First, some info on Juliet Nearly A Vet children’s series before I launch into my one and a half hour experience hosted by Book Links and Write Linksat their centre for children’s literature.
JULIET NEARLY A VET series by REBECCA JOHNSON
Juliet wants to be a vet when she grows up, but when she decides she needs to start practicing, her wonderful misadventures begin. With gorgeous illustrations by local illustrator Kyla May.
“Hi! I’m Juliet. I’m ten years old. And I’m nearly a vet! We’re off on a school camp to the rainforest. Chelsea, Maisy and I are excited about all the different animals we might spot on our nature walks and torchlight treks. Chelsea is NOT excited about the creepy crawlies we might find! I’ve brought my vet-kit along just in case we find any animals in need of help . . .”
A wonderful series about three smart, funny, animal-loving girls solving mysteries and causing chaos at their country boarding school.
“Abbey, Hannah and Talika are new recruits at Willowvale boarding school’s Vet Cadets program. Mrs Parry, their science teacher, has given each of the girls a chick to raise and train, but not everyone is happy about it! When a game of horseback hide-and-seek turns into a matter of life and death, rules are broken and the friends’ courage sorely tested. This time, a solution might be out of the Vet Cadets’ hands . . .”
Rebecca Johnson is an award-winning Australian author and primary-school science teacher who has written more than 100 children’s books. Her works include the Steve Parish Story Book collection, Juliet Nearly A Vet series, Vet Cadet series, Insect series, and Steve Parish Reptiles & Amphibians Story Book range.
Rebecca Johnson spoke about how she became a published author and what inspired her stories. Her two current series are based on her own childhood experiences, both as a young vet ‘assistant’ and then as a horse-riding teenage animal detective.
Her writing style has allowed her to find the balance between working part-time and writing. She talked about the importance of verbal pitching in the early part of a writer’s career; know your story and speak passionately about it.
Rebecca was open and honest in all she discussed, particularly the challenges of marketing your first book once it has been published. On the subject of payment, royalties and earning a decent income, Rebecca felt a book series worked better.
I jotted down a number of points; from having an agent, to evolving your books as your reading audience grows. Interestingly, in this age of the internet, Rebecca hasn’t physically met Kyla May, her book illustrator.
A fascinating aspect from Rebecca’s talk is her use of a book tie-in and children’s conventions based on her Juliet Nearly A Vet books. She ordered 1,000 vet kits child-size with working stethoscopes and white lab coats—spectacular to say the least. And children obviously have a wonderful time learning about animals and caring for their toy pets!
My main takeaway from this workshop was “Write what you know, do the hard yards, continually promote your books” as well as attending events, libraries, Book Week. I applaud Rebecca Johnson for the detail and length of her workshop, and the fact that she happily answered every question.
A friend of mine, children’s writer Artelle Lenthall, challenged me to nominate 7 of my favourite bookcovers and post one every day for 7 days on Facebook. I have chosen 7 of my favourite bookcovers from Juliet Nearly A Vet series and will post them at 7.00pm each evening.
I was waiting for the delivery of a book written by UK author Maria Donovan. The title and synopsis of ‘The Chicken Soup Murder’ hint at a delicious yet deadly coming-of-age mystery.
There was scratching at the front door and our well-trained pet dragon stood there with a grin on his face. He had collected the parcel from the letterbox in anticipation of a treat. I patted him on the head and said ‘Good boy’ then picked up the parcel. He whined. I laughed. ‘Okay, I’ll get a couple of nuts’.
Inside the door, I placed the parcel on the sideboard. Underneath was an old rusty toolkit containing old rusty bits and pieces. I selected a couple of flange nuts and one bolt, gave them a squirt with WD40, and went back outside.
Part of the game was a quick toss-and-gulp and if you weren’t ready you’d miss it. I closed the front door on the slobbering noises and went to find a pair of scissors. The Booktopia cardboard was tough but I wrested it open.
And there was the pristine book I had so eagerly awaited! At the moment, I’ve only read up to Page 20 so I am sorry to disappoint you but my book review will be in another blog post further down the track. As my auntie used to say ‘Keep you in suspenders.’
Who’d have thought it? Margaret Eleanor Atwood (1939- ) author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin and more than forty other books of fiction, poetry, critical essays and a graphic novel has written children’s books.
Margaret Atwood also wears various hats, from activist through literary critic, inventor, environmentalist and award-winner with honours and degrees, yet for me this news was surprising. Not so surprising is the quirky nature of her children’s stories!
