Kids Will be Rapt to Find More Wrapped this Christmas – Part 2

Back again with yet another wonderful collection of gift suggestions for the festive season (see Part 1 here). This time, a few picture books perfectly gorgeous for preschool children who will love the buzz, love and tingle that feels like Christmas.

Merry Everything! is an utterly joyous celebration packaged in a magical wrapping of scrumptious words and pictures to create all kinds of warm and fuzzies. Naturally! It’s by one of my favourite creative combinations; Tania McCartney and Jess Racklyeft!

A book about inclusion and togetherness at Christmas time – what better way to introduce this global jollification than with the endpapers adorned with addressed letters to different animal families around the world. The story continues with sentiments so lovingly expressed through Tania’s kind of lyrical prose about all the preparations pertained to the common link that is Christmas. Bees buzz with busy, pandas wrap surprises, monkeys hang lashings, whilst penguins string songs on the starry sky. Appropriate atmospheric and seasonal scenes and habitats are beautifully thought out in Jess’s sugary sweet watercolour illustrations. Her paintings dazzlingly feature a medley of winsome critters and creatures so busily assembling the festivities with their families. And “on Christmas Day, the world tingles with happy.” Tania’s text continues to bring joy with her mix of cheerful verbs and rhyming elements, humour and bursts of emotion, just like full tummies at the end of a jubilantly hectic day.

A universally appealing book that is brimming with love and intimacy, warmth and unconditional happiness, Merry Everything! is everything a young reader could wish for this Christmas.

Windy Hollow Books, October 2017.

That Christmas Feeling is another heartwarming tale by Lili Wilkinson and Amanda Francey that has us craving that aura of magic and excitement in the lead up to the big day.

But how do you define ‘that Christmas feeling’? Is it baking the Christmas pudding, decorating the tree as a family, singing carols or visiting ‘Santa’? Dottie, Jem and their pup Shortbread reminisce about their special moments last year as they await the arrival of Mum and Dad at their grandparents’ house. This year is not quite the same, and for some children this may be a reality where compromises and adapting to change need to be made. In a bid to find the feeling they so long for, Jem shows Dottie a tree with twinkling lights and they sing songs together. Then Mum and Dad join them with a delivery that qualifies as the most precious ‘Christmas feeling’. It will literally give you shivers!

Touching and packed with emotion, and detailed illustrations that are equally full of life, reflection and charm, That Christmas Feeling is a tribute to the significance of family love and balancing expectations in times of uncertainty or change. Preschoolers will be overcome with hearts filled with joy after sharing this gorgeous book.

Allen & Unwin, September 2017.

What a joyous story brimming with sunshine and optimism, friendship and generosity! A Very Quacky Christmas by Frances Watts is delightfully cheerful with stunning illustrations by Ann James, perfect for reflecting on the true spirit of a bright Christmas.

Samantha Duck gloriously sings, “We wish you a quacky Christmas” whilst winding tinsel around reeds, hanging baubles and stockings on branches, and writing wish lists for all her friends. In the meantime, by her side is the pessimistic tortoise, Sebastian, certain that Christmas is not for animals. But, despite his scepticism he agrees to help his friend collect precious items from animals around the farm – sharing in a Christmas for animals is a delightful idea, after all. A cart full of presents and a bumpy ride later, who else shows his support, encouragement and nobility but Sebastian himself!

A Very Quacky Christmas is an absolutely feel-good book about giving and sharing, with its provocative text and effortless, dreamy illustrations that allow the golden effervescence to wash over the pages and into your heart. Love.

ABC Books, HarperCollins, October 2017.

Here’s a gift that keeps on giving – the legendary classic, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury), specifically designed as a gift book with an all-encompassing snowglobe inset into the cover.

Follow your journey through the long wavy grass, deep cold river, oozy mud, dark forest, and into a swirling whirling snowstorm as you shake and swish the book to create a ‘cool’ whooshing, kinaesthetic experience. What a blast! Continue on your suspenseful way to the narrow gloomy cave, and rush back home again with bear-on-tail, right into the comfort of your bed.

