Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2018

my stand BCBF 2018


SCWBI friendsChe Bella!

As an new independent publisher I am always looking to develop my knowledge in the industry and to engage with others in the publishing to share and exchange ideas. So having my  application to be part of the Australian Publishers Collectives at the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair was a significant and exciting professional development opportunity.  I was sharing a stand with some of the brightest and best known names in the industry such as Allen and Unwin, Affirm Press, Magabala Books and the ILF and also with the wonderful newly expanding Berbay Books, Melbourne Style, Windy Hollow and EK books. To engage with other new dynamic publishers such as MidnightSun, Quirky Kid, Scribble and Little Pink Dog gave me a chance to deepen my understanding of the Australian industry and above all to make new connections and friends. We were supported by the amazing Books Illustrated team and the AMK stand developers who looked after our logistical needs and kept us all in the loop with daily bulletins news and schedule details. Despite the hectic time frames, these was still time to catch up with the New Zealand publishers and agents at our stand party on the Wednesday evening as well as international SCWBI friends on their stand.


The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is the biggest thus arguably the most important Children’s book industry event in the calendar. Set in the scenic town of Bologna BCBF brings to together thousands  of stakeholders in the children’s book publishing world. From artists to designers from rights specialists to editors and of course agents, publishers and writers all there meeting, engaging and above all promoting literacy for children within their own particular niche field and expertise. It was the literary equivalent of being a kid in a sweetie shop with hundreds upon hundreds of colourful stands, thousand of magnificent books and walls festooned with artwork and directions to the many halls all filled with the buzz of children’s books. Needless to say one soaked up the vibe and talked till one was hoarse. This discourse and networking continued on well after the expo hall gates were closed late into each evening in the many sumptuous restaurants and bars that Bologna’s medieval town centre boasts.


With menus to makes one’s mouth water and ambient little spots to sit and absorb the atmosphere whilst sipping a drink in the towns square or wandering in an out of the little arcades and exploring the old monasteries and streets it was easy to fall in love with the pace and the moment. During the days the fair provided a myriad of meaningful dialogues with specialists and in between these and queuing for trays of cappuccinos there were plenty of seminars and plenary sessions where ideas about books, writing and illustration were shared in English, Italian and Chinese.


BCBF seminar

China was the Guest of Honour at the BCBF 2018 giving delegates insights into some of the history of children’s literature and illustration  down the centuries as well as an update on what is going on in that country’s suddenly resurgent children’s publishing industry. Highlights for me included finding new collaborators such as Yair Engleberg who has done some amazing lived experience work into Dadpression and Damir Vjnovac whose travel writing has taken him into the Sahara Desert and so on collect narratives from the children who live there is extremely harsh conditions. These will be two of the several new projects I am going to be working on as a result of my time at BCBF and for that I am grateful and look forward to being able to share more about these bodies of work in due course.

Ciao for Now!

BCBF character.jpg








The Green Striped Hoodie (concept 1 in rough)

Research by Guest Blogger Daniel MacDonald

In the last few months Johanna Roberts and I have embarked on a new and challenging project investigating bullying, the acceptance of the individual and self acceptance. With Johanna travelling in the Americas and me travelling through Asia we had plenty of material for the visuals and the sense of place we wish to create in this forthcoming graphic story of a misfit, hereby known as The Green Striped Hoodie.

In the light of our subject matter our guest blogger and researcher Daniel MacDonald has been working through some data on the topic of bullying. So it with particular thanks to his his curation that we can present the information below for those who might be looking at finding out about resources and helpful links in regard to bullying.

Definition: “Bullying has three elements: it is an act is aggressive and intended to do harm; these are repeated over time; and, they occur within the context of a power imbalance… Bullying can be physically aggressive, but can also be verbal (name calling), or social (social exclusion) in nature” (NAEYC). According to Kids Helpline, cyberbullying mainly occurs in late primary and early high school, claiming that 10-14 year olds are the most common to report cyberbullying, followed by 15-18.

writer and boy

Books on Bullying

Australian Books come from Reading Australia (Bullying Tag):

Booktopia also has a list of Anti-Bullying books, filtered from Preschool to Year 6, but many are not Australian.

