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A NORMAL GIRL
by Azuki, 9, NSW

Girl looking out window. Photo from pexels.comI got out of bed and I stared out the window, longing for a friend. Girls and boys were playing outside happily. It was 1902 in France. See, my sister had tuberculosis when I was four. Two years later she is forgotten. The memory of her is tossed away like an old newspaper.

Well, at least I remember her fondly. Camille, with her soft blond hair, bright blue eyes and dainty little dimples. Maman said she was belle.

“Il est temps pour petit-déjeuner!” Maman yelled.
“J’arrive!” I called back. Breakfast was ready. I could smell just-baked croissant. Okay. So I’ll tell you more about it later.

I haven’t been outside so I don’t have any friends. I haven’t met anyone except Maman, Camille and my imaginary friend Carlos. After Camille died, I got lonely. Carlos was my only hope.

Carlos was a jolly soul. But one day, we had a fight.
“C’est vrai, les licornes sont reélles (It’s true, unicorns are real)!” I told him.

“Non, non,” Carlos argued. ”C’est une idée stupide (That’s a stupid idea)!” That made me angry. Furious. My fingernails dug in to my palms because of my tight fists. No one messes with my unicorn theory. That’s when it all started.

The next crisp morning, I heard Maman’s horses clopping down Marseille, which meant she was going to work. Maman banned me from going outside because of “dangers.” Because I was an obedient little girl, I did what I was told. But that day was the day. I was going to go outside. No more Carlos! Well, at least that’s what I thought. He might follow me.

I went down to the bottom floor and the door was locked from the inside. Then I thought of an idea. I was on the bottom floor. Right? There are always windows in a house. I could climb outside the window! After putting aside some provisions, a picture of Maman and food in a bag, I set off.

It was a rough journey. People stared at me like I was a strangely dressed tourist. I walked and walked for ages until I reached a grassy field.

“C’est beau,” I sighed as I gazed at its beauty. Dandelions, roses and violets, purple and blue! It was amazing. That’s when I heard the explosion.

Suddenly the sky was filled with planes and I was choking on dust and ash. I didn’t understand what was happening. I was only five. All I remember was that I ran. I ran until I found a gathering of people. They were all speaking French. I was so excited to think that I could find Maman. I got out the picture of her and started asking people if they had seen her.

“Avez-vous vue cette personne?” I asked whoever would lend an ear. But all the feedback I got were shaking heads and shrugging shoulders.

Would I ever see Maman again? I ran to a corner and started crying. Then, I heard a familiar voice, “Anne, tu me manques tellement. Oú êtes-vous ma petite douse?” That was the distinctive sound of Maman’s voice! She was asking where I was!

“Maman?” I whispered, my voice hoarse from dehydration.
“Ma fille! Allez, nous devons trouver un abri! Je connais un ami (My daughter! We have to find shelter! I know a friend),” she cried. We ran through the warzone, barely missing bombs flying down from all the warplanes.

Finally, we found our destination. There was a pretty woman standing at the door, followed by two children. The woman was named Mila, Maman’s friend, a boy named Liam and a girl called Lola. They had a small house but I was excited that I could possibly live a normal life again.

The next day I went to school and I met nice people. I played with Lola and Juliet, a girl from our neighbourhood. A few weeks later, Maman came up to me and said that our home was safe from war now and we had to go home.

I got out of bed and stared out the window. I wasn’t longing for a friend. For once, I was one of those boys and girls playing happily. I was a normal girl.


This is Azuki’s first story 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!

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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.)

Kelly Canby

Today the book baton is passed to Kelly Canby. Kelly is an internationally published illustrator and author of picture books, early reader books, chapter books, and colouring books. She lives in Western Australia — you can see her above, busy drawing and painting.

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Lorraine Marwood asked:
Hello Kelly, I see you do illustrations for a range of children’s genres, as well as colouring books!  Can you tell us a bit about your illustrative journey and what you’d passionately love to draw in the future?

Kelly Canby answers:
Thanks for the question, Lorraine! My illustrative journey begins many years ago at university. I studied design at Curtin where I majored in Illustration and minored in Graphic Design and Advertising. When I graduated I freelanced for while as an illustrator for advertising agencies and eventually landed a full time graphic design job with the design studio of my dreams. From there I moved between working in design studios and advertising agencies until I became senior designer at a very wonderful, very creative and fun (really fun) design studio.

Then I needed to do something completely different so I bought a florist. And I made flower arrangements.

And once that was out of my system, I started to think about design and illustration again. Also, around this time, I was buying a lot of picture books for my son and I fell completely in love with them knew that’s what I had to do. I had to make children’s books for the rest of my life! So I hopped online and discovered SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators), I made myself a portfolio of work, got an agent and began. That was about 4 and half years ago and since then I have illustrated around 14 books, written and illustrated one picture book, with another picture book that I’ve written in the works with Fremantle Press as I type, and I’m having so much fun doing it all.

As for what I’d passionately love to draw in the future … Well, on the very top of my wish list for a long time was to illustrate a middle grade novel with lots and lots of detailed, full page, black and white drawings, which I happen to be doing right now with Allen & Unwin so I am one very happy illustrator, indeed!

Visit Kelly Canby’s website to find out more about her and her books: kellycanby.com


PlatypusAnd now Kelly Canby passes the baton to the next visitor — Sue Whiting.

Sue writes picture books, chapter books and novels for teens.

Kelly asks:
Hi Sue, my question for you is, when you’re in the planning stage of a new book, do you prefer to work in a quiet space where it’s just you and your thoughts or do you head out to cafes and parks where you’re surrounded by outside sources of inspiration – people/colour/activity – to help develop your ideas?
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Pass the book baton is taking a break for the school holidays. The series will resume at the end of April.
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See you then!
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ALL ABOUT PEOPLE
by Siddh, 6, QLD

There are lots of people in this world,
But everyone is still the same,
Some people could blame each other,
And others might do the same.

