Friday 31 March 2017

CBCA Book of the Year Award Shortlist and Notables 2017

I always look forward to the CBCA list every year, it's such a great forum for celebrating Australia's rather prodigious talent amongst our authors and illustrators for young people. Lot's of books you may have read, or at least heard of, but always something new, something unfamiliar and yet very tempting. 

This year is really a bumper year, the long list- or Notables as they are called, is massive.

Book of the Year Older Readers Shortlist

Waer - Meg Caddy

Words in Deep Blue - Cath Crowley
The Bone Sparrow - Zana Fraillon
Yellow - Megan Jacobson
Frankie - Shivaun Plozza

One Would Think the Deep - Claire Zorn

Book of the Year Older Readers Notables

The Hounded - Simon Butters
My Best Friend is a Goddess - Tara 

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club - Alison Goodman
Becoming Aurora - Elizabeth Kasmer
The Sidekicks - Will Kostakis
Ocean of the Dead (Ship Kings #4) - Andrew McGahan
The Stars at Oktober Bend - Glenda Millard
A Toaster on Mars - Darrell Pitt
Our Chemical Heart - Krystal Sutherland
Forgetting Foster - Dianne Touchell
Everything is Changed - Nova Weetman

The Invisible War - Ailsa Wild

Book of the Year Younger Readers Shortlist

Rockhopping - Trace Balla  

Within These Walls - Robyn Bavati
A Most Magical Girl - Karen Foxlee
Dragonfly Song - Wendy Orr
Mrs Whitlam - Bruce Pascoe (see my review)
Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers Third Grade - Kate & Jol Temple

Book of the Year Younger Readers Notables

Cybertricks - Goldie Alexander
Blueberry Pancakes Forever - Angelica Banks
Magrit - Lee Battersby
Yong - Janeen Brian
Freedom Swimmer - Wai Chen
The Family With Two Front Doors - Anna Ciddor
The Pearl-shell Diver - Kay Crabbe
Wicked's Way - Anna Fienberg
Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts - Lesley Gibbes
Toad Delight - Morris Gleitzman
Iris and the Tiger - Leanne Hall
Daystar - Anne Hamilton
Daughters of Nomads - Rosanne Hawke
Lily in the Mirror - Paula Hayes
Fail Safe - Jack Heath
The Unforgettable What's His Name - Paul Jennings
Theophilus Grey and the Traitor's Mask - Catherine Jinks
When the Lyrebird Calls - Kim Kane
Ruby Wishfingers Skydancer's Escape - Deborah Kelly
Ruby Red Shoes Goes to London - Kate Knapp
Elizabeth and Zenobia - Jessica Miller
The Lost Sapphire - Belinda Murrell
The Twins of Tintarfell - James O'Loghlin
Pocket Rocket - Ellyse Perry & Sherryl Clark
The Other Christy - Oliver Phommavanh
Wormwood Mire (Stella Montgomery #2) - Judith Rossell
Artie and the Grime Wave - Richard Roxburgh
Lizzie and Margaret Rose - Pamela Rushby
Tommy Bell Shoot-out at the Rock - Jane Smith
What's in a Name - Myles Walsh
The Secrets We Keep - Nova Weetman
Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters - Ailsa Wild (see my review)
The Shark Caller - Dianne Wolfer

Book of the Year Early Childhood Shortlist

Go Home Cheeky Animals - Johanna Bell (author), Dion Beasley (illustrator)
All I Want for Christmas is Rain - Cori Brooke (author), Cori Brooke (illustrator)
The Snow Wombat - Susannah Chambers (author), Mark Jackson (illustrator)
Nannie Loves - Kylie Dustan
Chip - Kylie Howarth
Gary - Leila Rudge

