Wombat Books Blog

Wombat Books blog is the place to keep up to date with all the goings-on in the world of Aussie kid's books.

Submission dates for 2020

Early readers: 15th-30th of August 2020
Great stories with amazing protagonaists. To get an idea of an excellent series read Ruby Wishfingers by Deborah Kelly.
Middle fiction: All of October 2020
One or two protagonists, girls or boy, can be fantasy and contemporary. We will also consider science fiction. Middle fiction has no romance for us and nothing to do with sexuality. We jsut love to let kids be kids in our middle fiction. Friendship, family relationships, deep issues all encouraged.
Read to find out more:
We would love some stories aimed at boys.
Picture books: All of December 2020
We only publish about 4 picture books a year now so impress us! If you haven't read all our most recent ones we recommend you do. Ask for them in your library so you can get a full idea of what we have!
 
Young Adult (Rhiza Edge): August - October 2020
Find out more here: http://www.rhizaedge.com.au/
Books that move us, real teen issues - not necessarily Australian - but that make us think, move us and linger. Read the following:
The Courtyard Children (coming soon!)
 
Our submission form is here. But make sure you only submit what you are supposed to in the time frames!
 
 
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The Thing about Oliver is Shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Awards

The Thing about Oliver is Shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Awards

Congratulations to Deborah Kelly for The Thing about Oliver being shortlised in the Speech Pathologist Awards.

From the Speech Pathologist website:

Books are awarded for “Best Book for Language and Literacy Development”.

Each book is judged on its appeal to children, interactive quality and ability to assist speech pathologists and parents in communication and literacy development.

Congratulations to all the book shortlisted. Find out more here.

The Thing About Oliver has a strong narrative format. From the beginning the reader is drawn into Tilly's life - how will she overcome the challenges of having a sibling with a severe disability? Will she find a way to learn to swim so she can have a chance of achieving her dream of becoming a marine biologist? Will her brother adjust to the major change in their lives? Will he improve? How will her relationships with her mother, brother and aunt continue to grow and develop? The journey is fascinating, even gripping, and the resolution provides a good conclusion to the story.

The main character is identifiable: she reacts in realistic ways and has a strong character. The reader can identify with her feelings, although only a few will have experienced the precise nature of her challenges. As a child from a single parent family, with a sibling with a disability, Tilly certainly represents an important element in Australia's diverse social context: the 'glass children' as the author, Deborah Kelly, identifies them. Those children who feel invisible as society focuses on the more obvious needs of their disabled siblings. Through this story, hopefully readers will be able to empathise more easily with the 'glass children' and their disabled siblings.

This is definitely a book that explores new ideas and concepts. Children are forced to contemplate a life very different from the norm; they will wonder how they would cope, or react, if presented with the same challenges. The child reading this book may have many questions about disability, and autism in particular, after reading this relatable account.

The language used will be familiar to the 8-10 year olds who are the intended audience, and the voice of the pre-teen narrator rings true. It is a book that will appeal to adults and children alike as they look at the world through the eyes of the young narrator, reacting with honesty to all that she experiences.

The length and font size of this book make it an achievable read for most children in the target audience.

It is not surprising that this unusual book has been shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards in 2020.

The Thing About Oliver grabs you from the first page. The stark reality of life as a sibling of a child with a disability is depicted with sensitivity by Deborah Kelly. The main character, Tilly, is both a typical preteen and an amazing human being who has adjusted to this unusual life, accepting her brother and all of his challenges. 

Highly recommended as a must-read for anyone who wants to gain greater insight into life in a family that has a person with a disability.

Frances Prentice, B SpPath, B Ed (Early Childhood)

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Illustration Challenge: Blog 2

Do you need a hand with illustrating for our Can I Sleep Tomorrow? Illustration Challenge? Wombat Books are here with this week’s blog post to help you out. 

We’ll discuss how to encourage creativity, plan the drawing, and generate final illustrations. This three-step plan simplifies the process for you and your child to follow if you need some help to begin. This post is simply a guide and won’t increase your chances of winning.

If you’re ready to go, feel free to start illustrating. We look forward to seeing the final product in the upcoming months!

Step 1: Read the Text

Within the professional world of picture-book illustration, the first step is to read the book. The same goes for our Illustration Challenge. Don’t let the words overwhelm you - we have written this book so that our young illustrators won’t struggle with creating visuals. One of the main jobs an author has is giving the illustrator more material to better visualise the world created. The book is brought to life and improves with illustrations. 

