Thursday, 20 April 2017

Reading Well Mood Boosting Books

There's a few lists like this. This list was chosen by young people in the UK. Seems we all need to find some inspiration and solace in books sometimes. 

See also 31 Books That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity

We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A Bear Called Paddington - Michael Bond  (see my review)
Am I Normal Yet? - Holly Bourne

Bodyguard series - Chris Bradford
Finding Cherokee Brown - Siobhan Durham
Matilda - Roald Dahl
Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur
More Than This - Patrick Ness
The Rest of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness
Wonder - R.J. Palacio (see my review)
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell
Harry Potter series - J.K Rowling 1/7
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Saenz
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
This One Summer - Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

Crongton Knights - Alex Wheatle
The Art of Being Normal - Lisa Williamson

3 1/7 of 27 (although I'm not really sure how many books make up the Harry Potter franchise these days, is it just the seven original novels? Or does the newer stuff count too?)

It's always amazing to see more books that I've never heard of. And a bit depressing really. But it should be mood boosting shouldn't it? Look at all these extra great books I've never heard of, but I'm sure I'm already well into the realm that I won't ever finish the books I want to read before I die.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Helen 100

I was young once and I used to listen to JJJ back in the day and remember Helen Razer and her wit and humour from that time. But I'd kind of lost track of her for some years. It turns out she's written quite a few books now. Recently I saw this new release sitting on the shelves at my bookshop and I just had to buy it. I do suspect that if I hadn't been through my own rather recent breakup I may not have snatched it off the shelf quite so quickly, or read it so very soon. I can see a pattern emerging of reading books about misery and despair. 

The Helen 100 recounts the year or so after the end of Helen's fifteen year relationship. Helen's ex left her reasonably suddenly one afternoon with an 'I need to grow' speech. Helen falls to the floor with her cat, Eleven, and a home delivered chicken. I'm pretty sure I've lived in a small town for too long as I was most astonished by the concept of the home delivered roast chicken in this particular scenario. 

Helen felt burdened by the expectation that her same sex relationship should not fail. 
That my particular desertion happened to be of a homosexual flavour intensified my shame and my impatience with view on sexuality generally. 'Lesbians' are really not supposed to break up, these days. They are supposed to stay together forever and provide an inspiring liberal example to others. And, this, notwithstanding my actual intention to stay together forever, was an attitude that really ticked me off.
At least I didn't have to feel representative for my own particular subculture. Just one of the 40% or so of heterosexual marriages (the only sort allowed in Australia) that ends in divorce. 
At some point, gay became the new beige and we are today the class doomed to revive the discarded dream of marriage. We are the people charged with conspicuous carriage of rainbow babies in expensive baby slings. 
Helen launches herself into the world of XXX dating apps to achieve her waxer's advice to go on 100 dates in a year. It is a world of which I was blissfully unaware, and which sounds particularly awful. She then baulks at the punctuation, spelling and grammar of her online contacts which isn't too successful a strategy for obtaining dates electronically.

I don't particularly like to think of myself as too much of a prude but I was often quite uncomfortable reading The Helen 100. Too much of the book was way over beyond the wrong side of Too Much Information. I kept reading because a) well I'd started and b) I really did still like Helen's voice. She has a vast vocabulary and powerful wit. There just aren't enough books using words like jejune, badinage or tonsure these days. 

And well, she did warn us, right there on the cover - Helen took her waxer's advice. And Bam, there she is on page one at the waxer's, having her lady parts waxed by the same waxer who also waxed her recently departed partner's intimate places. Oh what a complex world we live in.

I think I can take some of Helen's advice though (well actually her grandmother's advice):

Public Service Announcement: Have a bath
It has taken me decades of more everyday conflict to see that a nice bath can make life easier. It doesn't fix everything but it can fix a fuck of a lot. 
I haven't had a bath in some years, I think it's time. 

