Sage Cookson 4: Singapore Sensation by Sally Murphy

‘Come on Sage! We’ll miss the plane.’
As if! My parents are used to travelling. So am I, because I always go with them. They knew exactly what they need to do to get to the airport, check in and be on board in time.
Çoming!’I call, quickly finishing the text message to my best friend.
Off to the airport now. See you next week.
I press send, put my phone in my pocket, and grab my backpack and suitcase.

Sage and her parents are off to Singapore, now their work on the new cookbook is just about done. They have just one tiny segment to film, but the rest of their week is pure holiday. They are thrilled to see an article in the inflight magazine about the new book. Everything is going well. Things start going wrong as soon as they land. And it must have something to do with the pink-haired lady who seems to turn up everywhere they go.

Ten-year-old Sage has a life many would envy: she travels around Australia and beyond with her television chef parents. Somehow, wherever they are, there are mysteries. Luckily Sage is observant and quick-thinking and is good at solving them. Sage stays in touch with her friend, Lucy, by text and that means that her friend sometimes becomes part of the mystery-solving. Sage’s parents try to make her life as normal as possible, including giving her a phone to keep in touch with her best friend. This is a fun, realistic adventure mystery series sure to make many newly independent readers wish they were Sage!

Sage Cookson 4: Singapore Sensation, Sally Murphy
New Frontier Publishing 2017
ISBN: 9781925059960

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

Sage Cookson’s Fishy Surprise (Bk3) by Sally Murphy

‘But I don’t know what to paaaaack,’ my friend Lucy wails down the phone.
I laugh. ‘Don’t panic. You can always borrow my stuff if you forget anything. I’m just so glad you’re coming with us!’
I switch the phone to my other ear as I look around my bedroom, making sure I haven’t forgotten anything in my own packing. ‘It will be nice and warm at Crystal Bay, so you won’t need much.’ I glance at my suitcase. ‘I’ve packed my swimmers, shorts, t-shirts, pyjamas …’

Sage Cookson is the daughter of famous TV chefs and has a wonderful life travelling around with her parents. But she misses her best friend, Lucy, so she’s excited that Lucy is joining them for this trip. They are off to a seaside town and there’s the promise of beach and great food. There’s also a mystery as an old foe reappears. It might be just coincidence, but Nancy is no more friendly than when last they met.

‘Fishy Surprise’ is episode three in this series for young independent readers. Sage’s life is much more exciting than that of many other ten-year-olds, but it also has its challenges. Not spending enough time with her friends is one of them. Not this time. With Lucy beside her, Sage has an accomplice as she works to solve this mystery. Young readers will thrill to the life Sage leads and empathise with her travails. Themes around family, friendship, loyalty round out these stories and add filling to the pastry. Recommended for independent readers.

Sage Cookson’s Fishy Surprise, Sally Murphy
New Frontier Publishing 2017
ISBN: 9781925059755

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
www.clairesaxby.com

Sage Cookson’s Ring of Truth by Sally Murphy

‘Lucy! Your mum’s here,’ my mum calls up the stairs.

‘Already?’ Lucy pulls a face. ‘I was hoping she’d be late.’

I glance at the clock and smile. ‘She is!’

We’d been having so much fun together that we didn’t notice how late it was. We’d been talking, and listening to music and surfing the net, and laughing and doing all the things we don’t get to do together when I’m away.

‘Lucy! Your mum’s here,’ my mum calls up the stairs.

‘Already?’ Lucy pulls a face. ‘I was hoping she’d be late.’

I glance at the clock and smile. ‘She is!’

We’d been having so much fun together that we didn’t notice how late it was. We’d been talking, and listening to music and surfing the net, and laughing and doing all the things we don’t get to do together when I’m away.

Sage Cookson travels a lot. Her parents are television cooks and she goes where they go. She loves the adventure and the travel but sometimes misses her friend Lucy. In this second Sage Cookson adventure, Sage travels with her parents to Harmon Island, an island off the coast of Tasmania. There, they will film an episode about the bakery and their amazing pies. But Bettina, one of the bakery’s owners loses a ring and thinks Sage has something to do with it. Sage has to work quickly to solve the mystery before others also begin to believe she is responsible.

