Even More Awards News

Recently I posted a big list of recent awards and shortlists. No sooner had I done this than there were several more announcements. It may be hard to keep up, but it is really exciting seeing books (and their creators) in the spotlight. So, hoping I don’t miss any, here’s a summary of recent announcements

The SCBWI Crystal Kite Awards is an award voted on by  SCBWI members and, as such, is an award made by children’s authors and illustrators  to one of their own. The winner of the Crystal Kite Award for 2013:

Ten Tiny Things, by Meg McKinlay and Kyle Hughes-Odgers

This book also features in the shortlist for the Wilderness Society’s Children’s Book Award which is as follows:

Preschool Category

Our Nest is Best By Penny Olsen and Penny O’ Hara (NLA Publishing)
Kangaroos Hop By Ros Moriarty and Balarinji (Allen & Unwin)
The Last Dance By Sally Morgan (Little Hare)

Primary category


Ten Tiny Things, By  Meg McKinlay and Kyle Hughes-Odgers (Fremantle Press)

Tanglewood ,By Margaret Wild and Vivienne Goodman (Omnibus Books)

Bizi the Musk Duck of Barren Box Swamp, By Ann-Maree Thompson (Ann-Maree Thompson)

Also announced recently were the shortlists for the Reading & Enjoying Australian Literature (REAL) Awards, which serve as shortlists for the state reader’s choice awards for children in Australian Capital Territory (COOL Awards), New South Wales (KOALAs), the Northern Territory (KROC Awards) and Victoria (YABBAs). The shortlists are:


Picture storybooks

  • Baby Wombat’s Week (Jackie French, illus by Bruce Whatley, HarperCollins)
  • Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair (Lee Fox, illus by Cathy Wilcox, Lothian)
  • A Giraffe in the Bath (Mem Fox & Oliva Rawson, illus by Kerry Argent, Viking)
  • Hunwick’s Egg (Mem Fox, illus by Pamela Lofts, Puffin)
  • The Jewel Fish of Karnak (Graeme Base, Viking)
  • The Little Refugee (Anh & Suzanne Do, illus by Bruce Whatley, A&U)
  • Mirror (Jeannie Baker, Walker Books)
  • Pooka (Carol Chataway & Nina Rycroft, Working Title Press)
  • Two Bad Teddies (Kilmeny Niland, Little Hare)
  • The Very Cranky Bear (Nick Bland, Scholastic)


Fiction for younger readers

  • Alice Miranda Shows the Way (Jacqueline Harvey, Random House)
  • Andy Roid and the Field Trip Terror (Felice Arena, Puffin)
  • Billie B Brown: The Copy Cat Kid (Sally Rippin, HGE)
  • Bungawitta (Emily Rodda, Omnibus)
  • EJ12: Pyramid Puzzle (Susannah McFarlane, Lemonfizz Media)
  • Our Australian Girl: Meet Nellie (Penny Matthews, Puffin)
  • Our Australian Girl: Meet Rose (Sheryl Clark, Puffin)
  • Pizza Cake (Morris Gleitzman, Puffin)
  • The Siege Scare (Frances Watts, illus by Gregory Rogers, A&U)
  • The Golden Door (Emily Rodda, Omnibus)


Fiction for older readers

  • The 26-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan)
  • Brotherband: The Outcasts (John Flanagan, Random House)
  • Con-Nerd (Oliver Phommavanh, Puffin)
  • Eric Vale, Epic Fail (Michael Gerard Bauer, illus by Jon Bauer, Scholastic)
  • The Forgotten Pearl (Belinda Murrell, Random House)
  • Just Doomed! (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan)
  • Nanberry: Black Brother White (Jackie French, Angus & Robertson)
  • Specky Magee and the Best of Oz (Felice Arena, Puffin)
  • Thai-Riffic! (Oliver Phommavanh, Puffin)
  • The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow (Aj Mackinnon, Black Inc.)


Fiction for years 7-9

  • A Straight Line to My Heart (Bill Condon, A&U)
  • After (Morris Gleitzman, Viking)
  • The Book Thief (Marcus Zusak, Picador)
  • Contact (Chris Morphew, HGE)
  • The Dead I Know (Scott Gardner, A&U)
  • Give Me Four Reasons (Lizzie Wilcox, Little Hare)
  • Grace (Morris Gleitzman, Viking)
  • The Invisible Hero (Elizabeth Fensham, UQP)
  • Shift (Em Bailey, HGE)
  • Stolen (Lucy Christopher, Chicken House).

