22 December 2010

The Last Cake of the Year

Look at the beautiful Buche de Noel made by SB...

Oh the pretty holly and those sweet little meringue mushrooms! Not to mention the all-round deliciousness.
A fitting end to an excellent year of cakes.

We'll be back in early January, for more cake and more books.*

Have a lovely holiday everyone.

xxx Onions

* and more lolcats.

20 December 2010

Ask a silly question...

We've had a lovely year of pootling around in this space, showing off our cakes, talking about editing, sharing our enthusiasms and hearing some of yours.

But, inevitably, some people come to this blog and go away empty handed.*

We're referring to the people who come here by way of strange and specific Google search strings. We don't like anybody to go away disappointed, so we will strive to answer the questions raised, just in case those dear wandering souls ever come back this way.

What editors do lolcats?
Oh these ones.
Also THESE ones!
We'd like to take this opportunity to farewell Sophie Cunningham from her editorship of Meanjin and tell her and her staff how much we've enjoyed both the journal and Spike this year.

Why does Nick have pencil sharpenings on the floor?
Has Nick been sharpening pencils again?

What font titles in to Kill a Mockingbird film?
You mean these opening credits? We put our intrepid Tall Designer on the case. He's not one hundred per cent sure of the original font. But if you're looking for a close match you could try Grotesque MTStd or maybe Akzidenz-Grotesk. Meanwhile just the credits were enough to have us sobbing quietly.

Write what you know about plastic.
It's not very biodegradable.
It comes in pretty colours.
It's rigid. Or flexible.
It's transparent. Or opaque.
You can keep stuff in it.
It tends to melt on contact with flame.

What Sydney beaches and pool used in Monkey Grip?
Excuse me? EXCUSE me? This is too much to be borne! Melbourne, people. Monkey Grip is as Melbourne as... the MCG, Cup Day, the Vic Markets, the hipsters on Gertrude Street... The famous pool in Monkey Grip is the FITZROY BATHS. In MELBOURNE. I mean, really. Let us never speak of this again.

Why is daylight savings bad?
Because it fades the curtains.

How do I love thee?
We suggest you count the ways and get back to us.

How long do i have to wait to get acl knee reconstruction for public health system?
Well! You're in luck! It just so happens we have an Onion who had an ACL reconstruction and she says...
Oh, wait, wait. You're out of luck. She says that she would prefer not to revisit the dark days of the painful limp-a-thon waiting period between injuring her knee (rupturing her ACL, damaging her medial ligament, crunching cartilage, and fainting in the shower the following morning) and the actual knee surgery. She would prefer instead to recollect the bright post-surgery day that Margo Lanagan made all the pain evaporate.

Onion how much?
How much are you offering?

What is a way you make a alien story interesting and only having three paragraphs?
This gives us an IDEA. You will be hearing more about this IDEA in the NEW YEAR. Stay tuned...

Onion can look face younger?
We are looking forward to a very rejuvenating holiday period. After a good dose of resting, reading, eating, keeping track of this roller-coaster ride they call The Ashes, going to the beach (if it ever stops raining) and general mooching, we expect to look a lot face younger.

*We were tempted to write empty-headed, but that sounded mean.

15 December 2010

A Very Onion Christmas - a little something something for the adults too

Good King Wenceslas looked out,
on the Feast of Onion.
When the books lay round about,
bright and new and fun... ion.

Time's a ticking. Christmas is approaching at the speed of... well, Christmas. If you are still casting about for the perfect gift to give the adult in your life, here's a list of books that might just fit the bill - especially if you, like us, occasionally indulge in a spot of self-gifting.

Hamlet by Nicki Greenberg
This dazzling graphic novel of Hamlet has won hearts and minds across the land. And so it should. It is, quite simply, stunning. But don't just take our word for it. Cameron Woodhead is singing its praises too.
'For lovers of comic books and Shakespearean drama (and those who devoured Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics in their youth) this Hamlet is an essential acquisition for your library. For everyone else, it remains an intriguing jewel, refracting light into some obscure corners of Shakespeare's immortal classic.'

