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.

Author Interview: Katrina Roe

Author Interview: Katrina Roe

Katrina Roe is the author of Marty's Nut Free Party, shortlisted for the 2013 Speech Pathology Award and Emily Eases her Wheezes a Notable book in the 2015 CBCA awards.

She’s also a radio announcer at Hope 103.2 in Sydney, a mum of 3 girls and wife of 1!!!
Her next book, Same, is a true story about her beloved brother, Charlie, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.


1) What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

The book I read the most when I was a kid was I Want to Go Home by Gordon Korman. It was about a super brainy, talented nonchalant kid called Rudy Miller, who found it hard to fit in on a summer holiday camp. He was kinda cool, but also distant and somehow alienated from the other kids. I sometimes wonder what I related to in the character – perhaps the fact that he didn’t quite fit in, or that he was far away from home, missing his parents (I knew I would be going off to boarding school soon). Either way, it made me laugh and I read it 7 or 8 times in Year 5 and 6

2) What’s your favourite book as an adult?

I don’t have a favourite, but recently I enjoyed The Rosie Project… like everyone else. It has everything: an awkward, unlikely romance, (is there any other kind?) fascinating characters and lots of laughs. From the classics, I love Pride and Prejudice, but I’m also a bit obsessed with Jane Eyre. I love her passionate speeches and her fiery nature. (“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart!” Sigh. I even named my newborn baby, Bronte, because I love it so much.

3) What are you reading now?

Right now I am reading Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper. It’s about a very bright young girl with cerebral palsy and her frustration at not being able to express herself. I’m sure I’m partly enjoying this book because it’s helping me understand what life has been like for my older brother, who also has cerebral palsy, but it’s also just a great read. It’s a serious book, but humorous too and deeply touching. I’d recommend it for adults and children over ten.

4) What inspires you to write for children?

A few months ago I walked into the living room to see my 8 year old daughter engrossed in the last pages of a book, tears streaming down her face. She was reading The Kensington Reptilarium by N.J.Gemmell. In the last pages of the book, the children’s father, who has been Missing in Action returns from a prisoner-of-war camp, so thin and exhausted they can barely recognize him. Suddenly my daughter glimpsed what it must have been like for my own Dad when his father finally returned home after almost five years in a POW camp. I love that a good story can create that kind of deep empathy and understanding in children, while they’re learning and being entertained.

5) What do you consider your biggest achievement?

I think this new book, Same, is about to become my biggest achievement. I’m really proud of it, although I can’t take any credit for it, as the story was a gift from my brother. I love it because it’s true and it was such a lovely moment in my life. I hope it will help people confront their feelings and fears about people with disabilities and that it will empower more people to be brave in their interactions. If I never write another book for as long as I live, I will be glad that I wrote this one. And Jemima’s illustrations are stunning.

Same is now for sale here

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
7429 Hits

An interview with Katrina Roe

An interview with Katrina Roe

Katrina is the author of Marty's Nut Free Party, shortlisted for the 2013 Speech Pathology Award and the upcoming Emily Eases her Wheezes.


I am Katrina Roe, a radio announcer at Hope 103.2 in Sydney, a children's picture book author, a mum of 2 and a wife of 1!!!

Question 1: What was the first story you ever wrote and has it been published?

The first stories I ever had published were in the Carrathool Public School newsletter, but before I had started school. I used to dictate them to my mum and she would send them in! One of the earliest stories that I still have a copy of was called My Trip in a Pink Bubble. It was an adventurous story with a journey to a strange land, a wicked witch, a narrow escape and of course, a happy ending. I still have a copy of that book, including my illustrations. I also had a poem called Summer is Here! that was published in The Land newspaper when I was about six years old. My mum was continually sending my poems and stories in to anyone that would publish them!

Question 2: What was your first book published?
The first book I had published was Marty's Nut-Free Party in 2012 with Wombat Books. Before that I had contributed to a couple of anthologies and I wrote a novel that was shortlisted for an award, but sadly, is still sitting in my bottom drawer.

Question 3: What is your favourite part about being an author?
I love every aspect of it. I love those first moments when the seed of an idea germinates in your head. I love reading out the early drafts to my writers' group and hearing all their suggestions. I love the moment when I pop it in the post box with all the excitement and anticipation and possibility that goes along with that. I even don't mind rejection letters as they make me feel that I am one step closer to success! I still tremble when a new contract appears and I love seeing those very first storyboards or roughs when the book starts to take shape. The moment the first copy of the book arrives on your doorstep is exhilarating and I love the fun and excitement of a book launch. But the very best moment is when you look up from a reading and see 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 little pairs of eyes all glued to the page, hanging on every word you're saying and waiting expectantly to see what happens next!

Question 4: What is the hardest part about being an author?
I find it hard to work alone and even more difficult to work at home, where there are so many distractions and always lots of mess! It's also hard to make it financially viable. One day I would really love to have my own studio or office to write in, where the walls would be filled with my favourite books, there would be just a kettle and a stash of tea, and preferably a beautiful view of ocean, rivers or bush! Sigh! Even just a laptop would be a bonus!

