Monday 28 April 2014


© Antoinette Conolly
Alien Wizardry - the sequel to the Cauchemar Trilogy was written because many of my readers emailed me and wanted to know what happened after the end of Book 3, Mactavish’s Destiny.

Zachary travels again to the magical world of Cauchemar at the request of his friend Mactavish. The boy has made three previous journeys there but on the last occasion the ginger cat did not return with him to Earth.

Cauchemar is threatened with extinction if an ancient prophecy is not satisfied. Alien assistance is required to complete the task and many difficulties have to be overcome. Zachary and his companion, Taffy, have many friends who help – Magenta the witch, Bijou the dragon and Ulysses the unicorn (to name a few).

Can they succeed in defeating the black magic of Malfactorius and save Cauchemar?

I am a self-publisher and the illustrator of my cover is Michael Smetham who now lives in London. My books are printed by Ligare Pty Ltd in Sydney.

Alien Wizardry was published on December 20 2013, but was not made available for sale until the end of January 2014.

The book is about 70,000 words and there are no illustrations. It is suitable for competent readers aged from 7 to 13. Many adults also enjoy the story.

My book will soon be reviewed in “Buzzwords” and on “Writers Web”.

I have been writing for about eight years.

My books are the Cauchemar Trilogy     Zachary’s Odyssey

                                                                 Perilous Journey

                                                                 Mactavish’s Destiny

and A Key to Time published in 2012.

So far, I have sold over 1500 copies of my books.

The trilogy was reprinted in 2009. Initially I sold my books through a number of bookshops in Sydney, but in the last four years as the bookshops have disappeared, I now sell my books from my website:  or by email

I also have visited many primary schools and libraries. As I am a retired high school teacher, I have no difficulty speaking to large groups of children and find that I am in demand (particularly in Book Week and Education Week) as an example of “a real-live author”!

My presentation describes the process of writing a novel and also involves the students in discussion of text types, different techniques for characterisation, plot etc and the extent of their reading/writing knowledge. Of course, I also talk about my books and usually read an excerpt from one of them. The most enjoyable part for me is the question time at the end. Children never cease to surprise and delight me!

My books can now only be purchased from me or from Writers Web.

They are also advertised on the SCIS site (school librarians access this)

Alien Wizardry costs $25 which includes postage and packaging.

You can read reviews of my other books on “Writers Web”.




Saturday 26 April 2014


Launched in March 2014, the unique blog site, Australian Children’s Poetry had nearly 10,000 hits in the first six weeks as people made connections with our country’s A to Z of children’s poets and read articles, interviews and more about the subject. With the site, I am trying to revitalise poetry in Australia, starting with poetry in schools.

Here’s a thought: if all of us with a love of, and connection to, Australian children’s poetry united, we might just put poetry and Australian children, teachers, publishers and booksellers on the same page. United, we can be a powerful force! We can bring poetry into schools and into bookshops and into the community at large. We can exert pressure on organisations such as the CBCA and/or state and federal governments to fund prizes, competitions and/or otherwise promote children’s poetry.

Recently I asked poets to consider approaching school/s to offer to present a poetry reading and/or poetry writing workshops. Now I’m asking teachers and librarians to make a conscious effort to book poets when they next decide to have a children’s writer in their school (see poets' contact details on the site

Another idea for interested people is to organise poetry readings in schools, either by students, teachers and/or visitors. Every teacher in the school could read their favourite poem at a special celebration assembly; there might also be a mini eisteddfod devoted to children’s poetry recitations!

There is interest in schools; recently poet and verse novelist Sherryl Clark emailed me that she is undertaking a May Gibbs residency in Brisbane in May, part of which is presenting workshops in schools. Initially, when Sherryl suggested poetry workshops, the State Library thought that maybe there wouldn’t be enough interest and that she should offer story writing as well. Sherryl recently received a draft schedule and four of the five schools requested poetry! Point taken!

Am I being too optimistic in thinking that together we can revolutionise children’s poetry in schools and in our community? What do you think? Do you want to be part of the Poetry Revolution?

Feel free to send your thoughts and/or experiences to me at
Dianne (Di) Bates is known as a children’s author who lives in Australia. Her first anthology of Australian children’s poetry, Our Home is Dirt by Sea, will be published in 2015 by Walker Books Australia. Meanwhile, she has published a collection of anonymous verse, Erky Perky Silly Stuff (Five Senses Education).



