Ladybird's Flight: May 2017

Monday, 29 May 2017

I'm a reviewer again!

I'm so pleased that I have been able to begin to review children's books again for Kids' Book Review.

Thank you to the Kids' Book Review Team for welcoming me back to the fold after so many years away while I was President and Vice President for CBCA ACT Branch.

So far I have reviewed three books for KBR which can be viewed on their Website or Facebook page or using this link.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Aleesah Darlison's Canberra workshops

I recently attend two sessions with Aleesah Darlison, author Guest Speaker and Owner of Greenleaf Press.

Aleesah has written more than 35 books including picture books and chapter books for children. In 2016 she founded Greenleaf Press to provide assistance to Authors, Illustrators and Small Business Owners.

The first session was at Libraries ACTDickson branch on Social Media.
Alessah spoke about Social Media at an introductory level, specifically; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Aleesah showing how her header & photo are the same on all of her Social Media platforms.
I learnt more. 
Got some great tips. 
Plus I had a chance to network with other Canberra authors. 

Cate Whittle, Krys and Brownyn

Now to apply some of this new knowledge. 

This talk helped me make some decisions and for now you will only find me here on Facebook or on my blog, Ladybird's FlightBut, I may pop up on Twitter so I can be part of the ALIA Picture Book Club.

The second session was a workshop on Creating Perfect Picture Books at the ACT Writers Centre.

A huge thanks to Aleesah for guiding us though this workshop on picture books. 

I now have a better understanding of the basics for writing a Picture Book and the way a manuscript should look - in general terms. 

This was the first time I have ever shared my writing with anyone. While this was a little scary, I felt comfortable in sharing my soul, as the people in the room proved to be supportive group.  Now it is time to actually begin editing my stories so I can begin to submit them to competitions and publishers. This course has given me more confidence to move to the next step.

The day was also a great opportunity to get to know some fellow SCBWI members better and a chance to meet new people.

Leanne with authors Genevieve Hopkins, Shaye Wardrop and Nicole Goodwin 
For more about some of our local authors please follow the links below;

Nichole Goodwin or at Tusk Books
Genevieve Hopkins
Shaye Wardrop
Cate Whittle

Friday, 26 May 2017

I don't have time but I found time to have an Evening with Emma Grey

I don't have time, do you? Do you know how to say No? When someone asks 'How are you do you?' do you respond with one of these words - Busy, Exhausted? 

This is the premise of Emma Grey's book that she co-authored with Audrey Thomas, 
I don't have time: 15 minute ways to shape a life you love. The authors bring to the front of our mind that in our society today being busy is means that you're important and valuable, exhaustion has become a status symbol. We are so busy that we often neglect ourselves. We don't have time to follow our passions, make appointments that we should nor do we spend enough time with people that we love. 

On this specific evening Emma made time to speak to the Canberra Wise Women audience. When Emma came onto the stage she sat in a yellow easy chair. She spoke to the audience in a relaxed a friendly manner as though we were in her lounge room catching up over a coffee or wine. One couldn't imagine that Emma used to fear that she would forget what she was talking about or being asked a question that she couldn't answer. Because Emma has a confident, easy-going manner that makes members of the audience feel comfortable, like you've always known her.

'Let me tell you a few stories from the book', says Emma leaning back slightly into the yellow easy chair. She then began to weave her book's stories into the conversation so well that you would be forgiven to think she was just telling a stories about her life rather than about the book. That is because the stories in the book are filled with little personal stories from Emma's life to help the reader relate to the concepts within the book.

Emma shares one of the book's stories 'What am I doing here?' the Impostor Syndrome. When  I read this part of the book I felt that ah ha moment, as there have been many times that I have questioned why I was sitting at the table or attending a night like this event under the title 'Canberra Wise Women'. Interestingly the Imposer syndrome has been getting quite a bit of press recently. Including a new story that Emma had come across earlier in the week about Neil Gaiman. 

Neil Gaiman is a famous and highly successful children's writer. On tumblr site he shares a story about attending a conference and wondering what he was doing there with scientists, writers and inventors. During the conference he began to talk to a man who said, 'I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.' could you believe that this man was Neil Armstong? A reminder that we can all feel like impostors at times.

However by using this story Emma reminds us that we are all capable of amazing things. Emma suggests that if we put our fear of failure aside and put ourselves 'out there for something to work...see what happens,' then amazing things can happen in our life too. Including obtaining bandanna worn by Harry Styles for a girl receiving treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

To obtain what you want from life Emma asks us to 'Be open. Make the time. Check your heart!" Especially after the sudden death of her husband, Jeff, to heart failure. With tears in her eyes Emma told us about how she realised that she had two ways to deal with her grief 'by standing still or moving.' Emma's book gives a fabulous story about how to achieve what you need by asking for help and to move forward.

