The Premier’s Reading Challenge – QLD

The QLD Premier’s Reading Challenge registration is now open. The Reading Challenge promotes literacy in young people by encouraging students from Prep to Year 7 to read a variety of books.

In 2010, more than 660 schools and over 100,000 students participated in the Challenge!

The reading period begins very soon – May 9th. If you’re keen to take up the challenge and are looking for some great titles to read, be sure to check out the Recommended Reading Challenge list.

We are excited to have the following fabulous Black Dog Books on the list:

Flame stands waiting By Corinne Fenton. Illustrated by Sebastian Ciaffaglione,Burke and Wills : expedition off the map by Karen Tayleur
The race for the Chinese zodiac By Gabrielle Wang. Illustrated by Sally Rippin, Regine Abos
Ramose: prince in exile by Carole Wilkinson
Koalas: the real story by Mark Norman
The Emperor’s kingdom : penguins on ice by Roger Kirkwood
The snake book: slip sliding away [Wild planet series] by Damian  T. Goodall

These books are available from all good bookstores or our website

Goodluck with the challenge!

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Happy Easter!

We hope you all have a wonderful Easter and enjoy the


Be sure to visit again soon for more great author interviews and giveaways.

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News Alert!

Two Black Dog Books have been shortlisted in the REAL Awards 2011. This shortlist is formulated from student nominations collected by the Children’s Choice Book Awards in ACT (COOL), NSW (KOALA), NT (KROC) and VIC (YABBA).

Picture Storybooks Category

My Dad Thinks He’s Funny by Katrina Germein. Illustrated by Tom Jellett

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang. Illustrated by Sally Rippin/Regine Abos

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac was also listed as a Notable book in the CBCA Awards 2011 Awards along with Merrow, by Ananda Braxton- Smith.

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Winner of Fromelles by Carole Wilkinson

Thank you to everyone for entering into the Fromelles giveaway. The winner has been selected using random number generator.

The winner is:

katswhiskers who said;

My sons eat books – especially realistic fiction. Even hubby (not a reader) read the Dragon Keeper series because boys’ enthusiasm grabbed him. Hubby enjoyed too.

Congratulations Katwhiskers!

If you missed out on winning a copy,  Fromelles is available from all good bookstores.

QLD Readers – Look out for the upcoming giveaway in the QLD Courier Mail April 19th


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Author Spotlight – Interview with Carole Wilkinson

What inspired you to write Fromelles?

My publisher, Andrew Kelly! He thought it was a fascinating story and I agreed. Ideas for my non-fiction books often come from someone else. I actually think it is not a bad thing to start from a point of ignorance with non-fiction for young people. That way you don’t assume any knowledge, the way you might if you were a real expert in the topic.

Did Fromelles change much between the initial idea and the final book?

The main ‘facts’ section is a chronological recounting of the events, so that didn’t change much.

The bodies of the missing soldiers from Fromelles were found while I was researching, so that became a bigger and more immediate part of the story.

My ideas for the fictional pieces changed. At first I was going to write from different people’s points of view as I did with Black Snake: The Daring of Ned Kelly, but then I decided it would be more powerful to follow the experiences of one fictional soldier.

How long did it take you to do the research for Fromelles?

I’m not sure. I usually fit the early research around writing another book. So I started researching back in 2008, but that doesn’t mean it took three years of solid research. I continued to research it when I got a chance while I was writing Sugar Sugar. Once that went to press, early in 2010, then I gave Fromelles my full attention.

How did you gather your research for Fromelles?

I started reading the books people have written about the battle after the event. Then I started delving into the primary sources that were written down at the time, by the people who were involved in the battle or those who were close observers. The sort of things I looked at were the official history of Australia in World War I, the official history of the 5th Brigade, memoirs and diaries of soldiers, and their army service dossiers.

Did you come across any obstacles when gathering research or writing Fromelles?

The hardest thing was trying to get information about the Germans. We really do write history from our own point-of-view.

As a writer of non-fiction how can you ensure that all your information is correct?

You can’t. History is always subject to personal interpretation. Even the primary sources are biased towards the personal view of someone who was subject to the emotions and propaganda of that time. Information can be omitted, misinterpreted or intentionally misrepresented. History is always someone’s idea of what happened.

