Wednesday 30 April 2014

ABIA Shortlists 2014

We are certainly in the throws of book awards season. The Stella Prize winner was announced last night.

The shortlist for the Australian Book Industry Awards 2014 was also announced yesterday. I was please to find that I had read some of the nominated books in a few categories. I've wanted to read many more, but of course haven't.

The Rosie Project nominated for General Fiction Book of the Year (see my review)

I Quit Sugar nominated for Illustrated Book of the Year (see my review)

I was also very pleased to see John Safran's Murder in Mississippi nominated for the General Non-Fiction Book of the Year, although I haven't read it yet.

I will focus on the short lists for kids books.

Book of the Year for Younger Children (0-8 years)

Alphabetical Sydney - Hilary Bell and Antonia Pesenti
The Very Brave Bear - Nick Bland
The 39-Storey Treehouse - Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (illustrator)
Ruby Red Shoes Goes to Paris - Kate Knapp (see my review)
Kissed By the Moon - Alison Lester (see my review)
Rules of Summer - Shaun Tan (see my review)

Book of the Year for Older Children (8- 14 years)

WeirDo - Anh Do (see my review)
Ranger's Apprentice 12: The Royal Ranger - John Flanagan
The Kensington Reptilarium - NJ Gemmell
Alice-Miranda in Paris - Jacqueline Harvey (see my review)
The Last Thirteen #1:13 - James Phelan

The books I've read are in red. My predicted winners (clearly without having read all the books) are represented by their covers.

You can see the full list of nominated books here. The winners will be announced in Sydney on May 23, in the midst of the Sydney Writers Festival.

Winner Update. I was pretty good at picking winners! The Rosie Project is General Fiction Book of the Year. I Quit Sugar the Illustrated Book of the Year. My prediction for Book of the Year for Younger Children was spot on- it was indeed The 39-Storey Treehouse, but WeirDo won the Book of the Year for Older Children.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

CBCA Book of the Year Awards Shortlist 2014

The shortlists and Notable Books for the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards were released recently.

Every year I tell myself I should try and read a whole shortlist before the winner is announced, and every year I don't manage to do it- not even the picture book category! Seriously, this is the year I really should try.

Book of the Year: Older Readers Shortlist

The Incredible Here and Now - Felicity Castagna (see my review)
Life in Outer Space - Melissa Keil
The First Third - Will Kostakis (see my review)
Fairytales for Wilde Girls - Allyse Near
Wildlife - Fiona Wood
The Sky so Heavy - Claire Zorn (see my review)

Older Readers Notable Books

Refuge - Jackie French
The Sultan's Eyes - Kelly Gardiner
Pureheart - Cassandra Golds
You Don't Even Know - Sue Lawson
Flora's War - Pamela Rushby
Run - Tim Sinclair
The Vanishing Moment - Margaret Wild

Book of the Year: Younger Readers Shortlist

Violet Mackerel's Possible Friend - Anna Branford, Sarah Davis (illustrator)
Song for a Scarlet Runner - Julie Hunt
A Very Unusual Pursuit - Catherine Jinks
My Life as an Alphabet - Barry Jonsberg (read my review)
Light Horse Boy - Dianne Wolfer, Brian Simmonds (illustrator)

Younger Readers Notable Books

Eric Vale: Super Male - Michael Gerard Bauer
That Boy, Jack - Brian Janeen
View from the 32nd Floor - Emma Cameron
Through My Eyes: Shahana - Rosanne Hawke
The Year My Life Broke - John Marsden
To Brave the Seas: A Boy at War - David McRobbie
The Girl Who Brought Mischief - Katrina Nannestad
An ANZAC Tale - Ruth Starke, Greg Holfeld (illustrator) (see my review)
Truly Tan Jinxed! - Jen Storer, Claire Robertson (illustrator)
Stay Well Soon - Penny Tangey
The Hidden Series Book 1: Ice Breaker - Lian Tanner
The Wishbird - Gabrielle Wang