Book of the Year Early Childhood Notables

Zelda's Big Adventure - Marie Alafaci (author), Shane McGown (illustrator)
Oh Albert - Davina Bell (author), Sara Acton (illustrator)
Where is Bear? - Jonathan Bentley
Pig the Winner - Aaron Blabey 
Little Chicken Chickadee - Janeen Brian (author), Danny Snell (illustrator)
The 12th Dog - Charlotte Calder (author), Tom Jellet (illustrator)
The Cat Wants Custard - Paul Crumble (author), Lucinda Gifford (illustrator)
Ducks Away - Mem Fox (author), Judy Horacek (illustrator)
Little Bear's First Sleep - Lesley Gibbes (author), Lisa Stewart (illustrator)
Bear Makes Den - Jane Godwin & Michael Wagner (authors), Andrew Joyner (illustrator)
Home in the Rain - Bob Graham 
Bird and Bear and the Special Day - Ann James
Hello Little Babies - Alison Lester 
Smile Cry - Tania McCarthy (author), Jess Racklyeft (illustrator)
Dream Little One Dream - Sally Morgan (author), Ambelin Kwaymullina (illustrator)
Joey Counts to Ten - Sally Morgan (author), Ambelin Kwaymullina (illustrator)
Twig - Aura Parker  
Molly and Mae - Danny Parker (author), Freya Blackwood (illustrator)
Agatha and the Dark - Anna Pignataro
Wild Pa - Claire Saxby (author), Connah Brecon (illustrator)
The Whole Caboodle - Lisa Shanahan (author), Leila Rudge (illustrator)
Ten Little Owls - Renee Treml  
My Perfect Pup - Sue Walker (author), Anil Tortop (illustrator)
Take Ted Instead - Cassandra Webb (author), Amanda Francey (illustrator)
Together Always - Edwina Wyatt (author), Lucia Masciullo (illustrator)

Picture Book of the Year Shortlist

One Photo - Liz Anelli (illustrator), Ross Watkins (author)
Mechanica - Lance Balchin (see my review)
Home in the Rain - Bob Graham 
My Brother - Oliver Huxley (illustrator), Dee Huxley and Tiffany Huxley (authors)
The Patchwork Bike - Van T Rudd (illustrator), Maxine Beneba Clarke (author)
Out  - Owen Swan (illustrator), Angela May George (author)

Picture Book of the Year Notables

The Sisters Saint-Claire - Tamsin Ainslie (illustrator), Carlie Gibson (author)
Desert Lake The Story of Kati Thanda - Lake Eyre - Liz Anelli (illustrator), Pamela Freeman (author)
Circle - Jeannie Baker (see my review)
Colours of Australia - Bronwyn Bancroft  
Where is Bear - Jonathan Bentley
Blue Sky Yellow Kite - Jonathan Bentley  (illustrator),  Janet A Holmes (author)
Don't Call Me Bear - Aaron Blabey  
Molly and Mae - Freya Blackwood  (illustrator), Danny Parker (author)
Hattie Helps Out - Freya Blackwood  (illustrator), Jane Godwin and Davina Bell (authors)
Something Wonderful - Karen Blair  (illustrator), Raewyn Caisley (author)
The Fabulous Friend Machine - Nick Bland  
Reflection Remembering Those Who Served in War - Robin Cowcher (illustrator), Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg (author)
Captain Sneer the Buccaneer - Gabriel Evans  (illustrator), Penny Morrison (author)
A Patch From Scratch - Megan Forward  
Somewhere Else - Gus Gordon  
On the River - Roland Harvey
Mr Chicken Arriva a Roma - Leigh Hobbs  
Grandpa's Big Adventure - Tom Jellett (illustrator), Paul Newman (author)
Blue The Builder's Dog - Andrew Joyner (illustrator), Jen Storer (author)
Welcome to Country - Lisa Kennedy (illustrator), Aunty Joy Murphy (author) (see my review)
A Soldier, A Dog and A Boy - Phil Lesnie (illustrator), Libby Hathorn (author)
Archie No Ordinary Sloth - Heath McKenzie  
Melbourne Word by Word - Michael McMahon  
Snail and Turtle Rainy Days - Stephen Michael King
Pandamonia - Chris Nixon
Crusts - Matt Ottley  (illustrator), Danny Parker (author)
Spark - Andrew Plant (illustrator), Adam Wallace (author)
Smeck - Ben Redlich
Milo - Tobhy Riddle  
Gary - Leila Rudge
Dog Lost - Brian Simmonds (illustrator),  Jan Ramage (author)
Chooks in Dinner Suits - Craig Smith (illustrator), Dianne Jackson Hill (author)
Stanley - Colin Thompson  
Small Things - Mel Tregonning
Cyclone - Bruce Whatley (illustrator), Jackie French (author) (see my review)
New Year Surprise! - Di Wu (illustrator), Christopher Cheng (author)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Shortlist
Spellbound Making Pictures with the A B C - Maree Coote
A-Z of Endangered Animals - Jennifer Cossins
The Gigantic Book of Genes - Lorna Hendry
Fabish The Horse that Braved a Bushfire - Neridah McMullen (author), Andrew McLean (illustrator)
Amazing Animals of Australia's National Parks - Gina M Newton
William Bligh A Stormy Story of Temestuous Times - Michael Sedentary (author), Bern Emmerichs (illustrator)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Notables

