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

Friday 25 November 2022

From the blog: New on the Shelf this Christmas

Many thanks to Bronwyn from the Hobart Bookshop for this tantalising and far reaching list of new titles to engage young readers. It is great to see what is hot off the press to guide Christmas choices and reading diets over the Summer.

The end of the year is a busy time in the book business.  There are more books being released at this time of year than any other and while our already crowded shelves may be suffering under the strain it is lovely to see new future classics waiting to be taken into the homes of book lovers.

© The Hobart Bookshop

There are a wide range of themes and characters reflecting the world around us in the new offerings.  Some give us a chance to see life from another perspective, others remind us of what is important in our own daily lives, and some give us a feeling of contentment that is worth a great deal.

The new middle fiction novel by well known author Craig Silvey Runt is a highlight.  It includes themes of facing adversity, connection with family and community all set in an identifiable Australian context.  Craig visited us in the bookshop and recorded a Book Chat video discussing his new book: 

CBCA favourite Katrina Nannestad’s new book is another beautiful hardcover Waiting for the Storks navigates the experience of a Polish child taken from her home in the Second World War and given to a German family to raise.  Nannestad takes sensitive subject matter and treats it carefully to produce a historically accurate and powerful story with messages that are no less significant today than they were at the end of the War.

In a change of pace, Richard Ayoade’s The Book that No One Wanted to Read manages to combine two traits which don’t always go hand in hand; a book that is both funny and clever.  Written from the perspective of the book itself it is very much worth reading and encourages a love for books which we all like to see developed in younger readers.

Zeno Sworder has given us a delicate and beautifully illustrated picture book story My Strange Shrinking Parents which, while being unusual and original, centres on the love between parents and their child.

The 20th anniversary of the classic by Jackie French Diary of a Wombat has been celebrated by the release of the new accompanying story Diary of a Rescued Wombat: The Untold Story. With the same Diary of a Wombat style that is known and loved, the new edition details the almost true story of where it all began.

For non-fiction the well-known author Yuval Harari, who is most famous for his book Sapiens which details the history of humankind and civilisation, has now produced a children’s book.  The first volume in the Unstoppable Us series, How Humans Took Over the World is an engaging book that provides a full colour illustration of the rise of the human race, despite not being the fastest or strongest species on the planet.

The vast array of stories on offer, are a reflection of the growing diversity of voices at work.  Helping to provide all children with identifiable and engaging stories to draw them into a love of books.

Bronwyn Chalke 

The Hobart Bookshop 

W: https://www.hobartbookshop.com.au/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/HobartBookshop/ 

T: https://twitter.com/HobartBookshop 

Editor’s note: Wow! It is going to be hard to choose which of these to take up first; after I finish Runt! I am currently listening to this absolutely delightful story for primary aged readers. There are so many clever and memorable passages exploring rural hardship and family bonds that Silvey nails – his comparison between dogs and cats being an absolute hoot! And so very true!

Friday 18 November 2022

“Turn the volume down and immerse ourselves in stories”

Christina Booth provides some important cues to help us all navigate a changing world with good stories providing a compass to guide us. Christina also shares a current collaboration to be published in 2023 – look out for Mother Earth and enjoy this special advanced ‘cover reveal’.

Haven’t the last few years been weird? We have gained incredible insight into our world and humanity, and at the same time, we have lived with great stress and anxiety. For many, the idea of putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboards seemed to be a good opportunity during restricted travel and socialisation. Yet how do we write? What do we write? What stories do we tell surrounded by a noisy world full of war, pandemics, shortages, political unrest and strife, and education disruptions?

As a creator, I have struggled to focus. How do we write about our world when we don’t really know what it will look like in two, five, ten years from now? Do we have people hugging and shaking hands, sharing an ice-cream, sitting close to each other? Will we go back to what we consider normal? Or will the world remain a different place, a place the children of today and babies who will read these stories in the next few years will consider the new normal? Will they recognise the world of pre-2020?

