Book launch (WA): The Grumpy Lighthouse Keeper

JULY 2011 BOOK LAUNCH for picture book, The Grumpy Lighthouse Keeper

written by Terrizita Corpus, illustrated by Maggie Prewett

"The Grumpy Lighthouse Keeper (cover)"

When: 6 – 8pm Friday 8th July

Where: Magabala Books, 1 Bagot St,  Broome WA

For more info: Nic Murray, Marketing Manager (08) 9192 1991

Here’s a bit about the book (taken from the Magabala Books press release):

Meet Cassius the hermit crab, Jacob the jellyfish, Bruce the bluebone and more sea creatures as they hurtle themselves over rocks and up the lighthouse staircase in a race to get out of a wet and wild storm — all while the lighthouse keeper is out checking the lamp for passing ships. When he returns and discovers what the sea creatures are up to, he is, indeed, grumpy.

The Grumpy Lighthouse Keeper is inspired by the iconic Gantheaume Point and the remains of the old lighthouse keeper’s house on the edge of world-renowned Cable Beach. Gantheaume Point attracts thousands of tourists each year with its ancient rock formations, dinosaur footprints and historical references.

illustrator, teachers' resources

Two book launches (WA)

Here are two book launches coming up in June and July!

1. JUNE 2011 BOOK LAUNCH for picture book, The Last Viking

written by Norman Jorgensen, illustrated by James Foley

"The Last Viking (cover)"
When: Friday 24 June 2011, 6:30pm
Where: Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre (Old Freo Prison hospital), cnr Hampton and Knutsford Rd, Fremantle WA
RSVP for numbers to Fremantle Press: (08) 9430 6331 or email

A bit about The Last Viking (taken from the Fremantle Press site):

Young Josh is very brave.
He’s not afraid of anyone or anything—except maybe the dark. Pirates worry him a bit, of course, and so do boy-eating dinosaurs, and monsters under the bed. He’s also just a little afraid of dragons and vampires. But other than those few things, Josh is as brave as a lion.

Sort of.

When Josh comes face to face with real-life trouble, he begins to find out how brave he really is …

2. JULY 2011 BOOK LAUNCH for Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers

written and illustrated by Briony Stewart

"Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers (cover)"

When: Sunday 10 July 2011, 1.30pm–4.30pm
Where: Town of Vincent Library, 99 Loftus St, Perth WA.
Short reading, book sales, signing, sale of original illustrations and prints from the book.

Light refreshments and a chance for kids to win book prizes and colour in a giant dragon!

For more info, email Briony Stewart.

A bit about Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers (taken from the UQP site):

Kumiko is used to having a dragon guarding her night and day, but what she doesn’t quite know is why she needs one …

Since discovering the secret of the Shadow Catchers, a group of powerful sorcerers determined to steal magic at any cost, Kumiko knows it’s only a matter of time before her family’s link to dragons puts them all in grave danger. Is there a way to stop the Shadow Catchers once and for all and will Kumiko take the risk?

Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers follows Kumiko’s last and most exciting adventure as she travels through a world of shadows and dark magic in order to find freedom for herself and the kingdom of dragons.

Do you know about any upcoming book launches? (Let us know!)

Book reviews by Rebecca, teachers' resources

Book review: Press Here by Hervé Tullet

Reviewed by Rebecca Newman, Editor
"Press Here (cover)"
Press Here by Hervé Tullet

With thick, shiny white pages and brightly coloured spots, this is a fun picture book. It has instructions on each page and you’re asked to press or tap on the dots. It’s a book, so you KNOW pressing or tapping is not going to do anything … and yet … you can’t help pressing and blowing and tapping and shaking that book and doing whatever else you are asked to do to make the dots move and change.

I read it with a 5 year old and a 7 year old and they can’t get enough of it.

As well as being fun to read (and press), it helps with understanding some Maths ideas, too. It’s fun to test out some predictions: “If you tip the book this way, what do you think will happen to the dots?” Tipping the book to the left will make all the dots slide to that side of the book (well, they don’t REALLY, but it looks like they do!) and tipping it to the right will make them all slide the other way. And with all the dots lined up, you have to stop for a bit of counting every now and then (you just can’t help yourself).

This book trailer shows you how it works.

Press Here by Hervé Tullet, Allen & Unwin, ISBN 9781742375281
A review copy of this book was sent to us from the publisher.

