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PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

t’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Raewyn Caisley. Raewyn was born and grew up in New Zealand, and has spent more than half her life in Australia. She’s lived in a number of Australian cities, and also lived for a year in the outback. Her most recent book is Something Wonderful, illustrated by Karen Blair.

Here are just some of Raewyn’s books:

Last week Bren MacDibble asked:
Looking at your recent picture books, I immediately get a sense of place, not just anywhere but of Western Australia or of New Zealand. Most of the scene setting is done by an illustrator in a picture book, but do you consciously try to contribute towards building a sense of place with your prose? And how do you do that?


Raewyn answers:
Raewyn Caisley (photo)Actually, most of the scene setting is done by the author first, even in a picture book. You just don’t notice it! When Karen Blair did the pictures for Hello From Nowhere she had never even been to the Nullarbor so I guess my words must have somehow taken her there.

The trick is allowing the reader to see the place through the eyes of the characters, and if the writer includes their own real feelings about the place, well then it will be just like being there.

Another clever trick is incorporating the five senses. How does it smell? What can you hear? What can you see? Touch something and think about how that thing makes you feel … Again, though, you have to do it in a very real way. A lot of kids like to say ‘You could smell his fear’ but I’m not sure you can really smell fear. You shouldn’t go through the senses like they’re a shopping list either! Just put a smell in here, a sound in there … Do it in a way that feels natural.

The best compliment you can ever give someone who writes about place is, you took me there. I hope that’s how people feel when they’ve read one of my books.

For more about Raewyn Caisley and her books, check out her website: www.raewyncaisley.com

 


Great Goal Marvellous MarkAnd now Raewyn passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Katrina Germein. Katrina’s latest book is Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! illustrated by Janine Dawson.

Raewyn asks:
“You write about so many different things; footy, remote communities, beaches, funny dads … I even read that you want to write about mermaids! Is there something that all your books have in common?

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators.

See you next week!

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THE LIFE OF A 50 CENT PIECE
by Olive, 10, QLD

couch by pexels.comDull. Boring. Dark. Is how my life is.

“Why?” you may ask. Because I am a 50 cent piece stuck behind the couch and that was all my life was — dull, dark, boring. Until one day.

“Mum!” I heard Belle scream. (Now remember Belle, it will come in handy later on. Belle was my owner before I was lost behind the couch.)

“She is coming, Belle!” shouted Belle’s mum. “Lucy will be here soon.”  I was so glad when I heard this because whenever Lucy comes over so does her brother, Ben. He loves to sneak off and look under and behind the couch where he finds me. Ben is my hero.

Lucy is Belle’s BFF — so Ben is always over — so I am never lost for too long.

DING DONG, the doorbell rings … only seconds until I am saved!

“Where is Ben?” I hear Belle’s Mum ask. Fear prickles down my metal edges.

“Sick,” replies Lucy’s Mum.

Thoughts flow into my tiny metal skull. ‘Will I be behind this couch forever?’ Just the thought of it makes me spin.

There is a scream then a loud SMASH right next to me

Then I see her, the love of my life, roll out from under the couch — 20 cent piece. We have two children, their names are 5 cent piece and her brother 10 cent piece.

 

Years have gone by now and I am growing old and rusty — but don’t weep for me, because I am just a 50 cent piece, a slab of metal. I will never die, for I am metal.

It is now time to say ‘Good day.’


This is Olive’s first story published at Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!

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a forest photo by pexels.com

Forest
by Kaia, 10, USA

Among the vast trees sees

Lie secrets that shall never leak peek

No human shall ever find confined

The birds can only feel conceal

The hush of the forest purest

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Kaia has been published with Alphabet Soup previously. You can read her earlier piece: ‘Anger’. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Bren MacDibble. Bren has a special interest in science fiction and loves to write to explore the future. Her latest novel — How to Bee — is set in a post bee, post famine Australia, where children hand-pollinate fruit trees.

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Cristy Burne asked:
I love that you have introduced the real-life issue of honey bee losses in your fictional novel, How to Bee. Can you please tell us more about how this issue grabbed your interest and its role in inspiring your story?

Bren answers:
Bren MacDibble photoWhen I saw the beautiful photos in the Huffington Post article (linked on my website) about how farmers in a valley in the Sichuan Province in China were already spending their lives climbing through trees, hand-pollinating flowers, because there just aren’t any bees there anymore, I knew I wanted to write about the lives of hand-pollinators.

I’d also read an article about pigeon pea farmers in India who had been put into debt from purchasing insecticides. When they went back to the old ways of beating the bushes, and dragging a sheet through the rows of pigeon pea with a flock of chickens following, the health of the pea bushes improved, more people had work, no one went into debt, and chooks got nice and fat and laid lots of eggs. (Young Peony in How to Bee has chickens for this very reason, she also talks about circles of life, and how pesticides cut through them.)
 .
How to BeeI think children know a lot about climate change and it worries them, so I wanted to set a story in the future after the bees had gone and the world had changed. I didn’t want to terrify children with a famine caused by bee loss, I wanted to go further into the future and show the world after things had resettled. In particular, I wanted young readers to see children like them living in this new time, getting on with things. I wanted to show them coping, and learning what is most important in a new world.
Check out Bren MacDibble’s website for more about her and her books.
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Something wonderfulAnd now Bren passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Raewyn Caisley. Her latest book is a picture book, Something Wonderful.