Listen to Richard Fidler's recent Conversation with Helen Razer which finally does explain why the cat is called Eleven. It's rather obvious actually.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Lenny Henry: Finding Shakespeare

I'm pretty terrible at taping things and then not watching them, filling up my hard drive recorder. I always mean to watch them soon. But sometimes I eventually get to watching things while working through the ironing pile. Today I watched Lenny Henry: Finding Shakespeare. I didn't really know anything about this documentary and I think it was at least a year ago that I taped it. 

Lenny Henry is famous to me for being a comedian and previously married to Dawn French. I hadn't realised that in more recent times he had become a Shakespearian actor. This was somewhat surprising to Lenny himself too. 
It's incredible that I'm doing this play because for most of my life I've kept well away from Shakespeare. Like many of us I thought I wasn't clever enough to understand it. 
Finding Shakespeare was filmed in the leadup to a worldwide broadcast of The Comedy of Errors with Lenny in the lead role. Lenny shows us his childhood home and talks about his Jamaican working class roots.
"Shakespeare's nothing to do with us is it?"
Which is a very familiar feeling for many of us I think. He describes his school experience of reading Romeo and Juliet  as "a whole class of disinterested kids reading from this old, tattered book". Which is very much like my remembrance of Henry IV Part One. 
But where does this mental block about Shakespeare come from? And what are missing out on if we don't get past it?
I was shocked to hear Barrie Rutter of the Northern Broadsides Theatre say
the iambic pentameter, although it's poetry, is based on the heartbeat 
Wow. Really? There's just so much I don't know about poetry.
But today his 400 year old language stops most of us being able to relate to his work. 
Lenny later visits rapper Akala who "believes we can still connect with Shakespeare if we can just get over the fear of the language." Akala has even founded the Hip-Hop Shakespeare Theatre Company. He plays a great game of quotes called "Hip Hop or Shakespeare?"

I still don't feel clever enough to understand Shakespeare most of the time. I'm still working on it though. I do try and go to a Bell Shakespeare production each year. I saw Othello last year, and was completely shocked by it. Angered. And saddened. It's still very relevant. Jackie French has a new series that she's doing with Shakespeare retellings. I read I am Juliet back in 2015 (see my review) and have more sitting in the TBR. 

You can watch Lenny Henry: Finding Shakespeare on Vimeo if you need to get your ironing done too.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Newcastle Writers Festival 2017

Last weekend I enjoyed my third trip to Newcastle Writers Festival. It's such a fabulous festival. So well organised. A vast range of great sessions. And so many free sessions. This year half the 170 sessions were free! Four of the eleven sessions I went to over two days were free.

The program was so good this year that I had real difficulty with picking the sessions I wanted to attend, because it meant I was missing out on so may other great sessions. It took me weeks to sort out my sessions as I tried to maximise the number and range of authors that I would hear. 

Nikki Gemmell

Clementine Ford, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Jane Caro, Ruby Hamad

I got to see so much Australian talent-

Peggy Frew
Alice Pung
Holly Throsby
Magdalena Ball
Wendy James
Michael Sala
Andy Muir
Jackie French
Sarah Armstrong
Emily Maguire
Randa Abdel- Fattah
Jane Caro
Clementine Ford
Belinda Alexandra
Fiona Higgins
Tara Moss
David Hunt
Steven Amsterdam
Nikki Gemmell
Leah Kaminsky
Kirsty Eager
Jacklyn Moriarty

So much of it overwhelmingly female. But in doing so I missed sessions with

Richard Roxburgh (I think he had the biggest signing line of the weekend, definite rock star status and his was the only book to sell out in the bookshop)
Sarah Wilson
Elspeth Muir
Nick Earls
Julia Baird

and so many others, and other great sessions that included some of the writers that I did see.

All the sessions I saw were fabulous. Inspiring. Thought provoking. Covering such a vast range of topics-everything imaginable really. Feminism. Racism. Sexual assault. Death and dying. Family violence. Australian history. Balinese ritual vaginal cleansing. Yes, it's a thing.

NWF is five years old this year. There have been developments and improvements each of the three years I've attended and there were some changes again this year. While the sessions I attended were all in the Town Hall and Civic Theatre there was a new marquee in Wheeler place was a fabulous space and well used. 

