Saturday, 21 May 2016

CBCA Book of the Year Awards Shortlist 2016

The Children's Book Council of Australia do so much to promote the vast number of marvellous childrens and young adult books that are released in Australia every year. The CBCA Awards are the pinnacle of this recognition. Every year I look forward to the release of the Shortlist in April. This year was no exception.

I've made somewhat random predictions for the winners, based on nothing much really a lot of the time as clearly I haven't read most of the books. I am pleased to have read 4 of these books so far, but have quite a big undertaking to get through as many as possible by August. I'll be particularly trying to get through the Picture Book, Early Childhood and Younger Readers Shortlists. Although Soon is the fifth book of a series, none of which I've read, which makes things very difficult.

Book of the Year Older Readers Shortlist

The Flywheel - Erin Gough
The Pause - John Larkin
Freedom Ride - Sue Lawson
A Single Stone - Meg McKinlay
Inbetween Days - Vikki Wakefield
Cloudwish - Fiona Wood





Older Readers Notable Books

In the Skin of a Monster - Kathryn Barker
Rich & Rare - Paul Collins
The River and the Book - Alison Crogon
One True Thing - Nicole Hayes
Talk Under Water - Kathryn Lomer
The Beauty is in the Walking - James Moloney
Newt's Emerald - Garth Nix
For the Forest of a Bird - Sue Saliba
A Small Madness - Diane Touchell
The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex - Gabrielle Williams


The Book of the Year Younger Readers Shortlist

Soon - Morris Gleitzman
The Cleo Stories: A Friend and A Pet - Libby Gleeson, Freya Blackwood (illustrator)
Run, Pip, Run - J.C. Jones
Sister Heart - Sally Morgan (see my review)
Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars - Martine Murray (see my review)
Star of Deltora: Shadows of the Master - Emily Rodda



Younger Readers Notable Books

The 65-Storey Treehouse - Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton (illustrator)
The Cut Out - Jack Heath
300 Minutes of Danger - Jack Heath
Bella and the Wandering House - Meg McKinlay
Bridget: A New Australian - James Moloney
Helix and the Arrival - Damean Posner
The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack - Jen Storer
The Hush Treasure Book - Karen Tayleur

The Book of the Year Early Childhood Shortlist

Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas - Aaron Blabey
My Dog Bigsy - Alison Lester
Perfect - Danny Parker, Freya Blackwood (illustrator)
Ollie and the Wind - Ghosh Ronojoy
Mr Huff - Anna Walker
The Cow Tripped Over the Moon - Tony Wilson, Laura Wood (illustrator)



Early Childhood Notable Books

As Big As You - Sara Acton
I Need A Hug - Aaron Blabey
Pig the Fibber - Aaron Blabey (see my review)
The Very Noisy Bear - Nick Bland
I'm a Hungry Dinosaur - Janeen Brian, Ann James (illustrator)
Small and Big - Karen Collum, Ben Wood (illustrator)
Puddles are for Jumping - Kylie Dunstan
This & That - Mem Fox, Judy Horacek (illustrator)
Meep - Andy Geppert
Thunderstorm Dancing - Katrina Germein, Judy Watson (illustrator)
What Do You Wish For - Jane Godwin, Anna Walker (illustrator)
Hop Up! Wriggle Over - Elizabeth Honey
Too Busy Sleeping - Zanni Louise, Anna Pignut (illustrator)
Frog Finds a Place - Sally Morgan & Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Dub Leffler (illustrator)
This is a Ball - Beck Stanton & Matt Stanton
Alfie's Lost Sharkie - Anna Walker
Bogtrotter - Margaret Wild, Judith Rossell (illustrator)


The Picture Book of the Year Shortlist

Perfect - Freya Blackwood (illustrator), Danny Parker (text)
Ride, Ricardo, Ride - Shane Devries (illustrator), Phil Cummings (text)
My Dead Bunny - James Foley (illustrator), Sigi Cohen (text)
Flight - Armin Greder (illustrator), Nadia Wheatley (text)
Suri's Wall - Matt Ottley (illustrator), Lucy Estela (text)
And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda - Bruce Whatley (illustrator), Eric Bogle (text)




