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Meg McKinlay -- photo courtesy Fremantle PressPass the Book BatonIt’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 writer Meg McKinlay. She writes picture books, novels and poetry, and lives near the ocean in Western Australia.  Meg’s most recent books are Bella and the Wandering House and A Single Stone (which won the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award in the young adult category).

You might recognise some of these books:


Last week Norman Jorgensen asked:
A single stoneHaving now won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, as well as just about every other award in Australia for A Single Stone, do you have a new book in mind … or are you creating several projects at the same time?

Meg answers:
What is it that politicians love to say: I reject the premise of the question?🙂 It’s true that I’ve been very fortunate with A Single Stone, but my dear friend Norman is stretching the truth just a little with his “just about every other award in Australia” line.

Now that we’ve cleared that up … the answer is i) yes and also ii) yes.

I most definitely have a new book in mind. The problem is that by now it should be well and truly out of my mind and onto the page. I’m working on a novel set in 1979 when the world’s first space station — Skylab — was falling to earth. It’s the story of a girl named Frankie who lives in the Southwest of WA, and her science-obsessed little brother Newt, who becomes fixated on Skylab for spoilferific reasons I must not divulge at this time. This book is fully formed in my brain and just needs to make it to my typing fingers. I’m hoping to have it done very soon.

And I am also creating several other projects. I have three picture books in various stages of the production line:

Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros, which I am gleeful about, will be out in August next year. It’s about a small rhinoceros who sets out to sail the world, and will be illustrated by Leila Rudge.

Drawn Onward, which is unlike anything I’ve ever done before — a book about perception and optimism which relies on an unusual structure and will be aimed at older readers — is being illustrated by Bunbury artist Andrew Frazer, and will be out in October-ish.

And finally … Duck! (because everyone knows the world can never have too many books about ducks) is in the early stages of illustration by Nathaniel Eckstrom. This is going to be a barrel of fun and I can’t wait to read it to kids.

Stop by Meg McKinlay’s website for more about her and her books.


The family with two front doorsAnd now Meg McKinlay passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Anna Ciddor. Anna is the author of 56 books and is the illustrator for most of them, too. Her most recent book is The Family with Two Front Doors.

Meg asks:
You’re a writer and an illustrator — good grief! Do you feel equally comfortable doing both, or does one come more naturally to you?
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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

 

Norman Jorgensen in Northumberland. (Photo © Jan Nicholls.)It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Alphabet Soup features a book creator every Friday 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.)

Norman Jorgensen takes the book baton today. Norman is the award-winning author of many adventure-filled books. His books are inspired by travelling, old movies and old books. His latest book is The Smuggler’s Curse.

You might recognise some of these page-turners:

If you love a good swashbuckling adventure you can read a sample chapter of The Smuggler’s Curse thanks to Fremantle Press.

Last week Catherine Carvell asked Norman a question:

Your latest book The Smugglers Curse was released in October and what an adventure! My question to you is, have you based any of The Smugglers Curse on real life? And if so, which bits are real?

 Norman answers:

That’s an interesting question. The Smuggler’s Curse is high adventure, and a lot of the action is total fantasy, however, it is grounded in real history, and the locations are very real. I visited all the places mentioned in the story and then had to imagine what they would have been like back in 1895 when the story is set. Sometimes it was easy. The headhunters’ long house in Sumatra did not look like it had changed at all in 120 years. To my surprise and concern, there were still skulls hanging from the rafters.

Looking at old photographs, Broome and Albany and Cossack, and even Fremantle, were much the same now as back then, except for paved roads and cars, of course. I expect, too, they now smell a lot better, no longer having open sewers and outside dunnies, and no open drains in the streets, or mountains of horse manure that would have littered the roadways. Modern Singapore, on the other hand, bears no comparison with Colonial Singapore. It is a rich, bustling city where once it was a sleepy mosquito-infested outpost.

I set the book in first-person, pretending I was Red, the hero, and he is a bit like me in that he is scared of all sorts of things. We both hate heights, sharks, soldiers with bayonets trying to skewer him, and falling from the masthead, but Red tries to be brave no matter what the circumstances.

The skipper of the Black Dragon schooner — Captain Black Bowen, the notorious smuggler — I based on movie star called Errol Flynn who was a swashbuckling hero back in the days of black and white movies. I loved his movies Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk and many others. Real life? Probably not, though he was a famous adventurer in real life.

The sailing scenes are definitely real. When I was about 12 years old, my father and I made a dinghy, and we used to go sailing together on the Swan River, and sometimes the Indian Ocean. Like the Black Dragon in the Andaman Sea, we were once caught in a fierce storm, washed way out to sea and nearly killed. The excitement and terror I wrote about Red feeling on the deck of the Dragon were based on that experience.