Question 5: What do you do for fun?
I love travelling and outdoorsy adventures like bushwalking and kayaking although I don't get much time for any of those things at the moment! I also just really appreciate spending time with close friends, preferably somewhere scenic. Right now I am on the 40th birthday party circuit, which has meant lots of silliness with old friends. Yay!

Question 6: How do you test out your stories? Or who do you test them on?
I usually read them to my kids and husband first, then I take them to my writers' group. Once I've got them to an acceptable level, then I ask a few trusted friends what they think.

Question 7: What was your favourite children's book when you were a kid?
If I'm really honest, my favourite was a Golden Book called Hunkydory. I also loved The Magic Faraway Tree stories, The Wishing Chair series and the Famous Five. When I got into later primary I devoured Gordon Korman books and my favourite was I Want to Go Home. It was about a smarty-pants loner who spends his entire holiday trying to escape from summer camp.

Question 8: What is your favourite children's book now?
It's really hard to narrow it down to just one. My favourite picture books are Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon and Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley by Aaron Blabey, which both celebrate the absolute blessing and miracle it is to find a true friend.

Question 9: What writing genre do you like to do the most?
I like to write picture books the most, but I would also love to write a novel one day.

Question 10: What is your favourite way/time to read?
My favourite way to read grown-up books is on holidays, either at my parents' place in the country or at a beach house. It's the only time I get a chance to really demolish a book in a couple of days. However, my eight year old is a voracious reader now and we are tackling some really interesting stuff together, so I thoroughly enjoy the time we spend reading together each night. Sometimes I find myself sneakily skipping ahead to see what happens while she's cleaning her teeth.

Question 11: What book are you reading right now?
I most recently finished The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith and am now starting on a new re-write of Jane Austen's Emma also by Alexander McCall Smith. With my eight year old, I'm reading Morris Gleitzman's Blabber Mouth and Sticky Beak, which we are loving! My 3 year old only reads Nick Bland's The Wrong Book (over and over and over again!) so I also read that most nights.


Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
6351 Hits

When I See Grandma wins CALEB Award (Children's) 2014!

When I See Grandma wins CALEB Award (Children's) 2014!

When I See Grandma, by Debra Tidball has just won the CALEB Award 2014 in the Children's Category. This is the second time this book has been acknowledged as outstanding as it was also shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Awards 2014.

The book is a delightful insight into the transforming power of children and love to enjoy with your kids, grandkids or great-grandkids.

Two children visit their unresponsive grandmother in an aged care home and ‘brighten her dreams’ as the reader gains an insight into Grandma’s past, linking her past to the present. The bleakness of the setting is transformed by the children’s vitality that brightens the lives of the residents. And the children make memories they will treasure forever whilst helping Grandma remember.

“This beautiful book delicately points to the foundations of healthy grieving by showing practical demonstrations of love and focussing on creating and sharing memories. When I see Grandma is not only delightful to read, but a valuable resource for every home,” said Liz Mann, Bereavement Counsellor.

Congratulations also to winners under our Even Before Publishing imprint:

Nick Hawkes - The Celtic Stone (Fiction)
David Malcolm Bennett - From Ashes to Glory (Non Fiction)
Carol Preston - Suzannah's Gold (Bookseller's Choice Award)

When I See Grandma is available from all good bookstores, your local library or buy online now.


Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
5864 Hits

Guest Reviewer: Dimity Powell reviews Without Me

Guest Reviewer: Dimity Powell reviews Without Me

WITHOUT ME Kayleen West
Remember those days in your childhood when you felt the undeniable urge to shed the shackles of family constraint and run away? I do. I spent long hours planning my departure, organising provisions, and packing essentials, which were every doll and stuffed animal I owned.

I can't remember the various motivations for my wanting to leave and of course most attempts failed, stalled inexplicably under the apricot tree en-route to 'not sure where'.

Many kids experience this kind of emotional quandary as they navigate their way through difficult life situations; bewildering social expectations and consolidation of their own unique identities. In short, it's part of growing up.

Kayleen West's picture book, Without Me, captures this crossroad period in a small boy's life as he plans to leave his family believing they no longer love him. He packs his bags along with his resolve and then just as he sets off, begins to revaluate his situation.

West creates an accumulative checklist for our would-be-runaway using the passing of minutes, a nice numerical inclusion for young readers whilst establishing a sense of order and reason. Our nameless protagonist soon realises that every member of his family relies on him and values him at some level, whether for food, comfort, play, or simply companionship. After just ten minutes, his desire to leave wanes and he discovers that his true worth lies within being part of his family with them, not away from them.

Love and belonging often evolve from a sense of need and acceptance but this equation is not always apparent to little people or easy for them to comprehend. West's sharply coloured illustrations and light-hearted narrative helps them make the connection whilst delivering a far reaching reminder that it is not always kids who want to run away from the realities of the world.

Suitable for 4 – 7 year olds.

