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

Tuesday 29 May 2018

National Simultaneous Storytime at Don College #NSS2018

Don College (Years 11 & 12) students studying for their Certificate II in Community Services (Focus on Children’s Services) used National Simultaneous Storytime as a focus for their playgroup, under the guidance of their teacher Renee Chettle.
On the 23rd of May 2018, the children’s services class from Don College participated in the National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS). NSS is an annual program organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). This program has been running for 18 consecutive years and all have been successful. Each year, a selected book is read at the same time on the same day in libraries, schools, pre-schools, child-care centres, family homes, bookshops and other places around the country. This program aims to promote reading and literacy. To date, NSS has had 686,324 participants and it has been run in over 6,129 locations.

The book chosen for this year Hickory Dickory Dash is an adaptation of the classic nursery rhyme Hickory Dickory Dock. The themes in the book were the cat, mouse, and clocks and on Monday we brainstormed ideas on how we could use these themes to decorate our playgroup and come up with creative and fun activities for the children at playgroup.
At Don College, the Children’s Services class has been prepping for NSS for a few days prior. The Little Links Terrapin was decked out with displays and activities that were related to the book. On Wednesday the 16th, the class focused on creating the display and finding any activities that could be used in playgroup. The display was made with a large clock and coloured mice, and there was an area allocated to the ‘Play Room’ page of the book as we thought it would be appropriate to involve this page in our playgroup. The activities that were carried out on the May 25 included a treasure hunt, where the children had to find different objects and images drawn from the books around the playgroup yard. There was a 'pin the tail on the cat' activity that allowed the children to work together and help each other pin the tail on. Another activity was the creation of masks of cats and/or mice, there was the colour-in page of the black and white outdoor page, Hickory Dickory Dash puzzle, cat and mouse painting and bathtub slime.
The children had a heap of fun and it was a big turnout for our playgroup, keeping us educators busy at all times.  When it came to 11am everyone sat outside in the beautiful hot sun on chairs, bean bags and rugs and our three readers read the book “simultaneously” along with the rest of the thousands of Australians joining in. 

Taylah Lucado-Wells & Ava King
Don College Devonport (Years 11 & 12)

Certificate II in Community Services (Focus on Children’s Services)

Sunday 20 May 2018

Three things I’ve learned about writing interactive fiction

Emily’s detailed description of the process of the writing and the wonderful experiences she had with all who advised, supported and instructed her shows a depth of feeling and intention to deliver a meaningful reading experience that is exemplary.

The first two books in my interactive fiction series, The Freedom Finders, are out now.  I’m currently working on the third one, and later this year will begin the fourth!  Each book follows the journey of a child migrant to Australia at a different point in Australian history.  As I’d never written interactive fiction before, and never been a published author before, I’ve learned a lot since I began!  Here are some things I wish I’d known then…
1.      Don’t repeat yourself
When I wrote the first book, Break Your Chains, I thought that readers would probably only follow one storyline through the maze of choices, until they reached a happy ending!  So, when scenes covered similar content, I replicated whole paragraphs. My editor immediately told me there was no way I could do that, because some readers would explore every possible path through the story and get bored when they encountered copied paragraphs again and again! That seems obvious to me now, but it wasn’t then. The whole plot structure had to be re-worked and many scenes vigorously pruned and re-written.

2.      Keep track of time
All interactive fiction starts off with a single scene, then choices and paths branch off from there.  Sometimes these paths meet up again in another shared scene down the track, and it’s important that the time-lines are congruent: that the same amount of time has elapsed for the character on each pathway, so that they can arrive at the same shared point in time.  I was pretty fuzzy about this to begin with, and gaily tossed around references to ‘spring’, ‘the rainy season’, or ‘months spent aboard the ship’ with nary a care for how many grey hairs this would cause everyone down the track as they tried to untangle these timelines! Now I am keeping a detailed timeline for each book that charts the months, seasons, major historical events, and story paths simultaneously. My editor is ridiculously proud of me.

