Book Week.

This week is Book Week.

Each year across Australia, the Children’s Book Council of Australia brings children and books together celebrating CBCA Book Week.

During this time schools, libraries, booksellers, authors, illustrators and children celebrate Australian children’s literature. The CBCA winners of Book of the Year are announced at this time.

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The highlight of the week for most of our Little People of Primary School age is the opportunity to dress up as their favourite book character and parade around the playground.

Many years ago I remember my sister and I creating outfits for Book Week in a little bush school on the outskirts of Sydney. Funds were short, though enthusiasm and ingenuity were in great supply. Wrapped in a sheet of silver cardboard my sibling created her own outfit at 8 or 9 years of age as the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

Twenty odd years later my own daughters spent hours contemplating costumes for a parade of book characters in a little school on the outskirts of Adelaide. They were closeted in their bedrooms for hours with this task and I can still hear their laughter, and frustration, from the other end of the house.

One spent the next day at school as Angelina Ballerina, whilst the youngest one dressed as a golfer. Following on from my previous, Bagger Vance, some things just don’t change…….

There will be playground parades across the nation this week, and I have no doubt there will be a plethora of Harry Potters, Cats In The Hat, and Alice in Wonderlands.I hope the kiddies have heaps of fun!

I adore children’s books and relish the opportunity to gift them to Little People whenever the opportunity arises. Some of these books have “stayed” with me for years.

Do you have a favourite Children’s Book?

Note : The CBCA is advocating that really Little People between the ages of 0 to 5 years be read 3000 books in that period to encourage a love of words, stories and reading. Book readings can be repeated, and books in good supply are available from Libraries. In my area we have a Mobile Bus that travels to parklands on a weekly basis, and of course, you can visit any Community Library.

Little Street Library Update and Dinosaurs

I’ve been taking the five minute walk up to the local parkland to check on the status of the Little Library every weekend. You know, making sure there is a variety of books to borrow and that there has been no vandalism.

I’m pleased to report that local residents have taken ownership and there are books being donated, and being taken, and more importantly, the facility is being respected.

Once a month I remove books that aren’t moving and donate those elsewhere. Those empty spots are always being refilled with fresh reads and magazines by strangers.

Our Little Library now has its own Facebook Page so it has taken on a life of its own.

The other weekend there was a children’s party held in the parkland. Lots of balloons, picnic rugs, and eskies full of supplies. At one stage, sitting around in a circle in the winter sun, each of the Little People had a book from the Library in their lap.

There are a couple of young families that ride their bikes down most afternoons, use the playground equipment       ( Way to go, Mums – wear the blighters out so they will sleep well), and then borrow a new book for bedtime reading.

Here are some photos I’ve taken over the last few weeks which indicate the enjoyment this has added to our neighbourhood, especially for our kiddies. (And no, I have never been considered childcentric, but instilling a love of reading in all People, Big and Little, has to be a good thing on so many levels, doesn’t it?)

 

 

The Bulldog Track by Peter Phelps plus some

Another book launch at the local though I’m not attending this one. That’s a definate – no if’s nor buts. On a work day and I’m reluctant to take any days off until my final curtain call in coming weeks, plus I overdid it at the charity Bookfest last weekend. Take a peek….

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Peter Phelps is an Australian actor who made his name in some truely dreadful Australian soapies back in the late 70’s. You know, the kind that gets lapped up. He has recently written a book about his grandfather, Tom Phelps, who seventy five years ago survived the other Kokoda Track, the Bulldog Track, in PNG.

Never heard of The Bulldog Track? Neither had I! Back in the 1940’s work was scarce in Australia and many of those men who were too old to go to war, found work in the goldfields of New Guinea. Of course, no one was expecting the war to come to the Pacific, but it did, and the Japanese took the northern cities of New Guinea.

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As word of the invasion and the atrocities being committed spread, Tom and his fellow workers, men of differing nationalities, trades and professions, were caught in the middle of it all. After the airfield was bombed, the Australian military told them to get out via the ‘other’ Kokoda Track. They set off through the jungle into the unknown.

The Bulldog Track is some one hundred kilometres due west of the famous Kokoda Track and crosses some of the most rugged and isolated terrain in the world, combining hot humid days with intensely cold nights, torrential rainfall and endemic tropical diseases such as malaria. Bulldog Track was longer, higher, steeper, wetter, colder and rougher than Kokoda Track.

Peter Phelps shares the story of Tom’s escape via foot, canoe, raft, schooner and rat cunning which were documented on Tom’s pith helmet in indelible ink that he wore during the duration.

Phelps Junior as a young man was in an Australian movie which made a huge impression – and yes, partly because of his poor acting. The Lighthorsemen is a 1987 film about the men of a World War I light horse unit involved in Sinai and Palestine Campaign’s 1917 Battle of Beersheeba. The film is based on a true story in which 800 young Aussie horsemen obey the order to gallop their horses across three miles ( that’s longer than the Melbourne Cup!) of open desert into shell fire and machine gun fire. Of course they succeed. There wouldn’t be a movie otherwise. They break through Turkish defences to win the wells of Beersheba.

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In all this blood, guts and way too much mangled equine flesh to mention Phelps has a romance with an Aussie nurse, who was played by Our Sigrid, who was the belle of the ball before Our Nic. Talk about stuffing up a good yarn.

So, no, I won’t attend the lunch, though I’ll probably order a copy of the book.

Australian Author Challenge : The Chooks by Sandy Clark.

True Story

Prior to attending the local charity book sale last Saturday we stopped for breakfast at a nearby Cafe. Normally I’m quite content with Smashed Avo to start the day but as it had been a challenging week I required a caffeine and cholestol fix (bacon and eggs), and not necessarily in that order.

It was whilst breakfasting that I spotted an interesting little retail outlet just down from where were seated, and being curious by nature (Read: A Stickybeak), there was a need to investigate.

Sandy Clark is an artist and designer and along with husband, Mike, run a new and upcycled furniture and decor outlet in my neighbourhood, called DaisyLane. Sandy is also an author having recently published and illustrated a children’s book with the title, “ The Chooks”.

“ The Chooks” is cheerful and colourful and just perfect for younger children. The illustrations are simple, and easily identifiable, as each member of the Chook family wears a recognisable outfit.

We follow the Chook Family on a day out.

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Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But children’s books are so very hard to write having to succinctly tell a story which maintains interest within twenty pages or less.

The thing I really enjoyed about the Chook family is that it is set in my local area and mentions an iconic destination within the district. This, I think is fun for local kiddies, and makes the book a great gift for interstate grandchildren.

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This book represents the author in her element, as she has designed a collection of kid’s tees bearing individual members of the Chook family to match, as well as framed prints for bedrooms, as well as stationary. How cool is this!

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The book is in both hardcover and softcover  versions and is available direct ( refer http://www.daisylayne.com.au) or by ebook on Amazon. Another book in the series is coming soon.

I know a young lad in Tasmania who is getting a book with matching tee shirt from Santa……..

Let’s hear it for another Indie Author – YAY!

 

 

 

 

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

When my daughters visited from interstate a few weeks ago I subtly asked them about the 17 large packing cartons that I have been storing for them in my garage. Being subtle with girls who are both taller and brighter than their mother is an art form. We managed to unpack and sort through seven cartons, making only another ten to wade through on their next trip.

Fluffy toys, board games, letters from first boyfriends, and a collection of snow domes surfaced from within these boxes, as did a disco ball, karaoke machine and at least one hundred children’s books.

Most of these treasures have been rehomed. Well, except for the pink LEGO set. I have always had great fun with LEGO and this was the first developed with females in mind. I think I can have fun with this one Friday night with a glass of plonk.

The local High School is having a massive Garage Sale this coming Saturday and were only too pleased to be the recipients of much of this gear.

Funds raised will be going towards the Schools Chaplaincy program. The Chaplains are not wholly funded by the Government and as they are non denominational I truly believe they provide a respite, a quiet haven, a listening post, to many a student in need.

My tall, bright daughters attended this school over ten years ago. It is a tough school, a State School. It was the first High School in Queensland where the students held a sit-in on the school oval. I don’t mind a little Bolshoi. Indeed, I think these times call for more of it, but I digress…..

My girls did not utilise the services the Chaplains provided but I was always pleased to know there was an avenue for them should it be required. The vibe was very much “ it takes a village to raise a child”.

Some of the funds raised from this Garage Sale, which will have the local Community Centre full to the brim with furniture, brick a brac, plants, and an additional 100 children’s books thanks to our tidy up, will be donated elsewhere. And I just love this:-

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Funds will be donated to The Library Project which is a group of local schools, churches and community service organizations who have banded together to provide libraries on the South Pacific Island of Vanuatu. This beautiful but poor little Island ranked last in Literacy and Numeracy in a list of South Pacific countries. The Library Project states that “the journey of a lifetime starts with the turning of a page”.

WOW, is that powerful stuff or what?

Talk about it taking a village to raise a child……And there is a lot more space in my garage too.

 

 

 

Refer http://www.thelibraryproject.com.au

Whip Bird by Robert Drewe – Book Review.

 

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Hugh Cleary has spent months organising a reunion of all the descendants of Conor Cleary, who immigrated from Ireland in 1854. The reunion is staged at Whipbird, Hugh and wife, Christine’s, vineyard near Ballarat, Victoria, and is a weekend event featuring – surprise! -lots of wine.

The scene is set. Over 1000 descendants from across Australia and overseas converge on the property, mostly wearing Team colours to identify their branch of the family tree. Knowing your kin isn’t compulsory. Lots of Irish relatives with the odd Asian thrown in for good measure -it’s that kind of weekend.

From here the novel is just like any other large family function in Australia, especially Christmas Day at Brizzy May’s Home, with an assortment of family and friends (and alcoholic drinks). Just the run of the mill conversations take place : politics, sport, multiculturalism, environmentalism, who is sleeping with whom, who has had Botox treatments. Nothing out of the norm.

Indeed, the beauty of this novel is that the author excels at “people watching” and his observations do raise more than a fair share of smiles. Middle aged ladies with their bat wings, the fashion trend of wearing shoes without socks, corporate greed within the banking sector, indigenous Australians making good football players, and the gentrification of city pubs. All the stuff you talk about at the office Water cooller really.

There is also a back story which has Conor, who was at the Eureka Stockade in Australia’s colonial days, attending the reunion. You will have to read for yourself the mechanics of this situation.

Two hundred pages in and the constant commentary began to grate. Topical, certainly, but I became weary of the whole exercise. This was my first Robert Drewe novel so I’m not sure if this effort was meant to be sarcastic or clever. Does Drewe like contemporary Australia or is he having a shot?

My interest waned at the Sidney Nolan incident as I felt the author had at that point gone over the top. Up until then, it was all totally believable, and I too felt like I was attending the reunion, camping under the gum trees, surrounded by grape vines, and with a vino in hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome To The She-Shack.

 

With downsizing as a part of my transition to (my second) retirement, I have claimed a room in the new house as my own. Entry is by invitation only. Please sit whilst I pour the tea.

It’s not decorated according to Home Beautiful nor is it filled with girlie bits and pieces from the renovation shows on the TV.  Never cared about that stuff, you see.

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Downsizing, remember. My daughters have made it quite clear what will be going to the dump when I’m dead so I beat them to it. Boxes went to charity stores, others went to friends with an appreciation for same.

There are a few indoor plants currently suffering from the heat, a candle, and a few memories from places I have visited along the way. When the temperature drops I will invest in fresh flowers on a weekly basis. More importantly, I am surrounded by my music, books, and my favourite movies.

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It is a pleasant room. A comfortable room. A light and airy room. Nothing flash, but it is my space. It’s the very first time I’ve had my own space and boy, have I earned it!

The view out the window is lovely at night as the fairy lights are trained up the palm tree. Sometimes you can spot the odd possum on his way to the fruit trees and blossoms down the back. The plants are another of my interests : they are grown mostly from cuttings and when they have taken and are strong, I hope to sell them at the local monthly market to raise funds to help our service personnel transition back into civilian life. Not an easy task for some.

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I have two books on the go at the moment. Both are proving challenging, but I’m not giving in.

Hellfire by Cameron Forbes tells the story of Australian POWs at Hellfire Pass on the Thai – Burma Railway during WW2. It includes many personal anecdotes and was written at the time of the 60th anniversary when a group of veterans returned to the site of their imprisonment, spreading the ashes of their revered leader from the time, Edward (Weary) Dunlop. I’m finding the author’s writing style a bit “ other worldly”.  May be it’s just me, maybe it’s the ghosts of so many……..

Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes is definitely “out there”. Lots of talk about Psychology and Jungian Theory. OMG. I’m still trying to get my head around it, though the exercise in that alone is worthwhile.

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It was recommended by an Australian author who writes Chook Lit for women ( romantic fiction based in a rural environment), who claims the book gave her strength. Interestingly, in real life with a farming background and working on the family property, after her divorce she left the farm whilst the son in law ( with minimal farm skills) was asked to stay on. Good old patriarchy. I’de be so bitter and bloody twisted. Not this lass. She has moved on and is bringing marvellous new environmental concepts to farming communities. Way to go, girlfriend! That’s the way to beat’em!

The plan was that most of my projects could be completed in here without disruption. Not all things go to plan though, do they?

Sometimes, this is where I come to do nothing. Sometimes doing nothing is more important than doing something.

Across the corridor is also the coffee machine and the bar fridge, which you may read as meaning that I’m never without sustenance nor inspiration.

What about you. Do you have a space to call your own?

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Possum Magic By Mem Fox (& Hot Cross Buns)

Woke up feeling joyous. Why? First day since Christmas Eve that I have been inclined to turn the ceiling fans off. The fans do a reasonable job maintaining the house at a comfortable temperature but for a few days there I felt like I was living next door to a helicopter launching pad as the fans were going at full bore.

Whilst on holidays I’ve completed ten books and watched even more movies. My home has been rearranged and decluttered, I have spent time in the garden and have another twenty Rosemary plants potted to raise funds for my charity. Even more exciting, the Christmas ham is at last finished, gone, kaput. Thank goodness for that! Now to start cooking the Ham and Vegetable Soup, so thick a spoon will stand up in it, for freezing for the winter months.

So sharing the happiness : I just devoured my first Hot Cross Bun for 2018. My parents would be turning in their graves as they instilled in me that these were Easter treats only. It wasn’t that they were particularly tasty as they lacked any hint of spice or fruit. It was my first act of rebellion for the year and one that doesn’t  mean eternal damnation.

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With all the tidying I came across this purchase I made some months ago.  Typical Gemini, it had been misplaced with numerous other items, such as Xmas gifts that I only located on Boxing Day.

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Inspired by Australia’s top-selling children’s book of all time, the Royal Australian Mint’s 2017 Possum Magic 8-Coin Set, was released mid 2017.

Mem Fox’s charming Possum Magic has been capturing the hearts of the young (and the young at heart!) for over three decades. The book tells the story of Hush and Grandma Poss, with the tale brought to life by Julie Vivas’ iconic watercolour illustrations. Indeed, it is those incredible illustrations that have now been enshrined in Australian legal tender.

