The Power of Suffering, by David Roland, reviewed by Leonie Callaway

The Power of Suffering is a beautiful book. Exquisite storytelling, and a   book that could only be written by someone with the unique causes and conditions of David Roland – a personal journey through suffering, a psychologist’s eye and the capacity to weave his own story and observations with the stories of others. For me, the reflections on the suffering of “moral injury” were especially pertinent, and David’s explorations of spirituality and suffering are nuanced, generous and encouraging. This book was launched as our world launched into the unprecedented changes of a global pandemic, and perhaps there has never been a time when a book about suffering has been more relevant?

You can learn more about David Roland and his books at his website  here: www.davidroland.com.au

 

Guest Blogger: Sally Bradfield Discusses the Genesis of Not Quite 30-Love

It’s always a pleasure to meet another Sally, and today I am excited to be welcoming Sally Bradfield as a guest blogger at Aussiereviews. Over to you Sally. 

The Genesis   

Hi, My name is Sally Bradfield and I spent many years (try twenty) travelling the globe working in marketing and communications on the professional tennis circuit. Yes, I met and worked with all the household names you can think of: Serena and Venus Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic…

My first real tennis job was a WTA Communications Manager. The WTA stands for Women’s Tennis Association. Watch the movie on Billie Jean King (who I am also proud to know), called ‘Battle of the Sexes’ to understand how the women’s tennis tour began.  I remember starting this job and being blown away by being paid to travel around the world, staying at five star hotels, eating room service and watching tennis. I said to a few long term employees – how could you ever get sick of this? Then the real work began. As the meat in the sandwich between getting players, sponsors, fans and tournaments together, the communications team are always fighting an uphill battle. You work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week and get yelled at a lot.  But you do meet amazing people, see unbelievable places and watch astonishing athletes at play.

About ten years ago, I gave it all up to settle back in Sydney. I am married to a former professional player, now coach – Nicole Arendt (who is American, but moved here so we could live in the greatest country in the world). I missed tennis and some of the travel. A bit like Hotel California, they kept calling me back. Each year when the tennis came ‘down under,’ I worked at the Sydney tournament, visited my friends at the Australian Open. Every couple of years, we went to Wimbledon. Nicole often played the legends event and we are given special access forever as Nicole’s a member of the Last 8 club (having reached the Wimbledon Doubles Final). We feel very lucky and blessed to be able to keep in contact with the old and new crews, without having to travel full time.

A few years ago, I talked about writing a book about my life on the tennis circuit. I enrolled in and completed a Masters in Creative Writing at Sydney’s UTS. There I started my fictional novel. The first title was ‘Balls in my Face.’ My UTS lecturers hated the title, but I thought it was brilliant.  The first draft took my several years and it was way too close to a thinly veiled autobiography.  Fun for me and interesting to others, but likely to end up in litigation.  At some point, I will write my autobiography, but it will be truthful, rather than hiding under the fiction tag.

As the drafts evolved, the protagonist, Katie Cook, became less Sally Bradfield and more her own person. An amazing thing happened, she started to speak to me. She was her own woman (twenty-eight and full of opinions). She was certain of the way her story should be told. I was not always in agreement. She mostly won!

The tennis characters in the book are all fictional, but the world they live in, is very real. It was important to me that those in the know, felt the book was an accurate depiction of life on the Tour. So far the feedback from those people has been extremely positive, which was really fulfilling. They said it was like ‘reading about my life.’

There have been books about life on the Tour before, but they always felt like they were written by outsiders and they mostly were. I’m proud to have my book stand on its own feet and hopefully entreat people to want to know more about the tennis world. It’s a great place to visit…

You can purchase the Ebook via this link;  https://books2read.com/u/bzvzx

My website www.notquite30love.com has more information and links how to buy.

My author Facebook page: https://bit.ly/357v5bs

Instagram: NQ30love

Twitter @sallybradfield

 

Below is a little more about the book and about me.

Twenty-eight year old Katie Cook lands her dream job in the world of professional tennis.

It was like being invited to the Academy Awards, except they were all wearing branded tracksuits.

Katie finds life in Sydney to be not quite measuring up and makes the move to follow her childhood obsession with professional tennis, running away to join this circus of a world and finding work as a publicist.
Racing around the globe faster than a Contiki tour, creating internet scandals wherever she goes, Katie is seduced by the appearance of glamour and her weakness for bad boys.

