First advance review of The Snowman’s Wish in Books+Publishing

There’s a very nice first review of The Snowman’s Wish in Books+Publishing this week, by writer, editor and  bookseller Anica Boulanger-Mashberg. Here’s part of what she had to say:

With The Snowman’s Wish, Sophie Masson and Ronak Taher have crafted a soft tale about the passage of time and the beauty in the world. Mr Snowman, a kindly soul existing happily in an ever-shifting natural environment, welcomes everything around him……..Taher’s illustrations—watercolour in texture, with shapes reminiscent of collage—are an ideal complement to Masson’s careful story of enjoying what is around us and knowing that things will always change. This is a lovely book for young readers aged 3–7 and can be read either at narrative face value or as a way of discussing both the senses and the notion of death.

You can read the whole review here.

The year’s favourite books: Leah Kaminsky

Today I’m delighted to welcome Leah Kaminsky to my blog, to tell us about her favourite book of the year.

My Favourite Read of 2019

FLAMES by Robbie Arnott (Text Publishing)

I love brave, imaginative writing that takes wild risks, and Robbie Arnott’s Flames ticks all these boxes. Weaving magic and stark realism with suspense, he has created a polyphonous novel, that shifts from a generation of women who catch on fire when they are enraged, to a talking rakali and a curmudgeonly coffin-maker. The prose is poetic and fresh, without ever becoming pretentious. Flames captures the beauty of the wilds of Tasmania and calls us to pay urgent attention to both the awe and fragility of nature. A novel very much for our times.

 

 

Leah Kaminsky’s debut novel The Waiting Room won the Voss Literary Prize. The Hollow Bones won the 2019 International Book Awards in both Literary Fiction & Historical Fiction categories and the 2019 Best Book Awards for Literary Fiction.  She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. (www.leahkaminsky.com)

 

https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-hollow-bones-9780143788911

The year’s favourite books: Jenny Blackford

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Jenny Blackford to my blog, to introduce us to her favourite book of the year.

Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life (Doubleday, 2013) is a near-perfect historical novel, full of far more than the standard number of what-ifs through the magic of lives rerun over and over again. It’s also incredibly moving on the horrors of World War Two, particularly in blitzed London. The sequel, A God in Ruins, is even sadder and more beautiful.

Jenny Blackford’s middle-grade adventure novel full of spooky spiders has recently appeared from Christmas Press.

 

The year’s favourite books: Anna Thomson

Today I’m very pleased to welcome Anna Thomson to my blog, to introduce us to her favourite book of the year.

 

My favourite read this year was the non-fiction book “Why We Sleep,” by Matthew Walker. I began to read it as research for my writing and was riveted. It’s a fascinating and accessible insight into our current knowledge of sleep, what it is and why we need it.

Walker covers research into not only sleep but dreams and the role of sleep in the prevention of serious diseases. There’s also discussion of how many great thinkers have recruited their subconscious and pre-sleep states to assist in problem solving.

I often hear people say “This book changed my life.” This one actually did change mine and I recommend it frequently! It made me fundamentally rethink my (lackadaisical) attitude to getting enough quality sleep, and reassess its importance for wellbeing, clear thought and creativity.

 

Anna Thomson (who writes as Anna Bell) is the winner of the inaugural Varuna/New England Writers’ Centre Fellowship. A a freelance editor and writer, she has an honours degree in literature. She has three published short stories, White Christmas, Santa’s Little Helper and The King of Winter in anthologies by Christmas Press. Anna lives in New England with her husband and a giant homicidal house plant.

The year’s favourite books: Trish Donald

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Trish Donald to my blog to write about her favourite book, or in this case, books, of the year.

Ash dresses her friends – Fu Wenzheng

This children’s picture book is charming and sweet. Ash is lonely but through the kind act of sewing beautiful shirts and other cloths for animals, along with helpful things like a cover for a chair and a tiny blanket, she is able to make friends. The size of the animals helps to move the story forward. At the beginning Ash is tiny next to an elephant, and then, as the book progress and the animals get smaller, she eventually becomes the giant next to a tiny mother and baby snail.

