About a year after I started working on the floor in the kid’s section at Readings Carlton I looked at the sales of one of my favourite books; I had sold more than 60 copies that year and the author’s backlist had started moving on its own. The previous year it had sold only two copies and looking at those numbers was such a wake-up call to me. I had the power to help keep amazing authors and books from fading away. I have the power to help keep stories alive. That seems kind of magical to me.
BOOK OF THE YEAR – WINNERS 2017
One Would Think the Deep
University of Queensland Press
Allen & Unwin
Go Home, Cheeky Animals!
(illus by Dion Beasley)
Allen & Unwin
Home in the Rain
The Patchwork Bike
RUDD, Van T
(text by Maxine Beneba Clarke)
Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks
NEWTON, Gina M
In 1985, Mr Wallace Raymond Crichton left a legacy to the Children’s Book Council of Australia (Victorian Branch). The Branch decided to establish an award to recognise and encourage new talent in the field of Australian children’s book illustration. It was first awarded in 1988. Although administered by the Victorian Branch, the Crichton Award for New Illustrators is a CBCA National award and the results are announced with the Book of the Year Awards.
The Patchwork Bike
RUDD, Van T
(Text: Maxine Beneba Clarke)
This piece also includes information about the land project that has consumed Jennings in recent years, and some comments concerning the irony of the exclamation mark in the title of his first book Unreal!
While he was recovering from the major surgery, Jennings wrote his latest novel – The Unforgettable Whatshisname – which he describes as whimsical, sad and funny (in a Charlie Chaplin kind of way). “It took me a year to write and I’m really happy with it. I think it’s probably the best book I’ve written for primary school children so far,” Jennings said.
The inspiration for the book came from a conversation with his wife, actor/author Mary-Anne Fahey, about shy and introverted children in a world that is dominated by social media and the ‘look at me’ pressures of Facebook. “Mary-Anne said that why don’t you do a boy who is so shy he blends into the environment like a chameleon. I said: ‘that’s a fantastic idea’.”
Read the full piece: Author Paul Jennings’ heart for the land | The Young Witness.
The advantage of a celebrity television profile in book publishing has been underlined again with comedian Peter Helliar’s first outing as a children’s book author.
Helliar’s Frankie Fish and the Sonic Suitcase is the biggest-selling children’s book in Australia this week, as tabulated by Nielsen Bookscan, knocking off the latest Wimpy Kid instalment.
While sales volumes are softer this side of Christmas, the time travel adventure for primary school readers also cracked the top five list for weekly bestselling fiction titles, including adult books, and is on the way up, according to Helliar’s publisher Hardie Grant.
A panellist on Network Ten’s The Project, Helliar wrote the book for his three "champions", children Liam, Aidan and Oscar, and dedicated the book to them: "Find what you truly love and build your life around it".
Helliar is the latest comedian to break into children’s books, a trend led by the stellar success of David Walliams.
1. Hello Little Babies by Alison Lester
(Harper Collins Publishers, 2016) Ages: 0 – 3 years
Cameos of babies’ lives and their families feature in ordinary but universal scenes starring babies as they sleep, play, eat and explore life.
The short, familiar text, such as “Zane rubs corn in his hair” and “Vikram yawns and stretches”, is perfect for parents to read aloud. Lester is at her finest in capturing the minutia of the ordinary and rendering it memorable.
2. Who sank the boat? And other stories by Pamela Allen
(Penguin, 2016) Ages: 1 – 5 yrs
Here’s a treasure trove of nine familiar favourites by a creator who excels in the art of simplicity, humour, playful images and universally loved stories including Grandpa and Thomas and Belinda. Allen’s jaunty language is perfect for reciting and performance by pre-schoolers.
Parents will enjoy performing words and actions and talking about the subtle character-building ideas, such as being kind to others and working together.
3. One Minute Till Bedtime written by Kenn Nesbitt, illustrations by Christoph Niemann
(Little Brown, 2016) Ages: 3 and up
These 60-second poems are perfect bedtime reading. Five countries, including Australia, feature in these 132 selections, each evoking strong emotions. Included are abecedarian, pantonums and haiku poems, plus others. The illustrations are minimalist and clever, ensuring imaginations are engaged.
Australia’s poems by Kathryn Apel, Mark Carthew, Sophie Masson and others add to the international flavour. Parents prepare for a rollicking read aloud and discussion of other kinds of poetry than those here.
4. Welcome to Country written by Aunty Joy Murphy, illustrated by Lisa Kennedy
(Black Dog Books, 2016) Ages: 5 and up
Welcome to country ceremonies are an important part of major events. They signify cultural greetings by Aboriginal elders who grant permission for visitors to enter their traditional lands.
This stunningly illustrated book has a deep yet simple text, which introduces its central concept through poetic language and earthy, evocative landscapes of blended colours and shapes of people and landscapes.
“We are part of the land and the land is part of us” reminds us to respectfully share cultural traditions. Parents might collect a range of picture books by Aboriginal creators for children, comparing illustration styles and discussing the meaning underlying traditional stories.
