Wombat Books Blog

Wombat Books blog is the place to keep up to date with all the goings-on in the world of Aussie kid's books.

Wombat Books chats with the busy Supermum and author, Aleesah Darlison

Aleesah Darlison PicThere are so many books out there detailing how parents should do their so-called ‘job’. But is there really a manual to ‘great parenting’? 

When my first child was born, I used ‘Baby Love’ by Robin Barker as my bible. It got me through some long nights and many confusing days. But a manual for great parenting? Different people will find help from different books, I suppose. At the end of the day, you have to remember that each child is an individual and so will offer up their own challenges, joys and rewards that can’t always be boxed up neatly in a book. Sometimes, you’ve got to trust your instincts and do what you think is right. As long as your actions stem from love, you should be okay.

 

What is the most important thing about parenting for you?

Maintaining positive, open communication with my kids. Having them know that I love them above all else and receiving their love and respect in return.

 

Do you ever find that your kids can have unrealistic expectations of you as a ‘superhero’ parent?

Love it or hate it, being a parent is about being a superhero in your kids’ eyes. Parenting is one of the most difficult, confusing, selfless, endlessly wearying things you’ll ever do in your entire life. Luckily, it’s also the most wonderful, rewarding, fun and amazing thing you’ll ever do too. I’m glad I’m a Supermum to my kids. They’re pretty super in my eyes too.

 

daddyshopsmallHow does your family spend their Father’s Day? 

We usually go out for brunch, have a lovely meal together and maybe a walk along the beach. It’s relaxed and easy-going. The important thing is that we’re all together. We might throw in a few presents for my husband, but he doesn’t expect much and is happy just being with us. I like my kids to make a special card for their dad, which shows in the making and in the text of that card how much they love him. Those cards are kept forever – they go into their scrapbooks so they will always have them.

 

Why did you write The Daddy Shop? 

The Daddy Shop is a humorous look at children’s often literal, sometimes fickle, viewpoint on parents and their ‘availability’ to satisfy every child’s need. Many parents – not just dads – have to work and this does impact their children, especially if there’s a special event on the horizon that the parent can’t attend. The Daddy Shop is designed to unite working parents and their children in a fun way and to engage them in discussion about family relationships, the importance of making time to be together and, of course, to get families reading together.

 

The Daddy Shop is available from 1 August.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
137 Hits
0 Comments

Cecily Paterson and the Squished Bananas Club

PatersonCecilyWhat’s something the Wombat family should know about you?

Most people seem to be interested in the fact that I spent my childhood in Pakistan and went to boarding school in the Himalayan Mountains when I was 11 (so I usually add that in to anything I write about myself). I like dark chocolate, sewing things, and writing letters. I’m never going to get a tattoo, and I have a really cute black-and-brown furry dog who lies next to my desk all day.

Did you have a club when you were at school?

Of course! There were the usual ‘Spy on the Boys’ clubs I created with my bestie, Sharon, at various times (mostly when we were bored). In Year 2 I was in the ‘Cat Club’, in which everyone became a different breed of cat, of course. We stretched and purred our way around the playground. The best club was when I was in Year 5, where we made up the 'Squished Bananas Club' (don’t ask me why I called it that because I truly hate bananas and won’t ever eat them). The Squished Bananas had a club book, constitution, written purpose and all the official stuff. I’m pretty sure it was just an advanced version of ‘Spy on the Boys’, though. It was embarrassing when the boys actually discovered the club book and started reading it out loud to the whole school bus.

What’s your opinion on mascara?

Amusingly, I really like mascara. I have hopelessly wimpy eyelashes that are short and stubby, and when I don’t wear mascara I feel like I look pretty ordinary. Having said that, I don’t think you need to wear mascara when you’re eleven years old like Abby Smart in the book. Maybe wait a few years.

What is your favourite children’s book? How did it influence you?

There are too many children’s books that are my favourites and I can’t possibly pick one. I’ve loved almost every book I’ve ever read. One of my favourite writers when I was eleven, though, was Rumer Godden. She had a beautiful way of stitching words together and it made me feel almost hypnotised. All I could think when I read her stories was: ‘Wow – I want to write like that.’smartgirlsdontwearmascarasmall

What did you want to be when you were twelve years old? How’s that changed now?

My life ambition hasn’t really changed since I was eight years old and decided for sure that I would be a writer. I dabbled with the idea of being a world-famous ballet dancer, Olympic swimmer and prize-winning gymnast, like everyone does. I also had a brief, fleeting ambition to be a billionaire business woman, who carries around a very smart briefcase and wears a suit. But the desire that has lasted the longest has always been to be a writer who is famous enough to have a display of her books in a bookshop window.

Sum up Smart Girls Don’t Wear Mascara in 5 words.

