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.

Little Meerkat: Big Ambitions

Little Meerkat: Big Ambitions

Little Meerkat has just been released and you can win a copy!

Subscribe to our blog and leave us a comment with the name you subscribed with below to go into the draw!

Little Meerkat, a picture book by best-selling, award-winning author Aleesah Darlison.

From dedicated documentary series to insurance advertisements, meerkats are familiar and popular animals. Aleesah has used this internationally recognised animal as the main character for her latest picture book, to ensure children from all backgrounds, cultures and countries can connect with and learn from Little Meerkat's story.

Little Meerkat is a humorous, lively and adventurous picture book aimed at 3-7 year olds. The main character, Little Meerkat, craves independence and adventure in his life. His extended family, of Mum, Dad, brother, sister, Aunty and Uncle, are there to guide and protect him.

"This is a story that will resonate with young children who sense within themselves a desire to explore and grow, but who still need family support and a cuddle from Mum (or Dad) at the end of the day to reassure them," Aleesah says.

Because Little Meerkat is such a brave and inscrutable character, his behaviour, dialogue and mis-adventures bring humour to the story, offering fabulous opportunities for the illustrator, Shannon Melville, to interpret the text and create truly inspiring and unique visual images.

Aleesah Darlison is a multi-published children's book author. Aleesah's picture books include Puggle's Problem (NSW Premier's Reading Challenge), Bearly There (NSW PRC) and Warambi (2012 CBCA Notable Book Eve Pownall Award, 2012 Wilderness Society Award for Children's Literature – Shortlist, NSW PRC). Her chapter books include Fangs and Little Good Wolf. Her novels and popular series are I Dare You, Unicorn Riders, Totally Twins and Ash Rover. Aleesah has won numerous awards for her writing including an Australian Society of Authors (ASA) mentorship. Aleesah's short stories have appeared in the Random House Stories for Boys Anthology, the black dog books Short and Scary Anthology, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Hopscotch: Packed Lunch Anthology, Fight or Flight Anthology, The School Magazine and Little Ears Magazine. Aleesah is currently the Director of the NSW Writers' Centre Kids & YA Festival.

Shannon Melville is a freelance illustrator, graphic designer and community art teacher from Perth. She has illustrated the following books: My Arms Your Legs (Blake Education) by Kim Rackham, Matilda's Morning Adventures and Choose Active Transport: A Teacher's Resource (Physical Activity Taskforce, 2010) by Kim Chute, Little Good Wolf (Wombat Books, 2011) by Aleesah Darlison, Coming Home, by Sharon McGuinness and Boondaburra, by Natalie Londsale.

Available from all good bookstores or buy online now.

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How do you tell someone you love them when they don't even know you are there?

How do you tell someone you love them when they don't even know you are there?

When I See Grandma has just been released and you can win a copy!

Subscribe and leave us a comment below with the name you subscribed to go into the draw!

How can you show them you care? When I See Grandma captures the dilemma many children face when those they love are withdrawn, like the Grandmother in this book, and offers them a way to connect. It transports children from being passive onlookers in an overwhelming setting to active agents for transformation.

What readers have said:
"Debra and Leigh have done a lovely job of conveying grandma's integrity and humanity although she can no longer interact with her grand daughter. The whole feel is so gentle and uplifting." Belinda Garbutt-Young, primary school teacher.

"This is a joyful and poignant celebration of life and love, and I am delighted that Debra Tidball has decided to donate all her royalties to the Hazel Hawke Alzheimer's Research and Care fund." Sue Pieters-Hawke.

Two children visit their unresponsive grandmother in an aged care home and 'brighten her dreams' as the reader gains an insight into Grandma's past, linking her past to the present. The bleakness of the setting is transformed by the children's vitality that brightens the lives of the residents. And the children make memories they will treasure forever whilst helping Grandma remember.

"This beautiful book delicately points to the foundations of healthy grieving by showing practical demonstrations of love and focussing on creating and sharing memories. When I see Grandma is not only delightful to read, but a valuable resource for every home." Liz Mann, Bereavement Counsellor.

