Friday, October 28, 2011

Baby Tawnies

There is great joy at our house when the Tawny Frogmouths return to nest in the tree outside our kitchen/family room window. While we relax in comfort on the sofa, Mum or Dad Tawny perch on their egg/s for weeks as rain and strong winds threaten to push their knitted collection of down and twigs off the intersection of branches they have chosen. It must work for them as every year they choose the exact same spot.

 After two weeks visiting New Zealand, there was good news for me on my return. A chick had hatched; a creamy bundle of fluff with wide eyes was staring at me as I made my breakfast.

 This mini me, carbon copy mimicked Mum's every stance.

 And grew day by day, turning a light grey with beautiful markings and inquisitive eyes.

 The orange glow of a bush fire reflected on matching feathers.

But is this the same baby chick? 
Wasn't there another rustle of down on the other side of the nest?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kindle Fire Re-ignites the Picture E-book Market

Have you ever played with an iPad picture book? I say 'play', because its interactivity can no longer be simply termed as 'reading'. Before the iPad came onto the market, the picture book looked to have a longer life as a traditional book. But now times are changing.

Here's a sample of an iPad picture e-book, 'Wild About Books' from Random House Books, written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown:

Ipad's reign over the picture e-book market may soon be challenged however. Amazon's new Kindle Fire Tablet, which comes out on the 15th November in the US,  is set to open up the world of e-books to a wider picture book market, using a new format called Kindle Format 8 (KF8). Not only is it smaller than the iPad, it's also cheaper, retailing at US$199.

In their announcement Amazon said, "As showcased on Kindle Fire, KF8 enables publishers to create great-looking books in categories that require rich formatting and design such as children's picture books, comics & graphic novels, technical and engineering books, and cookbooks"; "Kindle Format 8 replaces the Mobi format and adds over 150 formatting capabilities, including fixed layouts, nested tables, callouts, sidebars and Scalable Vector Graphics, opening up more opportunities to create Kindle books that readers will love"; "Children's picture books come to life with brilliant images, fixed layouts and Kindle Text Pop Up."

Read more about it here and here.

It looks like the last frontier of traditional publishing, the paper picture book, is now also heading for the archival vaults of the National and State Libraries (and also at my house, even if I have to hide them under the bed).

Below is a sample of an award winning picture book, 'I'll follow the Moon' by Stephanie Lisa Tara and illustrated by Lee Edward Fodi that has successfully been translated to a tablet while retaining its integrity as a book to be 'read'.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Roses and Tea

I'm taking some time out, time to cut some heritage roses from my garden, pop them in a milk jug and pour myself a cup of tea. It's been a tough year.

After a summer season of disasters it was a slow start for me creatively. But recently I attained the goals I set for myself. A new manuscript is sitting with my publisher and a new picture book has just been mailed off to my mentor at Create a Kids' Book.

Not only that, but the book I illustrated and co-wrote with my writers' group, Prana Writers, has been shortlisted for the Write a Book in a Day Awards. We're in with a good chance.

The original manuscript, The Coral Sea Monster, was written within the twelve hour deadline, but now prior to publishing it, we're giving it a serious edit this weekend.

The tea has brewed. Won't you join me?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Book Launch Hoe Down

Pumpkins make me smile; pumpkin soup, scones, roasted or mashed, it doesn't really matter how they come. There's something about the sweetness of Australian grown pumpkins that have us lining up at the buffet table for second helpings.

At Halloween, pumpkins take centre stage with funny faces carved or drawn onto their rotund bellies. You can hear them smirking with mischief or giggling in embarrassment. Could a pumpkin be embarrassed? Of course, why not.

But if you don't have pumpkins in your yard or market this time of year (it's springtime in Australia after all), never fear. Take a look at a wonderful site called Pinterest - an online pin board where you can organise and share the things you love or even just pics you've found on the internet that inspire you. Beware however, because this site is addictive. It's like your favourite magazine with an endless array of creative ideas to play with. While you're there, look up Halloween.

Here's something my daughter, Daniela, created on the weekend from a Halloween idea on Pinterest. 

From a selection of glass jars she found in the garage (you know in case I ever decide to make jam or pickles) she has created smirking, sneering, and scared Jack o' Lantern faces (painted with acrylics) to light up a veranda or room for Halloween. Just fill their tum with a tea light. I especially like the squat fat ones.

Yesterday I went along to Marks and Gardner Gallery on Mt Tamborine for the launch of the 'digital' version of my sister, Nadia Sunde's delightful new picture book, Three Little Pumpkins (you were wondering where I was going with all the pumpkin stories), illustrated by Jody McGregor.

Nadia is an international award winning songwriter and Three Little Pumpkins is a story adapted from one of her children's songs. The song Three Little Pumpkins is so catchy children and adults all joined in loudly for the chorus 'Hay hoe, what did I see? One little pumpkin looking at me'. 

In the book - a riotous celebration of all things growing, the main character, Nadia, cares for a whimsical garden full of scratching, catching chickens, chirping crickets and two mischievous friends - a goat and a goose. Each day when Nadia tends to her garden she finds a new pumpkin growing in amongst the tangle of plants. All is perfect until one morning she discovers the pumpkins are gone! Oh dear. Who has eaten them all? And now what will Nadia cook for her Halloween feast?

Here's Nadia setting up the sound equipment.

Hootenanny Books is the Australian publisher of Three Little Pumpkins and you can purchase the digital version at their website or pre-order the hard copy, which will be available in January 2012.

Nadia sings the Three Little Pumpkins song 
'I went down to the pumpkin patch...'

Nadia Sunde and Jody McGregor
Nadia and Jody read from Three Little Pumpkins

The mischievous goose

Kids join in with maracas and music sticks.

Also launching at Marks and Gardner was award winning illustrator and my dear friend Lucia Masciullo, whose gorgeous book, Come Down Cat, written by the internationally awarded Australian children's author, Sonya Hartnett, will certainly win more awards for for them both.

Lucia demonstrates how to draw 'Marl Cat' from 'Come Down Cat', while Janene from Marks and Gardner Gallery shows Lucia's original illustrations from her portfolio.