Drawn from the Heart by Ron Brooks
Oh Ron Brooks, how we love your brilliant books. From the crosshatched delights of The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek and John Brown Rose & the Midnight Cat, to the quiet loveliness of Old Pig, to the beautifully heartbreaking portrayal of betrayal in Fox (jiggity hop, Magpie, jiggity hop) and beyond. Ron Brooks grew up in the country, a noticing kind of boy with an eye for beauty and a passion for drawing. Drawn From the Heart is his wonderfully vivid and honest memoir of a life lived intensely in search of truth, love and beauty.
Oh. Yes. Just say yes.

What's that? You already own all the Harry Potters? I think you're missing the point. These are NEW EDITIONS. And they are PRETTY. And they come in a box with a LID. We already own them all too - sometimes more than one copy - and yet... do you see how the box looks as if it WRAPPED UP LIKE A PARCEL! *sounds of massed Onions filling in staff order forms*

And if the reader in your life is also a collector of handsome items... 20th birthday editions of four fabulous books. Hardcovers, cloth binding, with foil (that's non-metallic foil, folks, to produce a de-bossed matte effect - fancy!). But wait, there's more. No, no - it's not our new friend, Piled UV. For these special occasion editions, may we also present the beauty of: Dipped Edges. Oh, my! Perfect for Christmas gift-giving.

Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
The White Earth by Andrew McGahan

So now that we've sorted all your Christmas gift-giving needs, it must be time for muffins!

*If you're wondering what Harry Potter is doing in the adult section we have two responses 1) duh 2) refer to this article on admiring youth from a distance (and Hot Ron).

13 December 2010

A Very Onion Christmas - Teen and YA

Deck the House with boughs of holly...

Sadly there is a distinct lack of holly in the halls of the House. But do not despair. What we lack in holly, we make up for with books. So perhaps we should be singing, Deck the House with boughs of bo-ooks...*

So, if the teenager or young adult in your life is also likely to prefer books to holly, herewith a selection that's sure to please:

Ages 13-16
We've already said many more than three things about Daisy Blue. So to sum up: Daisy Blue is pretty and popular. Paulina Gifford is smart and serious. They don't like each other. And they are going to Bali together. Perfect summer holiday reading.

by Catherine Jinks
Ages 14-18
The companion of the mighty Reformed Vampire Support Group, and a ripsnorter of a read, with never a dull moment! It's not easy being a
suburban teen...werewolf. Especially when your mates find out and want to use your unfortunate condition to wreak local havoc. It gets a whole lot worse for Toby before it gets better, though, which makes for hilarity and nailbitingness in one awesome package!

Mice by Gordon
Ages 16-18
If your all-Aussie Christmas is proving to be entirely too warm and comfortable for you, be chilled by Shelley's tale of isolation and terror deep in the English countryside. You won't be able to put it down until you find out what's next (WARNING: make sure not to miss out on the Christmas pudding)! Then present it to every one of your relatives so that you can have strident debate about the right and wrong of it all.

Happy as Larry by Scot Gardner
Ages 16-18
Happy As Larry is one of those special books that has struck a deep chord with many and diverse readers. So we're pleased to bring you some very special guest appearances by Sydney Onions and Affiliates:
'It broke my heart and healed it again.' - A&U Educational Marketing Coordinator
'Everyone around the office is just raving about this heart-wrenching, suspenseful and ultimately uplifting coming-of-age novel.' - A&U Marketing Director
'I have to say I have enjoyed every little morsel of this book! I am desperately sorry to have finished it!' - A friendly neighbourhood Bookseller
'Highly original and beautifully written.' - The Age

Zombie's vs Unicorns by Justine Larbalestier & Holly Black
Young Adult
Zombies! Unicorns! A duel! Muskets at dawn! Well, not so much with the muskets...and more with the shuffling undead, the mythical horned horses and a swag of excellent authors. This storytelling stoush sets out to sway readers from their stated sides. Time to choose people. Are you Team Zombie? Or Team Unicorn?

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
Young Adult
We've talked a lot about Dash and Lily. So we'll shut up for a change and let someone else do the talking.

'Basically this book is like a little piece of happiness in my heart.' <--*wub*

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Always-and-ever favourites:
Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Pink by Lili Wilkinson
Worldshaker by Richard Harland
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

* Which reminds us of the fabulous tree the Tall Designer made in the House of Christmas past.

