Monday, July 25, 2011


I was on a mission.
Two cats for two kids, ages 5 and 8.
It was a few weeks before Christmas, work was crazy busy and I hadn't even started shopping.
I dropped into the local animal shelter, unprepared for the emotional impact of so many tiny, fluffy creatures when I would only be taking two with me.
I took a lap of the room — filled with cages — and Snowy stood out for me straight away. She was alone in her cage, a little grey kitten with white and ginger, a loner which should have alerted me to her nature.
I chose the other kitten from a litter of identical ginger kittens, though he stood out as the one jumping up down and pouncing on his siblings.
I picked them up on Christmas Eve and hid them next door for a surprise Christmas morning gift. The male kitten went to my son and he named the ginger fluffball Milo. My daughter named her kitten Snowy. Not very original, but hey, she was 5!
The thing that I will remember the most is that Snowy used to perch on the chair behind my cat-hating husband and groom his close-cropped hair. It was his lap she always sought and we often caught them hanging out together, my husband watching TV, Snowy purring contentedly while he scruffed her behind the ears.

We'll be taking her home from the vet today to bury her in the garden.
Thanks for your kind wishes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What are they teaching kids at school?

It's great that I learned about the Aztecs and the Elizabethans and alluvial soil
and the square root of things when I was at school,
but what would really have been handy would be
to have learned about:

How to read my superannuation statement
Understanding the stock market
Investment strategies
How to build a house
How to fix a car
Or make a dry stone fence
Or weave a rug
Or make furniture

and I could have learned about that other fairly interesting
but totally useless for real life stuff in my spare time.

Or not.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

101 Things to Do instead of writing

I sat down to write yesterday.
But first I had to check my emails and respond to them.
Then I checked out Facebook to see what I was missing out on.
Then I cleaned up my desktop.
Then I read the last chapter I worked on and did a bit of editing.
Then I was ready to start new writing.
So I got up to make myself a coffee and realised
this was the perfect day to swap the lounge room and dining room
which is something I'd been meaning to try for two years.
So I woke up the kids (11am by now)
and we finished up around 6ish
(have you ever tried to move a piano?).
So now I'm ready to write
today's the day
although I do need to go the bank at some point...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

News from home

I pushed Tully out into the world in 2009 and I hear from her every now and then. I heard back from her just last week — she's found her way to Germany, hanging out with El and the gang from Chasing Boys at Arena publishing, which was very exciting news. Can't wait to see the new cover — I wonder how different it will be from the Australian version which was designed by Regine Abos.

Talking about Regine, she will be speaking at the next Victorian SCBWI meeting on Saturday 23 July. Rege is an incredibly talented designer and her presentation should be a great insight into the design process. Hazel Edwards, one of the most inspirational teachers I've ever had, will also be talking, as well as illustrator Felicity Marshall who will be talking about her book The Star. Can't wait!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Some days
lack inspiration
any action

Some days
sparkle like the sun
pushing past
green leaves
like a breeze

Some days
just are.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Katy Did

'As for your algebra,' she said, 'if it is that very dirty book
with one one cover and scribbled all over the leaves,
you will find it under the kitchen table.'
(What Katy Did, Susan M. Coolidge)

I suspect Katy may have had some influence on my own maths aspirations as I was growing up. The Katy Series, by Susan M. Coolidge, was a favourite of mine that I read and reread and pondered and sighed over. I understood that the book was old (much in the same way that my teacher at school, Miss Nunn, was old at aged 22) but it was only years later that I found out the first book in the series, What Katy Did, was published in 1872. The books are sitting on my bookshelf now (after a rescue from the garage when I was blessed to get a whole room for writing a couple of years ago) and I am too wary to look back over the pages through the eyes of an adult.

Susan M. Coolidge was the pen name of Sarah Chauncey Woolsey. She was an author of children's books in the 1800s — a time when there were few books written specifically for children. She worked as a nurse during the American Civil War and it was after this that her writing career began.

I have read thousands of books over the years, but I would consider the favourites from my childhood to have had the most impact on my life. That's why I consider writing for children such an honour.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A hard habit to break

Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man,
but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
Mark Twain

Mark Twain - he looks grumpy, doesn't he? By all accounts the man had a wicked sense of humour and I would have like to have met him. Huck Finn was one of my childhood companions, Tom Sawyer another close ally.