Wednesday 23 April 2014


Paper Magic by Australian author Jeff Doherty is a novel for young readers about finding courage, facing challenges and overcoming self-doubt. It is about the power of friendship and discovering you don't need magic to be worthwhile.

Marina needs a wheelchair to get around. Her legs might not work but she has clever hands.

Marina spends her days staring out at the park from her bedroom window. The park calls to her. It tugs at a place deep in her chest but the thought of meeting the children who play there sends her into a breathless panic. On the last day of the holidays, before starting at a new school, Nana arrives with a magical gift to change Marina’s life.

When Marina discovers she can breathe life into the origami figures she creates from Nana's magic paper, it gives her the courage to go out and explore the park.

The inspiration for Paper Magic
One day when my son was younger, he came home from school and I watched him scooting around the lounge room on his hands, dragging his legs behind him. It turned out one of his classmates was a young girl with Spina Bifida, a spinal cord disorder. I got to know Sarah during that year and she was one of the most inspirational kids I have ever met. Nothing was too hard for her. She competed at the sports carnivals, tried everything the other kids did and her greatest desire at the time was to get a wheelchair with slanty wheels so she could go fast. I decided back then, I wanted to write a book about a character just like Sarah.

Since 2007 I have been working as a School Learning Support Officer assisting children with special needs to thrive in a mainstream schooling environment. Helping these wonderful children overcome their limitations is such a rewarding job. Each and every one of them is an inspiration to me.

Paper Magic was published by IFWG Publishing Australia

Pub Date:
October 2013
$15.99 (Aust)
Paperback – 98 pages
Kindle, NOOK Books, Kobo Books
Black & white
IFWG Publishing Australia
For more
And Orders:
Gerry Huntman Ph: 0421 739 061
Wholesale Discounts Available

Paper Magic Cover Front.jpg

Children’s author, Jaquelyn Muller reviewed Paper Magic for BuzzWords; the full interview can be read at

Copies of Paper Magic can be purchased by asking your local bookstore to order in a copy, direct from the publisher’s website   or in most on-line bookstores - links to the sites that offer the best prices can be found at


Tuesday 15 April 2014


The Poppy, by Andrew Plant

Ford Street Publishing, 2014

In the Somme region of northern France is a village that seems to have been lifted out of rural Australia. Australian flags fly from almost every flagpole, images of kangaroos adorn the town hall, cafes and restaurants. The streets have names such as Melbourne and Victoria, and the schools have enough fluffy Australian animal toys and artwork to fill a shop. Even the crèche is called Les Marsupiaux. This is Villers-Bretonneux, and the story of why it has this profound connection with Australia is what inspired me to write The Poppy.

Villers-Bretonneux was the site of one of the Australia Corps’ most dramatic and improbable victories in WWI. At great cost, Germany’s final attempt to win the war was stopped by two brigades of the 4th and 5th Australian Divisions. Some historians consider it to be the turning point of the entire conflict. Australian soldiers fought bravely and lost lives severely in many places on the Western Front, but what makes Villers-Bretonneux so unique is the extent to which commemoration of the battle has been upheld for the last 95 years. Villers-Bretonneux is ‘the town that never forgets’, and in the fields just outside the town stands the Australian National Memorial to our soldiers missing in France, those whose bodies were never recovered.

I discovered the story for myself just before going to live in Paris for 3 months in 2011, and was stunned that I had never been aware of it. Nor, it seemed, did anyone else to whom I spoke. Of course, anyone with an interest in WWI knew it well, but it seemed to me that this was just as significant as Gallipoli, and that it should be as widely known. Hence, The Poppy.

Why a picture book? I felt that the time to teach Australians about this extraordinary story was while they were young, so that they would grow up with the admittedly awkward-to-pronounce Villers-Bretonneux being as familiar to them as Gallipoli. (By the way, the ‘s’ is silent, and the ‘eux’ is something between an ‘oh’ and an ‘er.’)

With the centenaries approaching, I also realised that the time was perfect to tell some of the story of the Western Front, where most of our casualties and all of our victories occurred. It also became a very personal story when I decided to include images of my daughter in the paintings, something I have never done before. (I’m probably best known for my dinosaurs, definitely not my people. People are hard!)

I am aware that some people think that the subject matter and the format of the book may be a little unusual for a children’s picture book, but I believe that kids have far more emotional intelligence than we give them credit for. Is the story sad? Undeniably yes. But it is also incredibly hopeful and uplifting, and I hope I have captured at least a little of that.

