Posts Tagged 'Wendy Orr'

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

Melbourne Squish Rabbit Launch (in photos)

I love my sunny hometown of Brisbane. But because the grass is always greener, when asked what my favourite Aussie town is I’ve always answered Melbourne. I love the pastel colours of the city, the old-London architecture, the hum and crackle of tram wires, and the graffitied alleyways with their hole-in-the wall coffee and soup joints. Also the Haigh’s stores (dark choc-pepermint frogs are an old favourite indulgence). I’m always looking for an excuse to pop down south, so it’s no surprise that I jumped at the chance to launch Squish Rabbit in Melbourne-town.

On November 5th a bunch of wee bunnies and readers gathered at The Little Bookroom to help me do just that. The lovely store owner, Leesa, did a beautiful job of decorating the store in true Squish style (plenty of carrots, apples and red balloons) and the delightful Wendy Orr launched my book. Musical maestro Richard did an amazing job of accompanying me on keyboard with his original music while I did a book reading. There was also a craft table with Squishy scribblings happening throughout the talks, I did an illustration demonstration and there were lots of delicious nibbles. Such a fun day. If you couldn’t make it but would like to get your paws on a signed copy, there are plenty in both of The Little Bookroom stores, as well as Dymocks (city), Readings (Carlton) and Brunswick Street Bookstore (Fitzroy).

At the launch with some peonies given to me by the lovely Neridah McMullin

As much as I enjoyed my time away I was really glad to get home. Not surprising considering my partner and I worked out on the plane back to Brisbane that in 8 months we have done 15 work related trips away – including New York, Sydney, Townsville, Toowoomba, Mackay, Broken Hill, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Byron Bay. Luckily we now have a few months at home (mostly), that is until the work starts up again in the new year…

In the meantime, here’s a sampling of photos from the launch day. Thanks to all those who hopped by!

The Little Bookroom, Carlton North

Colouring table

Little bunnies clutching crayons and carrots

Leesa making enthusiastic hand gestures

Wendy saying nice things

Bunny book reading

Awesome spec-fic writer, Bren, caught herself a rabbit

Signing and posing

So many rabbits (they do have a habbit of multiplying)

You can also read about the day and see more photos over at My Little Bookcase and at Claire Saxby’s blog.

Melbourne Launch + More Reviews

It’s been a big time for little Squish Rabbit. He’s been out hopping around bookstores for nearly two months in Australia and these last weeks have seen more reviews, interviews and an approaching launch in Melbourne…

Squish and I would love to see all you Melbournites at The Little Bookroom for our morning of Squishy celebrations. The book will be launched by talented author (and all-round lovely person) Wendy Orr, who wrote Nim’s Island as well as one of my current favourite picture books, The Princess and her Panther. There’ll also be plenty of fun for cotton tailed kids and adults, with live music, an illustration demonstration, a book reading and craft table. Hope to see you there!

In review news, the delightful Deb Abela reviewed Squish Rabbit on the ABC radio ‘Drive’ segment with Louise Maher. There were moments where Squish had her laughing so much she had trouble getting her words out! Very sweet. You can read the review here or listen to the audio file at the bottom of the page. Here’s a snippet of what she said:

This story is illustrated by a mix of collage and drawing giving it a rich layered texture that is both as inviting and delightful as a long, warm hug.

Over at Hooray for Books!, an independent bookstore in Virginia, one of the staff names Squish Rabbit as one of her favourite picture books (alongside Oliver Jeffers‘ The Incredible Book Eating Boy – huge complement). Hop on over and read the review on their blog. I love this one – it’s so special when a reviewer really gets inside the heart of a story:

It’s always a pleasure to find an author who understands that childhood is not all sunshine and birthday parties; that children sometimes feel loneliness, and feel it deeply. “Squish Rabbit,” however, is not dark in the slightest; it’s matter-of-fact and elegant in its emotional honesty … I highly recommend it as a thoughtful read-aloud, even for the wee ones.

Boomerang Books is my pick of online Australian bookstores, and over at their Kids’ Book Capers blog they’re currently celebrating a week of literary rabbits. The lovely Tania McCartney has just interviewed Squish – she asks some really sweet questions and does a beautiful job of hosting this little cartoon rabbit. If you read the interview you’ll also get a sneak peek of Squish Rabbit’s second book (which should be coming out August 2012). Kids’ Book Capers’ other resident blogger and fellow rabbit lover, Dee White, has also interviewed me as well as done a lovely book review here.

Exciting times. Now I’d better hop back to the drawing desk. Still more spreads to complete for Squish’s second adventure…


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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