Five Words: Abby Smart is totally clueless.

(Four additional words: But she means well).

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
63 Hits
0 Comments

Katrina Roe Reminds Readers To Look Up and See the Big Picture

Katrina Roe websiteWhere did the idea for the story come from?

Initially the idea of the balloon travelling through different children’s lives was more about the journey. I liked the idea that the balloon’s journey could show that people are all interconnected, even if they don’t know it. It was an idea that wallowed in the back of my mind for two or three years without form.

It was a personal crisis that eventually prompted me to finally write it. By this time, the story had become immensely personal and deeply philosophical to me. It poured itself out onto the page. Through the writing process, the story became much more about letting go of loss and disappointment, while recognising that one person’s loss is often another person’s gain… if only we could see the big picture.

Lilys balloon touches the lives of three different children. Do you think we often miss the things that interconnect us?

 Do we ever! One of the down sides of being part of an individualistic society (in which we’re all encouraged to pursue our dreams) is that we don’t always notice what is going on for the people around us. Lily has to give up something she wants very much because Tom and Amelia need it more. All the characters in the story find peace, comfort and beauty when they stop looking down and choose to look up. We can see things so much more clearly when we look outwards and upwards instead of focusing on ourselves.

 The balloon has a history and a future that the reader doesnt suspect. Is there an object you have that has touched multiple lives?

For me, the things that survive from the past to the future are the stories that Screen Shot 2018 07 06 at 11.00.51 amget handed down. These stories often define our past and shape our future. And I think it helps to connect those stories to an object. In our family there is a cowbell and a typewriter that my great grandfather brought back from Gallipoli, as well as a number of books, journals and paintings that have been passed down through the generations. These objects can help us understand our place in the world, where we have come from and are going to.

Why did you choose a balloon to interconnect the lives of the children? Why is the balloon symbolic to you?

 I think the balloon is a flexible metaphor that can mean different things to different people. A balloon in itself is something small and insignificant, but it represents so much. Often balloons signify joy and hope and love - they mean that loved ones are gathering and something good is about to happen. For Lily, the gentle bobbing of the balloon brings calm to a situation she finds overwhelming. So naturally she is devastated when the balloon drifts away. But actually, Lily no longer needs to hold onto it. Just watching it soar to the clouds is enough to bring her joy. For Tom, the balloon is a gift, that helps him appreciate and capture the beauty in front of him. For Amelia, the balloon reassures her that she it not forgotten by her father. The journey of the balloon is not significant on it’s own - it’s what it brings to others that gives it meaning.

How is the balloon symbolic to each of the children?

The balloon means different things to each child, because each child has very different needs. Lily needs to focus her attention on something calming because she’s overwhelmed by what is going on around her. She wants the balloon all to herself, but little does she know how much it’s needed elsewhere. Tom, who is disabled, needs to feel empowered to create and contribute to his world and to appreciate the beauty in it. Amelia needs to know that her father loves her and remembers her. Each person has the balloon only for as long as they need it.   Lily’s Balloon is gentle reminder to stop, look up and see the big picture.  

Lily's Balloon  is out 31 July.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
941 Hits
0 Comments

Sharing Memories with Catherine Bauer

Catherine BauerColourful Memories is a touching tale about sharing memories and moments with your  family. What inspired you to write this story?

There were several things that inspired me to write this story, but at the end of the day if I had to pinpoint one thing, it was my own memories of my dad sharing his own childhood stories with me and my brother and sister when we were children. He grew up in Germany during WWII – he was 11 when the war ended. Dad was the second of five children and they didn’t have a lot, but my grandparents worked hard and they were happy. My dad had lots of adventures – funny and exciting – and he wove them into the most magical stories that had me completely enthralled.

What’s a cherished memory you can remember your grandparents sharing with you?

So many – but whenever I visited my Australian grandma, who lived in Sydney, the first thing I’d do was pester her to show me “the dancer in the bottle’’. It was a wedding present to my grandparents and one of her treasured items – they were only married about 14 years before my grandpa died. It was a special liqueur, that had real gold flecks in it. There was a music box in the base and a dainty ballerina that spins around. She’d carefully remove it from the sideboard, wind it up and we’d sit and watch the ballerina dance while she told me about their wedding day. After my grandma died and her house was packed up, my aunty sent me the bottle!

My German grandparents kept chickens in their back garden and when I visited them, we’d go out early in the morning to look for eggs – still warm in the nesting boxes. I remember the smell of the straw, my oma tucking a hen under her arm and letting me pat it. She also had newly-hatched, fluffy, yellow chicks, which she kept in her kitchen where it was warm and toasty. I used to hand feed them and play with them for hours!

Do you keep photo albums for your kids? Do you ever find the time to remember moments and photos with them?