5 things you didn’t know about picture book Samuel’s Kisses

"Karen Collum"
Karen Collum, author of Samuel's Kisses

Karen Collum is visiting today as part of a tour to celebrate her new picture book, Samuel’s Kisses. Karen is a mother to three beautiful boys, with a baby girl about to join the family in December 2010. Samuel’s Kisses is illustrated by Serena Geddes and published by New Frontier Publishing. To read more about Karen’s work visit her website.


"Samuel's Kisses cover"5 things you didn’t know about Samuel’s Kisses

1.      Samuel’s Kisses is based on a real person.

My eldest son’s name is Samuel and when he was little he used to blow kisses to everyone we walked past in the shops. I was amazed at how much happier people were after receiving a kiss from Sam and thought it would make a wonderful picture book. It turns out I was right!

2.      The illustrations were done twice.

The publisher who accepted my book found an illustrator to draw all the pictures for Samuel’s Kisses, but sadly, she wasn’t able to finish them. So, another illustrator had to be found. I was a little bit nervous as I wondered if I’d like the second lot of illustrations as much as the first, but I’m delighted to say I absolutely adore the illustrations by Serena Geddes. Serena has made the book lively and exciting while at the same time being soft and gentle, which is just perfect for the story.

3.      I had to change one important word.

When I sent my book to the publisher I had each of the kisses landing on people’s cheeks with a loud ‘SMACK’. One of the first things the publisher did was get me to change that to ‘SPLAT’. After all, we don’t want to encourage little children to smack anybody!

4.      There was a poem on the very last page that is no longer there.

When a publisher decides to publish a book they make changes to make it better. This happened with Samuel’s Kisses and as a result, the poem that I had at the end of the book was cut out. I’m glad it’s not in the final version as I think the book is stronger without it, but I’ll share it with you here:

Blow me a kiss, my sweet little one

Blow me a kiss, make it fast and fun

Fly it over your pillow and under your bed

Past your window and round my head

Blow me a kiss with all your might

And I’ll blow you a kiss and say goodnight.

5.      It took nearly two years to be published.

Making a book takes a very long time. I found out in April 2009 that New Frontier Publishing were going to publish Samuel’s Kisses so it’s taken almost two years for the book to be brought to life. There are a lot of things that happen during that time such as signing a publishing contract, organising an illustrator, editing the book and getting it printed, but it’s still a long time to wait. I’m very excited that I can finally hold my book in my hands and read it to my kids.

Here are the other stops on the blog tour:

Dec 1: Kathryn Apel

Dec 2: Dee White

Dec 3: Sheryl Gwyther

Dec 4: New Frontier Blog and Serena Geddes

Dec 5: Alphabet Soup magazine [You’re here]

Dec 6: Susan Stephenson

Dec 7: Katrina Germein

authors, competitions, teachers' resources

Story ideas, with Tania McCartney

Riley and the Curious Koala is the third in the Riley series of picture books. Riley’s first adventure began in Beijing with Riley and the Sleeping Dragon, continued on to Hong Kong with Riley and the Dancing Lion, and his latest adventure brings him to Sydney Australia.

"Riley and the Curious Koala (cover)"

To celebrate the launch of Riley and the Curious Koala, author Tania McCartney has set off on a blog tour. You can check out the other stops on her tour if you scroll to the bottom of this post. She’s here today to talk about how to come up with good ideas for writing stories.

Over to you, Tania!

"Tania McCartney, author"

Before you start reading this article, you need to do something—and don’t skip ahead and cheat or it won’t work! Write these words down a page: setting, character, object, situation. Now, next to each word, write a two-digit number between 11 and 99. Go on, do it now. It should look something like this:

Place 17

Character 87

Object 56

Situation 44

Put it somewhere safe. Done it? Good. Okay—now let the article begin …

One of the questions I receive most when reading to school kids is this:

Where do you get your ideas from?

This is such an interesting question! Least of all because it’s such a hard one to answer. Everyone gets their story writing ideas in different ways—and many authors will tell you it’s from the everyday happenings in their life—boring but true. From opening a yoghurt pot to tripping on a rug … these are the things that inspire an active imagination. And yes, they’re also the things that inspire me.

Imagine, if you will, opening that yoghurt pot and finding something other than creamy white yoghurt inside. Perhaps it’s a pot full of centipedes. Or a tiny white rabbit. Or a strange green slime that pours out pink smoke. What kind of story could unfold from such an opening?

And what of the rug trip? Perhaps it’s an old Persian rug, tightly woven with mystical patterns. Perhaps I trip and I fall, only I don’t hit the floor, I keep going, right through the carpet into another world …

These everyday occurrences can really spill over with story ideas if you just open yourself to the possibility … and think outside the square.