♦ With grateful thanks to online friend and blogger BookJotter Paula Bardell-Hedley for alerting me to these little gems within a comprehensive list of Margaret Atwood’s literary output—
Up in the Tree (1978) Anna’s Pet (with Joyce Barkhouse) (1980) For the Birds (1990) Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (1995) Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (2003) Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda (2004) Up in the Tree (facsimile reprint) (2006) Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery (2011) A Trio of Tolerable Tales (illustrator Dušan Petričić) (2017)
Being a kidlit fan, I immediately wanted to read several of those earlier Atwood books but found they (like this non-fiction For The Birds) were no longer in print, or libraries, but may be available through state archives or second-hand book merchants. I will track down her first children’s book Up in the Tree (with her own illustrations and hand-lettering, quite possibly written for her young daughter) because the story intrigues me.
Along the way, Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery was adapted into the children’s television series The Wide World of Wandering Wenda aimed at early readers with different adventures using words, sounds, and language.
Happily, in 2017, three of Atwood’s books were re-published, printed and bound in Canada into one compilation A Trio of Tolerable Tales. I was able to buy a new copy with Serbian Dušan Petričić gorgeous drawings. Atwood’s alliteration is absolutely awesome!
♦ Here are my reviews of these alliteration-filled, tongue-twisting tales…read on….
♦ Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes
The reader follows the adventures of Ramsay and Ralph the red-nosed rat as they traverse various repulsive obstacles to find a round, Roman-vaulted rat hole leading to food nirvana – round red radishes ready to be devoured. The radishes revolt and start to attack but thankfully owner Rillah comes on the scene. She forgives their trespass and shows them around her romantic rectory, rotunda, rococo artworks and rumpus room. There’s a bit of a ruckus with Rillah’s relatives Ron, Rollo and Ruby, so Ramsay & Co beat a hasty retreat back outside and romp rapturously under a radiant rainbow. There is a very clever twist regarding the radishes and how they repel intruders! A fun story which needs patience on the part of the reader, especially reading it out aloud for small children. Laughs are guaranteed and you will marvel at how many ‘R’ words exist in the English language. GBW.
♦ Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda
Bashful Bob was abandoned in a basket outside a beauty parlour and nobody claimed him. There is a neglected dog park across the street and the resident dogs are Bob’s best buddies. There is a beagle, a boxer and a borzoi who believe “We must be benevolent” and they look after young Bob. On the next block lives Doleful Dorinda. She’d been dumped with despicable relatives who say “Dorinda is a dope” and make her sleep beside biohazard material. Her food is awful and she is treated like a slave. Finally Doleful Dorinda runs away and meets Bashful Bob on the vacant block. You will have to read this story to find out how their names were turned into Brave Bob and Daring Dorinda but it makes a jolly rollicking tale especially if you like dogs! The plot and resolution are more conventional, even with the proliferation of ‘B’ words. A flowing, tangible fairytale and I found it easy to absorb. GBW.
♦ Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery
Wenda is a willowy child with wispy hair and wistful eyes. Her parents are whisked away by a weird whirlwind and thereafter Wenda wanders aimlessly. She makes friends with Wesley woodchuck and they share food scraps and wodges of wieners until one day they are kidnapped by Widow Wallop. She takes them to her Wunderground Washery to “wash whites whiter than white” every day. Between the drudgery, they feel sorry for Widow Wallop’s white Welsh ponies and three other waifs, Wilkinson, Wu and Wanapitai. Together they plot their daring escape, only to encounter wolves along the way. How will they evade Widow Wallop’s clutches now? There is an unexpected reveal at the end! I think some of the scenes may disturb younger children, particularly those with separation anxiety. Older readers will chortle at the profuse ‘W’ words and idiosyncratic wordplay. GBW.
QUOTATION: “Comfort with reading begins in childhood, when parents or other loving adults read to children. It creates a ‘safe’ place where — nevertheless — dangers can be explored (and, in children’s books, hopefully, overcome)…. I think my children’s books function as protected spaces for me. I look at darker things quite a lot, but the kind of children’s books I write are light, and have happy endings…. That’s a relief, when I can manage it.”
—Margaret Atwood, author.
♦ The interior of this book is printed on paper that contains 100% post-consumer recycled fibres, is acid-free and is processed chlorine-free so there’s nothing to worry about, Wenda.
This post will bore anyone without children in their lives.
Dads Read recognises that fathers reading to their children strengthens literacy, models positive reading behaviour and builds children’s self-esteem around reading, especially for boys.
Dads Read is an early childhood literacy initiative, developed by State Library of Queensland in 2010 and launched statewide in 2012 as part of the National Year of Reading, to promote family literacy. The program continues to expand and is now being delivered throughout Queensland and South Australia and plans are underway in Tasmania.