I have loads of photos – some in albums and others in boxes. I also like to have framed family photos around the house of special moments and events. With everyone being so busy these days with school and sports, we don’t always find the time to sit and look at albums together. But we often share our memories of special moments, holidays, funny things that have happened and milestone times in their lives – “firsts”, birthdays, Christmas and school events.

There’s a certain nostalgia in this book about bygoneScreen Shot 2018 07 06 at 10.37.06 am times. Do you think the times our grandparents and parents experienced were simpler?

Yes, in some ways I do. My grandparents and parents experienced war in different ways in Europe and Australia and that was definitely a struggle and time of worry for them. But as my dad would sometimes quote “we were too poor to have problems”. This means beyond their basic needs, there was no pressure to have “stuff” – the latest this or that, the newest, biggest, shiniest thing. And of course there was no technology which can be as much a hassle in our lives, as a help.

Do you have any tips about sharing memories with grandchildren and children?

I think that when you’re sharing a wonderful moment – whether it’s doing something spectacular, like taking a trip somewhere; or something simple like walking the dog or making a cake together  live in that moment and enjoy it but then talk about it later as a way of re-living it and etching it on your hearts and in your minds.

Colourful Memories with Wombat Books is out the 15th of July 2018.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
199 Hits
0 Comments

A Letter to Our Young Wombat Readers

Dear Wombat Readers,

Here at Wombat Books, we love to see children getting involved in the creation of the books they like to read. We’re currently running two challenges for you to inspire your author and illustrator creativity.

Why not have children creating children’s books?

DSC 6216 min

This was the idea that sparked our first Illustration Challenge in 2014, which produced the book, Zoo Ball, written by Aleesah Darlison. Kids from across Australia adored bringing to life a mischievous visit to the zoo and the ruckus the animals managed to get up to. This was followed shortly in 2016 by Yay! It’s Library Day, written by Aleesah Darlison, which inspired kids to jump into the magical world of libraries in their illustrations. We received over 600 entries!!!

Now we’re running our third Illustration Challenge, Around Australia in 30 Places.We hope Aussie kids can get even more creative as they explore marvellous places around their country.

"The Illustration Challenge began as my fledgling idea to involve children in the world of publishing and have children’s work featured in children’s books,” says Rochelle Manners, Publishing Director.

But that’s not it! Wombat Books has also opened a Kids Writing Competition for the Australian Girl Series.

We're seeking original short stories from school-aged students (aged 5 - 13) to publish in the Australian Girl series, in partnership with Australian Girl Doll. The previous books in the series include The Rainbow Necklace, by Jacqueline Larsen, Amy and the Wilpena Flood, by Claudia Bouma and Annabelle and the Missing Turtles, by Rose Inserra. Submissions are open for new titles where children's stories will be included in the new books.

Wombat Books has established these competitions to provide aspiring young artists with the opportunity to be published.

Young illustrators and writers from all around Australia are encouraged to send their entries to Wombat Books. We can’t wait to read your stories and see your illustrations.

 

Warm regards,

The Wombat Team

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
562 Hits
0 Comments

Meet the Australian Girls ...

Are you wishing to submit for the Australian Girl early-reader series? Get to know the characters here:

 

amyHi, I’m Amy from Adelaide!

I love sport especially netball, soccer and football. But when I grow up I’m going to be an actress. I think that would be so cool! 

We live too far away from the country and too far away from the city—we’re stuck in the suburbs. Well, I guess the park is something. There are netball courts, and goals for soccer and football there. Oh, and I’m part of the junior netball team! We’re called the Pink Galahs. I practise all the time, so that one day I’ll be really good. I like to practise everything I do over and over again till it’s perfect. 

I also have A LOT of family from here in Australia, India, Netherlands and Fiji—cousins galore! I love to hear all their different stories, but I most enjoy hearing the Dreaming stories my Grandmother tells that she learned from our ancestors.

 

JasmineUm, hello! My name is Jasmine, except my friends call me Jas.

I live in Sydney, but my friends live ages away from me. That’s ok, though, because we email each other all the time. Sometimes we get to visit each other which is really exciting!

I play the violin and love all sorts of music. On television from time to time they show concerts, but I’d like to see one live. My favourite food is Singaporean noodles (my gran makes the best). She learned how to make them from her grandmother too!

Another thing I like to do is read. I would read an entire library if I could! My favourite books are ones that have a mystery, (maybe I’ll be a detective when I’m older!) and ones that make me laugh. I have lots of books in my bedroom.

 

emilyG’day! My name’s Emily and I’m gunna be a Jillaroo someday.

My favourite animals are horses, wombats, dogs, cats, wallabies and… well, I guess I love ALL animals! Except maybe snakes. Urgh! 

