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Shirley Marr and Little Jiang

MEET THE AUTHOR

Shirley Marr is a first-generation Chinese Australian, living in Perth, Western Australia. Shirley describes herself as having a Western Mind and an Eastern Heart and writes in the middle where both collide. She writes books for children and teenagers and today we’re thrilled to chat to her about Little Jiang, illustrated by Katy Jiang.

Little Jiang by Shirley Marr and illustrated by Katy Jiang (book cover)

From the publisher:

Mei Ling Pang was born at an inauspicious time on an inauspicious day, so wherever she goes, misfortune follows. When Little Jiang hops out of his grave and into Mei’s life, fangs and all, her luck goes from bad to worse. But in trying to help Little Jiang, Mei might just make her own future brighter.

We have to ask – is your favourite food Kung Pow chicken?

Yes it actually is! I believe in putting bits of myself in my writing. The best meal I ever had was Kung Pow chicken at a restaurant called Augusta Moon (as opposed to The August Moon restaurant in the novel). It wasn’t a fancy restaurant and it wasn’t a fancy dish, but it was special. So that memory made itself into my writing!

Katy Jiang’s grayscale illustrations are sprinkled throughout Little Jiang. Did you meet the illustrator during the book’s production?

My editor Cate from Fremantle Press acted as the coordinator during the illustration process. She started by asking me questions about what my characters looked like and which scenes I wanted illustrated and passed this information along to Katy. I would then receive the initial draft sketches back from Katy for my opinion. I didn’t want to interfere too much with Katy’s process, I wanted her to be free to be as creative as she liked! I wanted her to feel like she had the space. It was after all the beautiful illustrations were complete that I really wanted to know more about the wonderful artist! That is when I met Katy for lunch and coffee and we have been friends since! 

Your previous novels have been for young adult readers. How did you come to write Little Jiang, a novel for younger readers?

After I had my son (he’s six years old now), I really had a think about what type of stories I was writing. Books for young adults can be a little serious and angsty at times! I really wanted to write something adventurous and funny that I could read to him. And at the same time I wanted to honour the Chinese folk stories my own mum told me when I was little. I had never written a book for younger readers before, but I put my heart and my mind to it. Little Jiang was the result. It was so much fun!

Do you have a tip for young writers who would like to try writing their own spooky tales?

I would like to see writers take an old spooky creature (vampires, zombies, ghosts) and give them a funny and modern-day twist! See how creative they can be!

Can you tell us something about your next writing project?

I have another middle grade book out this month called A Glasshouse of Stars. It is my heart story, based on my immigration experience to Australia as a child. This one might make you cry instead of laugh. Right now, I am writing another book for younger readers based on my family history. I am always onto my next project!

Little Jiang is out now! Ask for it at your favourite bookstore or local library, or buy it direct from the publisher.


AWESOME EXTRAS

Read a sample chapter of Little Jiang

Read a review of the book by Kobe, age 9

Download the Teachers’ Notes

Visit Shirley Marr’s website for more about her and her books

Little Jiang by Shirley Marr and illustrated by Katy Jiang (book cover)
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Top reads: November 2020

It’s the last day of November and that means it’s time for some recommended reads from the members of our Top Reads team. Top Reads is a list of books nominated by the kids reading them. Every month (from February to November) we post the books our Top Reads Team loved reading during the preceding month.

Today’s post is the final Top Reads post for 2020. We hope you have a stack of great books to read over the summer holidays and we’ll be back with more recommended reading in 2021. Here are this month’s recommendations:

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). If you’d like even more recommendations, browse all through all our Top Reads ever!

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

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Top reads: October 2020

October this year included CBCA Book Week, (which is usually in August, but this year it was postponed a couple of months due to COVID). We’ve loved all the fabulous photos from families and schools dressing up as book characters and students putting their favourite books in the spotlight.

It’s the last day of the month and that means it’s time for members of our Top Reads Team* to share a list of their favourite books from the last 4 weeks. You’ll find most of them at your local library or favourite bookshop.

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). If you’d like even more recommendations, browse all through all our Top Reads ever!

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

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Top reads: September 2020

We’ve come to the end of another month and the arrival of school holidays! Stock up your bedside reading piles with these recommended reads from the members of our Top Reads team.*

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). If you’d like even more recommendations, browse all through all our Top Reads ever!

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

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Top reads: August 2020

It’s the last day of August — and that means it’s time for our Top Reads team* to stop by with this month’s book recommendations. If you’re looking for something to read, check out these page-turners:

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). If you’d like even more recommendations, browse all through all our Top Reads ever!

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

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TOP READS: July 2020

It’s the last day of the month and that means it’s time for some recommended reading from the members of our Top Reads Team!*

Add these titles on your reading list:

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). If you’d like even more recommendations, browse all through all our Top Reads ever!

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

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Top reads: February 2020

Welcome to the FIRST Top Reads post for 2020! Every month – from February to November – members of our Top Reads team* recommend their favourite reads for the month. All members of our Top Reads team are kids under 13 and they love to read! Check out February’s recommended reads:

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). If you’d like even more recommendations, browse all through all our Top Reads ever!

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

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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.

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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!