Picture Book Notable Books

The Eagle Inside - Bronwyn Bancroft (illustrator), Jack Manning-Bancroft (text)
Eye to Eye - Graeme Base
In the Evening - Gaye Chapman (illustrator), Edwina Wyatt (text)
How the Sun Got to Coco's House - Bob Graham
My Gallipoli - Robert Hannaford (illustrator), Ruth Starke (text)
One Step at a Time - Sally Heinrich (illustrator), Jane Jolly (text)
Adelaide's Secret World - Elise Hurst
Platypus - Mark Jackson (illustrator), Sue Whiting (text)
Why I Love Footy - Tom Jellet (illustrator), Michael Wagner (text)
What's Up MuMu - David Mackintosh
Lara of Newtown - Chris McKimmie
Bob the Railway Dog - Andrew McLean (illustrator), Corrine Fenton (text)
Tea Cup - Matt Ottley (illustrator), Rebecca Young (text)
Numerical Street - Antonia Pesenti (illustrator), Hilary Bell (text)
Where's Jessie? - Anne Spudvilas (illustrator), Janeen Brian (text)
Mr Huff - Anna Walker


The Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Shortlist

Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect - Rohan Cleave, Coral Tulloch (illustrator)
The White Mouse: The Story of Nancy Wake - Peter Gouldthorpe
The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made - Fiona Katauskas
Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony - Stephanie Owen Reeder
Ancestry: Stories of Multicultural Anzacs - Robyn Siers, Carlie Walker (illustrator)
We are the Rebels: the Men and Women who made Eureka - Clare Wright



Eve Pownall Award Notable Books

The Girl from the Great Sandy Dessert - Jakuna Mona Chuguna & Pat Lowe, Melvyn Street (illustrator)
Life in Australia's Inland Sea - Danielle Clode
Green Tree Frogs - Sandra Kendell
A is for Australia - Frane Lessac
Australian Kids Through the Years - Tania McCartney, Andrew Joyner (illustrator)
ANZAC Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front - Allison Marlow Paterson
My Gallipoli - Ruth Starke, Robert Hannaford (illustrator)
Atmospheric: The Burning Story of Climate Change - Carole Wilkinson
Alice's Food A-Z - Alice Zaslavsky

Chricton Award for New Illustrators Shortlist

The Underwater Fancy Dress Parade - Allison Colpoys (illustrator), Davina Bell (text)
The Cat With the Coloured Tail - Dinalie Dabarera (illustrator), Gillian Meares (text)
My Gallipoli - Robert Hannaford (illustrator), Ruth Starke (text)
Fish Jam - Kylie Howarth
Meet Weary Dunlop - Jeremy Lord (illustrator), Claire Saxby (text)

I'll be trying to read as many titles as I can before the winners are announced on August 19 at the start of Children's Book Week 2016. The theme this year is Australia! Story Country with fabulous art work by Shaun Tan. 





Tuesday, 17 May 2016

NSW Premier's Literary Award 2016

I can barely keep up with the book awards season this year. The New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards were presented at a ceremony in Sydney last night to mark the start of the Sydney Writers Festival

I must hang my head in shame at only having read one of these books. I have meant to read several others of course, although to continue the shame there are quite a few listed here that I'd never heard of. 

Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature

Tea and Sugar Christmas - Jane Jolly, Robert Ingpen
A Single Stone - Meg McKinlay
Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars - Martine Murray (see my review)




The Greatest Gatsby: A Visual Book of Grammar - Tohby Riddle
Flight - Nadia Wheatley and Armin Greder
Teacup - Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley (WINNER)



Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature


Napoleon with dinosaurs!
Battlesaurus:Rampage at Waterloo - Brian Falkner
Freedom Ride - Sue Lawson
Laurinda - Alice Pung (WINNER)
Welcome to Orphancorp - Marlee Jane Ward
The Peony Lantern - Frances Watts
The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex - Gabrielle Williams

I find it particularly interesting to see that a new category has been added this year- the Indigenous Writers Prize. I think it's great that it's been added, but saddened that it is only planned to be biennial. There were joint winners this year- Bruce Pascoe's Dark Emu and Ellen Van Neerven's Heat and Light, which surely suggests that there is more than enough talent to include the award annually like all the other categories, especially as Dark Emu went on to win Book of the Year.

