Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Sian Turner

PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

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 Sian Turner. 

Sian lives in Albany, Western Australia and has two picture books published — Beyond Our Garden Gate (illustrated by Irene King) and a brand new book called Can I come too, Eliza-Lou? (illustrated by Rebecca Cool).

Last week Deb Fitzpatrick asked Sian:

“I love that nature is such a big part of Beyond Our Garden Gate. Is this important in all of your books? Can you talk about your own experience of nature as a child?
 
Do your children help you write your books, or give you ideas?”

Sian answers:

Thanks for these questions Deb! I love watching children use their imaginations in the world around them and I hope this joy comes across in Beyond Our Garden Gate.  Nature is a big part of my life and, unintentionally, this creeps into my stories.

I’ve been writing two junior fiction novels which are not yet published. In one story, my main protagonist wants to be an Olympic athlete. The descriptions of the environment are quite rich in their imagery as she jogs through town on her training runs.  In the other story, my main character befriends a wacky neighbour who is a gardener and a retired concert pianist. This neighbour’s garden features in the manuscript.

Sian Turner
Sian Turner

Growing up, I had heaps of freedom roaming the outdoors on my bike. Holidays were spent with my family in a sleepy country town called Augusta on the Blackwood River so the beaches and the beautiful Karri Forests and caves of the South West are special to me.

Right now, I live in Albany so it is easy to be inspired with such rugged beauty on my doorstep.

In answer to the question do my children help me write my books or give me ideas?

Of course! I have a four year old, an eight year old and an eleven year old. They definitely help me when I am writing for children because I’m grounded through their experiences. Their personalities, what excites them and what they are interested in and the conversations I have with them about school and friends, all help me to create realistic children characters in the stories I’m working on.

Check out Sian Turner’s website for more about Sian and her books: sianturnerbooks.com


The Cosmic Adventures of Alice & Bob, written by Cristy Burne and illustrated by Aska.And now Sian passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Aśka. Aśka is a children’s book illustrator and a science communicator, and has been involved in product design, graphic novels, animation, graphic design and e-publishing.

Sian asks:

“Wow! You have travelled to some amazingly diverse and interesting places, Aśka.

I understand that these experiences have been a rich source of inspiration for your art. Can you elaborate on some of your favourite travel destinations? How have you found that these places have influenced your creativity?”

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (While you’re waiting you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Deb Fitzpatrick

PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

Deb Fitzpatrick

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 Deb Fitzpatrick. 

Deb Fitzpatrick lives and works in Fremantle, WA and she writes novels for adults, young adults and children. Deb’s sixth novel, The Spectacular Spencer Gray, was published in mid 2017.

Last week Jen Storer asked Deb:
“How long do you spend planning a book before you start writing it? Also, do you put people or animals you know into your stories? ”


Deb answers:

I’m a pantser, I’m afraid, (that is: I fly by the seat of my pants and make it up as I’m going along, unlike a planner, who, well, plans and is sensible and orderly and grown up). So, I do very little planning for a book before I start writing it. I just launch on in and I love seeing what unfolds.
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Teachers are often rather appalled when I admit this to kids, which I do at every opportunity. Kids seem to love that I’m barely more mature than they are. I make up my stories as I’m going along, and if, in the course of the writing, I need to stop and think things through, I just do it then. Of course, this does sometimes mean that I have to go back and rewrite bits of my story, but I’m okay with that. Can I tell you a secret? This must only be read in a barely-heard whisper … I get bored with writing a story that I have planned too closely. Writing to a plan, for me, takes away the magic of discovery that is creative writing. Shhhhh!!! Don’t tell your teachers!
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I put versions of my two wonderful children in some of my books, but I always ask their permission before going ahead. Sometimes they don’t want certain things shared, and I respect that. I also get my kids to read a manuscript before I submit it to my publisher — so they can give me feedback, which I use!
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Check out Deb Fitzpatrick’s website to find out more about her and her books!
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Beyond our Garden Gate by Sian Turner and Irene KingAnd now Deb passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Sian Turner. Sian is a WA writer and her second picture book will be published in November 2017. (More about that next week!)

Deb asks:

“I love that nature is such a big part of Beyond Our Garden Gate. Is this important in all of your books? Can you talk about your own experience of nature as a child?
 
Also: do your children help you write your books, or give you ideas?”

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Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (While you’re waiting you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

Posted in authors, illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Jen Storer

PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

Our Pass the Book Baton series took a break for the spring school holidays … and now it’s back! Every Friday we’ll feature a book creator who answers one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.) You can see earlier interviews in the series here.

You might remember that we left Tamsin Janu with the book baton in September. Today she passes the baton to Jen Storer. Welcome, Jen!

Jen Storer

Jen Storer writes … she illustrates … and she has so many novels and picture books behind her! Her writing features humour, adventure, and sometimes horror.