Fromelles is such a tragic event in Australian history, did you find it difficult to not become emotionally engaged in writing the story?

What I tried to do was channel the emotions I felt into the fictional pieces, and report the facts without too much personal opinion. It was hard though, and I don’t think anyone will have any doubt what my feelings are.

What is it that attracts you to writing non-fiction?

There are plenty of real-life stories in history that are amazing and need to be told. I like the idea of introducing young people to history.

Do you prefer writing non-fiction or fiction?

I like to write both. Nothing happens in one of my novels, not even the smallest event, without me having to make a decision. It can be an exhausting process that takes a year or more. So when I’ve finished a novel, it’s a relief to write non-fiction where I draw the story from the historical facts. However, by the time I’ve finished that process, I often feel constrained by the truth, and I’m usually itching to get back to making up stories again!

What do you think you will write next?

I am currently writing a new book, set about 400 years after the first series.

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Make Soft Toys, One Stitch at a Time!

Check out this great video created by Squiggle Mum, on our recent release, One Stitch at at Time.
For your chance to win a copy, visit her blog now!

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All Saints Storylines Literary Festival, Perth, 6-8 April

The All Saints Literary Festival begins today.

Three authors from Black Dog will be amongst a fabulous line up of authors and illustrator, all sharing their love of literature with young audiences.

Ben Beaton, Shirley Marr and Karen Tayleur
6th- 8th April 2011
For more information and photos see the All Saints College Literary Festival website

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Win a copy of Fromelles by Carole Wilkinson

This week we are giving away a copy of our March release Fromelles: Australia’s Bloodiest Day at War by the multi-award-winning author, Carole Wilkinson. This book is an excellent educational resource for young readers. There’s lots of visual stimulus to keep readers engaged, including maps, fact-boxes, photographs and diagrams. Also, the combination of non-fiction and fiction accounts, make this a fascinating and engaging read and is sure to motivate young persons interest in Australian history.

The Battle of Fromelles lasted less than 24 hours – in which more than 5000 Australian soldiers were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. More Australian soldiers died at Fromelles than in the Boer War, Korean War and Vietnam War combined.

Just tell us in 25 words or less why you would like to win a copy. Leave your comment below and the winner will be announced next Wednesday 13th April.

Also, look out for our upcoming interview with the author Carole Wilkinson.

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Author Spotlight – Interview with Michael Panckridge

Michael Panckridge

Michael  is the author of over thirty books included the highly acclaimed Legends and Anniversary Legends series. He is also pretty mad-keen on sport. He has played cricket, football, soccer, tennis, hockey, and golf.

In this interview, Michael discusses his latest series, The Book of Gabrielle; a sinister tale about a girl without a past and an extraordinary ability to see things others can’t.

What inspired you to write the Gabrielle Series?

I’ve had lots of ideas floating around in my head involving weird and sinister things happening – a kind of horror series perhaps – and in talking to kids, I know that they are very curious about the mystical / ghostly kind of themes. Things just slightly quirky and off centre have always intrigued me and so writing this series gave me the chance to enter that world!
What is your favourite part of The Boy Who Wasn’t There?

I like the spider and moth scenes – I’ve already had a few comments and reactions to those scenes. I don’t want to horrify people or make them feel yuck, but getting a reaction from your readers is really important for an author as it means that they are connecting on an emotional level with the book.

Who designed the cover?

The cover was designed by Lisa Austin (illustration by Dean Jones) and I really love it! It’s such a powerful image and I keep noticing new things appearing – I find that very creepy. And I love the way it bleeds onto the back cover too. Ha – I’ve just noticed a dark, hooded person crouching – on the back cover.

Did The Boy Who Wasn’t There change much between the initial idea and the final book?

Quite a bit, but not the basic concept. It’s funny when you start out with your first ideas for a book and you think they are absolutely the best and no way will anything change and then you talk to really clever people like Andrew and Melissa at black dog books and suddenly those amazing ideas are, well, okay, but….

Are any of the characters (Gabrielle) based on real people / people you know?

Not directly, but I’m sure there are aspects of people that I’ve met or read about that come into my characters in small ways. It would be kind of easy if I could copy people that I know into books but then again, the character wouldn’t quite be the character I was wanting to portray. I like being around kind, friendly people so most of my characters I guess are kind and friendly – or else they turn out to be. Not all, mind you!

