REVIEW OF CAMP CROC

You know that Camp Croc is going to be full of action from the title and the graphic picture of a giant hungry looking crocodile on the front cover.

I was also drawn to the main character, Daks. Who could not love a kid with a name like that? And of course, Mr Longbottom is the ideal name for a teacher – especially from his student’s point of view.

Daks and his mates are off to a once-in-a lifetime orienteering camp but they’re going to find more than they bargained for.

When the kids find a sign, “Danger! Your safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point. Students must stay within camp boundaries at all times”, you know something big is going to happen.

What starts out as a bit of a lark turns dangerous when the kids come across wildlife smugglers in the bush and it seems that their only means of escape is across crocodile infested waters.

And when the plan they come up with backfires they seemed destined to become crocodile dinner.

This is a truly Australian story and I couldn’t help giggling at Trewin’s lively turn of phrase.

“I was swimming one day – in the stinger net – thinking I was as safe as broccoli at a birthday party, when I bumped into a log. Except the log was a five-metre-long crocodile.

Trudie Trewin’s humorous text and great cliff hanger chapter endings keep the reader turning the pages, and despite the heart pounding action, she manages to keep the laughs coming.

The text is broken up with Dak’s hilarious and perceptive Dak’s facts. A school camp is something readers will relate to and the destination, Cape Tribulation provides an ideal backdrop for adventure.

Author, Trudie Trewin seamlessly incorporates the setting detail into the story so that readers can picture themselves there but aren’t distracted from the action.

There’s also the odd gross description to appall and delight readers.

Camp Croc is a hilarious adventure story that will captivate readers. The text is simple, the dialogue realistic and the action non-stop – making it a great choice for reluctant readers.

Camp Croc is published by Walker Books in their Lightning Strikes series. Teacher’s notes are available from the Walker Books website

 

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE INSPIRES “CAMP CROC”

Today, we welcome Queensland author, Trudie Trewin to Kids’ Book Capers. She’s here to talk about her writing adventures and her hilarious new children’s book for readers aged 9-13, Camp Croc.

Writing is something that Trudie says she always thought she’d have a go at “one day”.

But I had imagined I would write for adults. A random comment about children’s stories by a co-worker when I left for maternity leave got me thinking. Eventually, the thinking turned to doing, and I found that writing for kids was something I loved.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Having an excuse to daydream! The freedom of being able to work anywhere, anytime.

What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

Convincing my family that lazing by the pool is how I mull over and fix up a plot I’m having trouble with!

What were you in a past life (if anything) before you became a writer?

In reality, I worked in finance, but if I could have my choice of any career…I’ve always thought being an astronaut would be pretty cool.

What is your greatest writing achievement?

Okay, this is pretty hard to admit, but I’m naturally lazy – so every time I move from just thinking about a story and jotting down notes, to the moment I have to actually sit down and write it all out is quite an achievement for me!

Do you have any tips for new writers?

Read lots, write lots, talk to other writers lots, accept constructive criticism, and follow your heart.

Anything else of interest you might like to tell our blog readers?

I love to sing, but I am truly terrible at it. When my boys were babies I used to sing ‘Amazing Grace’ to them at bedtime, and without fail they would always put their hand over my mouth, and as soon as they could talk, they would say ‘stop’ as well. Now I sing just to embarrass them!

ABOUT CAMP CROC

It’s about four mates who sneak away from a school camp, only to find themselves getting into hairy situations, or should I say, scaly situations, with both local wildlife and some wildlife smugglers.

What inspired you to write this book?

I read a newspaper article about a woman who went for a swim in one of our local beaches, and really did bump into a crocodile – and lived to tell the tale. I couldn’t stop thinking about what must have gone through her head when she realised that she was face to face with a croc – so I wrote a scene where a boy swims into a crocodile, and Daks was the character that bolted out of the water. I knew then that any character that had been through that ordeal deserved a whole story, not just a scene!

Can you tell me about the main character and what you like/dislike about him/her?

Daks has a somewhat dry sense of humour, enjoys the company of his mates, and has an adventurous streak – but like all kids his age, his taste for adventure grows considerably in the presence of his mates. He can be hesitant to make new friends, but once he has he’s very loyal.