You will see that we have included many different locations and fun adventures in Can I Sleep Tomorrow (http://www.wombatbooks.com.au/images/illustrationchallenge/CanISleepTomorrow_IllustrationChallenge.pdf ), like the circus and the musical Chloe travels to. Encourage your child to use their imagination like Chloe, and decide on their interpretation of the text and put their vision to paper. Consider what aspects of Australia you can incorporate into the illustration to make Can I Sleep Tomorrow a compilation of familiar places. The words are also there to stimulate your child’s creativity.

Let’s take a look at an example from our previous Illustration Challenge - Around Australia in 30 Places. 

The text reads: ‘There’s something fishy about Fish Creek - and it might have something to do with all the fish around town. There’s a giant mullet on top of the local hotel and fish shaped seats all around.’ 

We can see how Blake has used neutral colours with the drawing, but including a bright red car in to keep the reader visually engaged. We can see the giant mullet mentioned in the story, as well as awesome and funky fish shaped seats out the front of the hotel. Blake has also used their imagination and prior knowledge of motels, and included an ice-machine around the side, as well as some gorgeous plants out the front. There are so many ways that you can turn words into a fun picture - and we hope this example helps.

Step 2: Look at our Illustration Suggestions

We want to make it clear that your child does NOT need to be enrolled in an art class to be able to participate in our Illustration Challenge! The team at Wombat Books believes that the enjoyment of drawing and illustrating is as important, if not more, as technical skill. We want participants to have fun with this challenge, and we encourage originality and uniqueness more than realism. 

If your child asks for help, don’t just say you “can’t draw.” It’s okay if as a parent you cannot draw realistic characters or landscapes. Kids learn from example. Even if you're not confident in your capabilities, you can help out with early sketching. We want our participants to enjoy illustrating Chloe’s adventures, not get held up on whether the visuals are realistic enough.

As you check in with your child’s process, ask questions about what they’ve drawn, like why they have chosen certain colours and what other adventures they have incorporated into the story. By moving past the standard “it’s very pretty,” parents can learn more about the meaning behind their child’s interpretation. If you find that your child is struggling to come up with ideas and can’t decide what to draw, look at our Illustration Suggestions.(http://www.wombatbooks.com.au/images/illustrationchallenge/CanISleepTomorrow_IllustrationChallenge.pdf) for additional inspiration. Wombat Books understands that creativity is temperamental and appears whenever it pleases, and that sometimes we need inspiration to encourage creative action. This is why we have provided written prompts to kick-start the participant’s creative process. These prompts give our aspiring illustrators a chance to look at the text in a way they hadn’t considered before. This could encourage a lightbulb moment that gets them out of their drawer’s block and on the page.

Step 3: Start Illustrating!

Here is where we combine all the steps and start devising a draft illustration. For this part of the process, we suggest using a pencil and rubber for brainstorming illustrations and coming up with a potential storyboard before starting the final submission. 

If your children do not wish to draft their picture first, that’s completely fine! 

If your children are still struggling, we have provided an example of a page spread down below:

If you want more examples, check out our Q&A blog posts with winning illustrators from Around Australia in 30 Places: (http://www.wombatbooks.com.au/index.php/blog/entry/meet-illustration-challenge-winner-ruby )

If you or your child is curious about the process of writing a children’s book and collaborating with authors, click here:

https://thejohnfox.com/2019/02/how-to-write-a-childrens-book/ 

For more information about illustrating picture books, click here: 

https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-mediums/watercolor/beth-krommes-steps-to-illustrating-a-picture-book/ 

http://www.creativity-portal.com/articles/jeannine-mcglade/stimulus-catalyst-creativity.html 

For more information about drawing with kids, click here: 

https://artfulparent.com/how-to-encourage-drawing-skills-confidence-creativity-in-young-children/ 

Want to learn more about the competition? Click here

#IllustrationChallenge2020 #HomeEducation #CanISleepTomorrow? 

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Home Education with Wombat Books titles

Home education is something many Australian parents are doing with their kids these days. However, these last few hectic months have seen thousands of unexperienced mums and dads plunging right into the deep end of the world of home schooling. It can be overwhelming to have to suddenly take on the sole responsibility of educating your children without any preparation or practice. Wombat Books understands this is a difficult time for a lot of parents, so they have put together some book packs along with activities to keep students motivated to learn when at home.