And they paid attention to the details too. There were things to read everywhere.

An old phone loaded with short stories!

I do love writers festivals. Where else do you get to see grown men in Moomin t-shirts? And young women with cool Eric Carle ribbons?

There's something so intoxicating about stacks of books. The potential. The possibilities. 

Naturally I came away with a (relatively) small of a stack of books. It's important to support the authors, the festival and the festival bookseller.

My sister leant me Something for Nothing,
and I've already leant her An Isolated Incident
I might have managed to acquire some other books whilst away at various bookshops I sought out. New and used.

And obviously I want to read work from everyone I saw. And a few I didn't get the chance to see...

NWF 2016
NWF 2015

I know that I'll be back next year. Somehow I need to work on getting to a new festival soon(ish) to work on my quest to attend all the writers festivals in Australia. So far I've been to Melbourne, Mudgee, Newcastle and Sydney and keep going back to those because they are the easiest to attend geographically. Plus I like them, especially Melbourne and Newcastle. 

Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly meme
 now hosted by 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

30 of the Best Books to Teach Children Empathy

I'm not sure about a list for teaching empathy, or reading with that expressly in mind. But this is a great list regardless of your reading intentions. So many intriguing books, and as always some are new to me.

El Deafo - Cece Bell (see my review)

Wonder - R.J Palacio (see my review)

Fish in a Tree - Lynda Mullaly Hunt

365 Days of Wonder: Mr Browne's Precepts - R.J. Palacio

The One and Only Ivan - Katherine Applegate

Same Sun Here - Silas House and Neela Vaswani

Inside Out and Back Again - Thanhha Lai (see my review)

Sunburn Rising: Beneath the Fall - Aaron Safronoff

The Family Under the Bridge - Natalie Savage Carlson

Hannah Coulter - Wendell Berry

Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson (see my review)

Island of the Blue Dreams - Scott O'Dell (see my review)

Jayber Crow - Wendell Berry

Paperboy - Vince Vawter

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible - Leon Leyson

Night - Elie Wiesel

One Came Home - Amy Timberlake

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood - Ibtisam Baraka

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood - Marjane Satrapi

Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls

My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George (see my review)

I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This - Jacqueline Woodson

The Breadwinner - Deborah Ellis

Out of My Mind - Sharon M. Draper

Moon Over Manifest - Clare Vanderpool

A Long Walk to Water - Linda Sue Park

They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan - Alephonsion Deng, Benson Deng, Benjamin Ajak

The Wall - Eve Bunting, Ronald Himler (illustrator)

Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson 

Charlotte's Web - E.B. White 


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Squishy Taylor and the First Three Adventures

I'd never heard of Squishy Taylor or any of her Adventures until the first story, Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters, was nominated for the Readings Prize this year. Then Squishy and her Bonus Sisters turned up as a Notable Book for the CBCA Book of the Year Younger Readers list. Squishy definitely needed to be checked out.

Squishy Taylor is a new(ish) series from Melbourne writer and acrobat Ailsa Wild. There are six books in the series now I think. I read a volume that combines the first three books. Each book is about 120 pages, and involves Squishy and her sisters solving a mystery. 

Squishy is an 11 year old girl who lives with her blended family in a rather crowded Melbourne apartment. Her mum lives works for the UN in Geneva, and she lives with her dad, her stepmother Alice, her two bonus (twin) stepsisters, and her half brother Baby. That's some complicated family logistics right there. Squishy is of course a nickname, her real name is Sita which is her In Trouble name. Squishy is mixed race, her mum is Indian and her father caucasian, while her step mother and step-sisters are Asian.

In Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters Squishy finds a boy living in the basement car park of her building. In Squishy Taylor and a Question of Trust there are diamond thieves about in Melbourne, and in Squishy Taylor and the Vase that Wasn't a valuable Chinese vase disappears from the apartment building and it seems a Chinese-Warrior ghost took it. 

