It was recently announced that MagabalaBooks won the Australian Book Industry Small Publisher of the Year Award.
Based in Broome, Western Australia, Magabala publish Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors, artists and illustrators from all over Australia. An independent, not-for-profit Indigenous Corporation, Magabala is governed by a dedicated Board of Kimberley Aboriginal cultural leaders, educators, business professionals and creative practitioners.
Magabala publishes up to 15 new titles annually across a range of genres: children’s picture books, memoir, fiction (junior, YA and adult), non-fiction, graphic novels, social history and poetry.
What I found interesting was that Magabala also delivers a range of social and cultural initiatives, including providing books to parents in correctional centres so that they can record the stories for their children whilst in isolation. What a wonderful concept!
Restrictions were eased last weekend allowing parks and playground equipment to reopen. This called for a dose of disinfectant to the Little Community Library located in our local parkland which has been much utilised over the past months with our Council Libraries closed and only re-opening last week (for ten people at a time).
Many thanks to the Rotary Club of Capalaba who came to the rescue with much needed children’s books to restock our Library in the park. Little People aren’t fond of ebooks or kindles……as it should be…..
Wombats are short legged, muscular marsupials that look like little bears. Marsupials native to Australia they live in burrows. They spend daylight hours underground in their burrows and emerge in the night to forage for grasses, herbs, seeds, roots and bark. They have a very slow metabolism and it takes about 14 days to complete digestion. This aids wombats’ survival in arid landscapes. Interestingly – well, to me – wombat droppings are square in shape. How that works is beyond me but fascinating……( Keep that one in mind for your next trivia night!)
Wombats have been well represented over the years in Australian Children’s Literature, with the most popular including:
The Muddleheaded Wombat – Ruth Park
Wombat Stew – Marcia K Vaughan
One Woolly Wombat – Kerrie Argent
Diary Of A Wombat – Jackie French
Sebastian Lives In A Hat – Thelma Catterwell
Wombat Goes Walkabout – Michael Morpurgo
Did you know that we even have an annual Wombat Day ? The official day in set in Australia for October 22, but since the first celebration of the day in 2005, the rest of the world has seen fit to jump on board. As such, October 23 is World Wombat Day. Add that to your diary now!
In Australia to be called a wombat is almost a term of endearment. A wombat often refers to an overweight, lazy, or slow idiot. He’s probably your best friend and eating Doritos on the couch right now. Or more bluntly, a Waste Of Money, Brains And Time.
Why are we even talking about Wombats today? Because I’m adding a Wombat experience to my Bucket List.
The Wombat Awareness Organisation in South Australia is the only free range, cage free wombat sanctuary in the World. It is also the only place where you can see two out of the three species of wombats living harmoniously together.
Families in my neighbourhood are joining the global bear hunt movement, making walks around the streets lots of fun during this wretched disruption to life as we know it.
This has people putting teddy bears and other soft toys in windows, trees and on balconies, encouraging Little People to get outdoors for a walk with their parents while hunting for bears. This is particularly important, both mentally and physically, with our parks and reserves currently deemed out of bounds.
It is lovely to see the joy on the kiddies’ faces as they drive by when they have spied a bear.
The hunt is inspired by the children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, in which the characters sing:
“ We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one — what a beautiful day, we’re not scared.’’
The initiative has been widely shared on community Facebook pages. As I understand it, bears are about to be swapped for Bunnies for Easter. I’m going to have to look up Paper Mache instructions on youtube.
I’m having great fun bear spotting on my rare outings to the shops, and moving Suzanne and Jasmine around my house. What about you?
Emotional health and wellbeing holding steady though I’m getting ready to kill for a decent coffee. And if I hear #BoomerRemover one more time it wont be freakin’ pretty……Funny Not Funny.
A lovely article in the weekend newspaper by journalist Lucy Carne. A millennial, she says she’s done all the right things and has stocked up on both toilet paper and flour. Except she doesn’t know what to do with flour as she’s only ever cooked pancakes out of those plastic shaker bottles. She’s also quite concerned about starving once UberEats stops delivering.
I laughed until I nearly wet myself.
