Wombat Books Blog

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Passionate Pursuits for Author, Illustrator and Characters

foxandmoonbeanmedNew children’s book reminds adults and children alike the importance of pursuing passions and doing what we love.
Set in Victorian England, Fox and Moonbeam explores the striking yet unlikely friendship of dancing star, Mademoiselle Moonbeam Lapin, and Gerard Fox, a servant who winds clocks.

The lavishly illustrated book reminds readers the importance of self-belief and finding the courage to step out of the shadows and into the light.

This is a particularly relevant message today when 1 in 35 young Australians aged 4-17 experience depressive disorders that stem from a lack of self-confidence.

Author, Aleesah Darlison, has created the unconfident character, Gerard Fox, to relate to those children who may be too afraid to pursue their passions.

“Gerard Fox is incredibly talented but his shyness forces him to live a lonely life in the shadows. Hopefully, young readers who feel shyness themselves will connect with Gerard and, like him, find the courage to stand in the light so they can be who they really want to be,” said Aleesah.

“I think it’s important to send positive, encouraging messages to children,” agreed illustrator, Narelda. “Fox and Moonbeam have a wonderful, supportive friendship, both have found a purpose to their life and have followed their passion.”

Just like Fox and Moonbeam, Aleesah and Narelda have followed their own passion: children’s books.

“Being able to dream and be creative, using your imagination and making the magical happen is the best thing about being a children’s author,” Aleesah said.

Fox and Moonbeam is now available from Wombat Books!

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Author Interview: Aleesah Darlison

OUP Darlison Mar15 0291. What prompted you to sit down and write the story of Fox and Moonbeam?

I’d have to say that this story sprang, unbidden, from my imagination. The first line, ‘Gerard Fox wound clocks for the Queen’, simply popped into my head one day. The story and the characters soon followed.

 

2. What was it like to see Narelda Joy bring your story to life with her beautiful illustrations?

It was very exciting seeing Narelda’s artwork come through. Even in those early draft stages I knew that what she was creating with her many and varied layers and the complexity and beauty of her illustrations would result in something special. Each page in Fox and Moonbeam is lavishly illustrated and beautifully detailed. There’s so much for both young and older readers to discover in these pages.

 

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

Being able to dream and be creative. Using your imagination. Making the magical happen. Bringing a stylish, handsome fox to life and allowing him to have an incredible friendship with a white rabbit who also happens to be a world-famous ballerina.

 

foxandmoonbeanmed

4. Why did you choose a fox as your main character? Most people are pretty afraid of foxes, but we can’t help but love Gerard Fox.

Are people afraid of foxes? I’ve always utterly adored them, but then I do tend to see animals in a different light to others and I try to bring that out in my stories. Every animal is unique. Perhaps foxes are just misunderstood and have been given a bad rap all these years. Of course, Gerard Fox is handsome, kind and humble – maybe that’s why he’s so irresistible. He’s incredibly talented but his shyness forces him to live in the shadows. Moonbeam helps Fox find the courage to step into the light.

 

5. What book are you reading at the moment?

Billionaire Boy by David Walliams. I love him. I mean, I love his sense of humour!

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Illustrator Interview: Narelda Joy

NareldaJoy.jpg1. What three words best describe your illustration style?

Detailed, Textured, Soft colours (sorry that's four!)

2. What excites you about drawing for children’s books?
I love being able to create an imaginary world that draws the reader in to become a real place for them. Illustrating children’s books takes me to my happy place, where I feel like I’m making a difference, and creating a little bit of magic.

3. What made you want to bring to life the story of Fox and Moonbeam?

I think it’s important to send positive, encouraging messages to children. Fox and Moonbeam have a wonderful, supportive friendship, both have found a purpose to their life and have followed their passion. I’m a great believer in following one’s passion. I adore animals so that’s a big factor in choosing it too. I also love historical costuming and did lots of research on the Victorian era from clothing to clocks, gas lamps, and theatre lighting.

4. How will you celebrate your first published book with Wombat Books?

I’ll be launching Fox and Moonbeam at a Children’s Book Council of Australia Sub-Branch event in the Blue Mountains of NSW on Saturday 23rd September. We are having a Forest Forage where children can come on a treasure hunt, following the paw prints, and explore all about animals in Springwood Library. I’ll be running a workshop on the day and signing books. I am very excited!

 

You can get your copy of Fox and Moonbeam here.