09 December 2010

A Very Onion Christmas - Kids and Young Readers

May your days be merry and bright!
Well, we're doing okay with the merry - but the bright has been somewhat submerged under this weather event we've been complaining about. There has been a LOT of rain. If this continues through Christmas and into the New Year*, your 6-13-year-olds are going to need some serious indoor entertainment options.

As ever, we are here to help...

The Great Big Enormous Tashi by Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg and Kim
Ages 5-8
ALL the Tashi stories. ALL in one great big enormous bundle of WIN. Plus it'll take up a lot of room in the stocking.
Nothing further, your honour.

Ages 6-11
A fancy, grand hotel is an excellent indoor entertainment option! And what's not to love about busy Mr Badger, Special Events Manager at the Boubles (pronounced Boublay) Grand Hotel where Miss Sylvia Smothers-Carruthers is having her seventh birthday bash and from where Algernon the ape goes missing. Secrets! Mysteriousnesses! Absolutely adorable illustrations! Love. Love. Love. (Which is all you need.)

Careful What You Wish For by Maureen McCarthy
Ages 9-12
Everything you love about Maureen McCarthy's writing - interesting, complex characters; warm-hearted, chaotic families; real emotional pull; and a cracking good story - but this time for the younger kids. You will love Ruth, you will be intrigued by her best friend Howard and you will have very mixed feeling about a certain acid-tongue creature with a dubious line in 'helpful' magic. Perhaps the most glorious thing about this book is its mix of honest, real-life drama and hilarious, chaotic magic.

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner
Ages 9-13
What can we...
It's just...
I mean...
We are rendered speechless by how great this book is. You will love Goldie and believe utterly in her strange world. You will hiss at the treacherous Fugleman and cheer for the Keepers. You will lose your heart to a brizzlehound. You will be unable to wait for the next book. But you'll just have to because City of Lies is not out until next year!** www.keepersbooks.com.au

Ages 8-13
They look so pretty all boxed up! And there is so much goodness within. This box contains all seven (Count them, SEVEN!) adventures. Arthur begins as an asthmatic boy who can't make it through a cross-country run without just-about dying, but where will he end up? There are seven Keys and seven obstreperous parts of The Will of the Architect, and there are... ooo wait, we feel a song coming on *ahem*

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true-love gave to me
12 Dog-faced Fetchers
11 Pipers children
10 Nasty Nithlings
9 Guilded Youths
8 Scary Scouchers
7 Morrow Days
6 Sorcerous Supernumeraries
5 Raised Rats
4 Spirit-eaters
3 drafted soldiers
2 Artful Loungers
And one all over cracking good read.

Always-and-ever favourites
So now that we're all in a singing-Twelve-Days-of-Christmas kind of mood: FIVE GOLDEN OLDIES.***

Sunny Side Up by Marion Roberts
Cicada Summer by Kate Constable
Three Favourites by Odo Hirsch

* Or if you live in a snowy clime, or a roasting hot one, or well - anywhere - actually.
** In good news, next year is alarmingly close to being this year.
*** Bah humbug! to anyone who can't make the word 'oldies' squeeze into this line. We are following a fine tradition of Christmas covers - and in that spirit we give you Billy Mack. (Although, be warned, he is not for the ears of those younger readers.)

08 December 2010

A Very Onion Christmas - Picture Books

It's Christmas time in the city.
We admit we can't hear any silver bells just now (maybe they are being drowned out by the monsoon we are currently experiencing), but we can hear the plaintive mewing of stockings needing to be stuffed.

So, out of the goodness of our hearts*, we bring you some advice on what to buy the youngest members of your family.

Monkey Red Monkey Blue
by Nicki Greenberg
Ages: 0-3
What happens when two merry monkeys and one cheeky chameleon decide to have a midnight feast? Do they sit quietly at the table and carefully prepare cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off? No, dear readers, they do not. Popcorn! Spaghetti! Hot dogs! Fruit salad! Pancakes! Milk! All together with a cherry on top! What could possibly go wrong.

