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

Friday, 19 February 2021

Introducing the President of CBCA Tasmania

Steve Martin has been involved with CBCA Tasmania in recent years and has been active in his promotion of reading and literacy in the north-west of Tasmania. Steve has kindly shared some snapshots of influencing factors and drivers to lead the branch as we celebrate and promote children’s literature and reading.

Reading well is essential to tackling the effects of child poverty and is the keystone of a good start in life for all children. An important role for parents in the development and educational performance of their children is reading aloud to their children from birth. 

 

It is undeniable that a child’s reading skill is important to their success in school, work, and life in general. And it is very possible to help ensure the child’s success by reading aloud to them starting at birth. Some benefits of reading aloud to children include, supported cognitive development; improved language skills; preparation for academic success; developing a special bond between parent and child; increased concentration and discipline; improved imagination and creativity; and cultivating a lifelong love of reading.

 

Parents have an incredible ability to have a positive impact on children’s ability to read. This need not be an onerous activity – just reading aloud ten minutes a day can make a huge difference. Such investment would increase the child’s reading and other cognitive skills, as well as positively affect the likelihood of acquiring higher education, advanced training, along with the economic returns in terms of wages and quality of jobs. Numerous studies have shown that students who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well when they reach their period of formal education, transforming children’s lives by helping them overcome poverty, leading them to better health and increased income opportunities.

 

Imagine not having the ability to read a job description, apply for a job, or know the content of a contract you sign. Those are typically the basic steps of finding a job or starting a business. A lack of literacy has also been commonly found to make it harder for people looking to enter the workforce for the first time, restricting their job choices/opportunities and income; limiting their ability to provide and care for themselves (and their families); and continue the cycle of poverty.

 

Poverty and food insecurity are ever present in our communities, in fact, 13.6% of Australians live below the poverty line and 15% have experienced food insecurity in the past 12 months. The effects of growing up in poverty increases the likelihood of food insecurity which in turn, could impair a child's ability to concentrate and perform well in school; is linked to behavioural and emotional problems from preschool through adolescence; and is tied to conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.

 

The current issues of poverty and food insecurity need to be addressed, but at the same time so does breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and food insecurity. Literacy development is a vital part of a child’s overall development, an investment in their future, helping develop a strong foundation to enable them to reach their full potential and in turn help build and strengthen their communities, ending the vicious cycle.

 

Through the role of Devonport Mayor, the importance of children’s literacy as an investment in the future of children, families and communities was realised and led to joining the Tasmanian Branch of the CBCA so that more could be learnt and positive actions promoting the real benefits of children’s literacy could be implemented. Four years on, now President, it is also important that the value and the effect of what our authors and illustrators produce should not be lost or underestimated - family, state, or nationwide.  


Steve Martin,

President, Toast for Kids Charity Inc.

President, Tasmanian Branch – Children’s Book Council of Australia

Friday, 12 February 2021

Hans Christian Andersen Award nominees for 2022

Every alternate year, IBBY (International Board of Books for Young People) recognises an author and an illustrator for their lasting contribution to the world of children’s literature.   For information about previous winners, current nominees and the Judges panel see https://www.ibby.org/awards-activities/awards/hans-christian-andersen-awards

The Australian nominees for HCA 2022 are Margaret Wild for writing and Tohby Riddle for illustration. We all know their names but who are they and why did IBBY Australia nominate them for this prestigious award?


Margaret Wild

Margaret Wild began writing children’s books in 1983. For 16 years, she combined her own writing career with managing and commissioning children’s books with a range of publishers including Omnibus Books, ABC Books, Methuen and Angus & Robertson. Since 2000, Margaret Wild has been a full-time writer publishing over 100 books. Her range is wide - from lyrical books of everyday domestic issues for the very young to more complex works for old readers. Her themes of homeless, imprisoned, dying, lost and the aged and such social concerns as bullying, divorce and Alzheimer’s disease have been said to be unconventional for children’s books. 