So, to the habit of writing. I've been told that if you do something every day for 30 days, it will become entrenched as a habit. I guess this might be some of the thinking behind the NaNoWriMo idea. I know that it is easy to get into the habit of not writing, but that is not a habit that I would like to encourage. A little bit of writing every day. Down one step every day. It's not a lot to ask...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Take Cover

When I was a young 'un my music came on vinyl records and the cover art for the album was nearly as important as the music. Bobby Dazzler (1974 vintage apparently) was quite laid back compared to some of the covers coming out then, and included such star performers as Suzie Q (Daytona Demon), Paper Lace (The Night Chicago Died) and Miss Linda George (Mamma's Little Girl). Songs that I had long forgotten until I checked out the playlist but the cover I had never forgotten, its lure of pseudo neon typeface... and incredibly expensive use of tin foil. Of course I ditched my vinyls as soon as CDs came in, but the covers never translated to the smaller format and the excitement was lost.

In much the same way, I am wondering how the digitization of books will affect book covers in the future. While it is true that you cannot judge a book by its cover, I just can't help but pick up beautiful looking books, if just to feel them and check out the blurb on the back. Basically, they have me at hello. Angel Creek is a gorgeous cover and the story inside lives up to its promise. And once you finish the book, it can sit as a piece of art on your bookshelf.

Or is that just me?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Writers can learn from Olympic Athletes

“Quantity produces quality.
If you write only a few things, you’re doomed.”
—Ray Bradbury

When strangers learn that I write books for children, two responses that continually pop up are:
1) When are you going to write a book for adults?
2) I'm going to write a book one day — I just need to get around to it.

I'm going to skip the first response today and move right on to the second. When talking to students about writing, I always equate writing a book with running a marathon in the Olympics. Participants in this arduous sport do not wake up one day, don their Olympic gear and decide to take part in the gruelling race. Athletes at this level undergo years of training, exercise and mental preparation. They will lose some races and there will be times when they wonder if all the effort is worth it. There are many things you can do to help achieve your goal of 'writing a book one day' and one of them is to write, write and write. Consider it as a way of warming up your muscles, testing your limits and preparing yourself for the big race to come.

Happy running.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When is a book a children's book and when is it something else?

Okay, a long title, but that's basically the gist of my thinking today.

There are books that kids love to read and there are books that kids might come to like and then there are books like my lemon crocheted dress my great-great aunt made me when I was 9. My GGA Sylvie was a fearsome woman with a sharp tongue and whiskers on her chin and hands like claws due to extreme arthritis. One day she presented me with the said dress which had satin lining and was in a shell kind of crochet which would have taken her many painful hours to execute.
I had to wear that dress at least once when she came to visit, if only to prove how much I appreciated her gift.
I would have to have been the least favourite dress I ever had.

It was a child size dress.
But was it a child's dress?

If you get what I mean...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Peace, sister

I have a friend who is her own worst enemy when it comes to criticism. No one can be as hard on her as she herself is. When her friends look at her we see a caring, warm, funny human with a lot of special qualities and untapped talents. While most of us have heard the nagging voice of self-doubt that picks away at self-confidence, hers is a constant companion. She came to mind when I read these words just recently:

"Attacking the self with criticism and negativity is one of the most common forms of violence. Peace begins with me. When I take responsibility for changing my consciousness, another giant step towards world peace is taken..."
Judith Pemell, The Soul Illuminated

Have a good long weekend, people. Take care.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Under the Milky Way Tonight

I have returned home to a raft (I hate this term) of little urgent jobs that need doing, so have been holed up in my study working my way through them, accompanied by my party music mix on my iTunes. It's kind of like working with a bunch of friends I haven't seen for a long time, but you know that you'll just hit it off whenever you meet again. I love The Church's Under the Milky Way — it takes me back to the 80s in a way that no other song does, which is strange because it was just another song in the 80s when I was there. Maybe it's the melancholic strum of the guitar?

I left behind a green garden and returned to our two front garden trees showing off their naked limbs to the world. They try to look scary but they don't fool me. Instead I just enjoy seeing the lichen on their branches which is usually covered by green leaves and marvel at the tenacity of the last orange leaves as they cling on. Then there's the rhododendron showing off as it does every year while the mist settles over the hill just over our horizon. Winter in Melbourne. You've gotta love it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

She's back...

May Gibbs Fellowship 1st June

In the last week of my fellowship, I had an issue with the blogger template which would not allow me to log on. I decided to stop playing with technology and concentrate on the writing. Good plan. When I logged on tonight, it was working again - oh bliss. My last ten days was crammed full of things I had to do, things I wanted to do, and things that surprised me.