All three stories are very fun, and a breeze to read. The text is broken up by words or phrases in a bigger different font (I've tried to find what that is called- it must be called something?), and there are fabulous illustrations throughout by Ben Wood. Ben shares how he designed Squishy here

The Melbourne setting is great. The girls travel about on the tram quite freely. In the first book Squishy hasn't really settled in with her step family yet since she moved in seven and a half weeks ago. She doesn't get along with her twin stepsisters, because "they are about 95% annoying and 5% really, really annoying" which is awkward when all three share the same room, and indeed a triple bunk bed. The girls do come together over their first adventure, and then share the exploits in the following books. It's a great idea to have Squishy live in a large apartment building, there's always a lot going on, and kids always notice the comings and goings of other resident, and know who's who in their surroundings. 

The Squishy Taylor series is a fabulous new series for young readers. I guess the covers will appeal to girls more as there is quite a bit of pink but there is plenty to appeal to boys too, with regular rock climbing, ninja tricks in and out of bed and plenty of action and often quite daring stunts required to solve the mysteries.

Monday, 10 April 2017

My (Part-Time) Paris Life

I'm such a sucker for the I Moved to Paris memoir genre. I have been since Sarah Turnbull kicked it all off back in 2004 with Almost French. I routinely buy them on first sighting. I don't always get to reading them right away, although sometimes I do. I knew as soon as I saw that beautiful blue cover last year that I would be buying My (Part-Time) Paris Life as soon as I found it in a shop. And so I did. Then last month I even got to reading it.

Lisa Anselmo lived a life as an Exective Creative Director in Publishing in New York. Now I don't know what that might entail on a daily basis, but it was well paid. She enjoyed twice annual trips to Paris. You can do that from New York I guess. It's much harder to imagine twice annual trips to Paris from Australia- not that I wouldn't love to do that, but the logistics and the expense is astronomical. I have made four trips to Paris since I fell under her spell in 1998- people here think that's a lot! I made back to back trips in 2013 and 2014 and people thought I was going to Paris "all the time". If only that were true.

My (Part-Time) Paris Life is really two stories weaved into one. There is Lisa's backstory- her relationship with her mother and her sister as she was growing up, and her relationship with her sister after her mother died. Lisa's mother was a major force in her life, and she feels her absence particularly strongly. The other story is Lisa's relationship with Paris, from her first trip in the early 80s as a 16 year old schoolgirl, to an impromptu trip in 2002 (Australians can only dream of return tickets to Europe for $335) when she really fell in love with Paris, after which she took more frequent trips, living a "revolving door life", and eventually a decade or so later came to buy an apartment in Paris after her mother's death and move there.
Paris realigned me.
Lisa ponders for some time about whether to make the move. Understandable really- moving continents is a bit of a big deal. I think my breath actually stopped with her crabs in a bucket analogy on the first page. 

Maybe it's finally leaving that dead-end job, extracting yourself from a bad marriage, starting your own business- whatever it is, there's a point when you realise you can't keep living this way: your head spins all day, you don't sleep anymore, you can't shake an overwhelming sense of dread. The only thing that keeps you going is the dream of something better, something more. 

What a luxury to have a transportable job, whatever it is that her job entails. Lisa was a bit too coy on the details of buying her apartment- how much was it? Readers of this book likely have their own moving to Paris dream, let us feel how realistic or not that may be. The apartment she bought was $150, 000 cheaper than others she was looking at, but she was able to pay cash for it, some "hundreds of thousands of dollars". I'm not sure if I'm ever going to have that kind of buying power.
This apartment was proving to be more than a place to live; it was teaching me how to live. 
Readers of any Look-at-me-I-Moved-to-France memoir will know that there are always plumbing problems. And Lisa had major plumbing problems. Plumbing problems so major that they involved lawyers and years of her life. Sadly we are left hanging about the resolution of the plumbing woes and I had to go to Lisa Anselmo's blog to find out what happened with the plumbing.

But could I walk away from everything I knew, even when it wasn't making me happy anymore?