Emma is now ready to pay back the help she received after her husband's death through a new charity called Canberra's Heart. 

But Emma has been giving to people in the community for much longer than through this charity. Her book is giving people opportunities to rediscover their life  by making time for things that matter. By learning to say No we are open to being able to say Yes to things that matter to us. 

Say Yes to getting your hands on a copy of this book, I don't have time and please do the experiments as you are worth spending time on. 

Emma's children's novel Unrequited: Girl meet boyband will be released by HarperCollins Publishers on 18 September 2017. The book is currently being made into a musical by the Canberra school St. Clare's College. The musical performances will be held on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 November 2017.


Thursday, 25 May 2017

52-Week Illustration Challenge: Week 21

Week 21: Red
All around Canberra during autumn most to the colours in the landscape are from the autumn leaves falling. Discovering a flowering eucalypt tree and it's red flowers made a wonderful change. 

See the 52-week Illustration Challenge page for more information about this art work that I have created.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Storytellers Galore

What stories are being created by local children's writers? 

If you were one of the crowd at the 2017 Celebrate Story Creators Night hosted by The ACT Branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia then you are now up-to-date. 

For those of you who missed out here is an overview of the night.

Emma Allen, Carlie Walker, Anthony Hill, Robyn Siers, Tony Flowers and Stephanie Owen Reeder
Cate Whittle, Gina Newton and Tracey Hawkins

Stories that have power.

Emma Allen likes to write a 'slippery piece of writing,' where she uses words in new ways that gives them a creative force. She won the CBCA Book of The Year: Early Childhood award in 2013 with her first published picture book The Terrible Suitcase. This book has recently been translated into Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Allen's third book Grandma, the baby and me was featured on ABC's Playschool in an episode about 'Faces and Feelings'.

Allen is currently undertaking a PhD in Children's Literature at the University of Canberra. She likes to find new ways to do things. Things that matter deeply to her and that add to her creative drive. Her next book will be released in 2018, Digby and Claude, set in the 1930s. If it like Allen's previous books it will be amazing. 

Dyan Blacklock once said 'Be brave and amazing,' author Cate Whittle remembered this quote and persisted in getting her first book Trouble at Home published. When she got the book deal she was asked if it could be a series? She took the plunge and quickly wrote some potential book outlines. Now the fourth book of the series, Trouble and the Exploding House will be released in August 2017. 

'I feel like one of the luckiest authors around,' says Whittle and this because her Trouble series is illustrated by two great names in Australian Children's Literature; Kim Gamble illustrated the first book in the series, Trouble at Home. Gamble passed away just before the book was released in 2016 and it was probably the last book he illustrated. Whittle's 'luck' continued with the subsequent books in the series being illustrated Stephen Michael King, one of Gamble's friends. Children delight in the magical and creative stories woven by Whittle.

Free and Creative Stories.

Tony Flowers likes to work in a free and creative way with very little preliminary drawings. He is an illustrator and an author. He has illustrated many books in collaboration with Nick Falk, including the Samurai vs Ninja series which has been translated into Swedish. These stories take 6-12 months to produce but on occasion some have taken only two months to develop. With Falk now living in England Flowers is currently collaborating on a new chapter book series with R.A. Spratt, author of Nanny Piggins

As a young child Flowers liked Richard Scary illustrations and recently he began working on a picture book where some of the illustrations has a Scaryesque look about them; animals driving vehicles. If you follow him on Facebook you might have already seen some of these drawings. 

Flowers' first picture book Hello! (NLA Publishing) is a 2017 CBCA Notable book. Unlike his other books this one took 2 1/2 years to create. Why? Due to the book's inclusion of 12 different multicultural backgrounds cultural advisers were required to ensure the rigour of the book's information in both words and pictures. The book highlights games, food, traditional clothing and how to say hello, goodbye and how to count in each language. 

Books about animals.

Gina Newton is passionate about biodiversity, conservation and wildlife and she likes to highlight these themes into her stories. As a trained marine biologist and ecologist, with a Masters in Science Communication, Newton uses her expertise in helping tell entertaining stories to children. 

As a child she loved the story Chicken Little but she wanted to write a version that had a happy ending with the inclusion of Australian animals, Blossom Possum was born and it has sold 135,000 copies since it was released in 2006. 

Her most recent book release Amazing Animals of Australia's National Parks, is shortlisted for the 2017 CBCA Book of The Year Awards: Eve Pownall Award for Information Books. It is accessible to children aged 8-12 years old, hence it uses lots of visuals to convey the information while having a small word count. The information in this book has been checked by experts in the field ensuring that it is accurate and up-to-date. CBCA ACT Branch members are hoping that this book will be the second Eve Pownall Award winner for an ACT writer.

From Picture books to crime writing.