Are there any teacher’s notes, associated activities with the book?

Yes, on the Lightning Strikes website.

Is there something that sets this book apart from others?

Probably the humorous observations Daks and his friends make. Even in the face of danger they manage to find something funny to comment on.

What did you enjoy most about writing Camp Croc?

The action in it. There were times when my heart hammered faster than the keyboard as the boys lurched from one dangerous situation to the next!

What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

Trying to work out how the boys were going to get free when they were tied up to the trees. I even tied my boys up to trees to see if what I described was possible! Oh that reminds me…. better go and untie them now…

Camp Croc lovers will be pleased to know that Trudie is currently working on another story involving Daks and his mates.

On Friday we’re reviewing the hilarious Camp Croc here at Kids’ Book Capers.

Pics for this post were supplied from Trudie’s blog.



“DEAD CERTAIN” WILL KILL A BAD MOOD

Sally Gould’s new novel, Dead Certain is a hilarious new addition to Walker Books’ Lightning Strikes series and although it has a funeral setting there is plenty to laugh about.

Max’s Uncle Jack has died from a heart condition and Max is the only person who knows Jack’s last wish was to be buried next to his father, not cremated. It’s a race against time for Max to convince people this is what Jack really wanted.

Max is determined to help his uncle out one last time,  even if that means he has to steal the body to stop the cremation from happening.

I have to admit that I didn’t expect to laugh so much over a story set at a funeral. But Max’s dilemma is so real and his antics are so desperate that they make for complete chaos that readers 9-13 will love.

Max is a great character with a strong voice and readers will easily engage with him and his predicament.

This fast-paced story will keep readers entertained. In a non confronting way, it also encourages discussion on what happens to you after you die, as well as issues of burial and cremation.

There’s also room for discussion about the generations and the dynamics of families and events that affect them.

HOW DEAD CERTAIN WAS CREATED

Author, Sally Gould says that the inspiration for this story came from the real life story of a relative who died.

He was a great bloke and loved by everyone who knew him. Earlier I’d arranged for Andy Griffiths to come and speak to my writing class. While I was at the funeral I thought, I wonder what Andy would do with this setting. The story idea followed. Max and Charlie are based on my sons. The oldest is logical and responsible like Charlie and the youngest is mischievous like Max.

Max is based on Sally’s youngest son when he was that age, so she says. “Of course I love everything about him.”

Particularly at that age he was determined that the world should be fair and the right thing should be done. What I like most about the character of Max is that I captured my son’s unique voice.

At the time I wrote this story, I’d take chapters to my writing class and the writers in my workshop group would be laughing themselves silly about Max’s antics and the things he’d think and say.

Sally says that the hardest part about writing the book was the editing process.

Max had many more crazy thoughts and lines, but of course my editor pared them down so the action wasn’t held up. Having to delete lines I loved was hard.

Teacher notes for Dead Certain are available from  www.walkerbooks.com.au/teachers. There is also a dedicated Walker Books Lightning Strikes website coming soon.


DEAD CERTAIN – A NEW LIGHTNING STRIKE FROM WALKER BOOKS

A funeral is an unusual setting for a children’s book, but Sally Gould has turned it into a riot that kids will find hilarious in her new novel, Dead Certain published by Walker Books Australia as part of their Lightning Strikes series.

Sally is visiting Kids’ Book Capers today to talk about her writing and her new book. Before she became a writer, Sally was a corporate lawyer. She says,

Strangely, I see a similarity between taking complex areas of law and making them understandable and accessible to, for example, company directors and taking complex ideas and making them accessible to readers though a story.

After she decided to focus on her writing, Sally enrolled in a Professional Writing & Editing Class and took Rachel Flynn’s writing for Children subjects. Sally was the first of Rachel’s students in eleven years to have a picture book published (Charlotte and Me – Windy Hollow Books).

Sally says that her favourite part of writing is starting a new story.

I love when the seed of a story idea drops down from the heavens and into my head. Especially when I’m not looking for an idea and it’s a wonderful unexpected surprise.

But she finds the first draft hard.

