Posts Tagged 'Michael Gerard Bauer'

CBCA Book of the Year Awards

Ever since I was a little girl I was aware of the round stickers that occasionally popped up on Australian book covers. I didn’t know what they said or exactly what they meant, but I knew one thing: whether the sticker was silver, bronze or blue, the book was going to be good. As I got taller and older I learnt about the Children’s Book Council of Australia, the organisation behind the stickers, and that each year they ran awards to select the best Australian children’s books published.

Over a lifetime these stickers have informed much of my reading. As a wee one I was much more likely to pick up a book if it had one on the cover. As a teenager so many of the books I treasured were awarded (Gary Crew’s Angel’s Gate, Isobelle Carmody’s The Gathering and Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi). As an aspiring author / illustrator, my reading list came directly from the award notable list (although I had often read most of them already). Then, as I became part of the writing community, each year I’d barrack for my friend’s book and my favourite picks.

This year the awards meant something different. I had my first children’s book ‘out there’. I was determined not to think about the awards, but a friend mentioned when the short-lists were announced and I suddenly found myself thinking (and stressing) about them a whole lot. It was kind of awful. Steven Herrick wrote a beautifully humble and honest post about how writers try to pretend that awards don’t matter – that we don’t mind whether we’re selected or not. I even tried to trick myself into thinking this, with lots of very sensible self-talk about the fact that it was only ‘my first book’ and that ‘so many amazing books are published each year’ blah blah etc, but it didn’t really work. I still harboured a deep secret hope.

Tuesday was the fateful day, and after all that stressing I still feel incredibly humbled and overawed with the news. Squish Rabbit was selected as part of the short-list for the 2012 Crichton Award, which aims to encourage new talent in the field of children’s illustration. It was also selected as a Notable Book in the Early Childhood Category of the Book of the Year Awards, which I’m thrilled about.

The Australian writing community is such a supportive one, and there was an outpouring of lovely congratulations and kind words – thank you. So many amazing books made this year’s lists, including those by some of my favourite people: Michael Gerard Bauer, Lucia Masciullo, Peter Carnavas, James Foley, Prue Mason, Sally Rippin and Wendy Orr. So proud to count these incredible writers and illustrators as friends.

The day’s celebrations included champagne, party poppers, a movie, a decadent Thai feast and a little pack of fun:

  • The Shin’s latest album: Their music makes me happy (and is part of the soundtrack for my latest novel)
  • Obi-Wan: A funny gift from my poet to remind me that Jedi like patience can bring rewards (for Star Wars nerds that would like to inform me that this is not actually Obi-Wan, I say to you that I had already named him thusly when I discovered this, and besides I like this name better)
  • My Neighbour Totoro: Possibly one of Miyazaki’s greatest films, which is quietly magical and so full of beauty, and one I have been meaning to get forever
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Coping with Bad Reviews (or not)

It was going to happen eventually. You send your first book baby out into the big old world and not everyone will coo over it. I knew it was something I had to prepare for, but in the last few months I have been spoilt with lovely reviews and with reviewers who have clearly connected with my style and fallen for my little bunny.

Then the other day it happened. I got my first negative review. Intellectually I knew it was inevitable, but emotionally it’s never easy.

That said, it was far from a really nasty one. If the review was a crocodile it was at least smiling at me (although that made the teeth easier to see). There were some little positives in amongst it, but there were certainly a couple of statements that were bluntly discouraging. When you first read it you’re hyper-aware that it’s out there for the whole world to see. There’s no hiding from it. So here’s my incredibly serious, no at all tongue-in-cheek guide to how I coped with it…