Tracey Hawkins has written a variety of books from picture books like Max meets a Monster to the award winning book about Nancy Bentley: The first Australian female sailor. But her passion is for crime writing. 

Hawkins' passion for crime writing began in her childhood, her father was a policeman. As a child it was clear in her mind that she was interested in two careers paths, one teaching and the other being in the police force. In fact she did both and now she combines what she has learnt into her writing career. 

She teachers courses in writing children's books and crime fiction, often online. She is currently writing an young adult crime novel that includes; death, secrets, betrayal, deceptions and jealousy. In the story there is one detective to solve the crime along with three victims and four suspects. At the moment she is spending hours and hours writing her novel, sometimes 12 hours a day. 

Historical Stories. 

'The girl who writes stories,' author and illustrator Stephanie Owen Reeder spends many hours researching information for her books at the National Library of Australia. She has had many books published by NLA Publishing. Her most recent book in the Heritage Hero series, Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony  won the 2016 CBCA Book of The Year: Eve Pownall Award for Information Books. Other books in the Heritage Hero Series include;
Lost!: A True Tale From the Bush
Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea

There will be 4 more books in this series including one due for release in early 2018, Marvellous Miss May, Queen of the Circus. This story outlines the story of May who was given away to the circus at the age of seven. The book will feature information about May and the Australian circuses in the early 1900s. Some of the source material comes from circus posters held in the National Library of Australia collection.

Reeder has recently signed a contract for a new picture series (not with the NLA) that will be historically based and features Australian icons. The first book will be set at Bondi Beach. 

Another historical writer is Anthony Hill,  who released his first book in 1985. Students and teachers mostly know Hill for his stories The Burnt Stick and Solider Boy but during his writing career he has naturally moved towards writing books for adults. This audience age shift in this writing has been for artistic reasons, most notably due to content. 

In the editing process for the book Captain Cook's Apprentice he was told that due to the age of the readers he couldn't describe the main character's relationship with a Tahitian lady using the words 'and they loved each other.' To clarify he said, 'so I can say they hate each other but not they loved each other?' and the response was 'Yes.' In 2018 this book will be released as a young adult edition.

Other books by Hill, including his wartime themed books, have begun to be published as adult editions, including; Animal Heroes and Young Digger

Stories from wartime.

When looking for stories about wartime experiences the series A Century of Service published in collaboration between the Australian War Memorial and the Department of Veterans' Affairs is a good starting point. 

Publisher, Merrillee Chignell and authors, Robyn Siers and Carlie Walker have used themes from the stain glass windows from the Hall of memory as way to introduce students to personal wartime stories that link to items in the the Australian War Memorial collection. 

It is planned to release a total eight books in the series A Century of Service. The series currently include the following books; 
Resource: stories of Australian innovation in wartime 
Devotion: stories of Australia's wartime nurses by Robyn Siers
Audacity: stories of heroic Australians in wartime by Carlie Walker
Ancestry: Stories of multicultural Anzacs by Robyn Siers and Carlie Walker
Two more books that that are currently being written are Decision and Comradeship

Merrillee Chignell
Carlie Walker and Robyn Siers 
A resource about wartime that is more accessible for students at the junior primary level is the book Here they come: A day to remember published in 2016 by the Canberra Department of Veterans' Affairs. This book will be available to schools in 2018 as an animation in collaboration with cartoonist Warren Brown.

To find out more about these story creators see the CBCA ACT Branch Authors and Illustrators page.

Monday, 15 May 2017

52-Week Illustration Challenge: Week 16

Catch-up Week 16: Experiment
My hair wasn't always blue.
The experiment was also using brown paper and acrylic paint (not used this medium for 20+ years)

See the 52-week Illustration Challenge page for more information about this art work that I have created.

Friday, 12 May 2017

52-Week Illustration Challenge: Week 19

Week 19: Music
The Music Fairy played her lute, she took the notes and placed them on the score.

See the 52-week Illustration Challenge page for more information about this art work that I have created.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Still touching hearts: an evening with May Gibbs

Over 50 people gathered to celebrate the author and illustrator May Gibbs.

The National Centre for Australian Children's Literature brought together two passionate speakers on May Gibbs; Jane Brummitt and Tania McCartney.

Jane Brummitt donated the artwork below to The Centre. The painting is an original May Gibbs artwork, created in 1915 as a preparatory painting for an illustration in her first Australian book Gumnut Babies, published by Angus and Roberston. 

Belle Alderman AM, Jane Brummitt and Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney also made a donation tonight. She donated the May Gibbs quilt that she won last year from a fundraiser raffle by The Centre.

23 October 2016 - Tania McCartney: Winner of the May Gibbs Quilt

Both ladies gave an inspiring talk at tonight's event
  • Jane Brummitt - Gifts of May Gibbs
  • Tania McCartney - Mamie: a celebration of May's life for modern children 

A post showing more about this May Gibb event will be available shortly.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Redactionart art, Snake Skins and Embroidery

What do these things have in common?
They are all artworks that are currently showing in 3 exhibitions at the Belconnen Arts Centre, Emu Bank, Belconnen ACT until the 28 Mary 2017.