The good news is humans still hunger for stories. We long to see ourselves reflected on the pages of a book, on a screen, in an artwork. These are the things that normalise us. It allows for difference, acceptance, and equality. These are the things we continue to strive for and fight for as we face our brave new world. Themes that do not let us down: bravery, sacrifice, diversity, learning, adapting, overcoming, history, learning from the past just to name a few. These are the stories that carry through regardless of what the planet throws at us.

After the lull in kid lit publishing due to Covid, I am very happy to be back at the drawing board, illustrating books for two wonderful and much-loved authors. I wish I could share more with you, but I can say I am immersed in a book written by Libby Hathorn, called Mother Earth, due for release through Hachette in 2023. It is a breath of fresh air in my illustrating studio, as the book is a collection of poems, published as a fully illustrated picture book. Poems and stories of what we all hold dear, poems about the things we continue to work toward and celebrate as humanity, regardless of the negatives we feel immersed in. The cover is completed, and I can share an almost completed version of it with you (the designer is yet to do their magical touches).

© Christina Booth's cover design for Mother Earth,
 written by Libby Hathorn, to be published by Hachette Australia, 2023

I hope you can find your creative space and let it help quieten the noise the world is barking ferociously at us. In there, there is still peace, quiet, and reflection. We can turn the volume down and immerse ourselves in stories. Stories celebrating the good in our world, inspiring us to make it the best place it can be.

Christina Booth
Tasmanian author and illustrator

W: https://www.christinabooth.com/

FB: Christina Booth Books https://www.facebook.com/Christina-Booth-Books-113682115389375

Friday 4 November 2022

Lions Behaving Badly

Did you hear about the family of lions that went on a walkabout at Taronga Zoo this week? Felicity did, and has been inspired.

The recent lion escape story from Taronga Zoo, and a clip that popped up in my Facebook feed sent me down a memory wormhole. 

To provide context, on Wednesday November 2, at 6.30 a.m. a lion and four cubs were seen between two fences at their enclosure in Taronga Zoo. The Zoo runs a luxury experience called Roar and Snore, where people pay to sleep near the lion enclosure. On Wednesday they were woken by keepers and told to run to a toilet block, where they were to remain until the 5 lions, Ato and cubs Khari, Luzuko, Malike and Zuri, could be returned to their enclosure. Read more on this ABC News report.

I recall reading the book, The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio (published in 1954 and still available in some Tasmanian School libraries), where The Happy Lion leaves his enclosure to visit all the people who had come to visit him – and is most surprised that they no longer looked happy to see him. I wonder if Ato and the cubs were equally perplexed?

Vintage Cool Stuff. (2020, June 13). The Happy Lion animated film.

Sally Farrell Odgers’ book The Lion in the Night (ill. Gail Weiss 2004) and Pamela Allen’s A Lion in the Night (1988) explore interactions between humans and lions. 

One of the most famous lions in literature is Aslan, from C.S. Lewis’ the Chronicles of Narnia (1950-1956). Aslan acts as a guardian and guide to the humans who rule Narnia. He can be terrifying, but also can be relied upon to rescue and save them.

Aesop’s wrote 28 fables that included lions. His lions were usually arrogant and selfish, but there was always a moral that explained their behaviour.

Many children are more familiar with The Lion King (Disney 1994 and 2019) which feature a range of good and bad lion characters. As a child I watched Kimba the White Lion (Mushi Production 1965). I recall my mum sighing that almost every episode had me in tears. I have also just discovered that it was a Japanese anime production – my children thought they’d introduced me to anime, not!

iamstillmyself. (2007, August 7). Kimba the White Lion theme song.

How I wish that I was back in a primary classroom, so that I could get my class thinking about this escape, and writing the adventures of Ato, Khari, Luzuko, Malike and Zuri. I’m sure there is a book there, just waiting to be written.

…and the lions that popped up in my Facebook feed? They looked like they were just having a really good time. View here.

Felicity Sly
Felicity is a teacher librarian at Don College & the CBCA Tasmania Treasurer