I did get a bit tired with Lisa's constant questioning about whether she deserved a life in Paris. Repeatedly asking "Who do you think you are?" Most of us would love this opportunity. Please just get on with it. I like to imagine that people who live in Paris all have wonderful lives. I know that isn't true. But I still remember my shock on my first visit to Paris when I saw depressed commuters on the Metro looking glum about their daily lives. Bored even. Bored. In Paris. I can't even imagine.

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog  

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Top Ten Bestselling Australian Novels (since 2002)

Recently Nielsen Bookscan data have been released for the best selling Australian books since 2002 (when data collection began). It's an intriguing, but rather surprising list. 

1. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

2. The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty

3. Whitethorn - Bryce Courtenay

4. Brother Fish - Bryce Courtenay

5. The Persimmon Tree - Bryce Courtenay

6. The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan

7. Jack of Diamonds - Bryce Courtenay

8. Sylvia - Bryce Courtenay

9. Matthew Flinder's Cat - Bryce Courtenay

10. The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion (see my review)


6/10 of the bestselling Australian books of the past 15 years were by Bryce Courtenay! I thought that The Power of One would have been his most popular/bestselling book. I haven't even heard of some of these titles. I've only ever read one Bryce Courtenay I think- his memoir about his son's illness with haemophilia and HIV- April Fool's Day. 

The Book Thief sold over 250, 000 copies, the rest all about 200, 000 according to the audio story. And yet this story about the Jasper Jones movie says that Jasper has sold 300, 000 copies in Australia- which would put it at the top of this list? It's all lies, damned lies and statistics. 

I've read 2/10 
#1 and #10 which has a nice symmetry to it.

1/10 is by a woman (admittedly it might help if Bryce Courtenay didn't take up 6 spots)

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A Kestrel for a Knave

I'd never really heard of this book before the author Barry Hines died last year. I vaguely knew it was on my 1001 list but that's about it. I'd never heard of, or seen, the 1960s movie adaptation, Kes either. So I finally made time to read A Kestrel for a Knave last month.

It's an interesting book. Billy Caspar is a fifteen year old boy living on a housing estate with his mother and older brother. Theirs is not a comfortable or easy life. Billy's mother works and often brings a different man home at night. Billy shares a bed with his older brother Jud, who works down t'pit, and drinks and gambles in his spare time. 
then stood up and walked into the kitchen, and opened the pantry door. There was a packet of dried peas and a half bottle of vinegar on the shelves. The bread bin was empty.
Billy doesn't have it much better at school. He is the kid always blamed for whatever goes wrong, always in trouble. 
'There's always somebody to spoil it. There's always someone you can't suit, who has to be awkward, who refuses to be interested in anything, someone like you, Casper.'
But Billy is interested in something, very interested. Billy has taken a kestrel chick from the nest and reared her, trained her. He tries to borrow a book on falconry from the library but in the rather strict rules of the time, this boy who can barely read and write isn't allowed to join the library to borrow the book, so he steals one from the bookshop. 

I'd like to think that these days teachers and the school might recognise Billy's circumstance for what it is, and realise why he never has had a football kit for all the years he's been at high school. 
'I don't know, Sir. I seem to get into bother for nowt. You know, for daft things, like this morning in t'hall. I wasn't doing' owt,  I just dozed off that's all. I wa' dog tired, I'd been up since six, then I'd had to run round wi' t'papers, then run home to have s look at t'hawk, then run to school.We', I mean, you'd be tire wouldn't you, Sir?'
I thought I'd enjoy this book more than I did in the end. It's one of those books that I'm more glad to have read, than a book that I loved reading at the time. It's well written and I really liked Barry Hines' use of distinctive North England dialect, and was a bit surprised to read in the Afterword of my Penguin Modern Classics edition that he wouldn't use dialect if he was writing it again, and that he didn't think it worked on the page. I really liked his use of dialect, and I thought the speech leapt off the page. Perhaps it was my misspent youth watching endless series of Shameless but I could hear these characters talking. I have tried to read some books where dialect hasn't worked -I remember Transporting being incomprehensible, I think for dialect, but perhaps it was for other reasons. 

