26 August 2011

Friday Stuff and Items

1) Everyone likes to make a good first impression, don't they? Of course they do! And we all know not to judge a book by its cover, don't we? Except, of course, when it comes to, you know, actually judging books. So in the spirit of satisfying all your cover judging needs, we are delighted to introduce you to First Impressions - a tumblr to tickle the fancy of cover-coveters across the land.

Be sure to check out the interview with the wonderful Zoe Sadokierski who is once again making us look good with her cover designs for The Wilful Eye and The Wicked Wood.

2) Everyone likes a writer's festival, don't they? The MWF successfully launched itself into a literary love-fest last night with a keynote by Jonathan Franzen and continues until 4 September. So get thee to an event to hear all those clever and charming authors saying all those interesting, enlightening, inspiring things, all those moments for mingling, all those wonderful books to be bought and signed by your favourite author, all those opportunities to call for an end to that silly talk about the death of the book...

3) Everyone loves Shaun Tan. No really, everyone in the universe seems to love Shaun Tan. Clever everyone. The Hugo Awards are the latest people to appreciate his talents. They gave him the Best Professional Artist award!

You can share the Shaun-love at the 'amazing live "sonic-scape"' of the Arrival. That's tonight, people. Tonight! And there are still some tickets available. Quick sticks!

4) And everyone loves a shortlisting. Yes, yes, they do. We particularly love the shortlisting of The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky and Being Here by Barry Jonsberg in the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards. Most excellent news. Hurrahs for Ursula and Barry!

5) And everyone loves warm sunny days in Melbourne in August.*

* Well, perhaps not quite everyone, but we suspect that even those strange people who adore the wintry Melbourne weather have found a way to feel the weather-love this week, but never fear, winter-o-philes, the grey skies are back just in time for the weekend. Sigh.

23 August 2011

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming...

... to bring you a special tribute.

We knew it was coming - but hearing him say it is different matter. There were sniffles in the House of Onion.*

The Big Hairy Cat

He goes by a lot of names. He was suspended for a lot of matches.
He grew a lot of hair and kicked a lot of goals.
He brought energy and passion and toughness to the club.

And he brought the love; Mooney always brought the love.

Here he is sharing the love with Gary.

Here he is sharing the love with Steve.

Here he is sharing the love with Matthew.

Here he is sharing the love with Wojo, Jimmy and a Big Hairy Seal.

Here he is sharing the love with Alan Didak.

Here he is sharing the love with Brenton after Geelong lost That Horrible 2005 Semi-final when Horrible Nick Davis kicked all those Horrible Goals.**

And here he is sharing the love with his son after winning the 2009 Grand Final.

Oh Mooney - we'll miss you! Thank you for everything.

* To be strictly honest, most denizens of the House were sniffle free. Most Onions don't even know who Cameron Mooney is - but the two who do care enough for everyone. (And if denizens of the House don't like it we'll jumper-punch you a few times, then hug you after the game.)
** It's okay Moons - only two years until you win a flag. We are Geelong.

19 August 2011

O, speak of that; that do I long to hear

All the way back in April we were holding our breath and hoping in the lead up to the announcement of the CBCA announcements for 2011. And we were delighted to see a whole host of Onion books on the shortlists and the notables lists.

And today, what ho! we have a winner!

We are thrilled that Nicki Greenberg's Hamlet has been announced joint winner, along with Jeannie Baker's Mirror, as the Picture Books of the Year. Yes, thrilled we are!

Hooray for Hamlet!

From the Judges report:
Nicki Greenberg has created an extraordinary and colourful graphic novel as the reader becomes a participant in a sumptuous interpretation of Shakespeare's enigmatic play 'staged on the page'.

But wait, there's more.

Honour book: Early Childhood Book of the Year 2011
The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies by Tom Niland Champion, Kilmeny Niland & Deborah Niland

From the judges report:
A delightful mix of silliness and cleverness characterises this charming and amusing picture book, which is both a counting book and absurd fantasy. Exuberant, yet deceptively simple illustrations are full of colour & verve.

