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.

An interview with Katrina Roe

An interview with Katrina Roe

Katrina is the author of Marty's Nut Free Party, shortlisted for the 2013 Speech Pathology Award and the upcoming Emily Eases her Wheezes.

 

I am Katrina Roe, a radio announcer at Hope 103.2 in Sydney, a children's picture book author, a mum of 2 and a wife of 1!!!

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

The first stories I ever had published were in the Carrathool Public School newsletter, but before I had started school. I used to dictate them to my mum and she would send them in! One of the earliest stories that I still have a copy of was called My Trip in a Pink Bubble. It was an adventurous story with a journey to a strange land, a wicked witch, a narrow escape and of course, a happy ending. I still have a copy of that book, including my illustrations. I also had a poem called Summer is Here! that was published in The Land newspaper when I was about six years old. My mum was continually sending my poems and stories in to anyone that would publish them!

Question 2: What was your first book published?
The first book I had published was Marty's Nut-Free Party in 2012 with Wombat Books. Before that I had contributed to a couple of anthologies and I wrote a novel that was shortlisted for an award, but sadly, is still sitting in my bottom drawer.

Question 3: What is your favourite part about being an author?
I love every aspect of it. I love those first moments when the seed of an idea germinates in your head. I love reading out the early drafts to my writers' group and hearing all their suggestions. I love the moment when I pop it in the post box with all the excitement and anticipation and possibility that goes along with that. I even don't mind rejection letters as they make me feel that I am one step closer to success! I still tremble when a new contract appears and I love seeing those very first storyboards or roughs when the book starts to take shape. The moment the first copy of the book arrives on your doorstep is exhilarating and I love the fun and excitement of a book launch. But the very best moment is when you look up from a reading and see 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 little pairs of eyes all glued to the page, hanging on every word you're saying and waiting expectantly to see what happens next!

Question 4: What is the hardest part about being an author?
I find it hard to work alone and even more difficult to work at home, where there are so many distractions and always lots of mess! It's also hard to make it financially viable. One day I would really love to have my own studio or office to write in, where the walls would be filled with my favourite books, there would be just a kettle and a stash of tea, and preferably a beautiful view of ocean, rivers or bush! Sigh! Even just a laptop would be a bonus!

Question 5: What do you do for fun?
I love travelling and outdoorsy adventures like bushwalking and kayaking although I don't get much time for any of those things at the moment! I also just really appreciate spending time with close friends, preferably somewhere scenic. Right now I am on the 40th birthday party circuit, which has meant lots of silliness with old friends. Yay!

Question 6: How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?
I usually read them to my kids and husband first, then I take them to my writers' group. Once I've got them to an acceptable level, then I ask a few trusted friends what they think.


Question 7: What was your favourite children's book when you were a kid?
If I'm really honest, my favourite was a Golden Book called Hunkydory. I also loved The Magic Faraway Tree stories, The Wishing Chair series and the Famous Five. When I got into later primary I devoured Gordon Korman books and my favourite was I Want to Go Home. It was about a smarty-pants loner who spends his entire holiday trying to escape from summer camp.

Question 8: What is your favourite children's book now?
It's really hard to narrow it down to just one. My favourite picture books are Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon and Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley by Aaron Blabey, which both celebrate the absolute blessing and miracle it is to find a true friend.

Question 9: What writing genre do you like to do the most?
I like to write picture books the most, but I would also love to write a novel one day.

Question 10: What is your favourite way/time to read?
My favourite way to read grown-up books is on holidays, either at my parents' place in the country or at a beach house. It's the only time I get a chance to really demolish a book in a couple of days. However, my eight year old is a voracious reader now and we are tackling some really interesting stuff together, so I thoroughly enjoy the time we spend reading together each night. Sometimes I find myself sneakily skipping ahead to see what happens while she's cleaning her teeth.

Question 11: What book are you reading right now?
I most recently finished The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith and am now starting on a new re-write of Jane Austen's Emma also by Alexander McCall Smith. With my eight year old, I'm reading Morris Gleitzman's Blabber Mouth and Sticky Beak, which we are loving! My 3 year old only reads Nick Bland's The Wrong Book (over and over and over again!) so I also read that most nights.