  • Beauties and Beasts
  • Mono and More
  • Shed

Beauties and Beasts 

Faculty of Arts and Design University of Canberra
This is the 23rd UC staff exhibition. It highlights the commitment to the creative practice of the arts in the world by staff and research-artists from the Faculty of Art and Design at UC. 

'Beauties and Beasts' harnesses the power of creative practice to represent what is beautiful and/or beastly about our relationship with the natural world,' says Dr Jordan Williams.

The exhibition is also a tribute to Sandra Burr who passed away in 2015, her research explored the relationship  between animals and humans. One of her artworks is included in this exhibition. The artwork is a wonderful descriptive and moving piece about her relationship with her horse, Myst.

Rikki and Myst by Sandra Burr

Local illustrator Tony Flowers has included one art piece that his followers would have seen in development on his Facebook page. Flowers is currently teaching Publication Design, digital literacy and working on his PhD at UC.

Herald by Tony Flowers

Another UC staff member, Tim Sherratt, is working in the area of Digital Heritage. While researching redactions, the withholding of information, he discovered that someone had created a collection of creatures out of the redactions. His artwork is #readactionart to see more go here.

The Redaction Zoo by Tim Sherratt

Other artwork in this exhibition uses the mediums of textiles, video, photographs and sculptures.

On Sunday 21 May – 2:00pm there will be a poetry reading in the gallery. More information and bookings go here

Mono and More

Ilona Lasmanis, Robyn McAdam and Steve Tomlin have been working together at Megalo Print Studios since 2009. This is their third group exhibition. While they all use printing, their artworks are very different to each other.

Ilona Lasmanis uses collograph (where collage is stuck to the printing plate), collage, hand embroidery and stamps plus linoprints and monotypes to create her artworks. The embroidered animals and insects in these artworks are very attractive and there is a uniqueness to Lasmanis' works.

Summer Sounds by Ilona Lasmanis

Robyn McAdam's artworks are inspired by her travels to Venice, Italy. She explores the changing light and colour throughout the day. MdAdam's uses monotype printing to create her artworks adding some hand painted collage to her works.

And silent roes the songless gondolier and Sunset on Zattere by Robyn McAdam

Steve Tomlin's has recently begun to focus on landscapes in his artwork. He uses silkscreen printing to build up his layered artworks in a minimalist way. 

On the way to the coast by Steve Tomlin


This exhibition is a solo exhibit for Gillian Jackson. Jackson has combined her love of mathematics; measurement, line, structure and patterns into her artistic pursuit. She has created a series of minimalist artworks using discarded snake shed or skins with recyclable laminating film. "I don't like snakes but I like these," says one of the exhibition viewers on opening night. The artworks are hypnotic though the repetition of pattern of the snake skins and creation of patterns by Jackson to create new and interesting textural artworks. The use of colour in the skins to create the patterns are mesmerising.

Mosaic Pieces by Gillian Jackson
Glass Sculpture 2 by Gillian Jackson

These three exhibitions are showing until 28 May 2017 at the Belconnen Arts Centre.

Thank you Monika McInerney, Creative Program Director, and your team for three wonderful exhibits that have something to offer many artistic tastes. The opening night held on 5 May 2017 was great!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Canberra Women Writers Network Launch

Recipe for Collaboration
Take 30 women.
Place them in the main hall of Gorman House.
Add an interest in writing.
A large splash of enthusiasm and support.
Sprinkle with a generous dose of hope.
Stir, no bake required.
You have a Canberra Women Writers Network.
Eat straight away.

Last night was the launch of the Canberra Women Writers Network. 

The Noted Festival gave a group of inspirational female writers; Rhyll Biest, Bec Fleming, Rose Chen and Stella Frances a fabulous opportunity to launch a new network for women writers in Canberra.

These four ladies met at through the Romance Writers of Australia. They have a passion for writing, creating and supporting other women in their pursuits.

Bec explained that if you have a passion for writing and you belong, "Even if you don't consider yourself as a writer."

Stella, Rose, Bec and Rhyll

The women in the room voiced some of the following ideas for the network;

  • raise the profile of women writers and artists
  • getting more genres out there
  • promoting diverse writers
  • a need for true collaboration
  • connect with someone to critic and give feedback on your work
  • sharing ideas
  • culture of support
  • empowerment
  • belonging
  • sharing of skills
  • giving hope

Their next meeting is the second Saturday of the month, 13 May 2017, at the Milk CrateShop 6. 12 Moore Street and 16 Marcus Clarke Street Canberra City.

For more information go to their Website or Facebook page.