Posted in authors, interviews

Kaye Baillie on writing The Friendly Games

MEET THE AUTHOR

Kaye Baillie holding her book THE FRIENDLY GAMES

Kaye Baillie writes picture books, novels and short stories. Her latest book is a nonfiction picture book The Friendly Games (illustrated by Fiona Burrows.)

From the publisher:

John Ian Wing couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming Melbourne Olympic Games. It’s 1956 and from his parents’ Bourke Street restaurant, John swells with pride watching the hive of activity as the city prepares to welcome its guests. But when world tensions threaten to overshadow the good nature of the Games, John knows he must do something to remind everyone of the meaning of friendship and peace.

Based on a true story, The Friendly Games is a fascinating tale of one boy’s role  in one of Australia’s most significant sporting events.

The Friendly Games by Kaye Baillie and Fiona Burrows


How did you first hear about John Wing?
I was researching the introduction of television in Australia. My idea was to write a story about a fictional family getting their first TV. I found out that television was introduced to Australia in 1956 in time to televise the  Melbourne Olympic Games. And of course the internet brings up stories related to what you’re searching for, so John Wing’s story came up. I read about a boy who wrote a letter to the Melbourne Organising Committee suggesting how the closing ceremony for the Olympic Games should break with tradition and allow all athletes to march as a mixed group behind one Olympic flag — as a kind of peace march. I was amazed by what he did and that his letter worked — all within three days of the closing ceremony. I gave up on the introduction-of-television story and began working on John’s story instead.

How did you go about gathering research for writing the book?
I researched old newspaper clippings on the government website called Trove. I also trawled through microfilms at the State Library in Melbourne.

I watched the official Olympic promotional video made for the 1956 games.

I read sections of the official Olympic report which detailed every part of the Games from its preparation to its final moments.

I purchased a CD from the National Library in Canberra containing an interview with John. This was great because I could hear his voice and listen to how he spoke.

On the City of Kingston’s website there was information and photos detailing John’s early years at a Children’s home.

I tried to find John by emailing his last known email address and I also wrote a letter to his last known home address but I didn’t receive any response.

I visited John’s address where much of the story took place. His bedroom window in Bourke Street, Melbourne is still the same today as it was in 1956. It’s important to get a feel for your subject and their surroundings through first-hand experience.

Did you have any interaction with the illustrator (Fiona Burrows) while the book was being created?
Not in the beginning. Fiona was chosen by the publisher as Fiona had already illustrated one book with MidnightSun. When Fiona was about to begin work on the illustrations, the publisher put us in touch so if we had any questions, we were free to talk to each other. We often emailed each other and Fiona invited feedback from me. Because the story is non-fiction we had to make sure the illustrations were a true reflection of the era, 1956 and the location, Melbourne. Usually illustrators and authors do not have any contact with each other during the book’s process. This is because the illustrator must have freedom to interpret the text how they see it.

Do you have any tips for children who would like to write about real events from history?
Make sure your subject is something you are really interested in. Research can take a long time so it’s important to enjoy the process.

Gather as much research as you can. The more information you have, the more interesting facts you will have to choose from.

Your story will be much better if you can show that you have a good understanding of the facts.

Can you tell us a bit about your next writing project? 
I’m currently researching another non-fiction story. This one is set in America so it’s a little less familiar than researching in Australia. But I have found lots of information and the best part is that I am regularly talking to the daughter of the woman I am writing about. This makes the project very special. I am planning to finish the story within 2-3 months. It takes a long time to do the research and then to write the best story possible.

The Friendly Games is out in bookstores and libraries now!


AWESOME EXTRAS:

The Friendly Games by Kaye Baillie and Fiona Burrows

Look inside some of the pages from The Friendly Games

Read a review of the book (review by Anishka, age 10)

Click here for Teachers’ Notes

Visit Kaye Baillie’s website for more about her and her books

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Anishka, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Friendly Games

REVIEWED BY ANISHKA, 10, QLD

The Friendly Games by Kaye Baillie, illustrated by Fiona Burrows, MidnightSun Publishing, ISBN 9781925227642

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Have you ever wondered why the Olympic traditions are like the way they are now? The Friendly Games, by Kaye Baillie and Fiona Burrows, explains it all! The Friendly Games was published in 2020 by MidnightSun Publishing. It is a great way to make a point to young readers about how a young student changed the original tradition of the Olympics (lowering of the Olympic flag, a small speech then the extinguishing of the of the flame) to what it is now!

