Pippa’s Island: The Beach Shack Cafe

Outside, kids were running, shouting, playing and laughing. If I closed my eyes it sounded just like the playground of my old school back in London. But instead of cool and misty air, the sun shone down bright and hot. The air smelled different too. All sea-salty and spicy. And of course the biggest difference was that almost everyone was a stranger.

Pippa and her family might have moved to an idyllic island town, but that doesn’t make it easy. She has left behind friends she’s known since nursery school in London, and moved across the world to Australia, where everything seems different. On top of that, they are living in a caravan in her grandparents’ garden while Mum puts everything into renovating a run-down boatshed she wants to make into a cafe bookshop. Pippa isn’t sure it will work, but when she makes some new friends, things start looking up.

The Beach Shack Cafe is the first title in a new series following Pippa’s new life on Kira Island. Pippa faces the challenges of a new start with the help of her thoughtful, if slightly distracted, mum, and through trial and occasional error.

Young readers will love the island setting and will look forward to more installments.

Pippa’s Island 1: The Beach Shack Cafe, by Belinda Murrell
Random House Australia, 2017
ISBN 9780143783671

Meet Banjo Paterson, by Kristin Weidenbach & James Gulliver Hancock

Meet... Banjo Paterson (Meet...)As he sat in his dingy office, Banjo dreamed of the drovers bringing big mobs of cattle down from Queensland. He stared out the window and longed to swap places with those in the back of beyond.

Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson is one of Australia’s best known and loved poets. Poems such as ‘The Man From Snowy River’, ‘Clancy of the Overflow’ and ‘Waltzing Matilda’ have entertained Australians of all ages for more than a century. Meet… Banjo Paterson introduces young readers to the man behind the poems, and how he came to write them.

Told in simple language the text focusses on key events in Paterson’s life and how these translated to the page. Illustrations on every spread bring scenes to life but also depict the way his imagination worked and, in turn, ignited the imagination of readers.

Part of the Meet… series, which brings notable Australians to life in a form accessible to young readers. Suitable both for classroom use and for private reading.

Meet… Banjo Paterson, Kristin Weidenbach & James Gulliver Hancock
Random House Australia, 2016

Stories for Simon, by Lisa Miranda Sarzin & Lauren Briggs

Stories for Simon‘We’ll always be sorry, Simon. Not so that we feel sad or guilty, but to always remember the bad things that happened and make sure that they never happen again. That way, the future will be as bright as you can imagine it.

When Simon’s uncle sends him a beautifully painted boomerang, Simon is delighted. But it is a newspaper article, wrapped around the boomerang, that Simon learns from. The article is about the Prime Minister’s apology to the Stolen Generations. Simon and his friends start to learn what the word ‘sorry’ means, and why the word has such meaning for all Australians. The adults in Simon’s life help him to understand what happened to the Stolen Generations, and why we should remember, but it is when he meets Aunty Betty, herself a member of the Stolen Generation, that he gains new understanding.

Stories for Simon is a moving, important story about the National Apology, why it was necessary and why we must continue to be sorry for what happened to the Stolen Generation. Told as a story with mystical elements, it provides an accessible tool for children to understand reconciliation and discuss these important issues at school and at home.

created by two non-indigenous Australian mothers, with the mentorship of Indigenous Elder Vic Simms and endorsed by Adam Goodes and his cousin Michael O’Loughlin from the Goodes O’Loughlin Foundation, Stories for Simon is a story of hope and understanding.

Stories for Simon, by Lisa Miranda Sarzin & Lauren Briggs
Random House Australia, 2015
ISBN 9780857987440

Available from good bookstores and online.

Regal Beagle by Vijay Khurana ill Simon Greiner

Every person in the entire land was crying.

In the royal city the rich nobles cried in the windows of their carriages, hiding their faces in silk handkerchiefs. Poor beggars sat by the road and cried too, wiping their noses on their dirty sleeves. …

… They were all crying because the Queen had died. It’s always very sad when a queen dies, but this time it was especially sad because the Queen had been very good and very just and very beautiful, and all the people loved her very much.