 

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Multiple Award Winners at the US 2014 Literary Classics Awards.

Multiple Award Winners at the US 2014 Literary Classics Awards.

Four of our fantastic authors won awards at the 2014 Children's Literary Classics Awards. The international competition, run out of the US, was created to ‘honour excellence in children's and young adult literature, thereby encouraging a passion for reading while promoting education, imagination and character in young readers.’

Congratulations to all of the authors who have been acknowledged for their fantastic work, including:

Without Me by Kayleen West (Picture Book/Preschooler - Silver)


Firelight of Heaven, by Lizbeth Klein (Fantasy Fiction/YA - Silver)


The Heir, by Lynne Stringer (Science Fiction/YA - Silver)


Motive Games, by L.D. Taylor (Faith Based/YA - Silver)

 

All of these titles are available in bookstores, libraries or click on the links above to buy online now.

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Jennifer Gress
Wonderful accomplishments! Congratulations to all the award winning authors and Wombat Books for their dedication to produce great... Read More
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 11:28
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Free book with all orders! One week only.

Free book with all orders! One week only.

Excited by the upcoming Illustration Challenge book - Zoo Ball, by Aleesah Darlison?

Purchase any book from our website this week and recieve a FREE copy of Aleesah's first book published with Wombat Books - Puggle's Problem (paperback).

Puggle's Problem is a gentle, humorous tale emphasising the importance of perseverance and patience. It also showcases some of Australia’s best-loved native animals and their unique characteristics.

ONE copy of the book will be sent every order place online through our website this week. 

Aleesah is also the author of Little Meerkat and Little Good Wolf illustrated by fellow Aussie, Shannon Melville.

 

*Offer valid until 5pm, AEST Friday, 28 November.

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Extra bonus for voting!

We would like to take the opportunity to assure children and families that voting is not the only criteria for whether their illustration will be published in the book. The judging panel will make their final say based on the skill level of the child ensuring the quality of the book is high.

The voting may influence placement and who gets priority where there are multiple entries for one page, however, we are hoping to be able to include the majority of children in the book in some way, even if that means children are asked to illustrate a different page or adjust their illustrations just like they would during a normal publishing process.

So all children's illustrations will be thoroughly considered by the judges for page placement.

We thank children and families for their response to the voting. We have decided to offer up to two extra prizes for children with high votes, separate to whether or not their illustrations are finalised in the pages of the book.

Out of the voting finalists we hope to choose children to give the following extra opportunity. Two children will receive a $100 Wombat Books voucher AND the opportunity to design the Ends Pages of the book. The ends pages are the inside front and back covers.

 

Don't forget voting closes on Friday, 28 November!

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When I See Grandma wins CALEB Award (Children's) 2014!

When I See Grandma wins CALEB Award (Children's) 2014!

When I See Grandma, by Debra Tidball has just won the CALEB Award 2014 in the Children's Category. This is the second time this book has been acknowledged as outstanding as it was also shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Awards 2014.

The book is a delightful insight into the transforming power of children and love to enjoy with your kids, grandkids or great-grandkids.

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,” said Liz Mann, Bereavement Counsellor.

Congratulations also to winners under our Even Before Publishing imprint:

Nick Hawkes - The Celtic Stone (Fiction)
David Malcolm Bennett - From Ashes to Glory (Non Fiction)
Carol Preston - Suzannah's Gold (Bookseller's Choice Award)

When I See Grandma is available from all good bookstores, your local library or buy online now.

 

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Next installment in the Motive Games series released!

Next installment in the Motive Games series released!

Follow-up to the award-winning Motive Games just released!

The standalone sequel to the award-winning, Motive Games, by LD Taylor was released on 1 November by our new imprint Rhiza Press. Motive Games 2: Death Down Under, follows teenager, Phil Roland, and his videogame-production company across the world from Canada to New Zealand where the company is once again under threat.

Motive Games mysteries are fast-paced, high-tech thrillers enriched by thought-provoking themes. The first book, Motive Games, won the 2011 CALEB Prize for best Young Adult Manuscript and was a YA book silver medal-winner in the 2014 Literary Classics Book Awards in the USA.

