Which fantasy books shaped our childhood? I'm not talking about the ones with the sparkly vampires. I’m talking about the ones you read BEFORE you discovered there was something quite interesting going on between girls and boys; when you could be best friends with a beloved pet or even a stuffed animal. These are some of the first books that we read autonomously, discovering secret worlds and epic struggles that grown-ups just wouldn’t understand.
Here's our Top Ten Pre-Teen Fantasy novels:
The Legend of Little Fur by Isobelle Carmody
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children by Jen Storer
Fright Forest by Marcus Sedgwick
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'engle
The Chronicles of Prydain Trilogy By Lloyd Alexander
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo
The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Cat Rabbit and Isobel Knowles are two very talented Melbourne ladies who have made the most delightful picture book featuring creatures made of felt; it's called Owl Know How and this week we are featuring it in our Degraves Street window. The ladies were extremely generous in lending us their precious little creatures and taking the time to instal them in our window. The pair wrote and illustrated the book in just two months! They will be in our Degraves Street shop signing books and talking about the creative process on Thursday 22nd November from 6.30pm as part of the Flinders Lane Shopping Night festive frivolity.
Here are Cat and Isobel in Degraves Street checking out their handy work, complete with mountains of fluffy white clouds and bags of all things crafty.
Alison Lester was born in 1952 in Foster, Victoria. Anyone who has read her books will not be surprised to hear that she grew up on a farm with horses. Alison published her first book; Clive Eats Alligators in 1986 and it was commended by the C.B.C (as it was then known) in that year. Since then Alison has gone to win may awards for her work; Are We There Yet? won the CBCA Picture Book of The Year Award in 2005, Noni The Pony (which is one of our all time favourite Storytime choices) won the Australian Book Industry Award for Early Childhood in 2011 and in 2012 she won the Eve Pownall CBCA award for One Small Island. She was also named Australian Children's Laureate for 2012-2013. Alison spends a lot of time in remote schools working with children to encourage literacy skills and storytelling.
Alison Lester’s work based on the award winning picture book Are We There Yet? will be on display at City Library 12 to 30 November, 2012. The exhibition shows both the original illustrations as well as the preliminary and developmental stages in the making of the book - from Alison's children's actual travel diaries, through text, illustration and design drafts, to the final published book - including a number of folios of developmental drawing. Best of all... it's free!
To coincide with this amazing exhibition The Little Bookroom's Degraves Street shop will have a display of high quality prints of Alison's work, graciously lent to us by Books Illustrated and of course, a selection of her books will be on sale too.
The holiday season is nearly upon us. We have started seeing all kinds of Christmas confectionary in the supermarket, decorations are starting to apear in department stores and here at The Little Bookroom, Christmas and Hanukkah books have started to sneak into our deliveries. So, we thought it might be time to get you all thinking about gifts for all the little bookworms in your life. Choosing books as gifts for children can be extremely difficult, but of course; we are here to help!
The way we see it, books as gifts fall into four main categories; classic fiction, contemporary fiction, non-fiction and activity books; each of these categories is then divided by age group. This is the first in a series of blogs which we will be writing in the lead up to Christmas. This blog will focus on some of our favourite classic board books. Board books feature cardboard pages with rounded edges which are durable and safe for very young babies and toddlers. Some board books have holes cut in the pages or flaps to lift, which them more tactile and interactive.
Board Books - New Born to 2 years
So, in this category we are recommending some of our favourite classic board books but, when it comes to classics for little babies we also love giving gorgeous hardcover classics or boxed sets like Peter Rabbit, Wnnie-the-Pooh that children can treasure for many years.
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Alhberg
Peepo! by Janet and Allan Alhberg
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury
Where's Spot? by Eric Hill
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Once upon a (when I was a spirited little girl), girls weren’t supposed to get their dresses dirty, climb trees or dig for worms. Good little girls wore pristine pink dresses, baked cakes and helped their mummies; while those naughty boys were out getting into trouble and having al the fun. How wonderful it was to find girls in books that didn't do those things but, went into the world with a eye for mischief and a sense of themselves! Of course this isn’t just a modern phenomenon and there have always been great books about what I like to call “spirited” little girls. We needn’t remind you of miniature heroines like Madeline (by Ludwig Bemelmans) or pretty much any of the girls from Seven Little Australians (by Ethel Turner).
So, I wanted to make a list of female characters that crossed generations and there is plethora of books about little girls who just want to have fun! I have listed my top five in three different age groups. Feel free to let me know who I've left off the list!
Hush from Possum Magic by Mem Fox
Olivia by Ian Falconer
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Billie B Brown by Sally Rippin
Brigid Lucy by Leonie Norrington
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Alice Miranda by Jacqueline Harvey
Nanny Piggins by R.A. Spratt
Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
The narrator from The Shadow Girl by John Larkin
Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling
Lyra Silvertongue from His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Topaz St Honore from The History Keepers by Damian Dibben
On Saturday (13th October) we hosted the launch of a brand new book called Brave Squish Rabbit, which is written and illustrated by Katherine Batterby! We were thrilled to have Andy Griffiths as the official launcher of this fab new book. And we were extra specially pleased because it also just happened to be our dear little shop's 52nd birthday! There were so very many wonderful things to make our Saturday fantabulous!! So, of course we just had to share the pictures with you all.
This is Angela, one of our wonderful staff members opening a bag of balloons. What great jobs we have!
Katherine loved our Peter Rabbit plush toy. And here she is drawing a picture for the children.
Katherine signs books and Andy officially launches Brave Squish Rabbit!
And Andy has a turn at sighing copies of his books too.
Have you ever wondered why some children's books get printed in so many languages, while others stay in their own country? Part of the answer (besides some books being universally wonderful) is at the Bologna Children's Book Fair.