Book of the Year: Early Childhood Shortlist

I'm a Dirty Dinosaur - Janeen Brian, Ann James (illustrator)
Baby Bedtime - Mem Fox, Emma Quay (illustrator)
Banjo and Ruby Red - Libby Gleeson, Freya Blackwood (illustrator)
Kissed by the Moon - Alison Lester (see my review)
The Swap - Jan Ormerod, Andrew Joyner (illustrator)
Granny Grommet and Me - Dianne Wolfer, Karen Blair (illustrator)

Early Childhood Notable Books

Little Big - Jonathan Bentley
Noah Dreary - Aaron Blabey
The Short Giraffe - Neil Flory, Mark Cleary (illustrator)
Starting School - Jane Goodwin, Anna Walker (illustrator)
Bird and Bear - Ann James
Where are you, Banana? Sofie Laguna, Craig Smith (illustrator)
I Love You Too - Stephen Michael King
Daisy and the Puppy - Lisa Shanahan, Sara Acton (illustrator)
Davy and the Duckling - Margaret Wild, Julie Vivas (illustrator)
On the Day you were Born - Margaret Wild, Ron Brooks (illustrator)

Picture Book of the Year Shortlist

The Treasure Box -  Freya Blackwood (illustrator), Margaret Wild (text) (see my review)
King Pig - Nick Bland (see my review)
Silver Buttons - Bob Graham (see my review)
Parachute -  Matt Ottley (illustrator), Danny Parker (text) (see my review)
The Windy Farm -  Craig Smith (illustrator), Doug MacLeod (text) (see my review)
Rules of Summer - Shaun Tan (see my review)

Picture Book Notable Books

Esther's Rainbow - Sara Acton (illustrator), Kim Kane (text)
Noah Dreary - Aaron Blabey
On the Day You Were Born - Ron Brooks (illustrator), Margaret Wild (text)
An ANZAC Tale - Greg Holfeld (illustrator), Ruth Starke (text) (see my review)
The Fearsome, Frightening, Ferocious Box - David Legge (illustrator), Frances Watts (text)
Scarlett and the Scratchy Moon - Chris McKimmie
Ted - Leila Rudge
Anzac Biscuits - Owen Swan (illustrator), Phil Cummings (text)
Davy and the Duckling - Julie Vivas (illustrator), Margaret Wild (text)
Vietnam Diary - Mark Wilson

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Shortlist

Welcome to My Country - Laklak Burarrwanga and family
Jeremy - Christopher Faille, Danny Snell (illustrator)
Ice, Wind, Rock - Peter Gouldthorpe
Jandamarra - Mark Greenwood, Terry Denton (illustrator)
Yoko's Diary: The Life of a Young Girl in Hiroshima (ed by Paul Ham)
Meet… Captain Cook - Rae Murdie, Chris Nixon (illustrator)

Eve Pownall Award Notable Books

Let's Paint - Gabriel Alborozo
Welcome Little Scrub Fowl - Sandra Kendall
The Big Book of Australian History - Peter Macinnes
Big Red Kangaroo - Claire Saxby, Graham Byrne (illustrator)
Devotion: Stories of Australia's Wartime Nurses - Robyn Siers, Brett Hatherly (illustrator)
An ANZAC Tale - Ruth Starke, Greg Holfeld (see my review)

Crichton Award for New Illustrators

Big Red Kangaroo - Graham Byrne, text by Claire Saxby
The Bloodhound Boys Book 1: The Great Blood Bank Robbery - Andrew Cranna
I've an Uncle Ivan - Ben Sanders
The Nerdy Birdy - David Snowdon, text by Danielle Wheeldon

I've read a few already- I need to get blogging, and reading more.

I've picked my winners by the covers. I wonder how I'll go? The real winners will be announced at noon on August 15, to mark the start of Children's Book Week. See my winners post here.

Monday 28 April 2014

The Blue Lotus

Is it wrong to admit to being confused by a comic book? I want to like Tintin I really do. But I didn't get it as a kid, and it seems I don't really get it as an adult. I do remember reading Tintins at my childhood library, and I remember not falling under their thrall at that stage. I'm trying again as an adult. Back in 2011 I read the first ever Tintin, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. I read a couple of the Tintin books that served as the basis for the recent movie, The Adventures of the Tintin- which I didn't mind.

