Reviews – Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds Books 3 and 4

The gorgeous Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds series (by author Alison Reynolds and illustrator Mikki Butterley) continues from where it left off from The Birthday Party Cake and The Decorating Disaster (see previous interview). With another two exciting books on exploring social etiquette and positive behaviour now available, we can hardly contain ourselves! Here they are:

Gently reinforcing the value of kindness, The Playground Meanies is a delightfully explorative story into managing challenging social situations in the playground. The Reynolds and Butterley team once again draw us in with their engaging script and expressive illustrations that truly allow readers to connect with these relatable characters.

It is a common occurrence for preschoolers to experience some level of bullying, even at their young age. Knowing what is appropriate behaviour, whether the instigator or recipient, can sometimes be confusing and definitely emotionally confronting. Alison Reynolds approaches this concept beautifully with her easy-to-follow and humorous narrative, and empowering ‘guide to good deeds’ notes that tie it all together.

When Pickle and the sensitive Jason are teased about their big feet by two little bears at the playground, it is Bree who shows maturity and wisdom, reminding her friends not to stoop to their ‘mean’ level. But Pickle, being loyal yet impulsive, sympathises with Jason’s sadness, and protests his vexation. And the result of his boisterous actions causes a roll-on effect. Getting along with the meanies may seem like a slippery slide to manoeuvre, but Pickle and Jason do well to compose themselves and be kind, with an effective result.

The Playground Meanies opens doors for plenty of discussion and role play, teaching children about positive actions in a sensitive, safe and playful manner.

In The Big Snow Adventure, Pickle and Bree hit the ski slopes a-sliding with aplomb. In this action-packed escapade of tobogganing-chaos, skiiing-turbulence and snowballing-frenzies, the heedless pair need reminding to respect the rules.

It’s all too easy to be unaware of invading people’s space or neglecting to check their feelings when you’re in your own world of fun and competition. That’s certainly what happened to Pickle and Bree during their trip to the snow. All the excitement of ski lifts and ploughing down the mountain makes them forget about listening to and following instructions and respecting the given boundaries. Disowned by their friends following the path of snow-covered destruction eventually leads Pickle and Bree to realise their foolhardy ways, and an exhiliranting ending to the day is had by all.

I love the consistency between books; the gentle and humorous storylines that play out like a real life scene, the strongly defined characters and the adorable multi-textured illustrations that make these books so full of charm and authenticity.

The Big Snow Adventure and The Playground Meanies are both delightfully engaging ‘lessons’ in friendship, respect, compassion and morality. Admirably empowering children from age four to harness a peaceful world, one step at a time.

Five Mile Press, February 2017.

Alison Reynolds recently completed her blog tour for her Pickle and Bree series. See her post with Dimity here and the books’ development here.

#ByAustralianBuyAustralian

Doodles and Drafts – Blog Tour with Alison Reynolds

Writing a book about bullying or indeed, attempting to instill relevant social life issues into an entertaining format for kids, is always tricky to perfect. Alison Reynolds has managed to pull off this feat of meaningful storytelling with her captivating picture book series, Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds. You can read Romi’s review of these two new titles, here.

Today she joins us briefly at the Draft Table to discuss just how she tackled the dicey subject of bullying with The Playground Meanies. This episode with Pickle and Bree is one of my favourites as we are reintroduced to Jason, the big footed, kind-hearted panda whose good deed not only saves the day but opens the pathways to friendship in a way very young children can’t help but connect with. Continue reading Doodles and Drafts – Blog Tour with Alison Reynolds

Under the Christmas Tree Part 3 – Self-help for kids

Self-help titles are normally in high demand following the glut of Christmas overindulgence we adults tend to experience at this time of year. Children, thankfully do not time their greed or any other dilemmas for that matter so predictably. Therefore, it’s comforting to know there is an ever-available selection of fantastic kids’ books allowing little ones to explore their emotions, temper their fears, and make themselves feel a whole lot better about themselves and the world they live in. Here a few in picture book form.

Pickle & Bree Guide to Good Deeds by Alison Reynolds and Mikki Butterley

This is a divine picture book series featuring two unlikely companions, Pickle and Bree that centres around sound values and the importance of friendship. Romi Sharp discusses thethe-decortating-disaster various nuances and inspirations behind these demonstrative tales with author, Alison Reynolds, here. Visually exuberant, each title is crammed with subtle etiquette, positive attitude and enough storyline to keep kids tuned in and listening to the messages behind Bree and Pickle’s occasional the-big-snow-adventuredisagreements. How this delicious sounding pair work their way through The Decorating Disaster and decorating The Birthday Party Cake are the first two in the series and reviewed, here. The Playground Meanies and The Big Snow Adventure follow early next year. Supportive, fun learning for 5 – 8-year-olds.

The Five Mile Press October 2015

dingo-in-the-darkDingo in the Dark by Sally Morgan and Tania Erzinger

I adore Erzinger’s playful organically hued illustrations in Morgan’s timeless tale of overcoming your fears, in this case, of the dark. It’s impossible for Dingo to sleep because of his aversion to nigdingo-in-the-dark-illos-dingoht. In desperation, he believes that if he can catch the Sun who watches over him by day and keep it with him by night, he will be safe. His nocturnal bushland friends are quick to come to his aid, gently helping him discover another guardian angel, one who watches over him each night. The value of listening to your friends in times of trouble and doubt are gingerly brought home in this simple and enjoyable tale. Great for frightened pre-schoolers.

