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

Saturday 26 November 2016

Life membership bestowed upon Patsy Jones

Members attending the 2016 CBCA Tasmania Annual General Meeting celebrated the untiring dedication and contributions of Patsy Jones.

Patsy Jones has given unstinting service to the Children’s Book Council of Australia (Tasmanian Branch) Inc. for many years. She has filled the roles of State President, Treasurer and Merchandise Manager with distinction and demonstrated exceptional leadership in the organisation. 

Despite her initial reluctance, she performed the role of president with commitment and energy, and always strove to include and foster those people who were not necessarily school-based professionals. This has been advantageous to the organisation, as the role of the teacher-librarian/literature specialist in schools has diminished.

Patsy is one of those volunteers who contributes well above and beyond the requirements of any role to which she commits.

She annually takes on the executive responsibility for the successful Southern Readers Cup, procuring prizes, securing judges, contacting schools, convening meetings with participating schools and compiling questions and the collation of data on the day. 

In the National Year of Reading, Patsy organised events for librarians, teachers and parents and read stories to pre-schoolers in a southern supermarket.

In the Year of Celebrating Nan Chauncy in Tasmania, Patsy initiated and supported collaboration between CBCA and the State Library (LINC) system, establishing a valuable and relevant relationship for the future. 

She coordinated the Launch of the Year of Nan Chauncy at the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, assembling and installing the first of the Nan Chauncy travelling suitcase displays at the Hobart City Library. 

Patsy then travelled throughout Tasmania, at her own expense, to attend every one of the displays in small and regional libraries, as well as participating in both screenings of They Found a Cave in the south and north west of the state. She located one of the cast from the film, coordinating his attendance at the Hobart and the Devonport events, enriching the literary and film experience for all. 

Predictably, Patsy arrived early and left late for the Nan Chauncy Oration in June, offering a willing, practical hand to ensure the function proceeded smoothly. At the final event at Chauncy Vale, Patsy, typically, was there from the beginning to the end, setting up, placing signs for entry and helping and advising throughout a long day. 

On her own initiative and using her considerable expertise, Patsy researched, composed and arranged printing for the informative print brochures distributed at the events, effectively promoting CBCA Tas. as well as the beloved author.

Similarly, with the 2016 CBCA Tas. major set of events, Hidden Stories at Moonah Arts Centre in September, Patsy has been on hand to undertake a myriad of tasks to support CBCA’s work in relation to this important public initiative.

As Branch Treasurer, Patsy operates with extreme diligence, preparing detailed financial statements for meetings and the annual audit and ensuring that branch funds are appropriately invested. She has recently arranged to change the accounts to a bank with a sustainable approach and a stronger community orientation. 

The role of Merchandise manager is a very time-consuming one, requiring the pursuit of merchandise and payments and repeated efforts to keep CBCA ‘customers’ happy. Patsy fulfils these duties with impressive patience and persistence.

The Children’s Book Council, Tas. Inc. has been very fortunate indeed to have Patsy Jones as a generous, wise and experienced mentor, friend and contributor with a strong commitment to the organisation, to reading and literature and to community service in the broad and significant sense.

Jenni Connor and Judy Moss

Sunday 20 November 2016

‘Spot’light on Italy

Jennie recounts the latest chapter in her quest to add an Italian version of a Spot adventure to her bookshelves.

For long-time readers of this blog, this is a continuation of a journey – the collection of Spot books in the languages of the countries I visit. The processes of acquiring these titles is as much fun as reading and sharing them when I get home. If you want the background on my international collection dip into the archives and read Spot the difference and Spot the difference: The next chapter.

This treasure hunt began on the east coast of Sicilia in Catania and traversed across the island – Syracusa, Agrigento, Trapani and Palermo – surely the capital would have a copy! No, not a Spot to be seen. Armed with an iPad for this expedition, misunderstandings were eliminated (and the fun of barking like a dog in the middle of a bookshop was obsolete) as Google translate made it all a little too easy. So we searched for “libro illustrato” by the ‘autore’ Eric Hill. Mind you, without capital letters, this translates into ‘collina eric'.

So in Sicilia we did not find a single copy of the beloved Spot. However, we did find some fantastic bookshops and it was heart warming to see that these ranged from corporate chain stores to small village home-owned stores. The Italian bookshop is alive and well – Read all about it! Much was familiar – the children’s section was usually to the back or upstairs – coffee shops (with biscotti and pasticceria!) were often present with many familiar titles and popular authors translated into Italiano. L'Albero (The Giving Tree) by Shel Silverstein and Un Libro (Press Here) by Herve Tullet were present in most shops, and the latter was purchased, packed and brought home just to press my buttons.