Last year I read Hector and the Search for Happiness. Hector goes to China because he loved The Blue Lotus so much. I wasn't sure if I'd ever read it and borrowed it from my library recently. And then I didn't understand it enough to like it. Clearly the failing must be mine as 17, 000 French people voted it at #18/100 in Le Monde's Hundred Books of the Century. The only Herge title to make the list. Although the question they were asked was "Which books have stayed in your memory?",  not which books do you think were great. Perhaps because The Blue Lotus is still regarded as one of the most important of the Tintin books, the one where Herge hit his stride.

The Blue Lotus is the fifth of Tintin's adventures. Beginning in India soon after Cigars of the Pharaoh, Tintin is lured to Shanghai, and we start on a seemingly endless series of poisonings and kidnappings. I never really understood what was going on, or anyone's motivations. Perhaps my near complete lack of knowledge of Chinese-Japanese relations in the 1930s is a major failing, but then does your average 8 year old need to know that to appreciate the story? Interesting that it was politically sensitive at the time, and the Belgian Army said the book wasn't suitable for children. Herge said that his books were no longer solely aimed at children.

I did like the fakirs and opium dens though- I do find that there's generally a shortage of both in any children's book you pick up these days.

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog

Books on France, a great 2014 challenge
 from Emma at 
Words and Peace

Saturday 26 April 2014

Forage 2014

Forage is one of the key events for FOODWeek in Orange. And for good reason. Based on the Italian concept of Mangialonga, Forage is a glorious walk through open country, sampling the delights of the region.

Forage has happily become a tradition Chez Wicker. From the initial Forage in 2011, it has grown in leaps and bounds every year. 2012. 2013. The run of fine weather continued this year! Even though there was a wet lead up to Forage this year, the day itself was perfect yet again. This year 1000 people joined in the fun. And yet it never felt crowded or rushed.

Venison Prosciutto and Quince
Mandagery Creek Venison

Intrepid Foragers set off

Country Terrine with Cherry Compote
Michael Manners

The countryside was showing of its
autumnal best. 

The crowd at the pie station

Foraged Pine Saffron Cap & Swiss Brown Mushroom,
Leek, Gilgandra Chicken & Nashdale Apple Pies
The Agrestic Grocer

There's always time and energy for dancing

Braised Trunkey Creek Pork Neck with Potato Salad and Aoili
Edwena Mitchell Catering

Hand Pressed Shiraz Sorbet
Vindevie Vineyard

It was a perfect afternoon

Hazelnut Financier with Poached Fig
Kate Bracks

Lurking in the bush
 at Orange Highland Wines and Gardens
I can't wait for Forage 2015.

Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly meme
 now hosted by 

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking
a fabulous weekly meme at BethFishReads

Wednesday 23 April 2014

What Kiwi Kids Read: The Top 100

I do love coming across a new list, and this one is particularly fun as it's generated by kids themselves.

Nearly 1600 children (10 to 13 years old)-participants in the 2013 Kids Lit Quiz in NZ, were surveyed to find their favourite authors, favourite books, and what they've been reading.

Their top 100 books, or series of books:

1. Harry Potter series -J.K. Rowling (read 1/7)

2. Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (read 2/3) (see my reviews #1, #2)

3. Percy Jackson series - Rick Riordan

4. Cherub series - Robert Muchamore

5. The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolkien (see my review)

6. Roald Dahl (all books) (see my reviews James and the Giant Peach, Magic Finger, Enormous Crocodile, and various other musings)

7. Lord of the Rings - J.R.R Tolkien

8. Heroes of Olympus - Rick Riordan

9. Alex Rider series - Anthony Horowitz (see my review Stormbreaker)

10. Skulduggery Pleasant  series - Derek Landy

11. Inheritance cycle - Christopher Paolini

12. Twilight series - Stephenie Meyer

13. Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Jeff Kinney (read 1or 2)