Circle - Jeannie Baker (see my review)
Resource Stories of Australian Innovation in Wartime - Jennet Cole-Adams & Judy Gauld
Socks Sandbags and Leeches: Letters to my Anzac Dad - Pauline Deeves
Desert Lake - Pamela Freeman (author), Liz Anellia (illustrator)
Boomerang and Bat - Mark Greenwood (author), Terry Denton (illustrator)
Chooks in Dinner Suits - Diane Jackson Hill (author), Craig Smith (illustrator)
Hello! - Joanna Karmel (author), Tony Flowers (illustrator)
Australia's Nightingale: Nellie Melba - Cassy Liberman & Sara Carter Jenkins (authors), Emma Borghesi (illustrator)
The ABC Book of Food - Helen Martin & Judith Simpson (authors), Cheryl Orsini (illustrator)
Degas An Art Book for Kids - Kate Ryan (author), Cally Bennett (illustrator)
Aliens Ghosts and Vanishings Strange and Possibly True Australian Stories - Stella Tarakson

Crichton Award for New Illustrators 2017

A Patch from Scratch - Megan Forward
Mechanica- A beginner's field guide - Lance Balchin (see my review)
Melbourne Word by Word - Michael McMahon
Small Things - Mel Tregonning
The Patchwork Bike - Van T Rudd (illustrator), Maxine Beneba Clarke (author)
Welcome to Country - Lisa Kennedy (illustrator), Aunty Joy Murphy (author) (see my review)

Now that's a long list! Not surprising when there were 443 entries. 

I have read a dispiritingly small number of these books, but it certainly gives me something to strive for. I do love that you can name a horse Mrs Whitlam! I must read that one, and soon. It's an interesting short list this year with many debut and even self published authors making the grade. 

As usual I've somewhat randomly predicted my winners for each category. The true winners will be announced Friday August 18 at the start of Book Week. 

This year's Book Week theme is Escape to Everywhere. It has beautiful artwork done by Freya Blackwood.

Monday 27 March 2017


I didn't know a lot about Florette before I picked it up recently. I'd seen the cover a few times somewhere, maybe in a catalogue, or on a blog, and just knew that it would be charming. All that green on the cover is so pretty, so lush, so inviting. Florette just asks to be opened. The endpapers are just as green, just as delightful, and have a few hidden animals to delight young readers and old women.

Green is so hard to photograph
The illustration is so much more lush

And naturally, I liked the name, Florette, which sounds somewhat French. I though that the child would be called Florette, but no, her name is Mae.

Mae and her family leave behind their country home with their apple trees and daffodils and move to the city.

Mae is sad that her new home has parks filled with tiny stones and empty chairs. She tries to recreate gardens and nature in the city.

Until she finds a beautiful enclosed garden called Florette. Florette is a beautiful book about the love of nature and the power of a one child's imagination to change the world.

