2012 National Year of Reading – Read Up Launch

Do you love to read? Love encouraging your kids to read? 2012 will be full of exciting literary events because it is the National Year of Reading!

Today the Moreton Bay Regional Libraries launched the Read Up program for under 8s.  To encourage kids to visit their local library and borrow on their own card, the Read Up program rewards children with special certificates designed by some of Queensland’s best illustrators. Continue reading

Author-Illustrator Peter Carnavas

Peter Carnavas is one New Frontier‘s most celebrated author/illustrators – and rightly so.  His quirky illustrations and touching story lines warm the hearts of children and parents alike.  Four of his much-loved picture books have been re-released as Little Treasures.  These mini books come complete with an envelope ready for posting, and you can purchase them for $9.95 each, or all four for only $29.95! What a gorgeous gift to send to a child this Christmas. Continue reading

National Simultaneous Storytime: Feathers for Phoebe

This week thousands of Aussie kids across the country heard the fabulous story Feathers For Phoebe by award winning author/illustrator Rod Clement.  National Simultaneous Storytime has become an annual event, and one that is warmly embraced by librarians, early years educators, parents and children alike.  My two year old and I enjoyed the activities and reading at our local library. Continue reading

Samuel's Kisses Book Review

What an absolute delight it was to be at Karen Collum‘s book launch today to celebrate her debut picture book, Samuel’s Kisses (New Frontier Publishing).  A truly heart warming tale, Samuel’s Kisses is an early childhood story beautifully illustrated by Serena Geddes.  Samuel blows kisses to unhappy shoppers with surprising, and entertaining results.  The uncomplicated plot makes for a feel-good story that is sure to be a hit with preschoolers, and Mums!  There are obvious opportunities for interaction between parent and child when reading, and the book also lends itself well to simple innovations on the text.  I predict Samuel’s Kisses will become a bedtime favourite.

At the launch today, we…

Caught up with Karen (author) and Serena (illustrator).

Made sure our book was autographed.

Listened to Karen read Samuel’s Kisses.

Enjoyed activities and explored the grounds of the gorgeous Marks & Gardner cafe gallery

(with the real Samuel!)

Gave kisses to Karen too!!

Oh, and one more thing I did was to ask Karen and Serena to sign a copy of Samuel’s Kisses for YOU.  Yes, one very lucky SquiggleMum reader will receive a signed, hard cover copy of this delightful picture book.  To enter, leave a comment below sharing how you let your kids know you love them. Do you blow kisses? Have a special saying? Write them notes? Sing to them? One entry per person please. Aussie residents only. Comp closes 6pm Saturday 19th Feb, Qld time.

If you’d like to hear more from Karen, you can find her on facebook or twitter.

*I received a copy of Samuel’s Kisses courtesy of my friends at New Frontier Publishing.

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Congratulations to the random winner: Trish.

Everyone else… go and buy a copy!! Karen & Serena’s book is gorgeous.

Author Spotlight – Aleesah Darlison

Guest post by Aleesah Darlison:

The Joys and Challenges of Writing for Children

I set my dreams to become a published author in motion just over four years ago. After having my second child, I thought I could become an author by simply writing while the kids slept. Naive, I know, but these are the slender foundations dreams are often built on.

Now, four years later, I have had my very own picture book, Puggle’s Problem, published (by Wombat Books). It’s a story about a baby echidna, a puggle, who can’t get his spines. Even though echidnas are Australian animals, I’ve found that not many people actually know what a puggle is. But I’m quickly changing that.

As well, the first instalment in my new series for girls aged seven and over, Totally Twins: Musical Mayhem, was released by New Frontier Publishing in September. It will be followed by the second book in the series, Totally Twins: Model Mania, due out in November.  Besides these three releases in 2010, I have a further 10 books due out in the next 2 years. So, I guess you could say I’ve found my niche in writing for children. And I simply love it. It’s a career loaded with joys and rewards, and yes, the occasional challenge. To kick off, here’s my shortlist of joys:

1.       First and foremost, writing for children is FUN. You have a great deal of freedom in terms of what you can write for kids to entertain, educate and inspire them. So many themes and topics, so many genres, including the wonderful realm of fantasy, which allows a writer to do some amazing world building and wish fulfillment.

2.       I love how I can play with language in picture books. I love their simplicity yet complexity, their rhythm and their rhyme.

3.       Picture books don’t have a lot of text, so they must be easy to write, right? Well, not quite, but they are the perfect literary medium to dip into and out of while still attending to the many duties of motherhood. A picture book text is way easier to memorise and rework inside your head than a full length novel. Trust me.

