The post in which I gush over Reading Matters 2013

It’s 2 days after the end of Reading Matters 2013 and I still can’t stop thinking about it.  It was unbelievably awesome and  the best conference I’ve been to by far.  I’ve never had so much fun at a conference or come away so excited and motivated.  The Centre for Youth Literature team put together a great programme, with a lineup of some of the best young adult authors from Australia and overseas.  You could tell how much time, effort and passion that the team put into making the conference so engaging, thought provoking, and entertaining.  I already thought they were pretty damn awesome beforehand but I’ll be singing their praises to anyone who wants to listen.

At every other book conference I’ve been to I’ve bunked a couple of the sessions, but the Reading Matters sessions were so good that I didn’t want to miss a minute of them.  The authors, volunteers and the Centre for Youth Literature team kept the energy up the whole time and I was constantly buzzing with excitement. They all must have been pretty worn out by the last session, but it never showed.  They were all incredibly interesting sessions and we all learnt a lot more about the authors than we had bargained for.  I had no idea that some of them had such dirty mouths, but they had us almost falling off our seats with laughter.

I love Australian young adult literature and some of my favourite authors were there, including Vikki Wakefield (All I Ever Wanted, Friday Brown), Gabrielle Williams (Beatle Meets Destiny, The Reluctant Hallelujah), Morris Gleitzman (the Once quartet), and Myke Bartlett (Fire in the Sea).  I also enjoyed meeting and listening to the international authors, especially Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Drama), Keith Gray (Ostrich Boys) and Libba Bray (Beauty Queens, The Diviners).  I have to admit I hadn’t read anything by the international authors prior to the conference but I certainly will be now.  They were all really wonderful people who wrote some lovely dedications in my books.  I’ll be writing some more posts throughout the week about some of the sessions.

I also got the chance to meet some of my awesome fellow bloggers/Tweeters in person.  I was so glad I got to meet Danielle ( and @danielle_binks ) and Jess ( and @TalesCompendium )  whose blogs and Tweets I follow, and I could have chatted to them for ages.  Danielle is a super speedy Tweeter so she kept up with everything the authors were saying.  I, on the other hand, was very slow and decided to just retweet Danielle’s.  Between all of the Tweeters there and those who couldn’t be, we even managed to get the official hashtag, #yamatters, trending WORLDWIDE!

To all the authors and the organisers, especially Adele, Nicole, Anna and Jordi from the Centre for Youth Literature, thanks for making Reading Matters an event that I’ll never forget.  The next Reading Matters conference is in Melbourne in 2015 so make sure you get there (I know I’ll be there come hell or high water!).

If you want to catch up on all the #yamatters tweets, check out the hashtag on Twitter.

Give books not flowers this February 14th

February 14th is only a couple of days away, which means that International Book Giving Day is nearly here.  Instead of giving flowers and chocolates to show your love, why not show your love of books and give books to a child who needs them the most.  Here are some ways you could get involved in International Book Giving Day:

1. Give a Book to a Friend or Relative.

Celebrate International Book Giving Day by giving a child a new, used or borrowed book.

2. Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby.

Choose a waiting room where kids are stuck waiting and there are few to no good books available. Purchase a good book, and deposit your book covertly or overtly in your waiting room of choice. The goal here is to spread the love of reading to kids, so choose a fun book, nothing controversial.

3. Donate a Book.

Wrap up a box of children’s books that your kids have outgrown and get them in the hands of children who could really use a book or two.  See my posts about donating to New Zealand charities KidsCan or Duffy Books in Homes.

I’ve cleaned out my bookcases of books I no longer need and bought a heap of new books to send to these charities on they day.  Along with my library colleagues I’ll also be donating some nice new picture books to the doctor and dental surgeries in our community.

If you’re a school you could hold a special mufti day to raise money or gather books to send to Beckenham School in Christchurch, who recently lost their school library in a fire.  A Free Post address is being set up for schools who would like to send books for Beckenham School free of charge.