Margaret Wild has also written verse and prose novels, including Jinx (2001) which has been translated into nine languages.  


Her awards for personal achievement include 2020 Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature; 2011 Lady Cutler Award (CBCA NSW); 2008 Nan Chauncy Award for an outstanding contribution to children’s literature in Australia; and the 2001Centenary Medal for service to Australian society and literature.  



Tohby Riddle

Tohby Riddle created his first picture book in 1989. He has contributed cartoons to Good Weekend and The Sydney Morning Herald. A selection of his cartoons was published in What’s the Big Idea? (Penguin Viking, 2003). Riddle’s illustrations and writings have appeared in the NSW School Magazine, where he has been a member of the editorial staff, and was also editor for a time. 


His works include award-winning picture books, non-fiction and fiction for junior readers, television adaptations and a YA novel. His short stories have been anthologised in a number of collections. He has won and been shortlisted for many awards including: 1996 Winner of the IBBY Australia Noël Award for The Tip at the End of the Street (1996); 2001 Joint Winner of the Wilderness Society of Australia Environment Award (Picture Books Category) for The Singing Hat (2000); 2009 Winner Australian Publishers Association Design Awards Best Designed Picture Book Award for Nobody Owns the Moon (2008); 2009 Winner NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature for The Word Spy (with Ursula Dubosarsky) (2008); and 2011 Winner Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year: Older Readers Award for The Return of the Word Spy (with Ursula Dubosarsky) (2010). In 2016, The Greatest Gatsby: A Visual Book of Grammar was shortlisted for a Prime Minister’s Literary Award (Children’s Fiction) and was included on the International Youth Library’s White Ravens list. 


Tohby Riddle’s intertextual art is complex, engrossing and highly literate. What Tohby Riddle brings to his uniquely layered and perfectly calibrated illustrative art is utter integrity, brilliant wit, complex ideas, intellectual rigour and an ability to witness the world with a willingness to question and to challenge orthodoxies. 



Nella Pickup

IBBY Australia Executive Committee member


Friday, 5 February 2021

The Snowball Effect

Emma Nuttall shares a powerful classroom reading experience steeped in free choice and reading for pleasure inspired by the works of Morris Gleitzman. This is an inspiring piece that demonstrates how current research on the power of student choice is being played out in a Tasmanian school.

Last year an incredible thing happened. We managed to inspire a class of children to independently read the incredible Once series by Morris Gleitzman, by doing very little. But the very little that we did do was tactical. It was considered. And it was powerful. So, so powerful. And all we did was read.


Once, and the further adventures of Felix, written by Morris Gleitzman.


Each day in our class we read
to the children. We read a class novel that we have carefully chosen. Well not so much chosen, as agonised over for weeks on end. We’ve read more book reviews than we care to admit, and we’ve hounded other teachers, librarians and even our favourite bookshop proprietors (Jo, we are talking about you!) for hot tips. We might read 5 novels a year to each class and with so many to choose from, the pressure is on to get it right! And when we do the impact is often immeasurable, but completely visible. We read the chosen class novel to inspire, but we have consciously chosen to read the class novel simply for reading pleasure. There are no associated reading comprehension activities, no writing your own ending, no doing a new front cover. Just for pleasure.
 


Morris Gleitzman talks about his favourite characters:
Felix and Zelda from Once.

But the Snowball Effect was different. Not only do we read to the class each day, but we also read with the class. And by this, I mean, when the children are reading independently, so are the teachers. When they read, we read. When I say ‘we’, I mean a class share scenario. We both started reading the series. At first the children were simply interested to see which of us was reading faster, then, slowly but surely, they began to ask us about the book, noting our gasps and genuine displeasure at the end of quiet reading time! When we finished Once (I didn't win if you are wondering!), we started on Then, the next book in the series. It was at that point we noticed that all six copies of the book had disappeared off the shelves. By the time we started on Now (you guessed it, the third book in the series) there was a queue for the books, and everyone knew the order! 