Wombat Books 2013

Reviewed by Dimity Powell

For this and more reviews by Dimity Powell visit: http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/ 

Rate this blog entry:
Recent Comments
Guest — Robert Vescio
Wonderful review, Dimity. Great book, too!
Thursday, 28 August 2014 14:38
Guest — Dimity Powell
Thanks Robert. Nice message for us all too. :-)
Thursday, 28 August 2014 20:29
Guest — Kayleen West
Thank you for such a lovely review of my book Dimity!
Monday, 20 October 2014 04:09
Continue reading
8748 Hits

New Release: Possum Games

New Release: Possum Games

Late at night on a rusty tin roof, a possum finds his own special talent

Everyone is good at something. You just need to keep trying new things until you find your own special talent.

Written for young children aged from 4 to 8 years, Possum Games is written for anyone who has had possums living either on or in their roof. As many Aussies kids can identify with, possums always seem to be the loudest at bedtime.

Children will be captivated by the idea of the possums actually having their own nightly athletics carnival on the roof while they are sleeping. Riley is the smallest and most shy possum of the family, but he never gives up until he finds own amazing skills.

Michelle Worthington is an internationally published, award winning children's author. The stories she writes are like the stories she used to read when she was young with a modern twist.

"Don't be afraid to write picture books that push boundaries, invent words, and challenge readers. Picture books can change the world," said Michelle.

The author has volunteered as a story teller and workshop presenter at the 2012 Out of the Box Festival in Brisbane, the 2012 Gold Coast Writers Festival and 2013 4QK Special Children's Christmas Party and this year will be featuring at the Conscious Life Festival and Kids Culture on the Sunshine Coast as Fairy Belle, the book fairy. Her goal is to be known for classically elegant, entertaining and compassionate stories for young children.

Illustrator, Sandra Temple has been a professional artist, illustrator and author for more than thirty years. She has travelled extensively with her art, gaining insights into her special interest, the world's endangered species.

Possum Games is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
5715 Hits

New Release: Happy Pants

New Release: Happy Pants

Happy Pants is set for release on 1 May 2014 and you can win a copy!

Subscribe and leave us a comment below with the name you subscribed to go into the draw!


Not all Mums are happy on Mother’s Day…

For the one out of seven Australian mothers who suffer from post-natal depression, Mother’s Day is a sad reminder of their inability to cope. Author Heather Gallagher hopes her first picture book Happy Pants will inspire the many families who suffer as a result of the illness.

Happy Pants is a heartfelt way to help older children know that their mum’s postnatal depression is not because of them,’ said PANDA (Post and Antenatal Depression Association) chief executive Belinda Horton. ‘That dads are loving and caring, families can support each other and that mum will get better with help.’

Happy Pants is about a little boy who adores his Mummy. But when she comes home with his baby brother, she seems to have become a different person. The boy feels betrayed and confused, and sets about trying to make Mummy better…

Children’s author Heather Gallagher suffered PND following the births of both her daughters, now aged 9 and 12.

Ironically, the depression became a catalyst for Heather to act. She founded a playgroup for Mum’s with PND, Parents Overcoming Depression with Support (PODS). And went on to launch her career as a children’s writer.

‘With Happy Pants I wanted to let kids know that while they can’t make Mummy better, things will improve with time and love,’ she said. ‘There will come a day when Mum can put on her happy pants again!’

Happy Pants is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

Rate this blog entry:
Recent Comments
Jennifer Gress
Although I am yet to read it Heather, congratulations. You are so correct in uderstanding that when a mum is suffering her childre... Read More
Saturday, 10 May 2014 13:04
Jennifer Gress
I have yet to read the book but wish to offer my congratulations. And yes Mother's Day is not a happy Day for everyone. Even adu... Read More
Monday, 12 May 2014 15:47
Jennifer Gress
Thanks for your lovely comments Sue
Tuesday, 20 May 2014 16:26
Continue reading
7582 Hits

New Release: The Bear Said Please

New Release: The Bear Said Please

The Bear Said Please has just been released and you can win a copy!

Subscribe and leave us a comment below with the name you subscribed to go into the draw!

A picture book The Bear Said Please featuring a very hungry, friendly bear is North Queensland writer and artist Jacque Duffy's latest book.

Jacque said 'It is a fun rhyming picture book aimed at 2-7 year olds. A very hungry bear discovers there's something he needs even more than honey and a full tummy – good manners!'

With the thought that her character looked as though he could use a good cuddle, Jacque has made 10 beautiful cuddly bears to give away as promotion for her new book. The Bear Said Please will be released April 1st by publisher Wombat Books and the promotion finishes on the 31st March. To be part of the 'Win a Bear' promotion visit Jacque's website www.jacquesartandbooks.com.

The Bear Said Please appears in a National Curriculum publication Playing with Grammar in the Early Years published by the Australian Literacy Educator's Association. Jacque said 'I am honoured to have my book used in such a way. The other books appearing in this publication are written by my role models, I am humbled to have my book sitting next to theirs. '

The Bear Said Please is a hard cover, fully illustrated rhyming book featuring a bear who wakes up hungry and goes in search of his favourite food. 'This bear is very huggable,' says Jacque. 'I really enjoyed drawing him getting into trouble and being a bit of a klutz. I see more adventures in his future.'