Whatever you’re planning on doing for International Book Giving Day it would be great to hear all about it.  You can join the International Book Giving Day Blog Hop to share your plans.

Let’s get books into the hands of the children in New Zealand who need them the most.

Meet the wonderful Oliver Jeffers

I thought Oliver Jeffers was awesome before I saw this video, but now he’s just reached an all new level of awesomeness!  I’ve been a huge fan of Oliver since his first book was published and I’ve loved everything he’s created so far, from his own picture books to illustrations for other authors, such as John Boyne and David Almond.  His books are wonderful and it’s great to get this entertaining insight into his creative process.

My Christchurch Writer’s Festival Experience

Thanks to my wonderful library, Christchurch City Libraries, I was lucky enough to attend some great sessions at the Christchurch Writer’s Festival at the weekend.  We’ve all been waiting for the festival to be held in Christchurch for 4 years so it was great to see it go ahead this year.  And what a festival it was!

The sessions that I attended related more to writing for children and teens, so I got to meet local authors Kate De Goldi and Jane Higgins, and international authors John Boyne and Joanne Harris.  My highlights were interviewing one of my favourite authors, John Boyne, and the Why YA? panel on Sunday.  I was blogging like crazy all weekend on the Christchurch City Libraries blog, so for those who couldn’t be there you can read my festival reports and interviews here:

I’m running two giveaways of books I got signed at the festival too if you’d like to enter:

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

I had heard that the short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore had won an Academy Award last year.  I hadn’t paid much attention to it at the time, but when I noticed that a book of the story that inspired the film was going to be published I had to find out what all the fuss was about.  I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to rave about a film as much as I do about The Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.  No movie that I’ve heard of, or watched, has more completely captured the magic of books.  This film is absolutely stunning and EVERYONE should see it.!  It’s fifteen minutes of pure joy and, if you love books, it’s guaranteed to make you incredibly happy.  There is no dialogue at all so you have to figure out what is happening in the story, which I think is part of the appeal.  I’ve posted the link to the film on YouTube below so you can experience it for yourself, and you can buy it on iTunes (I bought it so that I can take it wherever I go).

The creator of the film, William Joyce, has now brought the story to life on the page, in a beautiful hardback picture book.  The illustrations in the book are even more beautiful than the moving images in the film and I read the book several times just to stare at them.  The cover really jumps out at you, and I’d challenge any book lover to walk past it without picking it up to see what’s inside.  Unlike the film, there is text in the book so you are told what is happening (I suggest watching the film before reading the book as I think you get more out of the story that way).  I especially like the design of the book, from the beautiful binding and dust jacket, to the way the text and illustrations interact on the page.

Like Morris Lessmore, we are whipped up by the wind and whisked away to a land where books fly, dance, and even play the piano.  As soon as you see this book or watch the film you will fall in love with the story and want to return to it again and again.  I discovered that William Joyce has also written a fantasy series for children, called The Guardians of Childhood, that is currently being made into an animated movie called Rise of the Guardians, due out later this year.

Watch the Academy Award-winning film below and grab a copy of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore from your library or bookshop.

Mulit Storied – 2012 Children’s Book Council of Australia Conference

On Wednesday I’m off to the 2012 Children’s Book Council of Australia Conference in Adelaide.  I’ve been to the last two conferences in Sydney and Melbourne and they’re incredibly interesting and so much fun.

This year the conference starts on Thursday 17th May with the welcome reception, including an introduction by Australian Children’s Laureate Alison Lester, a book launch, and an opportunity to view an exhibition of South Australian illustrators.  The main part of the conference starts on Friday morning and concludes on Saturday afternoon.

There are some really interesting authors and illustrators speaking, including international guests Oliver Jeffers and Eoin Colfer, as well as some great Australian authors such as Michael Gerard Bauer, Mem Fox and Isobelle Carmody.  I’ve got my copies of their books packed in my suitcase to get signed and I’ll hopefully get a couple signed to give away here on the blog.  I’m really looking forward to interviewing Michael Gerard Bauer, an author whose books I love.

