26 February 2010

Friday stuff and items

Here are some lists that please us.

1) Our very own Bruno has been short-listed for the APA Design Awards for Pink and Liar.

Bruno! Bruno! Bruno! OI! OI! OI!

2) A list of Ten Rules for Writing Fiction. Well many lots of ten, really. From favourite writers like Neil Gaiman and PD James and Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Franzen.

3) And ten more rules from a reader.

4) This was spotted at the tram stop closest to the House of Onion.

In honour of this Yarra Trams attempt, here is a list of 10 silly/excellent puns.

22 February 2010

An Alien in New York/Sydney

In today's performance of Justine's Blog, the role of Justine will be played by Alien Onion.*

A word from the performers:
'We were absolutely thrilled to be asked to understudy the part of Justine Larbalestier, a role previously filled by such luminary performers as Karen Healey and Lili Wilkinson among many others. The part of Justine is notoriously demanding, and asks of the performer grace, style, wit, intelligence and a commanding knowledge of the finer points of cricket - we only hope we can do it justice.

*It seems that the part of Alien Onion is being played by... nobody at present. Regular posting to resume soon.

18 February 2010

Unexpected Eclairs

The best kind.

Many million thanks to the Cake-maker in Chief.
A braver woman than most, she made her own choux pastry.
Blessed are those who work with pastry chefs.
Om nom nom nom nom.

16 February 2010

Come gather 'round people

Dear User-friendly E-book Reading Device,

Are you here yet?
Please hurry.

Yours (in anticipation)
Eager E-book Reader


Dear E-book Revolution,

Are you here yet?
Take your time. We're still awaiting other members of the party.

Yours (in something of a panic),
Frenzied Format Converter


Dear Printed Book,

P-book, hey? Well that's a rad new nickname. Sort of.
The times they are a changin', I guess. But do not despair. We love you. Please understand that the e-book is also our friend (or it will be once the user-friendly e-book reading device shows up to introduce us properly). But, we have a lot of different reading needs and we have huge hearts. And we LOVE our filled-to-bursting bookshelves. And our pile beside the bed. There is plenty of room for both of you.

Yours (with love and affection)
Reading Addict



If your name is on this list please report to production for immediate deployment in up-specced p-books:
Paper engineering
Deckled edges
Beautiful, textured stock
Scratch 'n' sniff


Dear Value,

We are going to continue to add you to stuff. You have been warned.



Dear Long Long Backlist Tail,

Shake shake shake. Shake shake shake. Shake your booty.

Pubs xx


Beloved Content,

There's no love - like your love
And no other - could give more love
There's nowhere - unless you're there
All the time - all the way

Oh - you can't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
I can't help it - there's nothin' I want more
You know it's true
Everything I do - I do it for you.

Yours unto the end,
Publishing Industry*


Today's post was brought to you by the letters 'e' and 'p' and by the number ...**

* and Bryan Adams
**Coz really, who can predict numbers in this brave new world?

12 February 2010

Friday stuff and items

1) The real Timothy McSweeney has died - which makes us sad, even though we didn't know he existed.

2) Boy did it rain yesterday in Melbourne.

Photo via The Age

3) We are more than a little bit in love with Michael Morpurgo's writing bed. Perhaps we should look into installing editing beds in the House. It seems highly appropriate. Except, what would we do about cake crumbs?

4) In which David Levithan is funny and talks about Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. August is so far away. Want. It. Now. *editor retires to editing bed and rocks gently*

5) Did you know that Braeburn apples are capitalised, but jonathans are not? Golden Delicious is capitalised but pink lady is not. Sundowner is capitalised, but fuji is not. Luckily, Granny Smith is capitalised - otherwise it would really mess with our world order. Thanks for your help on this subject, Macquarie Dictionary online.^

^Did you know you can follow the Macquarie Dictionary on twitter? @MacqDictionary , y'all. Word up!

09 February 2010

When the bee stings


These are definitely a few of our favourite things.

And, as we trust you all know, Books! Writing! Ideas! are now handily housed in one place: the Wheeler Centre. And their inaugural event features yet another one of our favourite things: Storytelling! In fact, A Gala Night of Storytelling. Doesn't it just sound divine.

And look at this line-up.* Chloe Hooper! Paul Kelly! Cate Kennedy! Judith Lucy! Shane Maloney! David Malouf! John Marsden! Alex Miller! John Safran! Christos Tsiolkas! Tara June Winch! Alexis Wright!

We trust they will all linger alluringly on the literati red carpet in fine gowns and fabulous suits.

So if you want to take in pearls of wisdom from the fascinating writers who put the scintillating stories in the pages of the books who put the proud glow on the noses on the faces of the peoples of the centrepiece of Melbourne's UNESCO City of Literature...

You're too late!
Because they just passed by - well actually it's sold out (we know that you know we meant that).

But you might be able to take some pictures...