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Getting to Know Katrina Roe and Gemma

Gemma Gets the Jitters comes out this July. In preparation, Wombats Books interviewed author Katrina Roe.

Katrina Roe website1. Gemma is very afraid of heights. Have you ever gotten the jitters about something?

Like Gemma, I also had a fear of heights. Growing up in the Riverina, on the Hay plains, I didn't come across mountains or tall buildings until my first trip to the Blue Mountains for a school excision in Year 5. We were all bundled onto the Scenic Railway and the Scenic Skyway, an experience that I found both thrilling and terrifying. Mostly terrifying. Again, on a school camp in Year 9, I remember being forced to climb to the top of an extremely high rope wall. Many frightened tears were shed at the top of that climbing frame, as I was not allowed to come down until I went over the top. I found this experience upsetting and humiliating, and it wasn't until a friend offered to help that I actually made it over. This experience did nothing to cure me of my fear of heights!

2. Marty is very helpful with Gemma’s anxiety. Why do you think it’s important to have supportive family and friends when dealing with anxiety?

For those who live with anxiety, supportive family and friends can make all the difference. Being pushed or forced to do something you don't want to do only increases the feelings of powerlessness and loss of control that come with anxiety. Having someone come alongside you to guide you through a difficult challenge can be very empowering. In my final years of school, I met some adventurous friends who loved to go bushwalking, canyoning and abseiling. I abseiled a number of times with these friends. While I always found it terrifying to go over the top, it was so much easier when I had an calm and reassuring person to guide me through it step by step. I remember being amazed at how much safer, calmer and confident I felt with that supportive presence.

3. How do you think kids can overcome their anxieties?

The first step is to acknowledge your fears and to want to overcome them. Even kids need to understand that they can choose whether they control their fears or whether they will let their fears control them. Parents can help by sharing times that they have overcome their fears, or by modelling positive self-talk. It's amazing how often a small act of support - such as offering a night-light to a child who is scared of the dark - can help children to feel more at ease in a challenging situation. Small repetitive rituals can also provide comfort to kids, such as a bedtime prayer for a child who is scared of nightmares. When an anxiety is more intense, the 'stepladder approach' (outlined by Collett Smart in the Notes section of the book) of taking small steps towards a long-term goal can be helpful.

4. Why do you think this book is important for children to read? Do you think a lot of kids would relate to Gemma’s jitters?gemmagetsthejittersmed

It is pretty normal for small children to experience anxiety in challenging situations. Common childhood fears include things like dogs, heights, big crowds, the dark, having nightmares, being alone in a room, deep water, getting lost, going to the doctor, having vaccinations, scary movies, speaking in public, or losing Mum or Dad. Children are constantly being warned of the dangers around them, whether that be roads, strangers, hot things, or bodies of water. And they are also learning how to behave in various social situations. So it is quite normal for children to experience some anxiety in relation to their environment and their interactions with others. Most children will grow out of these anxieties as they find ways to exert more control over their world.

It's natural for children to try to avoid situations that make them feel anxious. But avoidance won't help them overcome their fears. It's important for children to learn that, with time and practice, they can choose to overcome their fears, rather than allowing their fears to control their behaviour. This book also shows that by being a supportive friend, they can help each other be braver. It's also empowering for kids to see Gemma expressing her creativity through her passion for photography.

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Finding Your Own Way

By Robert Vescio

Young children are buzzing with creativity, curiosity and new ideas.

Ericfindsawayes

Creativity is about expressing ourselves. It’s about trying new things and involves being imaginative and original.

I wrote Eric Finds A Way to help children to be brave, believe in themselves and act confident. In the story, Eric thinks outside the box and pushes himself to the next level. He goes beyond his preconceived beliefs and opens his eyes to see his creative ability ... and, he is brave enough to share his creation with the world.

The story aims to encourage children, and adults alike, to support their ideas. I hope it will show them how to relax and nurture their creativity.

The art that Eric creates is what matters. Eric proves that he can be creative in a unique way, and still be an artist. There is no right way or wrong way to do art. There is only his way.

Finding your own way to be creative gives you a sense of purpose, achievement, confidence, self-respect and belonging. It teaches us about who we are, what we love and what we can give to the world. It doesn’t matter if it looks wrong. It’s all about the process.