She falls for one of the troubled champions and starts a trending relationship.
With an archenemy placing social media bombs in her way and hashtags haunting Katie in her sleep, she navigates her way through a series of social media and love crises.

Katie has some decisions to make. Does she want a hero or a career? Will she end up happily ever after? What does that even mean?

One thing is for sure, she will never schedule an Instagram post again! #Girlscanbeheroestoo.

The story is written by a tennis insider and has been described as The Devil Wears Prada meets the exciting world of professional tennis.

Author Bio

For almost twenty years Sally Bradfield has worked with the who’s who of professional tennis. 

She has travelled the globe working as a Communications Manager/publicist for the WTA Tour. She worked alongside Venus and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Anna Kournikova and hundreds more.

Subsequently she joined the men’s tour as Brand Manager for the ATP. She ran major events with Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and many other household names.

Wanting to leave the suitcases and hotels behind, Sally settled back in Australia with her retired tennis champion partner, Nicole Arendt. Together they live in the Blue Mountains in NSW running tennis and fitness businesses.  

To find out more visit www.notquite30love.com

Sally also has a Podcast series called  No Challenges Remaining.

 

Guest Blogger: Ingrid Fry Talks About Time and Motivation to Write

It’s my pleasure to welcome guest blogger  Ingrid Fry, debut author of four new books, released in March. Over to you, Ingrid.

Don’t Let Time Steal Your Book

How the hell did you manage to write four, eighty-thousand-word books in the space of eighteen months, and, get them published?

As a published author, that’s the question I’m most often asked, and, often ask myself!

I thought a short blog on the topic would be helpful to anyone who feels they have a book inside them but are struggling with how to get started and keep going.

If you love to write, and plan to write a book one day, not having enough time is often the excuse we use to justify our inaction.

In these days of Corona Virus, all the ‘not having time’ memes indicate that lack of time is not the real reason behind why we don’t start all those things we want to do.

My four-book series would never have seen the light of day if I hadn’t ‘made time’ and set achievable goals. As Charles Buxton so rightly said, “You will never find time for anything. You must make it.”

I started a blog on my website to document my writing journey and road to publication. By doing so, I hoped to inspire, motivate and make it easier for other aspiring writers to achieve their dream. The blog didn’t get very far, because I soon realised, I had to narrow my focus if I wanted to achieve my dream of writing a book.

Tapping into something that motivates you and drives you forward on a daily basis is a crucial component to writing that book. You really do have to “start with the end in mind” and identify your “why”. Whatever your aspiration is, whether it’s achieving fitness goals, losing weight, learning the guitar; your “Why” has to be identified and kept in mind if you want to accomplish your dream.

Write down:

(1) all the reasons you want to achieve that goal

(2) all the ways your life will be better for achieving it

(3) how you will feel when you have succeeded, and most importantly

(4) how you will feel if you don’t achieve it.

It’s important to put this in writing, refer to it regularly and update it as new things come to mind.

Having daily achievable goals was the other key to my success. You can learn more about what that looks like from my blog post How to Get Started and Write That Book

Here’s a little about me and one of my motivating forces; my “Why”.

Mum and Dad were writers. Good ones too.  Dad died at 87 and Mum at 93. They both lived extraordinary lives, the content of which would fill many books.

They both swore that one day they would write a book about their amazing adventures.

It never happened.

Time. Time and not enough of it was the excuse that stole their dreams.

I’ve always wanted to write stories like the ones I loved to read. I grew up on a diet of Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy and Metaphysics.

They were the books that fired my imagination, excited, enthralled and transported me to distant worlds.

I wanted to write a book. But like Mum and Dad, I kept putting it off. It seemed too huge a task. My life was littered with a trail of short stories, poems, illustrated children’s books, notebooks, ideas, creative journals, but ‘the book’ loomed like a mountain above me, impossible to climb.

The motivation – the “Why”– to take that first step came from my parents.

I didn’t want to lie on my deathbed with a precious dream unfulfilled.

So, I wrote that book.

And then another. And another. And another!

And I’m halfway through one more.

I’ve done it! I’ve written that book, and some. But I still have one regret.

