authors, teachers' resources

My Dad Thinks He’s Funny by Katrina Germein

Some of you probably remember me posting before about when I was growing up and listening to my dad’s terrible jokes and bad puns. I recently read a new picture book by Katrina Germein—and she could have been talking about MY DAD! So I invited Katrina to visit our blog today to talk about  My Dad Thinks He’s Funny (illustrated by Tom Jellett). Here’s a taste:

"My Dad Thinks He's Funny"
Katrina Germein is celebrating her new book My Dad Thinks He's Funny.

My dad doesn’t like babysitting.

He says no one should sit on babies.

My dad doesn’t eat seafood.

He says there’s something fishy about it.

My dad doesn’t lie in bed.

He says you should always tell the truth.

My dad thinks he’s funny.

Congratulations on your new book, Katrina! When you were growing up, did your dad make all the jokes in My Dad Thinks He’s Funny?

"Inside My Dad Thinks He's Funny"
A peek inside the book!

I’m lucky because I grew up with two dads, my father and my step father. My dad likes to tell long stories and my step dad likes to recite silly poems. Mainly, the jokes in My Dad Thinks He’s Funny came from lots of other people.

Once I had the idea for the book I started listening out for jokes and every time I heard one I would write it down. My father-in-law probably contributed the most but there are also jokes from my sister-in-law, my brother and my husband. I was looking for the kind of jokes that make us roll our eyes and also make us laugh.

Once I had a collection of ‘dadisms’ I decided to write the book from the point of view of a child. I wanted to create a story that was warm and humorous, rather than just a collection of jokes.

What does your family think about you using their best jokes in your book?

I think my father-in-law is quite proud to see some of his best material in print! He jokes that I should share the royalties from the book with him.

Now you have your own kids—do they hear these jokes from their dad (or your dad or stepdad)?

Yes! Unfortunately it runs in the family and my husband tells jokes just like his dad.

What’s your favourite joke from the book?

My favourite page is the one where the little boy asks, “Dad, do you know what?” and Dad answers, “I don’t know What, but I know his brother.” That makes me laugh every time. It’s one of the hardest jokes for very small kids to understand but children who are seven or over really like it.

What is the best way to deal with a ‘dad joke’? (Do you roll your eyes?)

Usually I just laugh. I actually think they’re funny!

Katrina Germein is the author of many children’s books, including My Dad Thinks He’s Funny, Little Dog and Big Rain Coming.

"My Dad Thinks He's Funny""Big Rain Coming""Little Dog"

You can find out more about Katrina Germein and her books by visiting her website, her blogTwitter, and her Facebook page.

~ Rebecca Newman, Alphabet Soup magazine

authors, teachers' resources

Meet the author: Laura Dudgeon!

"Laura Dudgeon, author"
Laura Dudgeon. Photo courtsey Fremantle Press.

Have you ever thought it’s too hard to be a writer when you are still growing up? Keep writing, and don’t give up! We’re thrilled to have teenager, Laura Dudgeon, visiting us today. Her first book, Lilli and Her Shadow was published earlier this year. Laura Dudgeon was born in Darwin in 1993 and is descended from the Beniol Bardi people from north of Broome.

Before we begin, here’s a bit about the book.

Lilli and Her Shadow is a first chapter book about a girl whose family is moving to the city from the bush. Lilli is not looking forward to it and knows she’ll miss everything about the bush, including her cousins and especially her nan. But when she gets to the city, she discovers Nan has sent her something to help her settle in to her new place. A secret Shadow …

Lilli and Her Shadow is part of the Waarda series, a new Indigenous children’s series published by Fremantle Press. (Waarda is Nyungar for talking and sharing stories and information).

Lilli and Her Shadow was co-written with your aunt, Pat Dudgeon. How did you come to write the book?

I have been writing short stories ever since I was 8, so when Aunty Pat got this opportunity she asked me if I would like to be a co-author with her.

Is the character, Lilli, like you?

Yes she is. Lilly’s experiences and emotions where based on my own when I moved from Darwin to the big city of Perth when I was 8.

What do you love best about being a writer?

I love how I have no limits to the creation of a story. I have always had a wild imagination and putting it on paper and sharing it with others brings me great joy.

Is there any ‘downside’ to being a writer?

When you do something you love and get paid for it there really isn’t a downside.

When do you find time to write?

On the weekends and after school if I don’t have much homework.

What was your favourite book when you were younger?

Where’s Wally? I was interested in the adventures and trying to find Wally.