Here are just some of her books:

Last month Tamsin Janu asked:

What is the absolute best thing about being a children’s author? What aspects of writing do you find the most challenging?


Jen answers:

The best thing about writing for kids is meeting my readers! I love chatting to them in real life or via the post or email. I love seeing them dressed up as my characters, too, or when they use phrases my characters use.

I also love hearing from the parents of readers. Sometimes the letters from parents make me cry. A parent wrote to thank me for The Accidental Princess, it had comforted her daughter while she was dangerously ill and in hospital for a long time. Another parent wrote to say Clarrie Pig’s Day Out was the only story that calmed down her little boy after he’d had a terrible fright and would not come out from under his doona. These letters always amaze me. They’re the unexpected rewards that I hold dear.

I find the actual writing the most challenging aspect of being an author. I always want to do other stuff instead of sitting down and doing the writing! I have to bribe myself with chocolate.

For more about Jen Storer and her books — check out her website: girlandduck.com


The Spectacular Spencer Gray by Deb Fitzpatrick

And now Jen passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Deb Fitzpatrick. Deb has published books for adults, teenagers, and children. Her latest book is The Spectacular Spencer Gray.

Jen asks:
“How long do you spend planning a book before you start writing it? Also, do you put people or animals you know into your stories? 

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (You can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

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

Book review: Pepsi the Problem Puppy

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

Pepsi the Problem Puppy

Pepsi the Problem Puppy by Sandi Parsons, ill. Aśka, Faraway Nearby Ink, ISBN 9780987615701

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Rosie has always wanted a dog but when her dad brings home a mischievous puppy called Pepsi, she realises what a big responsibility keeping a dog is. Unfortunately, Mum doesn’t like Pepsi destroying everything, running through the house (while destroying everything), and having accidents inside. Rosie will have to find a way to train Pepsi or the puppy will be taken back to the shelter.

Every few pages there are humorous black-and-white illustrations. Six to eight year olds will love the humour and the detailed stories about Pepsi being naughty. Granny’s failure to get Pepsi’s name right (due to her bad hearing) is also funny.

This is a book about everyday life and will be a favourite for kids who love dogs and wish for one of their own (or who already have a naughty puppy of their own).


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!

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

Book review: The Lion in Our Living Room

The Lion in Our Living Room by Emma Middleton and Briony StewartREVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

The Lion in our Living Room by Emma Middleton, ill. Briony Stewart, Affirm Press, ISBN 9781925584226

Matilda reviews her own copy of this book.

Tom and Tilly want to play lion games with their dad. The story is told poetically — it rhymes and it’s very rhythmical. The phrasing allows you to use lots of expression so it’s good to read out loud, like this:

Will he come? Won’t he come? Will he come and play?
Will the mighty lion come and play with us today?

The illustrations are by Briony Stewart who has written and illustrated other books like the Kumiko series and The Red Wheelbarrow. The illustrations are done in colour pencils and I like how you can see the pencil strokes because you can see that it’s not computer done. I was lucky to meet Briony Stewart at the Fremantle book launch, where there were also fun activities related to the book like making lion masks, lion face painting, and making paper lions.

This picture book will be great for kids aged 6 and under who love playing and being imaginative.


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!

Posted in Recommended reading, school holidays, Top Reads

TOP READS September 2017

Spring brings the school holidays for most of our readers — though some states and territories are about to head into Term 4 already. Whether you are just finishing your holidays, or just starting them, it’s always a good time for some more reading. And you’re in luck, because the last day of the month means it’s time for our Top Reads team* to recommend some brilliant books!

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!

 

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Jacky Ha Ha

REVIEWED BY AZUKI, 10, NSW

Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, illustrated by Kerascoet Kerascoet, Little Brown & Co, ISBN 9780316262491

Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Jacky is known for her pranks, jokes and her stutter. Ever since she introduced herself as “My name is Jacky Ha-ha-hart,” in primary school, people made fun of her. She always played along, but middle school is a whole new area of trouble. She starts off with twenty detentions and is left with two options: get a double detention at home or go into a school play directed by a new teacher. But Jacky has another problem. Her loving mother is in Saudi Arabia because of war!

My favourite scene was the food fight at McDonalds. It started off as a rhyming competition and the loser was supposed to pay for all of the milkshakes. But in the end, everyone starts throwing pepper packets, squirting ketchup and mustard … even spraying Coke everywhere!

I also love the bit where Jacky and the people in the play put on a show for Jacky’s unwell Nona (her Italian grandmother) and the people in the old folks’ home. It is so heart-warming because her Nona is happy after the show. She couldn’t wipe the smile off her face.

The message of the book is that it’s ok to be yourself. Don’t let people mould you like some kind of clay. Cherish your personality because it doesn’t matter if other people don’t like it. I also learnt to not let the little things seem big. You have to let it go and just flip the page.


Azuki has had work published at Alphabet Soup before — you can read it here. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!