In the story, we see Eric go through the process of thinking creatively. He explores his idea. He then develops his idea. Finally, he expresses and creates his idea for everyone to see. Being creative is about being brave enough to share your ideas with the world.

Creative process allows everyone to be creative. It’s a great confidence builder because you discover that failure is part of the process. Once we survive failure, we can release the fear and try new things even at the risk of failing.

Finding your own way gives you an appreciation of different ways of looking at the world.

There are lots of ways to inspire creativity:

1. Try setting up an art space where your child can be free to experiment.
2. Don’t tell your child what to make or how to make it. Encourage them to mix colours or write about anything.
3. Talk to your child about their art and why they chose that particular colour or why they wrote about that particular topic/theme.
4. Explore the process with your child to encourage a conversation about their art/story.
5. Don’t make any suggestions to change, add or improve their art/story. It’s important that the child feels that what they’ve created/written is enough.

Creativity is not about doing something better than others. It’s about thinking, exploring, discovering and imagining. Make creativity part of every day!

Being different is hard and seeing other people being brave and celebrating themselves for who they are is a powerful tool.

Eric Finds a Way is now available to pre order through Wombat Books here.

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Polar bears and whirlpools with Emily Larkin

LarkinEmily1) When did the idea of The Whirlpool first come to you?

 In 2012 I was part-way through a creative writing course at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and wrote the first version of The Whirlpool as an assignment. The class challenged me to consider how words and pictures work together to create meaning. I wanted to tell a story featuring an animal protagonist who had a lot of humanity - and the image of a polar bear cub came to me. I wrote the initial concept rationale with one column for text, and another for descriptions of the illustrations I had in mind. Writing in this way meant I could pair lines with images in a way that made sense to me. I loved my uni course and learnt a lot, and was encouraged by my teacher, Dean Jacobs, to seek publication. 

 

2) What’s the significance of the whirlpool in the story?

 The whirlpool symbolises a torrent of overwhelming emotions. Whirlpools move in cycles, representing that individuals sometimes feel trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts. In the course of the story, the polar bear cub escapes the whirlpool's influence and is buoyed by hope.

 

3) Describe a time when you felt like your emotions were a whirlpool.

 I think most people, at one point or another, feel overwhelmed, sad, lonely or worried. When I was about 5, my wonderful mum gave me a magic rose quartz necklace that would help me to feel calm and happy, because she knew I was a worrier. I had this necklace for years and wore it everyday. And then I lost it over at a friend's house, during a long game of hide-and-seek. I don't remember the necklace falling off, but I remember touching my neck and realising it was bare. I went back to the house, trying to remember and search all of my bizarre, half-squashed hiding places... but it was nowhere to be found. Losing the magic stone felt like losing a friend and I was very sad. But I knew that without the stone, I'd be alright. I'd learnt that the real magic was believing that even if I felt overwhelmed sometimes, I would find peace again. 

 

4) Why do you think this book is important for children to read? Do you think a lot of kids would relate to The Whirlpool?

 I hope that The Whirlpool resonates with children and adults. Like the polar bear cub in my story, kids often feel intensely because they're always discovering, and so much is new to them. For example, a kid might laugh at a joke an adult's heard a thousand times like it's the funniest thing in the world - or feel like a rainy day has lasted forever. I think it's important for kids to know that it's okay to feel a range of emotions. It's okay to feel lonely, sad or uncertain - but these times don't have to last. 

 

  5) How does it feel to be a first-time Australian author? Can we be on the lookout for more books to come?

 It feels surreal, because I've always wanted to be a published author. I love stories because they offer new insights and help me interpret the world and people around me. Stories challenge me, and make me think and feel - and the chance to share something is exciting. I love reading and writing and want to always do both. Please, be on the lookout! I have more stories to tell. 

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Chats with Kaye Baillie

archieapplebysmall1. When did the idea of the troublesome Archie Appleby first come to you? 

A few years ago, my kids and I were doing a Scooby Doo jigsaw puzzle which was set in a creepy house. The idea popped into my head - what if the person who puts the last piece in the puzzle gets sucked inside that puzzle and can’t get out? I began to imagine a creepy house and a boy who gets stuck there.

2. What’s been your most terrible case of the creeps?

I grew up on an orchard. In the summer when there was a full moon, I would sometimes go outside because I was amazed by how much light the moon created. But then I would start to get the creeps, and wonder what else might be lurking about. I would get spooked and sprint back to the house.