You can host your own event with their resources. I’ve seen this program in action with a dedicated group. Children choose a book, a slice of pizza and sit with their fathers to read.
Discrimination doesn’t apply, the Dads Read message is based on the simple but true premise that reading 10 minutes a day to your children is not only quick but also essential.
Dads Read aims to:
Raise awareness of the important role fathers play in their children’s development.
Inform fathers of the importance and benefits of reading to children from their early years, even before they start school.
Promote reading as a family.
Encourage fathers to read to their children and promote the value of reading.
Provide fathers with the tools to give them the confidence to read with their children.
My father was my reading mentor, instilling interest in books, and Dads Read program follows research which highlights the importance of dads reading to their children during their early developmental years. As little as 10 minutes a day improves children’s literacy levels and stimulates creative and critical thinking.
‘Investment in early childhood is the most powerful investment a country can make’. World Health Organization, 2007.
The Dads Read program has helped:
Address a real and significant issue which is at the core of our wellbeing as individuals, families, employers and communities: the need to be literate.
Support literacy development and help to develop the skills of Australia’s future workforce by building everyday skills for sustainable communities.
Build literacy levels among our younger generation while promoting family literacy and boosting the ability of reading in adults.
Connect families and communities in a cost effective and invaluable way.
You have the month of September to sign up to the new Indigenous Literacy Day fundraising campaign and fill your virtual shelf with books for children in remote communities. Participate in the launch on Wednesday 5 September and discover how to fill a bookshelf for children in the remote Australian outback.
It’s something new, something a little different, something the Indigenous Literacy Foundation believes you’ll enjoy sharing with your friends and family, and something that gives you the opportunity of ensuring kids in remote communities have access to quality, new books.
Commencing on Indigenous Literacy Day (5 September 2018) the new ‘Fill a Bookshelf’ fundraising campaign aims to raise $300,000 to help ILF gift 30,000 new books to schools and service organisations in remote communities where books are scarce.
How does it work? The idea is simple…
Sign up online to create a fundraising page and receive an empty virtual bookshelf.
Ask family, friends, colleagues to donate a virtual book to your page (in the form of a donation)
Fill your virtual bookshelf!
Change the lives of Indigenous children.
Your donations will help buy new, carefully selected books for children who have none. To put it quite simply – without your support, in a very real sense – bookshelves in remote Indigenous communities are empty.
All children in Australia deserve the same opportunities – in education, employment, health and wellbeing. Evidence shows that literacy is the pathway to CHOICE for these opportunities, and BOOKS are the building blocks for literacy. If you believe this too, sign up today!
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation
PO Box 663 Broadway NSW 2007
Indigenous Literacy Day is a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy. Indigenous Literacy Day aims to raise awareness of the need to support literacy in remote and isolated Indigenous communities of Australia.
Fabulous stage and screen actors reading gloriously fun books. I listened to eight beautifully narrated sound clips by Kate Winslet, Hugh Laurie, Richard Ayoade, Miriam Margolyes, Stephen Fry, Andrew Scott, Chris O’Dowd––and I’ve just drooled over Dan Stevens short reading of Roald Dahl’s famous ‘Boy’. What a selection!
Reviewed by Rachel Smalter Hall for Book Riot way back in 2013 who gushed:
“Rioters, I’m so excited. I just can’t hide it. I’ve been holding my breath to share this with you for weeks! The new upswing in audiobook publishing has sent lots of publishers to their backlist to record beloved classics, and one of my favorite projects in this vein is from Penguin Audio, who just released several Roald Dahl audiobooks in July and will release several more this September. The series features some of the UK’s best known screen and stage actors. Here are sound clips from eight of the narrations that have got me squealing like a thirteen-year-old at a slumber party.”
I SAY IT’LL MAKE YOUR EARS HAPPY––SMILES GUARANTEED
TAP ON EACH INDIVIDUAL TEASER WHICH I HAVE CAREFULLY SELECTED FOR YOU FROM A LOVINGLY CURATED ROALD DAHL SOUNDCLOUD PLAYLIST
Katrin Dreiling went from language teacher to illustrator and received prestigious recognition for her picture book illustrations in “The World’s Worst Pirate”. This book, written by Michelle Worthington and published by Little Pink Dog Books, has been awarded Notable Book of 2018 by Children’s Book Council of Australia.