Every person in the entire land was crying.

In the royal city the rich nobles cried in the windows of their carriages, hiding their faces in silk handkerchiefs. Poor beggars sat by the road and cried too, wiping their noses on their dirty sleeves. …

… They were all crying because the Queen had died. It’s always very sad when a queen dies, but this time it was especially sad because the Queen had been very good and very just and very beautiful, and all the people loved her very much.

What do you do when there is no direct relative to take the place of the Queen? You appoint her best friend. And in this case, her best friend is Lucy, the royal beagle. But what if you thought you were more qualified to be leader of the country than Lucy? You might just be a bit put out and perhaps even try to show others why a beagle isn’t the best choice as leader. Add in some fleas, some advisors and you have a recipe for a dastardly plot. Or a royal mystery interlaced with humour and adventure. Or both. There are black and white illustrations throughout, framed as if windows into the action.

Regal Beagle is delightfully absurd, almost vaudevillian in its humour. The goodies are very good, the baddies are dreadful and the people of this kingdom (Queendom?) are easily led. Lucy is not sure she wants to be queen, but when there seems no other option, she tries very hard to be her best. She is humble and gentle, trusting and fallible. Fortunately, as well as the evil Lord Runcible, there are others in the royal palace prepared to support and advise her. Newly independent readers will enjoy this illustrated chapter book. Recommended for junior primary readers.

 

Regal Beagle, Vijay Khurana ill Simon Greiner
Random House 2014 ISBN: 9780857983701

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

The Icicle Illuminarium by N J Gemmell

‘Caddys major, intermediate and minor, put down your snakes!’

Well, we most certainly do. This is Charlie Boo, after all. The bravest, cleverest butler in the entire universe – trained in martial arts in Rangoon and hat-frisbeeing in Haiti, and an endless source of chocolate airplanes that appear, thrillingly, at unexpected moments. Which could be now. In fact, Scruff’s got his tongue out in readiness. Four green tree snakes are unwrapped quick-smart from four necks. Not missing out on this one. Four green tree snakes are plopped on the lion skin in front of us.

‘Caddys major, intermediate and minor, put down your snakes!’

Well, we most certainly do. This is Charlie Boo, after all. The bravest, cleverest butler in the entire universe – trained in martial arts in Rangoon and hat-frisbeeing in Haiti, and an endless source of chocolate airplanes that appear, thrillingly, at unexpected moments. Which could be now. In fact, Scruff’s got his tongue out in readiness. Four green tree snakes are unwrapped quick-smart from four necks. Not missing out on this one. Four green tree snakes are plopped on the lion skin in front of us.

Kick, Scruff, Bert and Pin are four children accustomed to managing – sort of – on their own. They are living with their eccentric uncle Basti in his house in post-WWII London. Their father, thought lost, is found, but is very unwell. And for the first time in a long time, there’s a whiff of hope that their mother is still alive. And if there’s even a hope, the Caddy’s are not going to ignore it. So as their father is sent off to get better, they slip away to follow the scant clues they had. But the clues lead them far away and into the clutches of Lady Adora, owner of the Icicle Illuminarium. She has plans of her own, and it seems that their arrival may just bring all her plans together. But she has of course reckoned without the ingenuity and bravery of these four young Australians and their friends.

The Icicle Illuminarium follows ‘The Kensington Reptilarium’ which brought the four Caddy children to London. They may have a new home for now, but there is still much of the wild Australian outback in each and all of them. Caddy is reluctant substitute mother to the other three, a mantle she wears heavily, and which comes with many challenges particularly from Scruff and Bert. But she’s trying. And at the bottom of all her doubt and bossiness, is a fierce love and protectiveness for her siblings. These are wild children, unbound by convention. This is a story about family, in myriad formations. The Icicle Illuminarium is told from Kick’s perspective with all the fallibility of the first person narrative. Like ‘The Kensington Reptilarium’, The Icicle Illuminarium is a wild romp through adventure and danger, complete with red herrings, ghostly boys, madness and dastardly plots. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.