14. A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snicket (read 1/13)

15. Artemis Fowl - Eoin Colfer (read 1/8) (see my review)

16. Narnia Chronicles - C.S. Lewis (read 2/7)

17. Gone - Michael Grant

18. Tomorrow series - John Marsden (read 1/7)

19. Warriors series - Erin Hunter

20. Holes - Louis Sachar (see my review)

21. Mortal Instruments - Cassandra Clare

22. Rangers Apprentice - John Flanagan

23. Geronimo Stilton series - Geronimo Stilton (Elisabetta Dami) (read 1)

24. Divergent - Veronica Roth

25. Inkheart - Cornelia Funke

26. 39 Clues - various authors

27. Maximum Ride - James Patterson

28. Henderson's Boys - Robert Muchamore

29. Once - Morris Gleitzman

30. Deltora Quest - Emily Rodda 

31. Famous Five - Enid Blyton (read 21/21)

32. Wonder - R.J Palacio (see my review)

33. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

34. Discworld - Terry Pratchett

35. Lorien Legacies - Pittacus Lore

36. Pony Club Secrets - Stacy Gregg

37. Goosebumps - R.L Stine

38. Hetty Feather - Jacqueline Wilson

39. Running Wild - Michael Morpurgo

40. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne

41. Hatchet - Gary Paulsen (see my review)

42. Little Women - Louise May Alcott

43. My Story series - various authors (see my reviews Marie Antoinette, Titanic)

44. The Magic Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton

45. Nancy Drew - Carolyn Keene

46. War Horse - Michael Morpurgo (see my review)

47. How to Train Your Dragon - Cressida Cowell

48. Judy Moody - Megan McDonald

49. Tintin - Herge (see my reviews Land of Soviets, Blue Lotus)

50. Jacqueline Wilson (all books) (see my review- The Illustrated Mum)

51. Horrible Histories - Terry Deary (see my reviews- Gorgeous Georgians, London, France)

52. The Host - Stephenie Meyer

53.  My Sister Jodie - Jacqueline Wilson

54. Black Beauty - Anna Sewell

55. Cookie - Jacqueline Wilson

56. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green (see my review)

57. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

58. Mortal Engines - Philip Reeve

59. Virals - Kathy Reichs

60. Chaos Walking - Patrick Ness

61. Dork Diaries - Rachel Renée Russell

62. Infernal Devices - Cassandra Clare

63. Alice in Wonderland - C.S Lewis

64. Brotherband Chronicles - John Flanagan

65. The Spook's Apprentice - Joseph Delaney

66. Avalon - Rachel Roberts

67. Avonlea Chronicles - L.M Montgomery

68. The Floods - Colin Thompson

69. Kane Chronicles - Rick Riordan

70. Nanny Piggins - R.A Spratt

71. Noughts and Crosses - Malorie Blackman

72. Power of Five - Anthony Horowitz

73. Ruby Redfort - Lauren Child

74. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel - Michael Scott (read 5/6, see my reviews #1, #2)

75. Septimus Heap - Angie Sage

76. Shadow - Michael Morpurgo

77. Going Solo - Roald Dahl

78. Guardians of Ga'hoole - Kathryn Lasky

79. The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick (see my review)

80. Lola Rose - Jacqueline Wilson

81. Captain Underpants - Dav Pilkey

82. Rondo - Emily Rodda

84. Secret Seven - Enid Blyton

85. Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (see my review)

86. Winnie the Pooh - A.A Milne

87. Deparment 19 series - Will Hill

88. An Elephant in the Garden - Michael Morpurgo

89. Just - Andy Griffiths

90. Lily Alone - Jacqueline Wilson

91. Matched Trilogy - Ally Condie

92. Redwall - Brian Jacques (see my review)

93. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (see my review)

94. Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick

95. Asterix - René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

96. The Billionaire series - Richard Newsome

97. Conspiracy 365 - Gabrielle Lord

98. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

99. Hardy Boys - Franklin W. Dixon (see my review)

100. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

34/100, including incomplete series.

