Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Feature author for May - Deborah Abela

The Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages exhibition has many fabulous Australian and New Zealand authors and illustrators in it. Go to Authors/Illustrators/Books to see the full list.

This month we have bestselling author Deborah Abela.  Deborah has a fascinating story to tell why she wrote 'Theresa' - watch her video here or below: 





Deborah launched the video on Facebook: "My wonderful and clever partner, Todd Decker, has made a video about how my kids' novel, Teresa A New Australian, was researched and written. It uses footage from our trip to Malta last October to launch the book with the president. Malta is a beautiful series of islands and the underground tunnels are fascinating."

In the video, Deborah talks about how her children's book Teresa is loosely based on her father's story. The main character in the book, Teresa, was only four years old when the bombs began to fall. Over the next three years her island home of Malta became the most heavily bombed place of WW2. With her country destroyed and starvation rife, Teresa’s father decided to leave for Australia, to its promise of jobs, wealth and a brighter future. Despite very few possessions, little money and outbursts of racism, Teresa and her family work very hard to make Australia their new home. 

Deborah has a new book out this month, too. It's about a fictional character called Wolfie, who unlike other wolves, wants to rescue a princess. See more about it here.


Friday, 28 April 2017

Mitchelton Library display of Anzac Stories Exhibition

Mitchelton Library is hosting the Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages Exhibition for all of April and May. They have had a few schools look at the exhibition and have also taken it “on the road” to a school where 600 children got to see it.

Here's some pictures of the exhibition. More to come.



Tuesday, 25 April 2017

ANZAC Day book commemorations

We celebrate April 25th every year to commemorate the soldiers, medical and support staff who sacrificed their lives on our behalf during the world wars and subsequent wars. Writers have shared their experiences and stories so that we can learn from history. Ideally all writers would like readers to take from their books that war is not the answer.

Melinda Szymanik wrote about why writers feel compelled to write war stories, here. The Sapling, an online children's book magazine recommends great New Zealand Anzac Stories here and Children's Book Daily recommends these top 20 Australian Anzac picture books here.

You can also see an exhibition about the research that authors and illustrators do when creating war stories for children at the Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages Exhibition presently being hosted by the following libraries:


Mitchelton Library, Brisbane, Queensland: April – May

Broome Library, Western Australia, April - May

Nundah Library, Brisbane, Queensland: June – July

Albany Library, Western Australia - August

Holland Park Library, Brisbane, Queensland: August – September

Wynnum library, Brisbane, Queensland: October – November


Will post more libraries that are hosting the exhibition when they confirm dates.

There's also another exhibition in New Zealand called What Lies Beneath and Napier and Taradale Libraries are presently hosting it.

Please find below some posters to help you bring awareness to the children's ANZAC books available in Australia and New Zealand.

Here's an A3 poster you can download with all the books in the exhibition to date.

Schools and Libraries can download this Scholastic poster from here.

Here's my contribution:

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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Feature Author Pamela Rushby


The Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages exhibition has many fabulous Australian and New Zealand authors and illustrators in it. Go to Authors/Illustrators/Books to see the full list.

This week we have well-known author Pamela Rushby and her book 'The Horses Didn't Come Home'. 

A boy, his horse – a war far from home
The last great cavalry charge in history took place at Beersheba in the Sinai Desert in 1917. It was Australian soldiers and horses that took part in, and won, this amazing, unexpected, unorthodox victory. The men proudly proclaimed it was their great-hearted horses that won the day. But, in the end, the horses didn’t come home …

OLMC Library blog says, "The Horses Didn’t Come Home by Pamela Rushby is a beautiful story of loyalty and courage that highlights the bond between the Australian Light Horse soldiers and their horses. This Australian novel tells the story of the victorious cavalry charge at Beersheba in the Sinai Desert in 1917 during World War I, which is in contrast to the horrific events at Gallipoli."

Exciting news from Pamela: "Well, I’ll be off to Israel in October to attend the special commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, which features in ‘The Horses Didn’t Come Home’. This will take place in Beersheba and they plan to recreate the 2-day route the Light Horse took across the desert, and then the Charge itself.   (If anyone is interested in going along, the Israel Travel Centre in Rose Bay, Sydney, is running a special tour that takes it in.)"

Here's Pamela talking about the 'The Horses Didn't Come Home'

Congratulations to Pamela Rushby for her book 'Lizzie & Margaret Rose' being selected as a CBCA Notable Book.

Read more about Pamela Rushby and her book on her Anzac Stories blog page. And in the Courier Mail.

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Friday, 24 March 2017

Feature Author Illustrator Mark Wilson

The Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages exhibition has many fabulous Australian and New Zealand authors and illustrators in it. Go to Authors/Illustrators/Books to see the full list.

This week we have the very talented Mark Wilson with his book 'Flapper VC'. 'Flapper VC' has just been released and is already selling well. Flapper was a big hit at the 2nd Annual  Dromkeen Literature Festival last Saturday, and the kids love him (or more precisely, the hand puppet that pretended to be Flapper!). 