Omnibus Books November 2016

agatha-in-the-darkAgatha and the dark by Anna Pignataro

Agatha is one little lassie who also finds it hard to face her dread of the dark. When her fellow pre-schoolers tease and taunt her about it, her imagination threatens to spill into her real world until she realises with a little bit of help from the adults around her, that everyone has doubts and fears about something and that it is all right to admit this. Once Agatha allows her fear of monsters a bit of free reign, she discovers they are something she actually enjoys spending time with, sharing tea parties and sprinkle biscuits with them. Pignataro’s delicate narrative and soft, welcoming illustrations invite calm and help alleviate those pesky fears that follow us about. Highly recommended for shared pre-school reading.

The Five Mile Press 2016

the-fabulous-friend-machineThe Fabulous Friend Machine by Nick Bland

Move over Cranky Bear, there’s a new gal in town and her name is Popcorn. Popcorn is ‘quite simply, the friendliest chicken at Fiddlesticks Farm’. She’s your consummate over-sharer, adjective exploiter, and spreader of good cheer tonic, whose heart of gold is bigger than the henhouse. Every circle of friends has a Popcorn.

One day, Popcorn happens upon a fabulous friend machine, known in human circles as the cursed smart mobile phone. Popcorn is so enamoured by its captive glow and entreating way of connecting to others, that she becomes  obsessed with messaging and soon completely forgets about all her old friends. It turns out her new cyber friends are chicken lovers too but for reasons more sinister than friendship. Will Popcorn’s true friends stand by her and save the day? Or is Popcorn’s goose cooked?

This is my pick of the bunch cautionary tale. Bland deals with cyber-safety and social media mindfulness in a comical yet completely relatable way that is sure to make little kids squirt with laughter and understanding. Highly recommended as an engaging read for 4-year-olds and above and primary schoolers who may be toting their own fabulous friend machines about.

Scholastic Press October 2016

Find more fab reads for your kids this Christmas, here.

kids-reading-guide-2016-2017

 

 

 

Alison Reynolds Guides us Through her Books on Good Deeds

imageAlison Reynolds is the author of over 50 books for children and adults, often incorporating important life skills and values in the most entertaining of ways. Some of her children’s titles include the Ranger in Danger series, The Littlest Bushranger, A Year with Marmalade and A New Friend for Marmalade. Today Alison answers questions about her newest gorgeous series; Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds.

Both picture books making their debut in the Pickle and Bree series adopt a value system approach that not only facilitates awareness of the importance of positive social skills, but they are absolutely refreshing, cute and funny too.

The Birthday Party Cake is an emotionally-charged tale of the two, competing characters – Pickle and Bree – both with their own opinions on how best to plan a party (and style the cake, in particular) for their Panda friend. Disagreements lead to tears, but a little compassion, understanding and acceptance goes a long way. The depth of passion, drama and empowerment will certainly fuel the hearts and minds of all readers to strive for a more peaceful society. (See my previous review here)

The Decorating Disaster deals with another delicate situation in which Pickle and Bree find their stubbornness to avoid collaborating leads to an array of disastrous mishaps. In the end, a paint-splattered Bree and her bear friend in a wallpaper ‘Pickle’ choose harmony over discord. Totally relatable, comical and endearing, another ‘enriching’ book for young children to cherish.

Welcome Alison!

Congratulations on the release of the first two books in the series – The Birthday Party Cake and The Decorating Disaster!

Thank you, Romi! They were a lot of fun to write.

You also have another two being published in August this year. How did the idea for this series come about?

The publisher had asked me if I was interested in writing a series of books about positive behaviour and social etiquette, but at a higher level than please and thank yous. They were looking for an illustrator and found the marvellous Mikki Butterley, and Pickle and Bree were born. Mikki already had an illustration of Pickle and Bree, and after I looked and thought about them for a while the ideas for the books emerged.

Is there a plan to write more Pickle and Bree titles in the future?

I hope so! There are lots of different issues to explore. And I love writing about Pickle and Bree.

Each book focuses on the concepts of values, social etiquette and positive behaviour in a delicate yet engaging way. In what ways do you hope the readers will utilise and benefit from the books?

I hope these books are a strong narrative with a super subtle message in there. I really want children to realise that they’re not alone and that many of us face the same problems interacting with others. I also try to show Pickle and Bree’s different attitudes and to create empathy for other people’s point of view and experiences. I also wanted the books to be fun and entertaining!

What advice or strategies can you provide for parents and teachers wanting to get the most out your stories?

The final page of each book has a Guide to Good Deeds, which acts as discussion points for parents and teachers. I like to ask children how they would feel in Pickle and Bree’s situation and if it has ever happened to them. It’s also fun to act out some of the situations taking turns to be Pickle and Bree, so the actors get to see each other’s perspective.

imageIn The Birthday Party Cake we see differing personalities with each of the characters. Bree is outspoken, Pickle is fun-loving and goofy, whilst their friend Jason is more reserved. Where did you draw your inspiration for these personas, and which one represents you the most?

