Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Recap - Week Five

This week saw the last of our guest authors' posts in this month-long reading adventure - how quickly it's gone and how lucky for us to be able to share these wonderful authors' work with you. Have a look at what's happened on Reading for Australia this week, after the jump.

Book Review - After

After by Morris Gleitzman (Penguin Books Australia, 2012)

Penguin Books

Leo, 12, Canberra

Book Review - Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Cowell, 1977)

HarperCollins Australia

by Nicholas, 12, Durban

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review - The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the DeepWoods

The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the DeepWood by Paul Steward and Chris Riddell (Doubleday, 1998)

Random House Australia

 by Nicholas 12, Durban

Team Singapore 2014: Clementi Primary School

Team Singapore: L - R: Isabel, E Hsuen, Xiu Yang and Sherman with reserves, Emily and Phil

Introducing the team from Clementi Primary School in Singapore:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How I Got Started as a Writer by Andy Griffiths

I wrote my first ‘book’ when I was five years old.

It was in the form of a get well card for my dad. It was a piece of paper folded into three and was called ‘A Little Boooke I Madee’.

It said, ‘I hear your sick. So turn over the pages and see what you are if you don’t get better.’ Then, when my poor, sick father turned the pages, he was greeted with this disturbing picture of himself as some sort of beast lying on the ground next to a tombstone which says ‘Doomed’. (I’m not sure why I chose to draw him like this—maybe we had recently buried a dead pet in the backyard and I was worried we would have to do the same to him if he didn’t get better!)

So, basically, what I was telling him was ‘Get better soon … or you are DOOMED!’ It may have been quite an unconventional approach for a get well card, but it was effective because he got better really fast. I wasn’t about to let it rest at that, however.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Are you a true Dr. Frankenstein? by Josie Montano

I don’t mean to scare you!

But I use Dr. Frankenstein’s methods when it comes to creating a character. As you know, the eccentric scientist gave life to his ‘creation’ Frankenstein by putting together bits and pieces of other bodies, gruesome, I know, but a fascinating idea for a writer.

Keep in mind also that Dr. Frankenstein is a creation of another writer’s mind, Mary Shelley, so not only did she create a character, her character created a character. Phew - she was clever!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Canoes by Bruce Pascoe

When I think about it, I realise my last three books, Bloke, Fog, a Dox and Dark Emu, have been in honour of Muns Hammond. He’s the hero behind all of them.

Magabala Books, 2014

Dark Emu is about the things our education fails to tell us. That Aboriginal people built houses, sewed clothes, sowed crops, tilled the land, irrigated young plants …and made canoes.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Review - Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins, 2011)


by Indigo, 11, Adelaide

Book Review - Crummy Mummy and Me

Crummy Mummy and Me by Anne Fine (Puffin Books, 1988)

Puffin Books

by Nicholas, 12, Durban

Book Review - Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins, 2011)


by Cameron, 13, Hong Kong

Friday Recap - Week Four

Some more great writing by our guest authors on Reading for Australia this week - check them out after the jump.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What Makes a Book Series Seriously Good? by Jess Black

Do you have a favourite book series?

Allen & Unwin

I do! I have many. In fact, there’s nothing I like more than being hooked on a good series and really wanting to get the next book to find out what happens next! I can become very attached to characters in series, they become like old friends. It’s the same for me when reading or writing a series.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Small moments in big pictures by Dianne Wolfer

I love stories about small moments that are also part of bigger historical pictures.

Lighthouse Girl is based on the true story of Fay Catherine Howe. She was the daughter of an Albany lighthouse keeper and lived on Breaksea Island in 1914. World War One was declared on Fay’s birthday and so that seemed a good place to begin the book…

Monday, May 19, 2014

Living the Dream by Barry Jonsberg

Do you want to know how I became a writer?

Okay. I thought you probably didn’t, but there’s no need to be rude about it. And you’ve started reading now, so you might as well finish.

I always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper. How cool to walk into a bookshop and see a book with my name on it! Pick it up, ruffle the pages… (just for the record, I would like to apologise to all those authors whose names I crossed out in random bookstores and replaced with my name in texta. I confess. Romeo and Juliet was actually written by William Shakespeare and not Barry Jonsberg. Sorry, Will.)

The trouble was, I found I had suddenly become old and my dream hadn’t happened. Why? I asked myself. And then, one day the reason burst through my confused thoughts, like a sun’s rays through dark clouds.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Recap - Week Three

Week Three and our third online literary festival is in full swing - lots of good writing and interesting view points in this week's guest authors' posts for you to check out after the jump.

Book Review - Moonrunner

Moonrunner by Mark Thomason (Scholastic Press, 2008)

Scholastic Australia

by George, 9, Canberra

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why So Sad? by Sally Murphy

I have a confession.

I love to make people cry! The good news is, I also like to make them laugh. And if they can laugh and cry at the same time that’s pretty good, too.

You see, as an author of books for children, I believe it’s my job to share stories which make readers feel. It’s when we care what happens to a character that we keep turning pages. If a story makes us laugh, or cry, or sigh, or even tremble with fear, then we are connecting with that story, and that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Food! Glorious Food! by Goldie Alexander

Recently, I came across an article dividing authors into two camps; those that include descriptions of food and those that don’t. Children’s authors tend to fall into the first camp, often using food as a way of illustrating character, plot and setting in their stories.

Lewis Carrol knew this. If the ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea-party’ in Alice in Wonderland was a sly dig at the middle-class, he also knew that some foods make us feel safe, as when Alice helped herself to some tea and bread and butter. Others do not, as Alice shrinks and grows, depending on which side of the mushroom she eats.