3. In the book, we see that Archie has a pretty wild imagination. Do you think it’s a good quality to have … even if it gets him in a lot of trouble?

Definitely. Imagination helps us to figure things out and we can wonder ‘what if’ as much as we like. It helps us be creative, it can keep us safe and it can even make us laugh. Luckily, Archie’s imagination doesn’t cause any harm. And he certainly keeps himself and his readers entertained.

4. What were your favourite books as a child?

Unlike lots of writers who grew up surrounded by books, sadly, there weren’t many in our house. But the books I did have were by Enid Blyton such as The Famous Five and The Wishing Chair. My favourite Enid Blyton book was The Faraway Tree. I wanted to be one of those kids so badly. I wanted to share their adventures.

5. Finally, tell us why we should pick up Archie Appleby: The Terrible Case of the Creeps?

Archie is relatable and funny. Kids will totally get his disappointment at not staying at Josh’s house, then staying at boring Aunt Ruth’s instead. Who hasn’t been a bit creeped out by someone’s scary house or attic or shed? No wonder Archie’s imagination runs wild. Add a strange aunt who grows eye of newt, a slobbery dog called Bob and some wise cracks from Archie, and you know this is going to be a fun mystery. If I went missing, I’d be happy to know Archie was on the case!

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Aleesah talks about Yay! It's Library Day!

DSC 6173What made you say yes to being involved in the Illustration Challenge?

It sounded like a really fun project to get involved in and one where I could work closely with young artists, possibly helping to set them on the path of an illustration career. I'm all for engaging kids in writing and the arts and getting them to explore their imaginations and creativity. As we're discovering, there are SO many talented child artists out there, which is just lovely to see. 

What do you like about the Illustration Challenge?

I like the fact that it engages children and their families and gets them excited about creating a book where they can be the stars of the show. When we conducted the launches for Zoo Ball, the result of the first Illustration Challenge, the winning artists were so proud of themselves and rightly so. We had a lot of fun with it, presenting the children their books and showcasing their achievement to classmates, parents and the local media. Getting your work chosen and subsequently published in a hardcover picture book is a huge achievement and it was great to see everyone celebrating that.

What are a few of your special memories out of the Zoo Ball challenge?

Getting that first glimpse at the entries as they rolled in, seeing the book come together with all the beautiful winning illustrations - which allows you to discover something new on every page as you move from one illustration style to the next - and then seeing the looks on the kids' faces at the book launches where the focus was on them. There were lots of smiles, lots of laughs, lots of happy kids.

What hopes do you have for Yay! It's Library Day?

I really hope children, families, schools and libraries get behind the initiative. The story I've created this time allows for children to use their imaginations and create wild and vivid scenes throughout the book. Having the story related to a visit to the library also allows us to focus on two things: the beauty of books and stories and how they can engage children on so many levels, and also those amazing school and community spaces, those much-needed, much-loved but sometimes undervalued libraries and the people who work there.

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Connecting Friends Oceans Apart

By Robert Vescio 

jackandmiamed2Do you have a friend who has moved away? A long-distance friendship can be tough to maintain. Luckily, technology is breaking down barriers for staying connected and keeping the friendship thriving, even if you’re oceans apart.

I wrote a picture book that touches on key issues of friendship and loss. Jack and Mia is an enchanting and tender tale about a special friendship (rich in imagination) that survives distance by finding creative ways to stay connected.

Jack and Mia do everything together. They stick together like paper and glue. Then one day Mia’s family moves away – not to another suburb but to another country on the other side of the world. This is a story that will resonate with children who are about to move or have moved and miss their friends.

Unlike other picture books about this subject, Jack and Mia illustrates how today kids are finding it easier to keep in touch with friends and loved ones who live far away. Growing up, I had friends that moved half-the-world away – common for working parents and military families – and the only way to connect with them was to write or call. Today, technology is changing the way we stay connected. Everything you need is in the palm of your hands.

There are lots of ways to maintain a long distance friendship. Picking up the phone sounds obvious, but international rates are expensive, limiting your connection time with your friends back home. A better way of connecting, without exhausting your funds, is using a Wi-Fi connection, allowing you to keep regular contact. This option enables you to download apps to help you feel close to your friends despite the distance.

Skype makes it simple to share experiences with family and friends for free. You can call, message, video and share things all in one convenient place. In fact, Skype has become so popular that people use ‘Skyping’ as a verb to connect with people.