‘Ring of Truth’ is the second instalment in this new series from New Frontier for independent readers. Sage is a normal, sometimes messy, child who would rather be solving mysteries than doing her homework. She enjoys her travels with her family and their tv crew, but also misses time with her friends, especially Lucy. In each book, there is a mystery to be solved, and Sage is the girl for the job. She is observant, quick-thinking, caring. And there is food. Good food. Great fun: interesting settings and some sleuthing. Recommended for independent readers.

Sage Cookson’s Ring of Truth, Sally Murphy New Frontier Publishing 2016 ISBN: 9781925059748

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Sage Cookson’s Sweet Escape by Sally Murphy

‘Bye Sage! Don’t forget me, will you?’

‘As if!’ My friend Lucy is so totally not the kind of friend you could forget. Even if you wanted to, which I don’t.

We’ve been friends since we met in the book corner on the first day of kindy.

‘Bye Sage! Don’t forget me, will you?’

‘As if!’ My friend Lucy is so totally not the kind of friend you could forget. Even if you wanted to, which I don’t.

We’ve been friends since we met in the book corner on the first day of kindy.

Sage travels around Australia with her parents who front a TV series about cooking. She loves the travel, even if she misses her best friend, Lucy. But her parents have relented and she now has a mobile phone so they can keep in touch – when they are in range. This adventure sees the family and crew in south west Western Australia where they meet a chocolatier, Marco and his assistant, Nancy. The chocolate the duo make is delicious and Sage enjoys learning about cocoa and where it’s grown. But there’s something not quite right here.

‘Sweet Escape’ is the first title in a new series for young readers from New Frontier Publishing. Sage misses her friend when they travel, but she loves her adventures with her parents and the crew of the TV show. The series showcases different parts of Australia as well as different foods, while Sage unravels mysteries. Sage Cookson (with a bit of help from her family) offers bite-sized adventures recommended for independent readers.

Sage Cookson’s Sweet Escape, Sally Murphy
New Frontier Publishing 2016
ISBN: 9781925059618

Review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Meet My Book: Sage Cookson's Sweet Escape, by Sally Murphy

It’s always great to have an author drop by to introduce readers to their new book – but today I’m especially excited because the ‘visiting’ author is me. That’s right, I’m busy celebrating the release of my newest book, and first ever series.DSCN2727

  1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.    Sage Cookson’s Sweet Escape, published by New Frontier, with illustrations by Celeste Hulme (ISBN 9781925059618) Its release date is today – July 1!
  2. Why did you write the book? I was asked by New Frontier if I was interested in creating a series for younger readers. Of course I said yes, then set about thinking up a premise for the series as well as individual storylines. I love television cooking shows and also mysteries, so I combined those two interests to create a series where the main character, Sage, travels with her parents who have their own television show. Everywhere they go, something goes wrong, and Sage is at the centre of solving it.
  3. How long from idea to publication? About 18 months. First I wrote an outline for the first four titles, then we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of my ideas before I started writing. Then, as with any book, there were multiple drafts, plus editing and copyediting, as well as things like illustration and design.
  4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?  Overcoming chocolate cravings! I love chocolate A LOT and in Sweet Escape, Sage and her parents visit a chocolate factory. I kept thinking about all the yummy goodness and wanting to race out and buy more chocolate.
  5. Coolest thing about your book?  The chocolate. Oh, and the fact that it’s the first title in my first ever series. Four books have been commissioned so far, but we are currently talking about adding to the series.
  6. Something you learnt through writing the book?   That I CAN write series fiction. I had always wanted to write a series –  because I’ve always liked reading them – but had to stop and think about the whole series before I wrote this first one. The first book must tell a story of its own but also sets the scene for what’s to follow.Advance Sage 1
  7. What did you do celebrate the release?  Today I will open a bottle of something bubble and share it with my family. I’m also trying to organise a book launch in a month or so.
  8. And how will you promote the book? Lots of ways. I will blog on my own website and on other blogs. There is also a website dedicated to the series, which will have recipes, activities, sample chapters and more. And I will talk about the book at school visits and festivals.
  9. What are you working on next?  At the moment I am finalising book 4 of the series, and also working on finishing Doctoral studies. As part of my  thesis I have written three new creative works, which I hope to see published in the future.  I am also working on some picture book projects.
  10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?  At my website and at Sage Cookson’s website. Sweet Escape is now available in good bookstores and online. Check out the gorgeous cover. Cover Sage Cookson 1

Meet My Book: 1915, by Sally Murphy

Today is the release day for my new book: 1915. So, I thought I’d celebrate by asking myself the same 10 questions I usually as visiting authors. They say talking to yourself is the first sign of madness  – but hey, you have to be a bit crazy to be a children’s author, so I’m fine with that.

