Graffiti Moon – Cath Crowley

Well, I finally read Graffiti Moon, and it is beautiful. The book is set in Melbourne and truly captures the heart of the city. The story is set over one night and is told in alternating chapters by Lucy, Ed and “Poet”.

Lucy loves art, reading and is a curious individual. Lucy is in love with “Shadow”. She feels she knows Shadow through his graffiti art and that Shadow is her soulmate (if only she knew who he was). Lucy, herself, is also an artist. She is a glass blower and knows that even some of the most beautiful pieces of glass have cracks running through them and this theme is developed as the book progresses through the night. Lucy’s friends are Daisy and Jazz who are both outspoken, frank but likeable girls.

Ed is a dyslexia teen who has dropped out of school and is currently unemployed. His two best friends are Leo and Dylan. Two years ago, Lucy and Ed went out, and Lucy broke his nose. This was there one and only date!

Poet is Shadow’s best friend. He often writes poetry to accompany Shadow’s art.

Daisy, Jazz and Lucy have decided to go out and celebrate finishing Year twelve. Leo and Dylan are also out marking the end of Year 12 and have roped Ed in to join them in their fun. The girls run into the boys while out and they decide to all hang out together, much to the reluctance of Ed and Lucy. In the end, the only reason Lucy stays is that the boys tell her that they know who Shadow and Poet are and will help the girls track the two boys down.

Unbeknownst to the girls but revealed to the reader is the fact that Ed and Leo are Shadow and Poet. Ed is an unenthusiastic participant in this game of finding “Shadow & Poet”, but during the evening finds himself travelling the city with Lucy looking at Shadow’s art and trying to track Shadow down.

The beauty of this book is that it is set at night, and so as a reader, we are able to glimpse into the life of Melbourne teens under the cover of darkness. Crowley allows us to spend a night with these teens who are experimenting with life and living large. They are on the cusp of finishing school and discovering who they are and what they want their life to be. Exams are yet to happen, life outside of school is within their grasp, and their futures are there for the taking.

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CBCA SHORT-LIST ANNOUNCEMENT 2018

It was with great anticipation and excitement that I set off for the CBCA (Children Book Council of Australia) shortlist announcement. On this occasion, I took my dad and my boyfriend. I wanted the people closest to me to understand what I had been doing for the last two years as a judge and for them to gain an understanding of how prestigious these awards are to Australian authors and illustrators.  We arrived at Brisbane City Hall and made our way to Ithaca Auditorium where the shortlist presentation was being held.

The ceremony started with a welcome address from National Board Chair Margot Hillel OAM who was to MC the event. Firstly, Margo introduced us to CBCA QLD Branch Patron His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland. The Governor proceeded to tell us that he was married to a teacher-librarian, so I liked him instantly. It was evident from his speech that he genuinely supports and appreciates Australian literature, particularly children literature.

The best part of the day was to hear from previous shortlist nominees, Michael Gerard Bauer, Lucia Masciullo and Christine Bongers who spoke about what being a shortlist nominee meant to them personally and professionally.

First up to speak was Michael who talked about what it means to be an author who is acknowledged by the CBCA awards. Michael’s first book, The Running Man was the 2015 Book of the Year for Older Readers. His FIRST novel! Micheal said that being acknowledged by the CBCA gives writers and illustrators a boost in three fundamental ways: self-belief, publicity and income.

Illustrator, Lucia Masciullo spoke about how when she was shortlisted for Come Down, Cat! with Sonya Hartnett in 2012 she had no idea what a big deal it was to be shortlisted. Lucia, who previously lived in Italy, told the audience how Italy doesn’t have awards for children books. Luckily for her, her publisher was quite aware of what being shortlisted meant for Lucia and her career. Lucia went on to say that as she was only starting out as a children book illustrator, being shortlisted enabled her to showcase her art to Australia and this made her happy, excited and proud.

Lastly, we heard from Christine Bongers who spoke about her 2011 shortlisted book for Younger  Readers, Henry Hoey Hobson. Christine’s story is extraordinary! The wonderfully quirky, delightful and funny Henry Hoey Hobson almost disappeared into obscurity, but thanks to the CBCA shortlist was given a new lease on life. She says it is ‘truly the gift that keeps on giving.’

Next, we were treated to a series of short films from six schools across Queensland. The students were exploring the CBCA Book Week theme, Find Your Treasure. The students’ treasure contained the much anticipated shortlist nominees.

Finally, the magic hour had descended upon Ithaca Auditorium, and the shortlists for 2018 were to be announced. What I loved the most about the announcing of the shortlists was the nervousness of the presenters. They knew how life changing this was for the authors and illustrators and they were trembling with excitement.

First up was the older reader category (MY category). Though, I knew which books were going to be announced I was eager to hear the list.  AND there was MY list up on the screen. What a thrill! I would also like to thank the other two fantastic judges that I worked beside this year to create this list, Katharine England (SA) and Joy Lawn (NSW). It is a great list, and I am delighted with it, and I will write more about this list at a later date.

THE BOOK OF THE YEAR: OLDER READERS

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers in their secondary years of schooling. Ages 13-18 years (NB: These books are for mature readers)

We then went on to hear the other shortlists, all of which were wonderful!

THE BOOK OF THE YEAR: YOUNGER READERS

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for readers from the middle to upper primary years. Ages 8-12 years.