3.      Community consultation is key
My publisher, editor, and I always knew it was going to be crucial to do thorough consultation with other cultural groups represented in the story.  But when I started writing, I could never have anticipated how much these relationships were going to end up meaning to me, and how much their input would shape the books.  When the Tasmanian Aboriginal elder Theresa Sainty gave the Aboriginal character Waylitja his name, I drove home nearly in tears: I felt like she’d named a part of me.  When my dear Somali friend Hani Abdile read the first draft of Touch the Sun and messaged me to say it was ‘just like being there’, I whooped and jumped for joy.  These were some of the highlights of the whole writing process, and these relationships give the books their authenticity. 
I’ve learned much more than these three things, and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do so, thanks to Allen and Unwin and all my fantastic mentors.
Emily Conolan
Teacher, Author and refugee advocate

Break Your Chains and Touch the Sun are already available, with two more titles to follow later this year.

Monday 14 May 2018

National Simultaneous Storytime #NSS2018

Guest bloggers Sharon Molnar and Katie Stanley from Friends’ introduce this much-loved event and will contribute a follow-up blog post on June 2.

At Friends’ we participate as a whole school in National Simultaneous Storytime.  It’s a great activity that can easily involve students of all ages, as well as staff.
(used with permission)
This year’s book is Hickory Dickory Dash, by Tony Wilson and Laura Wood. It’s a fast-paced, funny read that students of all ages will enjoy. Here are some ideas on how you could participate:

Ø  Read it aloud – together, teacher-led, students reading, older students reading to younger students, etc.
Ø  Read it in a foreign language – organise for your language teacher/s to provide a translation that can be used on the day
Ø  Act it out!
Ø  Make up a new verse – this book, as well as last year’s book, The Cow Tripped Over the Moon, lend themselves beautifully to student extrapolation!
This year NSS will be held on Wednesday, 26 May at 11am.
You can register your school and have access to banners, activities and teachers’ notes, as well as online versions of the book.  There are also VIP readers if you don’t want to read it aloud yourself.
More information can be found at www.alia.org.au/nss  

Clemes Library display, 2017

Sharon Molnar and Katie Stanley are Teacher Librarians at The Friends’ School.

Sunday 6 May 2018

Creating colourful eBooks to stimulate problem-solving and imagination

Here Andrea Faith Potter describes her desire to write adventure stories where child characters can use their cleverness to solve their problems and help build resilience.

I love how adventure stories show children that characters can use cleverness to solve their problems. The reader sees how the characters get into a scary situation (not too scary) and survive it. I believe this helps children build resilience. I also love how imaginative stories with fantasy elements help children suspend their disbelief. We need this ability to be inventive and creative. Enid Blyton uses these elements in 'The Far-away Tree' series. Consequently, I have had a goal to create imaginative adventure stories for young children.

 Publishers have been interested in my books but they told me they publish domestic stories for children (under 8 years old) not adventure stories with imaginative characters. I know how important imaginative stories are to the development of children’s creativity, so I knew I had to find a way outside regular publishing. I was very keen to illustrate longer stories in colour, which is very expensive for print books. I therefore chose to create eBooks.

It has been a very interesting journey. I have explored many options and gained many skills but the biggest hurdle of all was finding a way to sell the eBooks in Australia. I could only get my books into Australian online bookshops if I went via the U.S. or Canada. I explored hundreds of options but each one had their own sticking point. It all looks so simple and promising until you get into the nitty gritty of it. I am hoping that one day there will be an Australian online bookshop that accepts eBooks directly from Australian authors.

In the meantime, my adult daughter, Lana (who has poems published in the UK and was shortlisted for the WA Premiers’ digital narrative award in 2012) and I are currently working on a series about imaginative sea creatures that clean up the rubbish they find on the ocean floor (pictured). We have enjoyed how eBooks have allowed us the freedom to create imaginative adventure stories in colour for a younger age group. I believe having a range of text types and book formats would enrich the Australian literary landscape and enable children to have diverse reading experiences.


Andrea Faith Potter
Teacher, Fine Artist and Illustrator



Illustrations on Instagram:


Selected Artworks on Instagram:

Editor's Note:
Andrea Faith Potter was featured with others on the CBCA Blog in February, Showcasing Tasmanian children’s book creators.