Debra Tidball says, "My daughter was born in a small private hospital that was later reassigned as a nursing home, where my mother died. When I See Grandma is about past and present, beginnings and endings, set in an aged care home and reflecting this cycle of life."

Debra Tidball has worked with children and families as a Social Worker for many years. Whilst raising her two children she obtained a Master of Arts in Children's Literature from Macquarie University. When I see Grandma is her first published book and is dedicated to her mother who lived a vibrant life and died with dementia.

When I See Grandma is beautifully and lyrically written, delightfully illustrated and a joy to read to your child. It will open a window into the past, help you make memories in the present and give you hope in the future. And even more – it will provide much needed funds for Alzheimer's research and care via Hazel Hawke's fund.

The book will be launched as part of Senior's Week at the Penrith City Library on Wednesday, 19 March at 11:30am.

When I See Grandma is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

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Jennifer Gress
Dropping by as part of the Mar(mite) challenge. Hope you are enjoying the pressures. You are doing a great job and books such as t... Read More
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Rhiza Press: Launch of new imprint for YA and Adult readers

Rhiza Press: Launch of new imprint for YA and Adult readers

Rhiza Press – Down-to-earth stories that connect

After 5 successful years publishing quality children's books, Wombat Books has expanded to include a new brand for young adult and adult readers.

Rhiza Press aims to publish exceptional stories and deliver fresh, family friendly titles in a wide variety of genres for all people who love books.

So why Rhiza Press? Rhiza is a greek word resembling or connected with a root.

"Our goal with this new brand is to grow from a strong foundation, both in our successes with Wombat Books and our passion for good stories. We want to reach the parents and young adults that have grown up reading our family-friendly stories," said Rochelle Manners, Director of Wombat Books and Rhiza Press.

"We are focused on our conversation with readers and our desire to publish what the readers really want. From talking with the parents who read our books to their children, we've seen a demand for adult books that are clean, family-friendly and don't contain overtly explicit content. But they still want the stories to be exceptional, relatable and inspirational."

Rhiza Press is focused on publishing books for predominantly ages 14 and above, including young adult fiction, adult fiction, biographies and non-fiction.

The starting line up of new releases include best-selling and award winning authors such as Rosanne Hawke, Dr Nick Hawkes, Andrea Grigg and Adele Jones.

Rhiza Press is currently calling for submissions for young adult and adult fiction and biographies. For more information visit www.rhizapress.com.au 

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Guest — Robert Vescio
Wishing you every success with your next venture. Robert Vescio
Monday, 10 February 2014 11:53
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Voting now open for the Name the Wombat competition!

Voting now open for the Name the Wombat competition!

We have received lots of awesome names for our new Wombat! A big thank you to everyone who entered.

The new Wombat was overwhelmed with the response and is looking forward to having a new name!

The shortlist has been narrowed down to 5 names. Each name is posted in a seperate blog. The entry with the most shares/likes on the Wombat Books blog will be deemed the winner. So start sharing/liking now!

Vote now:

Click here to vote for "Wen"

Click here to vote for "Digby"

Click here to vote for "Capa"

Click here to vote for "Wombook"

Click here to vote for "Mr Wordly Wombat"



  • Public voting is open from 31 January to 7 February 2014. 
  • The winner will be announced on 10 February 2014.
  • The winner will receive a $200 Wombat Books voucher.


BONUS: Order while you're here & receive a $10 voucher!

While you're here, why not try out a few of our great books for all ages. For each order made on our website before the 7 February, we will send a $10 voucher for your next order.


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Guest — guest
I'd like to vote for Wombook but the link is not currently working
Friday, 31 January 2014 17:34
Guest — sue
Mr worldly wombat
Thursday, 06 February 2014 21:45
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"Wen" - Wombat Naming Competition

Wombat Name: Wen

Entered by: Sam

"Wen" is of Chinese origin. It means culture, writing and literary.



