31 July 2009

Friday Stuff and Items

1) Speaking of design. Check out this hilarious cover and the story behind it.

2) The intrepid Neil Grant - author of the wonderful Rhino Chasers and Indo Dreaming - is on a huge adventure: a research trip to Afghanistan. And he's blogging while adventuring. Blog-i-stan 2009 is fascinating.

3) Because it's Friday, and because the ALP National Conference has been discussing the Productivity Commission's report on parallel importation, we made a lolcat.

30 July 2009

Create your own YA cover

Ok - don't mind if we do!

I mean, sure, we have professionals for that kind of thing. We've raved about Bruno and our awesome freelancers designers. We've dissected the cover design process. We've drooled over other people's pretty books. In fact, we've talked about design rawther a lot.

But now, thanks to 100 Scope Notes (and Bookshelves of Doom for pointing us there) we can MAKE OUR OWN YA COVERS. (Not to mention, have our own exciting pseudonyms and our own bestselling titles without ever actually having to, you know, write the book.)

Here's how:


1 - Go to "Fake Name Generator" or click http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/

The name that appears is your author name.

2 - Go to "Random Word Generator" or click http://www.websitestyle.com/parser/randomword.shtml

The word listed under "Random Verb" is your title.

3 - Go to "FlickrCC" or click http://flickrcc.bluemountains.net/index.php

Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.

4 - Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in.

5 - Post it to your site along with this text.

And here're ours:

There's already a hilarious and awesome gallery up.

29 July 2009

We have a Scarygirl winner!

And it's a family affair...

Congratulations to Beth, Jed, Ash, Cary, Zachy and Tashi from Victoria!

You are clearly a family of talented sleuths - we are particularly impressed with your work tracking down that tricky Korean Odo Hirsch one.

A super-special advance copy of the Scarygirl graphic novel will be in the post to you right away.

We are also awarding three second prizes of the Scarygirl jacket, which is also a beautiful poster. The jackets go to Kate C & Karen H who both got 6 right, and to Lou at www.weheartbooks.com who snuck in with seconds to spare and 5 right. Well done!

Thank you to everyone who entered. We had lots of fun reading the answers and hope you had fun searching for them.*

For those of you who hanker for resolution, here are the answers.

1) The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard by Gregory Rogers
2) It's not all about YOU, Calma by Barry Jonsberg
3) The Singer of All Songs ("Chanters of Tremaris" Trilogy Book 1) by Kate Constable
4) Secret Scribbled Notebooks by Joanne Horniman
5) Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
6) Magic Beach by Alison Lester
7) Antonio S and the Mystery of Theodore Guzman by Odo Hirsch


*In fact, we enjoyed this so much we might just do it again some time...

28 July 2009

Bragging, bestowing, baking, browsing

1) The Guardian is saying nice things about Shaun Tan!
(But they failed to add that Shaun is a master at Wii Tennis and Wii Skiing. A fact that we, with our competitive natures dented somewhat, know to be true.)

2) The Scarygirl competition prize will be awarded tomorrow so get your entry in - because who knows there might be a second prize...

3) In exciting cake news: there were a record number of entries in the mothership's Annual Sydney Bake Off. Nom nom! Drool, drool!

Unfortunately neither the Cake-maker-in-waiting nor the Cake-maker-in-waiting's understudy were able to enter as the courier company could not guarantee the cakes would arrive at their prize-winning best. So we could only drool from afar.

Looks like they would have had some stiff competition, and the judges from How To Shuck an Oyster* had a tough task deciding on a winner (possibly hampered by a sugar-induced coma).

4) Books I Done Read has a hoot interviewing Margo Lanagan about Tender Morsels.

* We believe that no actual oysters were shucked in the course of preparations of bake-off items.

24 July 2009

Scarygirl competition - hint, hint

The super-special advance of Scarygirl doesn't have a home yet (did we mention it's not published until OCTOBER so you will be MONTHS ahead of the pack). No one has all seven right. So keep those guesses coming.

On Wednesday next week we will award the prize to the person who has the MOST right - so it's worth giving it a shot even if you only know the Margo Lanagan one. Oops, I mean even if you only know one of them.

Anyway, if you're all tuckered out after using Google's language tools to search for... hmm... maybe a classic Australian beach book translated into Korean, you could pop over and play the Scarygirl game to get you in the mood for your winnings.

22 July 2009

Scarygirl - a competition!

The spring-like winds in Melbourne have made us all giddy. Now we feel like wearing summer dresses and sitting outside* and GIVING STUFF AWAY. That's right we've decided to have a COMPETITION. Hooray!

a hot-off-the-press, Special Advance Copy of Scarygirl by Nathan Jurevicius.