 

THE BOOK OF THE YEAR: EARLY CHILDHOOD

Entries in this category may be fiction, drama or poetry and should be appropriate in style and content for children who are at pre-reading or early stages of reading. Ages 0-7 years

THE PICTURE BOOK OF THE YEAR

Entries in this category should be outstanding books of the Picture Book genre in which the author and illustrator achieve artistic and literary unity or, in wordless picture books, where the story, theme or concept is unified through illustrations. Ages 0-18 years (NB. Some of these books may be for mature readers).

THE EVE POWNALL AWARD FOR INFORMATION BOOKS

Entries in this category should be books which have the prime intention of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style. Ages 0-18 years

What a wonderful day! I enjoyed the ceremony immensely and give kudos to the Queensland CBCA branch for putting on such a professional but utterly enjoyable day. There have been many highlights for me in being a judge for the CBCA but today was really quite special.

Before the announcement…excitement building!

With my shortlist…Yay!

 

 

Tin Heart – Shivaun Plozza

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During a trip to Maleny recently we stopped at the local bookshop, and I bought a copy of Tin Heart by Shivaun Plozza. My expectations for this book were high. I was a huge fan of Frankie. I remember reading it in my role as CBCA judge, and I immediately knew within a few pages that it was going to be a short-listed book. I was nervous about reading Tin Heart and can only imagine how Shivaun Plozza felt about writing and publishing ‘the difficult second book’. I was not to be disappointed, Tin Heart like Frankie is gritty, funny and moving.

One of the reasons that I loved Frankie so much was because she was a character that you both enjoyed and disliked. At times it was confusing to like Frankie because of her attitude and the choices she made, but deep down you knew that she didn’t mean to hurt anyone and there was no malice in her. Marlowe in Tin Heart is very similar to Frankie in this regard, but in every other way, they are different. When I talked to boys about the character of Frankie, I would say that she was the type of girl you should want to date or be best friends with and I also think Marlowe would make a great girlfriend/best-friend.

In her second novel, Tin Heart (Penguin), Shivaun Plozza tells the story of seventeen-year-old Marlowe who undergoes an organ transplant. Marlowe Jensen was The Dying Girl, and now she has a second chance at life, but Marlowe is finding it hard to move on with her new life when she now has someone else’s heart beating in her chest. She feels an overwhelming need to know more about her donor and so sets off on a quest to find her donor’s family, disregarding their request for no contact. Of course, Marlowe’s determination to get to know her donor and his family creates emotional chaos and sets in motion a chain of events that will impact on everyone around her.

Despite these strong themes, Tin Heart remains light-hearted and funny. It is gorgeously written and has a cast of engaging characters that will delight and charm you. There is Pip, Marlowe’s younger brother who likes dressing up in costumes but with a twist – gingham pinafore, red wig, combat boots and tiger-face paint (Jungle Anne of Green Gables, of course). Her mum, the vegan warrior who has just opened her dream vegan-organic-wellness store (Blissfully Aware) and who lives her life as vegan/mother warrior. Oh, and of course Blissfully Aware just happens to be next door to Bert’s quality butcher. Then there is Zan, the Chinese-Australian girl who is ‘the coolest of cool’. And Leo, the butcher’s son who Marlowe finds endearing and exasperating. Plozza has a gift for writing flawed but adorable characters that stay with you long after you finish the book.

Frankie was the novel that introduced us to Shivaun Plozza, and as readers, we quickly realise what immense talent she was, and Tin Heart only reinforces this and makes us understand that Plozza is a captivating voice in YA fiction and will continue to find a place in our hearts with her gorgeous books.

Tin Heart2 Continue reading Tin Heart – Shivaun Plozza

The Day I Met Cath Crowley

After reading Words in Deep Blue, I fell in love with Cath Crowley and her writing. While at Somerset Literature Festival I attended one of Cath’s session. During the session, Cath focussed on her book Grafitti Moon, which I understood considering the audience (secondary students), but I so wanted to hear more about Words in Deep Blue. BUT Cath Crowley drew me into her presentation with her beautiful manner and her likeable personality. Cath’s writing is funny and warm, and this comes through when she speaks. After listening to Cath talk about Grafitti Moon, I now want to read it, and I can’t believe I haven’t read it before now.

During her presentation she made me laugh, and I could see within her the beautiful soul that it took to write such an extraordinary book such as Words in Deep Blue. For those of you who haven’t read Words in Deep Blue, you should definitely put it on your ‘to read’ list.

Words in Deep Blue is a love story about a second-hand bookshop named Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets, to words. It is also the story of Henry and Rachel who were once best friends and are now finding their way back to each other. Words in Deep Blue is a book that loves books, words and readers. Cath Crowley draws you into the book with her beautiful writing, and she takes a book about love, grief and death and makes it both funny and heartbreaking. It is a book that will linger with you long after you have finish reading.

Once the session had finished, I made my way to the bookshop where Cath was signing books. We chatted a little, and I told her that when I was reading Words in Deep Blue, I wasn’t talking to my boyfriend. We had a huge fight, and I was shutting him out. At the time he was in Canada, and I was in Australia. While I was reading this beautiful book, I knew that he would love this story. He would want to visit Howling Books (his favourite places are second-hand bookstores). He would laugh with the characters who are all flawed but adorable. So I sent him a text and told him that I had found a book with a second-hand bookstore that he would want to live in and just like that, I broke the freeze and that’s the power of a great book! Lucky for me Cath enjoyed my story (or pretended to) and didn’t think I was too creepy!

It is always scary meeting an author or going to an author’s presentation because sometimes they just don’t live up to your expectations but I am happy to say that Cath Crowley exceeded my expectations. She was delightful, kind and beautiful and it makes me love Words in Deep Blue even more, and I didn’t think that was possible.

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