Player Profile: Jacqueline Harvey, author of Alice-Miranda Shines Bright

harvey, jacquelineJacqueline Harvey, author of Alice-Miranda Shines Bright

Tell us about your latest creation:

Alice-Miranda Shines Bright (#8 in the series).  Alice-Miranda and Millie make an accidental but dazzling discovery in the woods near school but it seems they are not the only ones looking.  Throw in a missing villager, a ruthless property developer and a hapless Mayor and there is another adventure in the offing.  The Alice-Miranda Diary for 2014 is a gorgeous diary full of fun activities, recipes, places to write secret thoughts and events; Clementine Rose and the Farm Fiasco (#4 in the series) sees Clementine and her friends on their first school excursion to a farm.  When her great Aunt Violet stands in for her mother as a parent helper, fireworks will be sure to fly with Clemmie’s teacher Mrs Bottomley. There’s a cranky goose and a crazy ram for good measure.

Alice-Miranda Shines Brigh Hi ResWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in Ingleburn and Camden and now call the Upper North Shore of Sydney home.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be a primary school teacher from the age of 9. I’ve worked in schools for all of my career until the end of last year when I took the giant step to become a full time writer.  I still get to visit schools all the time which I love.

Alice-Miranda Diary 2014What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

It’s still to come!  As a writer you’re always wanting to improve.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Ordered.  I can’t stand when things get out of control – that tends to happen to my desk sometimes and I find that I can’t work until it’s back to being neat and tidy.

Clementine Rose and the Farm Fiasco Hi Res 1When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I love Kate Morton, Tim Winton, Ian McEwan and Markus Zusak; I adore Belinda Murrell’s time slip adventures, historical fiction and newspapers – from all over the place.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

As a small child I loved Richard Scarry and Dr Seuss, then graduated to Paddington Bear, Heidi, Black Beauty and anything by Enid Blyton.  As a teen I adored To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby as well as Pastures of the Blue Crane by Hesba Brinsmead.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Miss Honey from Matilda.  I love her patience, bravery and kindness.  Having spent a large part of my adult life as a teacher, you hope that there are some children out there for whom you were their own version of Miss Honey.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

Not really surprising here.  I love to eat out, travel, read and play golf.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

In the everyday world, I am more than happy with lamb chops, mashed potato, carrots, zucchini and green beans with gravy, and a chilled glass of diet lime cordial; on special occasions I love soft cheeses, smoked salmon, Maggie Beer Pheasant Farm pate and French Champagne. Weekends are frequently considered special occasions in our house.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Booksellers, librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and anyone who encourages children to read and fall in love with books and stories.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Competing with everything else that there is out there to entertain children and adults.  I think though that stories will be part of humanity forever; we just need to stay on top of the best way that people want to receive them.

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YABBA 2012

The YABBAs have been announced! The winners have been hailed for their brilliance and popularity. And I’m going to tell you all about it.

There are lots of awards around in children’s publishing, but the YABBAs are special. The Young Australian Best Book Awards are entirely nominated and voted on by young people. These awards are not about grown-ups deciding on the worthwhile books that kids should be reading. These awards are about what kids are actually reading and enjoying.

I was lucky enough to be a guest at this year’s awards ceremony, along with lots of other authors and illustrators, including Carole Wilkinson, Gabrielle Wang, Corinne Fenton, Andy Griffiths, Karen Tayleur, Sue Bursztynski, Colin Thompson, Sarah Davis, Felice Arena and Oliver Phommavanh, to name a few.

Seeing the winners announced and the awards presented was great. But what was even better was witnessing the unbridled enthusiasm of the kids in the audience. They were excited about books. They were excited about reading. And that is AWESOME!

But who won? I hear you ask. And so, without further ado, the nominees and winners…

Picture Story Books…

WINNER: Fearless In Love – Colin Thompson / Sarah Davis

Fiction for Younger Readers…

WINNER: Alice Miranda At School – Jacqueline Harvey

Fiction for Older Readers…

WINNER: 13 Storey Treehouse – Andy Griffith / Terry Denton

Fiction for Year 7-9…

WINNER: Phoenix Files: Arrival – Chris Morphew

Congratulations to all the 2012 winners!

Now it’s on to 2013. Schools and students can get involved with the nominating process and voting in next years awards by checking out the YABBA website. The site also includes lots of cool activities and info, including reviews, puzzles and author/illustrator profiles.

Catch ya later,  George

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Review – Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor

As a fan of Jacqueline Harvey’s Alice-Miranda books, I was delighted to see a new little poppet land in my mail box – Clementine Rose – a precious and adorable 5-year-old who is delivered, as a baby, to the door of her heiress mother in a basket of dinner rolls. No one knows where young Clementine came from, but Lady Clarissa Appleby fell in love with her on sight, and Penberthy House quite soon became the young girls’ home.

Containing sixty rooms in an increasing state of disrepair, Lady Clarissa is forced to open a bed and breakfast in the home of her ancestors, in order to maintain upkeep of the house. It’s not easy but, with help, the mother and daughter team get by.

In this first Clementine adventure, Clarissa’s prickly Aunt Violet comes to Penberthy House, nursing a sordid secret. After gazing at her great aunt’s portrait in the halls of Penberthy House for years, Clementine is quite disarmed by her aunt’s cold, real life disposition – not to mention her bizarre hairless cat, Pharaoh. Demanding and difficult, Violet makes for a testy addition to the household. Clementine patiently attempts to befriend her aunt, but what is this secretive fashionista hiding?

It’s a delight to follow young Clemmie and her teacup pig Lavender along on this adventure with Aunt Violet. Harvey once again writes with a classic storyteller voice, painting an eccentric cast of characters and a charming storyline with the merest dusting of fairytale magic. A gorgeous new series best suited to children aged 5 to 9.

Clementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor is published by Random House.

Review – Alice-Miranda in New York

Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones may live in a hoity toity world of mega wealth and out-of-our-league boarding schools, but this down-to-earth seven-year-old (seven and three-quarters, actually) has the wisdom and clarity of a Buddhist monk. This sweet little girl is daughter to Hugh and Cecelia, owners of the stunning Highton department store – a luxurious establishment about to undergo a refurbishment and relaunch in that most desirable of cities – the Big Apple.

Alice-Miranda and her parents are spending a month in New York, overseeing the re-opening of the store, and Alice-Miranda is delighted to be attending Mrs Kimmel’s School for Girls, headed by her mother’s dear friend, Miss Jilly Hobbs. There, she quickly makes friends with two very ‘ordinary’ girls – Ava and Quincy – and also the monumentally wealthy Lucinda, daughter to Morrie Finkelstein, owner of a rival luxury department store. Continue reading Review – Alice-Miranda in New York