You will be the coolest kid in school/on the block/at work/around the house/Kirribilly house/The White House (Hi Barack, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, thanks for stopping by) - or wherever it is you spend your days. Because we have very few special advances and everybody wants one.**

Below are the foreign editions of seven our books.
Can you name the author an
d the original English title of each?

Be the first to email us seven correct answers and we will send you a Scarygirl for your very own. [You will find our special competition email address in the comments.]

You have ONE WEEK to answer correctly. We will reveal the winner and the answers on Wednesday 29 July. If no one gets them all right, we will award the prize to the person who has the MOST right. So it's worth having a go even if you reckon you only know a couple.

Some are QUITE DIFFICULT, so it's possible that we will drop a HINT or two every now and then. Keep your eyes peeled. Authors whose books are included here are NOT EXCLUDED. You just got a lucky break.

NB Some of these covers also featured the English title. But we have used our mad photoshop skills to camouflage them.

Anyway... Are you ready? On your marks, get set, GO!








*Although the rain that's just begun might put paid to that. Ahh, Melbourne.
**Seriously, we just about have to keep these things under lock and key lest they walk out of the House of Onion seemingly on their lonesome.

20 July 2009

Well, would you look at that

It appears we're on the Lord's scoreboard again.

Although what we're doing bowling for England is anybody's guess...

Anyway, moving swiftly past that *ahem* modest first innings total, to something that has nothing to do with cricket, books, or copyright laws.

Improv Everywhere always makes us happy. You've probably already seen this - but it's worth watching again... and again...

17 July 2009

The Productivity Commission wants to take a thriving industry, cripple it, and then subsidise it. (UPDATED*)

Twenty-six years ago in Newport Rhode Island, John Bertrand and the crew of Australia II were up against the New York Yacht Club's 132-year America's Cup winning streak.

The America's Cup trophy is decided by the best of seven races. In 1983 the first two races were won by Dennis Connor's Liberty for the New York Yacht Club. The third was won by Australia II, the fourth, Liberty. John Bertrand and his crew and that famous winged-keel were down 3-1. To everyone watching from Australia, it seemed dire.

But at the press conference after that disastrous fourth race John Bertrand faced the media and simply said: 'Basically, nothing has changed. After Sunday afternoon, we had to win three boat races. Today we still have to win three boat races. Nothing has changed.'

History shows he held his nerve and went on to break the longest winning streak in sport.

It seems to us that the findings of the Productivity Commission are only a race lost, not the trophy. Basically nothing has changed. No laws have been passed. Parallel Importation restrictions remain. The trophy for us as a nation is to be able to continue to nourish, support and stand proudly behind not just our sporting heroes, but also our creative heroes and our cultural ambassadors. It is indeed a trophy worth winning.

The argument we are up against is cheaper books. And who doesn't love cheaper books? Not us. We love a book bargain as much as the next person. But we also like good books. And we love good Australian books. And we love being able to bring good Australian books into the world. And there is no evidence that removing the parallel importation laws will mean cheaper books for consumers. None. It is inconceivable to us that anyone would be willing to sacrifice a locally thriving, internationally respected industry that cultivates and champions its artistic and cultural health on the altar of an unsubstantiated claim about cheaper books. Let's get this message across. Clearly.

John Betrand's advice in times such as this is: 'You need to soften your touch on the helm, let your intuition take over and back your judgement. There is a fantastic array of talent on the boat.'

Perhaps we would be wise to heed his words. Let's take a deep breath. Let's not panic. Let's not tighten up and make poor decisions. Let's back our judgement. Let's have faith in the talent on the boat (writers, publishers, the APA, the ASA, the ABA, the printing industry, independent book stores, Australians for Australian Books). Let's work towards ensuring Kevin Rudd embraces the Australian book industry with the same enthusiasm Bob Hawke showed for Australia II on the day of our greatest yachting triumph.

Our title comes from Joseph Pearson's excellent, fewer than 140-character summation of the PC report.
In other news, we are delighted with the Greens position. And we reiterate our own thoughts and cheer the many bloggers taking up the cause, including James Bradley, Sophie Cunningham, Lili Wilkinson, Henry Rosenbloom and Nick Earls. Hurrah! And see here for a nicely bookmarked collection of parallel importation articles.

*UPDATE: We have just been alerted (thanks Tom) to an EXCELLENT article on The Aussiereviews Blog that clearly explains how the current parallel importation laws work, the fallacy of the cheaper books claim and the likely effect on the book industry and (importantly) the consumer if the PI laws are scrapped.