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"Digby" - Wombat Naming Competition

Wombat Name: Digby

Entered by: Wendy

"Digby, because Wombats like to dig"


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"Capa" - Wombat Naming Competition

Wombat Name: Capa

Entered by: Robert

"An abbreviation of the city in which (the Wombat) resides in (Capalaba)."


*please note: Robert is a Wombat Books author and therefore, the prize will be donated to his local school

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Guest — Theresa
I'd like to vote for "CAPA"
Monday, 03 February 2014 20:07
Guest — Nat
I'd like to vote for "CAPA"
Monday, 03 February 2014 20:08
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"Mr Wordly Wombat" - Wombat Naming Competition

Wombat Name: Mr Wordly Wombat

Entered by: Chloe


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Guest — Joy weigert
Excellent name
Thursday, 06 February 2014 17:56
Guest — Joy weigert
Excellent choice
Thursday, 06 February 2014 17:58
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"Wombook" - Wombat Naming Competition

Wombat Name: Wombook

Entered by: Elise


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Guest Reviewer: Dimity Powell reviews Patience

Guest Reviewer: Dimity Powell reviews Patience

PATIENCE Kirrily Lowe and Henry Smith Wombat Books The Invisible Tree Series 2013

When Patience landed on my desk late last year, I was immediately drawn to the collage-look cover sporting a young boy in a billowing cape, gazing expectantly toward the horizon through his telescope. What treasure was he searching for? What other wonders lay beyond the end pages? Ignoring the title, I too set sail into this nautically themed story in search of that often evasive virtue, patience.

Patience by Kirrily Lowe and Henry Smith is the fourth book in the Invisible Tree Series by this endearing team. The series is a character driven collection of picture books which focus on different 'fruits of the spirit' arising from Galatians 5:22-23 such as joy, love, peace and self-control.

While not overtly spiritual, each book gently bestows moral dilemmas upon likeable child characters. Then, after a little soul-searching and revelation, their inner invisible tree fruits with sturdy life values; love, joy and peace amongst those already produced.

Sam, the young protagonist in Patience, is taunted by a letter from his Nanna promising him a parcel full of surprises. All Sam has to do is wait for its arrival. So begins the small battle between himself and his 'not so strong (impatient) heart'.

Eventually determination prevails. Sam's parcel arrives full of everything a young adventurer could hope for but happily, Sam uncovers an even more precious gift, 'down deep inside...a fruit called patience...that makes you strong!'

I enjoyed the premise of sharing important values and virtues in a picture book for the very young and Lowe's sometimes off beat, but always impassioned, rhyming narrative helps keep the didactic overtones at bay and is suitable for new readers to handle themselves or for those still sharing their picture books with adults.

It's Henry Smith's illustrations however that steal the show and help convey these metaphoric messages with exquisite subtly and finesse. All of the artwork is created from found, re-cycled and hand-crafted papers, resulting in pages of complex, textural depth and eye-popping detail.

Patience is a visual and morally satisfying joy to read. Recommended for 4 + year olds and all those who need a little extra help tending their own inner invisible trees.

For this and more reviews by Dimity Powell visit: http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/

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Guest — Dimity Powell
Thanks for having me! Looking forward to uncovering more insightful reads with Wombat.
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 10:26
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Our authors & illustrators look back on 2013

We've looked back on some of the exciting things that happened in 2013, and now it's our authors' and illustrators' turn to celebrate their greatest achievements for the year that was.

“My greatest achievement for 2013 was the publication of my two picture books, No Matter Who We’re With and Marlo Can Fly. Also, being an author has been, without a doubt, my greatest achievement, pride and inspiration. I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my children.” – Robert Vescio, author of Marlo Can Fly.

"I think my greatest achievement this year was seeing two books published, marketing them, and managing to stay sane!" - Lynne Stringer, author of the Verindon Series including The Heir and The Crown.

"Publishing my first novel with Australia's greatest publisher: Wombat books in april this year. Even tops finding out my article "Inquiry teaching in elementary science: teacher's perspectives" will be published with the International journal of science education in 2014! Business just grows stronger and stronger. I'm really looking forward to doing some more school presentations, using magic and motivation to teach about bullying and finding your place in the world, all important issues from "the Tae'anaryn". Very excited, and so is my magical pet rabbit!" - Dr Joe Ireland, author of The Tae'anaryn.