Jacque Duffy is a Mena Creek artist and writer. Her writing stretches from picture books, educational children's books, and crime writing. Several of her children's books have been purchased by the Queensland State Government and integrated into schools and libraries. Her art ranges from photorealism, to complete abstraction, through to illustration, graphic art and soft sculpture.

Her artwork has won many major awards and is in galleries and private collections around the world.

Just in time for the school holidays and Easter The Bear Said Please will make a lovely gift for the little people in your life.

The Bear Said Please is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

Rate this blog entry:
Recent comment in this post
Jennifer Gress
Good manners are so important. My soon -to-be Miss Three year old granddaughter would love this book for her birthday
Tuesday, 24 June 2014 17:45
Continue reading
6009 Hits
1 Comment

A chat with illustrator Shannon Melville

A chat with illustrator Shannon Melville

As part of the inaugural Wombat Books Illustration Challenge, we will be running a series of blogs featuring successful illustrators - to offer advice and inspiration and help budding illustrators learn from the best in the 'biz'.

First up - Shannon Melville, she has previously illustrated a number of books by Aleesah Darlison (who is the author of the Illustration Challenge book - Zoo Ball) including the new Little Meerkat and Little Good Wolf. She has also illustrated a number of author picture books.


Shannon Melville - I live near the Canning River in Perth. I have illustrated eight books. I love animals and enjoy illustrating them. I love all the colours of the rainbow. I enjoy walking my caramel and chocolate coloured kelpie Hugo down at the park, he loves chasing balls but doesn't always bring them back, a bit annoying when he drops them in the river or ocean! I have a new baby daughter who is keeping me busy and a kind, supportive husband. When I am not illustrating I also work as a graphic designer and Disability Arts Worker.

Question 1: When did you start illustrating and what was the first book you ever illustrated?

I received my first illustration job in 2006, in the final year of my TAFE course but the first book I illustrated in 2009 was called ‘My Arms Your Legs’ written by Kim Rackham, I only had 5 weeks to illustrate 70+ illustrations!

Question 2: What is the most challenging part of being an illustrator?

Promoting my books and encouraging people to buy them. Drawing things out of my head that do not exist in real life can also be a bit tricky such as a meerkat swimming; you can’t just ask a meerkat at the local zoo to jump in a pool for you and start swimming!

Question 3: What is your favourite part about being an illustrator?

Researching new subject matter on the internet, at the zoo, a park, around the neighbourhood and learning interesting facts that assist with my illustrations. I also really enjoy getting to work with various types of media, in particular pastels and coloured pencils.

Question 4: When given a story to illustrate, what is the first thing you do to get your ideas flowing?

I draw a few small thumbnail sketches on the author’s manuscript. I also write a list of all the references I am going to need to illustrate my story. I usually find most of my photo references on the internet but will also use books too if I need to. I visited a zoo to try and draw platypuses once but they swam too fast to draw them!

Question 5: If you could give one piece of advice to a budding illustrator, what would it be?

Draw as much as you can, sketch objects from life (right in front of you) as well as from photos. Try to work on your unique style and don’t compare yourself to others too much, we all have different ways of seeing and different ways of expressing ourselves which makes it interesting. Publishers don’t want to see everyone illustrating the same way, they like variety. Be prepared to change your work, none of us draw a masterpiece every time we draw. You need to realize a children’s book is created by numerous people: an author, illustrator, publisher, art director, editor, graphic designer, printer and so on, so there will be other people’s opinions to consider.

Find out more about Shannon Melville

Find out more about the Illustration Challenge


Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
7341 Hits

Little Meerkat: Big Ambitions

Little Meerkat: Big Ambitions

Little Meerkat has just been released and you can win a copy!

Subscribe to our blog and leave us a comment with the name you subscribed with below to go into the draw!

Little Meerkat, a picture book by best-selling, award-winning author Aleesah Darlison.

From dedicated documentary series to insurance advertisements, meerkats are familiar and popular animals. Aleesah has used this internationally recognised animal as the main character for her latest picture book, to ensure children from all backgrounds, cultures and countries can connect with and learn from Little Meerkat's story.

Little Meerkat is a humorous, lively and adventurous picture book aimed at 3-7 year olds. The main character, Little Meerkat, craves independence and adventure in his life. His extended family, of Mum, Dad, brother, sister, Aunty and Uncle, are there to guide and protect him.

"This is a story that will resonate with young children who sense within themselves a desire to explore and grow, but who still need family support and a cuddle from Mum (or Dad) at the end of the day to reassure them," Aleesah says.

Because Little Meerkat is such a brave and inscrutable character, his behaviour, dialogue and mis-adventures bring humour to the story, offering fabulous opportunities for the illustrator, Shannon Melville, to interpret the text and create truly inspiring and unique visual images.