It’s wonderful to have you here, Katrin, I love your beautiful art techniques and I’m excited to learn about your journey as a children’s book illustrator. First, here’s a sneak peek at this special pirate story:
William is The World’s Worst Pirate so does that suggest he’s rude and nasty? Read on…
“Pirates are swashbuckling, treasure hunting, buccaneers of the seven seas. But if your mother is the Pirate Captain and you can’t stand on deck without getting seasick … that makes William The World’s Worst Pirate.” However, young William does have a special talent. Can he use it when the ship is under attack? Save the day, me hearty!
Q&A illustrator background
Katrin Dreiling, originally from Germany, loves to come up with quirky creations that inspire children to get creative. She enjoys giving colourful and messy art classes and says “Children are the true perfect grown-ups. Their hearts and minds are pure and good and it is important to nurture this – I strive to do that with art.” On the studious side, she provided the characters for animated University lectures and Government staff coaching videos that attracted over 320,000 views worldwide. In her free time, Katrin relaxes with her husband, three children and their Golden Retriever.
Q1. What is your favourite part of “The World’s Worst Pirate”?
Thank you, Gretchen, for this interview! My favourite part text-wise is when the Kraken attacks and everyone is supposed to run for their lives. Then there is a silence and Will quietly throws a cupcake to tame the beast. I like the contrast between noise and quietness and that it is such a peaceful, gentle approach. In terms of illustrations I think I like the cover the best. I just really enjoyed doing those ocean waves.
Q2. Of all your creations, who is your best loved character so far?
That would be Anton the Pig. This character has been in the works for a while now and so I really got used to him being around. He is also very sweet-hearted and funny and reminds me of a certain someone…
Q3. Where did the inspiration for this character come from?
Anton and his world are certainly inspired by my German background. The region I grew up in is known for their excessive bicycle riding because it’s very flat. So Anton is a passionate cyclist but I merged the landscape with a lot of ideas I picked up while living in Brisbane, Queensland. The inspiration for Anton’s story, though, came from years of working with children at school and my own three kids.
Q4. How would you describe your creative process on an average day?
My working day usually starts with a good walk with my Goldi to keep him happy and clear my head. Then I usually work down a list of things I have to do for my illustrating business. Once this is done I start creating. This can include simple sketching, commission work or extending my portfolio.
Q5. Do you like working in a group or home-office environment?
I am very happy to work by myself from home but I do seek professional input from other industry professionals on a regular basis. There is the Brisbane Illustrators Group where I made many good friends, WriteLinks and our local SCBWI group. I think it is very important to stay connected in which ever way you prefer, be that online or in real life.
Q6. Was it enjoyable working with writer Michelle Worthington?
Absolutely loved working withMichelle Worthington and would always choose to do so again. She is professional, smart and supportive and I felt very appreciated in my illustrating.
Q7. What is it like collaborating with an editor and publisher?
In the case of Little Pink Dog Books it was the perfect synergy between author, publisher and illustrator. Kathy and Peter Creamer were very inspired to keep this project a creative process which involved everyone in the same measure, and I believe the result reflects this very well. When I worked with other publishers it was a different, yet also enjoyable experience. I had to meet more firm requirements and learned new things along the way. I think you have to be adaptable as an illustrator in order to deliver the best possible outcome for the project.
Q8. Do you like to work with artistic freedom or a strict deadline?
I can do both 😊
Q9. Have you stayed up past midnight to finish an assignment?
Yes. I have worked through nights but if the work does not feel like work it is not a problem.
Q10. Have you ever received harsh criticism for your work?
I have been very lucky so far and mostly received constructive criticism which I value a lot. It’s easy to get too complacent and lose distance to your work. This is why I regularly book in for portfolio assessments with editors to get a fresh perspective on my work.
Q11. What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
I mix a lot of media together because I enjoy many things at the same time. I seem to always come back to ink in some form, though.
Q12. What colour would you be if you were an extra pencil in the box?
Q13. What are your thoughts on hand-painted vs computer generated artwork?
It works really well TOGETHER if you know how to.
Q14. Who are your favourite artists and have they influenced you?
Absolutely adore the work of Beatrice Alemagna. She has inspired me to go my own way, like she did. Then there is the quirky and unconventional style of Russell Ayto that I love. I think both artists truly work to delight and inspire children.
Q15. Are you involved in teaching workshops for children?
Yes, I will be giving workshops with Michelle Worthington to children at selected libraries in Brisbane during school holidays in July 2018. Also I give workshops for both children and grown-ups at a bookstore in Red Hill, Brisbane, as well as giving regular extra-curricular art classes once a week at New Farm State School.
Q16. Do you have a special creative goal for this year or is it a secret?