For a recent review of The Poppy, go to

Andrew’s website is

Tuesday 8 April 2014


THE LEGEND OF THE THREE MOONS by Patricia Bernard (Clan Destine)

Patricia, how did The Legend of the Three Moons come into being?

I was worried about my grandchildren spending so much time indoors, watching TV, playing computer games and doing homework so I took the five of them to Centennial Park, where after handing them a stick to become any weapon they liked, I told them the park was a forest that changed daily and that they could not leave and that to complicate everything they had a 24 hour memory.

I also gave them the choice of one magical gift each left to them by their royal parents who had been kidnapped and shape-changed by the High Enchanter when their beautiful aunt had refused his hand in marriage, as had been promised to him by their grandparents the Old King and Queen of M’dgassy. 

We played in the park the rest of the day adding more and more characters such as Hannah the Hangwoman, Jessup the six fingered shape-stealer of Belem, and San Jaagin the birdman.
Australian author, Patricia Bernard

By the time we went home I had the beginning of The Legend of the Three Moons, a teenage quest adventure which has blossomed into The Night Parrot Boy and its sequel, The Gates of Doom.

The book can be purchased from the publisher and from good bookshops where they can be ordered, such as Dymocks of Bondi Junction, Beecroft Children’s bookshop and Bloomin Books Caringbah. Distributed by ABC (Australian Book Group)
Celeste and Layla who helped with the creation of The Legend of
 the Three Moons in Centennial Park, Sydney.

Check out the book at htpp://, where you will also find teachers’ notes.


Sunday 6 April 2014

Where is the Illustrator?

There are many reasons why picture book authors are not successful in getting their manuscripts accepted by publishers. Often the main problem is that they did not give sufficient thought to the role of illustrator as co-creator of the finished book; unsuccessful writers give too much pictorial description that can be shown through illustration.

A writer needs to read her text with the eye of an illustrator, looking at each and every paragraph to consider what pictorial images might complement them. If she cannot imagine illustrations for each paragraph, then she can be said to have failed the illustrator ‘test’, and so she must re-write. Laura Harris, Publishing Manager Penguin Books says, ‘One of the main reasons picture book texts get rejected is that the writer doesn’t give the illustrator enough to work with.’

Successful picture book authors show they have an understanding of the value of every word in the picture book text and the huge importance of the role of the illustrator as the book’s co-creator.

Here’s what other publishers and illustrators have to say with regard to the use of illustrations in picture books


Elaine Ousten, publisher, Morris Publishing Australia: I advise picture book authors to do a storyboard to help them decide which part of the story needs to be in words, and which part of the story will be told by the illustrations.  For instance; it is not necessary for the words to say, ‘John got a huge, red ball for his birthday. He loved it.’ The picture will show that the ball is huge and red. All the words need to say is, ‘John loved the ball he got for his birthday.’ The best picture books are the ones written and illustrated by the same person, because they understand how to let the illustration tell a part of the story.

Paul Collins, publisher Ford Street Publishing: Picture book authors need to leave room for their collaborator: the illustrator! Illustrators show colours and much more, so authors’ descriptions needn't be so detailed. The best picture books are those where the author and illustrator are perfectly in synch.

Ann James, illustrator: To write a picture book the writer knows less is more, but that each word is potent and a cue for interpretation by the artist.

Shaun Tan, illustrator: I accept manuscripts ... that give much room for me to play and to tell my own stories visually, (that have) a certain ambiguity . . . that resist being fully explained.”

Ron Brooks, illustrator: To make a picture book, the words have to turn my heart around, make me go hollow in the belly, weak at the knees.”

Lesley Vamos, illustrator: Picture book authors should understand that as illustrators we are there to capture the vision of the world you've created. It is our job to infuse the text with the knowledge and skills we have gleamed from years of practice so when push comes to shove there needs to be room for us to do our job. I like it when picture book authors are enthusiastic, collaborative and know when to give their illustrators space. The best picture books don't talk down; they tell a great story with illustrations that visualise a world and inspire and enthuse a child's imagination!

Jill Carter-Hansen, illustrator: I like it when picture book authors acknowledge the contribution of research, preparation and work hours that is the in-put of the illustrator. The most thoughtful illustrators usually create clues and side plots to enliven the text and give added meaning and visual interest for both the child and adult reader. This genre is not called a 'picture' book for nothing. However, often in reviews, illustrations are mentioned at the close of the article as a kind of afterthought, with what appears to be a lack of understanding as to the amount of time and consideration that most engaging illustration work requires.

