Super excited to share the cover of my upcoming picture book, EVERYONE WANTS AN OCTOPUS BOOK!, illustrated by Makoto Koji and published by Hardie Grant/Bright Light Publishing!
So, what’s it about? Besides octopuses, of course!
Everyone Wants an Octopus Book! is a thought-provoking picture book about about how everyone deserves to see themselves in books.
Inky the octopus wants to read a book with a character that looks like them. With their best friend, Quack the duck, they scour every shelf, but all they seem to find are more books about ducks! Why aren’t there any stories with octopuses? They decide maybe it’s time for one.
It’s due out in early-March 2024 and pre-orders are open here. Can’t wait to share more as time gets closer!
A big bookish highlight – my picture book Walking Your Human (illustrated by Gabriella Petruso, published by Larrikin House) has been translated into Korean, which means it’s now available in Korea!!
It’s been so exciting to hold a real life copy and pour over all the little details, discovering small differences from the original (language aside!). Things like spot gloss on the leashes on the cover, and the barcode on the back now being bone-shaped. Seriously cute! I hope lots of dog owners and lovers in Korea cross paths with this book, it’s been a fun ride seeing where it travels and lands!
A few exciting Walking Your Human bits and pieces of late:
Book subscription business Bubs and Books included Walking Your Human in their recent dog-themed book box! This is a monthly book box curated by a qualified Teacher Librarian (excellent for gifts) – you can check them out here.
Bibliotherapist and kids’ book author Dr Zewlan Moor of Byron Bibliotherapy compiled a 2021 Standout Picture Book list, with the help of a bunch of authorly friends (pictured above). I contributed an absolute favourite of mine – quirky friendship tale A Pair of Pears and an Orange by Anna McGregor (published by Scribble), and was then honoured to see Walking Your Human there too, nominated by author Carla Fitzgerald. Check out the list here for some excellent reads from the past year!
CBCA’s Reading Time newsletter also included Walking Your Human in a round-up of 2021’s best reads, as picked by their team of reviewers. On WYH: ‘full of humour, engagement and diversity in both people and dogs and there are many discussion points for younger readers’. Yay!
A Korean translation of WYH is on its way – stay tuned for news, and I cannot wait to hold a Korean version in my hands (and take it out for celebratory Korean fried chicken or bibimbap!).
Did you know WYH is available in paperback? It’s only $13.95 via Booktopia at the moment!
Auction alert! Amazing author Zanni Louise’s huge auction to support the town of Lismore, NSW in its recovery from the devastating floods has so much to offer. I have a 3-book Tulip and Brutus book pack (with some merch and bug fun included), as well as three spots on One More Page podcast for kids’ book promo. Check out the huge array of items on offer here!
Autumn is all but over, and in a weird absence of red and yellow leaves, it’s at least been sprinkled with bookish highlights. Each recent event, book launch or catch up has felt like a post(ish)-Covid reunion, or a frenzied fun-fest in case we’re locked down once more (sorry, Melbourne. It might be us too at any moment.)
Walking Your Human was royally read by Sarah Ferguson (as in, the Duchess of York herself – whaaaat?!) on her YouTube channel! Super exciting to see, and there was even a real life dog in the recording studio (just like the dogs in the book – with a mind of its own). Check it out:
I also attended a sparkly, feelgood launch for a non-profit kids’ anthology produced by the CBCA Eastern Suburbs Sydney sub-branch. Old Worlds New Worlds Other Worlds is full of poems, stories, plays and illustrations by a huge range of creators, and I was so thrilled to contribute a play co-written by team One More Page called Kate, Liz and Nat’s Epic Picnic. It’s a wacky little adventure to another world via a playground rocket ship (and what happens when you’re followed home by space puppies!). The Governor of NSW, the Hon. Margaret Beazley AC QC ran the official launch proceedings, CBCA’s Elizabeth Cummings MCed, and a bunch of us read excerpts from our stories. It was fun to catch up with so many people in the kidlit community, moments that are no longer taken for granted in this Covid-y world we find ourselves in.