 

The Icicle Illuminarium, N J Gemmell
Random House 2014 ISBN: 9780857985675

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Meet My Book: Wanting Mr Wrong, by Avril Tremayne

Today Avril Tremayne joins me to introduce you to her new book, Wanting Mr Wrong.

 

Avril Tremayne

 

Welcome Avril!

1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.Wanting Mr Wrong, Avril Tremayne
Wanting Mr Wrong by Avril Tremayne; Random House Australia; February 2015
Blurb: Evie Parker has never been one to swoon after celebrities – give her a neuroscientist over an actor any day! So when she develops her first movie-star crush, she’s determined to date her way out of it, starting with the next good-looking doctor she sees. Yet hovering on the fringes of her life is her gay best friend’s determined brother, Jackson J Stevens, a famous actor who comes with trailing paparazzi. The one thing worse than a celebrity in Evie’s eyes is a media circus, so Jack isn’t an option no matter how hard he flirts with her. Evie knows what she doesn’t want; Jack knows what he does. And somewhere in the middle, pheromones are making things go haywire every time they’re together.

2. Why did you write the book?
I got the idea for this book after watching British actor Matthew Macfadyen play Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. He was my first ever movie star crush and I was a little bit shocked at how obsessed I became. My work colleagues at the time were shameless enablers, so a period of YouTube watching and fan site scouring ensued – and it was a very funny and wonderful period in my life, to be honest. I have a habit of using stray events like that and twisting them into story ideas, and this one was irresistible. What would happen if I put a heroine in the same ‘crush’ predicament…? Wanting Mr Wrong is the result.

3. How long from idea to publication?
The idea part happened years ago, but all that YouTube watching aside, my job at the time was very a demanding 24/7 one, with unpredictable hours and travel patterns, which made it almost impossible to write a book – although I did a lot of thinking about how it would progress and the types of scenes I would include. It wasn’t until two years ago, when I decided to opt out of corporate life, that I got the chance to put it together properly.

4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?
Finding the best way to tell it. I initially wrote the book in the third person, from the points of view of both the heroine and hero. But something about it didn’t quite feel right. I’m not sure what made me rewrite it solely from the heroine’s point of view, but once I started doing that, it seemed to click. It was, nevertheless, a massive adjustment.

5. Coolest thing about your book?
The coolest thing is the character of Drew – the heroine’s best friend, who is also the hero’s brother. He is funny and irreverent and tells it like it is, but has a wonderful heart.

6. Something you learnt through writing the book?
The rewriting I mentioned taught me a lot about paring back, because I had to kill a lot of darlings in the process. I also learnt a lot about using dialogue to the best advantage, because that was the only way I had of letting readers into the hero’s head.

7. What did you do celebrate the release?
I celebrate, always, with a Negroni.

8. And how will you promote the book?
I’m fairly active on social media, as well as a columnist on a couple of romance writers’ blog sites. I’m still a relatively new writer, but I believe in taking advantage of every opportunity.

9. What are you working on next?
When I finished Wanting Mr Wrong, I knew I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Evie’s friends, Chloe and Drew, so I am actually working on books for those characters. I’m in the process of finishing Chloe’s story right now. Chloe is a television reporter with a reputation for being cool, calm and collected – but she has a fiery core that only one man seems to see.

10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?
I love interacting with readers, and will be sharing snippets and other information about the book – and my life – on:
my web site – http://www.avriltremayne.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/avril.tremayne
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AvrilTremayne
Wattpad – http://www.wattpad.com/AvrilTremayne

Thanks for popping in, Avril, and good luck with the book!

If you want to learn more about Avril and Wanting Mr Wrong, you can follow the rest of her blog tour. Tomorrow she is at My Written Romance.

Meet My Book : Arkie's Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing, by Lisa Walker

It’s lovely to have Lisa Walker here today to talk about her new book. Over to you, Lisa.Lisa Walker

1.      Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.

Title: Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing    

Publisher: Random House – Bantam

Release Date: 1st February, 2015.

2.       Why did you write the book?

This story started with the idea of a pilgrimage. Over the last ten years or so it has seemed like almost everyone I meet has just done, or is about to do, a pilgrimage. Those who have returned talk about it ecstatically – it was life changing, they say.