Noni the Pony by Alison Lester
Age: 1-4
Well, we say 1-4 year olds, but really everyone who sees Noni falls in love. Even the good people out at the United Book Distributors warehouse, who handle not only millions of our books every year, but squillions of other people's as well. Noni is friendly and funny and the colour of honey - and she clearly stood out from the pack.

The Tall Man and the Twelve Babies by Tom Niland Champion & Kilmeny Niland, pictures by Deborah Niland
Ages 3-6
In a big, big city,
in a tiny, tiny apartment,
lived a tall, tall man
and twelve babies.
All the boys were called Alistair.
All the girls were called Charlene.
How funny is that? Aren't you intrigued? Don't you want to know how this can possibly work for the tall man and all those Alistairs and Charlenes? Are you going to instantly buy this book for all your friends and relations? Thought so. Our job here is done.

Precious Little by Julie Hunt & Sue Moss, illustrated by Gaye Chapman
Ages 4-8
This book is stunning. Gaye Chapman's illustrations are exquisite, and the story is moving and inspiring. AND IT HAS A SPECIAL CLEVER TWISTY SECRET THING - but you have to sit down to read it to your favourite small person before you get to know what it is.

Shake A Leg by Boori Monty Prior and Jan Ormerod
Ages 6-10
This book will have you dancing and making pizza. It will have you laughing and sharing stories. It's an absolute delight from two hugely respected creators. All you fellas watching, come up, join in,
warrima. Clap your hands, little ones. Stamp your feet, nannas.

Always-and-ever favourites:
Three of our best-beloved picture books have been re-released in stunning celebratory editions. If you don't already know these three classics, then now is the time to get on board. If you already know and love them - just go look at these gorgeous editions.
  • Old Pig by Ron Brooks
  • Fox by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks
  • Magic Beach by Alison Lester. This edition comes with a pull-out frieze, people. A FRIEZE.

*I know, I know. We're just that good to you guys! You can thank us at the checkout of your local bookseller.

07 December 2010

Tuesday Stuff and Items

1) We are preparing a A Very Onion Christmas Gift Guide for y'all and should have it up in the next day or two. In the meantime, here's an awesome one the Mothership prepared earlier
Jingle bells, jingle bells!

2) Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey has been nominated for the William C Morris Debut Award in the USA. Go Karen! Go Ellie!
Jingle All the way!

3) There was birthday cake. And it was good. A flourless orange cake - with strawberries... and cream.

4) The Guardian is doing a series of posts on Seasons Readings. They've mentioned Rumer Godden and Raymond Briggs, so already we approve. Here is a refresher on Onion reading habits of the Christmas period.
What fun it is to read...

5) In a one-horse open sleigh!

03 December 2010

Spotted in the House

A late nomination for our Top Ten 2010 Happenings in the House list: that time an Oscar-shortlisted* author visited the House. We remember it as though it were yesterday. Possibly because, well, it was yesterday.

Shaun didn't have a big white beard and a red suit, but he did have a bag of goodies. So it was a little like Christmas morning.

And there was cake (of course).
So it was also a little like a birthday.

Christmas and birthday at once! What could be better?**

Come back any time, Mr Tan!

* Shaun Tan's gorgeous animated short film of The Lost Thing is shortlisted for an Academy Award nomination. Not quite a nomination, yet, but it's definitely finger-crossing time.
** Well, maybe quite a few things if 25 December is actually your birthday, because that's more like one-for-two than two-for-one.

02 December 2010

Top Ten 2010 Happenings in the House

It seems everyone is making lists (and checking them twice) of Top Ten books of 2010. Regular readers will know that if we tried to do a Top Ten list of books for 2010, we'd probably end up with a list of eleventy-million titles rather than ten, and we have decided instead to make a list of the Top Ten things that happened in the House this year.

So we polled the Onions to find their highlights of the year. Herewith, in no particular order, the Top Ten* Happenings in the House of Onion in 2010:

Watching Mr Badger come to life. Every time I read the end of Book One I shed a little tear - not because it's sad, but because he's just such a sweetheart.

The occasion: Safety and fire-drill training with a visiting, smooth-headed, fierce-looking 'expert'.
The moment: The way he stopped short our playful explanations of what we would do if there was a fire in the building.
The highlight: Watching each of us wooshing out the test-fire with the fire extinguisher.
The Onion: Man, that was satisfying.

