30 September 2011

23 September 2011

I'm Still Awake, Still - still!

A story can be told a million ways.

You can sing it.
You can write it
You can read it aloud.

You can paint it.
You can play it.
You can use puppets and pianos and actors and musicians.

Here is Elizabeth Honey telling the story of taking I'm Still Awake, Still! from song, to page to stage, in gorgeous pictures...

Fairfax Studio, The Arts Centre
28 September - 2 October

Take the kids.
Take the grandparents.
Take the neighbours.
Take the neighbours' kids and grandparents.
Take everyone!*

* Probably not the dog though. Leave the dog at home, lest it get overexcited by all the joyous rumbustification.

21 September 2011

I'm Still Awake, Still

In a cream-coloured house
with an upstairs 
and a downstairs
lived Rosalind the Publisher 
and her bunch of Onions.

Rosalind was tall and busy and thoughtful. 
When she heard an editor singing 
in the kitchen one day, she said,
'Time for a choir now, don't you think, Onions?'

'Good idea,' said Sue the Editor. 
Sue the Singer thought so too.
'But I need some lyrics,' she said.
'Who'll write me some words for drifting and dreaming?'

So Elizabeth, the Artist and Author 
dreamed up something wonderous 
and sang about it in her head.

And Rosalind and Elizabeth and Sue-times-two 
danced the songs 
and the words and the pictures 
around and around 
until they become a beautiful book and CD.

'I'm still inspired, still,' called the creators to each other.
So they scooped up their ideas 
and waltzed them all the way 
Jump Leads 
the absolutely gorgeous
totally unmissable
world premiere performance of

Just in time for the school holidays!
 Where:  Fairfax Studio, the Arts Centre
 When:  28 September to 2 October,  
11am  & 1.30 pm each day 

You can book here: www.theartscentre.com.au/kids

Stay tuned tomorrow for some of the behind-the-scenes story* 
of how this idea was developed from song, to page, to stage.

* Told with some never-before-seen Liz Honey artwork - aww yeah, that's right, we give you the good stuff!

20 September 2011

Touching the Void

We have been without the internet for seven working days. Seven whole days!

It has been HARD. We were almost BROKEN. But we are back now. And we are stronger for it - and we can look back on that time and see it for what it was, and what it did to us.

In the netherworld of internetlessness, we became disconnected, isolated; the walls of the House were closing in on us. It was as though we had been transported back to the early nineties.* 
We lost sight of who we were, and what we were here for.

Through this time of extreme deprivation we turned for comfort to the tradition of oral storytelling. We lit a fire in an old washing machine tub that someone dragged in from the street. We stoked it with whatever we had to hand.**

We sat around and told stories about what it was like in the old days - BI.  Before Internet...


Smoke curls up to the high ceiling. Flickering light reflects off the grizzled faces of FOUR EDITORS gathered around the burning brazier.

EDITOR ONE sharpens a pencil straight into the flames.
EDITOR TWO wears fingerless gloves and cradles a cup of tea in both hands.

EDITOR THREE: When I were a student, there weren't no access to the university library from home. You had to stir your stumps and trudge in to campus to check source or citation. We learned right quick to keep careful notes for bibilography. IF we knew what were good for us.

EDITOR TWO: Right you are, Three. I remember when I were just a wee editor. Only dictionary was hardcopy. By my life, but that thing was 'eavy. And no searchable text, if you please. Lord alone knows how we got anything done.

EDITOR ONE: Sharpening pencil down to the nub. Mumbles softly to herself. No Wikipedia. No Macquarie online.*** No Google maps. No Google. No Google. No Google. Nowt. Nowt. Nowt. Nowt.

EDITOR THREE: Hands EDITOR ONE a slice of cake.

EDITOR ONE: Stuffs cake in her mouth - cutting off her stream of words.

EDITOR FOUR: I heard tell of summat called a CD ROM. Can anyone tell me what manner of thing that might be?

EDITOR TWO: Wisht! We don't speak of the Fell Beast Encarta in these parts. You'll hold your tongue if you know what's good for you.

EDITOR FOUR: Well I know for sure and certain, tweren't no way to watch a bulldog ride a skateboard  from the comfort of your own 'umble desk, now was there? Not with all the goodwill in the world.

ALL EDITORS: Mumbled agreement.

EDITOR THREE: Say if I wanted to check how long it would take to walk from Central Park to Bleecker Street, but I were on tother side of world. What would I have done then? I'll tell you what. I would have got on a plane and flown all th' way to New York and walked it myself, that's what. We knew what it meant to edit in those days.

EDITOR ONE: Mumbling again. No Google. No Google. No Google. No Google.