"The publication of my first-ever children's book, Amy and the Wilpena Flood, was an amazing achievement in 2013." - Claudia Bouma, author of Amy and the Wilpena Flood.

"My greatest achievement is having a healthy baby girl on the way - due NYE!" - Shannon Melville, illustrator of Boondaburra, Coming Home, Little Good Wolf and Little Meerkat.

"For me it's the collection of small moments that form the most spectacular moments in my life. However in 2013 there was the exception of a rather memorable event! My husband and I were invited to London to speak at Soul Survivor, one of the largest youth conferences in the world. 30 000 gumboot wearing young people gathered, living in a city of tents for a few weeks. It was breathtaking!" - Renee Bennett, author of Imagine We Were.

"I married my best friend, the most wonderful man in the world :)" - Lisa Cox, author of Does my bum look big in this ad? and Media Muscle.

"There were so many fun and rewarding things that happened in 2013, I hardly know where to start. Probably my greatest achievements were releasing three new books: a picture book called Bearly There and two more books in my Unicorn Riders series. I also toured quite a few places including the mid-north coast of NSW, the south coast of NSW, Dubbo, Melbourne and Adelaide. Term 3 was a massive highlight because I was able to visit so many schools, libraries and preschools during ‘Book Month’, sharing my love of books and writing and getting kids excited about reading. As an author, I guess that’s what it’s all about. I wish everyone lots of luck in their endeavours for 2014." - Aleesah Darlison, author of Puggle's Problem, Little Good Wolf and Little Meerkat.

“What I would consider my greatest achievement of 2013 is, in reality, more of a collaboration. To work with an amazingly thoughtful and talented illustrator and be party to the process of breathing life into my manuscript with pictures, was nothing short of miraculous for me.” - Debra Tidball, author of When I See Grandma.

We congratulate ALL our authors and illustrators on their successes in 2013 and pray for many more in 2014!



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A new year, a new Wombat!

A new year, a new Wombat!

Wombat Books has employed a new mascot! This adorable little guy (or girl) loves to read and share stories with his friends.

The only problem is – he doesn't have a name yet!

So we're asking our readers to help give him a name. Send your ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before 26 January 2014 to go into the draw to win a $200 Wombat Books voucher! 

Competition guidelines

  • Entries close 26 January 2014. Entries accepted via email only.
  • Entries will be shortlisted and then listed on our blog for public voting.
  • Public voting is open from 31 January to 7 February 2014. The entry with the most shares/likes on the Wombat Books blog will be deemed the winner.
  • The winner will be announced on 10 February 2014.
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Looking back on 2013

2013 was another big year for Wombat Books, so at this festive time, we look back on some of the great achievements and successes of the year.

1. Coming Home translated into German
Coming Home, by Sharon McGuinness and illustrated by Shannon Melville was translated and published in Germany this year, by publisher Carl-Auer Verlag GmbH. Fröhliche Weihnachten!

2. Marty's Nut Free Party shortlisted
Marty's Nut Free Party, by Katrina Roe and illustrated by Leigh Hedstrom was shortlisted for the Speech Pathology of Australia Book of the Year Awards as well as the CALEB Award for Children's Books.

3. Puggle's Problem reprinted
Due to the success of the hardback version, Puggle's Problem by Aleesah Darlison and illustrated by Sandra Temple was reprinted this year in paperback and also released on Kindle.

4. Rochelle Manners invited to present at the CBCA Conference 2014
Director of Wombat Books, Rochelle Manners was invited to be part of a panel at the Children's Book Council of Australia National Conference! A great acknowledgment of all of the hard work she has put in over the years.

5. 11 more stories you'll want to share
With new authors and some old favs, we released a range of great books for all ages including:

  • 5 new picture books
  • 2 new junior fiction titles
  • 2 new middle fiction titles
  • 2 young adult novels

A big thank you to all of our readers, authors and illustrators who helped make this year a great success!