While I love nurturing the initial story idea into a fully formed plan, I find writing the first draft hard. I know I shouldn’t self edit as I’m writing, but I often do and so I don’t enjoy the process of the first draft. The last set of drafts make up for it though.

At the moment she is working on a paranormal series for 9-13 year olds and it’s the first time she has attempted this genre.

SALLY’S TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS

I think one of the most important things to do is to form a writing group where you read and critique each other’s work. The feedback needs to be honest and constructive and I think a group works best if the members are at about the same level.

CONSISTENT THEMES IN SALLY’S WORK

Jumping to conclusions is a favourite theme of mine, probably because I have a tendency to do just that. Two educational books I’ve written contain that theme. And I have written a number of stories in locations where we’ve been on family holidays. Chase through Venice is a picture book I have coming out in April with Windy Hollow Books. While we were in Venice, I wanted to buy a picture book that showed off the sights, but I couldn’t find one so I wrote that story.

Join us back here on Wednesday when Sally will be talking about how she wrote Dead Certain and we’ll be reviewing this hilarious new book.

ROBYN OPIE AND THE BLACK BARON

When Robyn Opie was fifteen, her English teacher gave her an ‘A’ for every essay she wrote. One day, as he handed back her essay, he said, ‘You should be a writer’.

I was stunned. I hadn’t thought about being a writer. In fact, I hadn’t even thought about people writing books. I mean, I read plenty of books, all the time, but it hadn’t occurred to me that people wrote the books I loved. People, like me? I went home and began work on my ‘Nancy Drew’ mystery.

Robyn’s ‘Nancy Drew’ mystery was rejected for being ‘too similar’ but she has gone on to become the author of more than eighty books including her fast-paced Black Baron, which is part of Walker Books Lightning Strikes series.

Black Baron, Jake’s champion racing cockroach, hasn’t lost a race and Jake is on top of the world. But then his mum decides to clean up his bedroom and discovers Black Baron in a shoebox under Jake’s bed. Mum is aghast — how could Jake keep such a filthy pest? But Black Baron escapes and Jake’s Mum calls the pest exterminator and a humorous slapstick tale ensues. (Blurb courtesy of Walker Books Australia website)

Black Baron is for readers aged 8 to 12, but I must admit that this particular cockroach managed to get under my skin, and I know I’m not the only adult who has been charmed by his scuttling ways. The story  is action packed and full of great humour.

The main character Jake is a normal boy who isn’t good at cleaning his bedroom and would rather spend time with his mates,  which is why his mum ends up cleaning his room and finding Black Baron.

What Robyn likes most about her main character, Jake is that, to him, Black Baron isn’t an ordinary cockroach to be stomped on or exterminated. Jake has a friendship and bond with Black Baron.

He refers to himself as Black Baron’s manager, as well as Black Baron’s mate. He cares so much that Black Baron’s possible demise is devastating. He struggles with the guilt that Black Baron’s imminent death is his fault. He feels responsible for his champion and mate. His relationship with Black Baron is special.

Robyn says that the thing she enjoyed most about writing this book was falling in love with Black Baron.

Warming to a cockroach wasn’t easy for me either. Most of us have our prejudices against cockroaches. They’re not cute and cuddly. Jake taught me to care and respect Black Baron. Cockroaches are misunderstood. As Jake says, ‘Cockroaches get a bad rap.’

Robyn loves animals and says that they often feature in her stories. She also confesses to being a ‘greenie’ and this affinity for the environment comes through in a number of her works.

My latest manuscript has the environment as a theme and includes an ancient mystical symbol. You’ll have to wait to find out more. I’m hoping the environment and natural forces will become even more of a focus in my writing.

In my own way, Black Baron is a protest about hunting and killing animals. I don’t understand how people can hunt and kill animals for pleasure or profit.

Yes, a cockroach is an unlikely hero in a protest against hunting and killing animals. People will have to read the book to understand. I’ll get off my high horse now and leave you with one thought – Long live the champ!

Walker Books has prepared a page of classroom ideas and this sheet can also be downloaded from Robyn’s website: http://www.robynopie.com/dl/BlackBaronSheet.pdf