussions about weeding.  “When you are weeding your collection, forget the printout that the head of circulation gives you. Circulation statistics do not tell the whole story.... Why don’t you start by looking for food stains? Books with food stains are so good their readers could not put them down even while eating.”

So here are my bedside table’s recent highlights and their food stain ratings.

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan. Macmillan October 2011 ...

... is a toast burner i.e. you become so engrossed in the well crafted, sometimes blood chilling story, you forget about everything around you.

This is a page turning science fiction adventure thriller – first of the Sky Chasers series. Told through the alternating narratives of the kidnapped Waverley and Kieran, the victim of a Lord of the Flies style mutiny, it examines many important issues - survival, religion, politics, right versus might, the inviolability of the individual versus the needs of the whole community, the role of the charismatic leader and mob mentality.

The characterisation is brilliant – the villainous Anne Mather - grandmotherly, disarmingly sweet, until someone crosses her; Waverley - strong and steely character; Kiernan starts out as a cardboard cut-out hero (all dull and superior) but develops into a complex and broken young man; underdog and seemingly villainous Seth Ardvale is caught in a love triangle.

Pod  by Stephen Wallenfels Allen & Unwin July 2011

Food stains of great variety until you get to the Bathtub Man scene.

Another dystopian thriller. For 28 days giant spinning balls fill the sky.  They kill anyone who goes outside.  Josh (16 years old) and his obsessive compulsive dad are at home in suburban Washington; Megs, a 12 year old who lives in the back of a car with her mother, is trapped inside a multi storey car park. Food and water are running out – how will they survive?

Shift by Em Bailey Hardie Grant September 2011

Sorry – no food rating – too much of a roller coaster ride to eat.

Olive is a self imposed outsider with one friend: Ami. Olive watches the new girl, Miranda develop an unhealthy obsession with Olive’s former best friend Katie.  As Miranda begins to resemble Katie, Olive becomes suspicious and believes Miranda is a shape-shifter – sucking the life from people and then moving on.  But is Olive a reliable narrator? She fears the ocean, blames herself for her parents’ divorce, and talks cryptically about her past.

A mystery within a mystery shifting between psychological and paranormal, sinister and supernatural, horror and romance.

Straight Line to my Heart by Bill Condon. Allen & Unwin August 2011

Coffee, chocolate and (happy) tear stains.

A wonderful story about growing up and going with the flow.  Tiff has just finished school.  Work experience at the local newspaper is not what she expected.  Her life is filled with iconic Aussie characters, tough Reggie and his policeman son Bull, best friend Kayla, interview candidate Clarence  a 98 year old centenarian (read the book) and the awkward goofy yet lovable Davey.

And last but not least – a picture book.

The Carrum Sailing Club by Claire Saxby & Christina Booth. Windy Hollow September 2011

No food stains on my picture books!  But if there were, they’d be melted icy pole drips and sandy sandwich crumbs. A glorious celebration of summer at the beach.

*** As an avid Twitterer who sees reading as a sharing, communal experience as much as a personal one, and Twitter as a wonderful medium for connecting with other avid booky tweeps, website officer Kate Gordon wonders what other CBCA members think about the sharing of booky love via social media. And don't forget you can follow the Tasmanian CBCA branch on www.twitter.com/CBCATas!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Squeezing in some reading - Carol Fuller blogs on books she's read and enjoyed


In between travelling from Smithton to Dover, talking to parents about how to choose good books for children I have managed to read some books, both children’s and adults.  Thought you might like to hear about some.

‘Trouble Twisters’, by Garth Nix and Sean Williams published by Allen & Unwin is a fairly new one. If you have read Sean William’s ‘The Changeling’, the voices in this joint writing effort will probably ring bells and resonate with you.  Sean Williams seems to like voices that speak inside the protagonist’s head and the device worked really well in ‘The Changeling’ series.

'Trouble Twisters' seems set for a younger audience more in keeping with the audience of Nix’s previous series which used the days of the week as its guiding and naming gambit.  Personally I preferred William’s series for older readers but the partnership has not gone to waste.

The Trouble Twisters, Jack and Jaide will appeal to that horde of youngsters who love magic, fantasy, a quest and the traditional good versus evil theme. But I can’t help thinking, “I’ve read all this before.”  There is a slightly new approach when the twins start to think that in fact their grandmother is the evil they must defeat and this as it happens is almost their undoing.  The twins and the reader are kept in the dark about the real facts about the Family until a good way into the story, hereby creating a niggling desire to keep reading just to find out.  One almost reaches the point of exasperation!  Just what is going on?

Even at the end of the book, obviously the first in the series, there are many questions still to be answered.

Coincidently the next two books I read were for older readers, Sonya Hartnett’s ‘The Midnight Zoo’ and Cath Crawley’s, ‘Graffiti Moon’.  That’s right, both featured very highly in the Book of the Year awards.  Was this a spooky premonition on my part that I choose these?  Don’t know, but I can certainly see why they were up there.  I loved ‘The Midnight Zoo’ with its post-apocalyptic setting and the unusual part reality, part fantasy characters of the animals. The video of the story that ran through my head as I read was very dark and shadowy and it was impossible to predict what was going to happen. I think 'gripping' might be an appropriate adjective.  ‘Graffiti Moon’ is also a dark book in that it is set at night, but this time the reader knows more than the characters about what might happen, it’s just a matter of when and if and how.  Having observed graffiti art all over the world; on train carriages and railway walls all through Europe and our own local contributions in Royal Park, I’ve always wondered if this stuff is art or trash.  After this novel I believe I gained an extra insight into and an appreciation of this aspect of youth culture.

Squeezing in a couple of adult books; I read Jodi Picoult’s ‘Nineteen Minutes’ and Steve Conte’s ‘The Zoo Keeper’s War’.   There seems to have been a thread there with war and zoos and young people and relationships.   These are all quite different books but I enjoyed them all and gained new information about the effects of bullying and what happens to animals in war time amongst other things.  That’s a good eclectic mix for you.

Sally Sara’s, ‘Gogo, Mama’, is another book I would recommend to older readers and adults.  I can’t say it is an enjoyable book in that it describes the incredible abuse and injustices perpetrated on females in African cultures even as I write. The book, published in about 2007, features Sally’s interviews with 12 women from different African countries. We are given a fascinating insight into their lives, their courage, and their incredible capacity to survive and flourish despite suffering such enormities as female circumcision, slavery, HIV and the Rwandan and other wars that seem to plague that continent.  How lucky we are to live in Australia!   And how lucky are we to have so many diverse books to read and enjoy.

What have you been reading and enjoying lately?