All my friends live ages away from me, and there aren’t many kids on the station my age. They’re either too old or too little. So, anyway I get to stay at my friends’ houses on the holidays, and sometimes they come to my house. We also keep in contact on email and with letters. They tell me all the adventures they’ve been having, and I tell them all the adventures I have. I love adventures! They are sneaky things… you have to go out and find them! 

 

Matilda previewHello, everyone! I’m Matilda.

I have lived all over the place, but at the moment I split my time between boarding school and my aunt and uncle’s cattle station (my parents are away overseas again). I am learning fast that there is a different kind of fun to be had in both places and I think it’s great.

I love history! Aussie history is the best—it stretches back so far. Oh, I especially love the adventures the explorers went on across Australia—or looking for gold! That would be the best!

I also love clothes and dressing up. I love pretending to be someone else. 

 

Bronte in sarong previewI’m Bronte and I love the beach!

Splish-splashing in waves, surfing and making sandcastles are just a few of my favourite things. I get to spend a lot of the time at the beach as we live so close! My friends love going to beach with me when they visit (but they’re not as good at surfing as I am).

I also enjoy visiting Nonna, as she teaches me how to make pasta from dough. Spaghetti meat balls is my favourite (but it’s very messy when I eat it). I like all sorts of food, though: tacos, noodles, pizza, dumplings, and much more. I want to be able to cook just as well as Nonna when I grow up.

 

Wombat Books is taking submissions now. For more information click here.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
387 Hits
0 Comments

Talking Trouble with Amanda Francey

FranceyAmandaWombat Books talks trouble with Amanda Francey, illustrator of Trouble For Toby.

1. What was the best thing about illustrating Trouble For Toby?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Janet Reid's humorous and beautifully written story. For me to enjoy illustrating a children's book, it's really important that I can relate to it in some way. So the best thing about illustrating Trouble For Toby, was that immediate connection I felt to the main character. Toby reminded me very much of my own son when he was younger. 

His heart was in the right place, but his imagination and impulsiveness often led to trouble. 

2. Toby desperately wants a pet, but his parents don’t think he can look after one. Did your parents let you get a pet when you were a kid? Were you able to look after it?

Thinking back, I feel sorry for my parents. After many years of nagging and trying to convince my parents that I knew everything about ponies from reading books, they reluctantly agreed to let me buy one. Our neighbour sold me her ageing pony before she moved to the suburbs. While I successfully looked after my pony, I had no horse riding experience. Apparently, this is knowledge you learn from practical experience, like horse riding lessons, not from reading books.

I'm lucky to be alive really, after the amount of times my beloved pony aimed my head towards a low hanging branch, tossed me into a creek and trampled over the top of me.

3. Toby’s imagination takes him to crazy places. What is your favourite imaginary place that readers visit in the book?

 When Toby convinces Sam to be park rangers in search for rare animals in the Tranquillity Garden. I will say no more, as I don't Trouble of Toby 10 002 8want to spoil any hairy surprises.

4. If you could be any fictional character, who would it be?

Anne of Green Gables because I enjoyed spending most of my childhood living in my own imaginary worlds, without a care in the world. Plus Prince Edward Island is my utopia. The scenery is positively sublime and the lobster is irresistibly delicious.

 

5. What do you love the most about children’s books? Are there one or two books that stick in your mind as most meaningful? Why?

I've always loved looking at pictures in children's books. The artwork in children's books was the very thing that influenced me to want to become an illustrator. I was a reluctant reader with a love for stories, so I was more inclined to read picture books or comic books, because the combination of words and pictures was easier for me to follow along.

During middle primary school, my favourite children's chapter book was The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. It was one of few 'illustrated' chapter books on a subject that interested me. If I was a child today, I believe I’d be an avid reader due to the much larger selection of illustrated chapter books offered in libraries.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
493 Hits
0 Comments

Around Australia with Rochelle Manners

wombat med721. Explain how the Wombat Team created the idea for Around Australia in 30 Places? Was it hard picking the places Wombat would visit?

The Illustration Challenge began as my fledgling idea to involve children in the world of publishing and have children’s work featured in children’s books. A few years ago, I approached author, Aleesah Darlison, to be involved and she created two amazing stories. Children could get imaginative and draw different animals around the zoo in Zoo Ball, or different book tales in Yay! It’s Library Day.

In 2018, I wanted the Illustration Challenge to be more of a journey around Australia. We chose 30 unique spots that I or the Wombat Team wanted to travel to. We researched what was in each town and formed a true Aussie adventure with our resident Wombat.

2. What’s your favourite place that Wombat visits on his journey around Australia?

I don’t have a favourite place! I kind of am interested in a lot. I have great memories of going to Alice Springs and the Great Barrier Reef a long time ago! But I would love to visit the Edge of the World in Tasmania and drive the Nullarbor plain…

3. What’s the best thing about running the Illustration Challenge?

Especially as a publisher, I love seeing kids (and adults) get a snippet of their dreams. It’s such a huge achievement for kids to create an illustration for a picture book. Even my kids got involved. I love to see the enthusiasm and feelings of success these individuals get out of their contributions.

