Release Day: The Bird in the Herd

The egret has landed!

 

19 years ago, I wrote a story for my two farm boys. It’s been a process steeped in memories;
* bouncing ideas around the kitchen table with my parents and sister,
* conferencing with my two small boys (my first and cutest editors),
* truth-testing countless versions and illustrations with my hubby, and
* always, the subtle arrival of my youngest whenever I read it aloud, because the rhythm of the rhyme would draw him every time.

The text was used as an illustration prompt at the 2012 CYA Competition – and Renee Treml’s simple, colourful illustrations caught my eye. They were perfect for young children, and highlighted the humour in the story. We met at the same conference, and I loved the backstory to Renée’s entry – but that’s her story to tell!🙃 Needless to say, I have loved sharing this process with Renee! And I cannot say enough how much I appreciate the team at CYA Conference. This is the third book I have had published, as a direct result of that conference! If you are serious about writing for children, you must check it out.

Renée and I worked with a wonderful team at UQP, who brought colour to the text, and offered an extended page count that gave each character their own spread, and allowed the story to fully develop its rhythm, so that it mooches along like a herd of cattle. (How appropriate!)

19 years ago, I noticed a bird in the herd that stalked as it walked past my kitchen window – and I’m so glad that white cattle egret gave wings to this story. Gratitude to everyone who has played a part in getting us to today – release day. Fly little book-bird!💕

Lamipofri: Named and Framed

Today I’m sharing a new form of poetry with you. It’s called a lamipofri. 

 

Framed:

heads alert
eyes watchful
they scent the moment,
hold pause –

then resume;

munching,
mooching,
……..mowing;

distant cattle
and a window into
my morning view.

Very rough draft © Kathryn Apel – all rights reserved.

 

By this point you are probably wondering; What is a lamipofri? It’s a poetry snapshot that’s quickly scribed, to give people an insight into the world around you at a given point in time – that point being the last minute as you’re scrambling for a Poetry Friday poem to post! Hence the name: LAst MInute of a POetry FRIday! The trick with the lamipofri is to pause, take a moment to look around and share that moment with others. But don’t take too long, or the moment will pass!

Next week, I’m hosting Poetry Friday right here! (You have no idea how many times I’ve scared myself, thinking the date has passed me by and I’ve missed it!) There will be no lamipofri next week! The really exciting news is that, between now and next Friday, I have a new picture book launching into the world, published by UQP, with vibrant, joyful illustrations by Renée Treml, and I am sooo looking forward to sharing more about that with you. For today, here is the cover, artwork by Renee and design by Jo Hunt.

Isn’t it glorious? Reason to smile, right there!

Almost 19 years after the first draft was penned, I will be as happy as a calf in rain, to share this with the world! (There is no rain in this book – but there is a calf, with a whole lot of sentiment attached!)

Thank-you to Karen at Karen Edmisten* for hosting us today. If anyone else is ever inspired to write a lamipofri, tag me in. (You’re not too late for today.😉)

My Shadow – and A Rock

I recently borrowed ‘My Shadow’ from the library – a picture book version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem that I adored as a child. (Anyone else?) For some reason, it was very hard to find the illustrator’s name (?) but I finally did – low on the back cover. Robert Louis Stevenson (who was credited on front cover and title page, as well as back cover) did such a splendid job on the poem, so many years ago – but Sara Sanchez did a fabulous job illustrating it!

I especially love what Sara Sanchez did with the so-tricky last page. 🙂

This blog is a quick shoutout to Sara Sanchez! And of course, the master, Robert Louis Stevenson.

My Shadow

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
Read more at PoetryFoundation

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Day 251

Watch Day 251 of 365 Days of Reading (video version).

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Laura is hosting Poetry Friday this week. And what a thrill I had recently when I was walking through my small-town library and discovered this!

What a gorgeous book! Who knew the humble rock could be so many things? Personally, I love the food grinder. 🙂 I’m so thrilled that someone on the other side of the world threw a rock … and it landed in my library. Just perfect.