When it’s dark and late in the night and people in their beds,
some people could already be asleep and others would be awake.

So, there are lots of people in this world
And people might look different
But every single one of our souls
Is built exactly the same!


This is Siddh’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!

Review of Family Day at the Perth Writers Festival 2017
by Matilda, 11, WA

On Sunday 26 February 2017 it was Family Day at the Perth Writers Festival at UWA. This year there were kid curators who were interviewing authors and illustrators at the Tropical Grove. I thought all the kids did a very good job and asked some great questions.

Mechanica by Lance Balchin.

Mechanica by Lance Balchin.

I also really liked the creativity stand run by Remida.

They provided heaps of interesting recycled materials so we could make robot-ish animals like the animals in the fantastic picture book Mechanica: A beginner’s field guide by Lance Balchin.

 

Here’s a photo of me with the robot caterpillar creature I made:

 

Robot caterpillar junk construction

 

There was also a giant board with wings set up by the children’s author and illustrator Kylie Howarth. You could decorate a feather and write on it what you would do if you had wings. This is how I decorated my feather:

Feather: if I had wings I would live with the birds.

When Kylie Howarth had glued your feather to the wings, then you could get your photo taken as if you had wings yourself:

Photo of Matilda with wings

 

My favourite session at the Tropical Grove was the drawing duel, when James Foley and Donovan Bixley drew robotic cats with some suggestions from the audience. My favourite session at Writers Central was the Pandemonium event, which included swing dancers and a band.

Overall, it was a really great day and I recommend everyone to go next year!

I give this event 5  stars.


Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  The Silver Donkey. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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IN THE SHADOWS
by Tanishkaa, 9, NSW

Dark as night
scales like brass
fast as lightning
tongue flickering; in, out —
Snakes


This is Tanishkaa’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!

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 Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is an award-winning writer of novels, verse novels and poetry. You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Kylie Howarth asked:
Which poem or book you have written means the most to you?

Lorraine Marwood answers:

Ah, a perennial question that is often asked and at different stages or times in my writing journey there would be different answers.

Of course my first book picked up way back in 1999 part of the superdooper series ‘Rainbow Toes’ was a very exciting experience — even when the editor said I had to work on my ending before it was accepted. I was determined and still love this book today.

Or I could chose my first verse novel with Walker books Ratwhiskers and Me which allowed me to explore my love of history and my love of poetry in a fast paced narrative.

Then again I could choose my second verse novel Star Jumps, which was written in tears and shows life on a real live dairy farm as drought hits. This novel won the inaugural children’s section of the Prime Minister’s literary awards. So I love it because it celebrates my children’s growing up years and because it validated me as an author.

Or it could be my latest manuscript written last year at a May Gibbs literary fellowship in Brisbane. This one is close because it touches on grief — again another verse novel.

And poetry? I love writing poems mainly for children but continue to write literary poetry and be published in this genre too.

My latest collection Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry was a challenge to write, to research different celebrations (because I believe poetry should reflect facts as well as emotion) and to construct the poems in different ways.

A favourite poem from this collection was one on Christmas. My editor didn’t quite like the poem I’d already written and said to write a new one. I did, about a boy chosen to be the donkey in the nativity play, although he had no idea of what was going on — his friend Tiff kept explaining all the way through until he surprises himself and the reader right at the end. I love it when the right tone comes through for me and then the poem flows. Funny how my writing reflects my life because when I’d written that poem (the editor loved it by the way) my grandson was selected to be the donkey in his preschool play!

As my life continues on with many unexpected twists and new horizons, I love that my writing can help me adjust to new situations, to find meaning and to share this with my readers.

Poetry has the power to express what is on the inside and this is sometimes hidden to the poet too. So each new direction I take produces work which reflects that and looking back each poem or story contains the essence of that experience. So there are no favourites in my writing, just deep gratitude that writing is what I must do no matter what.

For more info about Lorraine Marwood and her books and poetry, visit http://lorrainemarwood.com or check out her blog http://lorrainemarwoodwordsintowriting.blogspot.com.au/


All the Lost ThingsAnd now Lorraine Marwood passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Kelly Canby. Kelly is an author-illustrator living in Perth, WA.

Lorraine asks:
“I see you do illustrations for a range of children’s genres, as well as colouring books!  Can you tell us a bit about your illustrative journey and what you’d passionately love to draw in the future?  Thanks.”
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Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
 ..
See you next week!

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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 picture book author and illustrator, Kylie Howarth. Kylie’s books have been published in Australia, New Zealand, France and the USA. She grew up in the country with a dog, sheep, orphaned kangaroos and even an echidna.

Last week Geoff Havel asked:
How much of your love of stories and your ability to write them comes from your own childhood on a farm and how much comes from being surrounded by children now?

Kylie Howarth answers:
I do draw from my own childhood and now more than ever appreciate all the experiences my parents gave me. Not every kid had pet kangaroos or spent a year traveling around Australia. As a child I loved drawing and have always been fond of animals and the beach, which are both reoccurring themes in my books.

That being said I am now focused on creating stories that my children love. Their interests and personalities are definitely the biggest inspiration for my work. They contribute so much to my books too as I am constantly tweaking text and layouts based on their reactions and feedback. We also create paintings together in our backyard art sessions, which I then scan and use as textures in my illustrations.

For more info about Kylie Howarth and her books (and colouring sheets and craft activities), visit www.kyliehowarth.com


Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry (cover)And now Kylie Howarth passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is an award-winning children’s author and poet. Her most recent poetry collection is Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry.

Kylie asks:
“Which of your poems or books means the most to you?”
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Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
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See you next week!

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