Aleesah Darlison is a multi-published children's book author. Aleesah's picture books include Puggle's Problem (NSW Premier's Reading Challenge), Bearly There (NSW PRC) and Warambi (2012 CBCA Notable Book Eve Pownall Award, 2012 Wilderness Society Award for Children's Literature – Shortlist, NSW PRC). Her chapter books include Fangs and Little Good Wolf. Her novels and popular series are I Dare You, Unicorn Riders, Totally Twins and Ash Rover. Aleesah has won numerous awards for her writing including an Australian Society of Authors (ASA) mentorship. Aleesah's short stories have appeared in the Random House Stories for Boys Anthology, the black dog books Short and Scary Anthology, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Hopscotch: Packed Lunch Anthology, Fight or Flight Anthology, The School Magazine and Little Ears Magazine. Aleesah is currently the Director of the NSW Writers' Centre Kids & YA Festival.

Shannon Melville is a freelance illustrator, graphic designer and community art teacher from Perth. She has illustrated the following books: My Arms Your Legs (Blake Education) by Kim Rackham, Matilda's Morning Adventures and Choose Active Transport: A Teacher's Resource (Physical Activity Taskforce, 2010) by Kim Chute, Little Good Wolf (Wombat Books, 2011) by Aleesah Darlison, Coming Home, by Sharon McGuinness and Boondaburra, by Natalie Londsale.

Available from all good bookstores or buy online now.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
7032 Hits

How do you tell someone you love them when they don't even know you are there?

How do you tell someone you love them when they don't even know you are there?

When I See Grandma has just been released and you can win a copy!

Subscribe and leave us a comment below with the name you subscribed to go into the draw!

How can you show them you care? When I See Grandma captures the dilemma many children face when those they love are withdrawn, like the Grandmother in this book, and offers them a way to connect. It transports children from being passive onlookers in an overwhelming setting to active agents for transformation.

What readers have said:
"Debra and Leigh have done a lovely job of conveying grandma's integrity and humanity although she can no longer interact with her grand daughter. The whole feel is so gentle and uplifting." Belinda Garbutt-Young, primary school teacher.

"This is a joyful and poignant celebration of life and love, and I am delighted that Debra Tidball has decided to donate all her royalties to the Hazel Hawke Alzheimer's Research and Care fund." Sue Pieters-Hawke.

Two children visit their unresponsive grandmother in an aged care home and 'brighten her dreams' as the reader gains an insight into Grandma's past, linking her past to the present. The bleakness of the setting is transformed by the children's vitality that brightens the lives of the residents. And the children make memories they will treasure forever whilst helping Grandma remember.

"This beautiful book delicately points to the foundations of healthy grieving by showing practical demonstrations of love and focussing on creating and sharing memories. When I see Grandma is not only delightful to read, but a valuable resource for every home." Liz Mann, Bereavement Counsellor.

Debra Tidball says, "My daughter was born in a small private hospital that was later reassigned as a nursing home, where my mother died. When I See Grandma is about past and present, beginnings and endings, set in an aged care home and reflecting this cycle of life."

Debra Tidball has worked with children and families as a Social Worker for many years. Whilst raising her two children she obtained a Master of Arts in Children's Literature from Macquarie University. When I see Grandma is her first published book and is dedicated to her mother who lived a vibrant life and died with dementia.

When I See Grandma is beautifully and lyrically written, delightfully illustrated and a joy to read to your child. It will open a window into the past, help you make memories in the present and give you hope in the future. And even more – it will provide much needed funds for Alzheimer's research and care via Hazel Hawke's fund.

The book will be launched as part of Senior's Week at the Penrith City Library on Wednesday, 19 March at 11:30am.

When I See Grandma is available in all good bookstores or buy online now.

Rate this blog entry:
Recent comment in this post
Jennifer Gress
Dropping by as part of the Mar(mite) challenge. Hope you are enjoying the pressures. You are doing a great job and books such as t... Read More
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 10:00
Continue reading
7762 Hits
1 Comment

Guest Reviewer: Dimity Powell reviews Patience

Guest Reviewer: Dimity Powell reviews Patience

PATIENCE Kirrily Lowe and Henry Smith Wombat Books The Invisible Tree Series 2013

When Patience landed on my desk late last year, I was immediately drawn to the collage-look cover sporting a young boy in a billowing cape, gazing expectantly toward the horizon through his telescope. What treasure was he searching for? What other wonders lay beyond the end pages? Ignoring the title, I too set sail into this nautically themed story in search of that often evasive virtue, patience.

Patience by Kirrily Lowe and Henry Smith is the fourth book in the Invisible Tree Series by this endearing team. The series is a character driven collection of picture books which focus on different 'fruits of the spirit' arising from Galatians 5:22-23 such as joy, love, peace and self-control.

While not overtly spiritual, each book gently bestows moral dilemmas upon likeable child characters. Then, after a little soul-searching and revelation, their inner invisible tree fruits with sturdy life values; love, joy and peace amongst those already produced.

Sam, the young protagonist in Patience, is taunted by a letter from his Nanna promising him a parcel full of surprises. All Sam has to do is wait for its arrival. So begins the small battle between himself and his 'not so strong (impatient) heart'.