15 July 2009

On Hallowed Turf

Regular followers may have gleaned that some of the Onions have a penchant for a certain form of football that involves blue & white hooped felines demonstrating their athletic prowess on a large field with four posts at each end.*

However, we** are also inordinately fond of the fine gentleperson's game commonly known as cricket. And the down-to-the-wire First Test in the battle for the Ashes in Cardiff certainly justified our faith in the five-day game.***

The prospect of encountering an Australian eleven without the blockbuster players of yore (as an AFL commentator might put it, the Aussie team was missing 'your Warnes, your Gilchrists and your Lees') had England fans salivating. But we all know what pride goes before - a solid if uninspired first innings followed by an inability to bowl Australia out, and then a desperate last stand to pull a draw out of the jaws of defeat.

The Australian team might have been lacking a few key protagonists, but the First Test had all the hallmarks of a best-seller: drama, suspense and edge-of-your-seat-action, a plucky underdog, a willing villain, a thrilling climax... and the perfect set up for the sequel.

But why this sudden desire to wax editorial about cricket, you ask? No, it's not because Justine Larbalestier has been campaigning behind the scenes. It's because today, on the dawn (well it will be dusk here by the time it dawns there, but you know what we mean) of the Second Ashes Test at Lord's Cricket Ground, we are mightily chuffed to reveal that the House of Onion was recently featured at that most-hallowed of all grounds in St John's Wood. Yes indeedy.

Look. That's us. On the score board. At Lord's. Oh my.

How did this wondrousness come about, you ask? Well, to celebrate our 19th year of independence our (cricket-obsessed loving) fearless leaders Patrick & Robert hosted the first-ever Allen & Unwin Ashes Party and, indeed, why not do it at the Home of cricket!

As well as our humble cocky being proudly displayed on the Lord's score board, we believe the event included much conviviality AND a tour of the Long Room and the players' dressing rooms.

Colour us more than quietly envious.

*And as such we have had a quiet case of the glums this week. Ms Constable, we suspect you too may be recovering from a touch of the (heart-stopping) glums. Ms McNamara, though, is likely to be all sunshine and rainbows.

** Using the term 'we' loosely - as some in the House care not for cricket, football, rugby or any other activity where people run around in strange ways doing all sorts of odd things for inexplicable reasons.

*** If you are a cricket tragic AND you're on Twitter, we can recommend following Jonathan Agnew @aggerscricket for a spot of hilarity with a pinch of insider goss. Sample tweets:
True conversation. HRH 'I never listen to you Takes 10 mins for the score' Me grovelling, 'Thank you sir'

Its 2 O'clock...Harmy in squad...Flintoff dodgy knee...needs scan

Nice bloke Webber - loves cricket. Interviewed him at Edgbaston 2005.

14 July 2009

Vive Le France, Vive Le List

In honour of Bastille Day, because after all who doesn't love a storming of the castle.

1: Mr Chicken Goes to Paris by Leigh Hobbs
As Sonya Hartnett says: 'The world's most beautiful city meets the world's most startling chicken...'

2: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmansy
'In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. They left the house, at half past nine... The smallest one was Madeline.'

3: Asterix by Rene Goscinny
All Gaul is occupied. All? No! One small village still holds out against the invaders. The ever-popular adventures of shrewd Asterix and super-strong Obelix who are determined to resist the advances of the Roman Empire. It's worth it for the names alone. Par example: Chief Vitalstatistix, the fishmonger Unhygienix and best of all the Druid Getafix. (If you want to marvel at the genius of translators, go here.)*

4: Babar by Jean de Brunhoff
Leaving aside any political or moral objections to the stories - who doesn't love an elephant? Especially one who names his kids Pom, Flora and Alexander.

5: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Speaking of elephants, any book that has its own museum (in Japan - not France) needs no explanation from us.

6: The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, True Love, miracles.... You may ask how this fits into our Bastille Day celebrations? Easy, peasy. As we have said before, any excuse.

* We should probably mention that other great French comic book hero, Tin Tin, but we're not going to.

13 July 2009

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate

So, now that the cake-maker extraordinaire has left the building, and our attempt to make cake in the House of Onion resulted in epic fail* we find ourselves in something of a pickle** when the cake-maker-in-waiting has a birthday. It would not do at all to ask her to make her own cake.

So we sent out a call to cake-making, and what a good idea it was.

The cake-maker-in-waiting's understudy produced a stellar cake. And presented it with mood lighting. And it was replete with chocolately goodness. No, that is not coconut, my friends, that is in fact shavings of white-chocolate. Yes indeedy - chocolate (shavings) on chocolate (icing) on chocolate (cake). A trifecta of chocolate. A chocolate threepeat. Chocolate cubed.

*Yes, we do now realise that cake and vinaigrette can never be friends - but these things are not always obvious. After all, we are in the business of not judging books by their covers. I beg your pardon? What? Oh. Oh I see. Apparently we ARE in the business of judging books by their covers. Apologies, my mistake. As you were.