4. What’s it like judging all these amazing kids’ illustrations? Does the Wombat Team have a process?pointing web.jpg

It’s so hard with so much talent! In house, we have a few designers, editors and illustrators who we bring together for a round-table event. We usually announce the long list first and then work very hard to choose only 30 kids to be included in the final book. Last year we got over 600 entries. To be chosen is a huge achievement.

5. Has there been illustrator success stories from the other Illustration Challenges?

One of our illustrators in Zoo Ball has gone on to illustrate a full book for Wombat Books. Colourful Memories is being released in July this year. We hope to work with more of our young illustrators in the future!

6. Have you thought about running any other challenges?

I would love to run a children’s writing challenge. If we have children’s illustrators, why not children authors too! If you are interested, subscribe to our newsletter or follow our Facebook page. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see your entries for the Illustration Challenge.

 

For more information on the 2018 Illustration Challenge, visit here.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
586 Hits
0 Comments

Talking Trouble with Janet Reid

ReidJanet

Wombat Books chats with Janet Reid about her debut early reader, Trouble For Toby.

1. What’s one thing hardly anyone knows about you and the Wombat Family should?

I hold a licence to ride a motorbike. When I was in my teens, I rode a motorbike around my parents' farm, and even had a spill or two. Then, when I went to college, I got around on a step-through scooter. It cost me about twenty cents to fill up back then.

2. Toby has a fantastic imagination – from outer space to the circus. Do you often find yourself in your head like Toby?

Yes, I do, especially now I write for young people. But back when I was a school girl, my sister and I would make up stories and play them out. I remember one incident when we were playing in the old pigsties – I was the big bad wolf and she was the little pig. The story didn't end well and involved a bit of blood. I think I was a bit like Toby that day – I did something impulsive and ended up hurting someone. And, like Toby, I felt really bad about it.

3. Toby gets into trouble a lot. Have you ever taught any Toby-like students? Or were you a troublesome student in school?Trouble of Toby 10 002 24

Yes, I have taught kids like Toby. They were generally lots of fun to have in class. Toby's character is actually based on a kid a taught not so long ago. He was a terrific student and I rarely had a problem with his behaviour in the classroom, but he was always getting into trouble in the playground because of his impulsiveness. The spider incident in Trouble for Toby was what sparked the idea for this book.

And no, I wasn't particularly troublesome at school, though I did have my moments. I didn't, and still don't like getting into trouble. My sister, though, was trouble from the start, so maybe some of my ideas come from the mischief she got up to as a kid.

4. If you could be any fictional character, who would it be?

Hmmm … maybe Merida from the movie Brave, and not just for her gorgeous wild red hair. She fought against the conventions for the day, and yeah, she did land herself in trouble along the way, but she learned a lot from her mistakes. I like seeing characters, especially female characters, who push the boundaries of their world and make a difference.

5. Sum up Trouble for Toby in 3 words.

Impulsive, imaginative, courageous.

 

Janet Reid is a CYA success story. For more information, visit here.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
379 Hits
0 Comments

Sweet Dreams and Tender Moments

Dream Bird finalhigh text5 24With Mother's Day coming up, we have the perfect book to share with grandmothers, aunts and mothers.

Award-winning author Aleesah Darlison’s latest picture book, The Dream Bird, is sure to be popular at bedtime with both children and adults.

There are few times during the day that offer tenderness and togetherness between parent and child or grandparent and grandchild like bedtime.

Bedtime stories offer respite from the busyness of the day, establish routines and help form unbreakable bonds. They remain a stronghold of cosy memories that carry children into adulthood, and which are passed from generation to generation.

“We all know the importance of reading to children. I can’t tell you the hours and hours of time I’ve spent reading bedtime stories to my brood of four over the years,” Aleesah says. “They’ve loved every minute of that special, shared, quiet time together and so have I.”

Children across the world have struggled to get to bed at one time or another and will relate to the problems of The Dream Bird’s main character and ‘day child’, Dream Bird finalhigh text5 32George.

It’s George’s grandma who comes up with the perfect solution to help him drift off to sleep—the creation of a story about a beautiful Dream Bird who visits children to help them have the most wonderful dreams imaginable.

The Dream Bird will delight readers young and old as George is transported to kingdoms filled with lollies and experiences the joy of leaping alongside snow leopards, among other things.

Emma Middleton’s detailed, lavish illustrations create a magical realism, bringing to life Aleesah’s text and drawing readers into George’s dreams.

“I wanted to create layered illustrations where you could almost see reality merging into the fantastical world,” Emma says.