A masterful gift idea from the people at Walker Books to allow us oldies to relive the drama and excitement, and for the youngsters to be inspired to engage in all the songs, actions, role plays and good old cuddles that accompany this favourite treasure. Designed to captivate our hearts with some interactive fun, We’re Going on Bear Hunt Snowglobe Gift Book will be a winner for preschoolers this Christmas.

Walker Books, October 2017.

Australian YA: Meet Lili Wilkinson and Green Valentine

 

Thanks for speaking to Boomerang Books, Lili

Where are you based and how involved in the YA literary community are you?

I’m in Melbourne, and I’m as involved as a lady with an eleven-month-old baby can be! I used to work at the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria, where I helped establish insideadog.com.au, the Inky Awards and the Inky Creative Reading Prize. I’ve just finished my PhD in Creative Writing, and I’m part of the #loveozya movement, as well as just being generally around on social media.

ScatterheartI’ve followed and admired your work for many years, in the past reviewing Scatterheart for the former version of Books+Publishing and writing teacher notes for Joan of Arc.

How has your writing changed over time?

Thank you! I’d like to think my writing has gotten better – I certainly feel like I’m always learning and trying to improve. I’m more confident now, and my writing process is more streamlined. I’m also becoming much more aware of the gaps in literature (my own and more broadly), particularly in the areas of feminism and diversity, and am trying to do a better job of filling those gaps.

What is the significance of your title, Green Valentine (Allen & Unwin)?

Titles are the absolute worst. Green Valentine was originally called Garden Variety, then Bewildered, then Bewildering, then Lobstergirl and Shopping Trolley Boy. Then the wonderful Penni Russon suggested Valentine, and it ended up Green Valentine. Valentine is the suburb where the protagonist Astrid lives – it’s an awful, grey, ugly suburb where nothing grows and everything is shabby and run-down. Astrid’s interest in environmental issues inspires her to bring some green back into Valentine. It also works on a couple of other levels – the name Valentine suggests at some romantic possibilities, and the ‘green’ part refers not only to actual green growing things, but also the environmental activism movement, as well as signifying jealousy.Green Valentine

I love Green Valentine, not least because it’s very funny. Humour is difficult to write. How have you done it?

I love humour, and it is tricky to get right. Mostly I just try and make myself laugh. You feel extremely conceited sitting there at the computer chuckling away at your own jokes. But it has to be done! For me humour has to be paired with heart – I think humour and romance go hand-in-hand.

Which of your other books have humorous elements?

The Not Quite Perfect Boyfriend, Pink, A Pocketful of Eyes, Love-Shy and The Zigzag Effect. I’ve been on a bit of a funny bender. My next book won’t be funny at all! It’s going to be dark and sad, which is actually quite a fun change of pace for me.Pocketful of Eyes

In Green Valentine you have paired Astrid with Hiro. How unlikely is this match?

I love unlikely matches. For this pairing I wanted to mess with a few tropes – the Romeo/Juliet starcrossed lovers thing, a comical take on the masked-ball-mistaken-identity thing, and a sort of genderflipped Cinderella, where the girl is in the position of privilege. And I really wanted to take that well-worn trope of the Popular Mean Girl and make her the protagonist of the story, instead of the villain. I like writing stories about how putting people in boxes is stupid.

How have you used other texts in the novel?

Being a reader, so many of my experiences are shaped by the books I’ve read and loved, and it makes sense for me to extend that to my writing. Green Valentine references heaps of different kinds of texts – from Pride and Prejudice to Tom’s Midnight Garden. But probably most significant is the use of comic books and superheroes. Hiro is a comic book fan, so he and Astrid frame their guerilla gardening activities through a superhero lens, using those characters as a kind of tool to interrogate their own actions and emotions. This was inspired by activist fandoms like the Harry Potter Alliance, who are motivated by literature to try and make the world a better place. I love the idea that stories can act like a kind of blueprint of how to change the world.Tom's Midnight Garden

Greening a community is such a wonderful premise. Is this something you try to do also, maybe even at home?

The whole book came about because I started a veggie garden and was so excited about growing my own food that I wanted to write about it. I have a relatively small little patch of backyard, but manage to grow a lot of fruit and vegetables due to careful planning and some solid permaculture principles. Next, I want chickens.

In the novel you refer to the Cuban Garden Revolution. What is it?