By this point, it was getting serious, children were turning up at school with shiny new copies and proudly showing off their birthday box sets. Grandmothers were coerced into buying copies of the next book as a ‘special treat’ and we had exhausted the State and school library’s collections! 


Children who were more interested in reading mountain bike magazines (not that there is anything wrong with mountain bike magazines) were now fighting for their turn of the next book in the series. The most beautiful part was that everyone was very careful not to ruin the plot.... The conversation instead went: “Which book are you up to? And what’s happening?” The response was instead met with a knowing smile.


Obviously, we are now seeking recommendations for the next Once Snowball Effect!


Acknowledgement to Megan Tubb for starting the snowball rolling and happy binge reading everyone!


Emma Nuttall

Teacher, reader and passionate advocate for children’s literature.


Editor’s note: Watch out for the release of the final book in the series about Felix: Always. Due for release in the middle of the year. If you have a suggested series to kick off a similar snowball effect please add a comment here or to the FB post.


Friday, 29 January 2021

Inspiring literacy through Workshops facilitated by Tasmanian Authors and Illustrators

In 2019 CBCA Tasmania in partnership with the Department of Education Tasmania, received a federal grant to improve the literacy of students by participating in CBCA Book Week activities and promoting educational learning experiences. 2021 will be the third year of the grant implementation which will continue until December 2022.  


One of the programs developed is the Workshops in Schools. The program is available to all Tasmanian schools including Government, Independent & Catholic schools. The popularity of the workshops is indicated by the increasing number of school memberships which were 60 in 2019 when the program was initiated, and 73 in 2020. This is remarkable considering the pandemic challenges schools faced in 2020 and highlights the impact of interactive workshops on students and teachers around the state.

 

Student Comments

  • I loved the workshop with Emily (Conolan) My favourite part was when we went off and wrote our own “choose your own” stories. 
  • It was a great experience to have! I can’t wait to write some more stories! 
  • I learnt that “Person, Plot and Problem” are the keys to creating a good story. 

Teacher Comments

  • Lian Tanner is simply great at getting the students upping the quality of their writing, she has a real gift for connecting with kids 
  • Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas, Daniel, your openness inspired us. We now have many authors/artists-in-the-making. We can’t wait to see if any of our suggestions make it to Grandma Z: the sequel.   

Creator Comments

  • I am excited to have been one of the many authors visiting schools. I gain greatly from these visits too. Being a cave dwelling creator, it is always good for the creative soul to get out into the daylight and be replenished by meeting your audience and sharing and inspiring writers and readers of all ages. One of the things I love is hearing stories from others and discussing the stories I have created. (Christina Booth)
  • To be able to visit schools within our own state has a certain beauty, a real attachment for our creative place. The CBCA Tasmania grant enables small schools to benefit from interacting with creators to develop ideas to inspire written and visual narratives which is often not financially viable. (Coral Tulloch)

How can l organise for a Tasmanian creator to facilitate a workshop in my school?

An annual membership of $70 entitles your school to a half day workshop consisting of two 60-minute sessions or one 90-minute session. To augment the interactive literacy experience for your students, class size groups are recommended. Regional Coordinators are available to assist you with the organisational procedures.


Coral Tulloch and
reading fans

These workshops provide an opportunity to introduce your students to our talented local creators. Your school can select an author or illustrator and view their biographies on the Creators page of the CBCA Tasmanian Branch website at: https://www.cbcatas.org/


If you are interested in participating in the 2021 Workshops in School program, please read the membership information on the website.


Leanne Rands                                                                                                                    

Past President CBCA Tasmania                                                                Past Regional Coordinator of the Workshops in Schools Program


Editor’s note: It would be wonderful to hear from schools after they have had a visiting author or illustrator in their school. Consider writing a post and sharing your experiences with the community. This is also a great way to provide evidence of the value of such programs to support future grant submissions.





Thursday, 17 December 2020

How I Became an Accidental Podcaster

Lyndon Riggall introduces readers to an exciting program that harnesses technology to connect authors and readers. Discover the Tamar Valley Writers Festival Podcast and enjoy some Summer listening over the festive season.