As I read it I was increasingly sure that the city was Paris.

Haussmann style

It had to be Paris. Even though there is no specific mention of it, the imagery is so Paris. Or do I just see Paris everywhere?

You certainly can't walk on the grass in Paris

The chairs. The chairs.
Does anywhere else have Paris park chairs?
And no. I'm not imagining it!

The launch of Florette was an amazingly green event with library bags made with that amazing endpaper greenery gorgeousness. Jealous.

Best Book Trailer Ever?

Anna Walker is an author and illustrator based in Melbourne. She had great success last year with Mr Huff. Florette is released in Australia now but not released in the US until April 2018. I don't understand why publishers do that. Why wait a year to publish it in another market?
Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog  

Sunday 26 March 2017

The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen

I vaguely remember this book being published in 2009. I remember some intriguing reviews, and  liking the cover. Then I bought a copy of the audiobook at a used book sale in the Blue Mountains at least a year ago. Recently I found the audiobook again and one day popped it on in the car. I don't usually like listening to fiction. I find I get distracted and in fiction that matters more than nonfiction. But I (mostly) paid attention to The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen read by the talented Lucy Bell. Perhaps I'm getting better at audiobooks of whatever format. 

Twelve year old Aurelie Bonhoffen lives with her family on Gribblesea Pier. The Bonhoffen family have been running the fair on the pier for 100 years. But it is falling on hard times. The pier is in need  of major repairs and her family are struggling to keep up. 

I was in from the very start.

The girl lay in her coffin with a faint smile on her powder white face. She had been carefully laid out.  Gentle hands smoothed down her white silk dress, combed her soft curls, and brushed on her make up so that her cheeks looked like two faintly pink cherry blossoms. 

It's an intriguing start. The book is peopled with such wonderful Dickensian names- To and Fro the trapeze artists, Aurelie's school principal Mrs Farnhumple, and her teacher Miss Miel, surely a nod to that most lovely of teachers- Miss Honey from Roald Dahl's Matilda. The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen is a modern story set in England, but it is almost timeless, just a few mentions of cars to give it a modern feel. 

The Bonhoffen Seaside Pier location was inspired by Brighton Pier. Aurelie's family have lived on the Pier and worked the amusements there for 100 years. Time has taken it's toll though and the Pier has become a bit run down, and their are forces in town that would have the Bonhoffens removed from the Pier. 

It's beautifully descriptive but with action too. 

She stepped away from Argus' office and walked past the amusement arcade with its painted castle facade.  She noticed the flags were frayed and torn. One of the turrets had been worn through and was now home for a family of pigeons. Her eyes drifted to the merry-go-round. The noses of the horses were chipped, and so were their bellies where shoes had kicked into them from the stirrups. 
This book was published as The Ghosts of Gribblesea Pier in the US. I think The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen to be a vastly superior name. I'm not sure that I would have wanted to read it so much if I had known that this was a "ghost story". I feel that I outgrew ghost stories some decades ago. Having said that I ended up really enjoying it all even the ghostly aspects of the story. 

This is my first read of Deborah Abela, but I know it won't be my last. I'm very much looking forward to reading more of her work. 

Teachers notes for The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen

Friday 24 March 2017

Indie Book Awards 2017

Well the book award season is really in full swing. Longlists. Shortlists. Winners already. The Australian Independent Bookseller Awards, the Indies, were announced this week. I'm going to include the longlisted books as there are many, many worthy books included there. Actually I think a number of surprising books were left off the shortlists, but I guess someone has to be. 

I have bought quite a number of these books. And yet I've only read three!