My biggest surprise was that the Year 9 group of boys at Prince Alfred College that I presented to in Norwood were great. I decided to talk about Six and was ready for a range of reactions — these were Year 9 boys — but the boys were incredibly polite and if they were bored they hid it very well. Alle was my minder for the session and she gave me a lively intro, and then the boys asked some interesting questions at the end, so all in all, a fun session.

I met up with Katrina Germain, author of My Dad Thinks He's Funny — if you haven't seen this book yet, grab it, it's loads of fun — and we had some quality author chat time, which was great after a long time of just knowing each other via email.

The last day I spent at Immanuel College in Novar Gardens and gave a presentation on writing non-fiction (using my Burke & Wills book from the Our Stories series from black dog books) with the Year 6 kids, who were again great fun and had loads of questions, the best one being, 'So, how big is your laptop?' Special mention to Oscar — sorry I missed out on reading to your class, buddy. Definitely next time.

Had a lovely dinner with the May Gibbs crew on my last night in Norwood. I could have spent hours more hanging out with them and chatting about the industry. Lovely to meet Nan Halliday finally and to get a chance to really talk to Janeen Brian— author of the fabulous award-winning Hoosh — who I had met online only in my previous life as an editor.

I finally took a photo of the Lord of the Rings art installation near the Burrow — a set of gigantic rings which lit up at night in different colours and helped me find my way home every day. The toll of the chimes rang out into the Norwood darkness with a satisfying dong, dong, dong (x 12) and heralded midnight one last time for me as I packed up my little house and turned it back into The Burrow. Then I got up early on my last day and wrote my minimum number of words required for the day, before closing the door one last time.

If you have the chance to apply for this Fellowship, I would urge you to do it. It is available to published authors. Hop on the May Gibbs Website and check it out. To sum it up, I have always fitted my writing in around my life. For the past month, I have fitted my life in around my writing. What an amazing experience.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Maggie Beer - champagne taste!

May Gibbs Fellowship
Sunday 22nd May

Bernadette Kelly came by for a visit to the Burrow on the weekend and after an intensive writing day we took time out to visit the gorgeous Barossa Valley. Unfortunately, BK suffered a bout of car sickness through the windy roads (nothing to do with my driving, she assured me) but luckily recovered at the sight of the Maggie Beer Farm sign.

We walked in to see Maggie behind the counter, and the magic continued from there. Lunch was delectable and the pantry gave us too many choices to take home, but the cooking class was the highlight as we learned what to do with verjuice. I had to take the class at one stage (okay, yes that is a staged photo), and we left to the screech of the peacock at the front door.

Top pic: Creme Caramel. Did we want dessert? Ummm, what do you think?
Middle pic: On the set of The Cook and The Chef, one of my favourite shows ever.
Bottom pic: BK just before she bought all the verjuice and oiive oil bagged up behind her.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Taj and the Great Camel Trek Book Launch

May Gibbs Fellowship Thursday 19th May

Last night I attended the launch of Rosanne Hawke's latest book Taj and the Great Camel Trek. This book took Rosanne four years to write, as it changed focus over that time to become the story that it is today. Aimed at ages 9+ readers, the story tells the story of explorer Ernest Giles on his second attempt to cross the Australian desert where 'wild dogs, scorpions, poisonous snakes and a constant shortage of water mean they are never far from disaster'. The narrator of the story is Taj, a 12 year old cameleer. The book was launched by Janeen Brian, whose own story, Hoosh, was a CBCA Honour Book, Eve Pownell section.

Top Pic: Taj was launched at Tabor College - an amazing looking college in South Plympton
Middle Pic: Janeen Brian launched the book in great style
Bottom Pic: Rosanne Hawke, author of Taj and the Great Camel Trek

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SCBWI Adelaide Style

May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011
Wednesday 18th

Top Two Pics: Last night I attended a meeting of the Adelaide SCBWI group. The session was chaired by Barbara James and our guest speaker was Val Van Patten who has been involved with the CBCA for the past 20 years. Val presented a talk on how the books submitted to the CBCA are judged each year. It was a fascinating insight into what goes on in the judging of these prestigious awards, and if there is one thing I came away with is that publishers should be urged not to save up their books and send them en masse in the last two months of judging. Was nice to catch up with Katrina Germain, My Dad Thinks He's Funny author and meet Nikki Wakefield of All I Ever Wanted.