The idea of a pilgrimage attracted me. I visualised the experience as a chance to take stock and maybe change direction. Although I am yet to do one myself I still have a vague notion that at some stage I will head out on a spiritual journey from which I will return changed for the better.

Instead of a journey, my fascination with pilgrimages has produced a book. Arkie’s pilgrimage forms the backbone of a story about redemption, trust and finding magic in the everyday.

 

3.       How long from idea to publication?

About four years. I tend to write my first draft quite quickly but then take a long time to revise and polish it.

4.       What was the hardest thing about writing it?

Finding the right concept and then sticking with it was hard. The novel started as a story about a woman walking the Shikoku pilgrimage trail in Japan. I bought a lot of books about the pilgrimage and became quite an armchair expert, but somehow I could never find the time to go to Shikoku and research it. Despite this obstacle the book was on a roll so, loathe to put on the brakes, I got creative and changed the setting. My pilgrim now travels no further north than Noosa and no further south than Sydney. She is a ‘do it yourself’ pilgrim, finding transcendence on the highways of our local area on her way to the next ‘big thing’. Throughout the writing process the concept of a pilgrimage to the ‘big things’ often struck me as a little wacky and I got quite shy trying to describe my story to others. My writing group was very good at encouraging me along to the next big thing.

5.       Coolest thing about your book?

Probably the fact that I’ve managed to combine a pilgrimage, a mid-life crisis, big things, surrealism, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, spirituality and a dash of magic all in one book.

6.       Something you learnt through writing the book?

As well as learning a lot about big things I also researched Japanese spirituality. I was particularly taken with the story of Tanuki the shape-shifting racoon dog. Tanuki is a trickster who pays for his food and drinks in money which turns to leaves as soon as he is out of sight. He can also turn himself into a teapot at will. When Arkie picks up an old teapot on the side of the road strange things begin to happen.

7.       What did you do celebrate the release?

I had a launch party at the Northern Rivers Writers Centre in Byron Bay. The staff at the centre have been a big support to me over many years and every book is a huge milestone. You can’t let it go past without raising a glass of champagne.

8.       And how will you promote the book?

For a start, I’m doing a blog tour! My son, who’s into film, has made a book trailer for me, which you can see on my website www.lisawalker.com.au. I’m doing two speaking events in Sydney (at Ashfield and Randwick), one in Lismore and one on the Gold Coast. You can find out more about these on my blog www.lisawalkerwriter.wordpress.com.

I also have an article about big things coming out in the Fairfax ‘Escape’ travel section across Australia and Random House is doing a TV ad on Foxtel, which is pretty exciting. I’ll be at Bellingen Writers Festival in June and Byron Bay Writers Festival in August and I’m sure some other events will pop up along the way.

9.       What are you working on next?

I’m branching out. My current work-in-progress is a young adult novel about a Brisbane teenager with an obsession for Paris. It’s a coming of age story, tentatively titled ‘Paris Syndrome’. I’ve just been over in France doing some research, which was awfully tough of course.

10.   Where we can find out more about you and your book?

website: www.lisawalker.com.au

blog: lisawalkerwriter.wordpress.com

twitter: lisawalkertweet

facebook: www.facebook.com/lisawalkerhome

instagram: lisawalkerwriter

 

Thanks for dropping by, Lisa.

Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing is out now! You can see all the dates for Lisa’s blog tour here.

Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth

This is my nightmare. Sure, there are any number of planks in the rickety suspension bridge of our trip that could give out and send us plummeting – the flight, the road trips to Okanagan Lake and Seattle. Foreign places, foreign people. Foreign everything. And, of course, The Appointment and all of the question marks it entails. But to go wrong here? Here? At the airport? On the list of places you’d want to avoid acting out of the ordinary, the airport would rank number one with a bullet. Or maybe a taser.