Mum and Dad aren’t here to read them.

Is your soul aching to write a book?

Then don’t be like my parents or many other would be writers and get to the end of your journey filled with regrets.

Do it now. Your soul will sing.

‘There is no greater joy than expressing the song in your heart.’ ~ Ingrid Fry

Resources

Bird by Bird (Some Instructions on Writing and Life) by Anne Lamott

This book is a great place to start for guidance and inspiration, especially if the road ahead seems overwhelming.

Word by Word, an audio workshop by Anne Lamott 

This audio workshop provides you with the opportunity to hear Anne in action. It is laugh out loud, poignant, informative and will provide you with the encouragement and ideas you need to get started and most importantly, keep going.

 

About the Crystal Sphere Series

Following an encounter with a mysterious crystal sphere, Maggie is compelled to lead her partner Jason, an eclectic entourage of humans, and a telepathic beagle into battle against a dark force and a very nasty villain intent on destroying humanity.

Maggie, the reluctant protagonist, is a psychic, computer programmer and corporate couch potato.

For her, things don’t get much more strenuous than walking the dog. Unfortunately, walking the dog is where it all begins, and now the fate of the world rests in her hands.

As a keyboard warrior and intuitive, Maggie feels ill equipped for the battle she has to fight. Music assists in keeping her sane, helping to muffle the psychic barrage that bombards her mind.

Each chapter in the series is linked to a tune that readers can follow via Maggie’s playlist on Spotify.

Set in current day Melbourne, Australia, this urban comic fantasy takes the reader on an action-packed journey across regional areas of Victoria and interstate. The story combines adventure and edge of your seat suspense, with a good dose of humour and a sprinkling of romance and spice.

Even readers who normally wouldn’t consider books with a slightly otherworldly element, have fallen in love with the story, describing it as “a sexy, funny, action packed story with characters you will fall in love with.”

Buy links:

Paperbacks

eBooks

Descent into Darkness

Journey to Hell

Quest for Light

Search for Truth

Limited Edition Box Sets

Maggie’s Playlist

 

Brief Bio:

Ingrid was born and raised in Berkhamstead in the UK but spent much of her childhood commuting between England and Austria. Emigrating with her parents many years ago, she has called Australia home ever since.

A writer, business development consultant and minder of a husband and a beagle with superpowers, she lives in a leafy suburb on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Lakes Entrance is her second home and it was from there, much of her first four novels were developed. In her spare time, she enjoys pistol shooting at the local gun club, dancing at The Caravan Music Club and as a passionate karate nerd, well on her way to a black belt in karate. Her fifth book in the series, Battle for Blood is due in 2021.

You can visit Ingrid’s website here.   Ingrid is represented by Tale Publishing

Guest Blogger Elaine Forrestal: The Story Behind Goldfields Girl

It’s my pleasure to welcome Elaine Forrestal here to Aussiereviews  to share the story behind her newest book, Goldfields Girl. Over to you Elaine. 

On the 9th December 1892 the first case of typhoid in Coolgardie was registered. The area around Bayley’s Reward Reef had just been declared a town and there were some 6000 men living in tents or camped under the stars. Food and water were still extremely scarce and there was no water to spare for maintaining good hygiene. To make matters worse, men from similar parts of the world tended to pitch their tents together in clusters. For example men from Western Australia could be found at the Sandgroper’s Camp, men from the USA at Montana. While this worked well in terms of company and security it was often disastrous for their health. If one man came down with typhoid or dysentery it quickly spread throughout the camp. And the nearest medical help of any sort was at least three days journey away. An early visitor to Coolgardie wrote to his friend in England: 

‘One half of Coolgardie is busy burying the other half. Bad water, harsh conditions and lack of proper attention causes deaths to occur daily.’

Sound familiar?

Like today, though, life was not all doom and gloom. Australians are known for their wry humour and the hardy prospectors were no exception. Evenings were spent in the pub where the bush ballads of Dryblower Murphy were recited, often by the author himself, who lived in the town. Then one of the men would strike up a tune on their mouthorgan or squeezebox and everyone would join in the singing of well known folk songs – some sad, some funny and some adapted, on the spot, into outrageous parodies. Peels of laughter rang out and lasting friendships developed. Naturally, after the long backbreaking days of digging in 40 degree heat, a lot of alcohol was consumed. ‘I’m doin’ yous all a favour. Savin’ on the drinkin’ water!’ would be the loud protest if the publican had to step in and evict someone. With water only arriving about once a week and costing 2/6d a gallon it, really was cheaper to drink Champagne.