Messenger of Fear


I'm really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. To be honest I'm really surprised that I enjoyed this book at all. Horror and supernatural themes not being my favourite kind of reading. I've read my share of genre fiction in the past- sci fi and police procedurals/ forensic fiction in the main, but I don't normally read books with warnings on the back...



And now I wonder about that warning. Cruelty and some violence. Why not just cruelty and violence? I guess it softens the warning a bit- cruelty and some violence. Master Wicker tells me that all his books have that same warning.

But I was soon to see Michael Grant as part of the Sydney Writers Festival and so was keen for a taste of his writing. Master Wicker has read and loved Grant's blockbuster Gone series, and had read this one, and been suggesting that I read it for some time, he thought it would suit me better. So now was the time. I didn't know anything about the story, or Grant's style at the outset, but was vaguely aware that it wasn't the usual fare for Ladies who Lunch and Read. Michael Grant had helped me accidentally learn about titles on the spines of books in English and French, and for that I was grateful.

The story begins with 16  year old Mara waking up in a strange location. She seems to be in a field. And there is a threatening mist surrounding her, it is the colour of "yellowed teeth" . Yes, there is emotive, creepy, dark language from the start. Things are clearly not right with the world. There is descriptive threat all around.

The mist swirled slowly, sensuously, and it touched me. I don't mean that it was merely near to me; I mean that it touched me. It felt my face like a blind person might. It crept up the sleeves of my sweater and down the neckline. It found its insinuating way under rough denim and seeped, almost like a liquid, along bare skin. Fingerless, it touched me. Eyeless, it gazed at me. 

Mara doesn't remember anything about her life. She struggles to remember her name, her family, her home and her friends. She wonders if she is dead. I was a bit frustrated with this early on, and felt manipulated by the author, but came to realise that we the reader only know as much as Mara does, and we struggle to understand just as Mara does as she meets the Messenger of Fear.

I felt the tickling of panic. Somehow amidst all the evidence  of overturned laws of physics, all the unnatural flouting of the unseen but omnipresent laws, it was this, this creeping, sentient mist that most impressed upon my strained senses and raw emotions that I was in a place that was fundamentally at odds with reality. 
There is an interesting back and forth between the real world and an odd supernatural plane. But not all the threats are supernatural, there is plenty of real world bullying and violence- both planned and random. Some scenes are quite disturbing, and yes there is cruelty and some violence. I was pleasantly surprised by the sudden appearance by Joan of Arc at one stage, although in Grant form things turned nasty rather quickly.

Messenger of Fear was a quick, enjoyable read on the whole, although a bit distasteful for me at times, and now I find myself being in the unanticipated position of actually being a bit tempted to read another one...

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Readings Children's Book Prize 2016




The book prize shortlists have been going mad lately. The Readings Children's Book Prize was established in 2014. It is for books written for children aged 5- 12. Readings is a Melbourne institution and was recently won the Bookstore of the Year Award at the London Book Fair.

The Bad Guys - Aaron Blabey

Samurai vs Ninja: The Battle for Golden Egg - Nick Falk and Tony Flowers

Run, Pip, Run - J.C. Jones

88 Lime Street - Denise Kirby

The Cat with the Coloured Tail - Gillian Mears and Dinalie Dabarera

Mister Cassowary - Samantha Wheeler

Synopses for all the books from Readings here.

The winner will be announced in June.

Monday, 9 May 2016

The Lottery


I'd never heard of either Shirley Jackson or The Lottery before Master Wicker read it for English last week and suggested I read it. Naturally I did, and it helps that it is a very short story and can be read in just a few minutes. It's available online here

The Lottery starts off simply enough, in a bucolic small town. 
The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. 