I am sitting in a room at the top of a flight of stairs that meanders its way curiously through the small alley between a wine bar and an Asian fusion restaurant. Objects are being moved around me—arranged and organised and tidied amongst green ferns and well-lit windows. Somewhere beyond my sightline is a bright light that illuminates the room, and as everything is finally organised or cleared away, a voice says, “Okay, ready when you are.”


In the chair opposite me is a great Tasmanian writer. I smile at them, and then we start to talk.

Tamar Valley Writers Festival Podcast | Episode 1| Kyle Perry


* * * * *

As we head to the end of 2020 and a time of reflecting on the year that has been, as well as the new one to come, if there is anything that we have learned in this strange, unprecedented time, it is that we can’t take anything for granted. One of the great casualties of the era of Covid-19 for me personally was this year’s Tamar Valley Writers Festival, a biennial event that brought an enormous burst of creativity and literary energy to the north of the state every two years. Many members of CBCA Tasmania will be familiar with the festival and its delightful children’s program, and it is a deep and tragic irony that in a time in which reading and writing have never been more valuable it has been impossible to hold the festival in its traditional manner. Yet one fateful day brought me a call from festival president, Mary Machen. It might just be, she suggested, that a small part of the festival’s energy and value could be captured in a different way. She had a plan, and asked me if I would be keen to be part of it. I jumped at the opportunity.


The Bluffs, Kyle Perry
Penguin

Mary’s plan came to fruition, and in consultation with Michael O’Neill of MVisuals, the Tamar Valley Writers Festival Podcast was born. Each month, Annie Warburton and I chat to great local Tasmanian writers about their work, their creative process and the influence of Tasmania on their craft. Over time, it is our hope that this collection will broaden, grow, and offer inspiration and insight into the value of Tasmanian writing not just to our island itself, but nationally and internationally too. It is nerve-wracking to sit in this chair and to look across the divide at such brilliant writers as the subject of my first interview, Kyle Perry (author of The Bluffs), pretending that the cameras aren’t there and trying to focus on the conversation, but I wouldn’t miss this chance.


A Treacherous Country
Kate Kruimink
Allen & Unwin

I am the sort of person that listens to podcasts and watches any series where writers are interviewed, and I have a clear sense of the unexplored questions that I really want the interviewer to be asking. Now I am in charge of those questions, and I love every minute of it. It is a delight to watch and learn from Annie, too, whose recent interview with the author of A Treacherous Country, Kate Kruimink, rights some of the wrongs of Kruimink’s own coronavirus-related challenges of reduced recognition and fanfare following her win of the Vogel Prize this year. We are already discussing what the podcast might be able to do for young readers and writers whose work is primarily for children, but for now it is immensely exciting to simply be part of an experiment and to share a love of stories in any way possible. Rest assured, while the festival might not be overtaking the valley this year with its declaration of love for Tasmanian writers and their work, it is alive and well. Even when our director calls “Cut!” it can’t shake the smile from my face.


Lyndon Riggall is a writer, teacher—and now podcast host!—from Launceston. The Tamar Valley Writers Festival Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Facebook video and YouTube, and more details and episode links can be found at https://www.tamarvalleywritersfestival.com.au/podcast. You can find Lyndon on Twitter @lyndonriggall or at http://www.lyndonriggall.com


Editor's Note: What a great post to wind up the year - a year that has challenged us to explore new ways to connect authors, illustrators and readers in different ways. 
Festive greetings to all our readers, regular and occasional, please join us again in 2021.



Friday, 11 December 2020

Christmas Reading for 2020

There is such a wealth of delightful Christmas books to share at this time of the year, it can be hard to choose. This week, Maureen Mann provides a helping hand with this overview of a range of books that capture the festive spirit.

Getting ready for this blog posting, I went in search through the catalogue of Libraries Tasmania. All these books can be found through your local Tasmanian library. Merry Christmas to all our readers.