Screens and technology have become an integral part of adapting to our modern environment, making them a big part of our everyday life. Screen time has increased as more of our day is spent looking at a computer, phone, and television for work and school, which can sometimes distract families from the true essence of learning and growing. This is where Wombat Books wants to help. As a children’s book publisher, they want to encourage children and adults to take a break from screens in favour of the valuable experience of reading ‘real’ books. This is not to devalue digital and interactive books, which are great in assisting children with language delays and inspiring independent learning. But real, handheld books and activities keep the intimacy with you and your child, and kids can see and mark their progress.

Wombat Books have packs available for prep and early childhood, including books such as Jack and Mia, Eric Finds a Way, and Spider Iggy. There are also packs for grades one to three including books like Gemma gets the Jitters, and Puggle’s Problem. Each pack includes a variety of books to read, and some have printable activity sheets and ideas to have fun with afterwards. Some also have teaching notes about the author and some discussion questions. There’s some special packs as well for the creative kids, the ones who wants a challenge, and the lively chapter book readers. You can find these on the Wombat Books website under ‘Home Education.’

It is encouraged that parents and family read to and with their children. Reading from a young age is fundamental in child growth as the activity develops literacy and vocabulary skills and encourages a vivid imagination. In a school environment, this can result in advanced language and comprehension skills and a quicker transition into independent reading without pictures. From a child’s perspective, reading along with parents and family members also enables a more curious and engaged experience where questions and visual associations are encouraged. As parents elaborate on what’s on the page to their children, they will have a richer understanding and the opportunity to consider the world from a different point of view. Parents can also benefit from this activity as they can spend more quality, cuddly, and engaging time with their children.

Although we live in an ever-increasing technological society, this traditional way of reading ‘real’ books is still encouraged. It’s important to remember that being involved with your child’s education and spending quality time with them is always important. As students return to school in the coming months, Wombat Books encourages you all to put time aside to read to or with your kids, and stay involved in their learning progress and development.

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Illustration Challenge: 2020 Blog 1

Welcome to Wombat Books’ Illustration Challenge, 2020! This year, we are seeking original illustrations from Australian school-aged students (aged 5-18) to bring our book, Can I Sleep Tomorrow? to life. This is the fourth Illustration Challenge the team has coordinated because we love creating unique picture books by Aussie children for everyone to treasure and enjoy.

This challenge was created to provide aspiring young illustrators with the opportunity to be published in a professionally produced children’s book. We want to provide the opportunity for students to gain an introduction into the world of illustrating. Can I Sleep Tomorrow? is due to be released in 2021, and you can find the winning illustrations featured within.

The Prize: 

Aside from being published within the book, illustrators will also receive two free hard copies of Can I Sleep Tomorrow?and be acknowledged on Wombat Books’ website and social media. Winners shall be decided by Wombat Books’ team of authors, editors, and illustrators.

About Can I Sleep Tomorrow?

Firstly, you can find the text for the book here (insert hyperlink  - http://www.wombatbooks.com.au/images/illustrationchallenge/CanISleepTomorrow_IllustrationChallenge.pdf ).

Our vision for Can I Sleep Tomorrow? is an authentic compilation of Aussies kids and Aussie places. We want participants to include and choose from Australian animals, features, characters, or anything related to the illustration suggestions. You can illustrate your picture on an A3 or A4 sheet in landscape and don’t forget to leave room for the text! Feel free to fade one side of your picture or leave it blank.

"aroundEntry Instructions: 

Beside is an example of our previous Illustration Challenge - can you see how Rebecca has left a nice patch of green grass down the bottom of the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour for the text and wombat to go!

Entries close on the 30 November 2020. Choose from the spreads of the picture book provided. You are free to illustrate one of the spreads or multiple. Each spread must have a separate illustration, but your page can be a single page or double page that matches and creatively enhances the text. You can follow the illustration suggestions here (http://www.wombatbooks.com.au/images/illustrationchallenge/CanISleepTomorrow_IllustrationChallenge.pdf ) to complete your images and ensure that space is left for the text on the page. For a more detailed version of the entry instructions - please find them here (http://www.wombatbooks.com.au/index.php/competitions/2020-illustration-challenge ).

