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

Friday 15 December 2017

Christmas magic through digital storytelling

This week your editor presents a compilation of Christmas related videos, a mix of stories, retellings and reimaginings along with some Christmas messages produced by commercial enterprises - it is nice to see them giving back to their customers with good will and festive cheer. The list concludes with an amazing 1956 animation of the Christmas story. Enjoy the selection - there is enough to see you and your family through to Christmas.  

Coming Home - Michael Morpurgo 
reciting his story with a mix of shots from the book and the author. Following, is Waitrose's interpretation of the tale as a short film.

Home for Christmas (Waitrose, 2016).

Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree (Brian Muzik)
(a witty parody)

Neil Gaiman reads "A Christmas Carol" (New York Public Library podcast)

(note lengthy introduction - retelling starts at 11:50 mins)

Moz the Monster (John Lewis, 2017)

Buster the Boxer (John Lewis, 2016)

Paddington & the Christmas Visitor (Marks & Specer, 2017)

A Christmas with Love from Mrs Claus (Marks & Spencer, 2016)

The Greatest Gift (Sainsbury 2016)

The Bear and the Hare (John Lewis, 2013)

Monty the Penguin (John Lewis, 2014)

Mog's Christmas Calamity - Judith Kerr (Sainsbury, 2017)

The Land of Make Believe - A Little Christmas Tail (Harrods, 2015)

The Wish Writer (Macy's, 2015)

Gingerbread reindeer (Lowe's 2016)

Coming Home for Christmas (Heathrow, 2016)

Saving Santa's Star (Myer, 2016)

Elf's Journey (Myer, 2017)

Christopher the Christmas Tree (1993; 25  mins)

The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree (1979, 25 mins)

The Star of Bethlehem
Cathedral Films re-release this 1956 film by silhouette animator Lotte Reniger.

Merry Christmas!! Enjoy the viewing and the time spent sharing these visual stories and heart warming Christmas messages.

Jennie Bales
CBCA Tas Social Media Editor, reader, lecturer and book seller.
Note to viewers: Share your favourite from the list or share a new link with readers). 

Friday 8 December 2017

Still Doing the Writing?

This week Sally Odgers is our guest author. She lives in Tasmania and her books have been an integral part of the lives of many children and a host of Tasmanian libraries over four decades. Sally shares her passions, quirky humour and long-time passion with all things bookish – as an author, manuscript assessor, editor and online sharer through multiple sites.

Writing and editing is an interesting—if peculiar—way to make a living. I favour series where characters grow and progress, and where a sidekick in one can be a main character in another, and where the tiniest two-line thread offers a whole new book to explore. I make lists, glossaries and labyrinthine websites. I even highjacked Ancestry Dot Com to make a (private) family tree of series characters. I was amused when Ancestry started waving Greenleaf hints at me, telling me three of my invented characters (many of whom are fairies, if you please!) were born in the USA on such-and-such a date.
My first story was published in 1970. I lost count after the fiftieth title in 1991. In early 2017, I started a book-a-day blog. I wanted my books listed so people could seek out series and related titles. I wanted to reassure myself I hadn’t wasted the past forty-seven years. I wanted a body of writing to render into a book about my books. It’s not a commercial enterprise, but hey, I’ll publish it myself! Finally, I want to know just how many books there are. Let’s just say I’ll run out of year before I run out of titles.
What is a children’s book? By my definition, it’s a book written for children. If it was a film, it would rate a PG or M at the most. It is usually about people under eighteen. Otherwise, it’s a book. It needs story, style, character, theme and something else…an indefinable sparkle.
One of Sally's ebook offerings.
What about the children’s author? To last in this job for as many years as I have, you need talent, persistence, a creative mind and the willingness and ability to keep on writing in the face of change and knockbacks. Every five years or so, the industry reinvents itself. We adapt, or, creatively, we perish. Finding and keeping markets is increasingly difficult. That’s one reason I can never let go of the concept of writing for myself.
As we near 2018, there’s still time for at least one more person to meet me somewhere and say, “Hi, Sally, still doing the writing?”
How do I respond? Not with, “Hi, X, still doing the breathing?”
I could say, “Yes. I had fourteen books out this year.”
And they might say. “Oh,” in a puzzled tone. Because they haven’t read about me or my books in the paper, or seen me interviewed on telly…

So I’ll probably just smile, and direct them to my blog.

More about Sally

Sally Odgers was born in Tasmania in the 1950s, went to school there in the 1960s, married there in the 1970s, and had children there in the 1980s. She could go on, but she expects you get the picture. She started writing as a child, and has continued along the story-track ever since. She writes many genres, including fantasy, science fiction, romance, animal stories, how-to, verse and historical novels, and offers talks and workshops.
For the past twenty or so years, she’s run a manuscript assessment and editing service through the website Affordable Manuscripts.   
She also runs the tiny publishing collective Prints Charming Books. This specialises in not-for-profit novel anthologies.
Take the time to explore Sally’s
book-a-day blog and her writing websites
Books by Sally Odgers
Jack Russell: Dog Detective and Co
Her alter ego, Lark Westerly, has a site,  but Lark’s books are not for children.

Editor’s note for aspiring writers.
Check out Prints Charming Books. The current anthology of Warriors is under development and open for ideas until 30 January 2018. 

Friday 1 December 2017

Water – an artistic challenge

Lois Bury resides on Bruny Island, surrounded by water and stunning vistas. Lois is an artist, painting birds and other wildlife for Art at the Point, a local gallery, along with illustrative commissions, particularly in picture books. Join Lois as she explores some of the artistic challenges she grappled with in her latest endeavour.
Quentin the Quoll on Bruny Island is about to go to the printers, and is the second in a series of picture books written and published by Kate Morton in Tasmania.  The first, Little Spot, was published to draw attention to the endangered 40-Spotted Pardalote and the efforts of the Australian National University programs to increase the population. The problems that Little Spot faced are similar everywhere – loss of habitat, predators and disease. The series tells of the characters that are the birds and animals that live on Bruny Island.  

In this book, Quentin is having a water adventure and the first step was to get the storyboard and dummy book together and develop the Quentin character.

Then I had to start thinking of painting the precious, flowing water. I did refer to Jackie French and Bruce Whatley’s book, Flood, and Bruce’s wonderfully fluid paintings. I use the drip technique in some of my big bird paintings but didn’t feel it appropriate to introduce them again.  A watery palette was easy to decide on and I had already used the Daniel Smith watercolour paints on some smaller projects.  They are American and are mineral based so there was something very elemental about them.  The key to portraying the muddy waters was introducing ‘Bronzite Genuine’ to the ‘Ultramarine Blue’ and ‘Ultramarine Turquoise’ as different layers with some white pencil to indicate the swirling, gurgling water.  Indigo, one of my favourite colours, brought some depth and darkness, especially to the evening scene.  When I was painting and the medium was still wet I wanted to stop it there, it felt quite sad to see it dry.  Practicalities meant that I had no choice.

Lois Bury
Artist and illustrator
Website: http://www.loisburyart.com.au/