Bah! Humbug! by Michael Rosen and Tony Ross 2017

A fun re-telling of Charles’ Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Primary-aged (and older!) readers will enjoy this. It’s much more multi-layered than just a retelling.


Tinsel: the girls who invented Christmas by Sibeal Pounder 2020. 


So far, everyone’s got the Santa story all wrong, so Blanch Claus and her friends show us what it really should be. It’s a book set in Victorian England, with many nods to modern life, full of humour and Christmas magic and spirit. For primary aged readers. upwards. 


Ten Little Reindeer illustrated by Jonny Lambert 2020

A flap book (lovely big sturdy flaps they are too). Ten reindeer are waiting for their big night, and slowly each one is distracted by interesting things to do. When only one is left, the reader is encouraged to “close your eyes, make a wish and bring back all ten”.  Fun to read


Reginald’s Christmas by Patricia Pettett and Narelda Joy 2020


Reginald, all ready for Christmas, sneaks out of his mousehole to explore the rest of the house. He samples the goodies left for Santa, climbs the tree and investigates the stockings. When he returns home, he discovers that he has his own named stocking. Read about the creation of this book.  


Santa Claus heard a Fart by Olaf Falafel 2017


This is a great book to sing to the tune of Old MacDonald and a wonderful opportunity for those who love toilet humour to make appropriate fart noises.


Monster Christmas by Giles Andreae and Nikki Dyson 2020

When Monster joins Santa to deliver presents, everyone thinks he’s come to eat them. In despair he returns to the north pole, meets a girl who sees him as he really is and together, they return to make the deliveries. Finally, everyone sees Monster as someone just like you or me.


Meerkat Christmas by Emily Gravatt 2019

Sunny finds a list guaranteed to make a perfect Christmas. His hot home in the Kalahari doesn’t meet the criteria so he goes around the world searching, sending cards home to show why it’s not quite right. When he finds the perfect location, something is still missing and Santa helps him return to his family.


A Very Fiona Christmas by Richard Cowdrey 2019


Fiona searches the zoo to find Christmas which all the animals are talking about. She is confused about what it is, till she realises it is friendship and love, fun and lights and trees and most importantly giving to someone who doesn’t have things.


A Cat’s Christmas Carol by Sam Hay and Helen Shoesmith 2019

Clawdia is left in the store when it closes on Christmas Eve. When the mice come out to play, Clawdia has to chase them. The mice were clever enough to distract Clawdia when she gets too close, but eventually Clawdia has the best day with the store security guard as do the mice with all their friends.



I’m ready for Christmas illustrated by Jedda Robaard 2019


A text suited to any part of the world, but the illustrations focus on celebrating a summer Christmas. The cute animals – wombats or maybe koalas? – do summer-time activities getting ready for that special day.



The Twelve Unicorns of Christmas
by Timothy Knapman and Ada Grey 2019

A fun ‘take’ on the Twelve days of Christmas. All the preparations for the days preceding Christmas Day, with the involvement of the unicorn, food and preparations, and snow. And on the twelfth day Santa brings another 11 unicorns as friends for the household. 


All I Want for Christmas is Rain by Cori Brooke and Megan Forward 2016

Jane’s parents are farmers and desperately need rain, so when Jane meets Santa that’s what she asks for. And of course, he grants her wish so the family on Christmas morning have far more fun with the mud than the presents. Told in rhyme, the background of this story will resound with many readers. 


Mouse’s Night Before Christmas by Tracey Corderoy and Sarah Massini 2019

Twas the night before Christmas … but the mouse was lonely until Santa, lost in the blizzard, arrives. Mouse shows Santa where to go and helps deliver the last of the presents. Santa thanks him for being such a good worker by giving him a gift and a map, which leads to Mouse finding a new friend.



The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas Eve
by Eric Carle 2019


A lift the Flap board book, with only a tenuous connection with the very hungry caterpillar.  Who’s at home on Christmas Eve? Cat, Dog and Mouse are getting ready for the visit from Santa. Those who love board books will enjoy this one.


