Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Stephanie Dowrick reads at Leichhardt Library

This morning author Stephanie Dowrick came to Leichhardt Library to read her new book The Moon Shines Out of the Dark to some Leichhardt kids. The children were in raptures listening to Stephanie read.

Australia's Biggest Harry Potter Fan Revealed

A 13-year-old girl from Burren Junction, NSW, has been selected as Australia’s biggest Harry Potter fan. Her entry was chosen as the best in a recent competition run by Bloomsbury Publishing to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

13 year old Charlotte from Burren Junction NSW is the official Australian winner of the Harry Potter Biggest Fan competition. Her winning entry was selected from over 500 posted in bookshops throughout Australia. Charlotte’s entry stood out and included a very detailed Harry Potter Family Tree.

Charlotte has won a very special leather-bound, signed, dedicated and numbered 15th Anniversary Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, as well as a boxed set of the Harry Potter books and a boxed set of the Harry Potter audio books.

3 runners-up have also won copies of the leather-bound, signed, dedicated and numbered 15th Anniversary Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Bloomsbury launched a nationwide competition to find Australia’s biggest HARRY POTTER fan. Bloomsbury invited fans to write a letter of no more than 50 words explaining why they love HARRY POTTER. Fans could only enter by visiting a local bookshop and posting their letter in the specially designed postboxes. Over 200 bookshops signed up to take part.

From an idea born on a train journey, to its creation in a small cafe in Edinburgh Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the book that started a global phenomenon. Rejected by many publishers and with an initial hardback print run of 500 copies, it has now sold over 90 million copies worldwide. It is the book that put Harry’s destiny in motion and created a whole new generation of readers. It is hard to think now that before 1997 none of us knew about Hogwarts, Quidditch or Voldemort (who was voted as the favourite literary villain in a recent Bloomsbury poll).

The 3 runners up are: Hannah from Canterbury, VIC (age 19), Shirley from Hurstville, NSW (age 19) and Madeleine from Graceville in Queensland (age 20).

The Harry Potter novels have now sold approximately 450 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 73 languages.

J.K. Rowling lives with her family in Edinburgh.

Charlotte’s winning entry:

Monday, 15 October 2012

Interview with Keith Austin (Author of GRYMM!)

GRYMM is a surreal, creepy spine-shivery tale peopled with characters from your worst nightmares!
The small mining town of GRYMM perched on the very edge of the Great Desert is the kind of town you leave - but when Dad gets a three-month contract in the mine there, Mina and Jacob, unwilling stepbrother and sister, are reluctantly arriving. From a grotesque letting agent who seems to want to eat their baby brother, a cafe owner whose milkshakes contain actual maggots and the horribly creepy butcher, baker and candlestick-maker, Mina and Jacob soon realize that nothing in GRYMM is what is appears to be. And then things get seriously weird when their baby brother disappears - and no one seems to even notice! In Grymm, your worst nightmares really do come true...

We were lucky enough to grab author Keith Austin and ask him these questions written by our very own Kalina, aged 11, from our Tuesday afternoon bookclub!

1) How did you get the idea for the story?
Well, it came from a few different places. A long time ago I wrote an idea in my notebook (I try to carry one with me wherever I go) about a brother and sister who go to live in a terribly English village and slowly discover that everyone else there is a nursery rhyme character.
And that idea sat there for maybe 20 years! Then, a few years ago when I was driving through the outback in Australia I stopped in a little town that made me wonder how the people there managed to make a living. And suddenly, the two ideas just came together. I was also reading the original Brothers Grimm fairytales at the time so they their grotesqueness and nastiness sort of edged their way in, too, in the children’s names (named after Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm) and some other bits and pieces. Did you get the Grimm fairytale reference in the anagram of one character’s name?

2) Why did you make the main characters siblings and not just friends?
I think the relationship between a brother and sister is more complicated, more of a love/hate than a relationship between friends. Also, I liked the idea of them having a half-brother that they hated more than each other. And, of course, if they were not related they probably wouldn’t both be going to Grymm!