Getting Boys to Read

Guest Blog by Daniel McDonald

It is wonderful to have our first ever guest blog and it comes from local Sydney reader and writer; Daniel McDonald. Daniel is a recent graduate from The University of Sydney and he currently works as an author’s assistant and editor here at EC Services. Following a conversation with some of our readers about how to get boys to read I asked Daniel for his take on boys and reading read on to discover the low-down from a young Aussie bloke’s perspective.

Daniel Direct

It probably comes as no surprise to anybody, but, thanks largely to the internet, we live in an age where almost all forms of mass media are almost instantly available to anyone. In mere seconds I can be watching a movie or listening to music, and for less than $10.00, I can purchase a video game that will give me hours of entertainment. Despite all this though, there is one form of media that is being neglected: the book. In today’s media environment, it is becoming harder and harder for me to find the time to just sit down and read. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not channelling my inner Baby Boomer to claim that kids playing the latest video game instead of reading the latest Philip Pullman book represents the decline of civilisation as we know it (and not just because I’ve already put 12 hours into the new Assassins Creed while La Belle Sauvage is still on my bedside table). In fact, I’m quite excited to see all the possibilities that this new media environment represents, however, at the same time, I worry that if someone with a lifelong passion for reading is struggling, then how can we expect the next generation, especially young boys, to develop the same passion for books that I did?

Looking back, I can see that my love of reading began because of my exposure to books at a young age. In fact, I am often told stories of how, at the age of six months old, my mother would dress me in an incredibly thick jacket so that I looked like the Marshmallow Man, and take me for a walk to the library. While I was obviously far too young to read, I do think that it was my parents taking the time to expose me to books at such a young age certainly set a trend that would continue for the rest of my life. So, in case it wasn’t obvious, my first suggestion for getting young boys to read is to expose them to books from a young age, be it six months or six years. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a library either (although they are great). Other places, like first- or second-hand bookstores, are great too. Generally, anywhere children can find comfort and be encouraged to read will work wonders.

Obviously though, just going to the library is no substitute for actually reading, just like how reading a bad book is no substitute for reading a good book. It might be a cliche to say that a good book can stick with you for your entire life, but it’s also true. This brings me to my second point, find books your boy will love to read. For younger children, this means choosing interesting books, whether it be Jon Stone’s classic The Monster at the End of this Book, or Elizabeth Cummings’ Verityville series. Generally, if you find a children’s book interesting, so will your child. As boys get older, they will obviously start choosing their own books, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help. While there are the familiar classics available, such as Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, there are books about all sorts of things, including sports (like the Specky Magee series), as well as more educational topics (the Horrible Histories and Horrible Science books respectively are excellent). Failing that, letting them run (or rather walk) wild in the library is an excellent way to allow them to look into anything that catches their eye. This was always a favourite activity for me growing up, and resulted in me finding some of my favourite books, such as the criminally underrated Beyond the Deepwood.

Getting young boys to read can be a difficult task and sometimes nothing you do will work. But as we know, reading can be a rewarding and educational pastime, so trying is certainly worth your time. Ultimately though, it comes down to finding a book that ensures they want to turn the page to see what happens next. With that I’m off to my library, one can only speculate as to what might happen next!

by Daniel McDonald

Hooray It’s Children Book Week – Escape to EVERYWHERE!

CBCA book week 2017


Book – week 2017 – It’s here and we are all celebrating! We are so lucky that the Marvellous Children’s Book Council of Australia organise this wonderful week when schools, libraries, booksellers, authors, illustrators and children celebrate Australian children’s literature.

Do check out what’s going on through the CBCA NSW website

Or if you are further afield check out the main CBCA site.