Finally. One I rediscovered during my search (and there are many more oldies I could have included) and renewed my love of the quirky Raymond Briggs.


Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs 1973


Santa is blooming grumpy because it’s Christmas again and his solitary routines are disturbed. 

I’ll close with Briggs’ words “Happy Christmas Cat! Happy Christmas Dog! Happy blooming Christmas to you, too!”


Maureen Mann

Retired teacher librarian and avid reader





Friday, 4 December 2020

Reginald’s Christmas

Join Tasmanian creators, Patricia Pettett and Narelda Joy, as they talk about their collaborations on a delightful Christmas story about a mouse called Reginald.

Reginald's Christmas, by Praticia Pettet and Narelda Joy
Published by Forty South
Patricia Pettett: 

This year I wrote my first children’s picture book ‘Reginald’s Christmas’. It emanated from a short Christmas story enclosed in my Christmas cards last year. Several friends contacted me and pushed me into publishing so finally I submitted it online to a London Publishing Firm. Much to my surprise it was accepted, but Covid 19 made it too difficult to proceed with an overseas firm, so I submitted it to Forty South in Hobart where it was positively received. A wonderful outcome, as their acceptance makes the book an all-Tasmanian production!

   

Reginald is a tiny mouse who sneaks out of his mouse hole on Christmas Eve and has a grand adventure in the lounge room. Christmas cake, an angel, Santa, toys – he discovers them all, and what a night it turns out to be!

  

My illustrator, Narelda Joy, from North West Tasmania, made this little mouse come to life and she and I lived with him for weeks!  Because the book needed to be released well before Christmas, time wise she was put under tremendous pressure but never once complained. The pictures are delightful and complement my words beautifully. 

  

It has been a new journey for me to enter the publishing world but I’m thrilled with the finished product and proud to see it on bookshop shelves.

 

Narelda Joy:

I was emailed by a friend of Patricia’s earlier this year saying that her friend needed an illustrator for a book. Patricia used to live in the North West, but now lives in Launceston, about 2 ½ hours away from me, so we have never met. I contacted Patricia and heard the smile in her voice when said she wasn’t sure what to do with the story, but that it was her friends who were pushing her to publish it! She sent me a copy of the text for Reginald’s Christmas, and I encouraged her to send it to some publishers and see what happened. I was sure Reginald was destined to be born! 


I could visualise him straight away. I love animals and have always loved drawing and making stylised mice, in 2D and 3D, so I was delighted to see the protagonist was a mouse! I sketched mouse ideas in pencil until I found the right character look, and then took the sketch into Photoshop to produce a colour sample for Patricia. There was lots of toing and froing; the story, my portfolio, and then the sample image of Reginald, were approved by the London Publisher and then Covid 19 hit…what timing! Reginald proved to be a resilient little mouse however, and came back to Tasmania to be officially born! 


Art work © Narelda Joy, from Reginald's Christmas

One of my favourite parts of being an illustrator is bringing a text to life. In the planning stage I reminisced my colourful childhood Christmases with shiny baubles on the tree, red stockings and patterned wrapping papers. I work in many different illustration styles and love them all, but most often I am described as textural illustrator. Patricia requested bright colours on a white page background, and I happily worked with this, thoroughly enjoying digitally painting the bright happy scenes. I find it very relaxing, and often listen to a talking book while I work.


Patricia was wonderful to work with and I’m delighted to see her dream of publishing a book come to life. I think it’s a great achievement for a retired primary school teacher, after years of reading books to students, to finally have to have very own in print. As for Reginald, perhaps on Christmas Eve I may just see him creeping out of that little hole in my hallway skirting board… although I’ll be sure not to disturb his Christmas adventure. I do hope my illustrations convey the fun Reginald has, and brings joy to many little ones at Christmas.      


