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

Monday 27 October 2014

Spot the difference: The next chapter


Further to my April post http://cbcatas.blogspot.com.au/2014_04_01_archive.html, the foreign language picture book collection has grown since a recent journey to Japan.  Always with an eye open for popular children’s books in foreign languages, Japanese book shops did not disappoint – but Spot was harder to find.

My forays were based in Tokyo and my first bookshop browse found numerous popular English language titles. The most notable: The Giving Tree and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. But not one Spot book could I spot. Loath to go away without one Japanese title, a mini version of Eric Carle’s greedy caterpillar was purchased and easily stowed.

But now I was on a mission and that night logged into the trusty iPad and searched for the largest Japanese bookshop I know – Kinokuniya. And found it! In Tokyo! Just a few train lines and subway stops away.  

Kinokuniya is 6 storeys high, with each floor focusing on a particular genre of book. Naturally, signage is in Japanese and helpful shop assistants kept directing us to the foreign language floor. In the end we caught the elevator to the 6th floor and worked our way down. And on the 4th floor we found the children’s department. Joy J

There were a few challenges. There were many, many books – shelves of them – most with only their spines showing. We scouted around until we located a large section of translated books. There were The Giving Tree and the Very Hungry Caterpillar, and the recent rerelease of The 3 Robbers amongst many others. But no sign of Spot.  A young non-English speaking shop assistant came to help.  With some dramatic dog like actions, tail wagging and ‘woof woofing’  (wondering if dogs said ‘woof’ in Japanese) the light dawned and she took us to the non-fiction pet books. We took her back to the translated section and tried a different tack. I picked up The 3 Robbers and without being able to read a word of Japanese, correctly identified the author’s name on the cover. The sales assistant said “Tomi Ungerer’ with a delightful accent. I then wrote down ‘Eric Hill’ on her notepad, ‘woofed’ and she laughed. A light bulb moment. Off to a senior sales person, a computer search, and back she came, straight to the shelves, flicked through the spines and pulled out two Spot books.

And yes, I bought both. I have added Japanese versions of Where’s Spot and Who’s There Spot? to the collection. A successful, and hilarious, day’s shopping. And as a matter of interest, both books were in hardback and were priced at around $12 each. Books in Japan are affordable and highly valued.

Jennie Bales

Monday 20 October 2014

Congratulations Patsy Jones!

Our congratulations go to Patsy Jones from the CBCA Tasmania branch, who has been nominated for the Senior Australian of the Year Award!

Read about Patsy's achievements at: 

Post apocalyptic/dystopian fiction

The Weekend Australian's Review recently published an article entitled, ‘Worlds without end’ by Rosemary Neill which ‘investigates the psychology behind popular culture’s latest obsession’.  It is an interesting discussion about modern teenagers’ fascination with dystopian fiction, namely, ’The Twilight series’, ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘Divergent’ and most recently ‘The Giver’ and ‘The Maze Runner’.

Having read Neill’s article and stimulated to think about my own far from teenage fascination with this type of fiction I have to say that post apocalyptic/dystopian stories are not really ‘the latest obsession’.  The interest has been there a long time if my literary experience is anything of a measure.

I have been long term fan of post apocalyptic/dystopian fiction. My earliest recollection of this type of story where the protagonists had to deal with the end of society as we know it was ‘On the Beach’ by British-Australian author Nevil Shute which was published in 1957, although I didn’t read that until I was in my early teens in the sixties.  I also seem to remember a film or even a television series.  Another story which dealt with the disintegration of society, where the characters struggle to survive in a fractured world, was Wyndham’s ‘The Day of the Triffids’, published in 1951, which I listened to as a radio series in the early sixties. Then as a very young, inexperienced teacher of secondary English I encountered ‘Z for Zachariah’.  This is a post-apocalyptic survival story by Robert C. O'Brien (pen name of Robert Leslie Conly).  It was published in 1974 and was very popular with my grade 9/10, then C and B class students.  We had some great times playing revolutions and nuclear survival games. All this was during the post WW2 cold war era when nuclear warfare was a real possibility and therefore the inspiration for lots of novels and films.  

Then I experienced a lull in my acquaintance with YA PAD fiction. Perhaps someone else can fill in the gaps for me. Except of course I shouldn’t forget John Marsden’s series ‘Tomorrow When the War Began’, first published in 1993.  At this point I think there was a slight change in the genre from the nuclear or extra-terrestrial  destruction of society to a more politically created chaos like a war, invasion, climate catastrophe, or social reorganisation.  Whatever the reason for the changes, nuclear threat was no longer the basis, mirroring I guess the real world situation.

During my stint as a CBCA reading judge I came across a plethora of books in this genre which gave me an amazing re-introduction to how this genre has developed.  Apart from the series by Meyer, Collins, Roth and Lowry I read Glenda Millard’s ‘A Small Free Kiss in the Dark’, Sean William’s ‘The Changeling’, S.D. Crockett’s ‘After the Snow’, and Joss Hendley’s ‘The Wish Kin’ to name a few.

Recently, courtesy of Village cinemas, I did find something from my gap years.  Showing at the local cinema was ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry , the book of which I’m told has been around since 1993. Here I broke my self imposed rule and saw the film before I read the book.  It was an interesting experience to do it that way round. But why I did it that way will be my next blog.

Carol Fuller

Monday 13 October 2014

Inside Story

CBCA member Gay McKinnon has put together this event, kindly housed by Fullers Bookshop in Hobart, for you all to enjoy.  It's not every day we have the opportunity to see and hear such a variety of authors!

The Gruffalo celebrations

I'm in the UK at the moment, enjoying the autumn weather but also looking forward to returning home and being part of the Tasmanian springtime.

We have recently visited friends who live west of London and we spent part of our time together walking in Wendover Woods, a wonderful 320 hectares in the Chiltern Hills managed by England’s Forestry Commission. It’s criss-crossed with walking, bike and horse trails and includes many areas created for families.

Imagine my delight when I came across the Gruffalo trail. Over the summer, there’s been a path along which have hung images of the characters from the books. Wendover is now one of fifteen Forestry Commission sites in England which are celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo – as well as the Gruffalo’s Child – by hosting a large wooden statue of the Gruffalo. Each one has been carved in a different position.  In Wendover, he stands on a hillside looking out over the treetops towards the valley below.  A sign beside it says “Oh help! Oh No! Don’t climb on the Gruffalo”.

What a wonderful way to celebrate such a milestone! All the Gruffalo trails (and there are some sites without a statue) across the country started October 3 and continue until February 2015 which is an excellent way to encourage families to get outdoors during the winter months.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if one of our iconic children’s books could be celebrated in such a way! Which one would you choose?

Maureen Mann