Needless to say, I love my local libraries! (Yes – I love them so much, I have multiple. :P) Happy Poetry Friday!

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Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! Wonderful Wordplay!

Poetry is about word play – and I am loving the playful words that roll around (and bounce and soar) in this picture book about Aussie Rules, written by Katrina Germein and illustrated by Janine Dawson. AFL is not the game of choice in Queensland, where ‘real men play Rugby League’* – so I’m not as familiar with the rules and terms as some. But it is very obvious that Katrina and Janine have between them spent considerable time on the sidelines of the game (perhaps even starred themselves?) and were definitely on the same team when they produced Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! – a  picture book that exudes energy and enthusiasm … and alliteration!

The text is an ABC of AFL! From start to finish it tells the story of an afternoon of football.

Aussie Rules is awesome. I always arrive on time.

As the game progresses, the rain starts to fall…

Patterson pauses then passes to Piper. She positions herself and propels the ball past the post. Perfect play!                 <Click to Enlarge>

By the final quarter there’s quite a quagmire.

I’m super-impressed that Katrina managed to handball so many AFL terms onto the page, in a sequential sporty story that ticks boxes as an alliterative alphabetical text. And I love the details (and activity) that Janine jostled into the illustrations – making meaning of those sporty terms, for those of us not overly-familiar with AFL.

Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! is a picture book that make its mark. I’m sure AFL families will be giving it two flags up!

To read more poetry posts, click across to Carol’s Corner where you’ll find the full round-up of Poetry Friday posts. Thanks, Carol!

* None of the real men in my family actually play Rugby League. It’s just a bit of interstate jest and no harm intended. 😉

The Littlest Bushranger – and a Competition!

Bee

Last year on the katswhiskers blog, we got a bit catty, with Alison Reynolds and Heath McKenzie, for the launch of their picture book, A Year With Marmalade. (You can click back and read it here; CattyPost.)  Today I welcome Alison and Heath back to the blog, with The Littlest Bushranger – the brave and imaginative main character in their newest picture book collaboration. And … we have a MONSTER competition for YOU!

I also welcome the Busy Bees – a class of Year 1/2 students who enjoyed a sneak-peek at The Littlest Bushranger. They had these fantastic questions (and observations) for Alison and Heath.

Thank you Busy Bees. Fantastic questions!

ALISON

Alison, we loved your descriptive language. It made it more interesting and made the story stand out in our minds. You have very clever alliteration.

Thank you!

Why did you choose a bushranger as your main character, rather than a pirate, or a cowboy?

The publisher, The Five Mile Press, wanted a picture book about bushrangers and asked me to write one. I really liked writing about a bushranger as they are very Australian.

Aah. *sighs wistfully* What a beautiful position to be in, Alison. They obviously recognise you for the talented writer that you are! And you’ve woven it into a wonderfully entertaining story that will delight kids the world over.

Did you have the idea of the hose for the slithery snake, and the crow for the villain, or were they Heath’s idea?

When I was little I used to pretend the hose was a snake, or a river or lots of different things. Before I wrote the book I watched a bird hopping near our little dog and thought “What if” and in my imagination the bird turned into a villain. It was interesting to see Heath’s illustrations. He used his imagination to come up with his own ideas, and created illustrations that I love!

Did you know that the illustrations would show that Jack was in his back yard – and that the adventure was in his imagination?

I set the story in Jack’s back yard as I used to spend a lot of time in my back yard when I was Jack’s age. I also really like thinking that a day can turn into an extraordinary day with lots of adventure.

By using his imagination, Heath turned the rescue of Lil’s telescope into a wild, rollicking adventure!

He thought of lots of clever things! I love seeing what he transformed into what.

I did too! But each time I read the book I discover new things. I love that!

Did you talk with Heath to plan the story before you wrote it – or did you write the story and then Heath had is own ideas for the illustrations?

I didn’t talk to Heath before I wrote the story. I wrote the story and suggested illustrations. But on the spread where you first see the outlaw I wrote, “Heath, go wild”. I trusted him to come up with an amazing creation, which he did. For the spread that shows the fight, I wrote “fight sequence” and couldn’t wait to see what Heath did.