Eventually determination prevails. Sam's parcel arrives full of everything a young adventurer could hope for but happily, Sam uncovers an even more precious gift, 'down deep inside...a fruit called patience...that makes you strong!'

I enjoyed the premise of sharing important values and virtues in a picture book for the very young and Lowe's sometimes off beat, but always impassioned, rhyming narrative helps keep the didactic overtones at bay and is suitable for new readers to handle themselves or for those still sharing their picture books with adults.

It's Henry Smith's illustrations however that steal the show and help convey these metaphoric messages with exquisite subtly and finesse. All of the artwork is created from found, re-cycled and hand-crafted papers, resulting in pages of complex, textural depth and eye-popping detail.

Patience is a visual and morally satisfying joy to read. Recommended for 4 + year olds and all those who need a little extra help tending their own inner invisible trees.

For this and more reviews by Dimity Powell visit: http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/

Rate this blog entry:
Recent comment in this post
Guest — Dimity Powell
Thanks for having me! Looking forward to uncovering more insightful reads with Wombat.
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 10:26
Continue reading
6671 Hits
1 Comment

An interview with Debra Tidball

An interview with Debra Tidball

Question 1: What was the first story you ever wrote and was it published?

The first story I ever wrote was in primary school: The Old Grass Hut about a convict who escaped from Fort Denison and out swam two ravenous sharks across Sydney harbour to safety. Obviously not about to be published any time soon! But I still have the story in my keepsakes box – it’s an exercise book lovingly bound in brown paper and plastic, complete with hand drawn illustrations. I can still remember how it felt to write it, sitting on my bed excited as the ideas came and how clever I felt putting them into words for people to replay the story in their own minds.

Question 2: What is your favourite part about being an author?

My favourite part of being an author is that it’s all consuming – I get lost in the act of creating. Giving form to formless fragments of feelings or ideas is hugely exciting and gratifying when you get it just right.

Question 3: What is the hardest part of being an author?

The hours and the mind-space it takes to get it ‘just right’! I find it hard work to set aside the time free of looming distractions and then find the right way to say what’s floating formless around my head. I can’t just write in a spare half hour or so here and there. When I’m writing, it’s an all consuming quest for the story and the words to best convey it. It invades my head and leaves little space for anything else. So when I’m cooking dinner, or waiting in a queue, or driving the car – especially when I’m driving the car – I am constantly distracted by ideas and words and turns of phrase and similes etc. I need a pen and paper handy all the time  - I become hopeful that the traffic lights turn red because it’s not so safe to balance a paper and pen on the steering wheel while driving – although it has been done!

Question 4: What is your favourite way/time to read?

I prefer to read like I write – all or nothing. I find short bursts unsatisfying when all I really want to do is curl up on a comfy lounge or in bed with my book and with the hours of the day spread out before me. Nothing else gets done – cooking, washing, shopping, sleeping, nothing (apart from a mid afternoon doze). When they were little my children would groan when they saw me with a book because they knew it meant that they would be neglected for however long it took to finish. Now they are grown up they can cook and wash and shop for me while I sit on the lounge and read! Needless to say, most of my reading is done in the holidays.

Question 5: What’s your favourite genre?

I’m a sucker for good picture book – I’m a bookseller’s dream! I have to buy books that are beautiful, clever or funny and preferably Australian – not to read or give away to children, but to add to my collection. I love them.

I also love reading adult and young adult novels for pleasure and I’m happy to borrow them (although if something is especially memorable I have to own it). I went through a stage of listening to classics on CD in the car - it really made me look forward to the mundane drives to and from school or work.

Question 6: What’s your favourite children’s book?

As I child I loved the Beatrix Potter books and they still are one of my treasured collections. However it’s impossible to say an all time favourite. Of the most recent books I have bought:

The book that made me smile with the warmth of memories was Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay.

The book that made me laugh out loud was Nighty Night by Margaret Wild and Kerry Argent.

The book I thought was brilliant in the way it was written and illustrated and the quintessentially Australian story it told was Flood by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley.

Question 7: What book are you reading right now?

What books am I reading? I have several on the go at the moment.

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy – I haven’t hit my stride with this one yet – there are too many interruptions, I should have waited for the holidays!

Heading Home, by Naomi Reed – easy to read in short bursts while I’m waiting - for a train, or a child, or the doctor etc. Thought provoking and uplifting.

Red, by Libby Gleeson.

Rate this blog entry:
Recent comment in this post
Guest — Debra Tidball
My Sister reminded me about the Beatrix potter soft toys I used to sew as a teenager. Visit my facebook page: debratidabllpage to ... Read More
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 16:08
Continue reading
7871 Hits
1 Comment

How important is reading with your preschool child?

It’s easy to underestimate how important reading is. As adults, we forget how much we read every day. Whether it’s a text message or the shelf at the supermarket, reading is an essential tool for living in this world of ours.

But surely reading is something that our child will learn in school. Do we really need to tackle it beforehand?

The answer is yes.