Based on the true story of Flapper, a messenger pigeon and his handler, an Australian soldier, during WW2.

Raised and trained in Australia, Flapper survived four years of warfare in the Pacific, to eventually be pinned down and surrounded by Japanese troops during the battle for Manus Island in the late stages of the war. The patrol was almost out of ammunition, many were wounded, and the only radio they had was smashed by a stray bullet. The only hope of survival was to get a message through to Headquarters for support. It was up to the messenger pigeons with the patrol. The first two pigeons released were shot by enemy snipers, but Flapper, against all the odds, survived the snipers and machine gun bullets to get a message through that saved the patrol. Flapper was awarded the Pigeon version of the VC, called the Dickin Medal, for his actions on that day, and his medal is proudly displayed at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia.

Published by Lothian/Hachette Children's Books Australia.

Recent Children's Books
Beth – the Story of a Child Convict Hachette
Flapper VC Hachette
Digger - The Dog Who Went to War Hachette
Migaloo - the White Whale Hachette
The Horse Soldier Windy Hollow

Recent Awards
2016 Whitley Picture-book Award Migaloo – the White Whale
2015 CBCA Eva Pownall Notable Book Award The Afghanistan Pup
2014 WAYR Award shortlist Ben & Gracie’s Art Adventure
2014 CBCA Notable Picture book Award Vietnam Diary

A sneak peak of Mark's display:


Friday, 10 March 2017

Feature Illustrator - Fifi Colston

The Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages exhibition has many fabulous Australian and New Zealand authors and illustrators in it. Go to Authors/Illustrators/Books to see the full list.

This week we have the very talented Fifi Colston, writer, illustrator, craft maker, and entertainer as the feature author. Fifi drew the illustrations for her latest book 'Torty and the Soldier', written by Jennifer Beck. 

New Zealand medic Stewart Little found Torty the tortoise in Salonika (now called Thessaloniki, in Greece) in WW1. Stewart was taking time out from his hospital ship duties when he saw the tortoise ambling along a dirt road. He watched in horror as a French gunner cart rode over the little tortoise. Stewart rushed to see if it was dead and found it looking rather squashed but still alive in the dirt. The tortoise needed some care and Stewart decided to look after it on board HS Marama ship. The tortoise amused the invalids on board while they sailed back and forth from Alexandria to France to England and back again, picking up more wounded soldiers. When the ship sailed home Stewart had to decide what to do; take it home and risk the wrath of his senior officers - no pets were allowed back into New Zealand - or drop it off at one of the stops. A heartwarming tale about the oldest living WW1 survivor.

To illustrate this heartwarming tale Fifi visited the still alive tortoise in Napier and sketched it. She also took photographs of the replica Torty tortoise at Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand, where they have a lifesize exhibition on WW1. Fifi chose to use a limited palette, using sepia-colours; the olive green and browns of the army uniforms, a pale blue water-colour wash for the sky, and has aged the pictures with splatters and crease-marks, which give it an authentic antique-look. It's a stunning book that encourages children to be empathetic to the animals caught up in WW1.

Torty and the Soldier was released this week in Morrinsville and in Wellington, and is also available in Australia at these stores: ABC store, Dymocks, Rosebud Book Barn and Scholastic  

See more about Fifi Colston, Jennifer Beck, Torty and the Soldier here.


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Feature author - Libby Hathorn

The Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages exhibition has many fabulous Australian and New Zealand authors and illustrators in it. Go to Authors/Illustrators/Books to see the full list.

This week's feature author, Libby Hathorn, has just had her book 'A Soldier, A Dog and a Boy' long-listed for the 2017 Children's Book Council (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year Award.  That means it is a Notable Book for this year and here's hoping it might even go further ... Several other authors in the exhibition have been shortlisted too, including: Pamela Rushby children's war book called 'Lizzie and Margaret Rose', Dianne Wolfer's book 'The Shark Caller', Anna Pignataro's book 'Agatha and the Dark', and Claire Saxby's book 'Wild Pa'.

'A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy' is a moving story about a young Australian soldier in the battle of the Somme. While walking through the fields away from the front, he finds what he thinks is a stray do, and decides to adopt it as a mascot for his company. Then he meets Jacques, the homeless orphan boy who owns the dog. The soldier realises that Jacques needs the dog more - and perhaps needs his help as well.' 

Phil Lesnie's stunning illustrations are also shortlisted in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards. 

Libby was inspired by a WWI photograph, from the collections of the State Library of NSW, of a returned Australian soldier opening a sack revealing a young orphaned French boy who was smuggled out of France. Her Uncles experiences in Gallipoli and the Battle of the Somme also shaped the story, as well as months of research at museums in Australia and France.

Libby has also written another children's war book called 'A Boy Like Me: A story about peace' illustrated by Bruce Whatley. Libby was inspired for this work by a poem about peace by WB Yeats and in turn Bruce, as artist, was inspired to use his left hand to get what he believes is a simpler and more emotional response to the text. See for yourself.