How did you conceive your plot ideas for Gabrielle?

Well, don’t tell anyone, but I lie in bed at night (like most people!) and I play little movies in my head. I try and sit above the action and not interfere with what’s going on and I just watch stuff happen. Stuff that I make up. If I like something going on I sometimes open my eyes and jot a few things down on my notepad. When I’ve got enough good things happening, I start writing up a kind of summary of the story. After that I break it all up into chapters. I’m not locked into that structure, but I like to have things pretty much sorted before I start writing.

What made you decide to use a female protagonist?

I definitely wanted to have a strong male character in each of the books, so I thuought it would be best to have the main protagonist as a female and then have the back up of lots of males. Lots of my sporty books have lead male characters so I enjoy the challenge of writing from a female point of view – like The Vanishings.

Being a male, did you find it challenging to write a narrative with a female protagonist?

Yes, it is a bit challenging, though I don’t go to any great depths in terms of exploring Gabby’s inner world and secrets. I guess I don’t need to as she has enough issues going on, what with having no family or no past! As a teacher at a co-ed school, I’m surrounded by boys and girls on a daily basis, so I’m pretty comfortable writing from both genders’ point of view.

What were you reading while writing The Boy Who Wasn’t There?

I tend to read something a bit different from the genre that I’m writing about. I was actually reading a book called The Sea, which won the Booker Prize in 2007 – I think. It was beautifully written and you sensed that it was building up to something a bit tragic – which actually happened.

What is it that scares you?

I don’t like the night – I don’t like sounds that I can’t explain that happen in the dead of night. I don’t like the fact that I never get up to check what caused the sound, because there’s probably a perfectly reasonable explanation if only I could drag myself out of bed… but what if it’s something else? Something horrible and dark and sinister?

Do you believe in ghosts?

Well – there’s an interesting question. One day I need to write down the totally weird and spooky events that happened in the house I grew up in as a child. A house where someone died way back in the 1920s. Door handles turning, pot plants falling off shelves, music starting up in the middle of the night, lights flickering; glasses smashing…. Did I answer the question???

Why do you like writing in the horror genre?

Because I’m intrigued by the mysterious and sinister and unknown and because lots of kids are too!

Have you ever had any spooky, other-worldly experiences?

Apart from the ones described above – AND the weird, spooky sounds in the dead of night, which COULD be quite normal really, well, no… not really.
What did you read when you were a kid?

It took me quite a while to get going as a reader when I was younger. I used to love reading comics and sporty stuff; magazines, footy records, sports pages from newspapers. The first novels I got into were by Willard Price – the Adventure series. Lion Adventure, Underwater Adventure, Elephant Adventure, Safari Adventure, Cannibal Adventure (that one was very cool!) There were stacks of them.

What do you think you will write next?

I’m thinking about writing a series based on Nippers – Surf Rescue. Set at a town by the ocean in summer. I think that would be heaps of fun. I know there are heaps of children who spend hours learning about safety by the ocean and are getting really fit and healthy doing it as well as having plenty of fun surfing and swimming.

(And a question just for fun) If a movie was made about your life, who would play you?

I would play me because I think I know me best and I would then become a famous actor!

The Book of Gabrielle is now available from your local bookshop or at our website

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The Children’s Book Festival

If you’re looking for something to keep the kids occupied this weekend then be sure to check out the Children’s Book Festival in Melbourne. This event is a great way to encourage a love of books for kids and it’s also FREE!

There will be loads of fun activities for the kids, including workshops, storytelling, puppet shows, roving performers, muscial acts, and a petting zoo.

Kids will also have the chance to meet authors for book signings.

Black Dog Books author, Sally Rippin, and illustrator (and funny guy) Terry Denton will make guest appearances.

Sally Rippin has had over 2o published books, including the stunning picture book, The Race for the Chinese Zodiac.

Terry Denton is a much-loved illustrator who is known for his quirky and dynamic drawings.  He has over 20 published books and has illustrated more than 100 books! He is the illustrator of the highly popular Max Rumble series.

For more information and details on the Children’s Book Festival visit the Wheeler Centre Website.

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