Honour Book: Early Childhood Book of the Year 2011
Look See, Look at Me! by Leonie Norrington & Dee Huxley

From the judges report:
Fluid, assured illustrations, reflecting the vastness and beauty of the Outback, enhance and complement Norrington's affectionate text. The brisk pace of the rhythmic text is matched by the energy and glowing colour of the illustrations.

Honour Book: Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Drawn from the Heart by Ron Brooks

From the judges report:
Ron Brooks, one of Australia's most highly regarded picture-book makers, has produced a superb memoir. His detailed and sometimes highly personal accounts further enhance our appreciation of the wonderful books he has written and illustrated.

So hoorays and hurrahs for Nicki, Tom, Kilmeny, Deborah, Leonie, Dee and Ron.

Congratulations to all the other winners and honour books - and to all the creators whose books are on the shortlists and notables lists. Many congratulations.

17 August 2011

Summer days, drifting away...

It has come to our attention that while we are enduring the final weeks of the winter months, a goodly number of people on the other side of the world are celebrating summer - and the joys of the long summer holiday.

Thoughts of summer are particularly appealing at the end of August in the antipodes. This Onion turned twelve in the summer between primary school and secondary school. What a wonderful time of freedom it was. A few weeks at the beach where all the kids in the caravan park were allowed to disappear together for hours at a time, swimming, rockpooling, playing in the tea-tree thickets of the butterfly wood, expeditioning to the top shop for ice-creams, sneaking off to the back beach with the older kids when we thought no one would ever find out...

Then the end of January brought my twelfth birthday and the last long, lazy summer days - spent at the pool, or sunbaking on top of the old train engine that had found it's final resting place in the local public playground, or riding bikes at speed down the pool hill, or long-into-the-evening barbeques on the shores of the lake out of town with a companionable clutch of local families.

That summer had a special quality to it. A sense of ending, and a sense of beginning. Those primary school days were done. It would be six years until I was one of the 'big kids' in a school ground again.* Who knew what the move to secondary school would mean? All I knew for sure was that I had a longer ride on the bus, and that, like my brother, my house colours would be yellow. Not much to go on really.

The final week before school started was a frenzy of getting fitted for a new uniform, trying to wear-in stiff new school shoes after six weeks of summer feet, buying new school supplies and carefully covering in collage and contact the brand new folders, putting the brand new pens and pencils and sharpeners and erasers in a brand new pencil case, peppering my brother with questions about what high school was like.**

But one of the best things about that summer was what a lot of time there was for reading whatever I liked: on the beach with sand between my toes (and between every page of the book), in the cool shade of the tea-tree forest, on the well-watered green lawns by the pool, on layers of towels to protect me from the scalding heat of the sun-baked metal on the top of the train engine, in the fading light by the lake, speed-reading to finish a book before the sun finally set. And then the following day, scouring the bookcases for the next book to read.

So in the spirit of the summer of turning twelve, here are twelve books, in no particular order, that would have been on my reading list had I turned twelve in a much more recent summer:

1: Only Ever Always by Penni Russon
2: Sunny Side Up by Marion Roberts
3: Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
4: Cicada Summer by Kate Constable
5: Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner
6: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
7: Diamond Spirit by Karen Wood
8: Once by Morris Gleitzman
9: All the titles in the Girlfriend Fiction series
10: Emily of New Moon by LM Montgomery***
11: Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park***
12: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

* Clearly this was wishful thinking. As the future unfolded it became clear that height was not my strong suit, and I was, in fact, never to be a big kid in a school ground again. Sigh.
** Clearly another case of wishful thinking. Everybody knows Year 9 boys speak a different language to the rest of the species. And barely speak at all to their younger sisters.
*** Clearly these three titles have been available for many summers now, but if we were twelve now and we hadn't read them, they should definitely be on the list. (Also, let it be known that the Onion helping out with this list suggests Emily not Anne in deference to her colleague's well-documented anti-Anne stance.)

11 August 2011

Spotted in the House

A whole host of brand-spanking-new advances!

One of these books is a funny, thought-provoking fable.

One of these books HAS A PUFFY COVER!*

One of these books is a collaboration between an amazing artist and one of our very own (very talented) Onions!

One of these books is a compelling time-slip tale that is made of pure, pure awesome.

