Archive for the 'Young Readers' Category

Children’s Book of the Year winners 2010

The Children’s Book Council of Australia has announced the winners of this year’s Book of the Year awards.

For the full list of both the winning books and the honour books click here.

Permit me a few moments of dreaming: I hope one day my name will be listed in these awards.

Okay – dream over – back to editing my novel so that someday I can be in the running.

Good writing.

Journal Writing

Some writers do not understand the power of regularly writing in a personal journal.

Journal writing is an excellent way of honing many writing skills that are essential to the writing process. It doesn’t matter much whether you write fiction, non-fiction, articles or blogs, regular writing practice is essential. If possible, I’d encourage all writers, especially beginner writers, to write every day, even if in the first few months or years journal writing is all you do.

I’ve kept a personal journal since July 1990. That means the 20th anniversary is coming up very soon; I must remember to celebrate it here on this blog. I write about anything that comes to mind about events and people in my life. I filled several hand written volumes at first but in recent years I have tended to use my computer. One day I might get around to printing it all out and binding the pages into booklets.

More recently I have also been keeping a writing journal. In this I have recorded the processes I have gone through in writing my stories, especially my recent novels. The journals include details of my ideas, sources of  inspiration, research findings and the decisions I had to make along the way. In part you can read how I went about ‘Writing a Novel’ here.

When I was a classroom teacher I used Journal Writing as an integral part of encouraging children to write. The skills developed in my programme had some amazing results, not just with writing. I wrote about it in this article: The Power of Journal Writing – a Story of Hope.

This article relates the experience I had with one of my former students. I bring it to your attention now – especially for my many new readers who may have missed it at the time.

Good writing.

Australian Children’s author Ivan Southall

One of the most influential and respected authors in Australia is Ivan Southall. He was a prolific writer whose main works, mostly for children and teenagers, were published in the 1960s and 70s. He had a profound influence upon me as a teacher and writer. I think I’ve read most of his books; it’s about time I revisit the best of them as I haven’t read any of them in many years, despite taking up space on my bookshelves.

I was saddened to hear late last year that Ivan Southall had died, aged 87 after a short battle with cancer. He is best known for his novels Hills End, Ash Road, Josh and To the Wild Sky. He wrote 30 novels and many other books, some for adults. He was a four time winner of the Australian Children’s Book of the Year Award, just four of many awards in his lifetime. His works have been translated into at least 20 languages.

Southall’s writing was exciting and he often put his characters in difficult and dangerous situations, often without adult help. I found his writing to be very lyrical, pushing the boundaries of what many regarded as good literature for children.

Before his writing career began he was a pilot in the RAAF during WW2, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross in the process. His early books draw heavily on his war time experiences.

Vale Ivan Southall, 1921 – 2008.

Book Launch: The Wish Giver

Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege of attending a book launch. Rosanne Hawke, one of my lecturers in my Master of Arts Creative Writing Course, is a writer of children’s books.  This new book is her 15th book to be published, and her third picture book.

The Wish Giver

Written by Rosanne Hawke and her daughter Lenore Penner.

Illustrated by Michelle Mackintosh.

Published by Windy Hollow Books.

The Wish Giver  is a delightful book for young children. The Wish Giver lives on “the biggest and brightest star.” His job is to make children’s wishes come true. Unfortunately he falls off the star and lands in Layla’s garden.

Layla has a problem. She has no friends and no-one will play with her at school. She wished she had some friends to play with. She helps the Wish Giver return to his star, and he in turn helps her to find some new friends to play with.

One of the privileges we had being in Rosanne’s class was getting a view of the printer’s proofs many weeks before publication. The book was launched by well known South Australian author Phil Cummings. One of the interesting aspects of this book was that Rosanne’s daughter Lenore was also credited as the joint author. The original story of the Wish Giver was written by Lenore as a high school assignment. It was this story that initially got Rosanne into writing. It was also very much a family event, with Rosanne’s grandchildren also present.

After leaving the launch my wife told me she had been taking notes on how to run a book launch. Rosanne, when signing our copy of the book, added: “It’ll be your turn next.”

Now it’s up to me to get some of my manuscripts off to publishers.

Good writing.



What I am reading: picture books

One of the units I am studying at present is called Writing for children. Our lecturer is award winning author Rosanne Hawke. In our early lectures and workshops we looked closely at how to write picture book texts. Writing this kind of book is a passion for me; I love reading them and sharing them with children – and adults.

One of the things that Rosanne impressed upon us from the very beginning was the importance of reading picture books – as many as we can get our hands on. I’ve always read plenty of picture books, first when I was a teacher librarian, and then as a classroom teacher.

When I retired from teaching four years ago I drifted away from reading picture books as regularly as I used to do. Rosanne has given me the impetus and reason for getting back into this exciting and enjoyable area of books. So once again I’ve reactivated the use of my library card and I am borrowing ten or fifteen a week to read. And I’m thoroughly enjoying the activity.

There is another incentive: we need to keep a reading log of what we are reading, as well as write some short reviews of the books we read. This is a required, assessable component of the course. It is a very enjoyable part of the course I might add.

Good writing.

Good reading.