Using social media is a simple way of staying in touch i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest just to name a few. They are all user-friendly and just happen to be fun and interesting as well.

Sending emails are a great way to keep in touch. This way you can keep a record of your conversations and revisit them at any time you like. Children can draw pictures and send photos too.

But of course, not everyone embraces high tech gadgets. Technology may not suit everyone. Some people prefer the human touch – a hug, for instance. So you can always plan a trip. This is great for making memories and reliving old ones in person. This may seem like an expensive option, but a once a year visit will make a huge difference and help keep your friendship alive.

And, of course, there is nothing more personal than posting a hand written letter. This is a cherished way of keeping letters from that someone special and looking back on them. It’s also helpful to know that they are always on their mind.

Jack and Mia (illustrated by Claire Richards and published by Wombat Books) is a warm and entertaining tale about the power of a child’s imagination and to keep a friendship long and strong, regardless of distance. Available to purchase now through all good bookstores and Wombat Books.

Robert Vescio is a published children’s author. His picture books include, Barnaby and the Lost Treasure of Bunnyville (Big Sky Publishing), Marlo Can Fly (Wombat Books) listed on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge for 2015, No Matter Who We’re With (IP Kidz). He has more picture books due out in 2016 and 2017. Many of his short stories have been published in anthologies such as Packed Lunch, Short and Twisted, Charms Vol 1 and The School Magazine NSW. He has also won awards for his children’s writing including First Place in the 2012 Marshall Allan Hill Children’s Writing Competition and Highly Commended in the 2011 Marshall Allan Hill Children’s Writing Competition.

Robert enjoys visiting schools. His aim is to enthuse and inspire children to read and write and leave them bursting with imaginative ideas. For more information visit: www.robertvescio.com or www.facebook.com/RobertVescioAuthor

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You Are Not Alone

Reading to your grandparent   

By Debra Tidball

bedI read an article recently about reading to your grandchildren and I thought, why not turn the tables? In my book, When I See Grandma, a young girl visits her grandmother in a nursing home and reads her a story. It's a wonderful way for children to connect across generations, sharing things that they love.

 

Why read to your grandparent?

  1. Grandparents are just big kids with wrinkles - they love a good story as much as anyone.

  2. Grandparent’s brains are stuffed full of information from all their years of experience and this can make them tired – they’d love you to read to them. 

  3. Grandparent’s brains are amazing – they may be stuffed full, but there’s always room for more!

  4. Hearing you read will bring back fun memories stacked away in those brains – it will make them feel young.

  5. Sharing a good book makes everyone feel good.

 

How to read your grandparent:

Choose a book that you love. One that you want to read over and over and over again.

If you don't get the words right it doesn't matter. You can even use the pictures of the book to make up your own story.

Your grandparent will love the time sharing with you whether you read, remember or make up the words. It will become their special memory.

If your grandparent finds it hard to concentrate or communicate, even if they seem to be asleep, they will love to listen to the tone of your voice and they will understand the joy and love you have in sharing a special story.

 

For parents:

Some grandparents are intimately involved in the lives of their grandchildren. Some provide child care while the parent is at work. Some offer a warm lap and cuddle often. Others are shut away from regular contact due to illness or incapacity or distance. But everyone benefits from this simple way to foster inter-generational sharing. 

Children will have a sense of pride and achievement in reading to their grandparent. Help them choose books that they are familiar with and love - their grandparent will pick up on the love.

Can you find a book that your parent read to you as a child? Sharing the love you shared with your parent provides a bridge for connection between your child and your parent. The Harry the Dirty Dog series is having a resonance - this was one of my childhood favourites. It's also a great way to introduce the classics - my mum read me the poems of AA Milne and I grew up loving stories from Winnie the Pooh and the 100 Acre Wood. It had a special resonance as she was English.

Why not try a Wombat Book's title?

And for inspiration, read this article here. 

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Tom Topp and the Great Adventure Swap

Australian Kids are on Topp of Reading

TomToppSmallWhat do flying prawns, an inflatable dolphin and a cheese volcano have in common?

Author Lisa Limbrick has published a book she hopes will help address poor literacy by encouraging the enjoyment of reading at a young age. 

“I try to write books that capture the imagination of readers,” said Lisa. “Not every child automatically enjoys reading, but reading is an essential skill for life. Hopefully my book will encourage more children to read, and the book’s themes will also appeal to parents.” 