Merry Christmas and we look forward to another great year of publishing great books by Aussies


The Wombat Books team

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Guest — Robert Vescio
Congratulations to everyone involved. Looking forward to 2014! Robert
Thursday, 19 December 2013 09:57
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An interview with Claudia Bouma

An interview with Claudia Bouma

My name is Claudia Bouma and I grew up in the Netherlands with my twin brother and older sister. I came to Australia 15 years ago to do youth work with Youth With A Mission in Townsville, QLD, and met my husband Chris. I now live in country Victoria with my husband and four children.

Question 1: What was your first book published?

I had my first children’s book published in August 2013. Part of the Australian Girl series, Amy and the Wilpena Flood, is the second book in this exciting series aimed at girls aged 8-10. It was my dream to combine my love for travelling (I’m a travel writer) with Australian history and decent moral values. From the feedback I’ve received so far it seems I succeeded. I’ve already been asked when I’ll write the next one which is a wonderful encouragement.

Question 2: What is your favourite part about being an author?

Originally I’m a travel writer so writing a book for children was a challenge. This is one of the things I love about writing; there are always new avenues to discover and explore. Moreover, learning never stops and there’s so much to learn from others in the industry who have been around longer. 

Question 3: What is the hardest part about being an author?

The hardest part about being an author is self-doubt. Confidence is everything when you’re writing a story. To believe in yourself is crucial because if you don’t, the words simply don’t come – at least not for me.  And it’s okay to make mistakes; the most important thing is to learn from them.

Question 4: What do you consider your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement is starting and finishing my first-ever fiction novel, Free At Last, which will hopefully be published in the not so distant future. It is a very personal book, so it will be quite scary to have it read by others. 

Question 5: What book are you reading right now?

Right now I’m reading Dee Henderson’s latest fiction book, Unspoken, as she is one of my favourite authors. I love the combination of suspense, romance and Christian content. Last year I started reading Australian Christian fiction and I’ve enjoyed books by Paula Vince, Rose Dee, Amanda Deed and Skye Wieland. 


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An interview with Lisa Taylor

An interview with Lisa Taylor

Lisa Taylor graduated (eons ago) from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada with a BA in English Literature and History. Shortly after she began a lengthy career in marketing for the 3D graphics and animation software industry. In 2010, she and her family immigrated to New Zealand. They brought with them a family project, a manuscript actually, entitled Motive Games. The story combined one of her teenage sons’ interests (videogames) with one of her own (mystery novels). In 2011 the manuscript won the Caleb Prize in the Young Adult category and was published in 2012 by Wombat Books. The book is now being offered as a bundle: purchase of the print book comes with a free copy of the enhanced ebook.

Lisa is currently working on a sequel to Motive Games, working title: Kiwi Games. Taylor and her family live like pioneers in New Zealand’s Northland, taunting their family back in Canada with photos of exotic locally grown fruits and snowless winters.

Question 1: What is your favourite part about being an author?

Being an author – as opposed to a writer or editor – is awesome because I get to write about the things that interest me. (I admit that 3D graphics and animation… never interested me that much, hey wait… I’m still writing about those… hmmm.) I also get to write in a style of my choosing (though there are boundaries). Then there’s the challenge of writing fiction. I love it. There’s so much more “art” involved as compared to writing non-fiction (though that has its artistic side as well).

Question 2: What is the hardest part about being an author?

It’s the same as being self-employed in anything: it takes discipline. This means disciplining oneself to set aside the time for writing as well as disciplining oneself not to cut corners. In other words, I’ve got to do the research to get the facts right, the technique right, the editing (multiple passes) right…

Question 3: What do you do for fun?

I play the flute (local sinfonia) and sing (local choir). I also read stories to my kids (yes, even the big ones) and go out exploring/travelling. I used to garden for fun but that’s become less fun and more serious since my son started a horticulture business (though, did I tell you I planted banana trees the other day… oh the joy!)

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

My first audience is my children (ages 10-22) as well as my husband (the technical genius behind my stories). They often get their friends involved as well.