  1. Give yourself a day: on this day you have permission to feel however you want. Cry, stomp, rant, rage, walk in circles, eat a continent of chocolate, talk to the birds and abandon all plans to do intelligent worthwhile things. I have done all of the above in the past, although this occasion just called for a quiet day and a long walk
  2. Rally the forces: Re-read your good reviews – your favourite ones that made you feel all shiny and proud. Especially those where the reviewer loved all the things the negative review seemed to dislike. Even more so the ones that directly contradict the bad review (take that, bad review!)
  3. Argue with your dog: sit your dog down and tell him all about the bad review. Defend every negative point with awesome counter-arguments. Discuss your artistic intent. Wax lyrical about everything the reviewer missed or overlooked. You’ll find your dog a very understanding ear (and know that when he brings you the tennis ball he’s saying he understands your pain)
  4. Indulge your inner storyteller: look at the reviewer’s name and imagine their backstory and why they might have written such a review. Maybe they’re a disgruntled writer and are jealous of your success. Maybe they have a deeply ingrained fear of rabbits (childhood trauma perhaps?). Maybe they’re the Guinness World Record holder for tallest person and can’t in any way relate to being little. Maybe they just didn’t like the book (hold on – scrap that last one. Too realistic and it won’t make you feel better at all)
  5. Read other authors’ bad reviews: oh this sounds nasty doesn’t it? But it works a treat. Look up your all time favourite books on Goodreads and read their one star reviews. Puts everything into perspective. If there are people in the world who loathe The Book Thief, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, then I can cope with people not liking my bunny. Everyone is different (and clearly some are weird – who doesn’t like Mo Willems?!)

For more ideas, hop on over to Michael Gerard Bauer’s blog. He’s far braver than I am … he even quoted his bad review.

Anyone have any other ideas to share?

Squish Rabbit Launch (in Photos)

On Saturday 3rd September a bunch of old friends, new friends, family, families and a horde of little rabbits (plus one spiderman) all gathered together at Black Cat Books to help me launch my first picture book, Squish Rabbit. Everyone warned me that the day would speed by and be over before I knew it, so I made sure I enjoyed every second. The classy Pascalle ‘Bunny’ Burton MC’ed the day, while Michael ‘Bouncing’ Bauer (amazing writer and good friend) did the honours of launching the book. We had live music from the talented songstress Skye ‘Rabbit’ Staniford, while Richard ‘Hoppy’ Grantham entertained with his playful keyboard tunes. There was even an appearance from a real bunny (quite a feat in Queensland where rabbits are illegal), and also a visit from a not so real one…

Some of my favourite moments from the day:

  • Signing my first book
  • NOT misspelling a single child’s name
  • Michael revealing the little known beginnings of Squish Rabbit as ‘Squish Cockroach’
  • Promising myself that during my thank-yous I wouldn’t cry and would only make others do so (failing at one but succeeding at the other)
  • The kidlets hopping around eating the ‘for-decoration-purposes-only’ carrots (instead of the cupcakes)
  • People pointing out that I had worn a carrot coloured dress (unintentional win!)
  • Pascalle’s unexpected magic trick (multiplying rabbits! – exactly why they’re illegal in QLD…)
  • Richard’s lollypop formal shirt (designed by him but made by his grandmother)
  • Skye’s impromptu version of ‘Old McDonald had an Alien’
  • The magician performing mind blowing rabbit magic while seeming to have some kind of meltdown mid-act
  • Spiderman running around amongst all the little kids dressed as rabbits (there’s always one)

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Then again, rather than telling you about it all, why not let the images speak for themselves?

Morning launch? So what - let there be wine! Plus red balloons from the book

Lots of orange and green type food (Squish would be proud)

We were up until midnight making hundreds of little carrots for the cupcakes

David and I enjoying the fruits (or veg?) of our labour

Skye and Richard delighting the kids and adults alike

Rabbit! (I didn't Squish this one)

Magical bunnies

Some of my favourite little rabbits

Michael clutching his book (I did promise not to steal it...)

Kathleen, Jules and Peter (some favourite writing/illustrating peeps)

Some notorious bunnies from the day (including one tiny pink one plucking the decorative carrots for her lunch)

Who knew spiderman also enjoyed carrots?

Signing a book for a little pink bunny

Some of the precious rabbity gifts I got on the day


About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:

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