There’s been some other great events too! I had a whirlwind weekend in Canberra, not only taking in art, visiting playgrounds resembling seed pods and whizzing by the lake on an electric scooter (recommend!), but presenting at the SCBWI ACT Conference, too. This was a wonderful event run by Shelly Unwin, Catherine Meatheringham and team, full of inspiring talks. Kate, Nat and I did individual talks, then came together later for a panel about our podcast, One More Page. Illustrator Max Hamilton spoke about her illustration journey with lots of tips for getting your illustration work noticed. Maryanne Ballantyne and Donna Rawlins from Wild Dog Books spoke too, which was very entertaining! My talk was a workshop on tapping into your talents to enhance your kids’ book career, with interactive bits making everyone do a bit of self-analysis. It was fun! And some attendees later told me they had a few lightbulb moments, which makes me very happy indeed.
I also spoke about Walking Your Human at a CBCA Eastern Suburbs event (more book peeps! More catch ups! Plus dumplings!) and did a team presentation about One More Page for a CBCA Newcastle meeting, this time via Zoom.
In between, there’s been writing, podcasting (my most recent interview was with author Yvette Poshoglian – you can tune in here), and of course, reading. For my adult book club, we just read The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. In #LoveOzYA reading, I devoured Jenna Guillaume’s You Were Made For Me, which was lots of fun (think a dream boy brought to life, Weird Science style). I’m currently reading timeslip middle grade Elsewhere Girls by faves Nova Weetman and Emily Gale, and next up is Plum and Woo by Lisa Siberry, a female-centric middle grade detective series. A picture book standout from the pile was Anna MacGregor’s new title with Scribble, A Pair of Pears and an Orange. So cute and clever!
I’m not sure what winter will bring, but it better be book-filled and non-virusy, and also involve ramen. Happy reading and writing! x
This zany little picture book has been out in the world for two months already! Time sure does fly when you’re talking walking. Own podcast aside (where I interviewed publishers Larrikin House and held a book giveaway) I’ve popped up on a few other fab podcasts, too!
For bookish backstory, picture book chat and all things dogs, take a listen to the following podcast episodes …
Words and Nerds with Dani Vee:
Reading with a Chance of Tacos with Ken Williams:
Jack Russell Parents Podcast (US) with Becca and Gabe:
Own pod with Kate Simpson and Nat Amoore, One More Page:
And one more podcasterly pop up – the amazing Dani Vee talks Walking Your Human in an episode of The Weekend Booktopian podcast (around the 25 min mark):
Happy listening! I don’t know about you, but my podcast feed is ever-growing and it’s honestly hard to keep up! Not a bad problem to have though. I always look forward to the next ep of my favourites, the ones that feel like a friend in your ear. People say this to us about One More Page (which is ridiculously flattering, right?!) but I totally know the feeling!
The countdown is on till my next picture book hits the shelves. WALKING YOUR HUMAN is on its way – due out in February 2021! A bunch of sassy pups spill all the ways to walk your human, like the best places to eat, drink and even cool down. I just love all the animated doggos that illustrator Gabriella Petruso has created, and it’s already open for pre-orders on Booktopia – hooray! Here’s a peek at the cover:
In other bookish news, it’s Book Week 2020, with the theme of Curious Creatures, Wild Minds. It was a thrill to watch the CBCA Book of the Year Awards announced online last week, and see some favourite reads receive well-deserved gongs. I absolutely love the adorable MY FRIEND FRED by Frances Watts and A. Yi that took out the winning spot for Early Childhood, and for other favourite reads of the past year like NOP by Caroline Magerl and THE SECRETS OF MAGNOLIA MOON by Edwina Wyatt to win Honour awards. Another exciting win was for small publisher Ford Street (who published my picture book Tulip and Brutus) – with their title by Chris McKimmie, I NEED A PARROT winning Picture Book of the year.
Speaking of Book Week, there’s been many a costume idea floating around online lately, should you need some inspo. My friend Gemma Patience has collated an awesome round-up of dress-up ideas on her blog, here. Just a reminder that if you’re after a super last-minute (and super easy) ‘rustle up at home’ type costume, my bug book offers an easy out. Red and black clothes, some spots, some makeshift antennae and hey presto, you’re Tulip (the ladybug from Tulip and Brutus)!
I’ve also popped up on another amazing blog lately, by author and podcaster extraordinaire Allison Tait! I’m a long-time reader and fan of Allison’s blog, with its wealth of writing advice and inspiration (plus I’m a diehard So You Want Be a Writer podcast listener), so I loved having a guest blog post published by Allison, 6 things I’ve learned about podcasting. It’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek look at the ins and outs of producing and co-hosting a podcast, with some tips for aspiring podcasters included too.