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

It pains me to admit it now (having revisited them as an adult) but it was the Nancy Drew mysteries. The writing is abysmal, but it obviously had an enormous influence on me: I’m now the one writing mystery stories starring teenage heroes.

Question 6: What is your favourite children’s book now?

Wow… there’s SO many children’s books I love. The Chronicle’s of Narnia rank high as does A Wrinkle in Time (and most of the rest of the series). I’ve been listening to an audiobook of Watership Down recently and thoroughly loving it. Part of me would love to write more literary children’s fiction (that’s why I can’t resist sneaking in the literary/historical allusions in my own writing… though I try to hide them).

Question 7: Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?

I officially became an author overseas (Aussie is overseas for me). I’ve certainly travelled a good deal as a “writer/marketer” including the US (no biggie when you’re Canadian), Europe and Japan. I’d love to travel to them as an author some day.

Question 8: Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?

Being in an adjunct of the film industry you meet lots of famous people… but not authors so much. I was once cc’d on an email to Bill Gates (when I worked for Microsoft) and was jazzed about that for about a month. I’ve met and worked with Academy-Award winning technology makers (including my husband… though we’ve misplaced Oscar at the moment). I’ve been in the same room as starlets (like Kate Hudson) and danced onstage with Smash Mouth (long story… don’t ask). Still, the people who have made the greatest impression on me have been the quiet, faithful men and women of God I’ve met over the years. They’ve got no blog, no books, no podcasts and yet, they have made a more profound impact on the people God has brought into their sphere than most of us.

Question 9: What do you consider your biggest achievement?

Natural child birth. That and keeping my children (especially Sean) alive into adulthood.

Question 10: What book are you reading right now?

The Long Winter (Little House on the Prairies series), Operation Foxtrot Five (deferred until I’ve done the first draft of my current story), Owls in the Family, and Teen Sex by the Book (goes with a workshop my husband and I give to teens). I actually try to stay away from my own genre (YA) when I’m writing because I know that I become very easily influenced by the writing styles I’m reading. Speaking of writing… gotta run.

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An interview with Kirrily Lowe

An interview with Kirrily Lowe

Hi, my name is Kirrily Lowe and I am the author of The Invisible Tree Children’s Books.

Question 1: What was your first book published?

Love and Joy of The Invisible Tree Series.

Question 2: What is your favourite part about being an author?

Capturing truth in a fun and palatable way.

Question 3: What is the hardest part about being an author?

Self promotion.

Question 4: What do you do for fun?

Hang out with my family and with friends.  I love bushwalking, the beach and nature in general.  

Question 5: How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?

My husband, my kids and good friends.

Question 6: What is your favourite children’s book now?

I have fallen in love the with book The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge – it is an old book, but stunningly beautiful and poignant with meaning.  

Question 7: What do you consider your biggest achievement?

Giving birth to my children.


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An interview with Debra Tidball

An interview with Debra Tidball

Question 1: What was the first story you ever wrote and was it published?

The first story I ever wrote was in primary school: The Old Grass Hut about a convict who escaped from Fort Denison and out swam two ravenous sharks across Sydney harbour to safety. Obviously not about to be published any time soon! But I still have the story in my keepsakes box – it’s an exercise book lovingly bound in brown paper and plastic, complete with hand drawn illustrations. I can still remember how it felt to write it, sitting on my bed excited as the ideas came and how clever I felt putting them into words for people to replay the story in their own minds.

Question 2: What is your favourite part about being an author?

My favourite part of being an author is that it’s all consuming – I get lost in the act of creating. Giving form to formless fragments of feelings or ideas is hugely exciting and gratifying when you get it just right.

Question 3: What is the hardest part of being an author?

The hours and the mind-space it takes to get it ‘just right’! I find it hard work to set aside the time free of looming distractions and then find the right way to say what’s floating formless around my head. I can’t just write in a spare half hour or so here and there. When I’m writing, it’s an all consuming quest for the story and the words to best convey it. It invades my head and leaves little space for anything else. So when I’m cooking dinner, or waiting in a queue, or driving the car – especially when I’m driving the car – I am constantly distracted by ideas and words and turns of phrase and similes etc. I need a pen and paper handy all the time  - I become hopeful that the traffic lights turn red because it’s not so safe to balance a paper and pen on the steering wheel while driving – although it has been done!

