The Books of My Childhood: Sally Murphy

Today I’m beginning a new blog idea which I hope will turn into a regular feature, with the participation of other Australian authors and illustrators, as well as anyone else who chooses to participate. I’m calling it The Books of My Childhood because it is where I will invite participants to share five(ish) books that they loved in their childhoods, and tell us a little about them So, here goes: my take on the books I remember from my childhood.

  1. MandyMandy, by Julie Edwards. This isn’t the first book I remember reading, but it is the first one I remember reading and wishing I’d written – so much so that I sat down and wrote my own story, Tereasa, which – like Mandy – featured an orphan girl who lives in a orphanage but longs to have a family of her own. For some reason I really connected with the character Mandy, even though I was very far from being an orphan. The other interesting fact about Mandy, which I only realised in my adult life, is that its author, Julie Edwards, is better known as Julie Andrews, the actress. How did I not know that the actress I loved was also the author I loved?
  2. Are You My Mother? (Beginner Series)Are You My Mother? , by P.D. Eastman. I loved this book and the absurdity of a bird being batched and mistaking all kinds of other things as its mother. I also have strong memory that this is the first book I felt confident to read aloud to other kids – on the reading mat at kindergarten.
  3. Horton Hatches the EggHorton Hatches the Egg, by Dr Seuss. I’m not sure why this book isn’t as well known by most people I know as Dr Seuss’s other books, because I adored this book, again for the absurdity of its plot as well as the strong sense of justice I felt with its ending. I also remember my Mum reading this one to me from a hardcover, red bound edition. It’s one of the first books I also bought for my first child as well as for my first grandchild. With two more grandchildren on the way, guess what I’ll be buying.?
  4. Volume 1 of the Childcraft books which accompanied our World Book Encyclopedia set and which was filled with so many poems – and coloured pictures, including photos. One poem stands out in my memory The Purple Cow BY Gellett Burgess, with its accompanying photo of a purple cow. There were other poems which I adored and memorised, but I think the amazing photo (remember, this was before photoshop!) helped to cement this one as a favourite.
  5. The Naughtiest Girl in the SchoolThe Naughtiest Girl in the School (and its sequels) by Enid Blyton – as well as so many of her other books, including the Secret Seven (which I liked better than the Famous Five). The Naughtiest Girl was the start of my love affair with boarding school stories, which culminated in The Chalet School stories in my teen year, and subsequently faded when I spent two years in boarding school myself and discovered there were no tuck boxes and very few midnight feasts.

So, there’s my five. If you would like to comment on these, feel free, and if you would like to write a post with your own five (give or take a couple)

Bio: Sally Murphy is a children’s author, poet, doctoral candidate, reviewer, mother, grandmother, wife and lover of life. She loves to read and one of her few regrets in life is that she can’t read in her sleep.

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: Awesome Animals, by Di Bates

It is truly awesome to welcome author Di Bates to the blog today, to introduce us to her new book series, Awesome Animals. Welcome Di. Over to you.

Please tell readers about your new books.

Awesome Animals (Big Sky Publishing) is an entertaining new non-fiction animal series for kids – a Guinness Book of Records meets Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Awesome Cats and Awesome Dogs, the first two books in the series, are each an entertaining new read — a Guinness Book of Records meets Ripley’s Believe It or Not! which features fascinating stories about animals from all over the world. As well, there are relevant book lists, jokes and even humorous animal verses. Each beautifully styled book contains true stories and amazing photographs and quirky, illustrated break-out boxes, introduced by funny cartoon animal characters. The book is best suited for children aged 8 to 11 years, but there’s no doubt older readers will love the books, too.

What are the books about?  

Each of the books is a miscellany of fun facts and stories about real-life cats and dogs. As well, there are poems and jokes and a list of children’s books featuring cats and dogs.

Before writing these books I searched for something similar, but found nothing. Yes, there are books about cats and dogs, but the presentation of content in the awesome books is unique. Take cats, for example: in Awesome Cats there are hundreds of short stories about cats in history, cat adventures, famous cats and famous people’s cats, working cats, spoilt cats, and cats in fiction and in TV, on stage and in movies. Here’s just a little ‘teaser’ from the book: ‘In 1976 a mystery cat in Hong Kong killed more than 20 dogs. According to local people it was about four feet long and black or gray in color. It was never caught.’ Imagine that, a dog-killing cat; certainly not a lap cat!

How did the idea for this series come about?

As a full-time, professional children’s author, I am always searching for an idea which will result in a book that any child would love to read. The three books in the Awesome Animals series are dogs, cats and horses (Awesome Horses will be published in 2016): it would be impossible, I’m sure, to find one of these animals that any child didn’t love, much less cherish. I started researching stories about dogs, first as I’m a real dog lover. Before long, I was finding amazing dog stories everywhere! Here are just a few famous dogs, for example, whose stories are told in Awesome Dogs: Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Old Yeller, Bullet, Scooby Doo and Benji. I just love dogs and really miss our last beloved dog, Sassy; she has been irreplaceable since she died two years ago of old age.


Where can people buy Awesome Cats and Awesome Dog?

The books retail for $14.99 each. Here’s where you can get Awesome Cats:

… and Awesome Dogs:

Meet My Book: Pickle and Bree's Guide to Good Deeds, by Alison Reynolds

It is a pleasure to welcome Alison Reynolds to the blog today. Alison is here to introduce us to her two new books, which sound absolutely wonderful. Welcome Alison!

1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.Pickle & Bree's Guide to Good Deeds: The Birthday Party Cake
Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds – The Decorating Disaster
Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds – The Birthday Party Cake
Illustrator Mikki Butterley
The Five Mile Press
October 2015
2. Why did you write the book?
I was commissioned to write a book about manners subtly hidden in a picture book.
3. How long from idea to publication?
About 9 months. I feel as if I’ve given birth to twins!
4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?
I had been ill and delayed the whole process. (A big thank you to understanding editors)
5. Coolest thing about your book?
The illustrations! I love them.
6. Something you learnt through writing the book?
That it is possible to have a message and a story without being didactic. Also, sometimes it is possible to break the rules. These books are over the customary 500 word rule for picture books.
7. What did you do celebrate the release?
Dinner at favourite Italian restaurant.

Pickle & Bree's Guide to Good Deeds: The Decorating Disaster
8. And how will you promote the book?
I’m having a colouring competition and another competition for adults beginning Thursday 15th October.
9. What are you working on next?
There are a few ideas floating around for picture books, and I’ve got the first page and outline of a historical YA.
10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?


Thanks so much for visiting, Alison. The books look divine.