My suitcase and backpack are sure to be loaded with books on the way home.

Discover what the Scottish Book Trust has to offer

Beth Bottery from the Scottish Book Trust wrote this wonderful post about the promotions and events that they offer, even to children and teens in New Zealand.  Be sure to check out their brilliant site.

No matter where in the world you’re based or what kind of books you’re interested in, Scottish Book Trust has something for you to get involved with. Based in Edinburgh, Scottish Book Trust is the leading agency for the promotion of literature, reading and writing in Scotland. Our Children’s Programme also run several projects which can be enjoyed by children, and adults, all over the world. You can find details of just a few of these below. Our website is a great resource, full of writing advice, book recommendations, author interviews, blogs and loads more

Authors Live

A series of fantastic of children’s and teen’s authors events which are broadcast live online to schools in the UK via the BBC. These events then become available to watch again for free a week later for people around the rest of the world. They feature a stellar line-up including Michael Rosen, Charlie Higson, David Almond, Jacqueline Wilson, Liz Lochhead and many more and you can download them from our website for free. Details of the next event are below. All events come with free classroom resources.

  • Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry) – World Book Day 1st March 2012

You can find further information about these and future online events on our website Keep an eye out for information about our next programme of live events by following the same link.

Virtual Writers in Residence

We have brilliant Creative Writing videos and tasks from top teen authors Keith Gray and Cathy Forde. Keith looks closely at several aspects of the writing process and Cathy has a series of creative writing tasks for budding writers to use in developing their skills. .

The Blog

Every week we have new blog entries from authors and illustrators, booksellers, publishers and Scottish Book Trust staff. It’s a great place to find out about what’s going on at Scottish Book Trust and in the world of books more generally. We have several regular blogs aimed at young people, learning professionals and parents. You can find out more by following this link:

Teen Hit List

We regularly put together hit lists of some of the best teen books around. These often feature a theme and are a great way of getting your pupils reading new and different fiction, our latest one is all about understanding mental health:


We are always on the lookout for reviews of what you have read recently, whether you loved it, hated it, would recommend it or warn everyone against it. Email your book reviews to and we will put the best ones on the website. You can read past reviews by following this link:

The never-ending dilema of the book blogger

One of the most exciting things about being a book blogger is that some very kind publishers send you review copies of their latest books.  You can pick and choose which ones you would like to review and sometimes they send you extras that you haven’t requested.  HarperCollins New Zealand are one of my favourite publishers to deal with, especially Bonnie, one of their brilliant publicists.  I never seem to run out of books to review and often have several piles that I keep thinking I have to get to.  There are times when I feel guilty because I haven’t got to X publisher’s new titles yet, so I find myself trying to read 2 of 3 books from different publishers at the same time.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all the amazing free books, but sometimes the ‘to be read’ piles can seem a bit daunting.

My biggest problem is that I still continue to buy books from local bookstores and through Amazon, Book Depository and, one of my favourite bookshops, Goldsboro Books (they have the most amazing selection of signed books, especially children’s).  While tidying my bookshelves yesterday I noticed the frightening large amount of books I’ve bought this year but still haven’t read.  Here’s just a small selection:

  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
  • Ashfall – Mike Mullan
  • Sweetly – Jackson Pearce
  • This Dark Endeavor – Kenneth Oppel
  • Game Runner – B.R. Collins
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs
  • The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean – David Almond
  • All These Things I’ve Done – Gabrielle Zevin
  • Ashes – Ilsa Black

I keep saying to myself that once December comes around I’ll have 2 months to catch up before the publishing world kick starts for the new year, but I’m not sure how this will work out for me.

Can anybody suggest what I should start on first?  What books have you bought this year but haven’t read yet?