Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

A couple of weeks ago I published a post titled: KidsNews: a great resource! on NovaNews, my other blog.  While detailing much that could be found on this website, I intentionally saved the best for this blog!!

Scroll down to the bottom of the KidsNews website to find a link titled Book Club.   Before you click on the link though, be sure you’ve got a stretch of time up your sleeve to read, explore and imagine how the various links on this page could be used with students. With competitions, announcements of competition winners (including links to their winning stories), interviews with authors, articles about up coming publications, there’s so much to be explored and enjoyed.

The Kids News website brings news stories to classrooms in a fun, accessible and engaging way, and we are delighted to add our books to the mix to help teachers and parents get kids reading.”

Informative and appealing.  With a well structured classroom activity, it’s hard to imagine students not being drawn into this website!

How great it would be though if the people behind the scenes of KidsNews could be persuaded to extend this website to teen readers.   Innovative and appealing online Book Clubs such as this would be a great magnet for tech savvy teens!

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Year in year out, we all get busy around April when the year’s shortlisted CBCA books are announced.  Invariably, it’s a race to read through them as quickly as possible so that we can then start inspiring students to have a read.

While all six novels shortlisted in this year’s Older Readers section were really excellent, I was sure I had picked a winner when I settled on Clare Atkin’s “Between Us”.  Apart from the poignant subject matter, the characters and plot were both gripping and uplifting.   I was thrilled when the announcement was made a couple of weeks ago that this one was crowned 2019 Book of the Year: Older Reader’s Winner!! 

Following are the notes I made after reading the novel:

Short listed for the 2019 CBCA awards, this gripping novel gives us an up-close look at the plight of asylum seekers: their fears, their day-to-day life in detention and their frustration with their ongoing incarceration.  When Ana, an Iranian asylum seeker, is escorted out of the detention centre to attend a local secondary school, she meets Jono, the son of one of the guards at Ana’s detention centre. As their friendship flourishes, complications inevitably arise.  An excellent read which is my tip to win this year’s Book of the Year for Older Readers!

Rating: *****
Theme Fiction:
Person to Person
Suitable: Year 9-12+

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We're going on a bear hunt

Three years ago, when Walker Books celebrated the 25th anniversary of the publication of “We’re going on a bear hunt”, Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury in an interview recorded by The Guardian, revealed little known details about the origins of the story and its magical illustrations.

Guardian article

And if you have never heard or seen Michael Rosen’s rendition of this all time classic, you simply must!!

This, more than many other fabulous picture story books from that era, fill me with warm memories of years gone by when I used to tell this story to eager young students during my very early years as a teacher librarian – and then of course brought it home to read to my son!

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Are you an Amie Kaufman fan?  How about Jay Kristoff?

Both are YA authors and come from Melbourne and just recently they published Illuminae, the first of a trilogy which has already garnered excellent reviews.

IlluminaeAnd if this isn’t exciting enough, the recently published International edition of Illuminae was listed just three weeks ago on The New York Times’ Young Adult Hardcover Bestseller list, debuting at #5.   At the time of writing this post, Illuminae has skyrocketed to #3!

Almost probably this awesome listing has been propelled by the recent announcement that Brad Pitt’s movie production company, Plan B Entertainment, makers of World War Z and Twelve Years a Slave, has teamed up with Warner Bros to bring Illuminae to the big screen.

Wow!!  Fantastic news!!

If you haven’t read Illuminae yet, it’s no surprise.  It was published just a few months ago.   Stand in line though to get your hands on the book, it’s bound to be a ‘must read’ for YA fans!

And to think … just a couple of months ago, we were lucky enough to have Amie Kaufman visit our senior campus library.  She ran one of the most awesome writing workshops I’ve ever been lucky enough to attend!  I guess she will now be in hot demand for repeat visits to schools.  Without a doubt, those schools won’t just be in Melbourne!

Congratulations to both authors for this fantastic achievement!

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The Ampersand ProjectGet set …. Get ready …. Go!!!

Whip out your pens and start writing so that you are ready to enter The Ampersand Project.

What is it? An opportunity for unpublished writers to get published!
What’s the goal of the Ampersand Project? A way to find brilliant debut novels and new authors!
What’s to be gained? The selected writer will get a contract, an advance, and serious editorial development to bring their book to market.
When must manuscripts be submitted? From Tuesday 1 September until midnight on Monday 14 September 2015
More information: The Ampersand Prize

And if you want some inspiration:  Melissa Keil was the first time winner of the 2013 Ampersand Award with her debut novel: Life in Outer Space!  This year, Melissa’s second novel: The incredible adventures of Cinnamon Girl is short listed for this year’s CBCA Award.

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Can’t wait to see the illustrated children’s version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which is due out on 6th October 2015.

Jim Kay, the 2012 Kate Greenaway medal winner for his illustrations in A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, has created some magical illustrations.  Judging by the front cover and the first page which was revealed by The Guardian late last week, this is bound to be another best seller.  Take a peek at some of the key characters of the story on Jim Kay’s website.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

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It’s inspirational to read about authors who aim to encourage children to read.  It’s even more inspirational to hear about authors taking concrete steps to influence change.