For my Anton the Pig story, I’d like to finish the manuscript and illustrations completely. Also getting published by one of the ‘big’ publishing houses has always been my dream and I’m still working towards this goal.
And this Q&A draws to a close
My sincere thanks, Katrin, for your personal insights into the world of picture book illustrating. I am sure you will reach your goal and I look forward to reading all about Anton!
Hey, is anyone else left wondering who that 'certain someone' is and why Katrin would be a black pencil...
With a knowing smile, this Victorian-style book of manners is reminiscent of the period of parenting when misbehaving children were given orders and told dire consequences would ensue if they did not obey. Despite warnings, when a child in this book ignores an instruction, there is an aftermath of great magnitude.
In “A Garden of Lilies: Improving Tales for Young Minds – by Prudence A Goodchild” children’s author and illustrator Judith Rossell has produced an atmospherically illustrated and tightly written volume. She has also mastered the art of a left-right jab, hitting with swift endings which leave the reader breathless.
Each punchy short story closes with a judicious moral. For example, Isadora daydreamed too much during her chores. One day she daydreamed while idly brushing her hair. Let’s just say she didn’t get to finish the task. “Moral: For hair that’s glossy, clean and bright, Two hundred strokes, both morn and night”.
After Isadora’s tale, there is what appears to be a lovely page entitled “Care of the Hair” with a recipe for making Soft Soap which “…will improve both the texture and colour of the hair” until things get a bit nauseating. Apart from kitchen scraps, the mixture must boil for hours until it forms a clear, thick jelly.
Basically the stories are about kids being kids and the 21st century reader should see the endings for what they are – a sample of Victorian etiquette and psychology which we would not dream of using on children today. Right? Okay, explain that to your child and laugh.
This slim book is approximately sixty pages (with attractive binding and colour plates) and scattered throughout are “Interesting Facts” and helpful hints like An Economical Recipe for a Plain Cake, A Useful Compass, Parlour Games and my personal favourite, An Album of Sea-Weeds. I will work on drying and pressing seaweed during my next holiday! Hmm, would seaweed smell like that starfish I once brought home?
In closing, I will give a shout-out to Mr Lindon of Woolloongabba, Queensland (Page 45) who grew a giant marrow. I think he must have read the book’s suggestion To Grow a Giant Marrow which signifies “A Garden of Lilies” is indeed a versatile volume!
I cannot give you a childproof safety rating but I think it is suitable for a sliding age scale and my own rating is 5-star.
Judith Rossell — Biography
Judith Rossell is the multi-award-winning author-illustrator of the bestselling Stella Montgomery series (Withering-by-Sea, Wormwood Mire, A Garden of Lilies and forthcoming Wakestone Hall). Judith has written thirteen books and illustrated more than eighty, and her work has been published in UK, US, Germany and translated into more than twenty languages. Before beginning her career in children’s books, Judith worked as a government scientist (not a mad scientist, a normal kind of scientist) and also for a cotton-spinning company (which made threads for T-shirts, denim jeans, mops and teabag strings). Judith lives in Melbourne, Australia with a cat the size of a walrus.
ACCLAIM FOR WITHERING-BY-SEA AND WORMWOOD MIRE:
Indie Awards – Winner 2015, Shortlisted 2017
Australian Book Industry Awards – Winner 2015, Shortlisted 2017
CBCA Awards – Honour Book 2015, Notable Book 2017
Davitt Awards – Winner 2015, Shortlisted 2017
Prime Minister’s Literary Awards – Shortlisted 2015
ABA Booksellers’ Choice Awards – Shortlisted 2017
Australian Book Design Awards – Shortlisted 2017
Aurealis Awards – Shortlisted 2015
When we grow up we don’t really shed childhood. It is tucked away inside us, nice and quiet, suppressed by what we perceive as Adult Behaviour. Until something triggers that child-proof gate. Our sillies jump out! Irrepressible, childlike joy will spring into our hearts, gleam in our eyes and beam from our faces. Oldies will smile benignly at us but a child will shriek with delight because they understand.
Anything can trigger your past. A puppy, red shoes, a TV show, theatre tickets, sweets, that winning point, a favourite song, splashing in a puddle with a clear plastic umbrella, er, wait, what was that? “A clear plastic umbrella?” said Adult Voice. Yes, when I was young, the most coveted accessory for primary school students was a clear plastic umbrella. The plastic was plain, you could see the metal spokes through it and the handle was white.