Participating from Home:

Although schools and libraries have started reopening, the team at Wombat Books are aware that this is a gradual process and some children are still learning from home. We want to emphasise that children studying from home can still participate. 

For parents turned teachers, we know that explaining this challenge to your children may be difficult, but we are here to help! This blog series has been made with parents in mind and wants to help you understand our Illustration Challenge, so you don’t have to worry about your children missing out on participating because they aren’t at school.

Benefits of Participating in this Challenge

We’ve already discussed the prizes that come with winning our Illustration Challenge, but we haven’t discussed the benefits that come along with participating. Drawing from a young age plays an essential role in cognitive development. Through drawing, kids develop their fine motor skills, improve their hand-eye coordination, concentration, and can learn how to think, write, and problem-solve creatively. Not only is it a fun activity and hobby for children to engage with, it’s also an extremely helpful, but underrated, learning tool that can be used throughout primary school, high school and life in general. 

Drawing also comes along with a number of mental health benefits. In these uncertain times, children and adults alike are likely feeling more stressed and anxious. This is where drawing and colouring can help. As you concentrate on the rhythmic movement of drawing and colouring, it can help calm your mind and release stress. On top of this, research has shown that drawing can improve your memory. As kids use a combination of our illustration suggestions and their imagination, they’re strengthening the creative and problem-solving side of their brain.

As your child participates in this challenge, why not draw, doodle, scribble or colour beside them? You have an opportunity to bond with your kids and relax, forgetting about our current situation.

For more info about the benefits of drawing and colouring, click here:

https://kidscountryinc.com/2016/07/21/6-benefits-drawing-time-children/

https://theconversation.com/why-is-teaching-kids-to-draw-not-a-more-important-part-of-the-curriculum-60379

https://theconversation.com/stupid-coronavirus-in-uncertain-times-we-can-help-children-through-mindfulness-and-play-135317

https://www.prima.co.uk/diet-and-health/healthy-living/news/a35929/5-surprising-benefits-of-drawing/

#IllustrationChallenge2020 #HomeEducation #CanISleepTomorrow?

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The Thing about Oliver - CBCA Shortlist

The Thing about Oliver - CBCA Shortlist

 

Huge congratulations to Deborah Kelly for her middle fiction title, The Thing about Oliver, being included in this year's CBCA shortlist. As Wombat Books first shortlisted book we couldn't be more proud of this amazing title.

Find out more here.

Read an interview with Deborah Kelly here.

Watch the full shortlist announcement here.

 

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Deborah Kelly - Author Interview

Deborah KellyTell us a bit about The Thing about Oliver? How is it special to you?

The Thing about Oliver is special to me for a few different reasons. To start with it’s my very first middle grade novel so it feels like a big step forward in my writing journey. I’ve deepened my understanding of character development and narrative arc in the writing of this book. It’s also special because this story, while it took about eight months to write, has been growing inside my head and heart for about six years. In that time you really get to know and love your characters, so much so that they almost feel like family. It can be hard to let them go when the book ends!

I dedicated The Thing about Oliver to ‘the glass children’ (the siblings of children with special needs). I hope that this story makes them feel more understood, less alone and offers them hope during difficult times. I also hope that the story will help all children, parents and teachers to develop more empathy towards those who are different or struggling.

What started you as a writer?

I stared writing stories and poems from around the age of six. I wrote my first series of picture books about a prince called Puku (which means ‘belly’ in Maori) when I was seven ... I still have them! I wrote angst ridden poetry throughout my teen years and then later when I travelled kept journals detailing my adventures around the world. I also wrote a collection of Haiku poetry during the two years I spent living and working in Japan. It was illustrated and published many years later. But it was reading so many picture books to my own young children that inspired me to have a go at writing stories for kids.

What inspires you to keep going as a writer? What are some of the ups and downs of being a writer?

The writing process can be difficult and the publishing industry incredibly tough. But it’s the magical moments where a story begins to come together or ‘click’ that I’m hooked on. There’s something quite mystical and very special about the process of writing a book. And there is nothing quite like holding your own newly published book in your hands- a whole world full of characters you have created that began with the tiniest flicker of an idea inside your head.

Letters and emails from children who have enjoyed my books or gained something from them make it all worthwhile. Similarly, great reviews from readers who really understand your book go a long way to encouraging authors to continue writing.

