Friday, 8 November 2013

Dinosaur storytime

The Australian Museum, in College St, Sydney, is hosting an amazing Tyrannosaurus exhibition until next July. The link to it is below:

As part of this, I will be doing some story/ music and craft sessions with the Museum education staff, featuring I wish there were dinosaurs, written by me and illustrated by the wonderful Christina Booth.

Here is a link to these sessions. They are free, but booking is required.

My new book: Waiting for Hugo

Waiting for Hugo was published last month by Windy Hollow Books. It is a picture book for children from about 4 to 7 years. Beautiful watercolour illustrations by Claire Richards bring the story of Hugo, who loves counting, and his sister, to life. The book explores the complex mix of positives and negatives in sibling relationships, through a story about Hugo's fascination with counting just about everything he comes across. I was inspired to create the character of Hugo by children I've worked with as a teacher. Over the years I've met many children who have passionate interests or fascinations, and observed how these shape their lives and relationships with family and peers. While many of these children have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, just as many others have not. They just happen to have particular fascinations, or what some might term 'obsessive interests'. What is always interesting about these children is the amazing skills or knowledge that can grow from such interests and the time devoted to pursuing them. in Waiting for Hugo I celebrate Hugo's great skills in counting as well as exploring the challenges for those around him, especially his sister, who is the narrator in the text.

Here is a link the publisher's page about Waiting for Hugo. I look forward to sharing Hugo's story with many children. Happy reading (and counting!)

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

"Books are the best"

I have discovered Pinterest and have started a board about picture books. The board is titled "Books are the best". Pinterest provides another way for people to share information and ideas. There are many interesting boards about children's books, compiled by parents, educators, authors, illustrators and book lovers in general. If you haven't discovered Pinterest yet, have a look:

Keep an eye out for this wonderful new book

Next month Australian author and illustrator Christina Booth will publish a wonderful book called Welcome Home, an inspiring story about a young whale. Christina illustrated my picture book I wish there were dinosaurs. She is a highly talented author and illustrator, and Welcome Home promises to be a wonderful and very popular picture book, telling a very important story. Have a look at the trailer (link is below). I can't wait to buy the book! Congratulations Christina.

Welcome Home book trailer

What's in the library bag?

As a slightly different way of approaching reviewing picture books, I have decided to visit a library regularly and find an old treasure (and maybe some new treasures) to read and write about. In this digital age it's good to remember that libraries are still there as a wonderful free source of quality children's literature. Librarires also have the advantage of keeping their collections for many years, so sometimes you can find books that are out of print and/or not available to buy. 

This week I have Night Noises, by Mem Fox, illustrated by Terry Denton, in my library bag. It was published by Omnibus Books in 1989. It has also been republished by Penguin. Lovely to see that its enduring quality has been recognised. 

The book is about Lillie Laceby, an elderly lady whose "bones were as creaky as floorboards at midnight" who lives alone in a country cottage with her dog, Butch Aggie. NIght Noises is a beautiful combination of many things - the tension around strange noises in the night, images of a warm and cosy cottage, visual portrayals of Lillie's dreams of her life, with an ending both surprising and satisfying. Mem Fox's text is simple but full of both action and imagery. Terry Denton's illustrations have just the right balance of humour, comfort, anticipation and warmth. Many aspects of the story are conveyed only through images, so there is lots for children to think and talk about as they read the book. For this reason it is an ideal book for families and educators to share with children from about 4 to 7 years. Themes and messages about life span, families, dreams, feelings, birthdays, pets, different ways of living are all part of this rich and engaging book. See if you can find it in your library. 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Children's literature and inclusion

Any aspect of children's lives can be represented in a picture book. In recent I have been exploring diversity, particularly in relation to disability, in my writing. As well as working on picture book texts, I have been exploring the work of other children's authors, and the research in this area.

In a new special edition of the open access journal Write4children there are many fascinating articles about diversity and inclusion in children's books. There are articles by publishers, authors and researchers. I was thrilled to be part of this special edition. Here is the link, for you to read and be both inspired and challenged:
Write4Children journal Special Edition