I imagined it as a idyllic English village somewhat like that in The Vicar of Dibley. But Shirley Jackson was American and she set the story in her own small town, North Bennington, in Vermont. All of the villages 300 residents are gathering in the town square for the annual lottery that takes place each year on June 27. 

The head of each household draws a piece of paper from a shabby and splintered black box in a village tradition older than memory. Some nearby villages have begun discussing giving up the lottery. 


“Nothing but trouble in that,” Old Man Warner said stoutly. “Pack of young fools. “

But then it's a lottery you don't really want to win. The story is rather dated and sexist now.


“Wife draws for her husband. ” Mr. Summers said. “Don’t you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?” 

It was interesting to read The Lottery and think about this rather famous American short story. It was understandably very controversial when it was published in The New Yorker in 1948. The many letters of complaint written in response to The Lottery are still making news nearly 60 years later. It has become one of the "best known and most frequently anthologised short stories in English." No wonder then that it has been adapted for the stage, tv, opera and even a ballet. And in what is perhaps the highest point of cultural recognition The Lottery was referenced in an episode of Series 3 of The Simpsons, Dog of Death

Shirley Jackson is said to have written her most famous story in just two hours. Somehow taking her baby out for a walk one day to do some errands in the village inspired her to write this controversial story of conformity and violence that has had an enduring appeal. 


Part 1 of a 1969 adaptation

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Collette Dinnigan Unlaced

Recently I made use of a few spare hours in Sydney and got along to the Collette Dinnigan retrospective at the Powerhouse. It was fabulous. But then I do like a fashion exhibition. Which is kind of strange because fashion really isn't my thing.



My favourite room, was this incredible space put together by Collette and it was mesmerising. A kaleidoscope of colour inspiration and design. Actually it was a bit like being inside a kaleidoscope. I could have stayed in there all day. I might try and get back just to spend more time in here.










There were so many fascinating glimpses into design and production. 


Even if you didn't really like the colour, like this chartreuse section, it was transfixing. So much detail, so much to absorb.





"I am inspired by colour, art, flowers, landscapes and details from vintage clothes or antique bric-a-brac. Travelling has always been a great influence too. I sketch with fabrics in mind and develop inspiration boards alongside my draping." Collette Dinnigan





There were glimpses of Paris everywhere..
Collette Dinnigan also appears to be inspired by flamingos




Goats


and bananas.


It was amazing to see the inspiration, the imagining





and then see it take final form in the next room. 

Desert Poppies tie neck top and skirt
Resort 2014 and 2012

Desert Poppies outfit 2013

One room highlighted spinning metallic disco ball dresses. Often worn on the red carpet by the rich and famous. 




The main room had 4 or 5 exhibits with many dresses on each. There are perfectly polished mirrors top and bottom so you can see the dresses from every angle.


Ballerina Belle evening dress
Autumn/Winter 2011

So much gorgeousness. This dress was designed to look like shimmering snowflakes after Colette read Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen to her daughter. 



River Snowflakes dress
Autumn/Winter 2012

Possibly my favourite frock in the whole thing:


Crystal Tulips dress
Spring/Summer 2003-2004
There was a history lesson too. Collette Dinnigan established her label with a range of luxurious handmade silk lingerie. Emerging in 1990 at the height of grunge her first catwalk show featured lingerie clad models walking between the tables at Angelina's on the Rue du Rivoli! Hard to imagine.




There is a whole room dedicated to Collette Dinnigan's signature fabric - lace. Stunning with models lit from within. She initially used antique lace, but then worked with contemporary French lacemakers to create modern and unique lace designs.




Like any fashion show the exhibition ended with a display of bridal gowns. 


The lighting made it look much more peach in my photo.
It wasn't. It's still gorgeous though.


The real colour

There's also a fabulous hands on section where you can use beautiful papers to make your own designs. It's a fabulous exhibition. If you're anywhere near Sydney before August get along to see it. Otherwise here are some great youtube highlights.