'Having spent six months in a New Zealand police station, working as a university researcher, gave me an excellent opportunity to learn the ins and outs of crime investigation in my new country. I love the fact that I can give my readers 'true-to-life' glimpses into fascinating worlds (game development and murder investigation) and cultures (Canadian and Kiwi) that they might not otherwise be familiar with.

Social Rewards Programme
Readers who blog, tweet, Google + or write a FB comment about Motive Games 2: Death Down Under are eligible to receive a free enhanced ebook of the first story in the Motive Games series. In order to receive their reward, readers simply need to use the hashtag #motivegames with their social media post.


About Motive Games
In Canada, Phil Roland is a hero: he saved his dad's company, Motive Games; solved his dad's murder; and exposed a mafia ring. But by his second day in Auckland, Phil's life is out of control. The E3 East gaming show was supposed to be Motive's big chance to get published. Instead, people are blaming Phil for a controversial FPS; someone's hacked Motive's game; and Australian mega- distributer, PFG, is threatening to ruin the company. The guy whose name keeps popping up? PFG president, Bailey Kant. Thanks to Kant, Phil is dodging the press and protestors and being trailed by the mysterious girl in green.


Then a PFG exec turns up dead. An exec anyone could have mistaken for Kant. Now Phil and friends have 48 hours to solve the mystery... or watch their dreams die down under.


About LD Taylor
LD Taylor broke into the world of young adult fiction in 2011, after a successful and prolific career writing for the entertainment technology industry. In the award-winning Motive Games Taylor combined her in-depth knowledge of the game industry with her passion for mystery novels. Today, Taylor expands the Motive Games series, from her home in Whangarei, with the help of her daughter, sons and programmer husband.

Motive Games 2: Death Down Under is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

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Guest Reviewer: Dimity Powell reviews Without Me

Guest Reviewer: Dimity Powell reviews Without Me

WITHOUT ME Kayleen West
Remember those days in your childhood when you felt the undeniable urge to shed the shackles of family constraint and run away? I do. I spent long hours planning my departure, organising provisions, and packing essentials, which were every doll and stuffed animal I owned.

I can't remember the various motivations for my wanting to leave and of course most attempts failed, stalled inexplicably under the apricot tree en-route to 'not sure where'.

Many kids experience this kind of emotional quandary as they navigate their way through difficult life situations; bewildering social expectations and consolidation of their own unique identities. In short, it's part of growing up.

Kayleen West's picture book, Without Me, captures this crossroad period in a small boy's life as he plans to leave his family believing they no longer love him. He packs his bags along with his resolve and then just as he sets off, begins to revaluate his situation.

West creates an accumulative checklist for our would-be-runaway using the passing of minutes, a nice numerical inclusion for young readers whilst establishing a sense of order and reason. Our nameless protagonist soon realises that every member of his family relies on him and values him at some level, whether for food, comfort, play, or simply companionship. After just ten minutes, his desire to leave wanes and he discovers that his true worth lies within being part of his family with them, not away from them.

Love and belonging often evolve from a sense of need and acceptance but this equation is not always apparent to little people or easy for them to comprehend. West's sharply coloured illustrations and light-hearted narrative helps them make the connection whilst delivering a far reaching reminder that it is not always kids who want to run away from the realities of the world.

Suitable for 4 – 7 year olds.

Wombat Books 2013

Reviewed by Dimity Powell

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

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Guest — Robert Vescio
Wonderful review, Dimity. Great book, too!
Thursday, 28 August 2014 14:38
Guest — Dimity Powell
Thanks Robert. Nice message for us all too. :-)
Thursday, 28 August 2014 20:29
Guest — Kayleen West
Thank you for such a lovely review of my book Dimity!
Monday, 20 October 2014 04:09
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Green Heart of the Forest: Bethloria Book #2

Green Heart of the Forest: Bethloria Book #2

A once in a lifetime adventure!

The first crystal has been found. Six more are scattered throughout the lands and Morgran's power is increasing.

Two brothers and an Elf girl uncover dark secrets that drive them into another perilous land in Book 2 of Lizbeth Klein's Bethloria series, Greenheart of the Forest. After arriving at Syone, the only sanctuary left in Bethloria, the young protagonists discover that it isn't as safe as everyone believes. In fact, they barely survive werewolf-like creatures that breach its walls in order to hunt them down.