It was enthralling to watch raindrops falling on a see-through umbrella held over your friend’s head, water trickling off and dripping onto the ground while she stayed dry. If you were really fancy (or your father had enough money for kids fripperies) you could buy them with ladybirds or slices of fruit and suchlike imprinted on them. If you were really rich (and more of a teenager) you teamed it with a short skirt, beehive hairdo and white vinyl go-go boots with lipstick to match. Trés chic.
I haven’t researched this but I’m pretty sure one or two models would have slinked down the catwalk twisting a clear plastic umbrella shaped like a mushroom. Or, shock horror, wearing a clear plastic raincoat! “Personally I think you would sweat horribly inside one of those,” said Adult Voice. Anyhow, here comes the sad part. I was not one of the groovy girls, I never owned a clear plastic umbrella.
Somehow I managed to survive the ignominy of having a pale blue nylon umbrella. Its saving grace was a real bamboo handle and it lasted for years. Once I left it on the bus and my parents tracked it down in the city council’s lost property office. Hard to believe now, but there it was in all its pale blue opaque glory. I have since owned a stylish British brolly, frilly French parapluie, Winnie-the-Pooh bear parasol and various brands in various colours mainly used as sunshades.
Until last week, drum roll please, when I came across a clear plastic umbrella hanging on a sale rack. It was the standard shape, with the usual opening and closing action and it was only a couple of dollars. Sold! I actually whooped with excitement. Finally, a dream come true. “Pity it’s a clear sunny day,” said Adult Voice. I brushed this aside. Once I was out of crowd eye-range, I shook it out. So clear, so transparent, so useless in the glare of a hot day. “Be quiet,” I snapped at Adult Voice. I pushed the umbrella open and twirled it wildly above my head. I’d made it. I had joined the Groovy Girls. My childish delight brimmed over! And delight brings recollections.
Myvery own CPU has flourished several times in light rain,occasionally the plastic will stick together, but that doesn’t stop me opening it just to marvel at the concept. Truly, an umbrella worth waiting for. Now I’m thinking about those white vinyl go-go boots...♥Gretchen Bernet-Ward
The Ten Penners, a children’s author collective, launched their blog tour to coincide with the release of their exciting new anthology Mystery, Mayhem & Magic. Follow the tour, read about Julie Baythorpe, book giveaway and more—
Mystery, Mayhem & Magic is an anthology of amazing adventures for young readers!
Take a path through the forest of imagination into mysterious journeys filled with mayhem and a kaleidoscope of magical creatures.
From the authors of Shock! Horror! Gasp! and Fan-Tas-Tic-Al Tales emerges Mystery, Mayhem & Magic, a new anthology written by The Ten Penners, a paperback novel-size book which is jam-packed with thirty-six stories, poems and novellas suitable for children aged 8 to 12 and early readers. Stories can be read to younger children too …
… So come and explore!
Follow the fascinating Mystery, Mayhem & Magic
Blog Tour any time—
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT – BOOK GIVEAWAY COMPETITION CLOSED!
There will be a giveaway of a copy of Mystery, Mayhem & Magic! At the end of the blog tour, those who have left a comment on this page, or on any of the other hosts’ pages during the blog tour, will be in the running to receive a free copy! The announcement of the winner will be at our book launch at Broadbeach Library on Saturday 4 November 2017. So, please make a comment below to be in the running.
Q & A
Today I am delighted to welcome one of the authors, Julie Baythorpe, who has kindly put her literary thoughts into words:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Baythorpe was born in Sydney and moved to Brisbane where she attended Brisbane Central State School. She loved every minute of school life so much so she never left the education system. In 1985 she moved to the Gold Coast. Julie has written all her life. For many years, she taught creative writing, both as a Teacher and Principal in classrooms across Queensland. When she retired from teaching she started writing full-time. She has written and published numerous short stories, poems, journal articles and has developed many Curriculum documents for Education Queensland. She is currently organising and presenting writing workshops for the Gold Coast Writers’ Association. Her books include the Reid Devron murder mystery series and several short story anthologies. Julie also enjoys creating watercolour paintings … when she’s not writing!
Q1.When did you start writing?
A. I started when I was very young … five or six years old. I loved it. I had a vivid imagination (still have) which transported me to mystical and magical places. As I grew older I began writing poems and stories for the children I taught in primary school. I also wrote strategic documents … curriculum documents, behaviour management programs and planning outlines for Education Queensland. I started writing fiction full-time when I retired from teaching.
Q2.Which genres do you enjoy writing?