5. The Sisters Saint-Claire written by Carlie Gibson, illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie
(Crows Nest, NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2016) Ages: 7 and up
Gibson’s debut, gem-like story offers likeable characters, a tasty dilemma and a satisfying ending. Appealing ingredients include a family of four French mice who adore food, family and fashion, intricately detailed illustrations, lavish banquets of French food and a text in delectable rhythm and rhyme.
Adults and child can explore places in the world, locate these on maps, and share cultural diversity.
the other five selections via: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-10-best-australian-childrens-books-of-2016-2016-12
Robert Ingpen: Lifetime achievement award
Ingpen, one of only two Australians to be awarded the internationally prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award, has written and illustrated more than 100 books, including Colin Thiele’s Storm Boy and Alice in Wonderland. He wrote The Idle Bear, an imagined conversation between two toy bears, to mark the birth of his first grandchild.
Ingpen doesn’t have much time for digital picture book productions filled up with literal “graphics and pictures” or the illustrator “who is occupying the page for their own purposes as an artist”.
The most successful picture books, he says, are those in which the illustrations amplify the text, not dominate it.
“There are two spaces,” Ingpen says. “One is the space you can fill, if you are competent enough as an illustrator, and there is the space you don’t, and leave to the reader to fill with their imagination. You don’t communicate unless you leave room for the reader to engage their curiosity and imagination and place themselves in the story.”
Book of the Year:
Older Readers (Secondary Students)
Winner: Fiona Wood, Cloudwish (Pan Macmillan)
Cloudwish was inspired by the author’s work as a Friday night volunteer tutor, her regard for the Bronte classic Jane Eyre and a gift Wood received of a sealed glass cylinder containing a slip of paper.
Heroine, Van Uoc Phan, is the clever daughter of Vietnamese refugees who lives by the credo: What would Jane Eyre do?
“There is a tonal contrast in the two main story strands,” says Wood. “One investigates identity via a whimsical love story, the other investigates identity via Van Uoc’s growing need to understand her family’s story and her mother’s state of mind.
“As a child of migrant parents, Van Uoc has the extra pressure of being the interpreter between two cultures. This is a story that continues generation after generation, all over the world. We need to be able to walk in the shoes of people whose experience is different from our own.”
This is Wood’s second CBCA award win. Nothing makes her happier than knowing her books have made readers laugh and cry. “I also hope that readers will have some of their assumptions and beliefs challenged, and that they might occasionally allow for a little bit of magic in their lives.”
Honour Books: Meg McKinlay, A Single Stone (Walker), Vikki Wakefield, InBetween Days (Text )
Younger Readers: (Middle and upper primary)
Winner: Morris Gleitzman, Soon (Penguin Random House)
Gleitzman hesitated for several years before writing the story of his Polish orphan, Felix. Known for his more whimsical stories, Gleitzman wondered if he had a right to tell the story of the Holocaust. Then, there was the dark subject matter. He didn’t think he would ever find a publisher.
“To simply create an experience of darkness for young readers, there didn’t seem much point to that,” he says. “But at the same time it is important our future world leaders and supporters should understand both the worst we are capable of as well as the best and stories are well capable of showing that side-by-side.”
Soon is the fifth in the acclaimed Felix series – Once and Then were also CBCA honour books – and picks up with Felix living in the ruins of Poland. The boy’s unflagging optimism and friendships gives the novel its heart.
“I felt it was absolutely my responsibility and duty to equip Felix with as many personal resources as I credibly could,” Gleitzman says. “This is not the sort of story where kids fly on broomsticks and play Quidditch.”
Felix’s story has crossed into the author’s personal journey. Gleitzman’s grandfather was stranded in England during World War II but family in Krakow died. All characters live on inside him to some extent, says Gleitzman. “But I can say I have never felt more like a writer at the deepest level than when I’ve been writing these books.”
Gleitzman says there will be another two books in the series, in which Felix will come to Australia as a post war refugee.
Honour Books: Sally Morgan, Sister Heart (Fremantle), Emily Rodda, Shadows of the Master (Omnibus/Scholastic)
Winner: Anna Walker, Mr Huff (Penguin Random House)
The story of Mr Huff began as a tiny scribble Walker drew above her own figure one day as she sat at her desk worrying. It is her worst habit.
“That little cloud almost looked like a creature and I was thinking of the idea that your worries follow you almost like another presence or another being,” Walker recalls. “I did a bit of research on mythical creatures throughout history and they often taken on shapes, almost the shape of the abominable snowman.”
Starting as a black cloud, Mr Huff grows into a life-sized creature, trailing a little boy as he experiences bumps in his day. Bill tries to escape it but Mr Huff grows, shrinking only when Bill accepts the creature’s constant presence.
“I almost see the book as celebrating the bravery of children to face their fear, even if the fear to someone else doesn’t appear that real,” says the prolific picture book creator.
