Reading August 2018

Let’s start with the terrific Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli, given to Keira for her 13th birthday and what a gift to take into those teenage years. I borrowed it and read it cover to cover, discovering extraordinary stories of legendary women I’m sad I didn’t know about until now – names like Ann Makosinski, Grace O’Malley, Jacquotte Delahaye – and more about others, like Julia Child, famous chef (and WWII spy).

The book also revealed some of my own literary biases. One of the names is Ada Lovelace and her story begins thus: “Once upon a time, there was a girl named Ada who loved machines.” She is now regarded to be the world’s first computer programmer. If you didn’t know, she was also the daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron. For much of my life, her name has been a literal footnote in much of my research when it came to university study (Bryon’s poetic influence etc.) and my creative writing (he’s a character in a screenplay I’d like to write, but that’s a separate post entirely). She was “Byron’s daughter” when it could be easily and equally said that he was “Ada Lovelace’s father”. Her story in Rebel Girls is presented without any mention of him at all – which is entirely proper. Her accomplishments are her own.

If there’s a horse lover in your family they will love Mrs Whitlam by Bruce Pascoe. It is a short, sweet novel that will suit younger to middle-grade readers. The publisher, Magabala Books, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year – a commendable feat! Congratulations.

Last week The Children’s Book Council of Australia announced their 2017 Book of the Year winners. Every year I try to read as many titles as possible and this year is no exception, although I admit I have a bit of catching up to do. I managed to do some of this last week with a trip to the library.

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Speaking of Mrs Whitlam, it was on the shortlist for Book of the Year for Younger Readers (the overall winner was Rockhopping by Trace Balla). The Picture Book of the Year was a tight race. While Home in the Rain by Bob Graham was a worthy winner (it spoke to the anxiety I used to feel as a child getting stuck in traffic, as well as to my conviction that life is made of small-but-momentous moments), I admit to a soft spot for One Photo by Ross Watkins and Liz Anelli. It made me cry – very touching.

What are you reading this month?

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Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity (October, 2017).