Give your child sweet dreams and cuddle up with them tonight to share this magical book at bedtime. The Dream Bird also makes the perfect gift for Gran on Mother’s Day.

The Deam Bird is available here for purchase.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
360 Hits
0 Comments

Our Head in the Clouds with Kellie Byrnes

Kellie ByrnesKellie Byrnes is the debut picture book author of Cloud Conductor.

Do you conduct stories in the clouds?

In a figurative sense I certainly do. I think a big element of being a writer is having your "head in the clouds" all the time, daydreaming and thinking about "what if?" I've always been in my head quite a lot, whether pondering life's mysteries, or making up stories, or contemplating what characters might be doing after the story ends. I think daydreaming is a healthy thing and that adults and kids should be encouraged to do it every day! When we let our imaginations run away, we can come up with amazing goals, solve problems, and learn about ourselves.

I also spend a bit of time looking at the clouds and the sky. I love to take in beautiful sunsets or look up at the stars and the moon at night. I'd like to say I look at the sunrise too, but as a night owl, I have to admit, I am rarely awake for them!

The imagination plays a huge part in Cloud Conductor. Why is a child's imagination so important to you personally?

Children have the most amazing imaginations, and it tends to be one of the things adults love most about spending time with Cloud Conductor 03 002 26them. However, sadly, as people get older this way of looking at the world with wonder and creative eyes seems to gradually get pushed down. Even by the time kids are in late primary school, I notice they spend less time imagining.

It's important for adults to encourage children to explore their imaginations and find inventive ways of solving their own problems and seeing the world. I know how much stories, words, and ideas have helped me over the years, and I hate the thought that children may grow up believing they have to leave that behind.

How can we all be cloud conductors?

We can all be cloud conductors by spending more time out in nature. Whether you like to stare up at the sky, walk through a park, garden, hike, meditate outdoors, swim in the ocean etc., letting your imagination wander while you get some fresh air and forget your to-do list can really make a difference. Having a few hours to yourself to go off and pursue an interest or take in the world around you also helps to get your imagination firing.

As adults, we tend to forget how to live in the moment, or just don't do it often. As soon as you build a sandcastle with a child, or play tug-of-war with your dog, for instance, you are back in the present, and can find more joy and appreciation for life. Letting your subconscious mind romp about while your conscious mind is focused on something else is also a wonderful way to solve problems. I see all these activities as another type of cloud conducting, and something anyone can do, at any age.

Cloud Conductor 03 002 20Escapism is very important in Frankie's life. Why is that?

No matter our age, we all need escapism in our lives at some points. Sometimes when things are outside our control, the best thing to do is just escape for a time and leave our troubles behind. In the book, the main character, Frankie, is dealing with an illness and can't do the things she used to love. This is not only incredibly difficult, but isolating. By escaping through her imagination, Frankie can, for a time, feel more free, happy, and connected. She can also use this reprieve from real life to "power up", in a way, like avatars in video games do. She can also use it to help others.

How does it feel to have your first picture book published?

It feels amazing! This is a life-long dream of mine, and I am so excited and grateful that it has finally been realised. I can't wait to read the book to kids and learn what they see in the clouds. I'm sure I will be amazed by their creativity! I also really hope children who are struggling with illness or any other problem in their life find the book a useful tool to remind them of their own power and strength.

 

Cloud Conductor comes out 1 May. To pre-order your copy head to this link.

 

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
456 Hits
0 Comments

Dreaming with Emma Middleton

 Wombat Books catches up with Emma Middleton about her latest picture book, The Dream Bird.

emma middleton 1. Congratulations on such a visually stunning book. Did it turn out how you imagined?

Yes, the illustrations did turn out how I imagined. The story has a classic feel to me, so I wanted to emulate this style in the illustrations. One of the things that excited me about illustrating the story was the transitions between fantasy and reality. I wanted to create layered illustrations where you could almost see reality merging into the fantastical world.

 2. What’s your favourite thing about children’s books?

Gosh, there are so many, I adore children’s books! I think story is one of the most powerful tools that is essential to us in a compassionate society. Children learn, empathise and are entertained by story and it offers a real opportunity to plant seeds of inspiration. The combination of words and illustrations is magical. I particularly love it when the visual narrative is left to tell elements of the story, so the young child can be an active participant in the decoding of the narrative.

3. What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?

The best thing about being an illustrator is having the opportunity to give a child beautiful pictures to absorb and enjoy.Dream Bird finalhigh text5 32

4. What book are you currently reading?

To be honest I always have a few picture book under my bed, but I have just recently started The Shepherd’s Hut.

5. Did you have trouble sleeping when you were a kid? Were there any crazy techniques you tried to get to sleep? i.e. was milk and cookies a fav?