Goldfields Girl by Elaine Forrestal, tells the story or 14yr old Clara Saunders who arrived in Coolgardie with the first gold rush and survived to tell the tale.

In bookshops now and available from Fremantle Press.

 

Thanks for dropping by Elaine!

Fauna, by Donna Mazza, reviewed by Aksel Dadswell

This review first appeared on Larval Forms  and is reprinted here with permission

Full disclosure: I personally know Donna Mazza and consider her a friend and mentor. As much as this is an honest review, I’m so glad to be able to promote this book and I wish Donna the best success with Fauna – the biggest royalty cheque and the most glowing reviews. Speaking of which, pick up a copy here.

Over the last few years, as the climate change “debate” has raged on and the effects of our environmental destruction/pollution have irrevocably altered the world’s ecosystems and climate, we’ve seen a flood of fiction that falls under the moniker of “cli-fi” or climate fiction; essentially, fiction – more often than not science fiction – which addresses and extrapolates on the horrors of climate change, and humanity’s evolving relationship and treatment of the world’s flora and fauna.

Fauna, set in the so-near-it-could-be-now future, could certainly fall under this sub-genre of speculative fiction, but in Mazza’s novel a world ravaged by climate change is more background noise than narrative skeleton. If you pay attention to such demarcations, Fauna is more literary than genre, leaning into the more contemplative and character-driven tone of a Margaret Atwood or Ian McEwan. Fauna explores a truly original and thought-provoking conceit through the troubled but quotidian lives of its characters.

In the wake of de-extinction programs that have successfully resurrected species like the Thylacine, passenger pigeon, dodo and woolly mammoth, the next species on the checklist is something far closer to human: the Neanderthal. Protagonist Stacey has a husband (Isak) and two young children (Emmy and Jake), but after the loss of a third, unborn child, she signs up for a kind of IVF treatment with LifeBLOOD®, a company at the cutting edge of de-extinction technology. LifeBLOOD® provides the family with much needed financial support to carry and raise a child that is biologically Stacey and Isak’s, but genetically altered with Neanderthal DNA. As Stacey explains it, “the cells … some of them are mine and Isak’s, but others were snipped and sliced and fused into our baby. There is not just us in there. Her whole genome was recovered and reissued: a new work using old materials. Somewhere in prehistory … she is the child deposited in a tooth found under layers of sediment in a deep cave. Only accessible via a narrow tunnel, amid a ring of stalagmites, an ancient campfire. The fossilised remains of a woolly rhinoceros, butchered mammoths and red deer… From there she has come back. Back to us. I have excavated her.”

The novel’s pace is slow and dreamlike, a story told through the growth of Neanderthal child Asta, from genetically altered embryo into little girl, and the ebb and flow of her family around her, about her. In many ways it’s quite a claustrophobic story, narrated in first person from Stacey’s point of view. With its small cast of characters and its introverted, introspective tone, Fauna unfolds at its own pace, largely untethered from the weight of plot or external conflict.

The economy of Mazza’s prose belies the narrative’s – or more particularly its characters’ – icebergian depth. Every word feels carefully chosen and painstakingly placed, every page a blistering rainfall of ideas and imagery made up of individual drops all falling towards the same purpose, narrative- and gravity-driven wonder. This is a beautifully written book, and the language flows in a consistent and engaging tone.

Stacey is a character very much in her own head, but Mazza is canny enough to constantly engage and relate her protagonist to aspects of the world around her, the human often juxtaposed with the environment. Animals and wildlife are always close by, playing a significant role in the characters’ lives and contributing to the novel’s thematic core. Little details add weight to the story’s mood and accentuate Mazza’s crystalline imagery. In one scene, tension “hangs in a silent wake that seems to hiss”, which is evocative by itself, until “a languid fly crawls across a convex mango skin scraped clean by small teeth.” Fauna’s world feels lived-in and tactile, constantly responding to and being shaped by its characters. Stacey’s point of view is cleverly taken advantage of, and there’s a sly disparity between her dialogue and her inner thoughts, in the spaces between people, what’s spoken and unspoken. Mazza teases out this dichotomy with the glacial weight of all the complicated emotions and tensions and knots that lie between two people in a long-term relationship, their words often inadequate at articulating the vastness and complexity of their emotions.