I didn’t realise it until after I wrote the book, but Pickle is very much like my lovely dad. Easy-going, fun-loving, patient but stubborn. He’s also got quite a few characteristics of my husband and old Labrador Toby. Bree is my mum. Impetuous, full of energy, well-meaning, and says what she thinks. Jason is Jason. He’s one of those lovely reserved children, who like to join in but want to avoid the limelight. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I think I’m a mixture of both Pickle and Bree.

imageThe Decorating Disaster is agonisingly humorous with the mishaps rolling on one after the other! Have you ever had a decorating disaster of your own?

Pass! Actually, the way my children remember their childhood every decorating attempt ended in a disaster. But both my dad and husband’s feet always ended up in the paint tray at some point. And my mother was a star wall paperer. Probably our best effort was when I made curtains and somehow hemmed them on the wrong side.

Did you handle it as well as Pickle and Bree did in the end?

My husband often encourages me to go out when he’s decorating. And, apparently I have the unfailing capacity to spot the one bit on the wall that hasn’t been painted. But we always end up laughing.

imageThe illustrations by Mikki Butterley are warm, seductive and rich with texture. What was it like to collaborate with Mikki?

I feel incredibly fortunate to collaborate with Mikki. I have perfect faith in her to create wonderful illustrations and reinterpret the text in a new way. She adds a whole new life to the story. Unfortunately, Mikki lives in UK, but one day we’re going to meet!

How do you feel her illustrations best compliment your words?

She takes my words and weaves her own magic. I feel as if we’re playing a duet, and without both parts the book would be flat and uninspired.

What do you like about her style of art?

I love the sense of life and movement her illustrations capture and the lushness and warmth without being cloying. And they’re so much fun. Especially the added extras, like mice or birds to find.

imageAs mentioned, many of your books centre around the gentle guidance of important life values and strategies. Why is this element significant to you and your writing?

I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but I’ve been approached by four different publishers now to write on this theme. I’m not sure if I come across as incredibly polite, but suspect it’s more that I write these subjects with a light, playful touch. I also do believe that we’re all in this together and manners help us all get along better.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of creating books like yours?

Coming up with a different angle. So far I’ve managed to do this as they’ve all been slightly different. One of the next 2 Pickle and Brees is about bullying, but think I’ve managed to pull it off hopefully and still make it a fun read. The most rewarding aspect is if I can make this a kinder, gentler world for somebody, I’m happy. I feel lucky being able to communicate with so many different children through my writing.

Name one exciting event that you most look forward to achieving this year.

This is a very exciting year for me. I should have a series coming out, currently called Project X, and of course, Melbourne’s very own conference for kids and YA writers and illustrators, KidLitVic2016 Meet the Publishers in May. And Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds 3 & 4. (I used to be excellent at mathematics, but I’ve gone off as you can see by my telling 3 events.)

Completely understandable! Thank you so much, Alison for answering my questions on Pickle and Bree! I’m very much looking forward to the next two instalments! 🙂

Thank you, again for inviting me. And I’m looking forward to the next two instalments too.

Find more information on Alison Reynolds at her website

Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds is published by The Five Mile Press, October 2015.

It’s Time to Celebrate!

As we approach the end of 2015, we take time to reflect on the year that was – all the joyous, heart-rending, life-changing and memorable moments. And in light of these occasions, we’re all a little stronger, a little smarter and a little wiser, so let’s celebrate! The following few picture books will give you that extra little reason to take pride in your achievements, and of course, to PARTY!

imageBring a Duck, Lesley Gibbes (author), Sue deGennaro (illus.), Scholastic Australia, 2015.

If there ever was a book about celebrations it’s ‘Bring a Duck’! When Bear finds a party invitation from Pig in his letterbox, he is ‘tickled pink’! But he is also stumped – ‘Bring your own duck?’ – whatever could Pig have planned? With a cascade of ducks of all sorts, shapes, sizes, outfits and personalities, the party is a flapping success! Young readers will relish the fun of the duck-themed games, events and magic tricks, including duck hunts and stunts and pulling a duck out of a hat. And when it’s Bear turn to host an elephant party, we are immediately inspired to dream up the most imaginative of parties for ourselves!

Simply charming and exuberant illustrations team up with the fast-paced, rhyming text that hold our excitement and engagement all the way through.

With humour, delight, playfulness and creativity, ‘Bring a Duck’ is a quacking sensation that is sure to invite sentiments of harmony, togetherness, imagination and fun.

imagePickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds: The Birthday Party Cake, Alison Reynolds (author), Mikki Butterley (illus.), The Five Mile Press, 2015.

From one birthday party to the next. It’s a joyous occasion for Pickle and Bree as they plan a party for their Panda friend, Jason. Or is it? This new, gorgeous series, including ‘The Decorating Disaster’, aims to gently guide its readers to appropriate social etiquette and positive behaviour. So, when Pickle is disgruntled as his bear plans are overhauled by the over-zealous and strong-willed Bree, what’s needed is a fresh perspective. Listening to others, being open to new ideas and accepting differences are just some of the valuable lessons Pickle and Bree learn from their experience. These points are neatly tied together at the end with a list of Good Deeds to acknowledge and reinforce what makes each of us special.

But despite the disagreements, we are enchanted by the party-goers’ funny antics, adorable expressions and energy that exude from the pages. The pastel colours and textures are homely and inviting, and the text encouraging and supportive. Therefore, successfully fulfilling its intention.