Tom Topp and the Great Adventure Swap will take you on a hilarious adventure, especially when life doesn’t turn out as planned! 

“The book is light-hearted and fun, but at the same time focuses on friendship, forgiveness and the fact that things don’t always turn out the way you’d like, and that’s okay!” said Lisa. 

Lisa Limbrick began writing children's stories several years ago. She completed a PhD in education and has a passion for encouraging children not only to read well, but to love reading. Her children's books are full of bright, colourful imagery, designed to capture the imagination of the most reluctant reader. 

Tom Topp and the Great Adventure Swap is available in all good bookstores or online at www.wombatbooks.com.au.

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Ten Questions with Deborah Kelly

DKellyBWHi! I’m Deborah Kelly.

I grew up in New Zealand but have lived in lots of places including Japan, Scotland and, of course, Australia. I live with my husband and two kids in NSW.

I have written several picture books for children including The Bouncing Ball, Jam for Nana, Dinosaur Disco (Random House) and the soon to be released Me and You (Penguin Viking). I also have a picture book coming out in 2017 with EK books. I have written books for Macmillan Education, including Sam’s Great Invention and Don’t Sweat It. My short stories for children are included in Random House’s Stories for Boys and Stories for Girls anthologies.

This year Wombat Books published my first chapter book Ruby Wishfingers: Skydancer’s Escape, which has been beautifully illustrated by Leigh Hedstrom. The second and third books in the series will be published this year also, Ruby Wishfingers: Toad-ally Magic and Ruby Wishfingers: Hide and Seek. Two more Ruby Wishfingers books are also scheduled for next year. I hope that kids will have as much fun reading the Ruby Wishfingers books as I had writing them!

I regularly visit schools, festivals and libraries to share my books with children and chat about writing. For me it is one of the greatest things about being a children’s author!

 

1) What was the first story you ever wrote and has it been published?

My first attempt at writing a children’s picture book was cringe worthy. Without going into too much detail, it involved a ladybug with a bad case of wind. I’m very thankful it never made it to publication!

2) What is your favourite part about being an author?

There are so many things I love about being an author. Working in my pyjamas. Drinking copious amounts of tea. Getting lost for hours in my own imagination. Seeing my characters brought to life by illustrators. Getting to work with talented, dedicated people in the publishing industry who are passionate about what they do. Being part of a community of inspiring, creative people. Being able to visit lots of great schools, libraries and festivals to share my books with kids. It’s an absolute honour and a privilege to be able to speak directly to children, all over the world, through my books.

3) What do you do for fun?

I love spending time with my family and friends and just being silly with my kids. I love bushwalking and swimming. And I read a lot! I am also a dedicated yogi. I couldn’t imagine life without my daily yoga practice!

4) How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?

I always let a manuscript have a ‘cooling off’ period before showing it to family or friends. If I get a good response from them and I still like it a month or so later, I might think about submitting it to a publisher.

5) What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

rubywishfingerstmes

There were too many to count! I still have my childhood copies of The House that Sailed Away by Pat Hutchins and The World Around the Corner by Maurice Gee—two books that I adored as a child!

6) Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?

I spent four years living and working overseas and I’ve been to lots of countries as a backpacker! I’m yet to experience travelling as an author on tour—but I think it would be great fun!

7) Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?

I said hi to Bob Geldof when I was working at a train station in Scotland! He was there for the Make Poverty History concert. I’ve also met Jeanette Winterson, Dame Kirri Te Kanawa and Jenny Morris. I’ve met loads of amazing authors and illustrators, far too many to count and all of them much more famous than me!

8) What writing do you like to do the most?

I love being in the ‘flow’—those wonderful moments where I’m just watching the story play out in my mind. I write it all down as fast as I can and worry about editing it later!

9) Where do you see the future of children’s books?

I certainly prefer print books over anything electronic. So do most people I know. I think this is especially true of children—particularly toddlers who are very tactile creatures!

10) What is your favourite way/time to read?

Snuggled up in bed on a rainy evening, when the kids are asleep and the house is blissfully quiet!

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Meet Zoo Ball Challenge Winner: Alexander

alex lauSMALLAge: 10

School: Camberwell Grammar School

What are your interests? I love reading and drawing. My favourite book series at the moment is Harry Potter. I also like drawing comics. My latest comics book is based on my favourite game: Minecraft.