Cuba used to grow lots and lots of tobacco and sugar, and sold most of it to other countries. But to grow a whole lot of just one thing is difficult, so you need lots of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers. After the Cold War, Cuba couldn’t get that stuff from the US any more because of the trade embargo, and when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, Cuba’s whole economy collapsed too because they had nobody left to trade with. They didn’t have enough food, medicine or petrol, which meant that all that sugar and tobacco just rotted away in fields, because there was no one to harvest or transport it. Plus, none of those fertilisers or pesticides for the next crop. They couldn’t import food the way they used to, because they weren’t earning any money from their exports. People were starving to death.

So in Havana, they started growing food in the city. They turned vacant lots and rooftops into gardens. Every school and small business had a little veggie garden. No more big petrol-guzzling tractors required, just people, wheelbarrows and a few oxen. When you grow lots of different things together, your biodiversity increases, and you don’t need any pesticides or fertilisers. They went back to ancient traditions of crop rotation and companion planting. They made compost and harvested animal manure. Today, nearly all the seasonal produce consumed in Havana is grown within the city, as well as all the eggs, honey, chickens and rabbits. They’re a world leader in worms and worm farm technology.

It’s really inspiring stuff, and as large-scale agriculture becomes more and more difficult as we face the challenges of climate change, these small-scale intensive urban farming projects are going to become more and more vital to our survival.

What are you enjoying reading?Cloudwish

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, a stunning exploration of love and family and art. I read it when my baby was very small, and I actually looked forward to him waking up in the middle of the night so I could tiptoe into his room and feed him while reading it on my phone.

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood. Just finished this and adored everything about it. Beautiful writing, beautifully crafted story and character, handling diversity with a very sensitive and respectful touch.

Thanks very much, Lili. I hope Green Valentine finds an enormous readership.

The Christmas Post

Ah, Christmas! I love this time of year — presents, tree decorating, food (especially Christmas Pudding), parties, family, friends and BOOKS!

One of my favourite things about Christmas is getting to just lie around and catch up on some reading. I thought that Christmas reading plans would make an interesting topic for a blog post. So I emailed three other authors and asked them to share their Christmas reading plans with us.

First up we have Meredith Costain. She lives in inner-city Melbourne with a menagerie of pets. Her books range from picture books through to novels and narrative non-fiction, and include A Year in Girl Hell, novelisations of the TV series Dance Academy, Bed Tails, Dog Squad and CBCA Honour Book Doodledum Dancing (illustrated by Pamela Allen). What’s she planning on reading this Christmas?

I’m looking forward to reading The Convent, by Maureen McCarthy. I went to the launch of the book, held in the Nuns’ Salon at the Abbotsford Convent, where the book is set. These days the gothic buildings and beautiful grounds are home to lots of creative ventures – writers, artists, cafes, craft markets, a classical music radio station – so it’s hard to imagine the misery many of the inhabitants (unmarried mothers banished to gruelling work in the convent’s commercial laundries) endured. Maureen is a wonderful storyteller, and has drawn extensively on her own family background for this book.

Having watched the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy on the weekend (twice – it’s incredibly complex!) I’m also planning to read John Le Carré’s novel the movie was based on. I want to find out more background information on the characters and the workings of the ‘Circus’. I’ve written a couple of non-fiction books for kids about spies so this is of particular interest to me.

There’s also lots of fabulous YA fiction I’m hoping to catch up on – including books by Isobelle Carmody, John Green and Maggie Stiefvater. Roll on summer!

Next up we have YA author Lili Wilkinson. A popular speaker on the school circuit, Lili’s books include Scatterheart, Pink, Angelfish and A Pocketful of Eyes. Her latest book, Love-shy, is a rom-com about a high school journalist and a love-shy boy. Take it away, Lili…

Some of my favourite ever memories are curling up on the couch on Christmas Day after lunch with a pile of new books. This year, I’m planning to read Julia Lawrinson’s Losing It, because I’ve loved Julia’s previous books and this one promises to be no exception! I’m also looking forward to Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens, because everyone on Twitter is raving about it. I’m super excited about getting into Brian K Vaughn’s new graphic novel series, Saga, and am hoping I’ll find a copy of that under the tree on the 25th. And finally, I was planning to dive into Maureen McCarthy’s The Convent, but I just couldn’t wait, and have devoured the whole thing over the last few days!