‘The Birthday Party Cake’ delicately and sensitively deals with common issues concerning relationships, emotions and tolerance. This enables its readers to value their own and others’ opinions and feelings. A fun, thought-provoking and relevant story for all children from age four.

imageScarlett, Starlet, Emma Quay (author, illus.), ABC Books, 2015.

From honouring the birthday boy or girl to taking centre stage yourself, Scarlett, Starlet certainly enjoys the spotlight! Scarlett loves to dance. And when she does she is the brightest sparkle in her mummy’s and daddy’s eyes. She spreads rhythm all over the place, and even her puppy Jazzy Jo-Jo loves to tap along. A spectacular stage performance sees Scarlett shine like never before. But in the end she doesn’t need the spotlight, or even her mummy and daddy’s affirmations to know that she is, and always has been, a star!

The simple language with its tapping onomatopoeia, repetitive phrases and age-appropriate dialogue beautifully tie in with the basic colour palette of bright red and yellow, which signify strength, power and luminosity just like Scarlett.

‘Scarlett, Starlet’ is delightfully charming; the perfect book for young preschoolers longing to make their mark on the world of entertainment. They will undoubtedly take pleasure in reliving Scarlett’s shining moment over and over again.

imageA, You’re Adorable, Buddy Kaye, Fred Wise, Sidney Lippman (words), Nathaniel Eckstrom (illus.), Justine Clarke (audio), Scholastic Australia, 2015.

There’s no better way to commemorate special people and events in your life than with a song story and bonus CD to swing along to! The well-known, lyrical, alphabetical ode to someone wonderful is gorgeous in this new edition that celebrates the love and pride in those who mean the most.
‘I, you’re the one I idolise. J, we’re like Jack and Jill. K, you’re so kissable. L is the love-light in your eyes.’

With soft and dreamy illustrations that put all the warmth and tenderness in your heart, as well as the added elements of spirit, charm and curiosity. The soulful, Jazzy-tunes of Justine Clarke on the CD ignite that little extra spark to enlighten all the senses.

‘A, You’re Adorable’ is a sweet, melodic book that reinforces alphabet knowledge and feelings of adoration and affection towards our loved ones. Definitely something to appreciate as we look back on the year that was, and the aspirations we anticipate to satisfy in the year ahead.

Wishing all our readers a safe and Happy New Year! Looking forward to more bookish excitement in 2016!

Doodles and Drafts – A Blog Tour with Alison Reynolds

Alison ReynoldsA couple of years ago a diminutive orange cat sprang into our hearts and homes courtesy of picture book creators, Alison Reynolds and Heath McKenzie. That cat was, Marmalade. He caused quite a sensation around our home, so when we heard he was on tour with Alison Reynolds, purrs of satisfaction reverberated throughout the house once more.

Alison Reynolds is no stranger to children’s fiction, but when she teams with illustrator, Heath McKenzie, her work is picture book paean.Heath McKenzie 2

A New Friend for Marmalade, sequel to the hugely successful, A Year with Marmalade, is a simple story about making new friends. But as we all know, the art of forming and maintaining friendships is seldom that straightforward. Hierarchy and the delicate differences between boys and girls all begin to surface in early primary years, making social interplay more of a challenge.

A new friend for MarmaladeWhen Toby, the boy across the road attempts to join BFFs, Ella, Maddy and Marmalade, things go instantly awry. Toby’s endeavours to fit in are not particularly successful nor welcomed by Ella and Maddy. He is over-exuberant, clumsy and dresses funny. Marmalade, however, sees him differently.

In Marmalade’s moment of crisis, his gamble on Toby pays off and beautiful new friendships are forged all round.

I love the snappy, clean layout of this picture book. Swirling text works effectively against plenty of white space, giving readers the sensation of floating seamlessly along with the story.

The narrative itself is succinct and character driven, with enough repeating phraseology to prompt even the most modest beginner reader to join in the fun.

McKenzie’s soft smudges of pastel colour highlight significant aspects and emotions of the story: the girls’ cubby house and sand castle city, Toby’s cap and scooter, and of course, our little orange hero, Marmalade.A NFM illos

Acceptance, tolerance and making that leap of faith permeate appealingly through this dreamy picture book, resulting in a fine example of ‘less is more’. It certainly stacks up for me.

Uncover why sand-castle-city builders from the age of 4 years and up will treasure A New Friend for Marmalade, here.

Stick around with Alison and Marmalade for the rest of their tour and participate in the fantastic competitions listed below. You never know, you might just make few new friends along the way!

The Five Mile Press 2013

Alison Reynolds Blog Tour Dates

March 2014

11th Dee White – review and post http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

11th Chris Bell – post http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com/

12th Angela Sunde – interview with Heath http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/

12th KBR – book giveaway http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

13th Boomerang Books – Post with Dimity Powell http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

14th KBR Guest post http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

14th KBR Review http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

14th Sally Murphy – Meet my book http://aussiereviews.com/reviews/blog/

15th Buzz Words – Interview http://www.buzzwordsmagazine.com/

17th Ask the Bean Counter – Mr X http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au/

17th Pass-it-on Post and Review- Jackie Hosking

18th Ask the Publisher – Kay Scarlett http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au/

Pet contest for all ages!

Marmalade the cat is full of personality. Do you have a pet with personality? Win a piece of artwork by Heath McKenzie. Send along a photo of your personality-plus pet to www.alisonreynolds.com.au, [email protected] or upload to

Random book giveaways!