"What I love about this series is the thread of mystery which runs through and, I assume, will not be revealed until the very end," writes fellow author, Paula Vince. "Readers are left wondering about the linage of the two brothers and their rightful heritage."

That's because it's a cobwebby tale set in a mystical world where magic rules. Nothing is straightforward; everything is hidden, and dangerous.

Joined by an elemental, the journey takes the trio to an abandoned, underground city infested with giant, flesh-eating arthropods. Escaping that danger, worse awaits when they are captured by an evil tyrant and taken to Wychwyre. Here they face their greatest challenges of faith, loyalty and friendship when they attempt to free the people from the tyrant's rule, return the elemental to her home-tree and seek the second lost crystal.

"Nothing is easy for my heroes," Lizbeth explains. "It's written like that because precious things in life often come with personal struggle and sacrifice. This is a story of overcoming hardships that anchor us to the mundane. It also explores the blossoming of teenage love with all its emotional complexities."

Lizbeth lives in Sydney in the Sutherland Shire with her husband, Malcolm. She spends six days a week tutoring primary and high school students. In between, she's off fighting dragons or inventing far away kingdoms.

Greenheart of the Forest is available in all good book stores or buy online now.

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New Release: Possum Games

New Release: Possum Games

Late at night on a rusty tin roof, a possum finds his own special talent

Everyone is good at something. You just need to keep trying new things until you find your own special talent.

Written for young children aged from 4 to 8 years, Possum Games is written for anyone who has had possums living either on or in their roof. As many Aussies kids can identify with, possums always seem to be the loudest at bedtime.

Children will be captivated by the idea of the possums actually having their own nightly athletics carnival on the roof while they are sleeping. Riley is the smallest and most shy possum of the family, but he never gives up until he finds own amazing skills.

Michelle Worthington is an internationally published, award winning children's author. The stories she writes are like the stories she used to read when she was young with a modern twist.

"Don't be afraid to write picture books that push boundaries, invent words, and challenge readers. Picture books can change the world," said Michelle.

The author has volunteered as a story teller and workshop presenter at the 2012 Out of the Box Festival in Brisbane, the 2012 Gold Coast Writers Festival and 2013 4QK Special Children's Christmas Party and this year will be featuring at the Conscious Life Festival and Kids Culture on the Sunshine Coast as Fairy Belle, the book fairy. Her goal is to be known for classically elegant, entertaining and compassionate stories for young children.

Illustrator, Sandra Temple has been a professional artist, illustrator and author for more than thirty years. She has travelled extensively with her art, gaining insights into her special interest, the world's endangered species.

Possum Games is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

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New Release: The Tae'anaryn and the Wizard's Apprentice

New Release: The Tae'anaryn and the Wizard's Apprentice

"Choice, set free."

The Tae'anaryn and the Wizard's apprentice – an unforgettable adventure.


Kidnapped and tormented by an evil archmage who wants them to learn to harness the power of evil, Kialessa and her part dragon friend Piex must find unexpected allies in their plans for escape. It's not the wicked goblins that worry them, or the troll infested swamp, or even the towering rot dragon that keeps them there, but a simple riddle. Will they ever be able to return to their king and college again?

The Tae'anaryn and the Wizard's Apprentice is a fantasy adventure, by Dr Joe Ireland, about a little girl who is a lot different. She and her best friend find themselves prisoners of a powerful wizard, who promises them freedom if they can best his most challenging riddle: what is evil? With friends and family praying for their freedom, desperate attempts to escape, and finding friends in the most unlikely of places, what will it take to find freedom in a place that embraces evil?

The book is already receiving great feedback from its young readers. Emily, an avid reader said, "Wonderful!" Vanessa, a gifted young reader, proclaimed it, "just as good as the first book, but with dragons!"

Author Dr Joe, a touring science education specialist, designed the book series 'The Tae'anaryn' to align with the ethics and humanities curriculum in Australia. The Wizard's Apprentice is intended to be a 'thinking' book that discusses challenging issues, set at the safe distance of a fantasy setting, and at the same time to be thoroughly engaging.