If you introduce your child to reading before they start school, you will be giving them a headstart on the other students. If they have the opportunity to look over your shoulder while you are reading it will help them recognise words before they start school. Believe me, they are not just looking at the pictures. They will look at the words too. Think of the extra confidence they will have when they know that they can recognise words that are meaningless to some of their peers.

Many books for children also contain useful morals and can educate your children in how to behave in social situations and give appropriate responses to conflict. Again, this can be a useful tool to learn before they start school, as then they will have strategies for dealing with children outside the family from their first day. Reading is also a fun way to learn about these social and moral issues, and the child stands a better chance of remembering these things than he or she would if you simply talked to them about it.

Also, reading with your child will nurture a bond between the two of you. Children enjoy the chance to sit next to Mum or Dad and listen to the soothing tone of their voice as they read to them.

Reading can also be helpful with other things. When I (Lynne Stringer) was toilet training my son, I bought a number of books with stickers of cars, trucks and other vehicles to place on each page. The books also contained a lot of information on the vehicles themselves.

As a result of spending hours with my son reading to him about cars and trucks and putting stickers on a page, by the time he started school his vocabulary and reading skills were far beyond those of his peers. If you try finding books like this on a subject that interests your child they will want to know more and it will encourage them to read just so they can learn.

While it’s hard to find time in our busy lives to read to our children, there are many benefits to doing so. Even if it’s just for ten minutes at bedtime every night, it will provide your child with a firm foundation for the future.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
6587 Hits

I waited and waited patiently, for something I wanted desperately

I waited and waited patiently, for something I wanted desperately

The fourth book in the Invisible Tree series, Patience has just been released and you can win a copy! 

Subscribe to our blog and leave us a comment with the name you subscribed with below to go into the draw!

The Invisible Tree Series is a beautiful series of children’s books articulating timeless values and character qualities for children.

Patience, by Kirrily Lowe and illustrated by Henry Smith is the journey of a little boy waiting for a surprise from his grandmother.  Like any child he doesn’t want to wait, but as he waits and waits and waits something is growing deep inside.  Finally the great surprise arrives, but to the little boys delight he also discovers a change on the inside, he has developed the great and noble fruit of patience.

“Kirrily’s amazing wisdom and intelligence is shown throughout her fourth book Patience by her creative display of what patience really means. It defines and builds strength in young children through simple terms! Patience compliments her high quality of books that express the real fruits of life. Blessed to have the full series for our children,” said Elka Whalan, Olympic Silver Medallist, Media Personality and mother of two.

Author Kirrily Lowe said, “Patience is one of the greatest yet most underrated virtues.  Patience brings a strength of character that only comes from a journey of waiting with expectation.  Patience is the articulation of this journey through the eyes of a child.  It is fun, real and stunningly illustrated by Henry Smith using recycled materials.”

Kirrily Lowe is the author of The Invisible Tree series of children's books - a delightful and fun series seeking to capture great and timeless values for little ones.  Kirrily began her career as a lawyer working with children in Sydney’s Western Suburbs.  Kirrily began writing in 2010 whilst at home with her young children.   Kirrily lives in the northern suburbs of Sydney with Tim and her three young and lively boys.

Available from all good bookstores or buy online now. The Invisible Tree 3 Book set also available: includes Love, Joy, Patience and a free kid's craft pack!

Rate this blog entry:
Recent Comments
Guest — Rebecka
Subscribed under 'Rebecka'. Thanks
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 16:55
Guest — Stacey Gladman
Yes please, this book looks fantastic!
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 17:40
Continue reading
5756 Hits

An interview with Michelle Worthington

An interview with Michelle Worthington

My name is Michelle Worthington and I am a published Australian author. The stories I write are like the stories I used to read when I was little and they have what may now be seen as an old fashioned feel, but they have a timeless message. My goal is to be a successful Australian author known for classically elegant and compassionate stories for young children.

Question 1: What was your first book published?

The Bedtime Band was published in 2011 by Wombat Books, illustrated by Sandra Temple. It is based on a poem I wrote when I was in Grade 5 about what the animals get up to while we are asleep

Question 2: What is the hardest part about being an author?

Being a busy Mum of two boys and working full time, I don't get a lot of time to sit still. But I write in little pockets of time during the day or at night when the boys have gone to bed. I don't have a very good memory so when I get an idea, I need to write it down straight away.

Question 3: What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

I love Australian authors because I think they write with a unique humour and empathy that is very rare in modern writing. Australian picture books had their golden age in the 1970's when I was growing up. Mem Fox's Possum Magic illustrated by multi award winning artist Julie Vivas, David Cox's Tin Lizzie were the staples of my bookshelves. Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen and Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French.

Question 4: What writing genre do you like to do the most?

Picture Books are my favourite and they always will be because they are the beginning of a child’s reading journey and foster a love of books.

Question 5: What do you consider your biggest achievement?

My two sons and how smart and independent they are. 

Question 6: Where do you see the future of children’s books (ebooks/apps/print)?

It doesn’t really matter if kids are reading paper books, ebooks or book apps, as long as they are reading.  Authors need to learn to adapt if they want to share their stories with modern children.

Question 7: What is your favourite way/time to read?