Just leave a comment on one of the posts in the blog tour, comment on Facebook or even email Alison that you want to enter competition to win A New Friend for Marmalade.

Jump the Slush Pile!

Win a free pass to a Children’s editor’s desk. Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials CB. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Jump the Slush Pile!

Win a free pass to a Non-fiction commissioning editor’s desk. Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials NF. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win an assessment of Chapter One of a chapter book by the fabulous mentor extraordinaire Dee White. http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/ Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials DW. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Win a free picture book assessment by Alison! Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the A New Friend for Marmalade blog tour and add the initials PB. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

 

Doodles and Drafts – A Blog Tour Adventure with The Littlest Bushranger

I was one of those horsey girls as a kid. Loved them. Couldn’t accept parents’ refusal to keep one of them in our backyard. So I transformed my trusty bike – the one with the chopper-style handlebars – and the dog’s leather lead into the best little mare you could imagine. I actually steered the bike around for months using those ‘reins’; through pitted canons and deeply wooded forests (our backyard was large and varied in landscape).

The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVERImagination. It’s every kid’s greatest gift and most alluring asset. And Alison Reynolds’s and Heath McKenzie’s latest picture book, The Littlest Bushranger, celebrates it in style.

The Reynolds’ / McKenzie team, with over 150 titles between them, are fast becoming a force to be reckoned with and one of my favourite picture book artist combinations.

The Littlest Bushranger is a snap shot of Jack’s first day alone without his older sister Lil, who has just started school. His day becomes anything but ordinary as he is forced to navigate through frightening terrain and outwit the crafty Outlaw in pursuit of Lil’s prized treasure.

The Littlest BushrangerThis adrenaline-charged adventure is slightly more robust and male orientated than Reynolds’s and McKenzie’s previous book, A Year with Marmalade, however it is bounding with exhilarating movement and irrepressible charm. I especially love the tactile cover and the intelligent use of perspective and colour to accentuate the drama and action of Jack’s pursuit. His steely-eyed companions; his spirited steed and ‘gang member’ Hector, are as impressively heroic as Jack who valiantly earns his title as The Littlest Bushranger.

Ideal for 3 – 6 year olds and anyone who believed their bike was the best horse ever, like me.

Alison ReynoldsTo celebrate this thrilling new release, I am joining the adventure with Alison on her Blog Tour of The Littlest Bushranger. Mount up and see what she has to say…

Q Alison, you have written dozens of books for small children and younger readers. Do you enjoy creating picture books?

I love writing picture books. The connection between words and illustrations really interests me, and how you can use both to convey ideas.

What makes them harder or easier than other genres you like to write in?

It’s harder as every word is crucial. It’s easier because picture books are shorter than some other genres.

Q What was your inspiration for this story?

I saw a bird hopping on a railing near our dog, Molly and then my imagination rambled.

Q I love the choice of Jack’s imagery persona – a fearless bushranger. Why bushranger vs. your usual sword-wielding pirate or knight?

My publisher, The Five Mile Press, suggested a bushranger book. Maybe the next books could be pirates and knights.

Q Does Jack’s situation parallel your life as a child in anyway?

I started school a year later than my friends and neighbours because my birthday was after the magic cut-off point. I can remember playing at home, until they returned. I used to spend a lot of time running around on my hobby horse.

Have you ever had to reclaim a stolen treasure and face your direst fear?

Think I was more likely to purloin the treasure myself. Once when visiting my mother’s friend I spied a very special embroidered hand towel, apparently there was a flush and no more hand towel.

Q What was the most memorable imaginary world you visited when you were Jack’s age?

My friends and I played a game called boots. This consisted of us wearing my big sisters’ much too big boots and racing around the backyard playing chasey and I think spies were involved. In our backyard my dad cut the branches of the plum tree so they supported a plank. This became at different times a stage coach, flying saucer and police car. We were very versatile!

Q What was the hardest part of bringing The Littlest Bushranger to reality?

Coming up with a story of a bushranger for that age group. I didn’t want guns but decided a sword/broom was okay.

What was the easiest?

Having Heath McKenzie as an illustrator makes everything easier. If there’s a bit of writing that won’t work, I’ve realised that I probably don’t need it and Heath will illustrate it instead!

Q What advice would you give anyone else wanting to write a picture book?

Play with words, cut, revise, cut. And do illustrations that no one need ever see, but by doing this you can check that each page can be illustrated and it can clarify what you are trying to say.

Heath McKenzieQ Was the choice to involve the uber-talented Heath McKenzie again to illustrate this book yours or just an unbelievably marvellous strike of good fortune (and decision making)?

The Five Mile Press matched me with Heath again and I feel very lucky!

Q Do Heath’s illustrations represent what was originally in your head when you first conceived the idea for The Littlest Bushranger?

Heath somehow captured what was in my head, and created something even better by adding his own ideas. When it came to the outlaw/monster I wrote in the illustration brief, “Heath go wild” – and he did! I would never have come up with such a wonderful creation!

TLB spread 2How do you think they have helped bring the story to life?

I think they work in direct partnership with the words and tease them out into something very special. I especially love Hector the dog!

Q Other than writing, what other past times do you like to indulge in – say like horse-riding?

I have a rocking horse from when I was Jack, the littlest bushranger’s, age. That’s the extent of my riding apart from my hobby horse that I loved. I’ve watched a whip cracking contest, but haven’t tried it. And I don’t really like Irish jigs and Scottish reels. So think I would be a very bad bushranger!