The children’s book writing community in Australia has been a huge source of support and encouragement for me, too. I have long been a member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Newcastle Sub Branch and have made many friends. The same applies to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I have also formed some great friendships with fellow writers I cross paths with regularly through courses, conferences, festivals and workshops. We genuinely support and encourage each other and celebrate each other’s successes as much as our own.

My family are of course a wonderful source of support and encouragement, as are my friends who consistently showing up to my book launches and other events (sometimes travelling interstate or from overseas to do so). My illustrators and editors who help make the story the very best that it can be and last but certainly not least my wonderful publishers who believe in the story enough to want to publish it in the first place.

What does getting a CBCA notable for this title mean to you? You have had a couple other books recognised before tell us a bit about these and what they were recognised for?

It is thrilling to be included on such a prestigious long list, alongside so many other authors and illustrators that I admire. I hope that this notable listing with put The Thing about Oliver on the radar of parents, teachers and librarians around Australia so that more children will have access to read it.

Ruby Wishfingers: Skydancers Escape (Wombat Books 2016) was a CBCA Notable title in 2017. One of my picture books Me and You (Penguin Random House 2017) was a CBCA Notable in 2018. Me and You was shortlisted for and then won Speech Pathology Australia’s Book of the Year for 3-5 year olds in 2018.

How many books have you had published now in total?

This month will see the release of my fourteenth book for children, a picture book called Dugong Magic (Hachette 2020).

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on another middle grade novel with themes of friendship and identity.

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Awesome launch of Around Australia in 30 Places

Around Australia in 30 Places

One the 1st of February we were excited to launch Around Australia in 30 Places.

Attention! Attention! Calling all young adventurers.

Starting in Brisbane and ending in Capalaba (the home of Wombat Books), on each page of the book Wombat tells readers what makes the location special. Wombat slops on some sunscreen to visit the beaches of Gold Coast. He spots a roo at Taronga Zoo and gets out his cricket bat to play at Adelaide Oval.

Each page is beautifully and individually illustrated by Australian school children. Below are the finalists for the 2018 Illustration Challenge, whose work will is featured in Around Australia in 30 Places.

At the Mad Hatters Bookshop on the 8th of February, we launched Around Australian in 30 Places. Congratulations to all the illustrators involved. Two of our lovely illustrators joined us for the launch, Blake and Daisy!

If you would like to be a part of one of the next illustration challenges check it out here.

Around Australia in 30 Places

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Meet Illustration Challenge Winner: Ruby

Ruby1. Tell us about your illustration for Around Australia in 30 Places.

I chose the Great Barrier Reef because the ocean is a colourful place and I love colour. There are so many pretty things in the ocean. I also love swimming in the ocean at summertime, so this was the perfect picture for me to draw!

2. If you could travel anywhere in Australia, where would it be?

The Great Barrier Reef.

3. What would be your No.1 travel tip?

Always take lots of pictures so if you don’t ever go back to the place you are visiting you will always have lots of memories to look back on.

4. What’s something you can’t live without in your suitcase?

My family! I love travelling with them!

Around Australia in 30 Places is available for pre-order now.

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Meet Illustration Challenge Winner: Daisy

1. Tell us about your illustration for Around Australia in 30 PlacesDaisy

My illustration is a water colour painting of the Australian Nullarbor. I love the orange toned colours of the Nullarbor as well as all the lines that draw the viewers eye to the amazing landscape.

2. If you could travel anywhere in Australia, where would it be?

If I could travel anywhere in Australia, I would have to choose Kangaroo Island in South Australia. The clear blue water, white sands and getting close to kangaroos on the beach would be amazing!

3. What would be your No.1 travel tip?

My number one travel tip is to never under pack. It sounds obvious but so many times I have packed everything for a warm weather trip and then for one of the days, the weather turns cold and I wish I had packed just one jacket in case.

4. What’s something you can’t live without in your suitcase?

I cannot live without my sketchbook and pencils in my suitcase because it helps time pass by on the plane or relax in the hotel room. Also, there is always a ton of inspiration from the surroundings.

Around Australia in 30 Places is available for pre-order now.

Daisy snippet

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Meet Illustration Challenge Winner: Sonya

Sonya1. Tell us about your illustration for Around Australia in 30 Places.

