Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Poetry for Children: Guinea Pig Town and Other Animal Poems

Guinea Pig Town and Other Animal Poems cover
Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books areGuess How Much I Love YouA Bit LostHowl's Moving CastleA Wrinkle in TimeA Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh.

When we think of poetry, we rarely think of children. It’s usually Keats and Wordsworth, or Henry Lawson, or Seamus Heaney and Billy Collins, or dozens of other wonderful wordsmiths who come to mind. And much as I love them, and share them with my son (it is never, ever too early to share the rhythms of language), reading adult poetry aloud is vastly different to reading poetry intended for children.

Poetry, whether it be for children or adults, has value—especially when read aloud. The differences are usually about pitch, tone, and subject: poetry written specifically for children relates in some way to their experience, in a way that which is written for adults cannot. Moving house, being out bush, animals (movement, sounds, behaviours), play…there are dozens of things and ideas kids can relate to, recite, and share.

Love the idea of reading poetry with your kids, but stuck for where to get started? Look for illustrated works, like one of our favourites, Lorraine Marwood’s Guinea Pig Town and Other Animal Poems. The illustrations help younger children verbalise and discuss the words. And don’t be afraid to play! Ask questions, make silly noises, appreciate language! The marvellous thing about poetry is that there is no wrong way to read it—it can be happy or sad or hilarious. You can experiment and have fun and talk about it in a way that’s not possible with straight up prose. And when paired with illustrations, like the wombat shown here, words become something almost tangible and exciting.

Lorraine Marwood was born and raised in rural Victoria and has lived for most of her married life on a dairy farm with her husband and their six children. Lorraine is an award-winning poet who has been widely published in literary magazines across Australia, as well as magazines in the UK, USA, New Zealand and Canada. Read more of her poetry in A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems, Ratwhiskers and Me and Star Jumps, which was short listed for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2010, Lower Primary Category; received a Notable mention in the Children s Book Council of Australia Awards, 2010; and won the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, Children’s Fiction, 2010.

Tell us about the poems you read with your children in the comments!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

What do you love about picture books?

At Sydney Writers’ Festival this year, we asked children what THEY loved about books. To celebrate our birthday, we’ve put together a video of the best answers. Enjoy!


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

No Bears Released Into Paperback!

This month sees the exciting release of No Bears into paperback. It’s a cracker of a book, short-listed in the Early Childhood and Picture Book Categories in the Children’s Book Council Of Australia Book Of The Year Awards, 2012.

Ruby wants to tell you a story. A story with absolutely no bears. You don’t need bears for a book. You need pretty things like fairies and princesses and castles. And maybe funny things and exciting things - but definitely no bears! 

The book is a marvellous marriage of prose and illustration, each playing off the other. It’s also a fun introduction to what makes a story a story, full of possibilities to learn, discuss, and play.

Meg McKinlay grew up in Bendigo, Victoria, in a book-loving, TV- and car-free household. On the long and winding path to becoming a children’s writer, she has worked a variety of jobs including swim instructor, tour guide, translator and teacher. These days, she lives with her family near the ocean in Fremantle and is an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Western Australia, where she has taught Australian Literature, Japanese, and Creative Writing. Meg divides her time between teaching and writing, a balance that swings wildly between chaos and calm.

Leila Rudge was born in England and grew up making mud pies with six siblings and Jeni from number 15. After completing an Illustration Degree at Bath Spa University, Leila headed to Australia to seek her fortune (and the sunshine). Creating tiny characters for books is her favourite part of illustrating.

Love No Bears? Take a peek at Duck for a Day and Definitely No Ducks!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Librarian Zac Harding's Favourite Walker Books

Zac Harding is a Community Learning Librarian at Christchurch City Libraries in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has been blogging for Christchurch City Libraries since 2009, highlighting children and young adult's literature on and running the Christchurch Kids Blog, aimed at 8-12 years. In late 2011 Zac also started his book blog, My Best Friends Are Books, where he features news, reviews and interviews from the world of children's literature.

It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate 20 years of Walker Books Australia because Walker books had a huge impact on me growing up.  It is those classic Walker books that I had when I was a kid and the beautiful books that they continue to publish that have made me in to the librarian and booklover that I am today.

I have strong memories of my parents sharing Walker books with me when I was very young.  Whenever my parents bought books for me when I was growing up, they would always look for the Walker Bear because they knew it was the sign of a great picture book.  Some of my favourite picture books were those by Jill Murphy.  The Large Family books were ones that struck a chord with my mum, because she felt that Jill Murphy really understood what it was to be a parent.  She perfectly captured both the joys and the frustrations of being a parent, whether it was trying to get the kids to eat their dinner or trying to get Five Minutes' Peace.  I loved these books too and still do to this day.  The Jill Murphy book that I loved the most though was Peace at Last.  I still know the opening lines:

"The hour was late.  Mr Bear was tired, Mrs Bear was tired and Baby Bear was tired." 

Poor Mr Bear can’t get to sleep and tries sleeping in different places, but nothing helps.  

"Drip, drip went the leaky kitchen tap.  Hummm went the refrigerator."  

The last page, when Mr Bear finally falls asleep and gets woken up by Baby Bear, always made me laugh.  The look on his face said it all.

When I was at primary school, we would go to our local public library as a class each month.  The wonderful librarians (some of whom I now work alongside in the library) introduced us to the marvels of both Anthony Browne and Jeannie Baker.  They taught me to not only pay attention to the story, but also to the beautiful illustrations that helped tell the story.  I loved Anthony Browne’s books because they were so funny and there was always something interesting to find in the illustrations.  Jeannie Baker’s books were absolutely fascinating to me!  I couldn’t believe the detail that went into each of her illustrations and I pored over each page, trying to figure out how she created them.  Every time I see a new book of Jeannie’s I fall in love with her books all over again. 

Every time I read a new Walker picture book it’s like holding a work of art in my hands.  They are beautiful to look at, as well as read, and you want to share them with as many children and adults as possible.  Some of my recent favourites have been Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat and I Want My Hat Back, Chris Haughton’s Oh No, George! and Demolition by Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock.  I look forward to many more years of Walker books and to sharing my favourites with my own children some day.