Third Pic: Had a lovely lunch at Mary Martin's Bookshop in Norwood today with kid's lit guru, Fran Knight, and May Gibbs contact (among many other things) Alle Goldsworthy and talked all things books. Hey, what is that product placement in the background... Burke and Wills? Nice one Fran.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Magic Long Weekend in Melbourne

I spent a magic long weekend in Melbourne which was noticeably colder than the town I left behind. Saturday night was Dr Zhivago - a birthday present from friend Bernie and an incredible tour de force from the cast, including the amazing Anthony Warlow.
Sunday was A Year of Writing for Children at the Wheeler Centre for the Victorian Writers Centre. We welcomed Ashley, the only male in a class of females, a moot point as in the end it was a class of writers and a lot was achieved - albeit to the sometimes rebel sounds of the gathering on the State Library steps.
At some point over the weekend I wanted to turn our homegrown tomatoes into chutney, so whipped something up on Monday morning before the plane back, but it was more like a sauce than a chutney.
Melbourne is magic in Autumn and the splash of colour from autumnal leaves reminded me of the cards painting the white roses red in the Queen's garden in Alice in Wonderland. I also spied a couple of mushrooms fit for a fluttering of fairies.
Back to May Gibbs for more writing today feeling refreshed and invigorated.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ow hanow yv Karen

May Gibbs Fellowship
May 2011

Today I found myself in a time warp as I visited the Cornish Festival, Kernewek Lowender, at Moonta, on the Copper Coast in South Australia. I took a two hour crash course in the Cornish language (ie My name is Karen) with the wonderful Lilian James, attended the Moonta Dressing of the Graves and listened to some costumed kids sing some olde worlde music. Shop assistants in the town were dressed in garb from the 1800s and there was even a front yard showing off a line of washing.

This festival lasts a whole week, and there was the feeling that things were only just revving up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Little Red Book

May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011
Day 10

This is my little red book. It's a Filofax and it was superseded when I got my iPhone two years ago. Not sure what made me dust it off and bring it along for the ride to Adelaide, but I've started using it again. I've ditched the idea of nicely divided up spaces for days and dates and just using blank pages in the order in the respective months.

There's something to be said for old technology. (Is a book old technology?)

My iPhone died last night. In the middle of a call it ran out of battery life. I plugged it in for a recharge and came back to a white screen. Spent the next hour trying to get it to work. Talk about bad timing. Still, was very happy I'd set up my appointments and contacts in my Little Red Book.

Luckily a lovely man in the Apple Store in Norwood got it working for me again, though he couldn't guarantee it would last. Am thinking of investing in some carrier pigeons...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To the Starman Waiting in the Sky

May Gibbs Fellowship
1st Weekend

Dear Alien from a distant planet.

Saturday's fun began at 8.30am.
I watched a lot of twiggy-legged boys running about and trying their hardest to grab a piece of leather and kick it between two of the tallest sticks in a group of four sticks at the top end of an oval. When this happened there was a lot of cheering. When it didn't come off there were many groans and excitement from those who didn't want the ball to go in between the two tallest sticks at that end. They wanted it go in at the other end of the ground. When the ball went between any sticks, a crazy guy grabbed a flag, or two, and waved them around. I think he was trying to show them where the ball was supposed to go.

A group of adults hung around the edges of the oval. You could tell that they wanted to join in, but they must have been too scared to get dirty. This didn't stop them from yelling instructions to the boys on the ground, which was most helpful. There was also a man in a colourful shirt who ran around after them, which was a caring thing for him to do. Every now and then he'd blow a whistle he had hanging around his neck and the running would stop and everyone would listen to what he had to say. A bit of a show off, really. Sometimes he would take the ball and throw it up in the air. I guess he got sick of not having the ball and he was the biggest on the ground so he could do this. After this went on for a while, a loud noise sounded and the boys stopped running after the leather. Then one group of boys, all dressed in the same colours, got together in a huddle and had a talk. The others did the same. Then the noise sounded and it was on again. This happened three times and then, on the fourth horn, they all gave up and left the ground. I guess they figured they'd rather be doing something else.

Here on Earth, we call this AFL football.
I know it sounds silly, but it can be quite fun.

My nephew's team won by 1 point.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dulwich and the Cave of No Return

May Gibbs Fellowship May 2011
Day 6

It was the sign that stopped me.
A promise of hidden treasures.
There were two entrances, but one was blocked.
I stood undecided.
There were chores to run.
This was not my quest for today.
But something was drawing me inside.
And even as I decided to move on,
my feet stepped into the cave
and my senses were overloaded
with the tumbling cacophony before me.