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

1915, published by Scholastic Australia, on February 1. 1915 (Australia's Great War)

2.  Why did you write the book?

 Usually I write a book because there’s an idea that won’t leave me alone. This time was a little different – because I was approached by Claire Hallifax at Scholastic to see if I might be interested in writing for this series (Australia’s Great War). I love a challenge, so I said yes. My brief was to create a fictional story set in the midst of Australia’s involvement in World War 1 in the year 1915 (other books in the series deal with the other years of the war). It was up to me to find a way to bring those events to life, through a character young readers could connect with. I decided on a school teacher, because I was interested in how the war affected children back home, and I thought perhaps having a teacher at the war would connect a class of children more closely.  One day I was looking at the very famous photo of the 11th Battalion posed on the Cheops pyramid, and I realised I had a starting point for my story. My character, Stanley, was there posing for a photograph. I started writing, and found that having him there on that pyramid really got me into Stanley’s head ready to tell his story.

 3. How long from idea to publication?

About two years.

4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?

Finding a way to explore really difficult events in a way that is both realistic but also appealing to children. I cried writing this book, many times, but needed to be sure to somehow offer hope. The other difficult things is fictionalising history. It is important not to alter facts too much though occasionally some poetic license is needed. For example, there are a few characters in the book who were real people. In order to write about Charles Bean, the war correspondent. I had him befriend Stanley, and get Stanley’s help on compiling the Anzac Book. This didn’t happen, of course, because Stanley is fictional. So it was important to do this only when and as necessary for the story to come alive, but not to alter what really happened.

 5. Coolest thing about your book?

My name on the cover? Seriously, though, I think the fact that it highlights the creation of The Anzac Book is pretty cool, and the photo on the pyramid too. It’s good to be able to bring pieces of history alive.

6. Something you learnt through writing the book?

That a deadline is a pretty good way to overcome self doubt. I had never written historical fiction of his length before – and kept wondering if I could really do it. But the contract had been signed, and there were deadlines, so I had to get over that and just work work work till I got it right. My editor, Claire, was a  great support.  I also learnt many many things about the Gallipoli campaign, about war, about some of the famous and less famous men and women who served, and about life back at home at the time.

7. What did you do celebrate the release?

 I’m having a virtual launch over on my website today and am planning a physical launch as well. There may even be a glass of bubbles tonight  . 🙂

 8. And how will you promote the book?

 I’ll be  visiting lots of blogs, and talking at schools and festivals throughout the year, as well as my usual twitter, facebook and so on. And telling anyone who will listen!

 9. What are you working on next?

Lots of things. I’m currently a PhD candidate, with my project focussing on children’s poetry. As part of this I am working on a verse novel and a collection of poetry.  I’ve also got a new picture book, Fly In Fly Out Dad, coming out later in the year.

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

At my author site: www.sallymurphy.com.au

Or my Facebook page.

Or on Twitter.

I’ll post links to any other interviews and publicity on one or all of these.

Oh, and today I’m having a virtual launch over on my blog. Drop by and join in the fun, If you leave a comment you will be in the draw for a free copy of the book.

And, of course, you can buy the book through good brick and mortar bookstores, or online.

 

Meet My Book: Roses are Blue, by Sally Murphy

Usually, this feature hosts guest bloggers telling us about their latest book – but today it’s my turn, because it’s the release date for my own new book.  SO, I’m going to answer the same ten questions I usually ask other visitors.

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

Roses are Blue, illustrated by Gabriel Evans, published by Walker Books and released July 1 (That’s today!)

2. Why did you write the book?

The story came to me from a thought about how embarrassing it is for my own children to have a mum like me. Then I started wondering what it would be like to have a mother who was really really different from other mums. I started exploring the idea and realised the story I needed to tell was about a mother who is disabled as the result fo a car accident, and the struggle for her daughter Amber. As I wrote it, I realised the real issue for Amber was missing her mum, and having to cope with the loss of what they had.

3. How long from idea to publication?

Years. About five years. My previous verse novels, Pearl Verses the World and Toppling were much quicker. I think this one took so long because it was hard to get the balance between the sad topic and the sense of hope I wanted to evoke.