Bologna Children's Book Fair is the place book publishers go to find new and interesting children's books from around the world, to buy the rights for publish in their own country. Of course, publishers are also hoping to sell the rights to books they own, as well.
The Bologna Children's Book Fair is held every year for four days in late March or early April in Bologna, Italy. It started in 1963 (that's three years after The Little Bookroom opened it's doors on the other side of the world). Which means, this year in 2013, they will be celebrating their 50th anniversary. So, in honor of it’s 50th year the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the Italian Publishers Association have established the BOP Bologna Prize. The Prize will ‘pay tribute to excellence in the world of children’s publishing’. Publishers involved in this year’s book fair are asked to vote for six prizes, which will be presented for the geographical regions of Asia, Africa, Central-South America, Europe, North America, and Oceania.
Exhibitors come from all over the world to participate in Bologna Children's Book Fair; in 2012 about 1200 exhibitors came from 66 countries. The main purpose for the fair is to buy and sell the rights for books and publishers choose from among the books that they own the rights to. Over the years the fair has expanded to include various forms of media and multimedia, for example if a company is looking to make a new children's movie, they can go along to Bologna and see if there are any books that could be adapted.
There are lot's of workshops and lectures to attend at the fair as well, here are some examples from last year: Focus on Russian Licensing Market, Translation Workshops, Perspectives on the Literary Scene: Critics' Point of View, Narrating with Pictures: meet Jon Klassen, Art Didactics in Libraries.
The Hans Christian Andersen Award and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Awards are also announced at Bologna.
The Hans Christian Andersen Award is a biennial award which is awarded by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). It was first awarded in 1956 to Eleanor Farjeon (yes, thats the very same Eleanor Farjeon whose book our little shop was named after). The recipient is given a golden medal from the Queen of Denmark, currently Queen Margrethe.
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was founded in 2002 by the Swedish Government, it is a lifetime achievement award for work in the promotion of children's reading; this can include writers, illustrators and people who work in the field (oooo and possibly even... people who run children's book shops?!). The winner receives 5 million SEK (which is around $700,000 Australian Dollars). In the past there have been two Australian recipients: Sonya Hartnet and Shaun Tan.
The two lovely ladies who run Books Illustrated are heading over this year to exhibit work by some of Australia's best illustrators and we wish them well, even though we are a teentsy bit jealous.
We were delighted to kick off the school holidays with the launch of Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon. It's always such a pleasure to meet an author who's work you adore and find out they lovely people too. And the very charming Gus didn't disappoint. Herman and Rosie was officially launched by Leigh Hobbs. We just HAD to share some pictures of the day.
Leigh Hobbs, officially launching Herman and Rosie. Leigh told us all how Gus first showed him Herman and Rosie over dinner one night and as soon as he read it he immediately offered to launch it (which, Gus confided was his plan all along). Gus told us all about the extensive research he did on New York, including a 'research' trip (oh, the tortured life of a writer!).
Gus chats with the effervescent Jackie from My Little Bookcase.
Gus with one of our favourite local authors; Jen Storer.
Signing, signing, signing...
Clare Beaton has a rather unique illustration style; she creates beautiful pictures using vintage fabric, buttons, braid and sequins. She says she finds inspiration in all kinds of old fabrics: "Old aprons are a favourite source of wonderful patterns." She hand stitches the fabric together making delightful scenes which are then photographed and used to illustrate books, gift cards and accessories. Sometimes the text is hand sewn into the pictures too. Because of the bold, colourful and simple nature of her designs, they are often used in books for very young babies especially nursery rhyme books.
She was brought up in the North of London, where she still lives and has her studio. She studied graphics and illustration at Hornsey School of Art, after she graduated she began working at the BBC as an illustrator for children's programmes, where she stayed for 8 years. She has three children, all of whom are now grown up.
Above is a picture of Clare's studio (we daresay she tidied it up for the picture) and a beautiful teddy bear's picnic scene.
Below is origianal artwork she did for a range of cards available in the UK and a bag she designed for a range of cosmetics (Neal‘s Yard beauty products) in Japan.
Here is a great Youtube clip of Clare and her daughter talking while they make Christmas decorations.
And here is a clip of Fingermouse, the character from Fingerbobs, that Clare talks about making in the above video, which was her daughter's claim to fame at school. Frankly, to an outsider this show seems somewhat bizarre. Much like Shirley Strachan in Shirl's Neighbourhood, the presenter; Yoffy doesn't translate as well to modern audiences. Although beards are making a come-back, happily we can't say the same for men wearing neckerchiefs. It was 1972 and we think maybe you had to be there to get this one....
See Care's website here.
Gus Gordon is an Australian author illustrator who lives in Sydney. His books include My Aussie Dad, A Day With Noodles and number of books in the Aussie Bites series including Haggis McGregor which was written by Jen Storer and illustrated by Gus. And of course he is also the creator of one of our all time favourite characters; Wendy, that super lovable, high flying, stunt chicken of humble origins. I have given more than one grown up friends a copy of Wendy to remind them of how extraordinary even the most seemingly modest can be.
Now, Gus has brought us two new eccentric individuals. Meet Herman and Rosie, two lonely New Yorkers with a love of music. They seems destined to be together but, somehow keep missing each other. Both of them suffer set backs and loneliness but find the strength to keep going. This is a touching look at resilience, the power of music and finally friendship.
Gus will be joining us at The Little Bookroom on Saturday September 22 to tell tales and sign copies of Herman and Rosie. Herman and Rosie will officially be launched by Leigh Hobbs of Mr Chicken Goes to Paris fame.
Gus has a fantastic website which you can view here.
If you can't make it on the day, but would still like to get a signed copy, please pre-order at our online shop and click the link that says: "Add a note to your order" leaving details of who you would like Gus to adress the book to.