Barry Hines also said that "In retrospect, I think I made Jud and Mrs Casper too unsympathetic." This part is true I guess. Neither of them are in the story all that much, although they play important roles, particularly Jud. It was hard to imagine a mother as indifferent as Mrs Casper seemed to be, but there are mothers in the news every day who do much worse than Mrs Casper does here. 

Another fascinating tidbit from the Afterword was that Barry Hines found the name Billy Casper in the sports section of his newspaper as he was a prominent American golfer of the time, and in those pre-Google days Barry had no idea what the real Billy Casper looked like. It was only after A Kestrel for a Knave was published that he saw Billy Casper on television and realised that he was a "big, burly type, the exact opposite of my skinny little character". Barry even went on to describe his book as "A slim book about a no-hoper and a hawk". That it is, but it is more than that too. 


Friday, 31 March 2017

CBCA Book of the Year Award Shortlist and Notables 2017

I always look forward to the CBCA list every year, it's such a great forum for celebrating Australia's rather prodigious talent amongst our authors and illustrators for young people. Lot's of books you may have read, or at least heard of, but always something new, something unfamiliar and yet very tempting. 

This year is really a bumper year, the long list- or Notables as they are called, is massive.

Book of the Year Older Readers Shortlist

Waer - Meg Caddy

Words in Deep Blue - Cath Crowley
The Bone Sparrow - Zana Fraillon
Yellow - Megan Jacobson
Frankie - Shivaun Plozza

One Would Think the Deep - Claire Zorn

Book of the Year Older Readers Notables

The Hounded - Simon Butters
My Best Friend is a Goddess - Tara 

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club - Alison Goodman
Becoming Aurora - Elizabeth Kasmer
The Sidekicks - Will Kostakis
Ocean of the Dead (Ship Kings #4) - Andrew McGahan
The Stars at Oktober Bend - Glenda Millard
A Toaster on Mars - Darrell Pitt
Our Chemical Heart - Krystal Sutherland
Forgetting Foster - Dianne Touchell
Everything is Changed - Nova Weetman

The Invisible War - Ailsa Wild

Book of the Year Younger Readers Shortlist

Rockhopping - Trace Balla  

Within These Walls - Robyn Bavati
A Most Magical Girl - Karen Foxlee
Dragonfly Song - Wendy Orr
Mrs Whitlam - Bruce Pascoe
Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers Third Grade - Kate & Jol Temple

Book of the Year Younger Readers Notables

Cybertricks - Goldie Alexander
Blueberry Pancakes Forever - Angelica Banks
Magrit - Lee Battersby
Yong - Janeen Brian
Freedom Swimmer - Wai Chen
The Family With Two Front Doors - Anna Ciddor
The Pearl-shell Diver - Kay Crabbe
Wicked's Way - Anna Fienberg
Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts - Lesley Gibbes
Toad Delight - Morris Gleitzman
Iris and the Tiger - Leanne Hall
Daystar - Anne Hamilton
Daughters of Nomads - Rosanne Hawke
Lily in the Mirror - Paula Hayes
Fail Safe - Jack Heath
The Unforgettable What's His Name - Paul Jennings
Theophilus Grey and the Traitor's Mask - Catherine Jinks
When the Lyrebird Calls - Kim Kane
Ruby Wishfingers Skydancer's Escape - Deborah Kelly
Ruby Red Shoes Goes to London - Kate Knapp
Elizabeth and Zenobia - Jessica Miller
The Lost Sapphire - Belinda Murrell
The Twins of Tintarfell - James O'Loghlin
Pocket Rocket - Ellyse Perry & Sherryl Clark
The Other Christy - Oliver Phommavanh
Wormwood Mire (Stella Montgomery #2) - Judith Rossell
Artie and the Grime Wave - Richard Roxburgh
Lizzie and Margaret Rose - Pamela Rushby
Tommy Bell Shoot-out at the Rock - Jane Smith
What's in a Name - Myles Walsh
The Secrets We Keep - Nova Weetman
Squishy Taylor and the Bonus Sisters - Ailsa Wild (see my review)
The Shark Caller - Dianne Wolfer