I would recommend this to young readers, where the colours and pictures and young characters will catch their attention. The amazing figurative language and words, immediately transported me to 1956 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. I would give it nine out of ten. The words were placed on the pictures, that made it hard to read. But, overall I think this is a marvellous book that would be enjoyable to young children.


Anishka is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup, you can read an earlier book review (I Would Dangle the Moon) hereIf YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. 

Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young writers in action: A Corona virus poem

The Terrible, Horrifying Pandemic of 2020
(commonly known as the Corona Virus)
by Anishka, 9, QLD

Leaves litter the ground
Untouched for many days
Weeks pass without a sound
Or talk of any sort.

The once busy streets
Are devoured by silence
Waiting for day to cease
Before they fill with lights.

Scurrying paws echo
When animals take what is theirs
Ants take refuge down below
Monkeys find trees suitable.

No smoke to get rid of
No rubbish in sight
Everyone wearing gloves
Everyday day to night

Together we will conquer
The thing that we fear
To restore the peace
Of the world.


Anishka is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup’s site. You can read another of her poems here. 

Posted in Top Reads

Introducing the 2020 Top Reads Team

Stack of books with one book on the top open and the pages in a fan. Image courtesy pexels.com

We’re thrilled to introduce you to the 2020 Top Reads team.

What is the Top Reads team? Members of this team are keen readers who stop by each month to recommend a favourite read for the month, and they’re all kids like you!

INTRODUCING:

Henry, 6, WA
Henry is six years old. He lives in the Great Southern with his two sisters. He loves to read humorous books and ones which are about Pokémon. He loves to play soccer and have Bey Blade battles with his friends, and when he is allowed, he also likes Dragon City which is a computer game. His favourite subject is Maths, food is strawberry ice cream and his favourite BeyBlade is Valtryek.

Kobe, 9, WA
Kobe is a talented girl who loves art and writing. Her favourite books are Snoopy books.

Willow, 8, NT 
Willow is a non stop action packed Territory kid who loves to play hard. When she is not running around, swimming, dancing, singing and drawing, she loves to read. Her favourite books are ones full action! She also loves books that make her laugh.

Lewis, 11, WA 
Lewis loves reading, particularly entertaining/funny books and adventure stories. When he isn’t reading he loves music, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lego, scooting, fishing, kayaking, and playing with his younger brother.

Matilda, 11.5, NT 
Matilda loves fiction, fantasy & mystery books. Her favourite book series are Harry Potter, The Ink Series, and The School for Good & Evil. She enjoys all school subjects as well as netball, swimming & dance. She also loves art & being creative.

Céití, 10, WA 
Céití loves spending time with her chocolate labrador Flynn. She enjoys all sorts of reading and writing, playing her violin, cooking and playing water polo. Her favourite book for 2019 was Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo.

Anishka, 9, QLD 
Anishka loves writing poems and reading books. She started composing her own poems when she was 4 years old. She is  involved in raising funds for Heart Research and Foundation through ‘Jump Rope for Heart’. She is also involved in a meditation group in the community.

Fergus, 10, WA
Fergus loves to play Lego with his brother, ride his bike, game, code, play with his dog and read. His favourite genres are action, adventure and magic. He has three favourite series: Ranger’s Apprentice, Brotherband and Harry Potter.

Albie May, 8, NSW 
Albie May loves comics including Asterix and Amulet. She also loves old leather-bound books with mouldy pages (that she barely ever reads). She loves reading funny jokes out loud from Untangling Spaghetti by Steven Herrick.

Rory, 8, WA 
Rory loves to spend his day playing Lego, reading, coding and riding his scooter. His favourite authors are JK Rowling, Sally Rippin, Andy Griffiths and Jack Heath. His best place to read is in his bunk bed. When he grows up, he wants to be an archaeologist.

The Top Reads Team will share reading recommendations from February through until November.

Posted in authors, illustrator, interviews

I Would Dangle the Moon: an interview with Amber Moffat

Amber MoffattMEET THE AUTHOR-ILLUSTRATOR

Amber Moffatt is a writer and visual artist based in Perth, Western Australia. If you live in WA and you’ve been to the AH Bracks library in Melville you might have been lucky enough to see her illustrations decorating the windows for Book Week 2019! Amber recently launched her first picture book, I Would Dangle the Moon, in Western Australia and in New Zealand. She regularly runs art workshops for children inspired by the artwork from the book.