"This book is not only entertaining, it is helpful," says Dr Joe. "How do you deal with the challenges of being away from friends and family? How do we confront those who have much more power than us, and intend to use it to force us to make choices we don't want? How does one confront a challenging problem such as defining what you consider to be 'evil'?"

Dr Joe has a lifelong passion for philosophy, science, and fantasy, having written several academic papers for the international journals of science education, as well as award winning fantasy for the Dungeons & Dragons Living Greyhawk fantasy campaign setting. Dr Joe lives in Brisbane with his wife and three daughters.

The Tae'anaryn and the Wizard's Apprentice is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

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Verindon Trilogy complete! Win the final book!

Verindon Trilogy complete! Win the final book!

The final book in the popular Verindon Series: The Reign has just been released and you can win a copy!

Subscribe and leave us a comment below about how music inspires you to go into the draw!

Music: a writer’s muse...

When Lynne Stringer writes, music is a constant inspiration.

With the upcoming release of The Reign, the third and final book in the Verindon Trilogy, Lynne talked about how much music helped her write.

“Each of my books so far have featured a ‘playlist’,” she said. “A playlist is like a soundtrack. I often have scenes laid out to a particular piece of music and I play them together in my head, with the piece of music accompanying the action.”

So strong is the voice of the music, Lynne has changed scenes to fit them.

“In The Heir there is a scene near the end which I had already written. Then I heard Muse’s Map of the Problematique and imagined the scene with the song. So powerful did the influence of that piece of music become, I adapted the scene to fit it more effectively.”

A similar thing happened in the second book in the trilogy, The Crown, with another of Muse’s songs: Glorious.

“Muse has definitely been a huge inspiration for me where writing it concerned. Their music is so emotive and is a great aid in the creative process.”

It also happens prior to writing. When Lynne was considering ideas for the story that became The Reign, a song helped make one scene come to life.

“I wasn’t completely sure where it was going, but I let Thom Yorke’s Hearing Damage inspire my imagination. It wasn’t long before I had the whole scene worked out in my head.

“I think music will always play a part in my writing. I’d like to thank all the artists out there for inspiring me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!”

The playlists for Lynne’s books can be found on the Verindon Trilogy’s website: www.verindon.com.

The Reign is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

 

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Guest — Elaine Fraser
Wow! That's an amazing thought process. You must have a mathematical mind as the beats in music are often seen as a learning aid i... Read More
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 11:46
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New Release: Happy Pants

New Release: Happy Pants

Happy Pants is set for release on 1 May 2014 and you can win a copy!

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

 

Not all Mums are happy on Mother’s Day…

For the one out of seven Australian mothers who suffer from post-natal depression, Mother’s Day is a sad reminder of their inability to cope. Author Heather Gallagher hopes her first picture book Happy Pants will inspire the many families who suffer as a result of the illness.

Happy Pants is a heartfelt way to help older children know that their mum’s postnatal depression is not because of them,’ said PANDA (Post and Antenatal Depression Association) chief executive Belinda Horton. ‘That dads are loving and caring, families can support each other and that mum will get better with help.’

Happy Pants is about a little boy who adores his Mummy. But when she comes home with his baby brother, she seems to have become a different person. The boy feels betrayed and confused, and sets about trying to make Mummy better…

Children’s author Heather Gallagher suffered PND following the births of both her daughters, now aged 9 and 12.

Ironically, the depression became a catalyst for Heather to act. She founded a playgroup for Mum’s with PND, Parents Overcoming Depression with Support (PODS). And went on to launch her career as a children’s writer.

‘With Happy Pants I wanted to let kids know that while they can’t make Mummy better, things will improve with time and love,’ she said. ‘There will come a day when Mum can put on her happy pants again!’