I came home after a few days away and needed to clean the fridge out of leftovers and scraps before shopping for the coming week.
Weary, stressed and with a head full of exciting stuff (which I will share soon) dinner was done in thirty minutes. It would have been twenty but I opened a bottle of wine first.
No need for concern this end. I’ve just done an inventory of the bar fridge and we’re okay for three months.
The Redland Museum is my local history museum and is situated in the suburb of Cleveland, Brisbane. It specialises in preserving the Redland’s social history from 1842 to the present day.
Each year the Museum hosts the local community theatre group who perform an Australian-themed play over a period that includes January 26th – Australia Day. The event is a fundraiser for both the theatre group and the museum and is an example of community working together at its best with meals being prepared, cooked and served by both volunteer museum staff and the performers.
With the rain we were prevented from eating alfresco under the towering eucalypts, and instead dined amongst the Cobb and Co Carriages and fencing wire display. As always it was a hugely entertaining night.
The Museum takes pride in regularly changing its exhibits.
Room For Reading explores its large collection of children’s Annuals and favourite books such as Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ together with nostalgic Christmas cards and postcards sent from France by soldiers in the First World War.
Publishers of magazines and periodicals introduced ‘Annuals’ during the first decades of the 19th Century. By the late 1800s, the genre of children’s annuals developed rapidly. Publishers competed for their share of this emerging, and increasingly literate, reading audience. The ‘Boy’s Own Annual’ and the ‘Girl’s Own Annual’ engrossed young readers with adventure stories for boys and educational articles for girls. I always opted for the Boy’s Own myself.
Other books on display include Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and W.E. Johns pilot and adventurer ‘Biggles’ as well as children’s books by Australian authors such as ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’, ‘The Magic Pudding’ and ‘Blinky Bill’. I will forever remain enamoured by the Gumnut babies….
It’s a small exhibition but it brought back many memories.
NOTE: I was talking to an English lass today who was unfamiliar with May Gibbs and her gumnut babies. So, for cultural exchange purposes a photo of gumnuts, which were the idea behind Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Beautiful, aren’t they?
Maryborough is 300kms north of Brisbane, inland on the Mary River, and positioned between those tourist mecca’s, Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast. Founded in 1847, proclaimed a municipality in 1861, it became a city in 1905. During the second half of the 19th-century, the city was an entry point for immigrants arriving in Queensland from all parts of the world.
Maryborough’s income comes from numerous farming and station prospects in and around the city and it’s healthy fishing industry. Tourism also plays a significant part in the economy and sells itself as the Heritage City of Queensland holding heritage markets each Thursday. Many 19th and 20th century buildings have been preserved and the suburbs are littered with the quintessential old Queenslander homes, ( which a Danish friend described as a “wooden s***box on stilts”) and which are worth a small fortune.
However, Maryborough’s real claim to fame is as the birth place of whom? Here’s a clue……
And another, in case that one was a little obtuse….
Yep, P L Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books lived in Maryborough before moving elsewhere at age eight. Her father managed a bank, in the building where, in a room on the second storey, she was born. This is in the centre of town and still in use, no longer as a bank but as a retail shop. A life-size bronze statue of Mary Poppins, as P.L. Travers described her, complete with umbrella was erected outside the old bank premises at 331 Kent Street, on the corner of Richmond Street, in 2005.
It is now one of Maryborough’s most famous and photographed icons.
From dusk till 9pm every night there is an illuminated mural that is simply enchanting. ( I was between tea and a show so without camera – Damn!) Here’s another mural – the joint is jumping with them!
But there’s more – we Aussies are adept at flogging a dead horse, you see.
Every winter school holidays for the past ten years Maryborough has held a Mary Poppins Festival. The Festival offers something for all the family. The ‘Art of Storytelling’ program includes film, art, music, performance and literature during the 10-day event. Events are held in various locations across the CBD as well as heritage-listed Queens Park.
Maryborough, thank you for your hospitality. It was a lovely visit.
I do so love our country towns and learn something new at each and every one.LIFE LESSON : Get away from the cricket on the telly and help our farmers and country cousins by spending a few bob in their towns. You’ll be blown away by some of the stories these townships can share.