I’ve previously blogged about James Patterson’s writing challenges which have been publicized through publishers Random House.

James Patterson

James Patterson

Now James Patterson announced just a few days ago that he will give book shops in Australian and New Zealand up to $5000 each for programs they initiate to get children reading.  With a total pool of $100,000 available, that is an awesome incentive!

Announcing this initiative Patterson said:

There is no doubt in my mind that bookshops play an essential role in the community in getting kids reading,’ says James, who has run similar initiatives in the UK and the US…….

‘I have been inspired, moved and delighted by the innovative proposals I have received from bookstores in the UK and the US. And I have been thrilled to see the real difference that these grants have already started to make. I can’t wait to see the proposals from Australian and New Zealand bookstores.’ …….

’I’m open to all sorts of ideas. From an after-school bookclub, to an emailed newsletter. From a spot bonus to a valued employee, to funds to create a storytelling tent. Send me your ideas and I will read them,’ says James. ‘For me, making the pledge is the easy part. The tricky task will be deciding which shops to help.’

I feel tempted to step into my local book shop and share with them just a few of the ideas we put in place in our schools on a regular basis.

Read more about this generous initiative reported by Look to the Stars: The World of Celebrity Giving.

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The INKY awards is an annual event hosted by the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria. The Inkys are the only Australian awards for Young Adults which are voted on by Young Adults.

The 2015 Inky Awards longlist was announcement just last week and includes some awesome titles!


The Inky Awards recognise high-quality young adult literature, with the longlist and shortlist selected by young adults, and the winners voted for online by the teen readers of InsideaDog. There are two awards: the Gold Inky Award for an Australian book, and the Silver Inky Award for an international book.

The Awards are named after me, Inky – Inside a Dog mascot and all-round wonder-dog.”

Read more about the books longlisted on the Inside a Dog website and encourage young adults across Australia to put their hat in the ring to be one of the judges.  Read what is involved at:  Want to be an Inky Awards Judge?

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Being an author is certainly a very demanding job.   But being the author of a ‘difficult to talk about’ let alone ‘write about’ subject is something that fills me with admiration.

‘A secret safe to tell’ written by Naomi Hunter, is a book which falls into this category.  Based on her own life experience, Naomi has bravely broached this subject not just as a way of working through her own healing, but as an important subject that needs to be discussed sensitively with young children.

A secret safe to tell

As I read the online article in the Daily Mail Australia published just yesterday, it made me both sad and angry to learn that publishers had shied away from accepting the manuscript for publishing as it was a ‘risky topic to invest in’.   For all those who could have been helped by a book of this nature, the loss is achingly hard to acknowledge.

A secret safe to tell will be launched in Melbourne on Sunday 26th October: 3.-00 – 6.00pm at St Raphael, Nicholas and Irene: 531 Centre Road, Bentleigh when Naomi will be reading her book and taking questions. Further details are in this flyer.   Naomi can also be found on Facebook.


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I received notifications from a couple of friends about B. J. Novak’s Book With No Pictures – a video which has gone viral since it was posted just a couple of weeks ago.   The most common question asked of me was whether Novak is a relation of mine.   Alas ….. no …..

If you haven’t seen the video yet, take a few minutes – it’s magical!

The reaction that Novak elicits from his young audience is fabulous – no?!

This demo though highlights one of the most important aspects of engaging children of virtually any age with books and, in my humble opinion, contrary to the hype that this video creates, the content of the book has very little to do with the children’s perceived engagement and joy!

When we read to our students, essential skills need to be employed by the reader!

  • Eye contact: Looking at the audience is a way of involving them in the story and as we all know, little children especially, just love to be involved!
  • Voice: Raising and lowering the pitch and intonation, the modulation of words that are shared, are essential to engage students when reading.
  • Making connections: By pointing to the words as they are read, the reader is helping students make the all important (and valuable) connection between the printed word and the spoken word.
  • Facial expression:  The more animated the reader the greater the joy of those listening to stay ‘tuned in’ to what is being read.
  • Exaggerated expression: By casting off inhibitions and having fun with crazy sounding words like BLORK and BLUURF students are bound to become entranced.
  • Talking about what’s being read: Breaking off from reading the text and just talking to the students about what was just read is a great technique to engage and connect with the students and to engage and connect them in a meaningful, individual way with the story.
  • Sharing the ridiculous: Silly statements like ‘..my head is made of blueberry pizza’ makes students question the logic of the text being read and gives the chance to compare what is being read to the reality of their own life experience as being possible, all of which engages and excites interest.

This book is a great way to educate both parents and teachers on not just how to read a book and engage readers, but to share that wBookWithNoPicturesonderful joy and excitement that can be evoked from mere print on a page.

Check out B. J. Novak’s webpage for more details about The Book With No Pictures  or if you are really keen, have a listen to this riveting keynote address to the American Library Association.

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