Happy Pants is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

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Jennifer Gress
Although I am yet to read it Heather, congratulations. You are so correct in uderstanding that when a mum is suffering her childre... Read More
Saturday, 10 May 2014 13:04
Jennifer Gress
I have yet to read the book but wish to offer my congratulations. And yes Mother's Day is not a happy Day for everyone. Even adu... Read More
Monday, 12 May 2014 15:47
Jennifer Gress
Thanks for your lovely comments Sue
Tuesday, 20 May 2014 16:26
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A chat with illustrator Liz McGrath

A chat with illustrator Liz McGrath

As part of the inaugral Wombat Books Illustration Challenge, we will be running a series of blogs featuring successful illustrators - to offer advice and inspiration and help budding illustrators learn from the best in the 'biz'.

Liz McGrath is the illustrator of the new Happy Pants, due for release in May 2014.


I'm Liz McGrath, the illustrator of Happy Pants, a bittersweet story of a little boy whose life is turned upside down when his new baby brother arrives. The boy is very confused by his mum's changed mood. It's a sad time for him, but the story shows the family finding support, and ends as we glimpse a brighter future for them all.

Question 1: When did you start illustrating and what was the first book you ever illustrated?

I've always loved to draw and paint, and became an art teacher. Over the years I've illustrated lots of books, but most of them don't appear in bookshops. They are the sort of books or booklets that you are given for free. For example a multicultural songbook that was given to kids when they visited their maternal and child health nurse. And a book showing non-English speaking mums ideas on how to be active with their kids. Even a kit used in schools used to encourage kids to walk or ride to school. I've also done lots of posters, postcards and magnets. In fact my own kids used to say "you may not be famous Mum, but you sure are on a lot of fridges!"

Question 2: What is the most challenging part of being an illustrator?

Understanding someone else's idea, and bringing it to life. It's a shared journey, and that can take a lot of talking and listening.

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

I feel very lucky when I spend time at my desk working with paints and pencils. It's like a dream come true. And I get really excited about seeing the finished product.

Question 4: When given a story to illustrate, what is the first thing you do to get your ideas flowing?

Rough sketches, and lots of them. Look out for the bits that work, and think about what makes them work.

Question 5: If you could give one piece of advice to a budding illustrator, what would it be?

Listen carefully, read lots of great picture books, and have fun.

Find out more about Liz McGrath

Find out more about the Illustration Challenge

 

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New Release: The Bear Said Please

New Release: The Bear Said Please

The Bear Said Please 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!

A picture book The Bear Said Please featuring a very hungry, friendly bear is North Queensland writer and artist Jacque Duffy's latest book.

Jacque said 'It is a fun rhyming picture book aimed at 2-7 year olds. A very hungry bear discovers there's something he needs even more than honey and a full tummy – good manners!'

With the thought that her character looked as though he could use a good cuddle, Jacque has made 10 beautiful cuddly bears to give away as promotion for her new book. The Bear Said Please will be released April 1st by publisher Wombat Books and the promotion finishes on the 31st March. To be part of the 'Win a Bear' promotion visit Jacque's website www.jacquesartandbooks.com.

The Bear Said Please appears in a National Curriculum publication Playing with Grammar in the Early Years published by the Australian Literacy Educator's Association. Jacque said 'I am honoured to have my book used in such a way. The other books appearing in this publication are written by my role models, I am humbled to have my book sitting next to theirs. '

The Bear Said Please is a hard cover, fully illustrated rhyming book featuring a bear who wakes up hungry and goes in search of his favourite food. 'This bear is very huggable,' says Jacque. 'I really enjoyed drawing him getting into trouble and being a bit of a klutz. I see more adventures in his future.'

Jacque Duffy is a Mena Creek artist and writer. Her writing stretches from picture books, educational children's books, and crime writing. Several of her children's books have been purchased by the Queensland State Government and integrated into schools and libraries. Her art ranges from photorealism, to complete abstraction, through to illustration, graphic art and soft sculpture.

Her artwork has won many major awards and is in galleries and private collections around the world.

Just in time for the school holidays and Easter The Bear Said Please will make a lovely gift for the little people in your life.

The Bear Said Please is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

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Jennifer Gress
Good manners are so important. My soon -to-be Miss Three year old granddaughter would love this book for her birthday
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 17:45
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A chat with illustrator Sandra Temple

A chat with illustrator Sandra Temple

As part of the inaugural Wombat Books Illustration Challenge, we will be running a series of blogs featuring successful illustrators - to offer advice and inspiration and help budding illustrators learn from the best in the 'biz'.