Some recent One More Page podcast episodes we’ve released include an Own Voices ep, where I interviewed graphic novelist and middle grade author Remy Lai about her books like FLY ON THE WALL. Nat spoke to deaf activist and author Asphyxia, and Kate interviewed YA author Alison Evans. Then another jam-packed ep overloaded with guests was our very own Picture Book Palooza, starring Gus Gordon, Kate & Jol Temple and Lucinda Gifford.
I’m so proud of these epic episodes – not only are we getting to pick the brains of people we admire in the kidlit industry, but the fact they’re free and available for anyone to listen to is, well, pretty amazing. How good are podcasts?! For Book Week, I just made a little vid for Newtown Public School too, to help share some podcasterly advice and inspiration with the kids there who are delving into their own podcast projects.
Other than that, I’ve been devouring so many amazing new release kids’ books, like the beautiful HELLO JIMMY by Anna Walker and FINDING FRANCOIS by Gus Gordon. In the world of YA I escaped into STARS LIKE US by Frances Chapman, and a fun recent adult read was THE NANCYS by R.W.R. McDonald. The long awaited HOLLOWPOX by Jessica Townsend is now calling my name, along with the gorgeous (and gold foiled) THE GRANDEST BOOKSHOP IN THE WORLD, a debut middle grade by Amelia Mellor.
Our podcast One More Page features in the latest issue of Newswrite magazine, the member mag for Writing NSW. Hooray! It was exciting to be approached by the centre for this, especially since it’s our podcast HQ, plus we’re often there for writing critique groups in non-Corona times. I definitely have a soft spot for this place (the late night haunted feeling just adds to the charm). Here’s the piece:
Also on the podcast front, we’ve pulled together the last few episodes of One More Page via recording everything online (as is the way right now). Actually missing that kooky little Harry Potter room under the stairs at Writing NSW! I interviewed author Mick Elliot for our ‘Gross is Good’ episode, and we’ve also had agent Danielle Binks, Real Pigeons author Andrew McDonald and Laura Harris from Penguin Random House on the show (plus Adrian Beck in Ep 48’s Kids Capers, despite him being completely unaware – cue lawsuit). You can check them out here:
And another super exciting happening of late – the launch of my podcast co-host Nat’s latest middle grade book, The Power of Positive Pranking, complete with socially-distanced book launch at Berkelouw Leichhardt. Nat also celebrated the launch online via an *epic* reading of the first couple of chapters of the book by an array of kidlit creators, from Matt Cosgrove to Sally Rippin. Superstar UK author Katherine Rundell is even there! I was so thrilled to be included – see my little cameo between Zanni Louise and James Foley:
And here’s team OMP on launch day – excitement! Rachel at Berkelouw (who also hosted my picture book launch!) did an amazing job at setting up the store, from a prank hunt for the kids to installing Nat in the window, sneeze guard and all. Brilliant!
Coming up, I’ve just interviewed author Julianne Negri. It was so amazing hearing more about her debut middle grade novel, The Secret Library of Hummingbird House. Definite perks of the podcast – not only getting access to exciting new books before they hit the shelves, but delving deeper into the inspirations behind the stories. Looking forward to sharing this one, the book is simply magical. It features family problems as protagonist Hattie Maxwell deals with her parents divorce, melded with a timeslip adventure in an old house with a hidden library, a tree that grows lollies and so much more. It’s the kind of book I would’ve absolutely devoured and loved as a late-primary school aged reader.
In the time of Corona it’s allll about the simple things in life. Enter puzzles. And books. And books as puzzles. I discovered this awesome book puzzle site via Tania McCartney’s highly devourable blog. And hey presto, here’s the cover of Tulip and Brutus in puzzle form.
See if you can beat my completion time. It took me 9 minutes and 42 seconds (which in hindsight sounds kind of long!).
Did I mention T&B has endpapers? It has endpapers!
In this cooped up time of Corona, there’s a bigger need than ever for ways to keep kids entertained, educated, or ideally a sneaky combo of both. Enter – bookish activity sheets!
I’ve put together some downloadable activities for kids themed around my bug and friendship picture book, Tulip and Brutus. They’re suitable for preschoolers through to primary schoolers, though the younger kids might need a bit of help! I’ve also included a doc containing a list of bug-related activities to try, for when there’s no printer handy.
The activity sheets can be downloaded from the Tulip and Brutus page under Books, OR here: