BETWEEN THE PAGES WITH SARA ACTION
Hello! Tell us about yourself!
I am a children’s author and illustrator, originally from the Cotswolds in England. I always loved art and initially trained as a sculptor and high school art teacher. I started writing for children when my own were small and found I loved telling stories through pictures. I took a writing course in the evening at the local university and developed my illustration skills alongside. I enjoy imagining different characters and scenarios and playing with the page-turning sequence of a book. I can often be found giggling to myself when an idea strikes and always carry a sketchbook to scribble things down.
How did you decide to become a writer, and who or what are major influences on your work?
When I first started writing we were living in New Zealand. The local library had wonderful resources on writing (and coffee and chocolate fish!) This fuelled me to enter writing competitions. I entered the text for Ben and Duck and was shortlisted for the Joy Cowley Award. Encouraged by this I continued to develop the story with illustrations and on moving to Australia was lucky enough to be published and win the Crichton Award for new Illustrators. Major influences, to name a few, include Ludwig Bemelmans, Helen Oxenbury, Emily Gravett, Quentin Blake, Jon Klassen, M Sasek and I love the wickedly funny characters of Leigh Hobbs.
What was your favourite book as a child?
The one that stands out was We’re all going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. This was because my mum not only read us the book, but also whenever we went a walk would act it out!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When those sketchbook scribbles come together and make a story. And of course when you have an actual physical copy of the book in your hands and get to share it with someone else.
Since we are all library lovers here, how has the library played a role in your life?
I love visiting the library, discovering new books and being transported to other worlds. When the children were little I used to push the pushchair there through the park, meet friends, sing and listen to stories at story-time. We would spend hours hanging out, reading books and filling the pushchair with books to come home! As an author and illustrator I often go to the library to work and find it an invaluable place to research, with quiet corners to write and draw. I love exploring the shelves, looking at picture books from all over the world and finding new treasures.
Plug time! What’s your latest book and where can fans stalk – I mean follow – you online?
I have just finished illustrating a story written by Jane Godwin about the arrival of a new sibling. It is a gorgeous story about how special that relationship is between siblings, even though it can be hard for the older sibling not being the only child anymore! It bought back memories of when my two were younger and many of these turned into illustrations for the book. I’ll always be Older Than You is out with Hardie Grant in April 2020. I have also been very busy scribbling and I am excited about new things happening in 2020. But that’s all top secret right now!
You can find me on Instagram and Facebook @saraactonillustration and on my website www.saraacton.org.
ON THE FRONT LINES WITH KYLIE MALLETT, LIBRARIES TASMANIA
How did you end up being involved in libraries?
I ended up in libraries sort of by accident, I had trained as a teacher and decided after graduation this was not the path I wanted to go down. I trained as a library technician and worked for many years at UTAS before moving on to Libraries Tasmania. I think it was always meant to be, as I found some of my old books from when I was around 6 where I had written in my own 'Kylie’s library' ownership stamp.
What is one of the most awesome parts of your job?
Seeing young people come and thoroughly enjoy being in our spaces, such as young kids with their parents choosing the same book over and over or young adults chilling out on beanbags with a graphic novel.
What programs do you run for children and young adults?
Launceston Library runs Baby Play, Rock and Rhyme, Storytime, Lego Club and Code club, we also have an awesome school holiday program each holidays. I really enjoy Code Club, and we have seen many friendships form as we work in collaboration with each other to learn the way our digital world works. Coding is a great example of the library jumping into the digital world with no fear, and helping the community to learn and develop. Not every school participates in coding, so the library is an important place to fill the gap, or extend those kids who have a great interest in coding. We use Sphero robotics, 3D printing and other technology in this space as well, so there is always something happening and something new to learn!
What are you reading?
Reading Pyramids by Terry Pratchett with my son, re-reading Pride and Prejudice myself.
If you had to choose one children’s or YA book to take to a desert island what would it be and why?
Harry Potter is the most obvious – but I couldn’t choose just one book from the series. I would say Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson would be my pick. I found this hilarious as a child and I still find it charming, exciting, funny and well written. It is a mix between fantasy, comedy and romance with a dash of horror as well.
Lastly, Libraries are awesome because…
They are the one place you can come and do whatever it is you want to do. Relax, learn, participate, chill out, experience, enhance your mind, lose yourself – where else could you do that? They are awesome places to be, and I am very lucky to work in such a fantastic place.
Little Nic's Big Day
written by Nic Naitanui, illustrated by Fatima Anaya
Wake up, little Nic. It's your very first day!
Your school clothes are ready. Let's get on our way.
Mum, I'm not sure. I'm a little bit wary.
Will I make friends? Will it be scary?
Nic is nervous about his first day of school and with the help of his mum and the friends he makes in class it turns out to be a day he didn’t expect. This book is beautiful and especially useful this time of year as children start school for the first time. It celebrates diversity, differences and shows children it’s wonderful and rewarding just being yourself.
The Author Nic Naitanui who credits his mum for fostering his strong values and success on and off the field. He is a well known ruckman for the West Coast Eagles and is committed to giving back to the community. This is his first book he wrote for tots, teens and all human beings to embrace our differences and celebrate our diversity. The Illustrator Fatima Anaya is amazing and very talented as she has used creativity to capture your imagination and adding an extra layer of the story and meaning to this picture book. This book is suitable for all ages and sends a message to not be afraid to be yourself and accept everyone is different and we can welcome these differences and learn from them too.
Don’t Follow Vee! by Oliver Phommavanh
Veronica Lee a.k.a Vee is an internet superstar, but that’s all because of her Mum’s Instagram account The Chronicles of Vee. Every day of her life has been recorded on social media since she was a baby, and although Vee hasn’t minded until now, she’s starting to feel that no one sees the real Vee, and sets about trying to convince her Mum that she’s the real star.
A hilarious and sweet modern story about how social media can influence how we see ourselves and our relationships with other people. I also learned quite a bit about how social media works! Super fun read aimed at the tween years, but enjoyable to all! (Eileen Louden)
The wee that animals pee by Paul Mason and Tony De Saulles
Oh how we all love a toilet humour book, even more so if it’s educational! My daughter couldn’t get enough of this book, it was read night after night after night and it is already reserved by another patron at the local library. It is full of gleeful humour about wee including why and how animals do it. There are bright, colourful graphics coupled with photographs which help illustrate the numerous science facts and cheeky puns. So many wee puns! Important questions such as Is the sea full of fish wee? and when is a wee not a wee? are answered and you will be repeating facts to entertain your friends and family for weeks to come. Fun fact - the word ‘wee’ occurs approximately 141 times in this book. (Sarah-Jane Lang)
Night Spinner by Addie Thorley
Enebish is the monster people use to scare children. She was once an elite warrior of the Empire, drawing on the darkness and stars with her Goddess-given powers to help expand their borders. But one unforgivable act – one lapse in control – and her powers make a monster of her. Goha, Enebish’s sister and Right Hand of the King comes to her with an entente – capture the notorious rebel Temujin and her crimes will be forgiven. So begins a journey through nations and planes, filled with twists and turns, magic and betrayal.
Night Spinner is a curious blend of a Hunchback of Notre Dame retelling in an almost Grishaverse-like magical world.
The book tackles issues of religion, colonisation, family and personal identity in a way that feels really relevant despite being in such a fantastical setting. Night Spinner is the first book in a new duology and an exciting new fantasy world to jump into! I would recommend this book for readers aged 14+.
WHO TO FOLLOW
Beatrice the Biologist
Author of Everyday Amazing, Beatrice is a scientist, science writer for agencies such as NASA and cartoonist that communicates every-day science in a funny and thought provoking way.
My Picture Book Heart
For up to date reviews of picture books for the young and young at heart.
Children’s author, teacher and stand up comedian. Also one of the guests for our awesome February #cyslib twitter chat!
Wow in the World - A hilarious podcast dedicated to exploring the wonders that surround us. Kids of many ages but predominantly 5-12 will laugh (and laugh hard) as they learn through many a ridiculous scenario explored alongside the team Mindy, Guy, Reggie the pigeon and Dennis the nosey neighbour.
Eoin Colfer on returning to Artemis Fowl - Guardian books podcast - Eoin Colfer chats about comedy, how children’s literature has changed and the forthcoming Disney adaptation of Artemis Fowl directed by Kenneth Branagh.
The Brain Architects Podcast - Harvard University. From brain architecture to toxic stress to serve and return, The Brain Architects, a new podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, focuses on the specific, practical questions that often arise for parents and caregivers during the critically important period of early childhood.
Reading with a chance of tacos - Interview with Tania McCartney. Author, Illustrator, journalist and founder of Kids Book Review, Tania McCartney joins Ken to discuss her writing life, tips and ideas on what the industry needs.
Our first Twitter chat will be held on13 February at 9:00pm AEDT and will run for approximately an hour.
As 14 February is Library Lovers' Day, and the theme for this year is 'Uncover Something New', we decided to ask two panelists to join us in sharing how they took different approaches in showing the love for their libraries and literature.
Q1. What is the first memory of a special children’s or YA book you uncovered?
Q2. How can library professionals encourage teens to ‘uncover something new’ at libraries and engage with the collection/ programming?
Q3. What is the best or most exciting Childrens and Youth Services program you’ve seen offered here or overseas that you’d like to try at your own workplace if you could?
Q4. What are you hoping to ‘uncover’ in 2020?
We hope you can join us at our first Twitter chat for 2020! Remember to follow @aliacys, Oliver @oliverwinfree and Chris @GippslandSurfer in preparation for the chat! For more info check out the events page.
North Lakes Library, Queensland
Our goal with the new children's space at North Lakes Library was to deliver a quality, contemporary children's space that stimulated creativity and the exploration of the library collection. We also wanted it to be fun! We wanted to provide a sense of arrival. We created an iconic representation of the local area, visible from the library entrance, reflecting the natural environment.
It was important to us to encourage learning. To deliver visual, tactile, exploratory and interactive experiences, using multipurpose shelving and creative seating design. We wanted the space to be dynamic. To make use of colour and graphics to build a coherent visual design promoting core business – literacy and learning.
It was critical to encourage a love of reading. Through engagement with the space we looked to incorporate a balance between high interaction and calmer spaces for reading. Inclusion was integral to the design. We strove to include sensory elements, tactile elements and to be accessible to children and cares of all abilities. Inclusive of all demographics within the community.
The Laureate Farewell to Morris Gleitzman, 20 November 2019, was held at Penguin Random House offices at North Sydney. A large group of children’s literature professionals and enthusiasts enjoyed a friendly welcome from Laura Harris publishing director. Laurine Croasdale Board member provided a brief outline of the activities and events from the past 2 years of Morris’s tenure as laureate with the theme 'Stories make us'.
Morris spoke of the highlights of his tenure which included his meteoric rise to the platinum level on Qantas frequent flyers. Humour aside Morris touched on the need to be political to get the message out to the whole community about the importance of young people and their need to experience good literature.
He argued to achieve as laureate the messages from our community can be conveyed with more authority and clarity when channelled through one voice. In many cases he believes others do not recognize that the child today is the adult of the next generation and that if we undervalue children in our community disadvantaged or not that the future is bleak. Morris is proud to be part of our community and be the spokesperson, he felt like 'braveheart' and requests more people support the laureate events and activities into the future.
BCC Library Refurbishments
In the current age of beleaguered library budgets and council pressure, it’s refreshing to see the continued investment in, and development of, the Brisbane City Council public library service. The end of 2019 has seen a number of new and refurbished libraries in the service (New Farm, Stone’s Corner, Ashgrove etc.) including a new library at Bracken Ridge, constructed opposite the old premises, of which I was fortunate to attend the opening.
Whilst the library offers many features, including a wonderful large open reading deck, a large glass feature wall, designer lighting and all the core library resources we have grown accustomed to in a BCC library, It was the fruit themed junior area we were excited about when visiting!
I went with my daughter who is 2 years old, and she instantly loved many of the features. The area has Duplo bricks on the wall, comfy bean bag seating in a little nooks, artworks and stylings along fruit themes and finally a large touch screen table offering a whole range of learning and entertainment games. All in all the junior area offers everything you could want and more. It’s fun, engaging and very well stocked. I encourage anyone on the Northside of Brisbane to swing by and take a look, for everyone else, here are a few photo’s.
James Nicholson (ALIA State Manager for QLD).