Thanks Alison for inviting me along on this fantastic, white-knuckle quest!

Thanks, Dimity for having me!!!

Join the gang and continue to be part of the adventure. Here are the rest of the dates for Alison’s Tour. Don’t forget the competition either. There are some wicked prizes on offer. Thanks for riding with us.

June 11 Kat Apel

http://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog/

June 12 Chris Bell

http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com/

June 13 Angela Sunde

http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/

June 17 Interview with Melinda Beaumont

www.alisonreynolds.com.au

June 18 Dee White

http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

June 19 Kids Book Review

http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

June 20 Interview with Melissa Keil.

www.alisonreynolds.com.au

June 21 Heath McKenzie and Alison Reynolds interviewed by Juliet Chan, Marketing & Publicity Executive.

www.fivemilepress.com.au

Monster Competition Watch out for prizes – so good they should be outlawed! These include a piece of Heath McKenzie’s amazing artwork from The Littlest Bushranger.

There are a couple of monsters in The Littlest Bushranger. One’s a bunyip, and the other an outlaw/monster who steals Lil’s telescope.

What sort of monster do you like? Send along a painting/drawing/model of a monster and you could win a piece of Heath McKenzie’s amazing artwork for The Littlest Bushranger.

Upload your best monster to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or email it as a low res jpeg file to [email protected]  and we’ll upload it. If you don’t have a scanner, take a photo on a smart phone and email that!

Two categories. Under 12 and 12 plus including grown-ups. Entries close 25th June!

Jump the Slush Pile!
Win a free pass to an adult non-fiction commissioning editor’s desk. Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the Littlest Bushranger book tour and add the initials NF. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.
Keep you eyes peeled for other prizes along the ride including a picture book assessment by Alison Reynolds, 2 free passes direct to an editor’s desk (you get to skip the slush pile), and copies of The Littlest Bushranger. Just comment on the posts. Simple!

The Five Mile Press June 2013

 

WHY I LOVE MY DAD, WHY I LOVE MY GRANDPA

It’s Father’s Day this Sunday so we thought we’d pay a tribute to all dads and grandads this week at Kids’ Book Capers by featuring some great books about these very special people.

Today we’re looking at Why I love my dad and Why I love my grandpa.

These gorgeous new books are in the popular Why I love my… series by Alison Reynolds and Serena Geddes.

They’re perfect partners for Why I love my mum and Why I love my grandma released earlier this year from The Five Mile Press.

Why I love my dad and Why I love my grandpa are written in an appealing style with fun illustrations.

They’re also books that can be personalised for the reader, allowing them to insert a photo of their own dad/grandpa on the front cover.

Alison Reynolds’ quirky text is full of warmth and humour, and Serena Geddes’ illustrations capture the hilarious antics of Dad and Grandpa.

Why I love my dad

Young readers will relate to all the antics of this scooting, hulahooping, kite flying dad. They’ll love him for the way he’s prepared to give just about anything a go, even if it’s not something he’s good at.

Why I love my grandpa

Who could not love a stilt-walking, hand shaking, VERY flexible Grandpa? This Grandpa clearly enjoys spending time with his granddaughter doing the things that make her happy even if they’re not the kind of activity he might normally do.

My grandpa can’t wear a ponytail and My grandpa can’t climb trees were the pages that gave me the biggest giggle but I’m sure young readers will enjoy every single one of the double page spread.

I enjoyed these books for their ‘have a go’ Dad and Grandpa and their warmth and colour.

Why I love my dad and Why I love my grandpa come in a durable hardback format that can be slipped easily into a nappy or other carry bag – and they’re the kind of books to encourage discussion about what family truly means.

They even have space at the back for the reader to fill in with favourite things they like about or like to do with Dad or Grandpa.

Tomorrow at Kids’ Book Capers we’re featuring Nick Bland’s, Some Dads.

WHY I LOVE MY GRANDMA

On Monday, we looked at Alison Reynolds and Serena Geddes’ new book, Why I love my mum. Today at Kid’s Book Capers we feature their companion book, Why I love my grandma.

Alison talks about how her grandma inspired this book.

I never knew my father’s parents, but I was lucky enough to grow up with my mum’s parents. Granny said you should never ask a lady her age, so I’ll just say she was born in the 1890s on a farm in Victoria.

She was a teacher in country Victoria, and rode to school on a horse. She used to read on the way, and if the horse stopped suddenly, Granny flew over its head. She must have been a popular teacher as she once declared a school holiday so she could attend the local races, and another time when my grandfather, her fiancé, arrived back from WW1.

Granny was a keen golfer. She practised her golf swing at home and one time she whacked a poor hen. Confronted with a decidedly sick fowl, Granny promptly wrung its neck and served it up for dinner. She didn’t like waste.

Granny was always creative. She painted, beaded and crocheted. I still use the beautiful crocheted tablecloth she gave my mother for a wedding present.

When I was little our family had lots of fun times in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast where my grandparents had a flat. This was before all the high-rises and Burleigh was a very sleepy town. I can’t remember my grandmother swimming or even venturing on the beach, but she always made us devilled fish paste toast when we came back dripping. Every day she had a spoonful of molasses and as she lived to 91 with no big health problems I always think I should do that. But have you tasted molasses?