When the printer monster took up residence in the office next door...

The office doorbell sounds. The office manager calls the editor to say a parcel has arrived from the printer. The editor gallops downstairs and carefully removes the packaging.** And behold! The Museum of Thieves advances are revealed! Oh beautiful little hardback, wilt thou be mine?

Ed note: In the fine tradition of flouting the rules of our poll, one Onion could not contain themselves to listing only one highlight, so we have accommodatingly squeezedthemallintogether to make them look like one BIG highlight.

Winning Publisher of the Year! So much to celebrate about the CBCA shortlist! And speaking of celebrations, our 20th Anniversary! Learning the phrase: piled UV. Applying the piled UV process to the cover of Museum of Thieves.*** Seeing Kim Gamble's illustrations shine in the C format of Great Big Enormous Tashi. That rather excitement-making moment when an author (and her book) we'd just signed up hit the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald and A Current Affair. We're looking at you, Rebecca James and Beautiful Malice. Welcoming into the House the wonderful team at Nosy Crow. The snort-inducingly hilarious Alien Onion post about cover design.

That time the Cake-maker Extraordinaire made those macrons. I remember it as though it were yesterday.

The occasion: a video-conference covers meeting with the team from the Mothership in August.
The moment: our CEO bounces into the meeting just as we are about to discuss a range of cover designs.
The highlight: 'Wait! Wait!' says CEO. 'Before we start, has anyone else seen Hamlet? I just saw an advance copy. It's spectacular!'
The Onion: *glows with quiet pride*

Two dates were always bound to collide - the long-awaited occasion of us winning a record-breaking raft of CBCA short-listings this year upstaged by the arrival of an Onion grandbaby - now a voracious reader already at 3 months ...

The Museum of Thieves book launch, down in Hobart, in the old and spooky Bond Store at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Hundreds of children. Lovely speeches. Stunningly beautiful *hardcover* copies of the book. And a delightful and delicious lunch afterwards at Sandy Bay.

Highlights, so many to mention! But it's hard to go past Boori Monty Pryor's traditional Shake a Leg dance lesson, complete with gum leaves and singing, in the board room. The Onions ranged from very reluctant to very enthusiastic, but all got into the spirit of it!

The scene: 6pm. A cramped hotel room in which two editors and an author are beautifying before the big 20th Anniversary bash. The peace is shattered by loud shrieks coming through the wall.
Ed 1: What's that?
Ed 2: *giggles*
Author: No way.
Ed 1 opens the door to corridor. Sounds get much louder.
Author: What if she's being murdered? Do you think we should knock?
Eds 1 & 2: NOOO!
Author: But what if we read in the paper tomorrow that some poor woman was murdered in this hotel and no one did anything.
Eds 1 & 2: That's a chance we're willing to take.

And, of course, there was cake...

* When we say Top Ten here, we mean... well, almost eleventy-million.
** When we say carefully here, we mean carefully in the manner of a small child opening presents on Christmas morning.
*** We understand that those of you who don't know what piled UV is will be none the wiser, even after following our link to the page on our website. So let us explain. No, let us sum up. Piled UV is a whole lot of spot gloss on a matt laminated cover, piles of it, in fact. Still uncertain? Well the only thing to do is get your hands on a real live copy of Lian Tanner's Museum of Thieves and see how Sebastian Ciaffglione's gorgeous cover illustration positively glows with glossiness. That, my friends, is a whole lot of gloss in one spot. (Not so) commonly known as: piled UV.

01 December 2010

Hello, Nosy Crow!

What? What? Nosy Crow? What in the world is Nosy Crow?

Is it a bird? Yes!
And is it the very model of a modern children's publisher? Yes!
And is their name, like them, irreverent, cheeky, short, snappy and memorable? Yes!
And are they our new partners in crime?*Yes!

And, most importantly, do they like cake? Yes! Yes! Yes!

So, hello, Nosy Crow! *waves over the oceans*

Something tells us we're going to get along just fine...

* When we say crime here, we mean children's books and apps (obvs).