I always read a book to go to sleep at night and I have taught my boys to do the same.

Question 8: What book are you reading right now?

I am currently reading the Spooks Series by Joseph Delaney with my oldest son. I like reading what he reads so we can talk about it and share ideas.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
5940 Hits

Did you ever want to run away from home?

Did you ever want to run away from home?

Without Me?, by Kayleen West has just been released and you can win a copy!

Subscribe to our blog and leave us a comment with the name you subscribed with below to go into the draw!

Without Me?, is a light-hearted story about a runaway child, who wants to leave home, but before he can, he worries about those he will leave behind. As he reflects on the impact of his departure, he realises ultimately where he belongs. This new picture book written and illustrated by Kayleen West, has an entertaining approach as it journeys the reader through a common reaction–fight and flight.

"A fun and engaging story that helps children explore how emotions can influence decisions.  Kayleen's playful illustrations bring the story to life...and even add another story of their own!  This is a great resource for both parents and teachers to help prepare children for life's tricky moments," Natasha LeBrocq, Primary Student Welfare Officer.

Children often struggle to navigate their relationships, emotions and reasoning––Without Me is a picture book for ages 5-9 that introduces escapism in a simple story that will make children (and adults) smile. Over the course of 10 minutes, the child reflects and highlights the simplest pleasures of relationship. The lovable but comical plot ends with a sense of belonging and safety that will gratify the reader.

“Arguably, we’ve all thought of running from difficult situations.  Without Me was created for our kids, who live in today’s fast-paced, rash mouse-click decreed internet world. More and more, children struggle with social acceptance and are somewhat virtually socially taught. I created a fun unassuming story that journeys a child through inner dialogue, emphasising healthy reflection with a message of value in reciprocal relationships,” said Kayleen.

“I suggest teachers and councillors use Without Me in conjunction with Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats, to build on effective evaluation skills.”

This is Kayleen’s second published picture book in 2013. She is working on 2 more tiles for 2014 release. Motivated by stories that encourage and equip children, Kayleen writes and illustrates with a child’s future in mind.

Without Me? is available in all good book stores or buy online now.

Rate this blog entry:
Continue reading
6038 Hits

An interview with Robert Vescio

An interview with Robert Vescio

There’s something you should know about me and that is I like to talk about my books, but I don’t enjoy talking about myself.

I started writing children’s stories about five years ago but I’ve always enjoyed writing, even way back in high school.

It wasn’t until I left fulltime work in 2007, to become a stay-at-home dad, that I began to take writing more seriously. I had a great excuse to spend hours in the children’s section of bookstores. The love of reading books made it all the more easier for me to delve into the world of picture book writing. Also, having my own children helped as well. All I had to do was to observe them and the ideas started rolling in.

I enjoy writing stories and sharing my passion with children of all ages. All I want is for my stories to be read, like all aspiring and emerging writers, and to inspire and educate children. If I can change one child through my writing, then I’ve fulfilled my calling.

I love to read and I’m a self-confessed hoarder of books, especially children’s books.

Question 1: What is your favourite part about being an author?

I consider myself a storyteller because I love to spin a good yarn! All I want to do is to share my stories with children. As an author, I want to inspire, encourage and challenge children to dream big and to believe in themselves.

Question 2: What is the hardest part about being an author?

Finding a publisher who wants to publish my stories.

Question 3: What do you do for fun?

I love spending time with my children, who are an endless source of humour and inspiration. Together, we enjoy watching movies and eating popcorn.

Question 4: What was your favourite children’s book when you were a kid?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar. And now it’s one of my children’s favourite, along with their daddy’s books, of course! Also, I grew up reading The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is my favourite. And the Harry Potter series.

Question 5: What is your favourite children’s book now?

Lost and Found. I love all of Oliver Jeffers picture books. He is, in my mind, the master of picture books.

Question 6: Have you met anyone even more famous than you that was exciting?

Bryan Adams – singer turned photographer. It was when I was working as a Photo Editor for a magazine publishing company. Bryan Adams submitted to me a photo shoot of Kate Moss for our consideration for publication. I loved the photo shoot and accepted Bryan’s work for publication. When Bryan Adams was on tour here in Australia, he called me and asked if I would like to have lunch with him at Circular Quay in Sydney as a thank you for publishing his work. I didn’t need too much convincing. I asked my editor to join us. It was an amazing experience and NO he doesn’t have a husky voice. Bryan Adams was so down to earth and easy to talk to. Overall, Bryan Adams was a really nice guy!

Question 7: What writing genre do you like to do the most?

Picture Books. I love picture books and the way they express emotions and ideas in simple ways.

Question 8: What book are you reading right now?

The Twilight series. I always love a good book I can sink my teeth into. Yes, I’ve seen all the movies but I’ve never read the books. 


Rate this blog entry:
Recent Comments
Jennifer Gress
Awesome interviews!! Great stories! Love them all!!
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 14:51
Guest — Robert Vescio
Thanks for visiting Brenda! Robert Vescio
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 17:27
Continue reading
7606 Hits