I do remember having milk with honey, but I was actually one of those strange children who often asked to go to bed. Now I realise how lucky my parents were regarding bedtime.

6. On what adventure would you like the Dream Bird to take you?

I would love to go on a tropical underwater adventure. Hopefully the Dream Bird can hold her breath!

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
588 Hits
0 Comments

Dreaming with Aleesah Darlison

Wombat Books catches up with Aleesah Darlison about her latest picture book, The Dream Bird.

Darlison Mar15 0291. Did you have trouble falling asleep when you were kid? What crazy techniques did you try to make yourself sleepy?
Sometimes I would have trouble going to sleep as a child and I know that my own children have all had trouble sleeping from time to time, especially when they were very young. Who wants to go to bed when everyone else is having fun? As an adult, I often have trouble going to sleep. We’ve tried lots of insomnia cures in our house, such as: walking clockwise around a table ten times, counting sheep, counting backwards from 100, drinking hot milk, having a hot shower and meditation/breathing exercises.

2. What’s the best dream you can remember?
Oh, there have been so many good ones! Usually, the best ones are when I’ve written a story in my dream and I’m then able to wake up, remember it and write it down before it’s lost.

3. What’s your favourite place that George visits in The Dream Bird?Dream Bird finalhigh text5 24
Probably where George leaps along mountain ranges beside snow leopards. Emma Middleton’s illustration of the snow leopard is particularly striking, although I love all of her illustrations in the book. She has done such a marvellous job of bringing the story to life visually and recreating the images I had in my mind for George’s dreams. I’m guessing that child readers will prefer the kingdoms made of lollies the most!

4. Dreams are thoughts; thoughts are dreams. What’s your opinion on this?
There’s definitely an element of truth in that statement, although I think the thoughts can be so deeply buried in our sub-conscious that we don’t realise that they’re important. And if the thought plays out in our dreams, we might dismiss it as being fanciful or irrelevant because it ‘was just a dream’. Perhaps it’s time we all took more notice of our dreams!

5. Sum up The Dream Bird in 5 words.
Evocative. Sumptuous. Relatable. Dreamy. Surprising.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
861 Hits
0 Comments

Meet Young Illustrator: Nicole

IMG 0666Nicole is 12 years old and one of the young Aussie illustrators featured in Yay! It's Library Day. 

1. Tell us about your illustration for Yay! It's Library Day?

A funky, little mythical boy running in the forest and jumping upon a huge mushroom!

2. What do you love about libraries?

A peaceful library is always a place where anyone could hide away in the land of books and stories that are open to all.

3. What is your favourite book?

The Orient Express by Agatha Christie.

4. If you were sucked into a book, where would you want to visit? Or who?

The Orient Express. I would love to solve a mystery and travel back in time, since I love all things old, vintage and steampunk.... and of course take a trip on the famous Orient Express!

Olivia's illustration will be featured on Page 22 of Yay! It's Library Day. To see the full version, you can get your copy here.

 

Nicole Novobon

 

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
634 Hits
0 Comments

International Book Giving Day

By Debra Tidball, Author of When I See Grandma

book boOn International Book Giving Day I like to use the opportunity to take books into places that aren't usually considered child-friendly.

Book Giving Day has, at its core, the desire to increase children’s access to and enthusiasm for books. It’s about encouraging people to give a book to a child or leave a book where a child might pick it up and read it. You can follow how other people are celebrating book giving day by checking out their website and following their blog. You’ll also find a long list of people throughout the world who are getting behind this initiative, including Australia’s very own Andy Griffiths, Mem Fox and Jackie French.

My picture book, When I See Grandma, is written to encourage families with young children to visit their elderly friends and relatives in aged-care homes. The book shows young children interacting with elderly residents, and even reading books together! And although a resident may seem unresponsive, the children's presence brings a warmth and vitality that transcend consciousness.

That's why on International Book Giving Day, I gift picture books to aged-care homes in the hope that children will be able to share the books with residents. As well as to have something to enjoy when waiting for their grown-ups, who sometimes have jobs to do which can make the visit feel p-r-o-l-o-n-g-e-d for a young child

As February 14th is also Valentine’s Day, I’ve bundled my book gift into a bouquet. Gifting the books is my way of simultaneously honouring: 1. the spirit of When I See Grandma, 2. my mother, to whom the book is dedicated, and 3. International Book Giving Day.

How are you going to be involved?

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
1031 Hits
0 Comments

Meet Young Illustrator: Olivia

OliviaGoodmanOlivia is 10 years old and one of the young Aussie illustrators featured in Yay! It's Library Day. 

1. Tell us about your illustration for Yay! It's Library Day?

I used a mixture of watercolour paints, and coloured pencils to create my illustration. I looked up some pictures of the Isle of Capri, and tried to capture the blues of the water and the rocky coast.