And if you haven't checked out the calendar of coming events at the Wheeler Centre - go forth and do so immediately. Soapboxes! Debuts! In Conversations! Spotlights! Reading the City!

Oh my - now we don't feel so bad.

* We cheer for John Marsden who is flying the kids' book flag. But we also show our range. Don't tell anyone, but sometimes we do read adult books. And we listen to adult music. And laugh at adult humour. Yes, yes it's true.

04 February 2010

Time After Time

This year's Newbery Medal winner, When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, is doing the rounds of our office. It's one of those books that as soon as you've finished you want to read again from the start so you can see how all the pieces click together. (Kind of like Fight Club, only really really not at all like Fight Club.) It's got us thinking about other time-travel books. Here are a few of our favourites:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
This is the only book that the wonderfully endearing Miranda, who tells the story of When You Reach Me, ever reads. Truth to tell, I generally read it at least once year myself - so I knew right away that Miranda was going to be a girl after my own heart. (It was clearly completely justified that I buy Wrinkle in Time again in the beautiful new edition - but why did I not know there was a box set?!) In some ways, A Swiftly Tilting Planet is really more about time travel in the sense of going somewhen than Wrinkle is, which is about travelling through time to a somewhere. (And don't even get us started on Many Waters - where the O'Keefe twins find themselves in biblical times when everyone is, you know, sleeping with angels, and having tiny unicorns as pets.) But it all begins with Wrinkle, and what a beginning it is. (She says sternly, glaring at the wall of the adjoining office wherein resides a children's book editor who has NEVER READ MADELEINE L'ENGLE.)

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
This book will gently break your heart. Time travel is not just about rollicking adventure, it's about memory and change, being young and growing old, the eternal and the ephemeral, loneliness and friendship. And gardens and clocks and iceskates. Oh, the iceskates.

Cicada Summer by Kate Constable
We love this book. It's a moving, gentle, funny, heart-squeezing timeslip tale. Eloise needs out of her now - but where or when does she stumble into? We suspect this book might be a time-traveller in another way too - it feels enduring, sort of out-of-time... classic.

Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park
Speaking of a classic... If you're interested in children's fiction or you have been a child anytime since 1980 and you have not read this book, then we can only envy you the great pleasure that awaits. Reading Ruth Park's autobiographies, A Fence Around the Cuckoo and Fishing in the Styx, is another wonderful kind of time travel - especially if you are interested in New Zealand and Sydney in the 30s and 40s.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
Unless, like Marvin the paranoid android, you are Very Very Patient, you can only get to Milliways, the restaurant at the end of the universe, by travelling through time. But once you do arrive, you can sit and eat in comfort while you watch the universe end. Best floorshow ever.

Prince Caspian by CS Lewis
Not a book about time travel as such, but Queen Susan's horn brings the four Pevensie children out of the deep past (Narnia's past, that is - for the children it's only been about a year). And that scene at the beginning where the they wander round the ruins of Cair Paravel gradually working out that hundreds of years have passed since they were last in Narnia is wonderful, and a little bit heartbreaking. For some reason, this paragraph, where Susan finds a chess piece they played with centuries before, stays with us:
'All now saw what it was - a little chess-knight, ordinary in size but extraordinarily heavy because it was made of pure gold; and the eyes in the horses head were two tiny rubies or rather one was for the other had been knocked out.'

Merryll of the Stones by Brian Caswell
I felt sure we'd talked about this one before on Alien Onion - but if we did I couldn't find it. This has absolutely everything you could want in a timeslip adventure: welsh dragons; handsome, black-haired Welsh boys; magicians; usurpers; rebels and a modern girl who might be an ancient queen. In the interests of full disclosure, the very beginning takes a bit of getting through, but after that it's hands-down fabulous.

The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard & The Hero of Little Street by Gregory Rogers.
In one adventure The Boy slips into Shakespeare's London via the magic of theatre - the detail in this book is amazing, right down to heads on sticks. In the other adventure it's through the magic of painting that The Boy slips into seventeenth century Holland - more stunning streetscape detail, perhaps best to avoid the butcher scenes if you tend to the squeamish.

Honorary film mention:
Back to the Future
The time machine is a DeLorean that requires 1.21 gigawatts (pronounced jigawatts, by Doc Brown) of power. We don't feel any further explanation is required.
But for good measure we'll throw in: Michael J Fox, a flux capacitor, skateboarding, rock 'n' roll and a main character literally fading out of existence.

Dishonorable mention:
The Time Machine
by H.G. Wells
I understand that this book has a place in some people's hearts.* But not mine. Not when I had to read it for school. Not now. Not ever.

Which time-travel books are your favourites?

*Actually I don't understand this at all. It is inconceivable.

01 February 2010

Books Ahoy!

As we have said before, we're for books and, of course, we're for reading, and we're for literacy and numeracy.

And we're for beaches.

And we're especially for beaches with bookshelves that are for literacy and numeracy. So we're definitely for this...

Brought to us (very appropriately) by the letters ABC and their news service.