But you know what—sometimes it’s hard to think outside the square when you’re young and life experience hasn’t twisted your brain into a mangled wreck of crazy thinking. There’s also those Parent and Teacher expectations—the pressure of coming up with something marvellously creative.

So I’ve come up with a little exercise that will help you create a fantastically imaginative story that will ooze out of you like taffy.

We all know the basic storyline structure—yes? Basically, there’s a beginning, middle and end. Got it? Great.

Then there’s the details. First of all—the setting or the place. Where is your story going to take place? Then we have to think about characters. Who is involved? Who are the main players? Next is a situation. What is actually going to happen in this story? It helps if we add an object that becomes the focus, along with the characters, in making a story come to life.

The other thing we need to consider is conflict. Conflict means making something troublesome or difficult for our characters. Changing things around, making them do something or work towards something. One of the easiest ways to do this—as with my Riley travelogue books—is to make them search for something.

Characters often search for something in books, even if it’s not an actual object. It’s a common recurring theme.

When a character searches for something, you can put in as many cool plot twists and problems as you like. Plot twists, problems, drama, conflict—that’s what makes a story interesting—and makes people want to read your story. Nothing worse than writing a story no one wants to read.

So—here’s a challenge for you. I want you to write a story—an adventure story where someone is searching for something. And here is how you’re going to do it.

Grab the page with words and numbers you wrote at the beginning of this article and find your numbers on the following grids—reading first down the side of the grid then across the top. For example, for my number choices (above), I will write a story with the following components:

Place 17 – haunted house

Character 87 – a tribe of eskimos

Object 56 – a forest of stalagmites

Situation 44 – having plastic surgery

"Tania McCartney Places Chart"
Place Chart: Double click on the image to zoom
"Tania McCartney's Character Chart"
Character Chart: Double click the image to zoom
"Tania McCartney's Objects Chart"
Objects Chart: Double click the image to zoom
"Tania McCartney's Chart of Situations"
Situations Chart: Double click the image to zoom

Once you have written down your four basic elements, you now need to construct a short story using these references. So, for me, I need to write about a tribe of Eskimos hunting for a forest of stalagmites in a haunted house. And plastic surgery will need to be someway involved in order for me to find those stalagmites.

Hmmm. Maybe I should leave this particular story up to you …

You have just 20 minutes to write your story. Make it fast and off-the-cuff so you don’t think about it too much. Then, if you want to—why not email it to Soup Blog (or to me for Kids Book Review!) to be published online, so we can revel in your cleverness. You can also ask your teacher to run this challenge in your classroom.

You might surprise yourself how creative you can be when writing this story. Remember to throw in conflict along the way and to resolve the story at the end … will your character(s) find what they are searching for?

I, for one, would love to see what you come up with. Use this story writing grid often to challenge that wonderful imagination you have hiding inside your head. And do let me know when your first book is published, will you not?

Tania McCartney is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, book reviewer and mango devourer who loves writing, celebrating and supporting children’s literature—and literacy. She is the author of the Riley series of travelogue picture books, as well as several published and self-published books. Tania is also an experienced magazine writer and editor, is the founder of Kids Book Review and is a Senior Editor at Australian Women Online. She lives in Canberra with a husband, two kids and a mountain of books.

Enter Tania’s colouring-in competition to win your own copy of the book!

(Entries close 30 November 2010.)

Tania’s Riley and the Curious Koala blog tour schedule:

Monday 15 November

Writing Out Loud


Monday 15 November

The Book Chook
Crafting a Book Using Photos

Monday 15 November

Handmade Canberra Blog


Tuesday 16 November

Dee Scribe

Marketing a Self-Published Book

Tuesday 16 November

Reading Upside Down


Tuesday 16 November

Australian Women Online


Wednesday 17 November

Little People Books

Reading to Little Ones

Wednesday 17 November

Miss Helen Writes


Thursday 18 November

Soup Blog [You’re here!]

Story Writing Ideas

Thursday 18 November

Bernadette Kelly’s Blog


Thursday 18 November

Posie Patchwork: The Blog


Friday 19 November

Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog

Approaching Publishers

Saturday 20 November

Sue Whiting’s Blog

The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

Saturday 20 November

Sheryl Gwyther’s Blog


Saturday 20 November

Kids Book Review


Sunday 21 November

Sandy Fussell’s Blog

An Interview with Riley!

Sunday 21 November

Kids Book Review


Sunday 21 November, 6pm

Tania McCartney Blog

Book Launch Party

"Riley and the Curious Koala (cover)"