My granny loved me and even thinking of her now makes me smile. Once when I was ill and off work, Granny arrived in a taxi to look after me. She lay beside me on my bed and the two of us talked and took in turns to get the cup of tea.

Another time we were looking at display homes and Granny rushed up to the husband and me and said, “We have to get out. Now.” In the car Granny explained that she was caught short and unfortunately the plumbing hadn’t been connected.

Whenever Granny went out, she came home and went to bed. She always claimed nothing made her more tired than being nice. My children tease me that I’m a bit the same. I have been known to take off the jewellery, make-up and put on the nightie within five minutes of walking in the front door.

A close friend recently told me that I was resilient and I can cope with anything. I’ve been thinking about that and wonder if that’s one way I take after my grandmother. Granny lost her thirteen year old son, and even though every single day of her life she felt a gaping Jack-shaped hole, she was still full of joy and love. She kept walking forward.

I was lucky to have Granny as such a huge part of my life. When she died my husband and I had a huge gap every Saturday. Granny was an artist and sold quite a few paintings. It’s strange but nice to think that other people have a little bit of her hanging on their walls. I feel the same way about my books. I feel privileged that other people want to share some of my creations.

Ps. If anyone has a B.M. Dickinson on their walls, I would love to hear from them.

WHY I LOVE MY GRANDMA

I had a grandmother who gave up snow skiing at 86 so I could really relate to the energetic granny in Alison and Serena’s new book, Why I love my grandma.

This sword wielding, bike riding, face painting grandma is full of fun and not at all stereotypical. She’s the kind of grandma who does lots of special things with you and doesn’t worry too much about convention, which is why she will appeal to the modern reader and their parents.

Once again, Serena Geddes humorous illustrations add to the charm of this book. It’s also one that readers can personalise by adding their cover pic and lists at the end of the book of the special things they do with grandma and which of those activities are their favourites.

It’s a fun way for kids to contribute to their Mother’s/Grandmother’s day present.

Why I love my grandma and Why I love my Mum are published by The Five Mile Press.

 

 

WHY I LOVE MY MUM

Mother’s Day is next Sunday, so this week at Kids’ Book Capers we’re looking at books that would make great Mother’s or Grandmother’s Day presents.

Today’s featured picture book is Why I love my mum, written  by  Alison Reynold and illustrated by Serena Geddes.

Alison has generously agreed to share her experiences of the woman who inspired this book – her Mum. The author has also shared this gorgeous picture of herself at kindergarten.

My mum was born in Box Hill Hospital, centuries ago she tells me. Her father was a headmaster so she lived all over Victoria growing up.

She was always fascinated by rocks, so Mum studied Geology at Melbourne Uni during WW2. She claims that we’re lucky to have her because she thinks she was approached by Edward Leonski, the US soldier and murderer. Mum was living in college and all female students were instructed not to go out after nightfall. My impatient mum decided she needed to go to the library and on the way a US soldier emerged from the shadows and offered her a cigarette. Mum ran away, but she was terrified. It may well have been him as all the soldiers had been instructed not to approach lady students and curfews were in place.

When Mum married she had to resign as government departments wouldn’t employ married women, but she started teaching once I began kinder.  She had the teacher voice down pat at home.

Mum is very practical. An ant trail? Mum nuked the area with DDT. Have a flood in the laundry? Mum cut a hole in the floor to drain out the water. Find out what sex a kitten is? Mum dangled a needle over the kitten’s head. She was infallible until we received a phone call that Timmy had just had five kittens.

Mum always says how she doesn’t know how I can make things up. I don’t understand how, even now, with dementia she is still a whizz at arithmetic. Mum always believed woman deserved the same rights as men. Her great-grandmother was caught in the Eureka Stockade, and harboured miners in her tent and rescued Peter Lalor by rolling him down a hill. I can imagine Mum doing this, but she probably would have amputated Peter Lalor’s arm herself as she’s always considered herself to be a bit of a doctor and then told him that he should be home with his wife.

I inherited my love of the water from Mum. My dad was the strictly minding the clothes type while Mum would be jumping among the waves. When the water splashed on her perm, she soon looked like a poodle with her tight curls. .

Mum has been a wonderful grandmother to my children, and even now her memory is fast fading she always remembers them. Recently, she told me that as long as I remember you, the two kids and the tubby, short bloke (my husband is slim and tall, but that’s Mum being funny), it doesn’t matter what else I forget. And I’ll never forget my mum.

WHY I LOVE MY MUM

Why I love my mum is a heartwarming picture book that looks at what makes a mum special.

The mum in this book is good at mowing lawns, but cutting hair is not her talent. She can’t bake a cake but she can build a cubby house.

There are so many fun things this mum can do that it really doesn’t matter about the things she can’t. What I enjoyed most about Why I love my mum is that it showed mum’s are human. Just like kids, they are not perfect – there are the things they are good at and the things they aren’t.

None of that really matters because what’s really important is that mums are individual and special and that they love their children and are loved in return.

Serena Geddes beautiful illustrations clearly express the fun of Why I love my mum and the unconditional love that flows between mother and child.

Readers can personalise their book by slipping a picture of their own mum inside the front cover. They can also personalise the pages at the end and attach their favourite photo or drawing for mum.

Why I love my mum is published by The Five Mile Press.