Holes- it's on every list! And always up near the top. I have to read it.

You can see the raw data of this list here.

What is really interesting, and rather sad, is the all but absence of New Zealand books from this list. I think the only two authors who are partly Kiwi are Richard Newsome and Stacy Gregg.

I can't find the list of favourite authors from this survey, but the stuff article pointed out that when the kids were asked to list their favourite authors- the top 5 were international- J.K Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Roald Dahl, Rick Riordan and Jacqueline Wilson- all big, big names and hardly surprising I suppose. Margaret Mahy was the top scoring NZ author, at 17th, with Des Hunt, Joy Cowley, Fleur Beale and Stacey Gregg further down the list.

September 2014 37/100

May 2016 40/100

Monday 21 April 2014

Mr Morgan's Last Love

I am such a sucker for a movie set in Paris, so much so that even though I didn't love the last Paris movie I saw (Le Weekend) I was completely drawn to see Mr. Morgan's Last Love recently. At least I knew a little bit about this one. I've been following it on a few blogs for a while, and I knew that Paulita liked it, while Sim didn't really. In America the name was changed to Last Love, I'm not sure why, or if that is better or not. 

Matthew Morgan (Michael Caine) is a widowed American living in Paris. He has lived quite a solitary life since his wife died three years ago. Then he meets a young dance teacher, Pauline (Clémence Poésy) on the #63 bus and things change for both of them. 

The movie trailers made it sort of creepy, as if they're going to have a rather inappropriate relationship.

And that is carried through in the movie a bit. They do sit too close together on a park bench. There are some weird conversations and looks. Thankfully it doesn't happen, but I did spend much of the movie feeling unsettled. 

Paris is the third big name star- although I saw in the end credits that the movie was actually filmed in France, Belgium and Germany, so not everything we see is really Paris. The park that they meet in wasn't familiar to me- not that I know every park in Paris. And if they're meeting on the Left Bank, why does their park have views to the Arc de Triomphe? Do Parisians really go to line dancing classes?

I did like scenes on  the #63 bus. I caught buses a few times on our last visit, and will be using it even more next visit. The bus is actually a great way to see Paris. Tourists tend to take the Metro, it's easier if your French isn't perfect (and who's is?), and shown on all the tourist info so it's the obvious way to travel. And it is handy. But as you get more comfortable with Paris, or if you travel with someone who isn't perfectly mobile (there are endless steps in many Metro stations, and some platforms at the big stations can be a 10 minute underground walk apart) then the bus offers a different way to get around. And you get a view. Parisbreakfasts did a great tutorial on how to use the Paris Bus

The movie takes place in an autumnal Paris, which was exciting, because that's how it will look when next I visit! And of course I can't wait. I've never seen Paris in the chilly months. 

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog

Saturday 19 April 2014

Macquarie Island

I was very thrilled to hear this story on Radio National recently that the program to eradicate rats, rabbits and mice from Macquarie Island has been successful. I've been interested in Macquarie Island for sometime. I read One Small Island back in 2012.

When I was last in Hobart in 2012 I spent a lovely morning at the Hobart Botanic Gardens, where I saw ducklings on lilypads. I also visited a very special, but rather nondescript looking building, tucked away in a corner of the gardens.

The Australian Antarctic Foundation
Subantarctic Plant House

An unwanted legacy no longer!

It was early and I had to find a staff member to unlock it for me. I'm so glad I did. Walking through the door is actually like stepping onto a rocky outcrop on Macquarie Island. 

The Subantarctic Plant House is an amazing place to visit- one of the best garden displays I've ever seen. It's cold and misty inside to replicate the environment for the plants, and they've recorded bird, wind, weather and animal noises on Macquarie Island so you get an idea of what it's like to be there.  It's as close to Macquarie Island as I've ever been. As near as you can be to Macquarie Island without actually going there.

Like any good display, they teach us stuff too. 

Macquarie Island is a special and remote place. Sadly I've never been there, but maybe one day when I go to Antarctica I will. I hope so at least.

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