Despite its grounded narrative, there is no escaping the strangeness of raising a Neanderthal child. During Stacey’s pregnancy, Mazza briefly lights upon the abject body horror of pregnancy, the baby that grows inside her “forming and assembling, stretching me into its own shape”. From this point, Stacey and her daughter Asta are tightly bound, often to the detriment of her husband and other children.

As a character in whose head we spend the entirety of the story, Stacey can be a difficult protagonist to empathise with. At one point, Isak tells her, “You’re very self-absorbed when you’re pregnant”, but she seems self-absorbed for most of the book. Her mindset is a deliberate choice on the writer’s part, and the primary source of conflict in the novel. This plays out very well in several ways, from Stacey’s anxiety during the pregnancy, to her reclusiveness when Asta grows up, her reluctance and embarrassment around other people and how she assumes they will react to her decidedly strange-looking daughter (whose true origins and nature she is forced to lie about). Unfortunately, however, Stacey doesn’t really seem to learn very much from her mistakes; she’ll alienate her husband or children in some way, acknowledge her actions and their negative affects to herself, the reader, and eventually in teary apology to whoever she’s shut out, but instead of growing or changing as a result of her self-awareness, she often circles back to reclusive and damaging behaviour.

As a result of this, Stacey doesn’t exactly have a dramatic character arc, and while at first I felt like this hampered Fauna’s momentum, I came to realise that the novel isn’t so much about a propulsive narrative as it is the mundane drudgery of everyday life, with its high and low points, the anxieties and arguments, the hopeful glimmers and moments of joy and love. Its innovative conceit aside, Mazza’s novel is far more about family dynamics, and in this Fauna is masterfully crafted and achingly evoked, unfolding more in the vein of real life than a constructed story.

Normally I feel like this kind of book would be written about a middle-class mother undergoing an existential crisis but it’s refreshing to see a family from a lower socio-economic bracket represented here, along with the dynamics their circumstances precipitate and cultivate.

The argument that Asta is human, “just not the same kind of human as everyone else”, dominates Fauna’s thematic arc and is the basis for much of Stacey’s conflict. LifeBLOOD® enforces a veil of secrecy around their research project, forcing Stacey and Isak to explain Asta’s anatomical anomalies as a rare genetic disorder, and other parents and children often assume Asta has a disability of some description. This touches on some engaging and deftly handled issues about the way society treats children with disabilities or differences. More often than not, however, characters in Fauna are refreshingly inclusive towards the little Neanderthal girl. It’s predominantly Stacey’s preconceptions about people that are negative or wary.

I mentioned before that Fauna doesn’t focus on the wider global issues like climate change in which the story’s context nestles. Mazza works this reasoning into the novel in a very effective way. By all but excluding greater global events from the story, it feels as though Mazza is commenting on people’s proclivity for ignoring large-scale events they’re not directly affected by, which is exemplified to a tee in Stacey’s insular attitude. She watches on television as “a record-breaking fire tears through the Canadian wilderness and a coal-seem gas plant has exploded. Dead geese are heaped with a bulldozer.” With barely a thought, she changes the channel to a cooking show.

With these aspects relegated to the sidelines, Mazza has plenty of room to sculpt a convincing portrait of family life, Stacey and Isak often reduced to exhaustion and irritability with the efforts of maintaining a family and raising a baby: “we bundle ourselves into human shapes and collect the kids from school.” These are hurdles enough on their own without the pressure of LifeBLOOD® looking over their shoulder and constantly checking in on their living property, enforcing specific dietary requirements and taking measurements and blood samples from Asta.

Scientific experiments aside, the family’s dynamic will be familiar to most people, with or without kids; Mazza’s world in Fauna is no different from today’s endless grind, where capitalism is causing – has caused – the collapse of the ecosystem and the zombification of the working class. Those enduring pressures mount as the novel progresses towards its melancholy and ambiguous climax, as Stacey’s brittle balance of sanity cracks. Reader and character alike sit taut, nauseous with the feeling that at any moment she might slip off the edge and shatter.