On Wednesday at Kid’s Book Capers, we’re featuring Why I love my grandma – the companion book to Why I love my mum. Hope you can join us then.

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY BOOK FEATURE – RANGER IN DANGER

As a writer, I am in awe of Alison Reynolds and Sean Willmore for their ‘Decide Your Destiny’, Ranger in Danger Books.

While some writers struggle to come up with one plot, Alison and Sean have to create a number of alternative plot directions for each book so that the action can be guided by the choices made by readers.

The books are written in second person so that the reader is brought straight into the story. And from the first page, it’s non-stop action.

All the stories are based on real life ranger’s experiences and right from the start, readers are catapulted into the middle of deadly action.

Readers are invited to travel the world as rangers-in-training and what happens next depends on the choices they make. Readers decide for themselves how the story will end.  And the best part is that they can keep reading and re-reading so they can enjoy many incredibly daring experiences from a single book!

Based in different parts of the world including Africa, South America, India and Australia, Ranger in Danger is an action-packed collaboration between Australian ranger and environmental activist Sean Willmore and Melbourne author Alison Reynolds. With illustrations by Andrew Hopgood, these totally wild, interactive adventures include 20 possible endings to each story.

Diablo’s Doom

This is the start of your new life. You have been selected to travel to Africa as a ranger in training. You can’t wait!

Rampaging elephants, charging rhinos, and hungry man-eating crocodiles…The adventures start from the moment you get on the plane.

A scarred man with an eye patch sits near you. Is this the evil poacher, Diablo? Can you stop this international criminal? Will you even make it
off the plane alive?

You decide your destiny.

Hernando’s Labyrinth

You decide your destiny. You’re flying into South America as a ranger in training. You can’t wait!

Stinky skunks, gigantic tarantulas, Mayan ruins,
and flesh-eating piranhas…

A mysterious email triggers more adventures.Someone’s threatening the last Pinto tortoise in the world. Can you save him and stop the evil mastermind, Hernando?

Your fate is in your hands.

The Ranger In Danger series is published by Five Mile Press

For more information about the series, visit  www.rangerindanger.com

THE WILD WORLD OF WRITING – With Alison Reynolds

Today, I’m pleased to welcome writer friend,  and author of more than twenty books, Alison Reynolds.

Alison and  Sean Willmore (founder of  The Thin Green Line) are the authors of the very popular Ranger in Danger Series.

Alison grew up and still lives in suburban Melbourne, but she says she often feels  like a ranger in danger.

I have a pack of wild dogs, possums tap-dance on the roof all night, and the neighbour’s scarily giant rabbits bounce across the front yard. Then there are the bats, cats and marsupial rats. Melbourne

Being a writer was something Alison always wanted to do, but she felt as if it was something other people did.
After a series of jobs, as a public servant, market researcher, working in a radio station, restaurant, bookshop, and for the most curmudgeonly boss in Melbourne, I decided if I was ever going to be a writer that now was the time. I was home with youngish children. I gained a Graduate certificate in Professional writing and editing and a MA in Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne.  I was lucky enough to have my first book, The Ghostly Hand accepted in 1997 and I haven’t stopped writing since.

The Ranger In Danger books are taken from real life experiences of rangers around the world. So how did the Alison and Sean writing team come together to tell these stories?

Alison says she was approached by the publisher to write a series with a ranger, Sean Willmore who has founded The Thin Green Line – a foundation to look after the welfare of rangers’ families where the ranger has been killed in the line of duty.

Sean and Alison brainstormed and came up with a ‘decide your destiny’ book set in Africa, Diablo’s Doom.

DIABLO’S DOOM

The reader goes to Africa as a ranger in training, but on the plane they overhear a voice speaking of killing rhinoceros. The reader embarks on an adventure where they make the choices and one wrong choice may end in death.

You require all the animal facts and ranger skills you know.  You fight poachers; are charged by elephants and one, very angry rhinoceros; and need all your ingenuity to survive. It’s up to you, the reader to decide your destiny.

WHY KIDS LIKE RANGER IN DANGER BOOKS

The Ranger In Danger books are for 8 – 12 year-olds.  They are full of adventure and facts about nature.

The ‘decide your destiny’ format, gives the reader the power to imagine what they would do if they were a ranger.

The main character is the reader. Alison says,

Each book in the series features a real-life ranger, and I’m full of admiration for his or her bravery and wisdom. Even though I’ve never met Makombo, who is in Diablo’s Doom, I feel as if I do know him and admire and respect him very much.

One of his jobs has been to protect the gorillas in Rwanda against poachers who are ruthless. Many rangers die in the line of duty.

THE WRITING PROCESS

Alison says that one of the most fun parts about writing the Ranger In Danger books was meeting and becoming friends with Sean Willmore, and learning about rangers and wildlife around the world.

The actual writing is a lot of fun as Sean and I brainstorm a vague outline, then I think ‘what if?’. I try to make each strand of the story more challenging for me as a writer.

When I get stuck, I contact Sean and tell him, for example, the little ranger has accidentally jumped out of a motorized rickshaw over the side of a steep mountain in India, and ask him what can he suggest. So far, we haven’t been stumped for an answer.

According to Alison, the hardest thing about writing the books is keeping  track of all the different strands and coming up with so many choices.

Find out more about Alison and her books at http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au

On Friday, we’re going to be discussing the Ranger in Danger books in more detail at Kids’ Book Capers.