4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?

Getting that sense of hope developed enough. I don’t mind if people cry when they read my books, but I do want them to also find something to smile about. When the topic is so sad, it can be difficult to get that balance right.

5. Coolest thing about your book?

Getting  to work with talented young illustrator Gabriel Evans. He’s amazing.

6. Something you learnt through writing the book?

The value of a good and patient editor. Actually, I already knew this, but the efforts of Sue Whiting and Jessica Owen to get the best out of me were invaluable!

7.  What did you do celebrate the release?

I had a launch at the National Conference of the CBCA in May, and will be having a local launch in August. I also bought a block of my favourite chocolate this morning and will open something cold and bubbly this evening.

8. And how will you promote the book?

As well as the launch,  later in the year I’ll be doing some touring in the Eastern states and in WA, and of course lots of online stuff like blog tours and interviews.

9. What are you working on next?

A couple of things.  I’m finishing up a  war story due for release early in 2015, and fine tuning some picture books. I’m also working on a Doctorate in Creative Writing and, for that, writing lots of poetry and another verse novel.

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

On my website, www.sallymurphy.com.au

Or my Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sally-Murphy

My Twitter handle is @sallymurphy

You can also visit the Walker Books website http://walkerbooks.com.au/Books/Roses-Are-Blue-9781922244376

And, of course, the book can be bought from any good bookstore (if they don’t have it, ask!) 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.

February Reads

Another month has passed, and so it’s time to have a look at what I read for February. Pleasing to see my balance being restored towards my chief love – books for children. This month I indulged my six year old self and tracked down old copies of AA Milne’s poetry from Ebay. I loved rediscovering them and have moved from there to lots of other verse and poetry, so look out for them in my March list and beyond.

I only read 12 books, and several of them were short, which is a reflection of how busy my life has been of late. I’m a so reading a lot of journal articles which don’t make it into this list.

Those I’ve reviewed I’ve linked to, as always.

In Falling Snow Mary-Rose MacColl Allen & Unwin Adult
Red Fox Sandy Fussell Walker Books Children’s
Lost Voices Christopher Koch Fourth Estate Adult
The Rosie Black Chronicles Lara Morgan Walker Books Young Adult
When We Were Very Young AA Milne Dean Children’s Poetry
The Girl From Snowy River Jackie French Harper Collins Young Adult
Now We Are Six AA Milne Dean Children’s Poetry
Stories for 7 Year Olds Linsay Knight (ed) Random House Children’s
Unreviewed Adult
Rocket Into Space Ragbir Bhathal and Johanna Davids National Library Children’s NF
Topsy-Turvy World Kirsty Murray National Library Children’s NF
Catch the Zolt Phillip Gwynne Allen & Unwin Young Adult

January Reads

Well, where did that go? And by that I mean January. Seems only seconds ago we were ushering in the new year and now here it is February already!

After last year’s challenge to try to read a book a day (at which I failed miserably) this year I’ve decided not to put a number on t, but I am keeping track of my reading and am going to try to post my list each month.

So, without any further nonsense, here is my reading list for January, with links to reviews

1 Thirst LA Larkin Pier 9/Murdoch
2 The Magnificent Tree Nick Bland & Stephen Michael King Scholastic
3 Sheep on a Beach P. Crumble & Danielle McDonald Scholastic
4 Too Cold for a Tutu Mini Goss Allen & Unwin
5 Dads: A Field Guide Justin Ratcliffe & Cathie Glassby Random House
6 Hannah & Emil Belinda Castles Allen & Unwin
7 In the Company of Strangers Liz Byrski Macmillan
8 Friday Brown Vikki Wakefield Text
9 The Burial Courtney Collins Allen & Unwin
10 Word Hunters Nick Earls UQP
11 Finding Jasper Lynne Leonhardt Margaret River Press
12 Unforgotten Tohby Riddle Allen & Unwin
13 Heather Fell in the Water Doug MacLeod & Craig Smith Allen & Unwin
14 Around the World in 80 Days Jules Verne & Robert Ingpen Walker Books
15 Unnatural Habits Kerry Greenwood Allen & Unwin

 

Six of these were picture books – which I only count in my tally if I also review them – so I definitely had a slower month  reading-wise. Must have something to do with the beautiful summer we’re having in my part of the world.