Littlest Bushranger

What is your favourite page spread – and why?

I love the whole book, but if I had to choose I think the spread of Jack galloping after the villain and the last page with the bike leaning against the fence.

My children like the spread with the bunyip best.

HEATH

Heath, we think you’re a talented illustrator.  We thought it was very clever that the dog bowl became the villainous crow’s eye. And we noticed that the bike got hungry at the end of the story!

Where did the idea for the pencil squiggles (we even called them ‘scribbles’) come from?

They are scribbles! They came from the roughs I did. They gave a good sense of looseness and motion to the roughs so wanted to keep that feeling in the final art – hence the scribbles featuring!

I love reading this Q&A, because you definitely achieved that, with your scribbles. 😉

Why did you choose such a mean colour and shape for the horse’s eyes – especially on the cover photo? Weren’t you worried little children might be scared?

I guess I wasn’t going for ‘mean’ in the eyes and more ‘serious and determined’! This is a horse of action, charging into battle, afterall!

I chose the eye colour because that’s what colour horses’ eyes are!

Why isn’t there a streamer on the bike, like a horse’s tail?

I guess just because I’ve never seen a bike with a streamer at the back like a tail! We didn’t want to give away that the back was imagined into a horse later in the story so kept things as subtle as possible.

When the crow was perched on the tower, was it on the clothesline? Or the yellow umbrella? We just aren’t sure!

The clothesline! As the umbrella was the sun.

It looks like the clothesline, in a sinister, imaginative way, and it makes a fantastic tower. Clever!

Were the bunyips based on toys in the pool… or frogs?

As the horse gallops through the wading pool toward the very end of the story, you’ll see on the ground a flowerpot with some tennis balls sitting on it and a few weeds growing out through some cracks…

What is your favourite page spread – and why?

The billabong one! I like the action and the bunyips!

Charlotte, Sydney, Hayden and Ethan shared these ‘favourite things’ about The Littlest Bushranger.

Charlotte:  I like how Alison has used big words because it makes the text stand out a bit more.

One of the best things is how Jack uses his imagination – how he was pretending his bike was his horse. I want to ask, why did Heath use the horse’s shadow on the bike – and feed the bike hay?

It’s really just some grass that got caught in the front of the bike as Jack wildly chased the outlaw round the backyard.

Or is it?

Is it, indeed. I for one am not convinced it isn’t hay… 😉

Sydney:  I like the picture when Lil said, ‘You’re too little to go to school.’  I like that she is looking after him nicely.

Hayden:  I like when they hurdled the slithery tiger snake. I like snakes – and it looks scary.

Ethan:  I like the words because they were telling us where he was going. They were interesting words. The pictures matched up with the words and helped us imagine new things.

Thank-you to the Busy Bees for the awesome help. You are obviously great little readers, and it was wonderful to read your observations, and learn from your questions. Also a huge thank-you to Alison and Heath for dropping by my blog again. Always a pleasure to have you both!

Monster Competition.

There are a couple of monsters in The Littlest Bushranger. One’s a bunyip, and the other an outlaw/monster who steals Lil’s telescope.

What sort of monster do you like? Send along a painting/drawing/model of a monster and you could win a piece of Heath McKenzie’s amazing artwork for The Littlest Bushranger.

Upload your own best monster to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or email it as a low res jpeg file to alrey@msn.com.au and we’ll upload it. If you don’t have a scanner, take a photo on a smart phone and email that!

Two categories. Under 12 and 12 plus including grown-ups. Entries close 25th June!

Saddle up for The Littlest Bushranger blog tour.