Lastly (I think) the shortlist for the Miles Franklin Award was also announced, with an all female-author list for the first time ever. The shortlisted books are:

Floundering, by Romy Ash –

The Beloved, by Annah Faulkner

Questions of Travel, by Michelle de Kretser

The Mountain, by Drusilla Modjeska

Mateship with Birds, by Carrie Tiffany


April Reads

Another new month means that it’s time to look back over what I read last month. I got through nineteen books and, as with the previous month, lots of poetry collections, which has been fun. I also read several Anzac and war-themed books, with Anzac Day falling in April. Here’s the list with, as always, links to those I’ve reviewed. Have a great month.

Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory Peter Smith & Bob Graham Allen & Unwin Picture Book
Dinosauritis Jeannette Rowe Allen & Unwin Picture Book
All the Small Poems Valerie Worth Farrar Strauss Giroux Children’s Poetry
Chasing the Light Jesse Blackadder Fourth Estate Adult
Chinese Whispers Christine Harris Omnibus Young Adult
About Auntie Rose Jenny Boult Omnibus/Puffin Children’s Poetry
I Rhyme My Time David Martin Jacaranda Children’s Poetry
For me, me, me Dorothy Butler Hodder Children’s Poetry
Poetry to the Rescue Steven Herriick UQP Children’s Poetry
The Mimosa Tree Antonella Preto Fremantle Press Young Adult
Guinea Pig Town Lorraine Marwood Walker Books Children’s Poetry
Tom Jones Saves the World Steven Herrick UQP Children’s
Amber Road Boyd Anderson Bantam Adult
Gallipoli Alan Tucker Scholastic Children’s
Light Horse Boy Dianne Wolfer Fremantle Press Picture Book
For Valour Nicolas Brasch Black Dog Children’s NF
Anzac Biscuits Phil Cummings Scholastic Picture Book
During the War I Rode a Horse Lyle Murphy Author House Adult
Portraits of Celina Sue Whiting Walker Books Young Adult

Portraits of Celina, by Sue Whiting

“What happened to her? I dare to ask. “Really?”
Mu eyes the floor as if the answer is contained in the grains and knots of the floorboards. “No one knows for sure,” she says after a while. “Set off to school one day and was never seen again.” She pushes herself clumsily to her feet, the memory of it seeming to weigh her down. “It’s ancient history, Bails…”

A few months ago, Bayley’s father died suddenly. Now, her mother has moved the shattered family to the country, to live in the house where Celina O’Malley grew up. Moving here is supposed to heal them, but Bayley feels the presence of Celina, her mother’s cousin, who disappeared forty years ago. Bayley is sleeping in Celina’s old room, is the same age Celina was when she disappeared and, she discovers, looks just like Celina. But that’s not the strangest thing. Bayley has memories of things she couldn’t possibly remember – because they happened forty years ago. Celina seems to want Bayley’s help – but giving that help could risk Bayley’s life.

Portraits of Celina is a spooky tale of revenge, love and family. Even without the ghost haunting her, Bayley has a lot to deal with – the loss of her much loved father, a sister who’s off the rails, a barely coping mother, a little brother who won’t change out of his Batman costume, and a boy who calls her Crazyeyes and seems to like her. Mostly she balances all of this, but as the story progresses she finds support not only from within but from those around her.

Whiting balances the supernatural, ghost elements with a story which deals with very real issues of grief, teen rebellion and family, offering a read which teens will love.

Portraits of Celina

Portraits of Celina, by Sue Whiting
Walker Books, 2013
ISBN 9781922077479

Available from good bookstores or online.

Amber Road, by Boyd Anderson

Thunder was beginning to roll across the water. The storm would soon arrive.

Victoria Khoo is seventeen, and very sure of her destiny. She will marry Sebastian Boustead and become the mistress of the family mansion, next to her own family’s home in Amber Road. When she learns that Sebastian has arrived back from England with a fiancée in two, she is sure there is some kind of mistake. They are meant to be together. But within days, Victoria has more weighty issues to deal with, as the war reaches Asia and Singapore surrenders to the Japanese.