Book Week Parade and Costumes

I remember my daughter’s first book week costumes – Ariel from the Little Mermaid – she was obsessed with the story and a chance to play out her favourite heroine was not only exciting for her but challenging for me as I attempted to sew a costume – but despite that the tears only came when I stood watching the whole school book week parade in the playground. the sight of all the children (and the teachers) dressed up as their favourite character was truly special and all the parents got caught up in the excitement of identifying each character and our own childhood heroes and heroines who transported us to everywhere. nnlandSo it is with gratitude and a certain element of excitement that I am embracing this wonderful week not only as a parent, teacher and author but as the child in me who still escapes to the 100 acre wood, Narnia, Paddington Station, Never NeverLand, and anywhere and  of everywhere that I can read myself to with the help of those books that made me believe in the magic, the impossible and the joy of reading.

To The Bone

Lily Collins (actor) and Marti Noxon (To the Bone‘s writer and director)

There has been a great deal of comment in the media recently regarding the Netflix film, To The Bone. This film tells the story of 20 year old Ellen and her journey to recovery from anorexia nervosa. Whilst I am a strong advocator of conversation starters and the need for reduction of stigma surrounding family and mental health matters, it is important to consider that watching such a film can trigger a range of emotions and responses in its viewers.

Eating Disorders Victoria has a useful set of talking points which can be downloaded here that may help you as a potential viewer or as an advisor to others considering watching this movie decide if and how best to watch this semi-autobiographical account of one person’s battle with one particular type of eating disorder.

There are various centres and support services regionally in Australia to help those coping with or caring for those with eating disorders and I am listing below some helpline numbers that may be of use to in relation to eating disorders or more general support:

Support services available
  • EDV Helpline – 1300 550 236
  • The Butterfly Foundation – 1800 334 673
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
  • Headspace – 1800 650 890
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Suicide Line – 1300 651 251


Welcome to Verityville

Verityville Streetview.jpg

Verityville, the little town with a big heart not too far from you! A place where people take each day as it comes, doing their job and helping others with a great attitude. Where is this place you may well ask and what is so special about getting on with life? Well to be truthful Verityville is wherever you are. It is where you can see the good in others and see the joy in the small things. Verityville is the idea that each of us makes that difference to the quality of others lives, it is noticing the little positives when surrounded by big negatives, it is the ability to give something back. Things aren’t always easy and daily life is not always exciting but by looking at the world with an openness to what it has to offer; be it the people we take for granted who help us every day like Audrey our lollipop lady or by showing care for the environment like the garage guys; we can make a difference to our own lives as well as our community.

Through simple concepts and observations of daily life and of ordinary people the Verityville series seeks to capture the imagination of the young child and in doing so empower them to see their role in the world. Values like kindness, respect, gratitude and resilience are explored and told through the stories about the everyday heroes of Verityville.

Working with both Johanna Roberts and Bronte Goodieson through their respective art and graphic design talents has been and still is an amazing journey. In their own way they have been my heroes in their ability to bring the vision I have of Verityville to life. For that I am filled with gratitude and find that I too can learn something from them and so it is exciting to share some of the first images of the branding we are creating for this project.


In Celebration of Mothers

mother and son

Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day (indicating the individual celebration of a mother) or Mothers’ Day – with the apostrophe after – to show that the day is the day designated for celebrating all mothers. How ever it is termed and whenever it is celebrated, this day is a special day for acknowledging the special women in your lives who have nurtured and cared for you.

What makes a mother? Sure there’s the biological aspect but as we know it is so much more. When watching the recently released Lion movie I was moved to tears at the moment when the audience is shown the actual moment when biological and adoptive mother meet for the first time. The genuine connection between these two women was such a beautiful representation of the emotion of motherhood. The suffering and the joy and the knowledge that their shared part in their son’s life was something so very precious.

two mothers LionI have been reflecting on this concept of motherhood and how it is so much more that merely producing offspring. I have felt the warmth of many mothers during my life, my own mother naturally, but also grandmothers, godmothers, my aunts, friends and at times witnessed the mothering of strangers such as the nurses who care when we are in hospital or those caring for young children in a range of care centres and organisations. In all these roles we play our the role of mother and be that point of refuge, that primary carer, the confident the believe rand the steadfast support for the children in our lives.

