children’s books

And some more award news…


Fantabulous news over the weekend – Life in Outer Space has been shortlisted for the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards! The following books were shortlisted in each award category:


A World of Other People by Steven Carroll (HarperCollins)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Vintage Australia)
The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane (Penguin: Hamish Hamilton)
Coal Creek by Alex Miller (Allen & Unwin)
Belomor by Nicolas Rothwell (Text Publishing)


Moving Among Strangers by Gabrielle Carey (University of Queensland Press)
The Lucky Culture by Nick Cater (HarperCollins Publishers)
Citizen Emperor by Philip Dwyer (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Rendezvous with Destiny by Michael Fullilove (Penguin)
Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John by Helen Trinca (Text Publishing)

Prize for Australian History

Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War by Joan Beaumont (Allen & Unwin)
First Victory 1914 by Mike Carlton (Random House)
Australia’s Secret War: How unionists sabotaged our troops in World War II by Hal G.P. Colebatch (Quadrant Books)
Arthur Phillip: Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy by Michael Pembroke (Hardie Grant Books)
The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright (Text Publishing)


Tempo by Sarah Day (Puncher & Wattmann Poetry)
Eldershaw by Stephen Edgar (Black Pepper)
1953 by Geoff Page (University of Queensland Press)
Drag Down to Unlock or Place an Emergency Call by Melinda Smith (Pitt Street Poetry)
Chains of Snow by Jakob Ziguras (Pitt Street Poetry)

Young Adult Fiction

The Incredible Here and Now by Felicity Castagna (Giramondo)
Pureheart by Cassandra Golds (Penguin)
Girl Defective by Simmone Howell (Pan Macmillan)
Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil (Hardie Grant Egmont)
The First Third by Will Kostakis (Penguin)

Children’s Fiction

Silver Buttons by Bob Graham (Walker Books )
Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt (Allen & Unwin)
My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg (Allen & Unwin)
Kissed by the Moon by Alison Lester (Puffin)
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Hachette)

Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors – my must-read pile is now teetering precariously, but I’m looking forward to getting stuck into some of these wonderful books. You can read more about the award here, and the official Prime Minister’s Literary Awards press release here.


The books that shaped me

I’m always fascinated hearing about the childhood books that influenced other writers. Last month, the very awesome Will Kostakis looked at the reading that shaped him as an author, which, not surprisingly, had quite few entries that would make my list too (The Hobbit! Fight Club!) There are plenty of books that I’ve fallen in love with as an adult, and quite a few that I’ve loved so much that I’ve had to re-read them, some more than once. But I’m not sure that these books have had quite the same impact and influence as the books I read and loved as a kid. So, following Will’s list, here is the history of me, as a reader, in a very condensed nutshell:

Enid Blyton2

Like Will, my earliest reading memories are all Enid Blyton. The Magic Faraway Tree was definitely a favourite, but The Naughtiest Girl and The Wishing Chair series’ were also right on top of my list. These are books where I would come to the last page, and then turn back and start reading right from the beginning again, sometimes without a break in between, because I just couldn’t stand being away from that world. Oh, and the food – I wanted to eat ALL THE THINGS! No writer has ever managed to make a picnic with ginger beer and jam sandwiches and handfuls of radishes sound quite as appealing as Enid Blyton.

Roald Dahl2

I’m not sure if I was unusual, but I never really enjoyed being read to as a kid; mostly, I think, because I liked being in my own head with my books. But I did have one primary school teacher who was the master of the spellbinding reading, and the best part of the day quickly became story time before the final bell. He is directly responsible for my discovery of all things Roald Dahl. While The BFG became a go-to happy book, Danny the Champion of the World was a stand-out for me. I haven’t read it in years, but I still remember the pheasants, and the hot coco, and the warm and fuzzies in the relationship between Danny and his dad.

[For the month of June, I will be writer-in-resident at the fab Inside a Dog – you can read the rest of this post here]