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The two main characters are Grandma Poss and Hush. Hush has been made invisible by Grandma to protect her from Australian bush dangers. The story details the duo’s adventures as they tour Australia searching for the secret to Hush’s visibility. It is a rhythmical story of Australia’s varied landscapes and the animals in them.

This is a really lovely book for Little People and it has been well read in our home. I’ll be purchasing a couple more copies for some Imminent Emminents soon.

Legends Of The Fall by Jim Harrison

Yes, agreed, have been reading books and watching far too many DVDs. In my defence, Brisbane’s humidity has been simply woeful with the hottest ever Christmas Day on record, and the temperatures haven’t decreased by much yet. Plus, we are still living on leftovers, including my other Epic Christmas Fail : Cous Cous with Pumpkin(home grown) in Nutmeg, with Bok Choy and Feta Cheese. I enjoyed this dish, but not for seven days in a row.

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Look what I picked up for $1 at the local charity shop? This book is actually made up of three novellas, the last being Legends of the Fall, which is only 81 pages in length.

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Have we all seen the 1990’s movie, starring a young Brad Pitt (before he was tainted by train wreck relationships), and Anthony Hopkins in one of his best ever roles? Legends of the Fall is another of those movies I tend to watch once a year : great story, beautiful scenery, Native Indian folklore, and a good dash of whimsy.

The novella, by James Harrison, published twenty years beforehand, is about three brothers and their father living in the wilderness and plains of Montana in the early 20th century and how their lives are affected by nature, history, war and love. The books time frame spans from World War I through to the Prohibition era, with an epilogue that dates to the next generation.

The writing is concise, breathtakingly beautiful whilst at times being totally brutal. It’s a wonderful story, and one from which the movie has not deviated from all that much, but rather expanded upon.

My copy of the book looks as if it’s been through the wars. Nevertheless, it’s one that I will not be parting with.

And I promise to brush my hair tomorrow and leave the house and sofa, even if it’s before 8 am to beat this wretched heat.

Holiday Reading: When You Pick Up A Book You Would Never Normally Consider.

A long weekend in Australia and excited to report that I have flown 900kms south to a quiet little seaside town on the Central Coast of New South Wales where I am relaxing (drinking and eating too much), with my daughters and son-in-law.

The township to which we have escaped is reminiscent of the Australia of my childhood: unspoilt beaches, smallish and unpretentious bungalows, huge open spaces, and tree lined streets without pavements and guttering. There is an abundance of pelicans, magpies, whip birds, kookaburras, and curlews. Bentley, the Labrador pup enjoyed his first encounter with a scrub turkey yesterday, whilst the girls came upon a dingo on the sand dunes. Amazing: in all my years my dingos have only been spotted in cages or on TV screens.

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The holiday house we are renting is newly renovated and is extremely comfortable with a fenced yard for the dog, well appointed accoutrements, as well as plenty of space so as not to be on top off each other.

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There is even a book small case full of reading material. I love browsing through other people’s bookshelves in their holiday homes, don’t you?

Holiday reading is always different to what you generally read throughout the year, don’t you find? Days in the sun and surf tend to make you yearn for the simple stuff, and the contents here, certainly indicate this. Don’t get me wrong – this is in no way being judgemental about the owners and any previous occupiers- the reading is languid and books that can be put down and easily forgotten. Nothing wrong with that, hey?

Take a peek at this lot, with its sprinkling of high end cookbooks, and an abundance of autobiographies by Aussie sporting personalities. One political read, and only minimal fluff. I’m sure that I will find something that tickles my fancy during a quiet spell.

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Can you hear Nigella quietly calling my name on the nights breeze?

Even non readers tend to pull up a book on holidays,don’t they? My youngest daughter, a true bibliophile, reverts to reading magazines when on a break. This is her weekend reading. Talk about eclectic.

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There is a chair on the deck awaiting my attention, along with a fresh pot of tea.

Enjoy your weekend, whether it be long or short.