Santas MailLast, but by no means least, we have Dimity Powell. Dimity has just had her first book published — P.S. Who Stole Santa’s Mail?. Being a Christmas themed story, it’s the perfect book for Christmas-time reading. And a great stocking filler. But what is Dimity planning on reading?

What’s on my Christmas reading list? Perhaps a shorter answer would be what’s not on my Christmas reading list? Reading this holiday will include a whole swag of new and previously loved picture books (we always have a stack of them to read each day, usually after breakfast), including Alison Reynolds’s recent release, A Year With Marmalade, because my Miss 7 is infatuated with all things feline. I’d really like to get through the 8 or so books weighing my bedside table down too including; Hazel Edwards’ House Working – a guide to supposedly enable me to learn how to share the load of ‘everything’ with my family better. Ironically, I’m too busy ‘not sharing’ to have time to read it…

I love a good love laugh so; Michael Gerard Bauer’s Eric Vale Epic Fail will be high on the list, along with Benjamin Law’s The Family Law, which I’ve been saving. I dichotomously look forward to a potentially good read, but like to hoard it for a while; a bit like eating roast spuds last, because they’re my favourites. And just for balance; I intend to finish Never Say Die by Chris O’Brien and Alison Goodman’s saucy little thriller, A New Kind of Death. I’m also looking for a copy of Jean-Dominique Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; a book club read that I can’t wait to start. That should keep me going for a while, at least till next year.

Now, what about me? Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how much spare reading time I’m going to have this Christmas as I’m trying to finish off my new novel, Gamers’ Rebellion (the third book in the Gamers series). But if I do end up getting some time… I’ve been saving Eona by Alison Goodman. I read Eon a little while ago and LOVED it (I will get around to posting about it soon… promise). So I am very much looking forward to reading the sequel. I’ve also got a couple of Doctor Who books I want to read — Doctor Who: The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter and The Diary of a Doctor Who Addict by Paul Magrs.

I hope you all have some great Christmas reading ahead.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter

 

Check out my DVD blog, Viewing Clutter.

Latest Post: Blu-ray Review  — Arrietty: Special Edition

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Carol and Lili chat online

Sometimes talent runs in the family. Case in point: Australian author Carole Wilkinson and her daughter, author Lili Wilkinson.

Carole is best known for her series of Dragonkeeper children’s novels, which have won a plethora of awards over the years. She has also written a wide range of other books, including the YA novel Sugar Sugar and an award-winning non-fiction book about Ned Kelly, Black Snake.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Lili is the author of five YA novels, including Angel Fish, Pink and her latest, A Pocketful of Eyes. She has also written a non-fiction book, Joan of Arc: the story of Jehanne Darc, as well as having edited Short, an anthology of children’s fiction.

As you would expect, Carole and Lili communicate regularly and often find themselves chatting online. Today on Literary Clutter we get to eavesdrop on one of their chats…

Lili: Mum! Aid my procrastination! What are you doing?

Carole: Celebrating.

Lili: Did you win something?

Carole: No
Carole: I HAVE FINISHED MY ZERO DRAFT!!!

Lili: Hurrah!
Lili: Is this the first draft for the NEW DRAGONKEEPER BOOK?

Carole: Yep. Dragonkeeper 4.
Carole: It’s been hard work.

Lili: Is it more about Ping and Kai?

Carole: It’s 400 years after Dragon Moon. Ping is sadly long gone, but Kai is still around.

[Interruption from George: Set in ancient China, the first three Dragonkeeper books — Dragonkeeper, Garden of the Purple Dragon and Dragon Moon — tell the story of a young girl, Ping, who becomes a dragonkeeper, first looking after an older dragon named Danzi and then a young one named Kai. Carole also wrote a prequel called Dragon Dawn.]

Lili: So does Kai have a new dragonkeeper? Is he All Grown Up?

Carole: I don’t want to give too much away. He’s a sort of teenage dragon, and he’s sick of living at the Dragon Haven.
Carole: That’s all I’m saying.

Lili: Is he painting his bedroom black and listening to My Chemical Romance?