I’ve just booked into an Author-In-Action presentation at the local Library. Can’t wait to learn more about Vicki Bennett’s children’s book, Two Pennies.
In April, 1918 the village of Villers-Bretonneux in France was the scene of the world’s first tank battle between British and German troops which the Germans would win, occupying the township.
The Ecole de Garcons (Boys School) was destroyed along with much of the town on the 25th April 1918 when the Australian 13th and 15th Brigades recaptured it from the Germans in a battle in which over 1,200 Australian soldiers were killed.
The school was rebuilt with donations from Australia. School children and their teachers helped the effort by asking for pennies- in what became known as the Penny Drive -while the Victorian Department of Education contributed 12,000 pounds to the War Relief Fund. The school was appropriately renamed ‘Victoria’. The inauguration of the new school occurred on ANZAC Day in 1927. “N’oublions jamais l’Australie“ (Never forget Australia) is inscribed in the school hall.
The Rugrats have just returned to school after a fortnight of holidays here in Queensland.
The Little Community Library proved a huge success with the generous addition of CDs, DVDs and books for the older kiddies to ease them through the break.
A fellow Little Library Custodian shared with me that it was #kindjuly. Did you know this? (Marketing gurus: aren’t they precious…..)
Kind July – Stay Kind If every Australian did one act of kindness a day for the month of July, that would be 775 million acts of kindness in Kind July (and 9.3 billion acts of kindness every year).
And I’m off for a dose of Community Theatre tonight : My Husbands Nuts. Honestly, I’m too intimidated to add an apostrophe in case I get it wrong.
We recently lost Australian author Christobel Mattingley, aged 87 years.
Mattingley was an award-winning author of books for both children and adults. Rummage won the Children’s Book of the Year Award: Younger Readers and Children’s Book of the Year Award: Picture Book in 1982.
In the 1996 Australia Day Honours Mattingley was made a Member of the Order of Australia for “service to literature, particularly children’s literature, and for community service through her commitment to social and cultural issues”.
Her most recent book is Maralinga’s long shadow: Yvonne’s story, which was published in 2016 and won the 2017 Young People’s History Prize at the NSW Premier’s History Awards.
I was introduced to the writing of Mattingley late in the game after reading Battle Order 204 about her husband David’s experiences as a bomber pilot in World War II.
Battle Order 204 is a historical, non-fiction novel that recounts the experiences of the bomber pilot of the Royal Australian Air Force serving with No. 625 Squadron RAF. It follows Mattingley’s dream to one day be a pilot and his journey from start to finish into the skies of Europe during the second world war.
The book is centered on the mission in which his Arvo Lancaster- after being struck three times shattering his hand and badly wounding his leg- was safely returned to the airfield in which it had launched from beating the crews proposal to abandon the wrecked aircraft, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The book contains photographs, logs and other images of Mattingley’s experiences throughout his service.
The books point of difference was that it was written in a manner to engage the Young Adult demographic. Of course I purchased several copies for younger members of the family.
According to NAPLAN (who measure literacy levels) only 34% of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 95% for non-Indigenous students in major cities. Apart from the historical, health, social, and educational disadvantage issues, many remote communities don’t have many, if any, books. Most of the remote communities report there are fewer than five books in family homes.
The Great Book Swap is an annual event and a fantastic way to celebrate reading locally, and raise much-needed funds for remote communities. Schools, workplaces, libraries, universities, book clubs, individuals and all kinds of organisations can host one. The idea is to swap a favourite book in exchange for a gold coin donation. This year, the goal is to raise $350,000 to gift 35,000 new, carefully-chosen books to children who need them the most.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by American author Eric Carle was first published 50 years ago, and has been translated into at least 40 languages.
The Yuwi language of the Yuibera and Yuwibara traditional owners in the Mackay region has no fluent living speakers, and was considered extinct by the State Library of Queensland in 2015. But thanks to a massive revival effort, a small group of volunteers has collated 1,000 words of Yuwi vocabulary, enough to translate The Very Hungry Caterpiller. Yuibera and Yuwibara children in Mackay can now hear the story in their ancestors’ words and the volunteers plan to translate local Indigenous stories into children’s books next.