Children’s authors and illustrators are a collegiate bunch. They often support each other and help new creators find a step on the publishing ladder. Organisations like SCBWI also offer ongoing fellowship and guidance.
Award-winning Jacqueline Harvey continues this generous tradition. After being invited by Dymocks to recommend her favourite books by Australian authors, she nominates nine. And I was thrilled to see that one of Jacqueline’s favourites is Granny Grommet and Me, my picture book about surfing grannies illustrated by the talented Karen Blair.
What a great way for Dymocks to support Aussie creators!
For many authors, unless initial sales are phenomenal, it’s hard to keep a title in a bookstore. After the first giddy months of a new release, when books are sold, they may not necessarily be re-ordered. Shops need to make space for new titles. If a book makes it onto a shortlist teachers and librarians feature it for Bookweek displays or other events, but there are so many books…
Publishers don’t always have time or funds to actively promote a backlist, so recommendations like this are helpful and can be a wonderfully eclectic mix. Looking at Jacqueline’s list, I was chuffed that several of her picks are also favourites of mine. I’m a Leigh Hobbs fan and so was honoured to be on a list with Mr Chicken goes to Paris. I also love Gus Gordon’s Herman and Rosie. Both books are quirky and fun, characteristics readers like about Granny Grommet and Me.
Jacqueline’s Alice-Miranda series is also quirky and fun with a strong and positive female heroine (like those real life Granny Grommets). Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief isn’t fun but the narrator (Death) could be described as quirky. Perhaps… It’s certainly an amazing book. Definitely one of my favourites.
During school visits, I’m often asked about my favourite books. There are so many and the answer varies depending on what I’m reading. I’ve just finished Nicholas Shakespeare’s Oddfellows but how can I compare that with LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables or Stan Wakefield’s Bottersnikes and Gumbles (I loved those Gumbles as a child). Each of these titles made an impact on me.
So perhaps the best answer is to alternate replies, nominating great books which I feel haven’t had the attention they deserve. With that in mind, tonight’s favourite (Sorry Harper Lee) is Samsara Dog by Helen Manos, illustrated by Julie Vivas. If you don’t know this beautiful picture book, it’s worth finding. The multi-layered storyline about love, life and death presents Buddhist teachings on reincarnation and Nirvana in a way that’s accessible to readers of all ages. The illustrations are joyful – I particularly love Dog with the Bikers. Best of all, it’s a lovely story.