Nineteen year old twins Justine and Perry have had a tough few years. Their beloved dad has died after a battle with cancer, and they are on their own. Now, as they plan to part ways for the first time in their lives, they are taking a trip together. But travelling is complicated, because Perry is autistic, and doesn’t always cope well with change. Justine has always looked after him, but there are times when even she finds it hard to get through to Perry. From their arrival at the airport she is faced with challenges, but only she knows that in Canada they are going to face what could be their biggest challenge of all.

Are You Seeing Me? is a beautiful young adult novel, dealing with themes of disability, family, loyalty and change. While it is Perry who seemingly has the hardest time dealing with change, Justine too has lessons to learn about trust and about caring for herself, even about her brother. Their journey is both physical and metaphoric, and readers will enjoy seeing the sights through Perry’s eyes, as his fascination with earthquakes, mythical sea-creatures and Jackie Chan dictate their touring schedule.

Using the alternate viewpoints of Justine and Perry, each with their own unique voice and take on the world, Are You Seeing Me? is funny, sad and touching in equal measure.

 

Are You Seeing Me?

Are You Seeing Me?, by Darren Groth
Woolshed Press, 2014
ISBN 9780857984739

Available from good bookstores and online.

Intruder, by Christine Bongers

Maybe it was the creak of a worn floorboard that woke me. Or the subtle shift in air pressure as another body invaded my space. I struggled up out of a dream, confused and disoriented, squinting into the darkness.
‘Dad?’ The shadows coalesced into a human form, close enough to touch. ‘Is that you?’
‘Is he here?’ the strange voice – a man’s voice – struck my heart like a hammer.

When Kat awakes to an intruder in her bedroom, she screams, and her neighbour comes running to her aid. But Edwina, the neighbour, is almost as unwelcome in Kat’s life as the prowler, having betrayed Kat’s dying mother in the last days of her life. Now it seems Edwina is going to become a part of her life again, whether Kat likes it or not.

And there’s another unwanted guest in her house – a dog called Hercules, who is supposed to guard her in future. Kat is terrified of dogs, but given the choice between Hercules or sleeping at Edwina’s when her dad is out working, she accepts the dog as the lesser of two evils. When walking Hercules leads to her meeting Al at the dog park, Kat realises he’s not all bad, and when the prowler reveals he isn’t done with her, Kat comes to realise she might need Hercules AND Edwina on her side.

Intruder is a gripping story that takes the reader on a journey from fear, to laughter, to confusion, to angst and well beyond. There are lots of light moments, as well as feel-good ones, but the threat of a stalker-intruder hangs over the book, as do the back story of Kat’s mother’s death and the events for which Kat blames Edwina. The reader wants to know what happened and what will happen in equal measure.

Teen readers will lap this up, with the blend of mystery, suspense, angst, romance and humour satisfyingly executed.

 

Intruder

Intruder, by Chris Bongers
Woolshed Press, 2014
ISBN 9780857983763

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Treasure of Dead Man's Cove & Mayhem at Magic School, by George Ivanoff

‘Treasure!’
You freeze. Where did that voice come from?
You are in the hallway of the small guesthouse in the seaside town of Seabreeze. You and your parents are staying here for the summer holidays.
‘Treasure!’

You Choose is an exciting new series of choose your own adventure type books from Australian author George Ivanoff, aimed at primary aged readers. In The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove , readers make decisions during a stay at a seaside town rumoured to have hidden treasure. Depending on what choices they make along the way they could uncover the treasure, or be destined for doom stuck in a cave with a rising tide. In Mayhem at Magic School the reader finds themselves with surprising magical skills, and has to decide whether to keep them hidden, or head off to magic school.

Both books will appeal to readers of a range of levels and interests. For reluctant readers, the appeal of being able to complete the adventure fairly quickly (in Mayhem at Magic School it is possible to reach the end by page 21, depending on the choices made), will appeal, but of course curiosity about where other choices may lead is likely to encourage further reading and rereading. The novelty value is heightened by the use of second person narrative (‘you’), which allows the reader to place themself in the story and encourages them to consider what choices they would make.

This high interest, fast moving pair is loads of fun.

The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove

Mayhem at Magic School

Both published by Random House, 2014