Poverty can mean hunger. Tom, the chimney sweep in The Water Babies, cried... when he had not enough to eat, which happened every day in the week... But when he leaves his discarded body behind, he eats water- cresses, perhaps; or perhaps water-gruel and water milk.

Enid Blyton used food in her Famous Five series to show happiness: 
The picnic was lovely. They had it on the top of a hill, in a sloping field that looked down into a sunny valley...The children ate enormously, and Mother said that instead of having a tea-picnic at half-past four they would have to go to a tea-house somewhere, because they had eaten all the tea sandwiches as well as the lunch ones!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Why I love writing history by Pamela Rushby

I write a lot of things. But historical fiction ("faction") is absolutely, absolutely my favourite.

Why? I call it the WOW! factor. That moment when I come across an incredible historical incident or event that makes me go WOW! can that really be true?

Usually, it is true. Because the best, the strangest, the most riveting, heart-breaking, laugh-out-loud stories aren't fiction. They're real. They come from history.

I'm constantly amazed, overwhelmed, when I come across one of these couldn't-possibly-be-true-but-they-actually-are stories. Stories that make me immediately desperate to put my own characters in the middle of the action and explore what could happen IF …

Friday, May 09, 2014

Friday Recap - Week Two

Week Two and lots of interesting things to discover and think about in our first guest authors' posts and loads of new (and old) books to discover too.

Have a look after the jump to see what happened here this week:

Book Review - The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (Puffin, 2010)

Puffin Books Australia

Arun, 8, Adelaide

Book Review - Weirdest Stories

Weirdest Stories by Paul Jennings (Penguin Books, 2006)

Penguin Books

Archie, 9, Canberra

Book Review: The Girl from Snowy River

The Girl From Snowy River by Jackie French (Harper Collins, 2012)

HarperCollins Australia

Evie, 9, Canberra

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Team Australia 2014: Canberra Grammar School

Introducing the 2014 Australian team from Canberra Grammar School:  

Jesse, Leo, Angus, Nick and Mrs Hudson with Wayne Mills at the 2014 ACT regional heat

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Research? But I write fiction! by Sherryl Clark

When I first starting writing chapter books and novels, I used a lot of stuff from my own life, but it wasn’t long before I realised that I would have to do some research for many of the things I wanted to include.

Of course, when I began my pirate novel, Pirate X, I assumed I’d just need to know about pirates and a bit about the 1700s, but soon my piles of books and folders of photocopied information grew and grew.

What are some of the particulars I had to track down?

We all know about pirates and gold doubloons! But those mostly came via Spanish ships sailing back from Central and South America. People who lived in 1717 used a variety of money. The American colonies had no currency of their own, and used everyone else’s. So a handful of money might include English shillings and pence, Dutch coins, Spanish gold and silver and French coins. A shopkeeper had to be very careful about their values. The easiest way was to weigh the coins on small scales.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Reading Up – Why It’s Important to Stretch Yourself by Tania McCartney

There’s something fabulous about stretching yourself as a reader. Not only in terms of entering new and exciting worlds well beyond your years (just wait till you’re reading some of the world’s great adult works!) but also in terms of stretching your comprehension and vocabulary.

When my daughter was eight, I gave her my vintage copy (I won’t tell you how old it was!) of Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. You may know it, and if you do, you’ll know it’s particularly magical. My daughter loved the book. She absorbed it quickly, and didn’t once ask me what any of the ‘weird, old-fashioned’ words meant.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Surfing Strange Tsunamis by Jackie French

"Stories tell us who we are. They teach us empathy so we understand who others are. They give us the power to imagine and create the future."

Jackie French's theme for her term as the 2014 Australian Children's Laureate is 'Share a Story'. Thank you, Jackie, for sharing this travel story with us at Reading for Australia

Last night, I time-travelled to Ancient Greece, almost two and a half thousand years ago. I ate dinner (tough mutton and very sweet figs) while Socrates talked and young Plato scribbled the notes that one day he’d turn into his book – that millennia later I'd read.

Books take you on many journeys.

I’ve been to school in a volcano (School For Heroes), surfed a tsunami (Elephant Alert), milked a goat on the ship that brought Captain Cook to Australia (The Goat Who Sailed the World). I’ve watched the battle of Waterloo (Nanberry: Black Brother White) and wept at the large and small  tragedies of World War I (A Rose for the Anzac Boys).

click to enlarge

Friday, May 02, 2014

Friday Recap - Week One

Welcome to Reading for Australia's third online literary festival!


As we did last year, each week's activities are summarised every Friday to make sure that you don't miss anything. With only Wayne's welcome post yesterday and two fabulous kids' book reviews today, there's not much to summarise at this stage although I do recommend that you read those posts if you haven't already. On the other hand, when I think back over the past year, well, there's actually quite a lot to recap.

April 30 was the first anniversary of Reading for Australia (we had intended to go live on 1 May but couldn't figure out how to take down the test run of Wayne's first welcome post... it's been a steep learning curve).  You can read how we set up the site in the very first Friday Recap.

Here are some of the highlights of our first year online:

Book Review - Wonder

Wonder by R J Palacio (Random House Books, 2012)

Random House Books

by Jack, 13, Sydney

Book Review - The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild by Jack London (first published in 1903, this edition published by Scholastic, 2000)

Scholastic Classics

Jesse, 12, Canberra

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Welcome by Wayne Mills

Hello and welcome to the third online literary festival at Reading for Australia.

Once again, we are pleased to bring you terrific guest authors, book reviews by kids around the world, and, of course, lots of books for you to discover during this month-long reading adventure.