Tell us about your illustration? I was invited to enter the competition with a number of other boys in the school by our deputy principal. I drew my illustration with colour pencil and crayons. I like it because I think it looks vivid and interesting.

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Meet Zoo Ball Challenge Winner: Hailey

Meet Hailey

Hailey smallAge: 9

School: Kalbar State School QLD

Why did you enter the competition? Twice a term my Mum and I run an after school book club and my mum told me. We have read a few of Aleesah Darlison's books.

What are your interests? I love to draw, I play the flute and I absolutely love to read.

Tell us a little bit about yourself? I have 4 friends called Emily, Lucy, Leah and Charlotte. I have a dog called Eva Rose. I am in year 5 and my favourite colour is pink.  

Snippet of Hailey's Zoo Ball Illustration

Hailey image

 

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Zoo Ball: A Children's Book Created by Children

9781925139433 SThe Zoo Ball Challenge provided aspiring young illustrators an opportunity to be published in a professionally-produced children's book and gain an introduction into the world of illustrating.

Zoo Ball is the latest picture book from award-winning children’s author, Aleesah Darlison. It follows Ned and his ball’s journey through a zoo as it bounces from tiger to toucan and tapir too – as well as many other favourite animals.

Young illustrators from all around Australia sent in their entries to Wombat Books and the winning students were chosen by a popularity vote.

Isabelle, a Zoo Ball Challenge winner, is thrilled about what this opportunity will mean for her. “I entered the Zoo Ball Challenge following Aleesah Darlison’s visit to our primary school at the beginning of 2014,” she said. “Aleesah was really passionate about her writing and I am really passionate about my drawing. I thought immediately that this was the challenge for me.”

Other young Zoo Ball artists are now budding illustrators because of this competition. “I loved the feel of a pen in my hand and paper under my fingers,” said Macy, a fellow Zoo Ball winner. “As I grew, I read more children’s books and I saw the pages filled with colour and it gave me new ideas for my drawing. When I heard there was a chance of being featured as an illustrator I knew that this was a chance I could not miss.”

Zoo Ball is officially out today. You can buy your copy here. 

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Read to Me! Please.

Read to Me! Please.

International Read to Me Day is tomorrow and to celebrate, our authors and illustrators share why reading to children is special to them.

 

Aleesah Darlisonauthor of Spider Iggy, Zoo Ball, Little Good Wolf, Little Meerkat and many more. 

"There’s something truly magical about books and sharing them with the ones you love. I have four children and we’ve always read to them from a very early age. My youngest is 20 months old, and even at this age, he looks forward to the books-before-bedtime routine – it’s become an important part of his day. His favourite books are Maisy, Spot, The Very Busy Spider and anything with animals in it."

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Katrina Roe, author of Same, Marty's Nut Free Party and Emily Eases her Wheezes. 

"Reading to a child is like being wrapped in a warm, snuggly blanket while a thunderstorm rages outside.  They will feel and experience many things - awe, wonder, delight, maybe even fear - but all in the safest, warmest place to be - snuggled into your lap.  Then when the book snaps shut, and you find yourself back in the real world, you will hear a little voice call out, 'Again!  Please, again!"

 

Deborah Kelly, author of Ruby Wishfingers: Skydancer's Escape. 

"When we read to a child we share so much more than the story, itself. We share our time, our undivided attention and a unique perspective on the world around us."

 

Debra Tidball, author of When I See Grandma. 

"The powerful effect of reading to a child stays with them forever. Not just in terms of literacy and learning, but of the intangibles like the emotional bonds and connections with others across time and space, of shared language and experience. This is why I am a supporter of International Read To Me Day."

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Spider Iggy Winners have been announced!

Thank you to everyone who entered our Wombat Books Spider Iggy Colouring In Competition. We saw some great and colourful entries! 

A special congratulations to our winning entries:

Sophie Roussos 

Age: 8

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Ireland Macpherson

Age: 6

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Siena Mcgiveron 

Age: 5

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To learn more about Spider Iggy click here!

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Heather Gallagher talks about Happy Pants and Mental Health

Heather Gallagher talks about Happy Pants and Mental Health
1. Could you tell me about how your particular book works through young kids and their experiences with mental illness in their relatives/older friends?
 