Inside the cave the light was low.
From ceiling to floor
from corner to corner
the past brought together in a jumble of nonsensical priorities.
The air was foetid, my breath shallowed
as I moved forward.
Then a voice rose out of the chaos
As the door slammed shut.
Behind me.

Pic: One of the beautiful streets in Dulwich, Adelaide.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


May Gibbs Fellowship
Day 5

Had to leave The Burrow today to go to the Post Office. Along the way I saw this awesome display of cupcakes and heard a mother say 'Come away from those cupcakes' to her toddler, as if they were poison.

The other thing I noticed was that living in a different city in the same country is like living in a parallel universe. The TV Channels are the same but the local news is presented by newsreaders who kind of look the same but kind of don't. Their jokes seem a little fake, because they aren't the real newsreaders that I'm used to. The radio announcers suffer from the same wrongness. The local weather also just a little off. Australia is skewed to highight the state I'm in and suddenly Melbourne's dot looks wrong on the map. The ads highlight roads or suburbs that aren't familiar.

It's kind of like that episode of the Simpsons where the parallel world Bart and Lisa save the day. Unsettling.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Here comes the sun

May Gibbs Fellowship
Day 4

Today I chased the sun into the bedroom. I moved the bed and set up a card table (does The Burrow have EVERYTHING?) under the window. Guess I'm used to a sunny study at home and hate to have the light on before I really need to.

I also have a new man in my life. It is the automatic time announcer on my laptop. I call him Mat. Every hour he announces the time. Sometimes I thank him. Sometimes I ignore him. Still, it's nice to have someone around to ignore. And it does help me keep track of time.

Oh, and I need an explanation of poking on Facebook. Is it friendly or aggressive? And how long should the poking go on for?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Settling in at the Burrow

May Gibbs Fellowship
Day 3

You know you're feeling comfortable with a place when you organise a major haircut. Or is that just me? So had a Surreal experience then off to Officeworks. Today I worked out that it was going to be cheaper (and much easier) for me to buy a printer than to go down to the local library to print out. A printer for $49 - it's also a scanner. That's ridiculous. Of course, its the peripherals that make it worth their while - the extra ink was $36 for an extra large tank of black. Still. Spent the rest of the afternoon printing out and sorting.

Pic One: Time for a major chop.

Pic Two: Tonight I had a lovely dinner with Mary and Ian Wilson (from the May Gibbs Support Group) in their home which is a story in itself. Part of it is listed with the Heritage Trust. They should also be listed as National Treasures. Could have spent many more hours just chatting but they wisely took me home at a reasonable hour. Which means I could blog on time!

Pic Three: Congratulations to Caity for getting her driver's license today. Not that I ever doubted she would get through. (Is that Marley on the couch now?)

Monday, May 2, 2011

And so, to begin

Day Two
May Gibbs Fellowship

Today I wrote a list of things to do and spent the day ticking them off. Internet and emails are up and running. Already chatted to several of the May Gibbs people. Ventured out with my Tom Tom.

Pic One: First stop was the Burnside Library. What a gorgeous place. I just happened upon the Children's Librarian, Caroline, who was incredibly helpful, though I think I dobbed myself in for an event. I now have my library card. All set. Did a bit of printing out. Also dropped into a gym with a promise that they would see me 3 to 4 times a week. Pretty sure they didn't believe me, but at least they pretended to.

Pic Two: Things have already taken a downward turn at home. Chairs are for people, not for dogs. Please remember that, team.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Come first of May

Day One
May Gibbs Fellowship
First pic - an 'are we there yet?' moment, I finally reach Border Town, so take a photo to prove it. I was met by the lovely Sally Chance (fantastic name) at the end of the freeway. Sally took me to the Burrow, helped me unload my things, and left me with dinner and breakfast and a chance to settle in. I quickly set up shop with Masterchef as a backdrop and a call to home to see if they are missing me incredibly. They didn't say so but, hey, I can read between the lines.

Second pic - I've set up a pinboard with my Leunig calendar and May Gibbs card from Bernie, Andrew and Ella. May's calendar message is 'Have Your Say - Make a Comment'. Rather apt I thought. That's exactly what I'm here to do.

Have read through the Fellows Journal and Folio and feeling I have some big shoes to fill.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

May Gibbs Fellowship - Four Sleeps to Go

May Gibbs was English, but emigrated to Australia at the age of four, so I consider her Australian, through and through. I read the Gumnut Babies as a child. It was the illustrations that left a lasting impression, though also a sense that I was hearing an Australian voice in a mostly English-US market at the time.