June 11 Kat Apel  https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog/
June 12 Chris Bell  http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com/
June 13 Angela Sunde  http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/
June 14 Boomerang Books Blog  http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell
June 17 Ask the Sales Rep. Interview with Melinda Beaumont  www.alisonreynolds.com.au
June 18 Dee White  http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/
June 19 Kids Book Review  http://www.kids-bookreview.com/
June 20 Ask the Editor. Interview with Melissa Keil.  www.alisonreynolds.com.au
June 21 Heath & Alison interviewed by Juliet Chan, Marketing & Publicity Executive.  www.fivemilepress.com.au

Watch out for PRIZES  including; a piece of Heath McKenzie’s artwork from The Littlest Bushranger, a picture book assessment by Alison Reynolds, 2 free passes direct to an editor’s desk (you get to skip the slush pile), and copies of The Littlest Bushranger.

Review: Troggle the Troll

Troggle the Troll is a delightful story about a would-be vegetarian troll. The story has a touch of grim, with the Troll family devouring people… every single night! But the alliterative menu sounds divine, and the illustrations are so bright, colourful and cutesy-fun, that I’m sure kids will have a real giggle from the Troll family’s meals.

As for the ending… it was delicious and wholesome, and though a little deceptive, I’m sure it will delight child and adult alike.

Publisher:  Random House Australia
Author:  Nick Falk
Illustrator:  Tony Lowe
Released: December 2012
ISBN: 9781742756011
RRP:  $12.95
Review copy supplied by Random House Australia

Let’s get Catty – and a Competition!

Today, I’m going to be a little bit… catty. I’m hosting a cat book on my katswhiskers blog, so we’re running to a theme… and running a competition! (Today’s competition is a little bit different to the other competition that’s running throughout the blog tour at http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au.)

But firstly, welcome Alison Reynolds and Heath McKenzie – and congratulations on your dreamy new picture book, ‘A Year with Marmalade’.

Thanks very much!

Thank you, Kat!

To start the ball rolling… In keeping with the blog, can you each tell me one thing that you think is… the kat’s whiskers? (Or mayhaps it’s the cat’s whiskers.)

Perhaps my new baby daughter, Ava!

Oooh. Lovely! Congratulations, Heath. I’m sure Ava is the kat’s whiskers!

My family and dog. Although I’m not sure if the dog will like being referred to as the kat’s whiskers! 

Haha! Now that could be a little bit catty, Alison. 😉

Where did you find Marmalade, Alison?  Is he the type of pet you would want to keep forever?

When I was little I had a very special green-eyed cat called Charlotte. I feel as if a cat based on her was just waiting to pop into my mind. I was brainstorming book ideas with my publisher, and we wanted a sort of self-contained character, which is a very cat-like characteristic.  I definitely wouldn’t want to give Marmalade away. I spent half my childhood unsuccessfully trying to convince my parents to let me have another pet.

Alison, is Marmalade one of those cats who willfully does his own thing? Or does he have a soft and smoochy side?

Marmalade is a mixture of snuggles and snarls. He is very independent, but wants to be included and loved. Much like most of us!

Not being an artist myself, I’m always fascinated by the Illustrator’s process. Heath, there’s a lot of whitespace in this gentle, breezy book – almost a touch of whimsy. What influenced your decision in terms of colour and whitespace – and characters?

I felt a simpler approach would suit this particular story – something gentle and not too over-thought or designed. Hence the approach of letting the line do most of the talking and leaving colour to make a single statement in each image.

What I find particularly interesting, is that the children (Ella & Maddy) are line drawings – not colour. Yet Marmalade, who would seem to be of equal importance to Ella, is colour. As is background. What is the artistic reasoning behind this, Heath?

Given a big and striking part of the different seasons, from a visual point of view atleast, is the many distinct colours that emerge each year – colour was always going to be the best way to highlight the changing seasons (and then a little extra here and there where an image might not have a direct seasonal element to focus on!)

As for Marmalade’s colour – for a long while, Marmalade wasn’t in colour but ultimately it was decided Marmalade, being the key player here, might need to stand out that bit more – and fair enough too!

The seasons! When you say it, it is of course, very logical. (I feel a bit of a scatterkat for asking!)

Alison What five individual words best describe Marmalade?

  1. Watchful
  2. Awkward
  3. Fun-loving
  4. Loyal
  5. Purrfect

It’s the ‘awkward’ makes Marmalade so real and loveable, Alison.