Carole: Something like that.
Carole: Sequels are hard. You haven’t ever done a sequel have you?

Lili: Nope, although I’m vaguely considering it at the moment.

Carole: Really what for? Hannah’s life in Australia? More stage crew hijinks for Ava?

Lili: There is a current possibility of a Pocketful of Eyes sequel. If enough people buy the first one. *hint hint*

[Interruption from George: Hannah is an English girl sent to Australia as a convict in Lili’s debut historical novel, Scatterheart. Ava is the lead character from Pink. And A Pocketful of Eyes is her latest book — a terrific page-turning murder mystery/romcom that everyone should rush out and buy right now.]

Carole: That’s exciting. So you hadn’t considered a sequel when you were writing it?

Lili: Not at all. Which makes it rather difficult.

Carole: Better to do it that way, I think. Otherwise you’re thinking, should I save that for the next one? Better to give the book you’re writing everything you’ve got.

Lili: So what happens now you have your zero draft?

Carole: Now the enjoyable bit starts. I have the story worked out, so now I have to reread it and basically make it better. It’s taken me 6 months but it’s very rough.
Carole: Even you don’t get to see my zero draft.

Lili: I don’t show anyone my zero draft. That’s why it’s called a zero draft instead of a first draft.

Carole: I am going to celebrate for at least 15 minutes. It’s too early for champagne, so I’m having a cup of tea. Orange Pekoe.

Lili: You should have CAKE

Carole: I have no cake.

Lili: A great tragedy indeed.

Carole: So apart from thinking about a possible, hypothetical sequel to PoE, what else are you working on?

Lili: I’m just about to start copyedits for Love Shy, my romcom about a high school wannabe journalist who discovers a boy at her school who is terrified of girls. It’ll be out next year.
Lili: And starting the first draft of the novel I’m writing as part of my PhD.

Carole: I wish I could do three things at once.
Carole: Are you happy with Love Shy?

Lili: Not even slightly, but hopefully by the time the copyedits are done I will be.
Lili: My books always get funnier during copyedits.

Carole: When do I get to read it?

Lili: Whenever you like.

Carole: Good. I need something to read.
Carole: I’m going to go and buy cake.

Lili: Good idea. Email me some.

George’s bit at the end

Thank you to Carole and Lili for letting us look over their shoulders as they chatted online.

For more info about Carole and her books, check out her website.

For more info about Lili and her books, check out her website.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter… or I’ll post an online chat I had with myself the other day.

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Lili Wilkinson and her book covers

Ultimately, it is the content of a book that is most important. But it is the cover that will often entice readers to pick it up. Last year I wrote a few posts about book covers (Some book covers, Series book covers and My book covers). Today, YA author, Lili Wilkinson pays a visit to Literary Clutter to give us a look at a couple of her covers. Lili is the author of numerous novels, including The Not Quite Perfect Boyfriend, Angel Fish, and of course, the two books she discusses in her guest post. Take it away Lili…

Never Judge A Book By Its Cover

That’s what people say, right? Except everybody does.

One of the questions I get asked the most is: do I get to choose the covers of my books? The answer is no… but.

What happens is, the editors of my book put together a design brief, and a designer comes up with some ideas. Then I get to see the ideas and give my opinion. And so far, my editors have always agreed with my thoughts. I’m not sure what would happen if we had a major disagreement over a cover – I suspect they’d win, because although I know what I like, they know what sells, and that’s more important.

So here’s how it happened with Pink. Bruno came up with these four designs:

And we all LOVED the ones with the silhouettes. But I made a few suggestions – like for most of the images to be things that you wouldn’t normally associate with being pink – like tools and cockroaches. And I loved the Y-fronts so much that I actually added a bit in to the book where Ava sees a boy’s underwear, just so we could keep them on the cover.

Here’s a post from Bruno about how he went about designing that cover, including his original, AWESOME, but ultimately too expensive idea to have a hypercolour cover that turned pink when you held it.