Fairy tales made up a significant part of the children’s collection and included mass produced version – Disney being a favourite – alongside beautiful renditions – the one that grabbed my attention was a version illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer (now added to my collection, in English).

To continue the journey and the treasure hunt, from Sicilia we had a briefer sojourn on the mainland – Salerno to explore the Amalfi Coast and Napoli, and then to Roma. In and out of bookshops we went and it was in Roma that the quest was completed, in the largest store of the Feltrinelli Libri e Musica chain.

So now I have an Italian Spot sitting on my shelves next to a number of other foreign language picture books – a wonderful journey to remember as I dip into Spot va in Vacanza – how fitting!

Jennie Bales
CBCA Tas Social Media person, adjunct lecturer with Charles Sturt University, teacher librarian in the past, and lover of travel and children’s books.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Is it worth reading?

With the wealth of quality children’s and young people’s books available today it slightly surprises me when someone wants their children to read authors like Enid Blyton. I was reminded of the power of nostalgia when I heard a young mother who had bought her children some of the “Famous Five”  books say she was most disappointed to find the stories were much less vivid than they  seemed to her as a s child.
As an 8 year old (in the late 1950’s) travelling on the SS Strathnaver from England to Australia I had three quarto volumes of Enid Blyton - the First, Second and Third Enid Blyton Books. They were probably the only books I had to read so I devoured them and they made an impression. However, even in my tender years, some of the stories left a bad taste.
The one that even now springs to mind is the story of the bad apple. In this tale Granny had five boys helping her store apples and instructs her good little grandson George not to store any apple with any blemish. However he ignores an apple with a small blemish and this apple rots and turns its neighbours bad. Granny is asked to look after another boy Sammy who is described as sly and deceitful; she refuses saying he is a bad apple and would turn the other boys bad. Read the story 'Grannie's Bad Apple' online in The Second Enid Blyton Book.
Even then, I found this story obnoxious. I could not accept that that Sammy was irredeemably bad and he was going to adversely affect four others.
Now I understand the underlying class attitude. I know from reading Robert Thouless’ classic work on logic in argument Straight and Crooked Thinking that this is an argument by analogy that fails simply because boys are not apples. Imagine what Sammy will turn out to be as an adult if he is treated as rotten as a child.
Stories frame our confirmation bias; i.e. we tend only to accept evidence that fits these biases. It is not trivial or “political correctness’ that we critically asses that the books we give our children are worth the reading.

Richard Pickup
Retiring president CBCA Tas Branch

Saturday 5 November 2016

Thinking of Quentin Blake

Join Patsy as she investigates the endearing, comical and whimsical work of Quentin Blake in a newly published tale from the pen of Beatrix Potter.

Browsing in bookshops is always a good way to spend an idle hour or two, especially if you can buy a coffee and enjoy it while you’re there!

Recently I was browsing in this way when my eyes fell upon a largish picture-book carrying the name of Beatrix Potter. I was struck by the size of the book initially (the books in my Potter collection are sized 11 cm by 14.5 cm, and this was much larger). So I picked up a copy to examine it further and, of course, just had to buy it! It was published in 2016, and illustrated not by Beatrix herself but by QuentinBlake, and bears the title Kitty-in-boots.

I wonder why Beatrix did not publish this tale in 1914 when it was completed; I don’t think we’ll ever know, but I can think of several possibilities. Quentin fantasises that she was keeping it for him…..

Be that as it may, it’s rather fun to compare the look of the original characters with the same ones in Quentin’s iconoclastic version – Mrs Tiggy-winkle and Peter Rabbit, to begin with.

I have a few other books illustrated by Quentin which I have particularly enjoyed. One (The boy in the Dress, written by David Walliams) is very modern in text and fits well with the Blake ‘look’ – published in 2008.

Another, The Quentin Blake Book of Nonsense Stories, is less straightforward - but still very engaging. Quentin selected the stories for the collection (published 1996), and to my mind it’s an extremely individualistic selection. I was not surprised to find Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll in the list of authors; but it’s rather confronting to see Jane Austen and Noel Coward featured as well. But the stories by Jane and Noel were the ones I read first - to see if I could agree with his selection of them as nonsense stories, of course!

Nonsense these stories definitely are, and together they make a great read-aloud selection.

Patsy Jones
CBCA(Tas) treasurer, retired librarian, retired teacher

From the editor: I was privileged to catch two Quentin Blake exhibitions in a recent trip to England. The BFG inPictures and Seven Kinds of Magic coinciding at the House of Illustration. Illustrations from The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots are on show at the same venue until late February 2017; unfortunately this exhibition commenced after my departure. 

Are you a fan of Quentin Blake’s work? Why not share a favourite title that he has brought to life?