Shortlist Fiction

The Good People - Hannah Kent
Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty
Where the Trees Were - Inga Simpson
The Last Painting of Sara De Vos - Dominic Smith WINNER

Longlist Fiction
The Easy Way Out - Steven Amsterdam
Between a Wolf and a Dog - Georgia Blain
The Better Son - Katherine Johnson
An Isolated Incident - Emily Maguire
Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil - Melina Marchetta
The Rules of Backyard Cricket - Jock Serong

Shortlist Non- Fiction

The Hate Race - Maxine Beneba Clarke
Ghost Empire - Richard Fidler
Fight Like a Girl - Clementine Ford
Everywhere I Look - Helen Garner WINNER

Longlist Non-Fiction
Songs of a War Boy - Deng Thiak Adut
Working Class Boy - Jimmy Barnes
Penguin Bloom - Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive
Talking to My Country - Stan Grant
True Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia
The Boy Behind the Curtain - Tim Winton

Shortlist Debut Fiction

The Birdman's Wife - Melissa Ashley
The Midnight Watch - David Dyer
The Dry - Jane Harper WINNER
Goodwood - Holly Throsby

Longlist Debut Fiction

The Memory Artist - Katherine Brabon
The Windy Season - Sam Carmody
Skylarking - Kate Mildenhall
Music and Freedome - Zoe Morrison
The Toymaker - Liam Pieper
Ruins - Rajith Savanadasa

Shortlist Children's

Circle - Jeannie Baker WINNER (see my review)
Pig the Winner - Aaron Blabey
The 78- Storey Treehouse - Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
Wormwood Mire - Judith Rossell

Longlist Children's

Charlie and the War Against the Grannies - Alan Brough (see my review)
What do the do with all the Poo from all the Animals at the Zoo? - Anh Do and Laura Wood
The Bone Sparrow - Zana Fraillon
Welcome to Country - Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy
Molly and Mae - Danny Parker and Freya Blackwood
Artie and the Grime Wave - Richard Roxburgh

Shortlist Young Adult

Words in Deep Blue - Cath Crowley WINNER
Gemina - Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The Road to Winter - Mark Smith
Our Chemical Hearts - Krystal Sutherland

Longlist Young Adult

When Michael Met Mina - Rand Abdel-Fattah
The Other Side of Summer - Emily Gale
Breathing Under Water - Sophie Hardcastle
The Sidekicks - Will Kostakis
My Sister Rosa - Justine Larbalestier
One Would Think the Deep - Claire Zorn

BOOK of the YEAR is the Debut Fiction winner The Dry! It's on my shelf. Has been for ages. I need to read it. Soon...

Wednesday 22 March 2017

The Case Against Fragrance

A new Kate Grenville book is always a special moment. I've read a few of her early books, but not really kept up with her more recent books. Which is a sad thing for me as The Secret River is certainly one of the most significant novels of recent times. I really need to read it some time soon(ish). I do remember absolutely loving Lilian's Story way back when.

The Case Against Fragrance was released last month and was reviewed quite widely. I was rather incensed at her choice of subject and really wanted to read it to pick a fight with her I think. I was especially keen to get my hands on a copy- the aqua tones of the cover (not fully captured in the picture above) made it even more enticing, it's just so, so pretty. And it has a stylish, embossed typeface. The cover illustration of a Chanel No 5 style bottle did make me think it was more a case against perfume, but the book's scope is far broader than that and deals with the widespread use of fragrance (and not just perfume) in our modern lives.

Kate Grenville has written this book and taken leave of her usual fiction because of her personal reactions to fragrance. It wasn't until her 30s, when she had subconsciously moved away from wearing perfume that Kate realised the enormity of her own problem with fragrance. A friend gave her a bottle of perfume and she immediately developed a headache. Overtime she began to avoid fragrance in other guises too- cosmetics, shampoos and cleaning products. And then in her 50s she had a viral illness with a prolonged recovery that seemed to sensitise her to fragrance even more.

As I began to read I started to realise that I had some commonality with Kate after all. I have had prodigious hay fever for most of my adult life (although thanks to the immune modulation of pregnancy it has been vastly better for the past 17 years or so), and don't like certain smells because they make me sneeze. I never linger long in those heavily incensed hippy shops. Whilst I like some of the products of places like Lush the overwhelming strength of the smell of the shops is a bit much for me. And I rather famously don't like coffee. But I especially don't like the smell- it makes me nauseous. I've long thought of it as a stench, but I do realise that one (wo)man's stench is another (wo)man's pleasure. And I realise most of the world actively likes the smell of coffee, and am more than ok with the fact that it's just me that doesn't like it.