Collette Dinnigan Unlaced
Powerhouse Museum Sydney
Daily until August 28 2016
Adult $15/ Concession $8/ Children Free


Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly meme
 now hosted by 
WestMetroMommy

Thursday, 5 May 2016

50 New Zealand Books Every Kid Should Read By Age 12

Todays list is a Kiwi response to the list published last week 50 Books Every Kid Should Read Before They're 12. The folks at Booknotes Unbound came up with (quite a few more than) 50 NZ books for kids to read.

There's some shameless cheating in their list, and that's fine. So much so that the top three positions are Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley and Maurice Gee- the "holy trinity" of NZ children's authors, and they've suggested that you just read all of their work! I've read some of all three, but barely scratched the surface.

1. Margaret Mahy (see my review of The Changeover)
2. Joy Cowley
3. Maurice Gee (see my review of Under the Mountain)
4. The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald's Farm - Donovan Bixley
5. I am Not Esther (see my review), I am Rebecca, Being Magdalene - Fleur Beale
6. See Ya, Simon - David Hill (see my review)
7. The Bone Tiki - David Hair
8. Genesis - Bernard Beckett
9. The Wednesday Wizard - Sherryl Jordan
10. The 10PM Question - Kate De Goldi



11. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy - Lynley Dodd
12. The Runaway Settlers - Elsie Locke
13. My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes - Eve Sutton, Lynley Dodd (illustrator)
14. Night Vision - Ella West
15. The Little Yellow Digger - Betty and Alan Gilderdale
16. The Wonkey Donkey - Craig Smith
17. I Am Not A Worm - Scott Tulloch
18. Alex - Tess Duder
19. Duck's Stuck - Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo and John O'Reilly (illustrators)
20. The Kuia and the Spider - Patricia Grace, Robyn Kahukiwa (illustrator)
21. Oliver in the Garden - Margaret Beames
22. Mr McGee and the Biting Flea - Pamela Allen
23. How Maui Slowed the Sun - Peter Gossage
24. Brain Jack - Brian Falkner
25. The Boring Book - Vasanti Unka
26. Changing Times: The Story of a New Zealand Town and It's Newspaper - Bob Kerr
27. The Travelling Restaurant - Barbara Else



28. Baa Baa Smart Sheep - Mark and Rowan Somerset
29. Pigtails the Pirate - David Elliot
30. Why Do Dogs Sniff Bottoms? - Dawn McMillan and Bert Signal, Ross Kinnaird (illustrator)
31. Grandpa's Slippers - Joy Watson and Wendy Hodder
32. The Bantam and the Soldier - Jennifer Beck and Robyn Belton
33. A Treasury of New Zealand Poems for Children - Paula Green (editor), Jenny Cooper (illustrator)
34. The Whale Rider - Witi Ihimaera (see my review)
35. Purple Heart - Andrew Fiu
36. Baxter Basics: Poems for Children - James K. Baxter
37. Telesa - Lani Wendt Young
38. Stomp - Ruth Paul
39. Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam - Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis
40. Red Rocks - Rachael King



41. Project Huia - Des Hunt
42. The Red Poppy - David Hill, Fifi Colton (illustrator)
43. Juggling with Mandarins - V.M Jones
44. Conrad Cooper's Last Stand - Leonie Agnew



45. Chicken Licken - Gavin Bishop
46. New Zealand Hall of Fame: 50 Remarkable Kiwis - Maria Gill, Bruce Potter (illustrator)
47. Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill - Debbie McCauley
48. Ngā Kī - Sacha Cotter and Joshua Morgan, Kawata Teepa (translator)
49. Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story - Philippa Wherry
50. School Journal

14/50+

There are several really great books on this list. I am not Esther is fantastic. See Ya, Simon also fabulous. Master Wicker loved Hairy Maclary when he was little. Thankfully I did too as I can still recite much of it 10 years down the track.

No matter how good the editions of The Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald's Farm may be I wouldn't put them at number 4. Naturally there are many books on this list that I'd like to read. Some I've been aware of for some time, and others I'd never heard of. Some aren't even books- School Journal.