Kerry Millard, illustrator: I like a text to move minimally so that I can visually create extra layers and stories.The best picture books take best advantage of the imagination and skills of author and illustrator (and editor and designer) resulting in a whole which is true to the story and intent in every aspect, and at the same time is delighting in the seamless harmony of the variety of approaches through which the creators have interpreted and represented the text.

The work is a pas de deux which is elevated when author and illustrator are both able to create to their fullest potential while respecting and interpreting the core. The less restrictive the choreography, the more room there is for the talent of the creators.


In summary, the best picture books are created by authors who  know the illustrator will work their magic; the successful author uses the few words which they have distilled to convey rich and essential story elements and to creatively set up space and timing for equally rich possibilities in the visual elements. 

© Dianne Bates


Saturday 5 April 2014


A review by Dianne (Di) Bates

On the Nose by Robert Favretto (Morris Publishing Australia, 2014)

There are two things one immediately notice about this junior novel for readers aged 9 to 12 years: the striking, colourful cover (by Kevin Burgemeestre) and the fact that it is skinny (38 pages).

Most kids – particularly reluctant readers -- love skinny books, and they love books like this which play around with words. There’s no doubt that Favretto, a primary school teacher, had much fun writing this book for it is full of wordplay and puns. Many of the character’s names are contrived to elicit a grin, such as Barry Mundi, Willy Wynn, Stella Mozzarella and Len D’Hand.

 Justin Credible is a boy wonder – his genius being that he can sniff a smell at a hundred paces. His nose can easily detect all of the smells that comprise, say, a pizza. So it’s no wonder that the Department of Nasal Affairs (DNA) trains him as a super sleuth to crack smelly cases.

On the Nose is full of absurd situations. Here is one example: ‘... when Justin blew his nose, it sounded like the blast of an ocean liner’s foghorn! The powerful vibration spread through the group like the swift-moving rumble of an earthquake. It bowled everyone over like tenpins.’

Puns include ‘he felt as miserable as a long-nose bandicoot’ and ‘he promised to keep his nose to the grindstone.’

Favretto doesn’t miss an opportunity to play up the nose situation. During Justin’s training, he has the boy sniffing out bones of prehistoric mammals, nose-vaulting, studying aromatherapy and odourology. His first official task is to track down the person who has stolen a skunk from the zoo. The success of this adventure leads to Justin’s employment by the city’s mayor when someone drops a stink bomb in the city of Aroma that creates all kinds of mayhem and the city is ‘in grave danger of ex-stink-tion.’

The smelliest smell Justin has ever encountered leads him to the source of the stink and the perpetrator of the crime. How he overcomes them concludes this pun-filled adventure novel.

About the author
Robert is a primary school teacher and Victorian based writer of children’s fiction. His previous publishing credits include CAT-astrophe (Morris Publishing Australia), Leonardo’s Spot of Trouble (Blake Education) and Lost for Words (Limelight Press).
He has also had his short story The Cuckoo Clock published in the CHARMS anthology. Robert has completed a Diploma of Professional Children’s Writing and has presented writing workshops for primary school aged children and the Mornington Peninsula Libraries.

As part of the blog tour, we will give away a copy of ‘On The Nose’. To be in the draw, simply comment on the post and send an email of your comment to with the subject "On The Nose competition". Competition closes midnight EDST 15th April 2014.

On The Nose (
Morris Publishing Australia)
PB RRP $13.95
ISBN: 978-0-9875434-7-9

Justin Credible is a real live Pinocchio with a keen sense of smell. Trained as a super sleuth for the DNA (Department of Nasal Affairs), he is often called upon at the first sniff of trouble. With a nose for those hard to crack smelly cases, it's no surprise when Justin responds to an urgent call for help. Someone or something has dropped a stink bomb in the city of Aroma – and the stench is devastating! Gardens are wilting, birds are dropping out of the sky, and the residents are leaving in droves!

With sleuth-like determination, Justin follows his nose to solve the mystery of the phantom smell before it wipes Aroma off the map!

ABOUT THE BOOK: On the Nose is a fun and entertaining read that is sure to be enjoyed by young boys. This story is along the same lines as the Just books and Captain Underpants series: crazy, funny, and really silly – everything a young boy loves in a book.

Join us for reviews and more interesting facts about Robert and the book as you follow the tour.

April 1st
April 2nd
April 3rd
Writing tips for kids
April 4th
April 5th
April 6th
April 7th
April 8th