Sunday, November 4, 2012

Open Spaces Retreat for Picture Book Creators

Whenever I meet a new group of picture book creators, it always strikes me how much talent we have in Australia.

A recent four-day retreat at Sydney’s Hughenden Boutique Hotel, set up by Laurine Croasdale and the ASA, brought me in contact with old friends and new; a group mainly comprising of artists and illustrators, a smaller number of illustrator/writers and those, like me, who are writers (but love to play with art materials!!)

We collaborated and discussed our work, projects, shared ideas in technology, pored over stunning books which Ann James from Books Illustrated had brought along, played with a variety of art materials offered by Micador and enjoyed a book launch. 

Highlights included a talk by Tohby Riddle about his new, amazing book, Unforgotten; a visit to Brett Whitely’s studio: a workshop with Bruce Whatley on Creating with the Non-Dominant hand; a stroll along the coastline from Bronte to Bondi, enjoying the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition, a picnic at Kiribilli in a beautiful garden/park created by Wendy Whitely, Brett Whitely’s ex-wife. While there, we shared creativity exercises.

We also visited the Dr Seuss Gallery and were also fortunate that, on two occasions, artist/illustrator Lisa Stewart played the violin for us.

Now I need a retreat to think about everything we experienced!

Ann James showing background of a mud picture for our forthcoming picture book, I'm a Dirty Dinosaur, due out April, 2013

Me, enjoying the coastal walk and sculptures. A silvery day.
Bruce Whatley posing for the group.
My attempt with my dominant hand.

My second attempt with non-dominant hand. (much freer and livelier, I think!)

'The nook' - one of the lovely rooms in the hotel.
Me, outside Brett Whitely's studio.
Absorbed in playing with art materials
One of my favourite sculptures in the Sculpture by the Sea Exhibition.
Called The Arrival.

Liz directing a creativity exercise in the park overlooking the harbour.
Ann James and Laurine Croasdale listening to violin playing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Penguins and Eddie Pipper's Perseverance

I love the act of creating.

It is the most exhilarating, frustrating and wondrous thing in my opinion. So when I was asked by the publisher of New Frontier if I would like to submit a story for their new series called Little Rockets, I agreed. The stories were to be for children 7 years and upwards.

Then came the big question. What am I going to write?

Around that time my grandson was talking about penguins. I’d love one of my own, he said.

And there it was. The zing point of my story!

So came a boy called Eddie Pipper (rhymes with flipper!). I had his goal, his want or desire, but what was his flaw?
Well, Eddie FORGETS.
He forgets he’s put his little sister, dressed as a penguin, in a wading pool full of icecubes. He forgets he’s told her to stay there until he comes back with a nice fish or two.

Forgetting leads to trouble.

So, does Eddie get his penguin? Or does he have to make do with the papier-mâché model he’s making?

Hmmm. I wonder what happens?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reading - and The Reading Hour

Spent a LOVELY hour last Saturday as part of THE READING HOUR; a celebration of reading in The National Year of Reading. I not only met several wonderful coordinators of Kumon, but listened to children, a teenager and a verse-maker/poet, Mike Lucas, read works to an appreciative audience. They relaxed on chairs, cushions or on the floor in the bright, cheery Woodcroft Library, south of Adelaide, SA. 

It was like a big, cosy lounge room on a somewhat wet, dreary day. Perfect for reading indoors!

I chose to read my picture book, Where does Thursday go?  to the group. After the readings there was a book raffle and light, healthy refreshments.

Mike Lucas and me with our Reading Hour certificates.
Altogether, a wonderful time! 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Nameless - the poem

How's this for a special moment?

I was talking to a group of Yr 3/4/5's at a school recently and read one of my poems called Nameless. (published by The School Magazine and illustrated by Noela Young)

I'd written it while travelling in northern Western Australia, having been struck with how sad it was to call a mountain, Mount Nameless. After reading further information I decided to write a poem about its naming, and its Aboriginal roots.

So back to the class. After reading the poem, we spoke about it and then one boy said he'd only just returned from a holiday and had also seen Mount Nameless.