2. What do you love about libraries?

The smell of books inspires me. I love how you can just go in and borrow any book you want. I discovered a lot of my favourite books at the library, and now I am lucky enought to own some of them for myself.

3. What is your favourite book?

The Sea of Adventure by Enid Blyton.

4. If you were sucked into a book, where would you want to visit? Or who?

I would like to get sucked into The Sea of Adventure and see the puffins and bird islands off Scotland. I'd love to go for an adventure with Jack, Phillip, Dinah and Lucy-Ann.

 

Olivia's illustration will be featured on Page 23 of Yay! It's Library Day. To see the full version, you can get your copy here.

olivia

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
657 Hits
0 Comments

Meet Young Illustrator: June

juneJune is 9 years old and one of the young Aussie illustrators featured in Yay! It's Library Day. 

1. Tell us about your illustration for Yay! It's Library Day?

I got my inspiration from reading books with my family. I really like the illustrations by Anna Walker - I like how she uses different techniques to make her images. For my illustration I used paint, wash tape, pencils and textas. I even used a toothbrush to spray the paint!

2. What do you love about libraries?

There are so many stories from all round the world.

3. What is your favourite book?

Dork Diaries (Rachel Renee Russell), Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, Ruby Redfort (Lauren Child) and Bad Dad (David Walliams). I also like comic books like The Lumber Janes.

4. If you were sucked into a book, where would you want to visit? Or who?

Definitely Narnia to meet the Susan, Peter, Lucy, Edmond, Mr Tumnus and Prince Caspian. Id also like to visit Hogwarts in Harry Potter and meet everybody - even Voldemort!

June's illustration will be featured on Page 3 of Yay! It's Library Day. To see the full version, you can get your copy here.

June

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
987 Hits
0 Comments

Meet Young Illustrator: Alex

20180201 101338Alex is 12 years old and one of the young Aussie illustrators featured in Yay! It's Library Day. 

1. Tell us about your illustration for Yay! It's Library Day?

My illustration is about when they explore the deep and see something strange in a cave.

2. What do you love about libraries?

How they have so many interesting stories that you can read most of the time without being disturbed.

3. What is your favourite book?

My favourite book Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

4. If you were sucked into a book, where would you want to visit? Or who?

I would like to visit Vattle School from Ender's Game because it has a really cool anti-gravity battling chamber.

Alex's illustration will be featured on Page 7 of Yay! It's Library Day. To see the full version, you can get your copy here.

 

alexY

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
784 Hits
0 Comments

Meet Young Illustrator: Emily

Emily is 12 years old and one of the young Aussie illustrators featured in Yay! It's Library Day. Emily Chester

1. Tell us about your illustration for Yay! It's Library Day?

I thought it would be cool to draw a family interacting with each other and reading stories. I also liked the idea of drawing the bookshelves.

2. What do you love about libraries?

How every book has a different story.

3. What is your favourite book?

I don’t have a fav book as there’s too many good ones to choose from.

4. If you were sucked into a book, where would you want to visit? Or who?

It’s a tough choice between Narnia and the Treehouse in the Treehouse series!

 

Emily's illustration will be featured on Page 26 of Yay! It's Library Day. To see the full version, you can get your copy here.

 

emily chester image

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
1055 Hits
0 Comments

The Thing

Kate and the Thing 10 6

Wombat Books talks to Heidi Cooper Smith about her debut picture book, Kate and the Thing.

What is the Thing?

The Thing hovers between our reality and imagination. He’s a blank canvas, a big comforting pillow and a shield from the unknown but, above all, the Thing is a friend who shows up in your time of need.

Do you wish you had the Thing when you started school? 

I think the worst thing about being new, in any situation, is the self-consciousness you experience being alone and that feeling everyone is somehow judging you for it. The Thing is big and protective, but gentle and soft – so yes, I would have liked the Thing to have shown up to lend me courage when I started school.

What does the Thing get up to when you're not looking?Kate and the Thing 10 12

The Thing is always present and watching protectively for as long as you need him to be. When he isn’t in your thoughts, he’s on the lookout for a new friend who might be desperate for company and reassurance. He has been known to wake for sneaky midnight feasts of cupcakes with whipped cream.

Can you remember your first day at school?

I remember my first day at preschool above any other – we were joined with a Year One class and told we had to play silently at the front of the classroom so as not to disturb the big kids, which on reflection seems very strange. I felt like they were all looking at me – it was terrifying!

Where did the idea for the Thing come from?

Staring at a big white blank canvas, being afraid to make the first mark. Thinking that a blank canvas is like a fresh start - scary, but full of promise and endless possibility. My mind turned to picture books, as it often does, and the idea of the Thing began to form in my mind...

 

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
1459 Hits
0 Comments