** Don't panic, no one thought it was a good idea to bake with pickles. We have learned our lesson.

10 July 2009

Friday stuff and items

1) We would like to throw our arms around Mark Seymour, for his discussion of the 'book price row' in today's Age.

2) Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger) LIKES TO READ!

3) Oz kids books' very own champion Judith Ridge is taking the UK - specifically the first-ever Dianna Wynne Jones conference - by storm with her salt-crusted, sandy-bottomed charm.

4) There's going to be a new/old Anne of Green Gables book, 'including 41 poems attributed to Anne and her son Walter.' Hmm. There are some in the House who think that NOT including Walter's poem The Piper in Rilla of Ingleside, in which it is described as THE great poem of World War I, was a genius bit of restraint. How could it ever live up to expectation?

5) We all know that there are some doors that should never be opened - but being curious creatures we usually open them anyway. Check out the Coraline trailer to get a taste of what happens when Coraline finds an unexpected door in her own house. You may never see buttons in quite the same way again.

6) Spike have a competition where you can win a year long subscription to Meanjin AND eternal glory. Hustle on over there and enter.

7) And also, just cos it's Friday:

08 July 2009

Pink is the new black

Dear 4-colour process printing,

Sometime ago we wrote to express our hope that you would not be offended if instead of using a CMYK approximation of pink, we used PMS 806 pink on the cover of Scarygirl by Nathan Jurevicius - because we really needed a dramatic, fluorescent pink that we knew that you would struggle to achieve.

This is just a follow-up letter to show you how splendidly the PMS performed.

You will note that we made excellent use of your wonderful range and processes on the inside pages and the endpapers ...

... and the inside jacket: What ho - a poster!

We now have another little confession to make. It seems we are having an elegant sufficiency of pink at the moment, and it wasn't just for one book that we opted for a pink PMS.

So we are hoping you will also forgive us for going to PMS 182 for the cover of (this aptly titled) gorgeous Pink by Lili Wilkinson, because, my, hasn't it come up a treat - both inside and out.

We do hope you are as pleased with the results as we are.

Don't they look fine in all their pink glory. We (and Nathan & Lili) thank you again for your generosity of spirit and colour and trust you and the PMS spectrum can continue to live together in harmony.



03 July 2009

We Like Spike

Look look!
Meanjin is talking about YA fiction, and who is reading it and why.
A subject that we have been known to mull over for hours (days, years, lifetimes).

Go forth and give them your opinions.

02 July 2009

Like the wind

Melbourne Forecast
Thursday - Showers, possible storm. Windy.
Severe weather warning for damaging winds.
Gale warning for Port Phillip.
Gale warning for Western Port.

Clearly it's time for a list of windy books:

1: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
A classic that makes the list on its title alone.
But, oh, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. '... as they slowly realised all they had seen and all they had lost, a capricious little breeze, dancing up from the surface of the water, tossed the aspens, shook the dewy roses and blew lightly and caressingly in their faces; and with its soft touch came instant oblivion... the gift of forgetfulness.' (Children of the 80s might also remember this wistful windy tune.)

2: We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea by Arthur Ransome
Speaking of messing about in boats, these four kids accidentally drift out to the North Sea after the rising tide causes their cutter to drag anchor. High adventure on the high seas in a high wind sees them end up in Holland!
(And Susan and Titty are seasick and John almost goes overboard while reefing the mainsail and Roger... well, really, Roger just enjoys the whole thing.)

3: The Winds of Heaven by Judith Clarke
'The old house creaked in the cold and outside the window the big stars grew closer and closer, till they were like cold faces peering through the glass. And the winds of heaven sprang up and blew above the paddocks and rocked in the great space of the sky.'
... we have nothing further to add.
(Except let yourself be blown out the door and tumbled down to a bookshop or library so you can read this book immediately!)

4: The Children of the Wind (series) by Kirsty Murray
A sweeping Irish-Australian saga made up of Bridie's Fire, Becoming Billy Dare, A Prayer for Blue Delaney and The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong; four inter-linked novels, beginning in the 1850s and taking the reader on an epic journey right through to the present.
(Oh Bridie! Is there any place on earth more windswept than the coast of south-west Ireland during the potato famine?)

5. A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle.
Onion confession: none of us actually know what this title means. But there are a lot of windy dark nights in the first book A Wrinkle In Time, and the whole Time Quartet is brilliant, so onto the list with it.

6: The Princess Bride by William Goldman*
Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, True Love, miracles.... You may ask how this fits into our windy genre? Easy, peasy.

*Yes - we know this is a t
enuous link, but we like to leap on any excuse to turn our thoughts to the genius that is The Princess Bride. And no, we're not trying to trick you - this is not a kissing book.