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.

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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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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The Ordinary Becomes the Extraordinary

The Ordinary Becomes the Extraordinary

‘And what’s to stop me killing you all?’ The frost giant took a step back and sneered. ‘All I see is a dwarf, a pony and seven children, none of whom is even remotely capable of resisting the might of Uller Princekiller.’ 

Forget magical sorcerers and superhero powers, ordinary and average children are the saviours in this new fantasy. 

‘I wanted to write a fantasy adventure about ordinary children who don’t have any special powers,’ said author, Anne Hamilton. ‘Kids who don’t wield magic and can’t whip up a spell to get them out of trouble. Children who feel as awkward and left out as the average kid does today.’

For centuries, the people of Auberon have awaited the coming of ‘the Days’, the champions of prophecy who will defeat the Armies of Night and stop the rising of the Dark Sleeper. Everyone has been expecting mighty warriors, impossibly wise sages or artful magicians. No one is expecting seven children. What could seven ordinary children possibly do that no one else can? 

‘Daystar made me want to follow Prince Ansey, Fern and the white fox to save the world,’ said Rosanne Hawke, award-winning author of The Messenger Bird and Shahana: Through My Eyes. ‘Young readers will find wisdom and strength when they join this exciting adventure, written in Anne Hamilton’s inimitable story style with hidden meanings to discover. If you liked Narnia, you will enjoy Daystar.’

Daystar is making ordinary children into extraordinary heroes. 

Anne Hamilton is the multi-award winning author of Many-Coloured Realm and 13 other books. She is a former mathematics teacher who now works for a national radio network. For twenty years she coordinated Camp Narnia, an annual event for upper primary students.

Daystar is available in all good bookstores or online at www.wombatbooks.com.au

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Have a very alliterated Christmas with Wombat Books!

Have a very alliterated Christmas with Wombat Books!

The traditional Christmas story has been told and re-told for nearly two thousand years – but never quite like this. Poet Cameron Semmens’s quirky and alliterated re-telling of it in Star! Stable! Savior! brings a totally fresh perspective on the ancient Christmas story.

Originally published in 2007 under the title The Story of The Star, The Stable and The Saviour, the book sold out after only a few years. Now it’s back with a fresh, punchy new title.

Here’s what a few people have said about this much-loved book:
“This book became a regular Christmas tree tradition with our family… hubby's favourite and the kids love it.” – Dee Kaylock

“This unique take on the Christmas Story is a family favourite in our household. Sensational Semmens!” – Gabrielle Sinclair-Youth.

“Forget the kids! It was me who loved this in our house. OK the kids did too!” – Sally Smith

Cameron, the author, says of Star! Stable! Saviour!: “I’ve performed this story around Australia, at many carols and Christmas events, and it never ceases to raise a smile and provoke a comment. It’s my hope that everyone can see, in some way, the awe and wonder from the traditional Christmas story – it’s a strange, thought-provoking story that I thought deserved a strange, thought-provoking re-telling – hence the mega-alliteration!”

This book surely is a great gift this Christmas – for all the kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews. So buy a small stack and you’ll be set for the whole family this year!

Cameron Semmens is a poet, entertainer and poetry educator. He’s published 16 books across a number of genres, all poetry-based. He’s passionate about engaging readers and listeners with fresh words and fresh perspectives.

For more information or to purchase the book click here. 

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Interview with award-winning Aleesah Darlison

Interview with award-winning Aleesah Darlison

Aleesah Darlison is a multi-published, award-winning Australian author. She has written over twenty picture books and novels for boys and girls of all ages. Her story themes promote the concepts of courage, understanding, anti-bullying, love, self-belief, friendship and teamwork. Her books include Spider Iggy, Little Meerkat, Puggle’s Problem, Warambi, Little Good Wolf, Ash Rover and the Unicorn Riders Series. Most recently, Aleesah won the 2015 Environment Award for Children’s Literature in the nonfiction category for her book, Our Class Tiger and the inaugural Puggle Award (Children's Choice Award). When Aleesah isn’t creating entertaining and enchanting stories for children, she’s usually looking after her four energetic children or taking her frisky dog, Floyd, for long walks on the beach. Her website is www.aleesahdarlison.com

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

I’ve been writing since I was a child and many of those stories will never be published. At least I hope they never are! Since taking writing seriously as an adult and starting my journey to publication, I’ve also written many stories that won’t ever get published. It takes a while to ‘perfect the craft’ of writing so those failed attempts should be expected from everyone.

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

Being able to escape into other worlds, dream up characters and adventures, put it all down onto paper and share that with people – and then wait for their reactions.

3. What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

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

4. What is your favourite children’s book now?

That’s a very good question. Besides my books, of course(!), I love the Diary of A Wimpy Kid series. They always make me laugh. But, then, I love lots of children’s books. Too many to list here!

5. Have you ever travelled overseas as an author?

I’ve been a guest author presenter at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival and I’ve toured schools in Hong Kong at other times. At the end of September, I’m about to head off to the WORD Vancouver Literary Festival in Canada where I’ll be presenting and to the Young Child Expo and Conference in Spokane, Washington State in the US. It’s going to be an exciting trip not only because I’ll be a guest presenter at both events, but because I’ll be able to use my travels as inspiration for new stories.

6. Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?

I’ve met lots of famous authors like Wendy Orr, Isobel Carmody, Kate Forsyth, Leigh Hobbs and others, many of whom I’ve become good friends with. The children’s book industry is very friendly and supportive. I’ve also met John Howard and Clive Palmer.

7. What do you like writing about the most?

Stories that are highly imaginative and magical are the best. I love to write fantasy adventure stories and fractured fairytales. I also love writing animal stories and comedies. Making kids laugh sure is better than making them cry…

8. What do you consider your biggest achievement?

Gaining and maintaining publication in a highly competitive industry. Raising four beautiful, respectful children (a work in progress) and trying my best at all times to create stories that kids will love.

9. Where do you see the future of children’s books (ebooks/apps/print)?

There’s no fighting the march towards digital platforms, but hopefully paper books will still survive – especially picture books for bedtime reading and group enjoyment in the classroom or library. There’s something about the atmosphere of turning the page that no digital platform will ever be able to beat.

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

Anywhere. Any time. Books are completely portable and so is your imagination. Just bring both along for a fun time.

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