A. I enjoy writing in most genres, however, I feel most comfortable writing novels in the murder mystery category. As a member of The Ten Penners writing group, I’ve dabbled in short story writing for children again. It’s been a while since I did this, however, I enjoyed creating the character ‘Plinko’ and I loved the adventures of Jock, Davo and Birch in ‘Birch the Dinosaur and the Bogan Penguins’. A lot of fun!
Q3.Have you published any books? A. Yes, I’ve published three books in the Reid Devron murder mystery series. ‘The Lavender Principal’, ‘Silo Deadfall’, and ‘Under the Fig Tree’, all set in schools where I’ve worked. In collaboration with the Southern Short Story Group (another sub-group of Gold Coast Writers’ Association) I wrote a number of fictional short stories. The title of that book is ‘Love, Lies, Laughter and a Few Little Tears’.
Q4.Have you won any writing competitions?
A. Only one … when I was about nine years old. They asked me to read it to the whole school. I’ve been traumatised ever since! But it didn’t stop my love of writing!
Q5.Do you have a plan/schedule for your writing?
A. Early in the morning is a great time for my writing sessions. I fade by the afternoon. I usually collect ideas in my head and jot down notes … Firstly, in a scribbled, illegible mess. To tidy my ramblings, I develop a timeline for two or three pages then add chapters and scenes. For example, Chapter One … a body is found, police arrive, description of setting and some characters. In a rough outline, I write down scenes in each chapter. I use a scrapbook for pictures and details of my characters. Lastly, I organise a folder for research, the book cover ideas, similes/metaphors, poems, and editing notes and pages. Then it gets cracking!
Many thanks, Julie, for your time and inspiration.
Don’t forget! Post a comment below (or on any one of the blog tour sites) to be in the running for a giveaway copy of The Ten Penners new anthology Mystery, Mayhem & Magic! IMPORTANT: THE BOOK GIVEAWAY COMPETITION HAS CLOSED.
To quote Families Magazine “This poster will help your kids to differentiate and identify the difference between being RUDE, being MEAN and BULLYING.”
The self-explanatory poster is one of several free downloads on the website of Families Magazine, an A4 glossy magazine printed every two months and distributed in public libraries and places where families are in Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, Australia.
Families Magazine says “Interactions with others can be confusing. Sometimes what is considered bullying, may in fact be something else? Bullying is a repetitive behaviour that is designed to intentionally hurt or belittle another person.”
All three behaviours are upsetting to a child, but bullying is the most destructive.
(Rewriting metaphor) The paddocks of writing are strewn with rough drafts. You kick, trip, fall, get up and struggle your way across rugged terrain until you see a smooth pebble ahead. The closer you get, the more polished it becomes. Eventually you walk over golden sand and reach out; that pebble has become a jewel. The following children’s picture book story is still a pebble.
(Living room) Everyone in Neil’s family wants to sit on the soft cosy comfy couch.
Because the soft cosy comfy couch is the best place to sit.
But sometimes it’s just not big enough.
(Takeover) Sometimes Neil can’t sit down to read his book because his two brothers and Tiny the dog sit down first. And they spread out.
(Solid cushion) So Neil tries to sit on a hard red cushion but slides off – bump!
Just when Neil goes to sit down on the front doorstep with his book, it is time for lunch.
The cushion on the kitchen chair is very thin. Neil wriggles to get comfortable.
The thin cushion slips down and lands in the cat’s food.
(Various seats) Neil’s mother watches a movie with Tiny the dog and Rat the cat snoozing on either side.
No room to squeeze in there.
So Neil drags in
a cardboard box – squash! a wooden stool – crack! a blue highchair – topple! Everyone ends up grumpy so Neil goes outside to find a relaxing place to read.
(Outdoors) In the garden the washing flaps across the wooden seat like a ghost – wooooo! When the hammock swings back and forth too much it makes Neil feel dizzy.
He falls out – plop!
(Tree) His leafy perch on a branch in the tree is swooped by noisy magpies – ouch!
Neil tucks his book inside his t-shirt and scrambles down.
(Various places) The chicken roost, the guinea pig hutch and the vegetable patch are no good.
(Swimming pool) Neil likes the idea of floating and reading.
It’s difficult to balance and read a book on the floating pool mat – splash! Tiny the dog jumps into the swimming pool and rescues the book.
(Rainy day) Next day a headcold makes Neil sneeze and sneeze and sneeze.
But he has a new book to read.
And he snuggles up, warm and happy on the soft cosy comfy couch.
(Family) Then everyone decides to keep him company.
On the SQUASHY soft cosy comfy couch.