Question 4: What is your favourite way/time to read?

I prefer to read like I write – all or nothing. I find short bursts unsatisfying when all I really want to do is curl up on a comfy lounge or in bed with my book and with the hours of the day spread out before me. Nothing else gets done – cooking, washing, shopping, sleeping, nothing (apart from a mid afternoon doze). When they were little my children would groan when they saw me with a book because they knew it meant that they would be neglected for however long it took to finish. Now they are grown up they can cook and wash and shop for me while I sit on the lounge and read! Needless to say, most of my reading is done in the holidays.

Question 5: What’s your favourite genre?

I’m a sucker for good picture book – I’m a bookseller’s dream! I have to buy books that are beautiful, clever or funny and preferably Australian – not to read or give away to children, but to add to my collection. I love them.

I also love reading adult and young adult novels for pleasure and I’m happy to borrow them (although if something is especially memorable I have to own it). I went through a stage of listening to classics on CD in the car - it really made me look forward to the mundane drives to and from school or work.

Question 6: What’s your favourite children’s book?

As I child I loved the Beatrix Potter books and they still are one of my treasured collections. However it’s impossible to say an all time favourite. Of the most recent books I have bought:

The book that made me smile with the warmth of memories was Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay.

The book that made me laugh out loud was Nighty Night by Margaret Wild and Kerry Argent.

The book I thought was brilliant in the way it was written and illustrated and the quintessentially Australian story it told was Flood by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley.

Question 7: What book are you reading right now?

What books am I reading? I have several on the go at the moment.

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy – I haven’t hit my stride with this one yet – there are too many interruptions, I should have waited for the holidays!

Heading Home, by Naomi Reed – easy to read in short bursts while I’m waiting - for a train, or a child, or the doctor etc. Thought provoking and uplifting.

Red, by Libby Gleeson.

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Guest — Debra Tidball
My Sister reminded me about the Beatrix potter soft toys I used to sew as a teenager. Visit my facebook page: debratidabllpage to ... Read More
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 16:08
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What was your favourite book when you were a child?

When my son was born I rummaged through my cupboard and located an old box. I knew I had stored my favourite books from my childhood in it in case my children, one day, enjoyed them too.

Going through them as an adult was a bittersweet experience. Some of them I read again with fondness. With some I looked through their pages and said to myself, ‘What did I ever see in this thing?’. The book of fairy tales was especially scary. I wonder if my parents did some editing when they read us those stories, because they certainly scared me as an adult!

There’s no doubt it hurt me when my son didn’t feel the same way I did about the books I gave him. Being a boy, I probably couldn’t expect him to appreciate Sparkle the Pony or Dot and the Kangaroo as much as I did, but it was difficult to deal with, especially considering how many wonderful memories there were for me in those books.

The books we read as a child can provide us with memories we will treasure forever. I remember how often I asked my father to read The Wheedle on the Needle and The Mole Family Christmas. These are books that few people apart from me will have heard of, but I will never forget them. I wonder which books my son will remember most? Will it be a common classic like The Cat in the Hat or The Gruffalo? Will it be some others that we found in some obscure place that will only be special to him? Will it be some of Wombat’s own titles, like Little Good Wolf or The Anything Shop? 

I will watch with interest to see which books he keeps to pass on to his children.

Lynne Stringer

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Reading aloud to your child

When I (Lynne Stringer) was about seven years old the teacher in my class started to read aloud from Charlotte’s Web by EB White. It was my first encounter with this classic, and I fell in love with it instantly. I’m not sure if that was just because of White’s brilliant prose, either. I think my teacher also played a part in it.

When she read the book, she really read it. It was clear she was familiar with it. The ‘voice’ of each character in the story had a different sound. She would change the way she spoke when reading the dialogue of different characters and was expressive in the way she read it. It felt like we were seeing the story unfold in front of us, rather than hearing someone read aloud.