And here’s the final cover:

And here, for comparison, is the US cover for Pink, which I also love because I can’t wait to see it standing out against all those black-and-red paranormal romance books:

Sometimes, if a book needs a bit of a facelift after it’s been out for a few years, it gets rejacketed. This happened with my first novel, Scatterheart. I love the original cover for Scatterheart – and so do a lot of people. It has the same cover in the UK and Germany. But some people didn’t like it. So the good folks at Black Dog Books decided to rejacket, and came up with this:

It’s amazing what a difference it made. Scatterheart sold more copies in six months with this new cover than it had in the three years since its publication with the old one.

George’s bit at the end

Wow! Who would have thought a cover could make that much of a difference? Of course, it helps that Scatterheart is a brilliant read. I read it last year and loved it. Lili’s other books are now on my to-be-read pile! For more info about Lili and her writing, check out her website. And follow her on Twitter.

Tune in next time for some family reading.

Catch ya later, George

PS. Follow me on Twitter
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Random stuff

I keep a list of blog topics in the back on my notebook, which I add to every time an appropriate idea crosses my mind. But not every thought that crosses my mind is worth a blog post in its own right, and so today I present… some random stuff.

I like reviewing books. I also like reviewing DVDs. As well as the books I review on this blog, I also do reviews for Australian Spec Fic in Focus and MC Reviews. MC Reviews is a particularly interesting review site in that it includes more than just books. There are reviews of DVDs, CDs, films, exhibitions, theatre, opera and other events. My most recent reviews on this site include the YA novel Trash by Andy Mulligan and the DVD of Doctor Who: The Dominators. And if you’re really interested, you can check out a list of all my reviews on this site… here. ‘Cause I know you’re all dying to read more of my opinions. 😉

I like going to book launches. They are an important way of announcing a new release. They generate publicity, sell some copies and give people the chance to meet, talk to and get an autograph from the authors/illustrators. Sometimes there’s even free food/drink. Although The Glasshouse, by Paul Collins and Jo Thompson, was released last month, its official Victorian launch is yet to take place. So if you’d like to come along and join the festivities for this fab new picture book, you can. It will be held at 11.30am on Saturday 30 October at Prahran Market. More info about the launch is available from the Ford Street Publishing website. And you can read my thoughts about the book, here.

I’ve known fantasy author Trudi Canavan for years. She’s a lovely person and a good friend. But, believe it or not, I’ve never read any of her books… until now, that is. I’m about three quarters of the way through The Magician’s Guild, the first book in her Black Magician trilogy, and I’m very happy to say that I’m loving it. I hang my head in shame for taking so long to get around to it. Given how much I am enjoying this book, I will, no doubt, blog about it more substantially in the near future. And I’ll definitely get around to the remainder of the books in the series with a little more speed.

Another author that I have been meaning to read for ages but haven’t yet, is Lili Wilkinson. Her book, Scatterheart, is next on my list. Her mother, Carole Wilkinson, is one of my favourite authors and a long-time friend, so it seems logical that I should give Lili’s books a try. I’ve been following Lili on Twitter for some time, and her tweets are usually interesting, as is her blog. And this semester we have been teaching colleagues at the University of Melbourne in the third year subject “Encounters With Writing”. So it seems like a good time to finally get to one of her books!

After having completed a number of school readers, I’m now finally working in earnest on my new novel. I’m six chapters in to what will undoubtedly be a barely readable first draft. My early drafts are always somewhat iffy… but that’s why re-writing is so important. It will be a number of drafts before I have something that’s okay to send to my publisher… and then, of course, there will be more re-writing. But that’s all part of the process, and I’m actually looking forward to each step.

I’ll finish up with a couple of links. Firstly, an article by Paul Collins — “PODs, E-books, Nuts and Bolts”. It’s an interesting take on the whole electronic publishing trend and the difficulties faced by small press publishers wanting to branch out into the electronic world. Secondly, a blog post from Narrelle M Harris — “Lessons in language: Tactfully changing tack”. It’s a great little rant about the incorrect use of language. So if ‘changing tact’ bothers you, you’ll get a chuckle out of this post.

Given that my post today has been about random things, I thought I’d finish up by asking if anyone out there has any random comments to make? Anything to do with books, writing or publishing? Your favourite colour? The airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

And tune in next time as author Sean McMullen tells us a little about economic SF.

Catch ya later,  George

PS.  Follow me on Twitter… if you already follow me, how about following Lili Wilkinson or Narrelle M Harris?