What sort of books do you like to read now?

Adventure books, scary books and books that I can relate to and give you something to think about.

Do you have any pets?

Yes, a miniature Fox Terrier crossed with a Jack Russell, named ‘Monty’.

"Lilli and Her Shadow"Where did you get the idea for Lilli and Her Shadow?

It was based on my own experience when I moved with my family from Darwin to Perth, the feelings I had to deal with leaving family especially my nana and the difficulty changing schools and making new friends.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Just being a normal teenage girl, shopping and hanging out with friends.

Do you prefer to write on paper, or on a computer?

A bit of both, but mainly computer because I can’t lose it.

Lilli and Her Shadow is a chapter book for early readers. How important do you think it is for children to have access to books with Indigenous characters in them?

I think that it is very important. Children growing up from all nationalities need to feel they are important enough to be written about. Through inclusion we are all important and this is a step forward to get rid of issues such as racism.

What is positive and what is challenging about co-writing a book?

Co-writing allows you to grow your ideas through brain storming and building of the creativity of each other. I think at the end of the manuscript you have a greater story.

Are you working on another book?

I have been co writing with my Aunty Pat another book about a young girl’s secret struggle which is expected to be released later this year. Besides this I am always writing short stories especially when I am in a creative mood to challenge my imagination and when I have an important topic to talk about. One day I hope to be able to use these materials in other stories.

Do you have any advice for young writers?

Keep a diary, this is where you can write down everyday events that affect you emotionally. At this real time you can feel and express on paper with greater accuracy and therefore relate to real events and real readers about an issue or something that you feel passionate about. Later on you can use this material in your stories.

Also have a book that you write down brilliant ideas as soon as they come into your head as they can be quickly lost, then you can also use this book to stimulate your creativity when writing.

Thank-you for giving me the opportunity to share my story and give other kids ideas for writing.

Thanks for answering our questions. We loved having you here!

Lilli and Her Shadow, by Pat Dudgeon and Laura Dudgeon, ill. by Tracey Gibbs and Sally Morgan, published by Fremantle Press.

authors, teachers' resources

Tips for young writers from Sheryl Gwyther

"Princess Clown cover"Sheryl Gwyther visited us last month as part of the celebrations for the launch of our Undercover Readers Club. She’s back today to talk a bit about how she got the idea for her latest book, Princess Clown. Welcome back, Sheryl!

What gave you the idea for writing Princess Clown?

Princess Clown began with a challenge – to write a chapter book using words that clashed. I chose CLOWN and PRINCESS.

(Musicians have used this same process to choose intriguing, unusual names for their bands. That’s why we have rock bands with names like Led Zeppelin, Guns ‘N Roses, Green Day, Pearl Day and Stone Roses.)

Once I had chosen the words Clown and Princess I asked myself, What if?

What if there was a princess who was different? What if she loved clowning and making people laugh? What if she was the heir to the throne? What if she was in trouble because she can’t stop clowning around? What if her tricks go terribly wrong?

Then before I could say, ABRACADABRA and ALLIBALOO, out sprang Princess Belle and a story was born.

Are you good at any circus skills yourself? Juggling, unicycle riding, back flips, squirting unsuspecting people with your joke flower/buzzing them with a handshake?

I prefer my bike with two wheels so I don’t fall off. I can’t do black flips or somersaults and neither do I have a zingy clown ring like Princess Belle, but I do have a set of three professional juggling balls – a perfect size and weight for my hand.

I’m trying to learn to juggle. So far, I’ve worked up to three throws and a catch, but it’s been difficult to throw that fourth throw. My brain does not like it at all! But I’ll never give up trying – one day I will get there.

Want to try juggling? Then start with some good juggling balls. Here’s a recipe on how to make your own super-cool juggling balls out of balloons and uncooked rice.

How do you get inspiration and ideas for your writing?

I get ideas for writing stories from lots of places. Some start with daydreaming, or childhood memories, some from intriguing things I’ve read or heard about, some from combinations of words, a couple even came from dreams. Once I get the idea, I always ask, What if? And that is when the story really begins to form in my imagination.

I like to write a rough outline while the idea is fresh in my brain. Then it’s a good idea to brainstorm – that fills out the characters’ development and also the plot.

While I’m writing the first draft, I play some background music on the CD player. When writing an adventurous part of my stories, I like the soundtrack from The Lord of The Rings – helps to keep the fast pace going. You might find that works for you too.

Check out this link from my blog: Music to Write by? It’s all about what other authors listen to when they write.