One of these books is the fourth in a much-loved, fabulously charming series.

One of these books is a cake.**

* It's also a funny, cheerful, perfect read-aloud picture book for the very young, but, you know, PUFFY COVER.
**A sesame chiffon cake, if you please.

05 August 2011

Hot August Nights

It was 20 degrees at midnight the night before last. 20 de-flippin-grees.

People have been reporting sleeplessness all across town. Even correspondents in the UK have been complaining of the same, so clearly this Melbourne mid-winter heatwave is infecting the ENTIRE WORLD.

Well, if you just happen to be awake in the wee smalls, you could always steal those precious moments and read a brand new book. A book born in August will surely understand and soothe your discombobulation.

No doubt it will shock and amaze you to hear that we have some suggestions...

Only Ever Always by Penni Russon

The title sounds like a lullaby doesn't it?
Feel the tug of the story, the flow between worlds. Be borne away by the writing and the rhythm. Penni's brand new novel is a moving, challenging, immersive, beautiful reading experience. Okay, so Only Ever Always won't pull you into sleep so much as pull you compulsively through to the very end. But on the plus side you won't be worried about your insomnia anymore.

Let's Go Baby-O! by Janet & Andrew McLean

Let's Go, Baby-o! You and me! To the up, to the down and the turn around, to the wibble and the wobble, and the flip, flop hop. Then twist, twirl, whirrrl...
So this one's not exactly soporific either. But the illustrations are so totally gorgeous, you won't care! Cha-cha-cha.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C Stead and Erin E Stead

A legitimate bed-time book! A legitimate Caldecott Medal-winning bed-time book. Can't you feel poor sick Amos and his helpful zoo friends lulling you to sleep? We can feel it from here - so there's no use denying it. I think somebody's a bit tired.

The Road To Goonong by David Cox

'The most important thing,' my dad said, 'is to learn to fall off a horse. And the next most important thing is to get straight back on the horse that threw you.'
Ahem. That doesn't really sound very restful either, but if you turn your mind to country life of old, and long dusty journeys by horse and cart, and blacksmiths at work with their hammers and anvil, and timber-cutters felling the big ironbarks, and cow-milking and horse-riding and dashing down the dark track to the toilet way out the back, you'll be so exhausted from all that country-living that you're sure to be asleep before your head hits the pillow. Well at least until the howling dingoes and wailing curlews start making an almighty racket.

A Straight Line to My Heart
by Bill Condon

There's nothing quite as good as folding up into a book and shutting the world outside. If I pick the right one I can be beautiful, or fall in love, or live happily ever after. Maybe even all three. If you can't get a boy, get a book, that's my motto.

Sound advice. Get thee to a bookery. This book won't keep you awake with snoring and it won't steal the covers - but it just might steal your heart, or at least creep in close and snuggle up against it.

Sensitive Creatures by Mandy Ord

This might be a book for night-owls-by-choice. It's a book to read on the late train, to refer to in the pub, to comfort you as you work deep into the night. Shaun Tan says it's a book about 'the small crises of daily life, the ink-cluttered streets, the pockets of joy and ugliness.' And Shaun Tan is an Oscar-winner - so he knows about stuff like this.

Enjoy the heat while it lasts, Melburnians. We feel a change in the air. Luckily, all these August books will be just as beneficial when applied on cold winter days.

03 August 2011

Wednesday stuff and items

We've got our heads down round here at the moment. And not in the let's-play-heads-down-thumbs-up-because-there-nothing-else-to-do kind of way. More in the peering-at-our-to-do-lists-through-barely-parted-fingers kind of way.

So here are some things for you to be going on with.

1) Look at the gorgeous Harry Potter cakes over at Cakes Wrecks.

2) Learn how to draw a bunny. In order to do this, you will need to understand the bunny.

3) Worry about how clean, and well-fed, and shiny-haired and beefy Gale looks* in this Entertainment Weekly article.

4) Marvel at the fact that it's 23 degrees in Melbourne today! In winter! 23! One editor was seen about town at lunchtime WITHOUT HER COAT. Imagine!

5) Laugh at this XKCD cartoon, for it is genius.

6) That is all. Back to work.

*Or is that just us?