This is my first children’s picture-book book review. Legions of preschool storytime fans are hanging out for this one! Of course, you will have to read it to them. I could have bored you with reams (remember reams?) of lucid, erudite adult book reviews but I’ve decided to revisit an all-time rollicking favourite “I Went Walking”.
In my no-holds-barred, honest-to-goodness style, I will explore the deeper meaning of taking a walk through a farmyard. Or maybe it’s all just good fun.
“I Went Walking” written by Sue Machin and illustrated by Julie Vivas An Omnibus Book from Scholastic Australia First published 1989, reprinted approx 23 times, sometimes twice in one year.
My softcover copy of this slim 32-page volume celebrates 25 years of publication so that means at the time of writing it’s now 28 years old. I am sure the book’s huge following of under 5s will be planning a suitable 30th shindig, perhaps everyone invited to come as their favourite barnyard animal. There could be hay bales to sit on while devouring plate-loads of themed food. The country and western band would…sorry, got a bit off-topic there…
The front cover artwork displays a young boy talking to a quacking duck. Open to the second page and this young boy is putting on his coat. Pay attention to this coat, and other parts of his apparel. Naturally the page reads “I went walking” with the response on the next page “What did you see?” and thereafter. Without going into too much detail, he sees a black cat, a brown horse, an apple tree, a red cow who offers him a ride, a green duck and the boy sheds his first piece of clothing.
“I went walking” and “What did you see?” other sidelines like a sack of potatoes but in this instance it’s a muddy pink pig which is hosed down, necessitating the removal of wet shoes, then socks and t-shirt. The gang of farm animals is following the boy when he bumps into a friendly yellow dog. He marches off with all six animals following. They do a wild dance together and that’s the end of the story.
You really have to see the pictures in this picture book to appreciate it. The clear, colourful drawings and uncluttered storyline combine to make a five-star bedtime reading experience.
My childhood nickname was “Apple Queen”. In later years, I have wondered why I wasn’t called “Apple Princess” but I think it may have had something to do with the name of a variety of apple at that time. One of my mother’s favourite early black and white photographs of me, taken in my grandparents’ long driveway at Hampton, Victoria, illustrates my love of apples. I have a Granny Smith apple in each hand, possibly from a homegrown tree. I was about four years old and, by the look on my face, quite serious about the art of eating apples.
I still am. One sits next to me as I type. If I need a snack, a lunch box filler or fruit for a picnic, I grab an apple. Drool has formed in the corners of my mouth when I’ve looked at apples with sultanas and honey. Strudel, pies, pureed or skewered on a kebab, the texture and essence of apples is never lost. That crisp, sweet smell pervades my senses, particularly when I walk into a room and get a whiff of that fruity fragrance. Immediately I want to chomp my teeth into the cool, smooth skin, break through that thin protective layer to taste its juicy flesh. That first crunch is like no other sound. The sound reverberates through my jaw as I munch the apple into cider and swallow.
In my haste to eat an apple, I have been known to choke on a piece but it has never put me off. My mother could devour a whole apple, pips and all, but that’s not my style. I denude the apple to the core then toss the remains into the garden for some foraging creature to finish off.
I have a vivid memory of apple blossom and then tiny green and red striped apples forming on a tree we had in our backyard at Mount Waverley, Victoria. Picking them too soon, I recall my disappointment at their unripe, bitter flavour. Just recently I have read that apples are helpful to asthma sufferers and, since I am a life-long asthmatic, I wondered if instinct might have played a part in my voracious consumption. It certainly had nothing to do with Adam or Eve.
Occasionally, I am asked about my favourite variety and I answer “Any. As long as it’s not bruised.” Apples creep into my salads, my sauces and, thanks to a friend, into my hamburger mince. To me, a dessert isn’t a proper dessert unless it contains apples. Imagine a world without apple pie and ice-cream! My father liked cloves cooked into apple pies and that’s the only time I didn’t like my mother’s cooking. To this day I don’t know why the odd flavouring of clove is meant to enhance cooked apples.
The very shape of an apple is pleasing to me, even the logo on my laptop. During my teenage years, I collected ornaments in the shape of apples. Two examples may have survived. A red china apple made in two halves, the bottom half containing candle wax. The other apple made of hand-blown glass, with a glass leaf, which contains layers of coloured sands from Cooloola Beach on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
Baby daughters are now being named Apple; it’s something I didn’t think of at the time and I’m hoping it’s after the apple blossom fruit rather than the corporation. My fruit bowl is really an apple bowl with other fruit scattered around for effect. Sometimes toffee apples will creep into the mix and I treat them with caution. Hard red toffee and my teeth don’t work well together but I never let that stop me.