A Mother

If you recall the weight of a baby in your arms

If you still remember first words, first steps so small

If you’ve packed a lunch or chopped up fruit

And upon the steel benches watched sport been won and lost

If you have been sleep weary from the hours spent waiting

To hear returning footsteps

If you wore the carpets bare when such news was not forthcoming

If you held breath for exam results or test results

Or just a message for proof of life

If you have held a hand when pain abounds when hearts first broke or friends forsook

And if in the mall you’ve searched for a child who’s disappeared

Or if you have known the ache of loss

Before you ever had a chance to hold close your heart’s desire

When every month is in vain

Have you stayed at troubled bedsides, looked upon the forever young,

Walked empty handed from the hospital ward

Or empty-wombed have cleaved your purpose to promote the lives of children?

If from afar you have been captured by the children in your life

Be they tied by blood, or promise

Or simply by your desire to protect these innocent and vulnerable.

If you have known these things and born their joy and  pain

You are indeed a mother

And Mothers’ Day is yours.

May The Force Be With You

droid and leia

Okay I am an unashamed #StarWars fan and have been since the tender age of twelve when I watched my first SW movie at my uncle’s house on what was in those days cutting degree technology VCR! Since then I have watched the epic saga over and over and enjoyed any opportunity to wax lyrical about droids, siths, intergalactic love stories and the rest.

These days the chance to regale and revisit the thrills and spills is a highlight to the start of May when 4th looms large. Acronym battles have raged all day long across town, interstate and with friends and family overseas. We all demand that our opponent should GYTTDS (give yourself to the dark side) or the ever true DODNTINT (do or do not there is no try).

There are those unbelievers who think the SW sage is too gimmicky, too geeky or too tedious and to those I say – let it go and UWYHL (unlearn what you have learned) a little escapism and little bit of suspending disbelief serves to raises spirits, connects us to others and frees us from the daily grind. So this year as with every year I wish you the same sentiment: MTFBWY.


May you see today for what it is
May you watch the clouds and know the sun will shine again
May you get your work done knowing tomorrow is Friday
May your boredom breed new agendas and ideas
May you smile at strangers and cry with friends
May you strive for the ugly truth and show your beauty within
May you bear your pain knowing you are not alone
May you be yourself though falseness is all around
May your own need for help drive you to be there for others
May you stop long enough to know you are alive
And today as with every year

Mrs. T and the Magic Pencil Book Launch


Mrs. T and the Magic Pencil enjoyed its Australian  launch at Laugh and Learn toy shop in Randwick. It was a hot and steamy Australian summer day when the latest Verityville title was officially released. With a continual stream of people dropping in to meet the creators there was a real sense of community. School children chatted with the artist and listened to extracts from the story whilst grandparents and parents cuddled babies and heard about the background to the manuscript. It was a happy occasion and I’d like to thank Tania and Annemarie from Laugh and Learn toy shop for hosting this event.

Mrs. T and the Magic Pencil will travel to New Zealand in April to launch the book in Wellington at the Children’s Book Shop in Kilbirnie on Wednesday 12th April at 6p.m.

Book Launch Dates

img_0592Exciting news! The official book launch dates for Mrs T and the Magic Pencil are finally locked in and coming soon!



Laugh and Learn Toy Shop in Randwick will host Mrs. T’s launch on Wednesday 8th February at 3.30p.m.

original_childrensbookshop_bannerNew Zealand:

The Children’s Book Shop in Kilbirnie will hosting the kiwi launch on Wednesday 12th April at 6p.m.