I asked him if he'd like to come up and read the poem with me.

He did and we read it together. There was a palpable hush in the room.

                      That moment was as special as the moment I knew I'd completed the poem.


Friday, August 3, 2012

re-printing and recycling

Nothing beats having an out-of-print book being given a second chance!

So I'm delighted that one of my favourite stories, Party Time! (Aussie Nibble) is now part of a collection re-published by Penguin and entitled My Best Book of Nibbles - 5 Great Stories for Girls. The other four stories and authors are:
 Julia Lawrinson (the Girl who Fell into a Book), Ursula Dubosarsky ( The Magic Wand), Jane Godwin (When Anna Slept Over)  and Raewyn Caisley (The Mermaid's Tail).

Also Hoosh! Camels in Australia is up and running again! A CBCA Honour award-winning book, it is  packed full of camel facts, but also much space is given to the vital importance camels played in the early development of the Australian outback. So it's full of history too. Plenty of photos. Great resource for the new National Curriculum!
Books can be purchased from me either through PAYPAL on my website: - or contact me by email: or phone: (08) 82945703 . ($20 plus $6.95 package and posting in Australia)

What do you recycle? I love to recycle whenever I can.
Here's a stack of seven, stripy scarves  I knitted using scraps of wool bought from Op-shops! I had pleasure taking them to Anglicare yesterday as part of their Winter Warmth Appeal.

Monday, July 30, 2012



How wonderful. My short story,What goes round . . . made it to page 312 in Ford Street's new, exciting anthology, Trust Me Too, in which there are 58 creators, writing in every genre imaginable - illustrations as well!

The Melbourne launch was too good an opportunity to miss. One was held at Scotch College, Hawthorn and the other at Princes Hill Secondary College at Carlton North. I flew over from Adelaide and, during my four day stay, was also able to meet up with publishers, illustrators, my agent and writer colleagues and friends. A great occasion for a great book.

front cover
back cover

Ford Street Publisher, Paul Collins 

Isobelle Carmody reading and launching the book

Isobelle Carmody, Meredith Costain and me at Princes Hill launch

Me with Michael Wagner at the author signing table.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ned Kelly's head - and my book

Ned Kelly's head may still be missing but my forthcoming, non-fiction picture book, called Meet Ned Kelly,  is well and truly found and identified.

A commission from Random House, the book will be one of a series for 5 - 7 year olds and is due for release next February, 2013.

It's a stunner of a cover, don't you think?

Thanks Matt Abram!

Monday, March 5, 2012

a win for 'picture-poetry-three'

Blue skies. Leafy bowers. Great excitement. It's the Adelaide Writers week and on Saturday 3rd March, the Premier of SA, Jay Weatherill, announced the 10 winners of the 2012 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature.

I was thrilled to win the Carclew Fellowship, a fellowship of $15,000, which goes towards developing three projects; an historical picture book, a picture-poetry book (which Anne Spudvilas will illustrate) and an anthology of children's poems.

ps. I'm the one in black at the front!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

when you're out and about . . .

When you’re out and about . . .

When you’re out and about in South Australia, during this year, the National Year of Reading, you might spot two reading icons which, I have great pleasure in sharing, relate to two of my picture books.

One is the now completed metal statue of Columbia camel, plus swaying palm tree, blown by the force of one of Columbia’s sneezes. Derived from Columbia Sneezes! the statue is situated in the Storybook Path in Thalassa Park, Aberfoyle Park, along with other statues including a pelican from Colin Thiele’s Storm Boy and tiled mosaic ‘storyboard’ of Phil Cummings’ Goodness Gracious!

You’ll have to be quicker to notice the other icon. It’s the cover design from my picture poetry book about Australian birds and animals, called Silly Galah! It now decorates the back of The Charles Sturt Library van, which is painted pink and called Pinky!

So if you’re out and about you might just notice one or the other. Either way, it’s a nice reminder that both came from books.

Anyone have any other ‘reading’ spin-offs they could share? They might even be yours!

Author’s note: Columbia Sneezes! was illustrated by Gabe Cunnett and Silly Galah! by Cheryll Johns.