Book of the Year Early Childhood Shortlist

Go Home Cheeky Animals - Johanna Bell (author), Dion Beasley (illustrator)
All I Want for Christmas is Rain - Cori Brooke (author), Cori Brooke (illustrator)
The Snow Wombat - Susannah Chambers (author), Mark Jackson (illustrator)
Nannie Loves - Kylie Dustan
Chip - Kylie Howarth
Gary - Leila Rudge

Book of the Year Early Childhood Notables

Zelda's Big Adventure - Marie Alafaci (author), Shane McGown (illustrator)
Oh Albert - Davina Bell (author), Sara Acton (illustrator)
Where is Bear? - Jonathan Bentley
Pig the Winner - Aaron Blabey 
Little Chicken Chickadee - Janeen Brian (author), Danny Snell (illustrator)
The 12th Dog - Charlotte Calder (author), Tom Jellet (illustrator)
The Cat Wants Custard - Paul Crumble (author), Lucinda Gifford (illustrator)
Ducks Away - Mem Fox (author), Judy Horacek (illustrator)
Little Bear's First Sleep - Lesley Gibbes (author), Lisa Stewart (illustrator)
Bear Makes Den - Jane Godwin & Michael Wagner (authors), Andrew Joyner (illustrator)
Home in the Rain - Bob Graham 
Bird and Bear and the Special Day - Ann James
Hello Little Babies - Alison Lester 
Smile Cry - Tania McCarthy (author), Jess Racklyeft (illustrator)
Dream Little One Dream - Sally Morgan (author), Ambelin Kwaymullina (illustrator)
Joey Counts to Ten - Sally Morgan (author), Ambelin Kwaymullina (illustrator)
Twig - Aura Parker  
Molly and Mae - Danny Parker (author), Freya Blackwood (illustrator)
Agatha and the Dark - Anna Pignataro
Wild Pa - Claire Saxby (author), Connah Brecon (illustrator)
The Whole Caboodle - Lisa Shanahan (author), Leila Rudge (illustrator)
Ten Little Owls - Renee Treml  
My Perfect Pup - Sue Walker (author), Anil Tortop (illustrator)
Take Ted Instead - Cassandra Webb (author), Amanda Francey (illustrator)
Together Always - Edwina Wyatt (author), Lucia Masciullo (illustrator)

Picture Book of the Year Shortlist

One Photo - Liz Anelli (illustrator), Ross Watkins (author)
Mechanica - Lance Balchin (see my review)
Home in the Rain - Bob Graham 
My Brother - Oliver Huxley (illustrator), Dee Huxley and Tiffany Huxley (authors)
The Patchwork Bike - Van T Rudd (illustrator), Maxine Beneba Clarke (author)
Out  - Owen Swan (illustrator), Angela May George (author)