Unfortunately, before she finished the book, this teacher left the school. A substitute teacher took her place. She read aloud the next chapter of Charlotte’s Web. I remember it as well as if it was yesterday. It was an appalling change! It was clear this new woman wasn’t much of a reader. The book went from being something magical to being something dull simply because of the lack of expression and interest she put into reading it. I could tell that she took no joy in what she was doing and that feeling was passed onto the class.

If you are reading to children I commiserate with you if reading is not something that you are fond of doing. That makes it difficult for you. I’m fortunate that I enjoy it and am enthusiastic about it. But I know it can be a chore for some, but the more effort you put into it, the more your child will get out of it.

Try reading the book before you sit down with your child so you know what happens and where it goes. Then try and think about how you would say the lines of dialogue if you were in that conversation yourself. We all speak differently depending on what we are saying and who we are talking to, and it will help keep your child engaged if you try and put that in your voice.

Does a character in the book seem old and crotchety? Try and make them sound that way. Does one seem prim and proper? Is there some way you can express that? Try and imagine it as a movie and how it might play out. This may help you as you try to express it to your child.

As many children’s books are now being made into movies you may wonder if it serves any purpose to do this, but nothing will beat the pleasure your child gets from experiencing the book with you, especially if you try and bring the characters to life for them. It may be something that stays with them forever.

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An interview with Aleesah Darlison

An interview with Aleesah Darlison

Hi, I’m Aleesah Darlison. I write picture books and novels for children. Being an author is the best job in the world. I love it!

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

At the start of my career, I wrote lots of stories and many of them will never be published because they missed the mark. However, one of the first stories I did have published was There’s Magic at Pa’s. It appeared in a magazine called Little Ears, which was edited by Di Bates.

Question 2: What was your first book published?

A picture book called Puggle’s Problem, which was published by Wombat Books.

Question 3: What is your favourite part about being an author?

Being able to create characters and stories from ideas that come from inside my imagination then sharing them with other people.

Question 4:What is the hardest part about being an author?

Managing writing time with marketing time and family time. There’s never enough hours in the day.

Question 5: What do you do for fun?

Spend time with my family. Go to restaurants and eat yummy food. Make myself go to the gym for some ‘me’ time and some exercise.

Question 6: How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?

By reading them out aloud, creating dummy books, sometimes reading them to my children, and running them by my agent or editor. Professional, third-party feedback is always the most valuable.

Question 7: What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Question 8: What is your favourite children’s book now?

I’m loving my new picture book, Little Meerkat, at the moment. It’s published by Wombat Books and illustrated by Shannon Melville who is doing an AWESOME job.

Question 9: Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?

Yes, I was a guest speaker at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival in 2011 and in 2012 I returned to Hong Kong to conduct school visits. I’m looking at going back there in 2014 and possibly also Singapore. Of course, I’m always willing to consider invitations from other countries, too…

Question 10: Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?

When I was first starting out as an author, I always got extremely nervous meeting well-known authors. My palms would get sweaty, my throat would constrict and I’d have trouble talking. I just admired those authors so much and thought I would never, ever be as famous or as successful as they were. Thank goodness my nerves and my confidence have improved and luckily I’ve enjoyed my own small successes so I’m not so bad anymore.

Question 11: What writing genre do you like to do the most?

That’s hard to say. I love writing picture books that feature animals and I love writing fantasy adventure for older children. It’s all good fun.

Question 12: What do you consider your biggest achievement?

Achieving publication and creating a career out of what I love doing most in the world.

Question 13: Where do you see the future of children’s books (ebooks/apps/print)?

I hope paper books are going to stick around for a long time to come, but with the way technology is going and how kids interact with the digital world, I think we will start to view and read more and more books on-screen.

Question 14: What is your favourite time to read?

Anytime is a good time to escape into a book. I’d read all day if I could. When I was a kid I used to get in trouble for reading so much.

Question 15: What book are you reading right now?

The Power of One (children’s version) by Bryce Courtenay.

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