Kate Grenville came out swinging with a quote from Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, but then the tone of her writing was more centered.
When I was little, my mother had a tiny, precious bottle of perfume on her dressing table and on special occasions she'd put a dab behind her ears. The smell of Arpège was always linked in my mind with excitement and pleasure- Mum with her hair done, wearing her best dress and her pearls, off for a night out with Dad. 

Which is kind of how I think of perfume too. I'm not a daily perfume wearer, but I do have several bottles of perfume on my dresser. Like Kate I too love the sensuous shapes of their bottles, "the names and the labels, so evocative of all things glamorous". Not that I approach glamorous most days but smell is closely associated with memory and as well all know certain smells will take us back to a specific place and time. My current perfume makes me so happy that I blogged about it in 2013. I can't see the bottle or smell the scent without thinking of Paris.

In 2015 Kate did a book tour for her previous book, One Life: My Mother's Story. It was a fabulous tour, I went to her talk locally. But it was on that tour that her problems with fragrance really intensified. I was probably one of the perfumed women giving her a headache on that tour...
We're smelling man-made scents all day, every day. Fragrance is now so pervasive that, as I was finding on that tour, the only way to avoid it is to become- to put it mildly - eccentric. 
Yes, taping up the doors of hotel rooms is probably somewhere beyond eccentric and Kate was aware that "I'd just crossed one of life's little boundaries. It was possible I'd joined the section of humanity that thinks the moon landings were faked by the CIA or the government puts Prozac in the water supply."

So Kate set out to look into Planet Fragrance. And she discovered some interesting things. Prior to World War II perfumes were made with largely natural ingredients, because of course we weren't refining petrochemicals in the way that we do now. Even when we are using natural raw materials now modern processes are concentrating these natural compounds into unnatural substances. "It takes up to four thousand kilos of rose petals to make a kilo of rose essential oil."
But these days fragrance makers can produce rivers of fragrance for the cost of a single basket of hand-picked rose petals.

There are interesting chapters on the regulation and safety of fragrances. 
We're exposed, every day, to powerful chemicals in fragrance. They're largely untested, mostly unregulated and, in many cases, not declared on the label. Yet, when it comes to these chemicals, we consumers are on our own.

It can get a little dry in there, but No I don't want stuff in my washing powder that demyelinates rats and turns their tissues green (Versalide, a synthetic musk in use since the 1950s that was then banned in 1982), and clearly noone wants carcinogens in their shampoo. Naturally, it's always concerning when the overseer of a particular industry is the industry itself. 

I had no idea that some folks collect vintage fragrances. Or that there are perfumes for babies! Why? Babies smell delicious by themselves. I'd never heard of 'low-scent' or 'fragrance-free' workplaces. I made an active choice that it wasn't appropriate to wear perfume to my work place many years ago, but I come across many people that don't appear to use any fragranced products of any kind and they are mighty unpleasant to be near. Although obviously I'm not meaning to suggest that Kate Grenville smells... but clearly no fragrance can go too far. 

I'm not so sure about Kate's claim that fragrance causes "health problems for over a third of people". If I wrinkle my nose because the laundry aisle is sometimes a bit stinky- is that a "health problem"? I don't think so. If I get someone to move their offensive cup of coffee away from me is that a "health problem"? No. No, it's not. 

Kate Grenville did make me think about perfume and scent in a way I never have before. While I realise Kate Grenville's reactions to fragrance are on the more severe end of the spectrum I do think that it's a long bow to draw to say that second-hand scent is the new second-hand smoke. She ends by asking us to be considerate of others and play nicely whilst in public. 

There's no law that says you can't play the bagpipes on the bus, but everyone's glad if you don't.

There are many references in The Case Against Fragrance one of which is an interesting early TED talk from 2005 by Luca Turin on The Science of Scent