I have heard people say that Wagga Wagga is the 'City of Good Sports'. Many of Australia's sporting heroes say that their home town is Wagga Wagga. So, I wanted to illustrate something that was ‘sporty’.

2. If you could travel anywhere in Australia, where would it be?

Uluru. It is so unique. The rock looks incredible to visit. Have you seen the one in Around Australia in 30 Places? You can learn more about the Aboriginal people because the site is of great cultural and spiritual significance to them. They have lots of great walks, bike rides and tours to go on. I would like to go on one at night.

3. What would be your No.1 travel tip?

Get excited. Before any holiday my family talk about the distance and the destination for months beforehand. My sister and I will go on the internet and have a look at what we are going to see.

4. What’s something you can’t live without in your suitcase?

Always pack kid-sized headphones in your luggage. I have trouble using the headphones the aircraft give me. If we are travelling in a car, I try not to get stuck with my parents’ headphones which are way too big. Always have volume child-safe headphones that can fit in your ear properly. If you're travelling by airplane you also need a headphone socket ‘thingy’ so it can be used…. I’ve been caught without it!

Around Australia in 30 Places is available for pre-order now.

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Meet Illustration Challenge Winner: Layla

Layla Photo1. Tell us about your illustration for Around Australia in 30 Places.

I decided to do Solomon Island because I love islands, flowers and the things they wear.

2. If you could travel anywhere in Australia, where would it be?

Tasmania, because my best friend lives there, it's a beautiful place and I want to see the northern lights.

3. What would be your No.1 travel tip?

Roll all your clothes that you would wear for the day together so that you save time and explore more. You just have to pick a pack and you’re ready to go out.

4. What’s something you can’t live without in your suitcase?

My camera and toy dog.

Around Australia in 30 Places is available for pre-order now.

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Meet Illustration Challenge Winner: Zach

Zach1. Tell us about your illustration for Around Australia in 30 Places.

I’ve done an illustration of the Penguin Parade in Phillip Island. It’s a very popular tourist attraction where people can watch penguins waddle their way from the sea to their burrows. I thought it would be fun to illustrate a parade of penguins getting tickets at a booth to visit the beach, with the tourists looking on, so I made the picture look comical.

2. If you could travel anywhere in Australia, where would it be?

I would love to visit northern Queensland and see the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforests.

3. What would be your No.1 travel tip?

Bring a notebook and keep a journal of your trip, so that you can record your favourite memories of your trip.

4. What’s something you can’t live without in your suitcase?

I love reading, so I can’t live without books, especially when there’s a long journey in the car.

 

Around Australia in 30 Places is available for pre-order now.

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Meet Illustration Challenge Winner: Kai

1. Tell us about your illustration for Around Australia in 30 Places.Kai

My illustration in Around Australia in 30 Places depicts the Bungle Bungles – 350 million year old lime stone formations in Purnululu National Park in WA. I drew this picture in kind of indigenous style using with fine liners (markers) on paper.

2. If you could travel anywhere in Australia, where would it be?

If I could travel anywhere in Australia, I would go to the Great Barrier Reef so that I would be able to see all the fascinating flora and fauna.

3. What would be your No.1 travel tip?

My number one travel tip is: don’t get stuck with your original plan when travelling. If you come across some interesting place along your journey, go there, whether you planned it or not.

4. What’s something you can’t live without in your suitcase?

Something I can’t live without in my suitcase is a book. After a long day hike, the best thing to do in the evening is to relax in your sleeping bag and read an interesting novel.

Around Australia in 30 Places is available for pre-order now.

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Meet Illustration Challenge Winner: Anna Rose

Anna Rose1. Tell us about your image from Around Australia in 30 Places.

With my image I wanted to be a little creative and out of the ordinary by using animals as the tourists/visitors to the Flinders Ranges. I enjoyed illustrating the camel race and even added in an emu for a bit of fun. I used bright and dusty colours with water colour paints to create what I believe the Flinders Ranges would look like. I also included some native Australian plants such as the Sturt Desert Pea. I hope that the readers of the book enjoy my colourful and fun artwork.

2. If you could travel anywhere in Australia where would it be?

I love going to Queensland or New South Wales. I love swimming in the ocean at both of these destinations. I enjoy relaxing in the warm weather in Queensland and seeing my Aunty and cousins in Sydney.