Soon Victoria’s family is separated – her parents and sisters fleeing to the family rubber plantation, and Victoria living with her stepmother (her father’s number two wife), grandmother and half siblings in Singapore. Under Japanese occupation, Singapore is no longer the idyllic British colony of Victoria’s childhood. She must do what she can to survive the war and protect her family. Yet she will not abandon her dream of one day fulfilling her destiny as Sebastian’s wife, even though she is now responsible for ensuring his fiancée’s safety, and she herself has a new friendship with a charismatic Australian.

Amber Road is an absorbing tale of one woman’s experience of wartime Singapore. Victoria is, at the start of the story, a self absorbed teen and it is intriguing to watch her growth amidst terrible hardship. At the same time the reader is aware that much of the determination she shows is something she already possessed, and her self absorption is one of the tools which helps her survive.

With romance, suspense, history and more, Amber Road is a well told tale which leaves the reader wanting to follow the characters into their future to see what unfolds next.

Amber Road

Amber Road, by Boyd Anderson
Bantam, an imprint of Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781742759395

Available from good bookstores or online.

Meet My Book: Meet Mary MacKillop, by Sally Murphy

Introducing a new series of posts, where I invite authors to drop in and tell us about their new books. To get the ball rolling, I thought I’d post about my own new release. I look forward to sharing lots of new books this way in the coming months.

1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.
Meet Mary Mackillop, illustrated by Sonia Martinez, published by Random House Australia May 1 2013.

Meet Mary Mackillop

2. Why did you write the book?
Two reasons. Firstly, because I was asked to by Jeanmarie, the commissioning editor of Random House’s new Meet… series, a series focusing on great Australians. Secondly, because even before I was asked I had long admired Mary MacKillop as a woman who saw a need and set about filling it, even in difficult circumstances. It was a real honour being asked to bring her story to life for young readers.

3. How long from idea to publication?
I was approached about writing the story in March 2012, so just over a year. This is really quick for a picture book – my longest was about 8 years.

4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?
Finding a balance between the history and a story suitable for primary school aged readers. There was so much I wanted to share, and only a few words in which to get it across. For this reason I chose to focus on one year in Mary’s life, and chose the year in which she set up her first school.

5. Coolest thing about your book?
The wonderful illustrations by the incredible Sonia Martinez. I was delighted when Jeanmarie told me that she had commissioned Sonia, as I have long admired her work.

6. Something you learnt through writing the book?

To trust myself. I actually experienced a bit of self doubt when writing this book. I had done all this research and become so close to the story that I got a bit panicky about getting it right. As a result I found there was a period where I couldn’t work. In the end I had to give myself a good talking to and just get words down on the page. As any writer knows you can’t write a book without actually doing some rewriting – and it’s easier to fix a story that’s on the page than one that’s in your head. Once I sat down and wrote and experimented and rewrote and rewrote some more I had a story which worked.
I also learnt a lot about Mary MacKillop and the obstacles she faced to take education to children who wouldn’t have otherwise have had access to school.

7. What did you do celebrate the release?
In the midst of a busy week, I blogged, tweeted and also Facebooked about the release, put the book on display in my office at my day job, and also smiled a lot. There may have also been a quiet glass of red and some dark chocolate. I am hoping to have a launch a bit later on.

8. And how will you promote the book?
I do a lot of online promotion – on my blog, on other people’s blogs when I’m invited, and on Twitter and my Facebook author page. I also do school, festival and conference appearances (am off to the state ALEA mini-conference next weekend). On a smaller scale, I always have my latest book cover in my email signature line, and I also have an author website, which I am in the process of having redesigned to better promote my works.

9. What are you working on next?
A few things. I always have several projects at different stages of completion. At present I have two picture books for younger readers awaiting edits, a verse novel waiting for feedback, a collection of poetry I’m trying to pull together and a longer historical story which I’m researching. Not to mention several other stories which are ‘resting’ till I get back to them for rewrites, and a bazillion ideas waiting for me to write them.

10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?
At my website www.sallymurphy.net, and at the Random House website where you can also preview some of the book’s pages. And Meet Mary MacKillop is available from good bookstores or if you’d like to order online you can do so here

Enjoyed this post? Stay tuned for more Meet My Book posts in coming weeks. And if you’re in Aussie author who’d like to take part and introduce us to your book, drop me a line.