Parents had found the book useful to read to anxious children.
Walker combined woodblock printing, etching, collage and ink and watercolour drawing to create the beautiful urban landscapes. “I regard children’s books as an art form in themselves so to me they do deserve to be the best they can be.”
Honour Books: Danny Parker/Freya Blackwood, Perfect (Little Hare/Hardie Grant), Tony Wilson, The Cow Tripped Over the Moon(Scholastic)
Picture Book of the Year
Winner: Armin Greder/Nadia Wheatley, Flight (Windy Hollow)
Swiss-born Greder was drawn to Wheatley’s modern story of a family fleeing unknown authorities across shifting desert sands after publishing a book on the ”somewhat related problem” of the treatment of the Palestinian people, and the coincidence intrigued him.
Greder feels his job as an illustrator is to exploit the ”parsimony of the writer” and Wheatley’s initial text was too descriptive for his liking. Wheatley understood and ”impoverished her text so that my images had a job to do”.
Working prominently in charcoal, Greder says he is attracted to the silence and emptiness of the desert and the ”certain danger that deserts imply”.
He hopes the picture book can trigger discussion about the plight of displaced peoples. ”I am interested in stories that somehow reflect on problematic aspects of the Here and Now – not to then propose a solution but merely to raise the awareness that there is something wrong,” Greder says. ”This is what Flight is proposing. A solution to the problem doesn’t come from a book, unless it is a manual about how to use your new Bose headphones, but from a raised awareness that condenses into some action.”
Honour Books: Shane Devries/Phil Cummings, Ride Ricardo, Ride!(Omnibus), Sally Heinrich/Jane Jolly One Step at a Time(MidnightSun)
Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Winner: Stephanie Reeder, Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony (NLA Publishing)
It was trawling through digital newspaper archives that Reeder came across the story of Lennie Gwyther, the nine-year-old who rode his pony alone from rural Victoria to witness the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
“There was a picture of Lennie on his pony and with his funny looking hat in front of a great big crowd … and I thought, what is this funny boy doing? Reeder recalls. ”What’s he doing there? And it fired my imagination.
Gwyther made the 1000km journey as a reward for ploughing the family’s 10-hectare plot of farmland for his hospitalised father. The parents sent letters ahead requesting hospitality and, as word got around, the boy’s fame grew and he and his horse Ginger Mick led the public crossing.
“Stories like this are part of what made Australia it is now. What I like to show is that history is not just about politicians and dates, it’s about real people doing real, inspirational things. I ask children where they think their parents would allow them to go age nine, and they say to the corner store.”
Honour books: Rohan Cleave/Coral Tulloch, Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect (CSIRO), Robyn Siers/Carlie Walker,Ancestry: Stories of Multicultural Anzacs (Department of Veterans’ Affairs).
Book of the Year Older Children (age range 8 to 14 years):
Illuminae (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin Books)
Book of the Year for Younger Children (age range 0 to 8 years):
The 65-Storey Treehouse ( Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton, Pan Australia, Pan Macmillan)
Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year:
The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade (Davina Bell, illustrated by Allison Colpoys, Scribble, Scribe Publications)
Whether it’s runaway derrières or a now 65-storey treehouse with the coolest chill-out rooms imaginable, Aussie author Andy Griffiths is wooing our kids to read.
Overnight, the writer extraordinaire was awarded Book of the Year for Younger Children (age range 0 – 8 years) for The 65-Storey Treehouse at the Australian Book Industry Awards.
Here, we get to know the man behind the pen.
New Australian website focusing on YA literature…
LoveOzYA is, at its heart, a way to focus the discussions around young adult (YA) fiction in Australia and by doing so, promote local content to local readers. The movement began – as all important conversations do nowadays – online, and rapidly garnered the attention of writers, readers, publishers, booksellers and so many more invested in our national youth literature. We all want the same thing – to draw the attention of Australian teens to Australian books that speak to their experience, and unite the youth-lit community
Children’s author John Marsden has bought the former Macedon Grammar School site and plans to open a new secondary school focused on the arts…
Last week Mr Marsden bought the site of the former Christian college, where he plans to open a new secondary school focused on the arts.
“There is such a huge passion for the arts among young people,” the author of Tomorrow When the War Began said.
“It can be taken much more seriously nowadays. A generation ago it wasn’t really a viable industry for most people, but now there are heaps of ways you can make a career in the arts. It is no longer something treated as airy-fairy or lightweight.”
Macedon Grammar was closed by the state government in December after it accumulated about $1.8 million in debt and was deemed financially unviable.
It will be the second school founded by Mr Marsden, who also runs the alternative Candlebark School in Romsey in the Macedon Ranges.
Mr Marsden said the school would open its doors to creative students by the start of 2016, or possibly even later this year “if the bureaucracy allows for that”.
“So many children are learning or experiencing the world in a completely artificial way through computer games, [that] even relationships are conducted at a distance. We are very much the opposite way. We put kids into the bush, send them up mountains and down rivers and into snow.”