What would you do if you could pluck the moon from the sky? Would you scoop it up in an ice cream cone, or ride it like a snail shell across the night sky? This picture book will spark your imagination. 

Today Amber Moffat stops by to chat to Alphabet Soup about creating I Would Dangle the Moon.


I would dangle the moon by Amber MoffatYou’re an author AND an illustrator. When you were creating I Would Dangle the Moon, which came first – the words or the illustrations?
The words came first, but I did have a sense of the images in my mind too. The idea of a snail taking the moon for its shell and slithering across the night sky was the seed the story grew from.

How long did it take you to go from the story idea to the published book?
It took a really long time – three years! The initial text was developed quite quickly but it took a much longer time to develop the storyboard and find the right style of illutstration. I was really lucky to have author and illustrator Briony Stewart as my mentor for a year, and that helped me get the concept ready to submit to publishers. From when my publisher, MidnightSun Publishing, contracted me, it took nine months to complete the final artwork for the illustrations.

What have you been reading recently?
I’ve been enjoying Trouble in the Surf, written by Stephanie Owen Reeder and illustrated by Briony Stewart. The way Briony has used colour in the illustrations is really beautiful, and I keep going back to it to admire her technique.

When you’re doing illustration work, what’s your favourite medium?
Acrylic paint is definitely my preferred medium. I like the way it dries fast and you can paint over it easily. I also like to be able to scan images and alter them digitally. I often use computer editing to piece different paintings together and play with scale and composition.

Are you able to tell us something about your next writing project?
The picture book I’m currently working on explores the science of light, and it’s been a new experience for me to convey scientific ideas in the form of a picture book. I am also working on a novel for young adults, in which medical science is important to the story, so that seems to be a theme for me at the moment.

Amber reading with some helpers at the book launch
Amber Moffat (with some helpers) at the book launch.

I would dangle the moon by Amber MoffatAwesome extras:

Click here to WIN a copy of the book

Click here for a little peek at some of the illustrations from the book.

Click here to read a review of I Would Dangle the Moon (review by Anishka, age 9)

Click here to visit Amber Moffat’s website.

I Would Dangle the Moon is out now! Find it at your nearest bookshop or library.

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Books reviewed by Anishka

Book review: I Would Dangle the Moon

REVIEWED BY ANISHKA, 9, QLD

I would dangle the moon by Amber MoffatI Would Dangle the Moon, written and illustrated by Amber Moffat, MidnightSun Publishing,
ISBN 9781925227529

Anishka received a review copy of this book.

I Would Dangle the Moon is written by Amber Moffat. A mother and daughter explore the moon and relate it to normal events in life. The daughter imagines she could keep the moon forever. Little things matter in this book. Every page is mysterious, for example, what would she do if she was a jeweler? The mother and daughter talk about what they would do with the moon if they were different people.

This book was a perfect blend of imagination and creativity. The pictures in this book are wonderfully illustrated for younger readers.

I think this book would be suitable for younger kids of ages 3 to 5, who have just started to build their imagination. It is a good bedtime story book that younger readers would prefer with their parents or grand parents.


This is Anishka’s first book review for Alphabet Soup, but you can read posts with her writing here. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. 

Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Warmth of my Life

WARMTH OF MY LIFE
by Anishka, 9, QLD

I know you do the washing up every night.
And clean up all my mess.
You always make us happy,
And still find time to stress.

Thank you for your hugs,
And teaching me how to keep in touch
Even though I never thanked you
I love you very much.

You are so hardworking
Today it’s your special day
We’ll give you whatever you want
On the twelfth of glorious May

I’ll answer all your work emails
And order 50 pizzas from the pizza store
Because I know you like them
I also know you like little cute boars.

You’re the one special mother
Who gets all these gifts from me
Because I am thankful
I might make you some tea.

The tulips in our garden
Do not grow without sunlight
You are their sunshine,
Without you it would be always night.

The honey in the bees’ hive
Wouldn’t be there without you,
For you, gave them loads of flowers
And  a nice sunny area too.

You might be a university student,
Or work for a company of book covers
But there is something you will always be
My happy, loving mother.