Picture Book of the Year Notables

The Sisters Saint-Claire - Tamsin Ainslie (illustrator), Carlie Gibson (author)
Desert Lake The Story of Kati Thanda - Lake Eyre - Liz Anelli (illustrator), Pamela Freeman (author)
Circle - Jeannie Baker (see my review)
Colours of Australia - Bronwyn Bancroft  
Where is Bear - Jonathan Bentley
Blue Sky Yellow Kite - Jonathan Bentley  (illustrator),  Janet A Holmes (author)
Don't Call Me Bear - Aaron Blabey  
Molly and Mae - Freya Blackwood  (illustrator), Danny Parker (author)
Hattie Helps Out - Freya Blackwood  (illustrator), Jane Godwin and Davina Bell (authors)
Something Wonderful - Karen Blair  (illustrator), Raewyn Caisley (author)
The Fabulous Friend Machine - Nick Bland  
Reflection Remembering Those Who Served in War - Robin Cowcher (illustrator), Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg (author)
Captain Sneer the Buccaneer - Gabriel Evans  (illustrator), Penny Morrison (author)
A Patch From Scratch - Megan Forward  
Somewhere Else - Gus Gordon  
On the River - Roland Harvey
Mr Chicken Arriva a Roma - Leigh Hobbs  
Grandpa's Big Adventure - Tom Jellett (illustrator), Paul Newman (author)
Blue The Builder's Dog - Andrew Joyner (illustrator), Jen Storer (author)
Welcome to Country - Lisa Kennedy (illustrator), Aunty Joy Murphy (author)
A Soldier, A Dog and A Boy - Phil Lesnie (illustrator), Libby Hathorn (author)
Archie No Ordinary Sloth - Heath McKenzie  
Melbourne Word by Word - Michael McMahon  
Snail and Turtle Rainy Days - Stephen Michael King
Pandamonia - Chris Nixon
Crusts - Matt Ottley  (illustrator), Danny Parker (author)
Spark - Andrew Plant (illustrator), Adam Wallace (author)
Smeck - Ben Redlich
Milo - Tobhy Riddle  
Gary - Leila Rudge
Dog Lost - Brian Simmonds (illustrator),  Jan Ramage (author)
Chooks in Dinner Suits - Craig Smith (illustrator), Dianne Jackson Hill (author)
Stanley - Colin Thompson  
Small Things - Mel Tregonning
Cyclone - Bruce Whatley (illustrator), Jackie French (author) (see my review)
New Year Surprise! - Di Wu (illustrator), Christopher Cheng (author)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Shortlist
Spellbound Making Pictures with the A B C - Maree Coote

A-Z of Endangered Animals - Jennifer Cossins
The Gigantic Book of Genes - Lorna Hendry
Fabish The Horse that Braved a Bushfire - Neridah McMullen (author), Andrew McLean (illustrator)
Amazing Animals of Australia's National Parks - Gina M Newton
William Bligh A Stormy Story of Temestuous Times - Michael Sedentary (author), Bern Emmerichs (illustrator)

Eve Pownall Award for Information Books Notables

Circle - Jeannie Baker (see my review)
Resource Stories of Australian Innovation in Wartime - Jennet Cole-Adams & Judy Gauld
Socks Sandbags and Leeches: Letters to my Anzac Dad - Pauline Deeves
Desert Lake - Pamela Freeman (author), Liz Anellia (illustrator)
Boomerang and Bat - Mark Greenwood (author), Terry Denton (illustrator)
Chooks in Dinner Suits - Diane Jackson Hill (author), Craig Smith (illustrator)
Hello! - Joanna Karmel (author), Tony Flowers (illustrator)
Australia's Nightingale: Nellie Melba - Cassy Liberman & Sara Carter Jenkins (authors), Emma Borghesi (illustrator)
The ABC Book of Food - Helen Martin & Judith Simpson (authors), Cheryl Orsini (illustrator)
Degas An Art Book for Kids - Kate Ryan (author), Cally Bennett (illustrator)
Aliens Ghosts and Vanishings Strange and Possibly True Australian Stories - Stella Tarakson

Crichton Award for New Illustrators 2017

A Patch from Scratch - Megan Forward
Mechanica- A beginner's field guide - Lance Balchin (see my review)
Melbourne Word by Word - Michael McMahon
Small Things - Mel Tregonning
The Patchwork Bike - Van T Rudd (illustrator), Maxine Beneba Clarke (author)
Welcome to Country - Lisa Kennedy (illustrator), Aunty Joy Murphy (author)

Now that's a long list! Not surprising when there were 443 entries. 

I have read a dispiritingly small number of these books, but it certainly gives me something to strive for. I do love that you can name a horse Mrs Whitlam! I must read that one, and soon. It's an interesting short list this year with many debut and even self published authors making the grade. 

As usual I've somewhat randomly predicted my winners for each category. The true winners will be announced Friday August 18 at the start of Book Week. 

This year's Book Week theme is Escape to Everywhere. It has beautiful artwork done by Freya Blackwood.