3) Why was Bryan kidnapped?
At the risk of revealing too much of the plot Bryan isn’t really kidnapped – you need to think about what the children’s deepest, darkest desire was when they first arrived in the town…

4) Why is Thespa Grymm just a realtor rather than the mayor of Grymm?
Well, the town isn’t really big enough to have a mayor – and I liked the idea of a real-estate agent in a town that’s basically drying up and dying. A rather pointless job, you might think, but Thespa stays there …why?

5) Where did the names of the characters, Anhanga and Bugleslab, come from?

Anhanga is actually the name Brazilian Amazon Indians give to a devil who is a prankster who likes to trick humans and also likes to steal children. I thought it fitted the character quite well. Inky Bugleslab comes from my time working in newspapers; he is the newsagent, as you know. I used to know a designer who used to call newspaper information panels ‘bugleslabs’, so I used that. And Inky, well, because newspapers use ink!

6) When you first wrote the story, were there more or less town folk?
There were a few more townsfolk in the first draft but it all started getting a bit too long and too confusing, to be perfectly honest. I haven’t killed them off completely, though! They’re still hanging around somewhere in my head and in my computer.

7) How long did it take you to write the book?
The first draft took me about 3 months to write (it just sort of poured out of me as if it had been waiting to be born), but I have rewritten it many times in the 9 years (yes!) since then.

8) Did you ever get writer’s block and how did you get rid of it?

Well, certainly not with this book! But it can occasionally happen, yes, and I find it’s best to just keep writing and keep reading. Both are essential for the writing process. I just write and write and eventually something pops up even if I have to delete most of it. And I find reading other people’s books can sometimes give me ideas about how to work my way around obstinate obstacles.

9) Will you write a sequel?
I’d like to, yes. I have some ideas about where the story goes – and it will start immediately where the first book ends – but that will only happen if Grymm is popular enough. I have written another book, called Snow, White, which will I hope will come out in the next 18 months or so, but it’s nothing like Grymm. Indeed where Grymm is steaming hot and sunny this one is freezing cold and dark. Oh, and if there is a sequel I want to call it Grymmer!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Clementine Rose - from the author of Alice-Miranda

A gorgeous new series for girls from the bestselling author of the Alice-Miranda series.

Clementine Rose was delivered not in the usual way, at a hospital, but in the back of a mini-van, in a basket of dinner rolls.

So begins the story of a lovely little girl who lives in Penberthy Floss in a large ramshackle house with her mother, Lady Clarissa, Digby Pertwhistle the butler and a very sweet teacup pig called Lavender.

When her scary Aunt Violet arrives unexpectedly, the household is thrown into disarray. What is it that Aunt Violet really wants and what is she carrying in her mysterious black bag?

From the author of the best-selling Alice-Miranda series, for readers aged 5+.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Interview with Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ambelin Kwaymullina’s debut novel The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a fresh new entry into the Young Adult genre. Kwaymullina deftly creates a dystopian world where society is divided between the Citizens, the ordinary but oppressed population, and the Illegals, runaways who possess strange powers. The author’s first venture into fiction tells the story of Ashala, the leader of an Illegal tribe captured by the Citizens and held in a Detention Centre for interrogation. The survival of her beloved Tribe hangs in the balance, and Ambelin Kwaymullina tells Ashala’s story with such ease that it was impossible to put down.
- Review by Willem Proos, 14, from our Teen Book Club

Ambelin will be at Shearer's on Wednesday July 25th at 4.30pm. To give you a little taste of what she might talk about, here's an interview we did with her.

Why did you choose to write a young adult novel rather than an adult or children's novel?

Let’s face it, teenagers are way more interesting than adults (no, just kidding – sort of). Really, I wrote the story that was there to be told. It was Ashala’s story, and she is sixteen so that made it a young adult novel. I didn’t see much point in writing a novel about a teenager for adults, because we all know that teenagers are very mysterious and adults will never understand them. Except for me of course, but I feel like a teenager on the inside. It’s very disconcerting to have people around you expect that you’ll act all confident and mature when I feel about 18 most of the time.  When I was writing Ashala I felt sixteen, because I was writing from her perspective and sharing her thoughts and emotions. Because of that I think teenagers will understand Ashala just that little bit better than adults do. And I think they’ll know, too, what it’s like to challenge the world the way she does.