One more word for you mum,
There goes another Mother’s day
But remember one thing
I will always love you in every way.

A garden bed of multicoloured tulips.

 


Anishka is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup. You can read her earlier work here.

Posted in poetry, Young Writers in Action

FIRE (Young Writers in Action)

FIRE
by Anishka, 9, QLD

The blazing flame,
Is never the same,
Cutting through the wood,
In its usual fairy mood.
Smoke fills the sky,
The fire destroys anything in its way,
The flame spreading on the road.
The fire has a feeling,
Which goes over the ceiling,
Anger and fury, hot and burning.
The rain soon makes its way,
Giving a single sun ray.
Coolness all around,
Blackness on the ground.
Fire has finished.
Rain has won,
What a mystery on its own.


Anishka is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup. You can read her earlier work here.

Posted in Top Reads

Introducing the 2019 Top Reads team

 

Image: pile of books. Image from pexels.com.

We’re thrilled to introduce you to the 2019 Top Reads team.

What is the Top Reads team? Members of this team are keen readers who stop by each month to recommend a favourite read for the month, and they’re all kids like you!

INTRODUCING:

Anna, 10, VIC
Anna loves using technology at school and learning about science and the environment, issues she cares deeply about. She likes to read fiction and non-fiction books about animals because she has three pets at home – two cats and one dog. Anna’s hobbies are tennis, swimming and gymnastics.

Nicholas, 10, VIC
Nicholas likes to read most types of fiction. He also reads information books about technology and how the internet is changing, improving and going faster. Nicholas picks up a picture book now and then too because he enjoys using the pictures as clues to work out the meaning, he finds them playful and he can relate to the real-life scenarios that often feature in these texts. He plans to take up tennis as a sporting activity very soon.

Xavier, 10, NT
When he’s not reading, Xavier enjoys riding his bike, swimming and playing soccer. He is obsessed with video games, especially Yo-Kai Watch! When he grows up Xavier wants to be a doctor.

Lewis, 10, WA
Lewis loves reading, particularly entertaining/funny books and adventure stories. When he isn’t reading he loves music, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lego, scooting, fishing, kayaking, and playing with his younger brother.

Matilda, 10, NT
Matilda loves fiction, fantasy and mystery books, and hery favourite series is Harry Potter. She loves all school subjects. She’s into netball, swimming and dance, and she’s also the junior school dance captain.

Céití, 9, WA
Céití loves spending time with her chocolate labrador Flynn. She enjoys all sorts of reading and writing, playing her violin, cooking and playing water polo. Her favourite series at the moment is Harry Potter, and her favourite book is Whimsy and Woe.

Anishka, 9, QLD
Anishka loves writing poems and reading books. She started composing her own poems when she was 4 years old. She is  involved in raising funds for Heart Research and Foundation through ‘Jump Rope for Heart’. She is also involved in a meditation group in the community.

Fergus, 9, WA
Fergus loves to play Lego with his brother, ride his bike, code, play with his dog and read. His favourite genres are action, adventure and magic. He has three favourite series: Ranger’s Apprentice, Brotherband and Harry Potter.

Albie May, 7, NSW
Albie May loves funny books — like Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas (which is about a vegetarian piranha) as well as books with made up words in them. She loves reading funny jokes out loud from The Ha Ha Bonk Book.

Rory, 7, WA
Rory loves to spend his day playing Lego, reading, coding and riding his scooter. His favourite authors are JK Rowling, Sally Rippin, Andy Griffiths and Jack Heath. His best place to read is in his bunk bed. When he grows up, he wants to be an archaeologist.

Look out for the first book recommendations for 2019 on the last day of February!

Posted in poetry, Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Seashell

SEASHELL
by Anishka, 8, QLD

I saw a seashell,
To mum and dad, I might tell,
No way, I’ll keep it a secret,
Anyway, we just met.

Inside it wiggles a bit,
Like someone’s head invaded with nits.
It squirms and wiggles,
Zig-zagging like scribbles.
I wonder what is inside,
Maybe something washed in through the tide.

It could be treasure or gold,
Or a tent that can fold.
I’m getting silly, those things don’t move,
They don`t scamper on my roof.

An animal peeps out of the shell,
And climbs out then it fell!
I play with it all day long,
Keeping the secret all day long,

Saying goodbye, off I run,
Today is already done!


Anishka is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup — you can read all her earlier work here.