I hope you enjoy reading about Red’s adventures and imagining all the places he gets taken while on board the Black Dragon.

Happy reading,

Norman

You can read earlier interviews with Norman Jorgensen here and here.


a single stoneAnd now Norman Jorgensen passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Meg McKinlay. Meg is the author of many books including A Single Stone, Ten Tiny Things, and Duck for a Day.

Norman asks:
Having now won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, as well as just about every other award in Australia for A Single Stone, do you have a new book in mind … or are you creating several projects at the same time?
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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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Photo of dancers from pexels.com

I LOVE TO DANCE
by Anishka, 7, QLD

I love to dance.
The music gets me on my feet,
I follow the music with fifteen merry steps.

The melody is sweeter than the butterfly,
That’s flapping its wings,
It takes me round and round being careful,
Not to get dizzy and fall.

But I have fun,
Felt just like an angel.
Off I go, twirling and spinning,
Just like tingling, as I love dancing.


Anishka has been published at Alphabet Soup many times — you can read all her earlier work here.

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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This is the last TOP READS post for 2016! At the end of each month — from February to November — our Top Reads team recommends their favourite reading material from the previous month. This year we’ve had audiobooks, graphic novels, novels, cookbooks, comics, and nonfiction titles. All great reads with a tick of approval from kids just like you! A big thank you to everyone on our team for this year*, we’ve loved seeing your recommendations. (We’ll be back in February to introduce our 2017 team.)

So, without further ado — here is the final collection for this year. Add these to your Christmas wishlist or duck into a library and stock up for some great holiday reading …

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). You can check out all the Top Reads posts for 2016 here.

*All our Top Readers are kids aged 13 and under. No grownups allowed!

 

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PASS THE BOOK BATON

Catherine CarvellIt’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Alphabet Soup features a book creator every Friday 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.)

Catherine Carvell takes the book baton today. Catherine is an Australian author living in Singapore (but soon heading back to WA!). Her first book is Darcy Moon and the Deep-Fried Frogs, a humorous adventure story about a girl with a mission to save the swamp.

If you like the sound of Darcy Moon you can read a sample chapter of the book.

 

Last week Oliver Phommavanh asked:
What is one thing you’d like kids to walk away with after they’ve read your book?

Catherine answers:
I tried to make Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs as funny as possible, with lots of disgusting and embarrassing situations to make kids cringe and laugh. So the one thing I’d like kids to walk away with after reading this book is … a smile!

Darcy Moon and the deep fried frogs.


The Smugger's CurseAnd now Catherine Carvell passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Norman Jorgensen. Norman is the author of many books including The Last Viking, and The Last Viking Returns. His latest book is The Smuggler’s Curse.

Catherine asks:
Your latest book was released in October and what an adventure!
My question to you is, have you based any of  The Smugglers Curse on real life? And if so, which bits are real?
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

Oliver PhommavanhIt’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Alphabet Soup features a book creator every Friday 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.)

We’re pleased to feature author Oliver Phommavanh as he takes the baton today. Oliver writes funny novels and short stories, he’s also a comedian and primary school teacher. Oliver’s first book — Thai-riffic — was published in 2010.

Here are some of his book covers:

Last week Deborah Abela left a question for Oliver to answer.

Deborah asks:
In your writing, you have this wonderful ability to create characters that feel real and who I very quickly feel I know and like. Do you know your characters really well before you write or do they come to life as you rewrite each draft?
 xx
Oliver Phommavanh:
It depends on each story that I write. Sometimes it comes to me straight away like in Thai-riffic or Con-nerd and then I just write the draft with the voices of each character fully in my head. Other books, I have a faint voice of what the characters could be like and then I write the draft to build that voice. A lot of my characters are drawn from my own childhood friends and family, but more recently just from observing kids in schools when I visit them. I have a fair idea of what my characters will sound like, so I let them roam around in my head awhile, but some shout louder than others, haha!

Darcy Moon and the deep fried frogs.


And now Oliver passes the book baton to the next author — Catherine Carvell. Catherine is the author of Darcy Moon and the Deep Fried Frogs.

Oliver asks Catherine Carvell:
What is one thing you’d like kids to walk away with after they’ve read your book?

Check in every Friday for a Q&A with children’s authors and illustrators. See you next week!

For other posts featuring Oliver Phommavanh at Alphabet Soup check out:

What’s Funny?

3 Quick Questions and

Meet Oliver Phommavanh

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THE JACARANDAS
by Sophie, 9, QLD

It seems to be the season where all the jacarandas fall
I see jacarandas on the ground, not just one, but all

I see the beautiful colours so purple so bright
It is even better than the moon at night

Wow! I’m so lucky to see these flowers
I could stand here and look at them for hours


This is Sophie’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!