Do you have any advice for young writers?

"Sheryl Gwyther photo"
Sheryl Gwyther, author of Princess Clown

The best advice I can give to new writers of any age is:

  • READ READ READ lots of good books!
  • Write every day, even if it’s only a few sentences.
  • Connect up with other young writers – they’ll be a good support.
  • The most important thing of all, NEVER GIVE UP just because you think it is too hard.

PRINCESS CLOWN is available from Blake Publishers.

Sheryl Gwyther is taking Princess Clown on a blog tour. Where is she going?

06 July Tuesday Dee White Tips on writing chapter books

07 July Wednesday Soup Blog [You’re here!] Where do you get your ideas?

08 July Thursday Robyn Opie Guest blog

09 July Friday Catriona Hoy Author interview

10 July Saturday Kat Apel Win a copy of Princess Clown and get your name in Sheryl’s next book!

11 July Sunday Sheryl Gwyther 4 kids About launching a book

12 July Monday Sandy Fussell Guest blog

13 July Tuesday Sally Murphy Interview: The author’s life

14 July Wednesday Claire Saxby Are you a clown or a princess?

15 July Thursday Mabel Kaplan Workshopping with children


Imagine This! Imagine That!

Can you imagine where I’ve been? Last week I flew to Sydney for the NSW Children’s Book Council conference: Imagine This! Imagine That!. I had a fantastic time meeting authors and illustrators, children’s librarians and lots of people who love books.

Some of the authors and illustrators gave talks about their books and about how they work with an author or illustrator to put a book together. One of my favourite parts:  Stephen Michael King and Glenda Millard talking about the Kingdom of Silk books. While Glenda was talking, Stephen Michael King got busy drawing some of his characters. Here are two of his drawings in progress.

"Stephen Michael King drawing Mutt Dog"
Stephen Michael King working on a picture of Mutt Dog
"Stephen Michael King drawing The Man Who Loved Boxes"
Stephen Michael King drawing The Man Who Loved Boxes

I had the best time chatting with writers (and getting advice about writing), and at the conference bookshop I bought books (of course!), and collected catalogues from publishers so I can see the books to look out for this year.

Here are some of the books I bought at the bookshop (I could have bought so many more than I did, but that would have made my bag awfully heavy and I had to get it on the plane back to Perth).

"The Return of the Word Spy cover""ABC Book of Australian poetry""How to Heal a Broken Wing"

Now I have lots more books to read (and review for you), and some new writers, illustrators and bookish people to interview too. Stay tuned!

~ Rebecca

teachers' resources


"Undercover Readers logo"Today we are officially launching our new Undercover Readers Club!

What is Undercover Readers?
Undercover Readers is the book review club for kids under 12 – and it’s free to join! The club is run through Alphabet Soup magazine. Club members write book reviews, and send them in to Alphabet Soup for publication in the magazine, and/or on the magazine’s blog at Members can review their own books, books they borrow from the library, or books that we send.

Who can join?
Individual children can join, with their parent’s permission. A teacher can sign up their primary school class.

What does it cost to join Undercover Readers?
Membership is free!

Download the information pack (PDF) from the home page of the Alphabet Soup website.

To celebrate the launch of Undercover Readers, we have invited a different author or illustrator to visit the blog every day until 29 June. They’ll be sharing stories about what they used to read under the covers after ‘lights out’ when they were growing up.  Today Sheryl Gwyther is sharing her undercover reader story with us. Be sure to check back every day for other authors and illustrators!

What do YOU like to read after ‘lights out’ at your house?

authors, illustrator, teachers' resources

Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre- Open Day 30 May 2010

If you’re looking for a free family outing on Sunday, why not visit the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre for their Open Day?

Running with the Horses (cover)You can admire or purchase books and artwork, attend free storytelling sessions and meet Alison Lester (and hear her talk about the techniques she used in the illustrations of her latest picture book, Running with the Horses. She’ll also be answering questions).

For more info, visit the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre website. (Scroll down – info about the Open Day is the third item from the bottom.)

Alison Lester and WA writers and illustrators will be available to sign copies of their books.

Byron Bay Writers Festival: kids’ events

Join Australia’s best children’s writers at the Byron Bay Writers Festival (NSW) on Saturday 8 August from 9.00am – 2.30pm.

In the kids’ marquee, kids aged 6 to 16 will find authors, book signings, storytelling and fun activities!

For more information about events and purchasing tickets, visit the Byron Bay Writers Festival website. (The festival runs from 7 – 9 August 2009.)