HeathI’m hoping you have that cat-like quality of landing on your feet, because I’m going to throw you a challenge… I’m pretty good at drawing the katswhiskers (to the right -> ) but that’s my limit. I’m hoping you can extend my repertoire a bit, and skill me up on some other cat moves.

To help you out, I’ve listed some catty emotions I thought you might cat-ture!

  • ’fraidy cat
  • ecscatic cat
  • purrrrfect cat
  • catastrophic cat
  • caterwauling cat
  • cat-ching cat – on the prowl

They’re gorgeous, Heath!! So much personality on the page.

Now it’s over to you, Alison! What can YOU do with Heath’s examples? (Yes – I am asking you to draw a cat pic for us. :P)

I’m no scaredy cat, Kat. But remember, I never claimed to be a artist!

A very catatonic cat, Alison. And clever word play. Well done, you!

COMPETITION TIME!

READERS:  This is your chance to get catty!

1.  Draw your best cat picture. You can have a bit of fun with it like we did.
2.  Email it to; contactkat @ optusnet . com . au (no spaces) by 8pm this Friday, 17th August, and
3.  YOU are in with a chance to win your own, signed, original Heath McKenzie cat picture!

Please keep cat files less than 300kb. 

Your pictures will be posted to the katswhiskers blog on Sunday, 19th August, when we will also announce the winner, as decided by Heath and Alison.

So – pick up a pencil, pen or piece of charcoal and get drawing!

Want to read more about ‘A Year with Marmalade’? Follow the blog tour;

A Year with Marmalade Blog Tour

7th Aug Dee White;  http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com
9th Aug Karen Tyrrell;  http://www.karentyrrell.com
11th Aug Tania McCartney;  http://www.kids-bookreview.com
13th Aug  Pass It On;  http://jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com/school-magazine
14th Aug  Kathryn Apel;  https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog
17th Aug  Dale Harcombe;  http://orangedale.livejournal.com
20th Aug  Peter Taylor;  http://writing-for-children.blogspot.com.au
22nd Aug  Susan Stephenson;  http://www.thebookchook.com
23rd Aug  Robyn Opie Parnell;  http://robynopie.blogspot.com.au
27th Aug Sally Odgers;  http://spinningpearls.blogspot.com.au
29th  Aug  Angela Sunde;  http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au
31st Aug Chris Bell;  http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com

Looking forward to seeing your cats! >^,^<

DO NOT FORGET AUSTRALIA – Blog Tour and Giveaway

This past week I’ve enjoyed reading the backstory for the wonderful new-release Walker picture book, DO NOT FORGET AUSTRALIA, by Sally Murphy and Sonia Kretschmar. Both Sally and Sonia have a swag of awards and commendations to their names, and collaboratively, they have created a rich and warm picture book that Australians can be proud of.

DO NOT FORGET AUSTRALIA tells the story of Henri and Billy, two boys who are oceans apart, but together in heart. Billy’s Australian father is fighting the war near Henri’s French hometown, Villers-Bretonneux. The year is 1918.

Inspired by a significant battle in World War I, the story doesn’t focus on the despair of war. Rather, the illustrations and text gently move the story past death and destruction, to focus on the hope – the lasting good that comes from cross-cultural compassion, empathy and aid.

When Henri’s village is destroyed in battle, Billy is one of many Australian children who work together to help rebuild Villers-Bretonneux. To this day the sign of acknowledgment remains; DO NOT FORGET AUSTRALIA.

DO NOT FORGET AUSTRALIA is a must read for all Australians.

Lest we forget.   Continue reading

Kisses for Karen!

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It is not every day a special friend launches a first book – but today is one of them. You’ve all heard me talk of Karen Collum – my twitter buddy, crit partner, #pblitchat co-convenor, soul friend, and totally beautiful lady…

Well, today that Karen Collum is delighted to be launching her debut book, Samuel’s Kisses at Greenbank C&K Kinder. And I have the pleasure of launching her blog tour around cyberspace! Continue reading