4.       I adore having my work illustrated. It’s stick figures only for me when I attempt to draw anything, but because I write for children, I have the joy of seeing my words – and my worlds – brought to life by some of the most talented artists in Australia. What a gift!

5.       In my books, I can relive my own childhood memories and experiences. I can share things that happened to me with others. Through my characters I can repair or change mistakes I may have committed in my past. And sometimes, I can just let my imagination take over and create completely new stories.

6.       I love visiting schools and libraries to talk about my writing to kids, to have them listen to my stories, to make them laugh and hear them say how much they enjoyed my stories or liked a particular characters. Kids give great, honest, valuable feedback about your writing.

7.       Children’s authors in Australia are a friendly and supportive bunch of people. It’s a fabulous industry to work in.

8.       Finally, I adore my driving aim, which is to write stories that appeal to kids. Stories that might be silly and funny and free. Stores kids will take to their hearts and read over and over again. Just as any good book should be.

So, that’s the joys of writing for children in a nutshell. On the flipside, there are challenges. My Top 3 would be:

1.       Perhaps not being taken as seriously as people who write for adults.

2.       Sometimes it’s hard to reach your audience, which for me is 3 – 6 year olds and 7 – 12 year olds, depending on whether it’s a picture book or junior novel.

3.       Juggling the demands of motherhood and a career in children’s writing that is beginning to be full time.

For me, the joys of writing for children far, far outweigh any challenges. I’m lucky and happy that I can now call myself a published author. That children are reading and embracing my books. I wouldn’t change what I’m doing for all the world, because writing for children is an utterly joyous occupation.

Aleesah Darlison writes picture books and novels for children. She also reviews books for The Sun Herald. Aleesah has won many awards for her writing including an ASA mentorship with Kate Forsyth in 2009. Her stories have appeared in the black dog books Short and Scary Anthology, The School Magazine and Little Ears. Her first picture book, Puggle’s Problem, was released in July. Her junior series for girls aged 9 plus, Totally Twins: Musical Mayhem, was released in September. The series follows the adventures of identical twins, Persephone (she’s the sensible one) and Portia (she’s the messy one) Pinchgut and is written in diary format by Persephone.

Next stop on Aleesah’s blog tour is Let’s Have Words with Claire Saxby, where Aleesah will be talking about the difference between writing picture books and novels for children. Check it out on Monday 18 October.

Literacy Lava 6

The sixth edition of the free publication Literacy Lava has just been released this week.  It’s a fabulous resource for parents who want to be literacy-aware, and who want to encourage their children as readers and writers.  This time I have an article included on Story Stones.  Here’s a snippet:

Stones and rocks have been used in different cultures throughout the ages to tell stories to children and adults alike.  Why not have a go at making some simple story stones of your own?  Then head outside to enjoy some outdoor story telling. The article goes on to share ideas for using nursery rhymes rocks, telling tales with stones, and even spelling outdoors with rocks!

In this edition of Lit Lava you’ll also find ideas to rev up reluctant readers, how to use newspapers to build literacy skills, ideas for dads and their sons, and more.  And did I mention the free bit?  Yep, a free resource.  Just read on the screen, or print and enjoy over a cuppa.

Across The Backyard Story Bridge

I can’t believe it’s the last day of Book Week and I’m only just getting up my Book Week post!  The 2010 theme is Across The Story Bridge.  Seeing as though we have an actual bridge in our backyard over the dry creek bed, I thought we would take reading outside this week.  I spread a small rug on one side of the bridge with a selection of current favourites.

There’s something special about taking reading outdoors.  I always enjoyed taking books outside with my students, and I do with my own kids at home too.  I’m not sure what it is that makes books come alive more easily outdoors.  Perhaps it’s the sense of space, which opens possibilities and removes boundaries from little imaginations.  Or perhaps the heightened senses as a result of what you can hear, see, smell and feel outside makes stories seem more real. Whatever it is, I definitely think taking a book outside enhances the experience.

Here’s what we enjoyed in the late afternoon winter sunshine:

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle) – this is the little man’s favourite at the moment and he enjoys joining in with a few words and phrases he knows.
  • Hello Baby! (Mem Fox/Steve Jenkins) – we enjoy the different animals and simple rhyming text from Australia’s best loved children’s author.
  • Kisses For Daddy (Frances Watts/David Legge ) – because it’s been SquiggleDad’s birthday this week, and Father’s Day is just around the corner too.
  • Too Loud Lily (Sophie Laguna/Kerry Argent) – entirely appropriate for my daughter. Guess why?!
  • Where The Wild Things Are – (Maurice Sendak) – a classic which really comes alive outside!

What’s across the story bridge at your place this week?