22 July 2011

There's a cake in there...

(Poppyseed and Ricotta Cake with lemon Curd. Mmmm lemon curd)

And a cake as well.

(Limburgse Vlaai, a Dutch specialty, made at the special request of the Tall Designer)

There are people with cakes, and stories to tell.

(An author who bakes a white chocolate, pistachio and pomegranate cake? We're keeping her.)

Open wide, shove cake inside.

(Devil’s Food White-Out Cake. Spec. Tac. U. Lar.)

It's Onion School.

With love and congratulations to Play School,
celebrating its 45th year of being on air.

19 July 2011

Happy 21st

21 today! 21 today!*
We've got the key to the door.**
We've never been 21 before.***

We are pleased and proud to announce that last week marked a significant milestone for the Houses of Onion. It was our 21st anniversary of independent publishing in Australia!

Hip. Hop. Hooray for us.

Of course there was cake. Herewith the rather magnificent cocky cake the Mothership procured to celebrate the occasion.

And now let us cast our mind back to how it all began...

A long time ago (1872) in a galaxy far, far away (England), George Allen set himself up as John Ruskin's publisher and printer.

Some years after that (August 1914), Stanley Unwin, of the Unwin Printers family, bought George 's company and established George Allen and Unwin Ltd. Herewith the sign for this fine establishment.

One fine day (in 1937), Stanley Unwin offered his ten-year-old son, Rayner, a shilling to read and appraise a manuscript called THE HOBBIT. Rayner accepted the shilling and recommended publication (with maps, but with no need for illustrations).

A decade and a half later (in 1952), when Rayner was all grown up and had graduated from appraiser to publisher, he was offered the manuscript of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. He thought it ought to be published, but he suspected they might lose a thousand pounds on it...

A goodly number of moons after that (1969), our PAG joined George Allen & Unwin in their Museum Street offices in London, which were located conveniently close to this adult-beverage emporium.

(We are reliably informed that this emporium was indeed favoured by Onions of yore.)

Some London summers passed, and then our PAG set off for Sydney (in 1976) and established George Allen & Unwin Australia Pty Ltd.

Some Australian summers passed, and then our RP hoisted a sail for kids books (in 1987), establishing the children's books imprint (Little Ark).

And then, 21 years ago on 10 July 1990 the British parent company was sold, and our fearless leaders led a management buy-out to establish ALLEN & UNWIN PTY LTD as an independent Australian publishing house.****

So last week, we celebrated 21 years of independence, almost 25 years of children's books, 35 years of Australian publishing and almost 100 years of the imprint. Hooray! Hurrah! Huzzah!

And so say all of us!

* When we say 'today' here, we actually mean last Sunday, but '21 last week! 21 last week!' has no ring to it. No ring to it at all.
** Well, most times we do have the key to the door. Other times Onions who arrive at the office early without keys in hand can be found sitting on the step reading manuscripts on their handy digital device.
*** When we say 'we' here... hmmm, yes, it seems that all Onions in sight have actually been 21 before...
**** We like to imagine that this evening was almost exactly like Mad Men Season 3, Episode 13: 'Shut the door. Have a seat.'

18 July 2011

The promise of spring

The depths of winter. Here we are. In it. Brrr.

(Via our good friends at the School of Earth Sciences. )

What we need to keep us going is hope that this winter too shall pass. What we need is a suggestion of spring.

Daffodils. That's what we need. And as it happens, we may just have some to hand.

Inspired by Elizabeth Honey's That's Not A Daffodil! here are some daffodils that Layla & Johnhenry prepared earlier.*

But wait, what? That's not a daffodil! That's a green beak.

Happily, we know how this story ends.

Now, that's a daffodil!

Spring. Bring. It On.

* Thanks KJW & EP for the sharing the photos of their children and their green beaks.

15 July 2011

An open letter to Harry Potter **UPDATED**

Dear Harry,

When did you get so grown-up?

We remember when you were just a wee boy in a cupboard under the stairs. We remember when we had boxes of your story in a cupboard under our stairs*. We remember the agony of having to wait to open them at the same time as everyone else all over the world.

We have such affection for you, Harry. We're kind of like a big houseful of clucky aunts. Or maybe more like the collection of creatures at the end of Labyrinth - we've played our part, we've helped you as much as we can. But you do know that should you need us...

We've loved seeing you on the big screen all these years, Harry. But we'll only get to do that one more time. So it is an ending. But does it really ALL

Of course not, because I just picked up The Philosopher's Stone again - and there you are: small and vulnerable and never been kissed - by girl or dementor.

And there's Hedwig: faithful and brave.**

And in a minute you'll meet Ron and Hermione.

And the Hogwarts Express is only just leaving the platform ... and there's so much that's just beginning.

Much love and grateful thanks,
Your Aunties Onion

PS Do you have Neville Longbottom's phone number? I'm just asking ... for a friend.

*Or perhaps not in that cupboard, perhaps they weren't even in the building, nothing confidential to see here - move along.
** Oh, Hedwig.



You can see the whole collection at www.impawards.com

08 July 2011

Good news week!

What a lot of lovely things happened this week. Let's work backwards...


Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod won the Prime Minister's Literary Award, Children's Fiction for Shake A Leg!!

Three million cheers for Boori and Jan and Shake A Leg!

Big congratulations also to Laura Buzo and Joanne Horniman for being shortlisted in the Young Adult section for Good Oil and About a Girl respectively.


The shortlist for this year's Australian Book Industry Awards* was announced. And we're thrilled by the nice long list of our books.

Book of the Year for Younger Children
Noni the Pony by Alison Lester

Book of the Year for Older Children
Hamlet by Nicki Greenberg
Museum of Thieves: The Keepers Book 1 by Lian Tanner

International Success of the Year 2011
Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

Hooray hooray hooray for Alison, Nicki, Lian and Shaun.
And huge congratulations to Mothership authors Anh Do, Peter Robb and Kate Morton.

A cheer also for all of us Onions - Melbourne and Sydney and NZ and London - and our nomination for Publisher of the Year.

Wednesday night

Karen Healey's fabulous new book The Shattering was launched into the world by Lili Wilkinson at the always-convival Readings Carlton.

The Shattering is tense and creepy and funny and sad, and set in a niiiice hot New Zealand summer - so the very thing to take your mind far away from chilly Melbourne.

Hurrah for Karen and The Shattering!

Wednesday lunch-time

The Cake-maker Virtuoso did it again. This time a quince and cardamom** custard cake. Just Look at those layers! Masterful.

* Some call the ABIAs the Oscars of the bookworld. Only it's a sit down dinner - so maybe more like the Golden Globes (which always look a lot more fun).
We long ago identified the fact that there was unrest in the House over the cardamom/cardamon spelling, but because this cake was so delicious, we will grant the C-MV her preferred spelling.