3. What would be your No.1 travel tip?

My number one travel tip would be to always have a notebook and pen or pencil with you wherever you go. Then you can record your ideas, thoughts and experiences to remember in the future. You can create drawings if you have nothing else to do.

4. What’s something you can’t live without in your suitcase

I can't live with out my special dog puppet soft toy that travels with my whenever I go on holiday!

Around Australia in 30 Places is available for pre-order now.

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Meet Illustration Challenge Winner: Rebecca

1. Tell us about your illustration for Around Australia in 30 Places.

Rebecca TangMy illustration was Coffs Harbour (with the Big Banana). I chose this place as I have been here many times and it has the best dessert ever. I thought that I could connect the most with this place so I knew that I had to draw it. I was just doing this competition for fun and I was not thinking about winning, so when I received the news, I was so surprised and ecstatic at the same time.

2. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?

I would love to travel to New York because there are so many beautiful places to visit and the views are always so amazing. However, I would also want to travel to France because then I would be able to go to Paris and visit the Eiffel Tower. There are too many amazing places to choose from!

3. What would be your No.1 travel tip?

Always make a checklist of what you need to bring on that trip. This tip will always be handy because everyone has had that feeling, when you walk out your front door and you feel like you are forgetting something but you can’t remember what it is. Then by the time you arrive at your destination you remember that thing that you forgot at home. Therefore, it is always handy to have a checklist when you pack your bag to and from your destination, so that you can make sure that you are not forgetting anything.

4. What’s something you can’t live without in your suitcase?

Sunscreen. I can’t live without sunscreen because when you stay in a hotel, most of the time there is going to be a pool and you don’t want to get sunburnt so I always bring sunscreen. This is the thing that I cannot forget during a trip.

Around Australia in 30 Places is available for pre-order now.

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Meet Illustration Challenge Winner: Rory

1. Tell us about your illustration for Around Australia in 30 Places.

In my illustration for “Around Australia in 30 Places” I aimed to incorporate Rory Smithas much of the natural beauty found in the Australian landscape as I possibly could. The natural environment in itself is such a precious and beautiful thing and portraying this accurately in my illustration proved to be a challenge. I tried to capture the landscape in a unique way that portrayed the way I perceive it and its wonders. This experience has helped me to develop new skills with my art and has helped me gain insights and new perspectives on the Australian environment that I am lucky enough to live in.

2. If you could travel anywhere in Australia, where would it be?

If I could travel anywhere in Australia I would love to visit the end of the world in Tasmania. It is such a beautiful and peaceful spot that looks so inviting. Being able to experience the beauty of the natural environment with the fresh, crisp air would be a dream come true. I think it would be quite an inspiration for many artworks seeing as the great expanse of ocean is just a glance away. At the end of the world Tasmania, there is so much open space surrounded by natural vegetation which would be a lovely way to escape the bustling cities of the mainland.

3. What would be your No.1 travel tip?

I think my number one travel tip would be to live in the moment and take it all in while you can. Take a step away from your device and any distractions and just take the opportunity to appreciate where you are and all you have to be grateful for. I find that when you just focus on where you are now, the experience is so pure and eye opening that nothing could make you forget how you feel in that moment. When you just take the time to be in immersed in the moment, you are able to fully appreciate where you are and what you are doing, which I think is ideal when you are travelling.

4. What’s something you can’t live without in your suitcase?

I think the one thing I couldn’t live without in my suitcase would be my camera. When going on a holiday I find so much inspiration in the places I go. The atmosphere is always different, there’s always new things to discover and explore. Having my camera allows me to capture the memories I make and the atmosphere I never want to forget. Also, seeing as photography is such a passion of mine, I feel that practicing in a new environment is very good to help develop my skills and make the trip even more enjoyable.

Around Australia in 30 Places is available for pre-order now.Rory snippet Resize

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The Secret Science Society's Experiment Series: Lava Lamps

Mona likes to moan. facebook lavaLamp
Kiki is a worry-wart.
Bart loves following rules.
And Zane HATES following rules.

When the four of them are put into The Secret Science Society together, this could only mean one thing: DISASTER!

Now you can join the Secret Science Society too! We have a fun experiment that you can try at home. 

We're making lava lamps! This experiment has way less mess than the Secret Science Society's exploding volcano!