Happy Pants – Why is Mummy so sad? was conceived to give children an insight into post-natal depression. The idea was to provide an ‘everyboy’ character who kids can relate to and show how he grapples to understand his Mum’s depression. My experience with other mothers suffering Post Natal Depression was that they tried to hide it from their kids – not cry in front of them, etc – but kids instinctively know something is not right. The idea with Happy Pants was to provide reassurance that the child is not the only one in this situation and that things will improve with time.
 
2. Why do you think it’s important to teach children about mental illness and the effects it can have on those who are close to the person affected?
 
Mental illness is a huge issue in our society and yet there remains stigma. The only way to break down the stigma is to keep talking about it – it’s also really helpful when high profile celebrities like Buddy Franklin come out about their experiences. The chances of a child being effected by someone with a mental illness or going on to suffer one themselves are great. To my mind, it’s better to be forewarned. If we educate our children about mental illness, they will be more likely to seek help early and hopefully more empathetic to others who might be suffering.
 
3. What do you hope children learn from your book?
 
I like to think my book works on a couple of levels. Obviously, it is specifically aimed at children whose mothers are suffering from PND and I hope in this respect it will provide a sense of recognition and comfort. But I’ve been told by other readers that the book can also work to explain to a child about a mother suffering from another kind of illness or even to just let kids know that even Mums have their bad patches.
 
4. Have you been affected by the presence of mental illness in your life i.e. a relative or a friend close to you? What about this experience changed or affected you?
 
I suffered post-natal depression after the births of both my children and have suffered from more general depression on and off throughout my life. My PND actually connected me with some wonderful women (also suffering) who have become enduring friends. I think one of the elements of depression is that you are in a state of perpetual existential angst – what am I here for, what’s it all about, etc? For me, and many of my friends, the depression actually acted to firm up a resolve to take a different life path. It crystalized my passion for writing and I actually wrote Happy Pants while recovering from a bout of depression. 
 
5. Do you think that from this experience you realised the importance of learning about mental illness from an early age? If not, what was the inspiration behind writing the book?
 
I grew up in an age where people talked about ‘loony bins’. Mental illness was not talked about. Looking back, I think I was probably depressed when I was doing my HSC but it would never have occurred to me to call it that or to think to ask for help. I think kids are much more aware these days and most schools have wellbeing counsellors, anti-bullying initiatives and other programs in place to support mental health.   
 
I think talking about mental illness with kids can be compared to talking about sex. The sooner you can feasibly introduce it so it’s just a normal part of life, the better. Kids are really young (usually) when their Mum is suffering from post-natal depression so I guess this was part of my motivation. To create a tool for parents and teachers to discuss this subject which has probably been bothering the child but they haven’t got the language to talk about it. 
 
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Meet Zoo Ball Challenge Winner: Hari

Meet Zoo Ball Challenge Winner: Hari

Meet Hari

Age: 9

School: Camberwell Grammar School

What are your interests? I have been interested in drawing from a very young age. I like to draw cartoons, landscapes and characters from books I enjoyed reading.  Drawing the scene from Zoo ball interested me because of this. Apart from drawing, I also like reading and playing the Violin. I love travelling and enjoy learning about different cultures.

Tell us a little bit about your illustration? I chose to draw the illustration on page 10 which shows the Kangaroo kicking the ball over the fence. I tried to make the ball look distinctive and bright as the ball is an important part of the story book. I enjoyed entering this competition and drawing the picture, as I like drawing animals and cartoons. I wanted the picture to grab the attention of young readers.

Why did you enter? I found out about the competition through my school and received encouragement to participate. I was excited by the chance to illustrate a part of this book and share my love of drawing for small children.  

Any other comments? I am grateful to wombat books for the opportunity to be involved in this book.

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Wombat Books and Rhiza Press Submissions are Now Open.

Wombat Books and Rhiza Press are open for submissions as of Friday the 1st of May, 2015. We will be accepting unsolicited manuscripts for review.

What we are looking for.

We are looking for entertaining original manuscripts that leave a lasting impression. Wombat Books is accepting submissions for early readers and stand-alone picture books, aimed at preschool and early primary school. Rhiza Press is collecting manuscripts for predominantly ages 14 and above, including young adult fiction, adult fiction and biographies. We encourage you to know your publisher before submitting. To find out what we are looking for please read some of the books we have published.

For more information visit:

wombatbooks.com.au

rhizapress.com.au 

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