Editor's note - if you would like to bring Reginald into your house for Christmas, visit Tasmanian bookstores or order online from Forty South.                                             


Patricia Pettett is a retired primary school teacher from the North West coast, now living in Launceston. She belongs to three writing clubs and has always dreamed of publishing her own book. 


Narelda Joy lives on the NW coast of Tasmania. As well as illustrating children’s books, she specialises in unique textural two and three dimensional illustrations, collage, characters and puppets. You can view and purchase Nareleda’s artworks from her website.

https://www.nareldajoy.com.au/

Read about her adventures and school visits on her blog.

https://nareldajoy.wordpress.com/ 

Keep up to date on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/NareldaJoyIllustration/


Friday, 27 November 2020

Having the Courage to Follow Your Dreams

Toni Brisland reflects on her recent publication, Patrick White, an accessible biographical account of the life, writing career and contributions of this literary icon and the only Australian winner of the Nobel Laureate in Literature. 

Patrick White by Toni Brisland,
illustrated by Anastasia Popp


In my book for middle readers “Patrick White” I introduce children to one of our most famous Australians and hope to inspire them to follow their dreams.


Patrick White’s family believed “we are what we are born to be, free only to shape the lives fate has given us” (David Marr’s biography of Patrick White) and if PatrickWhite had become what his family had always been and what they wanted him to be, he would have been a wealthy land owner in NSW who ran sheep. Instead, Patrick White broke with family tradition because he wanted to be a writer. 



Patrick White was goal-focused and self-disciplined and in the early days of his writing career quite poor. In his autobiography “Flaws in the Glass” he said: “I grew conscious of wanting to be a writer on leaving my hated English school and returning to the Australia I had longed for. No, it wasn’t so much a case of growing consciousness as a matter of necessity. Surrounded by a vacuum, I needed a world in which to live with the degree of intensity my temperament demanded”. This growing awareness of what to do with one’s life starts in childhood.

Middle readers are learning to find their place in the mini-society that is school and the broader community, learning to face their own fears and insecurities and sometimes illnesses, are confronted with bullies and domineering peers and are grasping with their idea of self and what they want to be in life which sometimes conflicts with how their parents see them and the expectations their parents have for them. 

From Patrick White, Chapter 4, World War 2, pp. 26-27. © Anastasia Popp.


This is not very different to the generations that have gone before and not different at all to what Patrick White experienced as a child. My book shows that he was bullied at school, full of self-doubt and was sick all his life with asthma and in and out of hospital. As a child he did not mix easily with other children: he played with them but made no friends. Patrick White was private and solitary and when he was growing up he often asked himself the question: “What will I be when I grow up?” 

I believe that as children learn to cope with who they are, the influences on their lives, and what they will become, they turn to “story” to explore how others have lived and coped, assimilating from books what they need into their own lives and this is one of the reasons I wrote about Patrick White’s life.

From Patrick White, Chapter 9, Awards, pp. 48 & 51. © Anastasia Popp.

Children often ask the same question – “what will I be when I grow up”. Take the fabulous illustrator of my book, Anastasia Popp. Anastasia says, “When I was about six and adults asked me what I wanted to become, I answered that I'd be an animator. My road was winding and actually I don't create cartoons, but here I am - an illustrator”. 


My own road was circuitous: I always wanted to write and I eventually found my way via teaching, management and the law. 


So, I’m hoping the children who read my book will find something in it of value to them, even if it is just the faith and self-belief to be what they want to be and not what someone else tells them they should be.


Toni Brisland
Toni Brisland 

Author and Poet, previously Director, CBCA (NSW Branch Representative) 


Links:

For Toni Brisland:

www.tonibrisland.com

Twitter: @toni_brisland

www.facebook.com/toni.brisland


For Anastasia Popp:

www.instagram.com/catomorphism


Editor's note: Patrick White is a quality publication on quality paper and excellent layout of text overlaying the illustrations. The timeline and awards presented at the end of the biographical narrative reflect key highlights in Toni's highly readable prose. An interesting addition to Australian biographies targetting middle school readers.