But Fauna isn’t all struggle and angst. It’s a joy to watch Asta grow, and her family along with her, and Mazza’s skill at portraying this is wonderful. Stacey notes that her daughter “understands more all the time but her vocabulary is still so small, growing incrementally though her body shoots like spring.”

Fauna isn’t what I’d call a feel-good book, but it is a beautifully written one that examines challenging ideas through the eyes of its equally challenging characters. Its premise is original and refreshing, and Mazza balances angst and anxiety with a sense of hope, and an appreciation of the natural world rendered in crisp, poetic prose. It’s a story that lingers in the mind long after the last page is turned, and holding the book in your hand, you can feel more than the mere physicality of it, heavy as it is with the weight of life, and history, and humanity.

 You can visit the reviewer’s blog here
Fauna is available online  or, even better, from your local bookstore, who could really use your support right now.

Guest Blogger Teena Raffa-Mulligan: A long and winding path

I am really please to welcome my friend and amazing author Teena Raffa-Mulligan here to Aussiereviews to blog about her latest book. Over to you Teena.

The path to publication is rarely smooth for my titles. Usually it’s a long and winding road from idea to book release and my new YA novel, Monelli & Me, released on March 31, was no exception.

I wrote the original version as a play for my then teenage daughter and her cousin who had joined the junior section of the local theatre group. That would have been about 33 years ago. It even makes me blink so I’m sure writers dreaming of holding that first book baby in their eager hands would baulk at the thought of any manuscript taking that long to reach readers. If anyone had told me I’d be releasing Kate’s story when I had teenage and young adult grandchildren, I wouldn’t have believed them.

I began writing and submitting to publishers nearly 50 years ago, writing my stories on a portable typewriter on my bedroom dressing table in between being Mum to three small children. From the start I took my author role seriously and recorded every submission in a postage book and on individual file cards for each title. I continued to maintain these records throughout the years as a backup, even as the way I worked and submitted changed radically, so it’s easy for me to track the progress of Monelli & Me.

The play version was called Half Truths and Consequences and it’s the story of a teenage girl who learns her mother has been keeping secrets. Kate has a biological father she didn’t know about and now he’s coming to Perth and wants to take her back to Brisbane to get to know her grandmother who is terminally ill with cancer. There was lots of scope for drama and I loved acting out all the parts as I wrote the play. Before offering it to the theatre group for production, I entered it into a major competition and received some invaluable feedback from the judges.

They highlighted my lack of stagecraft knowledge and noted that my characters didn’t respond strongly enough to emotional events. On a positive note, one judge said, “You have a definite writing talent and should keep honing it. Write something every day.” The other suggested the content “could make it a worthwhile contribution to discussion and personal reflection on human relationships, self-esteem etc for a secondary school aged audience.”

I filed the play away and went back to writing picture books, short stories, poems and chapter books for younger readers. It remained forgotten in my filing cabinet for many years until I joined a critique group run by best-selling novelist Anna Jacobs and decided to rework it as YA fiction. The round of submissions began once more but while I received some lovely comments, no one offered me a contract and the manuscript was put to rest again.

Changes in the publishing industry have led me to rethink the way I share my stories with readers and during the past 18 months I’ve become a ‘hybrid’ author. I continue to be traditionally published while also releasing some titles through my self-publishing imprint Sea Song Publications.

Following another rewrite and some positive feedback before I hit the ‘publish’ button, Monelli & Me has joined my growing list of indie titles. It’s been quite a process sharing Kate’s story…I will have to make sure Tali, one of the minor characters in the book, gets to tell her story much sooner.

Briefly:

Who do you trust when those you love most let you down?

Kate has been living a happy family fantasy. Her mum has been keeping secrets. Now the father Kate didn’t know about is coming to Perth. He wants to take Kate to Brisbane to meet her terminally ill grandmother. Kate is on an emotional roller coast. She has to find out who she is and where she belongs. Only then can she find out if her friendship with newcomer Joshua Perrin can be something more.

 

Buy links:

Ebook

Paperback

 

Brief Bio:

Teena writes quirky, whimsical books for children and her publications include picture books, junior fiction and MG novels. Her short stories and poetry for children and adults have appeared in magazines and anthologies and she has also worked as a journalist and editor on a diverse range of publications. Monelli & Me is Teena’s first novel for YA readers.