  • What you need:
    An empty, see-through water bottle
  • Water
  • Food colouring – choose your favourite colour!
  • Effervescent aspirin
  • Vegetable oil

Picture 1

1. Fill the empty water bottle about two-thirds full of vegetable oil. You might want to wear a lab coat so you don't get any on you! 

Picture 2

2. Next, fill the rest of the bottle with water until it is almost full to the very top. If you look carefully, you will see that the water sinks straight down to the bottom of the bottle. Oil and water don’t mix.

3. Now it's time to add your favourite colour! Add a few drops of food colouring. To mix it in, use a straw or chopstick.

4. Once the water is coloured, you can break one effervescent aspirin tablet into four pieces and drop one piece in at a time. You will see the lava bubbles start to rise to the top and fall back to the bottom of the bottle. How cool!

Picture 3

So how does it all work? When the aspirin tablet sinks to the bottom of the bottle and starts fizzing, it creates gas bubbles. With each bubble that rises to the top, some coloured water rises with it. When the gas bubble reaches the top of the bottle, the coloured water sinks back to the bottom of the bottle. This happens over and over again until the aspirin tablet is dissolved. How awesome!

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The Secret Science Society's Experiment Series: Bending Water

Mona likes to moan. facebook bendWater
Kiki is a worry-wart.
Bart loves following rules.
And Zane HATES following rules.

When the four of them are put into The Secret Science Society together, this could only mean one thing: DISASTER!

Now you can join the Secret Science Society too! We have a fun experiment that you can try at home. 

What you need:

  • A water tap
  • A plastic comb
  • A head of hair!

Firstly, we have to do a control test so we can see what happens with a normal comb. I know you’re probably bored by this part, like Zane, but control tests are very important for experiments says Bart! Run the tap so that a very thin stream of water is flowing straight down, then move the comb close to the water (but make sure it doesn't get wet!).

Does anything happen?

Next, we can begin the real experiment! Brush your hair with the comb at least ten times, then move it slowly towards the thin stream of water (but make sure it doesn't get wet again!).

CH7aDoes anything happen? Yes!

So how does it all work? Brushing your hair with the plastic comb collects electrons from your hair. Electrons have a negative charge. When you move the comb close to the running water, it is attracted to the water because that has a positive charge. Negative and positive charges are how magnets work.

In this experiment the attraction is not strong enough to move your hand, but it does pull the water toward the comb. Try to find some other small items around the house to test the comb on now. Zane is already looking in his grandpas's workshop!

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Chatting to Deborah Kelly about Oliver and things

DKellyBWWith an increasing number of children being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) every year, it is more important than ever to have these children and their families represented in mainstream media, including books. Portraying children like Oliver and Tilly not only provides kids in similar situations with literature they can relate to, but it also helps to foster tolerance and acceptance of difference and diversity in all readers.

1. Did you draw on personal experience when writing The Thing About Oliver?

I have the privilege of knowing several children on the autism spectrum and their families. There is a lot of support out there now for kids on the spectrum, which is fantastic. But often the siblings of these children are overlooked. They are sometimes called glass children, because it can feel as though their overstretched parents look right through them. They have to grow up quickly, are often expected to take on far more responsibility than other kids their age and can feel guilty about their own problems and worries in comparison to that of their siblings. They can also struggle with feelings of resentment and guilt towards their parents and the sibling with special needs.

2. The story centres around the move to Townsville, which is described quite vividly. Do you have a history with the area?

I spent several years living in Townsville while I attended university. thing about oliver 9781925563818 large72Because moving there coincided with leaving home (and the whole world opening up), Townsville will always have a special place in my heart. When I visited a couple of years ago for some writing workshops, a lot had changed since I left and most of the people I knew there had moved on. However, I felt that the sights and smells, plants and animals, and the humidity that had hit me all those years ago was the same.

3. Is marine biology an interest of yours? What’s your favourite fish?

I loved marine biology in high school due to an enthusiastic teacher and went on to study it at university so I could help protect the reef for future generations. Like Tilly, colourful nudibranches are high up on my list. So is the goofy-looking parrotfish, which chomps so noisily on coral that you can actually hear it underwater. I’ll never forget the time I came face-to-face with a baby tiger shark! And I love the magic of a night dive. There are tiny creatures in the water that glow at night and if you turn off your torch, it’s like floating in a night sky, surrounded by stars.

The Thing About Oliver is available now.

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