The Problem with Pink

Remember a couple of years back, when pink shirts became mainstream for blokes? It was a fashion revolution. Mainly because previous to that fateful day (when the Aussie ocker braved his mate’s bbq and they didn’t beat him to a pulp on sight), pink shirts were the avenue of metrosexuals and guys who didn’t know to separate the colours from the whites in the wash cycle (“it’s red, I tell you”)…

As this isn’t a fashion blog, I won’t be detailing the rise and fall of the empire of Pink Shirt.

Mainly because with the exception of the black, red and white that currently frequents every paranormal series, most covers in the book world seem to be on pretty even rotation through the ages. Or are they? There’s a whole lot of hullabaloo going on at the moment in certain literary media circles, stemming from this article. Apparently, pink book covers are a little too sweet to the stomach for some. I felt a little affronted when I first read the article…like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, pink is one of my favourite things. It’s the colour of romance and cotton candy; if your kids aren’t eating their vegetables then your best bet is to paint the kitchen pink; and pink is the perfect deterrent for car thieves.

But also, in the book world at least, pink is the safe haven for petticoated Chick Lit, Mills and Boon-style romances and domestic YA fiction for girls.

It seems (as much as I hate to admit it) that the problem with pink is that it’s too brash for the bookshelf, too unreasonable when prose is wanting to be serious, too gender-specific when publishers want to appeal to both sides of the audience.

Looking to my own shelves, even though I love the colour pink and am shamelessly drawn to cover art I don’t have much on the pink shelf.

Yes I colour-code my bookshelves. And yes, one of the books is named Princess Academy. But there’s also a David Mitchell and a veritable feast of books with middle-eastern characters.

And, one of the books is also The Best Australian Essays 2008. But when I search it online? The cover comes up as a no-holds-barred royal purple. Mine on the bookshelf is at least a magenta in the flesh. Harrumph. But seriously, does it really matter what colour a book is?

I guess, yes. I don’t like Chick Lit in the slightest as a genre, and (with the exception of Lili Wilkinson’s Pink)  pink YA covers make me think they’re trying to “femme up” the cover because the writing doesn’t speak for itself.

So I’m throwing it out there if you’ve got a possible answer for me: is pink itself superficial? Can it ever be taken seriously?

 Or am I being superficial by judging it prematurely?

September Book Giveaway

SEPTEMBER MAJOR GIVEAWAY

Let this month’s prize pack take you on an unforgettable journey – globe-trot with Joel Magarey, get lost among the desert elephants of Namibia, pig out in northern Spain. Relax and soak in William McInnes’ reflections on his father, and unleash your inner-child with the hottest children’s releases. The pack includes:

A Man’s Got To Have A Hobby by William McInnes SIGNED

Ivory Moon by Sally Henderson

Exposure: A Journey by Joel Magarey

Everything But The Squeal by John Barlow

Schooling Around: Robot Riot! by Andy Griffiths

Looking For Flavour by Barbara Santich

It’s Yr Life by Tempany Deckert & Tristan Bancks

Gone by Michael Grant

The Greatest Blogger In The World by Andrew McDonald

To go into the draw to win these books, just complete the entry form here. Entries close September 30, 2009.

Ivory Moon
Everything But The Squeal
Gone

SEPTEMBER FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY

When you join our Facebook Group, not only do you become a part of one of Australia’s fastest growing online book groups, you also go into the draw to win prizes! This month, one lucky member will win a pack that includes:

The Pheonix Files: Arrival by Chris Morphew

Brainjack by Brian Falkner

Big Stories From Little Lunch by Danny Katz, illustrated by Mitch Vane

Scatterheart by Lili Wilkinson

Allie McGregor’s True Colours by Sue Lawson

Tales From The Labyrinth/The Stone Ladder by Peter Lloyd

Jetty Road by Cath Kenneally

Chinese Cinderella: The Mystery of the Song Dynasty Painting


Big Stories From Little Lunch


Scatterheart


Allie McGregor's True Colours


Tales from the Labyrinth / The Stone Ladder

A big thanks to our friends at Allen and Unwin, Black Dog Books, Hachette, Hardie Grant Egmont, Pan Macmillan, Random House, Wakefield Press and Walker Books for supporting our giveaways this month.