What were your main inspirations for writing The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

My brother Blaze originally thought of the title to the book. Blaze is very good at thinking up titles and names. But he didn’t have a story. So for a few years there was this great title hanging about. All my family write books, and sometimes we’d have conversations about what a fantastic title Blaze had thought up, but it didn’t go any further than that. Then, one day, Ashala’s story started coming into my head. The first line of the book has been the same from the very beginning – ‘He was taking me to the machine’. When I wrote those words, I didn’t know what the machine was, or who ‘he’ was, or where Ashala was. But that was alright, because I knew I had a story. I figured I’d find out eventually, and I did, as Ashala and the other characters in the book revealed their world to me.

Did you base any of your characters on anyone you know?

Not consciously. But on re-reading the book recently I think there’s a lot of myself in Ashala. She shares my fear of spiders, for a start, although she has far less of a phobia than I do. And she’s probably about as stubborn as I am, or maybe even a little more, and I think we both have a bit of a slightly off-the-wall sense of humour. There’s a few occasions in the book when Ash makes jokes in serious situations and nobody laughs – yeah, I can relate to that. Also, anyone who reads the book and knows my family immediately identifies Jaz with my younger brother Blaze.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Oh yes! I have always, ALWAYS wanted to write a novel. I’ve done picture books before, but writing a novel has been my goal for a very long time. I’ve been writing various novels anytime for the past twenty years, although I never finished most of them. I am the proud owner of a box of unfinished books, and I don’t think any of them are very good. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is the one that worked and I think the reason for that is Ashala herself. She is so strong, and I heard her voice so clearly, that I had to write a good story to do justice to her, and all the rest of the Tribe.

I still can’t quite believe I’ve actually done it. I catch sight of the book in a bookstore with my name on it and think – wow. That’s me. That’s my book, right there on the shelf with all those other books. How cool is that?

Unfortunately I don’t think writing a novel has actually made me any cooler than I was before. I still tend to trip over my feet and make jokes that no one laughs at. I’m also the person who walks up to the automatic doors and they don’t open for me even though they’ve opened for dozens of people ahead of me (those doors see me coming, I swear). But you never know. Give me a few years and few more books and I might just be a little bit cool – or at least be able to get the doors to open...  

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore

Just a quick heads up for anyone who loves watching animated films on the internet. The Fantastic Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is not only an awesomely illustrated picture book but it's also an Academy Award-winning short film - and as everyone knows, that means it's got to be pretty good! 

The story of this book and movie was inspired by a kind of crazy mixture of The Wizard of Oz, Hurricane Katrina - which almost destroyed New Orleans in 2005 - and Buster Keaton, the comedian whose nickname was "The Great Stone Face". All of this is mixed in with a man who really loves books. 

Buster Keaton - "The Great Stone Face"

The Fantastic Books of Mr Morris Lessmore was created using a hybrid style of animation, which combines miniatures, computer animation and 2D animation, which makes it really amazing to watch. Great for anyone interested in animation, or for anyone who just loves seeing an interesting movie with fun characters on a rainy holiday afternoon!

Check this 15 minute movie out below:

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The sun was shining on Leichhardt one glorious day in May when the handsome prince of picture books, Oliver Jeffers, joined us for a drawing extravaganza in the Town Hall. He was greeted by 250 smiling, and very excitable fans all armed and ready for Oliver to put a secret scribble in the front of their books.

He treated us to a very funny trip down Jeffers memory lane with lots of photos and drawings of people and places that have inspired him. He then went on to do a live action drawing session of three of his magnificent books...from beginning to end. There were lots of laughs and after watching the Bafta award winning film of his book, 'Lost and Found', everyone went home to read about the boy who ate books, the other boy and his friend the penguin, the cool new jumper and someone with a heart in her bottle.

A big thank you to Harper Collins for bringing him along and also to Leichhardt Library for helping organise the event.
For those who missed out, don’t despair... we have lots of signed copies of Oliver’s books available.

(Last photo by Penny Ryan photography. Thank you Penny!!)