You can visit Teena’s website here.

Thank you so much for dropping by Teena. I can’t wait to read your book. 

Cocoon, by Aura Parker

The plan is to eat as many leaves as you can.
Then weave a cocoon.
Two weeks later…
TA-DA, you’re a moth!
With wings to fly! Easy peasy! I can’t wait.

Dawn and her caterpillar friends have known each other since they were larvae – and now they have a plan. They are eating every leaf they can find so they can get ready to build cocoons and, when their wings have grown, become moths. Dawn gets busy and soon she is snug in her cocoon. But inside, she waits impatiently, worrying whether her wings will develop, and how she will get out.

Cocoon is a sumptuous hard cover picturebook about the development of a moth from caterpillar to hatching, told through the voice of Dawn, with illustrations filled with whimsy and colour showing Dawn and her friends preparing for their metamorphosis. Once Dawn is in her cocoon, each spread shows just her, through a cross section of the cocoon, and illustrator Aura Parker cleverly uses a range of movements and some anthropomorphic props (books, a lantern, and even a teapot) to avoid repetition and add humour. The final images, showing Dawn and her friends emerging, are stunning, as are the endpapers.

Perfect to be enjoyed for the story alone, Cocoon would also have lots of classroom applicability.

Cocoon, by Aura Parker
Scholastic, 2019
ISBN 9781742765129

The Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Nick Bland

Trip, trap, trip trap,
TRIP TRAP

Three billy groats named gruff want to cross a bridge to eat the sweet grass on the other side – but first they must get past the grumpy troll who lives under the bridge and wants to eat them for his dinner.

While many adult readers will be familiar with this tale, many younger readers will not. author/illustrator Nick Bland brings it to life with his humorous style, which many will recognise from such favourites as the Very Hungry Bear. The text is simple, with visual features such as bold and larger font for key words, and the troll is rendered with humour making him more comic than fearsome to the reader.

Perfect for classroom or home reading.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Nick Bland
Scholastic Australia, 2019
ISBN 9781743815885

Say Something, by Peter H. Reynolds

If you are angry…   
Say something to help people understand.  

There are many ways to say the things that matter to you – through art, through actions and, of course, through speaking up – against wrongs, expressing needs, or voicing feelings. In this hardcover picture book, author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds uses simple text and cartoon-style images against colourful backgrounds to inspire readers to speak out, in whatever form they feel able, reminding readers that everyone has an opinion.

Using speech bubbles for both the narratorial voice, and for some of the depicted characters to speak to each other, the text speaks directly to readers of any age, and the accompanying illustration shows a diverse range of young people living out the message of the book – speaking, singing, painting, carrying protest signs and more.

Whether the reader is set to take part on a large scale demonstration, or simply needs encouragement to express themselves, Say Something will speak to them.

Say Something, by Peter H. Reynolds
Scholastic Australia, 2019
ISBN 9781760664992

My Storee, by Raul Russell & Aśka

Just because you can’t spell doesn’t mean you can’t write.

With a head full of fabulous story ideas, the young hero of this story loves to write and create – but only at home. At school, his writing efforts come back covered in corrections – his teachers tell him his spelling is wrong, and they can’t understand his work. Then a new teacher arrives at school, and sees past the spelling to the creativity beneath. Mr Watson tells the boy – and the whole class – that ideas an creativity come first, and spelling can be fixed later.

My Storee is a delightful look at the importance of creativity, and the problems faced by many writers around spelling and grammar.  the message is not that spelling never matters, but that creativity is needed too – and should be valued by creator and teacher alike. While being a good message for youngsters about taking risks, it is also a good reminder for teachers and parents that putting technical correctness ahead of creativity can stifle the latter and thus lead to students not writing at all.

As with the title, the text is riddled with ‘misspellings’, presented in a different font, so that readers can identify them, yet see that the meaning of the story remains clear. There are lots of learning opportunities here for students to practice editing, though it would be a shame to see the message of the story overshadowed by this.  Illustrations are filled with whimsy, with words and story snippets scattered throughout.

My Storee, by Paul Russell & Aśka
EK Books, 2018
ISBN 9781925335774