Bren asks:
“Looking at your recent picture books, I immediately get a sense of place, not just anywhere but of Western Australia or of New Zealand. Most of the scene setting is done by an illustrator in a picture book, but do you consciously try to contribute towards building a sense of place with your prose? And how do you do that?”

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators.

See you next week!

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FRAMED LOVE
by Charlize, 10, QLD

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Take a walk in the park, hand in hand
Breathe in the fresh air of the free land
Explore the area full of flowers and bugs
Then give your mother lots of big hugs
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Show her how much she means to you
Tell her how life would be without her, too
She cooks, she sweeps, looks after us all,
She doesn’t care what you look like, big, or small
 .
She looks at you and smiles
The grin stretches for miles
She whispers ‘I know what to do, little one’
‘Let’s take a picture to remember this fun.’
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You kneel down and kiss your mother
The camera at a special angle, held by your father
The heartfelt picture hangs up above
But nothing is ever higher than your mother’s love.

This is Charlize’s first poem published with Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!

 

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

Firefly JulyFirefly July by Paul Janeczko (editor), ill. Melissa Sweet, Candlewick, ISBN 9780763648428

Matilda reviews her own copy of this book.

This is a book of VERY short poems all about different subjects.

I like the way the book progresses from spring, then through all the seasons, and ends at winter. My favourite poem was called ‘Window’ by Carl Sandburg. It’s only 3 lines long and it’s about the dark night having slashes of light. I really liked the choice of words and I’d like to read more by this poet.

Melissa Sweet’s illustration style definitely suits the poems. It’s interesting that in many of the illustrations she uses a sort of collage.

I recommend this book for ages 7+ and for people who like short poems!


Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. You can read Matilda’s other reviews here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

 

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Cristy Burne. Cristy is an author, a past editor of CSIRO’s Scientriffic magazine for kids, a regular contributor to Crinkling News and Double Helix mag for kids/teens, and has worked as a travelling performer in the Shell Questacon Science Circus. Her latest book is To the Lighthouse

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Alice Pung asked:
You mention finding a plastic head in the rubbish bin as one of the inspirations for your Takeshita Demons books. This is fascinating! Could you tell us the true story about the head that inspired the books?!


Cristy answers:

Cristy BurneMany years ago, when I was living in Japan, I was walking home from work when I received a huge shock. It was a freezing, wintry day, and the time of year when villagers put their large rubbish out on the verge, ready for council pick up. I didn’t have a whole lot of furniture in my house, so I was keeping an eye out for anything useful I might bring back. There were old wooden bookshelves, comfy chairs, storage chests, even what looked to be a pristine condition antique sewing machine … I wanted it all!

However, at that time in Japan, it was considered poor manners to collect ‘rubbish’ from off the verge. And anyway, these things were too heavy for me to lug home.

Then I spotted it. In a cardboard box, next to an old set of wooden drawers. Human hair.

It was straight and shiny. Thick, black human hair. Sticking out of the top of the box.

I gulped. I panicked. I looked around to see if anyone else had seen it. Human hair!!

But there was no one else in the street. No one at all. So I stepped closer to the box and peered inside.

Skin!! Through the shining hair, I could see the pale skin of a scalp!

I looked around again, starting to freak out. Should I call the police? Scream and run? What if the murderer was watching me right now? What should I do!?!

I knew I shouldn’t panic, so I took a deep breath, steeled myself. And I did what any ordinary, sensible person would do. I bent down to the box, grabbed a handful of that thick, shining hair in my fist, and lifted it up …

… and an entire head came with it! Was it a woman? A man? I couldn’t tell, but its eyes were staring right at me. PANIC!!

And worse, there was more hair in the box below. I grabbed another handful and pulled up another head. And another.

In all, there were three heads in that roadside box, all identical, all with lush black hair. All, thankfully, plastic. I guess they were old hairdressers’ dummies? Anyway, they’d been thrown out, so they were mine now!

I took them home, washed their faces, shampooed their hair, and stuck them in a pretty row in my front window, for passers-by to admire. They looked so realistic! It was the funniest thing ever to sit and sip tea and secretly watch the reactions of people in the street. (I recommend you do this anytime you want a good laugh.)

A few months later, I heard about the Japanese nukekubi—a mythical creature whose head detaches from its sleeping body so it can fly around and terrorise small puppies and children. And I started to wonder: what if these heads weren’t hairdressing dummies? What if they were nukekubi heads, still in search of their bodies? And so the idea of an adventure series featuring Japanese mythology was born. Takeshita Demons was the first book in that series, and my first published book (yay!).

And what about the heads?

Well, when I left Japan, I was too embarrassed to bring all three back in my suitcase. So I only brought one. And I still have it now. As I type, it’s staring at me, from across the room. Staring and maybe waiting, for just that right moment to spring back into life … ? I don’t know.

But I do know having your own plastic head is a great way to meet friends, dream up practical jokes, and get inspired to write a book!

Check out Cristy Burne’s website for more about her and her books.

 


How to BeeAnd now Cristy passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Bren MacDibble. Bren’s latest book is How to Bee, published in May 2017.

Cristy asks:
I love that you have introduced the real-life issue of honey bee losses in your fictional novel, How to Bee. Can you please tell us more about how this issue grabbed your interest and its role in inspiring your story?

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators.

See you next week!