In four sleeps I shall be taking up a Fellowship for the month of May in Adelaide. It is with some trepidation that I am setting out on that 10 hour car journey. And it isn't the car trip that's weighing on my mind. It is the terrain of What Ifs which sees me approach this journey cautiously.

Still, writing stories is all about the What Ifs.

So bring it on...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Sunday at the Farm

It's been a tradition for many years to spend Easter at the family farm and this year was no exception. Many of us tent it, but there's no point doing without luxury. Time is spent in comfort around a roaring fire each night unless it's raining. This is the morning after a huge bonfire — there's still a flame but the mist in the background is an indication of how cold it can get. If you look really closely in the distance you can see the disappearing tail of the Easter Bunny after depositing a stash of Easter eggs. That's what 5 year old Brady told me, anyway...

What we were reading this Easter - The Seeds of Time, Six, Across the Universe, Country Style Mag, The Age, Winky Wonky Donkey, Peepo

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hippitty Hop...the Easter Bunny's coming

When I was young my sister and I would leave out a carrot for the Easter Bunny on Saturday night and every Easter Sunday morning we'd wake to find the carrot gnawed down to a nub.

One year, after some late night grown-up celebrations, I woke to hear my mother giggling up the end of the hallway and my father shushing her to be quiet. And then an unexplained hiss and meow — our cat Sooty. These were strange happenings but I was only half-awake and it was easier to fall back to sleep than wonder what was going on. My sister and I woke up the next morning to find bunny footprints in talcum powder leading from the front door to our bedroom but I'd forgotten about the late night interruption and we found Easter Eggs in our back garden as usual. As usual my sister ate hers straight away and as usual I eked mine out over a longer period.

Years later my mother admitted to dipping the cat's hind paws in talcum powder and bouncing her up the hallway to create the prints. I am still secure in the knowledge that the Easter Bunny came that night, though, for the carrot was gnawed down as usual in the morning and I know, for a fact, that Sooty had an aversion to vegetables.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness

Just watched Sunrise segment which stated that happiness boils down to following facts:
50% genetically disposed
40% how you spend your day
10% - oops can't remember

I've often wondered why it is that some people can survive incredible hardship and still smile at the other end while others don't. Just finished reading David Metzenthen's Jarvis 24, published in 2009, which is an enjoyable story about a boy with positive happiness genes. Although he has experienced the loss of a friend, this is a story of him moving on. There's not a lot of teen angst here, but a real insight into a 16 year old boy getting on with life. The voice is incredibly strong — I was sad to leave the character at the end of the book.

Recommend for boys. Recommend for girls who want an insight into what teen boys really think.

Monday, April 11, 2011

All Saints Lit Festival - 2011

We arrived back in Melbourne this morning from an extended All Saints Lit Fest 2011 stay. From balmy Perth to chilly 6 degrees Melbourne where we could play 'what animal is this' with our breath puffs in the cold 5am air. All Saints Lit Fest is like an oasis in the sandy dunes of an author's life. It's not just the kids - who are fantastic and engaged and fun - or the incredibly beautiful grounds and facilities or the warmth of Kris Williams and staff - but it's hanging around with other people who think that writing for children is a perfectly normal way to spend your time.

Thanks to the volunteer students who helped us get to where we were supposed to be, to the Green Room volunteers who kept the goodies coming and the Green Room cleaned as if by magic, and the drivers who picked up and dropped off and made getting around worry free.

Marcus Zusack officially launched the Lit Fest in a very laid back and warm style, which set the tone for the rest of the Fest. Saw plenty of The Book Thief books being sold at the Fest Book Shop.

I suspect that Fest guru, Kris Williams, cloned herself for the festival period as she seemed to be everywhere at the same time. Here she is with her gorgeous daughter who pitched in to help ensure things ran smoothly.

Left to right: Meg McKinlay, Susanne Gervay and Kate McCaffrey offer some words of wisdom, but I've decided not to change the title to Seven.

Book signing time - Mark Carthew, Julia Lawrinson (Captain of winning Debate team FOR books) and Shirley Marr - adoring fans are out of shot.

Felice Arena knocks back some Friday Pizza in the Green Room, but who is he reading about? Is that Shirley Marr on the cover of Today?

And to top it all off, our hosts Margie, Tim and Alfie made us very welcome and we miss them already. Thanks a lot you awesome trio!