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

Sunday 23 February 2014

...and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Alexander must have moved into our house.  We’ve had several Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days lately.  When relaying the latest calamity (phone battery dying while on a 75 minute call to the insurer as our car windscreen had been hit by a flying rock as the Council brush cut the road verge), my colleague asked what I did to unwind.  I read.   

My recent YA and adult reads have been anything but light and frothy (Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, Maggie Steifvater’s Dream Thieves and Laurie King’s Bones of Paris).  A trip to the picture book shelves was long overdue.

Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Wilkins A Book is a Book (Gecko) This beautifully produced small hard cover book celebrates books and reading.  

A book is to read.

Books can be true and not true and sometimes they can be both at the same time.

Reading a book of pictures is still reading.

If it’s Sunday and raining, a book is the perfect thing.  Even a small book, because boredom can be very big.


Margaret Wild and Ben Wood Bush Book Club (Omnibus)

Bilby can’t sit still long enough to read a book but when he’s locked in the library, there was nothing else to do, he picked up a book....

Bilby read the first sentence. Then the second, the third, the fourth.  He turned the pages, slowly at first, then faster and faster.  It was a scary story to read at night.  His eyes grew big, he shuddered with fright, but he couldn’t stop reading.


Kathy Stinson and Dusan Petricic The Man with a Violin (Annick Press)

This book is based on the true story of Joshua Bell, the renowned American violinist who played in the Washington D.C. subway. More than a thousand commuters rushed by him, but only seven stopped to listen for more than a minute. A heart-warming story reminding us to stop and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. This book won the award for best Ebook Fixed Format/Enhanced – Children at the Digital Book Awards in January 2014. 

Irena Kobald and Freya Blackwood My Two Blankets (Little Hare)

Cartwheel has left her war torn home and come to Australia. She wraps herself in a blanket with sounds and memories of home.

When I went out, it was like standing under a waterfall of strange sounds.  The waterfall was cold. It made me feel alone.

A girl in the park smiles and waves and brings Cartwheel new words, new sounds, friendship and hope. With these, Cartwheel is able to weave a new blanket.  A timely book.

Tom McLaughlin The Story Machine (Bloomsbury)
Elliott discovers a story machine. He isn’t very good with letters and words. But some words look like pictures... An inspiring picture book about the simple joys of a typewriter.


And last but not the new book by last but not least award winning author/illustrator Rebecca Cobb Aunt Amelia (MacMillan)

Mum and Dad are going out and the children are not happy.  Mum has left a long list of instructions for Aunt Amelia. Thankfully Aunt Amelia is not what they expected. A funny and warm story.


How do you cope with the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?


Nella Pickup

Sunday 16 February 2014

Children’s literature and some history

For some years it has been possible for people to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and experience part of what the Sydney population experienced during the years in which the bridge was built, from 1922 with the passage of the Sydney Harbour Bridge Act through the New South Wales Parliament, to the grand opening of the completed bridge on 19 March 1932.

I was in Sydney in November last year and booked my bridge climb, something I’d been wanting to do for some years.  The actual climb met all my expectations – but that’s not what really impressed me and initiated this blog.

Families with children over ten can undertake the climb, and we had such a family in our group.  I was pleased to find, in amongst a variety of the usual t-shirts, hoodies, models of the bridge in various media, soft toys, etc., space given to children’s books written about the bridge and its construction.

I found a brand-new copy of John Nicholson’s 2000 publication, Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge; it is full of accurate depictions in full colour of the various stages of the bridge’s construction, and has carefully-chosen text highlighting aspects likely to be of interest to children.  I remembered its selection as an Honour Book in the 2001 Eve Pownall Award for Information Books, and was rather surprised that it is still in print and available for sale.  I wondered if the bridge climb company had bought up all the remaindered copies available!

Another book I found on the children’s shelf at the Bridge Climb shop was one I hadn’t seen or heard of before – Lennie’s ride, by Mary Small.  Published in 2010 by Small Endeavour Publishing, it tells the amazing story of a nine-year-old boy and his journey over the six hundred miles (965 kilometers) from Leongatha to Sydney to see the bridge-opening celebrations.  Photographs and newspaper articles featuring Lennie give the flavour of the time.

But I didn’t see a copy of Vashti Farrer’s excellent 2012 addition to the valuable series My Australian Story, Sydney Harbour Bridge, here in the Bridge Climb shop.  This book provides useful perspectives on the society of the time, battling the Depression and unemployment, to say nothing of the impact on the people who had been living where the bridge was to be built, and their subsequent loss of housing.

If you are wanting to extend children’s understanding of our history and our people, you can use the State Library (now the LINC) as a resource.  Better still, ensure that the library at your local school selects books like these three to be available for children seeking information about various topics – of course not just the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

But back to the bridge – can you give me the names of some more books written on this topic?

Patsy Jones

Sunday 9 February 2014

Who Reads the CBCA (Tas Branch) Blog?

Each week a thoughtful CBCA member, usually a committee member or author, writes a blog.  Topics range from reviews of books and favourite children’s books to opinions about the merits of reading books and associated media like film or how to use particular books in classrooms.

While it is obvious the latter types of blogs will be of interest and hopefully of use to teachers, I wonder who, other than teacher-librarians, actually read these blogs.  I know there is a record of our ‘hits’ but I am only aware of a couple of comments posted as responses to this blog.

The membership list (not very big) shows a mixture of teachers, librarians and authors, all members for obvious reasons but is there a wider audience following this blog, albeit silently?

Any experienced writer will tell you that to write effectively one needs to clearly see and understand one’s audience.  Without this fundamental knowledge, choosing topics, style and vocabulary for starters is like spitting in the wind and that, as we all know, is a futile exercise, let alone a waste of time.

It would be very informative and encouraging if CBCA bloggers could garner some feedback; some comments; some direction as to what our followers are looking for in this blog.

I also wonder how many of the paid up CBCA (Tas) members read the blog.  Again feedback would be wonderful. 

If there is anyone out there other than my fellow blog writers actually reading our blogs, could you give us a wave and perhaps some indication of how we can support your interest or assist you to encourage children in particular to engage with the abundant and wonderful array of young people’s literature available to us.

C A Fuller

Sunday 2 February 2014

Empathy Library http://empathylibrary.com/

For some years, researchers have shown that reading fiction increases empathy. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/sep/07/reading-fiction-empathy-study 

In his call for support of libraries, author Neil Gaiman said “Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.”  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming

The Empathy Library is founded on the belief that empathy can transform our own lives and our society.  Only a few weeks old, it has already featured in many of the professional journals.  It needs people to join and add reviews of books and films.   For more information go to http://empathylibrary.com/

Nella Pickup