Sandra Temple has previously illustrated Puggle's Problem by Aleesah Darlison (who is the author of the Illustration Challenge book - Zoo Ball) as well as a range of other books - many of which feature zoo animals from around the world.


Sandra Temple is an international award winning wildlife artist. She is passionate about conservation and the environment. Usually she is asked to illustrate books that require a lot of animals and birds in them. Sandra is also an author, multi media tutor and a body painter for events and film.

Question 1: When did you start illustrating and what was the first book you ever illustrated?

I started drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil properly. In nearly all the photos of me as a child I am colouring, drawing or reading. The first book I ever illustrated was in Primary school, it was about a little fawn who was afraid of being alone. I even laminated it.

Question 2: What is the most challenging part of being an illustrator?

For me, it's trying to make my pictures are not too different from what the writer sees in their own version – usually in their head, and also keeping the publishers ideas there too.

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

When the illustrations are finished and they are all approved, I get a feeling of satisfaction, but my favourite part has to be when children enjoy the story read out loud and it becomes their choice to read over and over again.

Question 4: When given a story to illustrate, what is the first thing you do to get your ideas flowing?

I always read the book aloud a few times to see how it flows. Then think of each page as a picture and sketch small thumbnail sketches of the pages very roughly. After that it's lots of scribbles until the characters develop. The pictures need to match the words so if the kangaroo is wearing a red spotted scarf I make sure that it IS wearing a red spotted scarf and things like that.

Question 5: If you could give one piece of advice to a budding illustrator, what would it be?

Draw, and draw, and keep drawing. Study human bodies and movement, and if serious, find a good teacher. It is possible to teach yourself (after all, I did) but much quicker to be guided by someone who can help you with shortcuts and tips.

Find out more about Sandra Temple

Find out more about the Illustration Challenge

 

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A chat with illustrator Henry Smith

A chat with illustrator Henry Smith

As part of the inaugural Wombat Books Illustration Challenge, we will be running a series of blogs featuring successful illustrators - to offer advice and inspiration and help budding illustrators learn from the best in the 'biz'.

Henry Smith is the illustrator of The Invisible Tree series, including Love, Joy and Patience which features unique illustrations all made from recycled materials!


When Henry isn't filling the studio with his 'refined' taste in music, he's busily working away as Taste's managing director.

Equipped with an organic aesthetic and a love of excellence, Henry oversees all of Taste's work, and ensures that he and his team are constantly immersed in creative conceptualisation, production and delivery.

He's a hands-on fellow, with plenty of artistic gusto and has won awards that testify to this. His love for cinematography and animation has won him an ACS Award (Australian Cinematographers Society) and an
 AEAF Award (Australian Effects & Animation Awards), along with a few other accolades in the illustration, editing and storytelling fields – but he's not one to go on and on.

As you can tell, Henry's got a lot of neat skills. Some others worthy of note are magic tricks and designing tree-houses.

Question 1: When did you start illustrating and what was the first book you ever illustrated?

I was approached by an author to illustrate her upcoming series in 2010, when her husband saw some of my drawings for an animated cartoon. But I have been using my hands to draw since I was old enough to hold on to a pencil!

Question 2: What is the most challenging part of being an illustrator?

The most challenging part is just to start; the curse of the blank canvas. We can often be too scared to make a mistake that we don't know where to start. I love to just jump in and start making.

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

I like to create a visual artwork that inspires young minds to create & make things. I was fortunate enough to have a high school art teacher for a Mum. So when we were at home, we were always making things from stuff we could find around the house; coloured paper, cardboard rolls & my favourite toy; a hot glue gun! I get so much satisfaction when I hear about kids seeing my collage-style pictures and being inspired to create their own.

Question 4: When given a story to illustrate, what is the first thing you do to get your ideas flowing?

Write. Illustrations aren't just pictures; they tell stories. I hope that my work shares a story that can be shared without even reading the words. I like to write my ideas for a books' illustrations down on paper and see how the pictures flow.

Question 5: If you could give one piece of advice to a budding illustrator, what would it be?