I find myself revisiting this book because I love the illustrations so much. The limited colour palette of striking red depicting strong bold patterns, against the soft grey brushwork is striking and beautiful. Red also punctuates the pages in the form of spotted mushrooms, red cherries, and Ash’s little red jacket!   Elements such as Ash sitting in a chair in her nest made of sticks with a vase next to her are also beautifully drawn.

Fu Wenzheng is Chinese and her story has been translated into English.

Illustration from Ash Dresses her Friends

 

Tales from the Inner City – Shaun Tan

Well, this book confirms yet again why Shaun Tan is my favourite author and illustrator! Tales from the Inner City is a combination of illustrated short stories which capture humanities relationship to animals. Whether it be crocodiles or dogs, snails or a parrot, each story poignantly reveal something about our inner nature and our bond or rejection of animals. We save them and they save us. We destroy them and they destroy us. The animals reflect our love and they reflect our greed. We are them and they are us.

Cats in sea, from Shaun Tan’s Tales of the Inner City

Shaun Tan has a way of tapping into the readers’ heart. For me, this is particularly true with the illustration of the cat, swimming in a stormy sea, a mini mother clutching her child protectively upon its head. The dramatic lighting reveals their peril as the wave’s tower above them, yet, the cat swims on, with just its head above the water. We cannot see the cat’s face, but to me it appears unyielding and brave as it faces this danger. I find this scene extremely touching.

The size of the animals often contrasts with their size in reality which serves to deepens the stories meaning. The textures on these illustrated paintings are delicious and his use of colours exquisite. In true Shan Tan masterfulness, the lighting creates drama which in turn helps to support and reveal each story.

I received this book from my teenage children last Christmas. As the year progressed I visited and revisited it, taking pleasure in the stories and the illustrations, finding new colours, new textures and new meaning. This book will always be a treasure for me.

Trish Donald is an author, illustrator and graphic designer. Her first picture book, Tissy-Woo and the Worry Monsters(which she wrote and illustrated) was published in 2018, and her second picture book, Squitty Fish, with text by Jill Eggleton, was published in 2019. Her website is at https://www.trishdonald.com/

 

The year’s favourite books: Pamela Freeman

Today I am very pleased to welcome Pamela Freeman to my blog, to introduce us to her favourite book for 2019.

My favourite book this year was one which left me in a sobbing mess.  I cried so hard that my husband came in from the next room and asked if I was okay. ‘It’s so saaaadddddd,’ I wailed.
Which book? Kelly Gardiner’s Goddess. As Kelly says on her website: Goddess is a novel based on the life of the remarkable Julie d’Aubigny, known as Mademoiselle de Maupin – swordswoman, opera singer, occasional nun and seventeenth century superstar.
Impeccably researched and brilliantly imagined, Goddess made me laugh a lot as well as cry (but seriously, I haven’t cried that hard since Black Beauty died). Highly recommended.
 
PS  I’ve also tucked away Kate Forsyth’s The Blue Rose as my Christmas reading treat!
Pamela Freeman is an award-winning children’s and fantasy writer published worldwide. Her most recent children’s book was Amazing Australian Women, and next year she will publish Dry to Dry: The season of Kakadu. As Pamela Hart, she also writes historical novels and murder mysteries. Her upcoming Pamela Hart book is The Charleston Scandal, set in London in 1923 – where the world of theatre and aristocracy collide (featuring Fred Astaire and the Prince of Wales). Her last book was The Desert Nurse.  Pamela is proud to be a Second Look Publishing author (The Fastest Ship in Space).

The year’s favourite books: Ian Irvine

Delighted today to welcome Ian Irvine to my blog, to talk about his favourite book of 2019.

 

Dark Emu (2nd Ed, 2019) by Bruce Pascoe. The most enlightening book I’ve read in 2019 – a revelation about the massive extent and scope of Aboriginal agriculture, their construction of dams and vast fish traps, land management, building (including permanent houses and towns of a thousand people and more) and so on. Much of the information comes from the journals of the early explorers, in direct quotations of their observations. A must read. I can see why it’s had 31 printings in five years.

 

 

 

 

Ian Irvine, an Australian marine scientist, has also written 34 novels, an anthology of shorter stories, and various other short stories for children and adults.

 

https://www.ian-irvine.com

https://www.facebook.com/ianirvine.author