Stay curious. Curiosity is squeezed out of us when we are told to grow up. The world tells us that to fit in we need to talk a certain way, dress a certain way, drive a certain car. But when we are kids, we are curious & explore just because we can. If you can tap back in to that, you will create wonderful stories.

Find out more about Henry Smith

Find out more about the Illustration Challenge

 

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Help an author: write a review

Are you a book lover? Is reading one of your favourite past-times? Are there authors whose work you adore?

You can help them by writing a review.

Writing a review aids both authors and publishers. This can be the case even if you didn't like the book, especially if you include reasons that let them know what pleased you or what disappointed you. It is helpful to hear that kind of feedback as it gives authors and publishers an idea of what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong.

While everyone's experience with a book is subjective, it can still assist us to know what it is about a book that made you like it so much, or why the book you found so difficult to read was such a struggle for you.

There are a number of sites now where you can publish reviews, such as Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari and BookLikes. Leaving reviews at any or all of them, especially for your favourite books, is a great help, as then others can see your review and might try that book themselves, which means more people will have the opportunity to read it.

When writing a review, you can start with a quick overview of the story, but it's best to keep this brief. After all, people can find out what the book is about by reading the blurb on the back. Certainly, don't make your review more overview than comment. Your comment section doesn't have to be long. Put down what you liked most about the book and anything you didn't like. Let other readers know why they should try this book.

This is one of the most effective ways you can get the word out about your favourite books.

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A chat with illustrator Shannon Melville

A chat with illustrator Shannon Melville

As part of the inaugural Wombat Books Illustration Challenge, we will be running a series of blogs featuring successful illustrators - to offer advice and inspiration and help budding illustrators learn from the best in the 'biz'.

First up - Shannon Melville, she has previously illustrated a number of books by Aleesah Darlison (who is the author of the Illustration Challenge book - Zoo Ball) including the new Little Meerkat and Little Good Wolf. She has also illustrated a number of author picture books.


 

Shannon Melville - I live near the Canning River in Perth. I have illustrated eight books. I love animals and enjoy illustrating them. I love all the colours of the rainbow. I enjoy walking my caramel and chocolate coloured kelpie Hugo down at the park, he loves chasing balls but doesn't always bring them back, a bit annoying when he drops them in the river or ocean! I have a new baby daughter who is keeping me busy and a kind, supportive husband. When I am not illustrating I also work as a graphic designer and Disability Arts Worker.

Question 1: When did you start illustrating and what was the first book you ever illustrated?

I received my first illustration job in 2006, in the final year of my TAFE course but the first book I illustrated in 2009 was called ‘My Arms Your Legs’ written by Kim Rackham, I only had 5 weeks to illustrate 70+ illustrations!

Question 2: What is the most challenging part of being an illustrator?

Promoting my books and encouraging people to buy them. Drawing things out of my head that do not exist in real life can also be a bit tricky such as a meerkat swimming; you can’t just ask a meerkat at the local zoo to jump in a pool for you and start swimming!

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

Researching new subject matter on the internet, at the zoo, a park, around the neighbourhood and learning interesting facts that assist with my illustrations. I also really enjoy getting to work with various types of media, in particular pastels and coloured pencils.

Question 4: When given a story to illustrate, what is the first thing you do to get your ideas flowing?

I draw a few small thumbnail sketches on the author’s manuscript. I also write a list of all the references I am going to need to illustrate my story. I usually find most of my photo references on the internet but will also use books too if I need to. I visited a zoo to try and draw platypuses once but they swam too fast to draw them!

Question 5: If you could give one piece of advice to a budding illustrator, what would it be?

Draw as much as you can, sketch objects from life (right in front of you) as well as from photos. Try to work on your unique style and don’t compare yourself to others too much, we all have different ways of seeing and different ways of expressing ourselves which makes it interesting. Publishers don’t want to see everyone illustrating the same way, they like variety. Be prepared to change your work, none of us draw a masterpiece every time we draw. You need to realize a children’s book is created by numerous people: an author, illustrator, publisher, art director, editor, graphic designer, printer and so on, so there will be other people’s opinions to consider.

Find out more about Shannon Melville

Find out more about the Illustration Challenge

 

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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
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 10:00
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