EDITOR THREE: Speaking over EDITOR ONE's mumbling. And what would I do if I needed to check how an author was getting along with revising her manuscript? Well I wouldn't visit her blog, anyhow. And no more would I read her Twitter stream or her Facebook page. No, I would have rung her on the telephone, as God intended. So I would.

EDITOR TWO: I've got a poser for you. Does anyone know how I might have gone about checking the copyright status of a short poem by a little-known Chilean poet? Riddle me that.

ALL EDITORS remain silent. EDITOR FOUR throws another book on the fire. The silence deepens.

EDITOR ONE: Whispers very quietly. No Google. No Google. No Google. No Google.

The smoke from the fire thickens and obscures the faces of the EDITORS.

Fade to black.


Dear Internet,

Never leave again.

Much much much love,


* The horror! The horror!
** Don't worry _insert name here_, we certainly didn't burn any copies of YOUR book.
*** Oh  www.macquariedictionary.com.au, we missed you especially. *smooches* *smooches again*

08 September 2011

Everybody in the House...

... come on and let me hear you say OH HO!

From the judges report: This is an intriguing psychological drama about a girl whose childhood is blighted... there is a gripping contemporary framing narrative where the girl, now an elderly resident of a nursing home, is visited by 16 year old Carly. These sections are beautifully crafted, Mrs Cartwright's acerbic comments to Carly are often very humorous, and the relationship which develops between them is warm and moving. This is a most impressive novel which stays with, and haunts the reader long after it concludes.

Everybody in the House,
 come on and let me hear you say HO HO

From the judges report: Through its two narrators, 15-year-old Tilly Sweetrick and 13-year-old Poesy Swift, this excellent historical novel for teenagers, tells the extraordinary story of a troupe of child performers aged seven to 18 years, touring with Percival's Lilliputian Opera Company through South East Asia and India in the first decade after Federation.

Everybody in the House,
 come on and let me hear you say OH HO

Kate De Goldi's The 10pm Question won the Corine International Book Prize, Young Readers Award!

From the judges report: A book to give people new heart - a book to prove that you are only alone with your problems if you don't talk about them.

Everybody in the House,
 come on and let me hear you say HO HO HO

I'm a take this groove and slam
flip it how we want it flipped
from da back to the front when I drops me the manuscript
cuz I got da moves and I'm always done ma flow
wid da crazy crazy grooves
so tell mecan ya feel da mad skills comin' 
wid da fever, fever, FEVER!

Fabulous work, Barry, Kirsty and Kate!!!

01 September 2011

Voices in the vibrating air...

history // (say 'histree), // (say 'histuhree)
1. the branch of knowledge dealing with past events.
2. the record of past events, especially in connection with humankind.
3. a continuous, systematic written narrative, in order of time, of past events as relating to a particular people, country, period, person, etc.
4. the aggregate of past events.
5. a past worthy of record or out of the ordinary:

Definition courtesy of our ever-helpful friends at Macquarie Online.


Ah, History at high school, I remember you. I remember struggling  from Mesopotamia, through the Vikings to early Australia and world wars and sinking ships. I remember making timelines and drawing maps, trying valiantly to find interest in the social, economical and political aspects of long dead lives, learning facts that oddly lodged forever in my memory - of King John signing the Magna Carta in a meadow in 1215, and the importance of the angles when the arrows were aimed in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

But, History, do not be fooled. We were not friends in high school. And the first chance I had, I dumped you unceremoniously to pursue other more alluring interests. Never again, said I. Which I concede, in hindsight, may have been a little hasty.*

I wish I had stumbled onto a love of history a little earlier. I wish I had been able to to see it not as dry and dull facts and figures and timelines punctuated by an occasionally exciting angle of arrows, but, as Ruby Murray so eloquently writes, as: 'stories, the sound of the voices already dead but caught in the vibrating air..'

Ruby's wonderful post was inspired by her reading of India Dark by Kirsty Murray.**

Ruby says:
It's set in turn of the century India, and follows the lives of a group of child performers as they make their way across the dusty continent, dancing and singing over the clapped out stages of a crumbling colonial world. It's a brave book, with no sugar coating. But it's also a book that reminded me of the importance of writing history where it happens, outside of the normal tread and grind and cliche of historical record.

Hear! Hear! We concur. This is indeed something to celebrate. And celebrations for India Dark  are exactly what's in order. Delighted we are that it is a finalist in the NSW Premier's History Award Finalist for the Young People's History Prize.

Congratulations, Kirsty.  Here's to history in all its liveliness. Here's to wishing I had your books to read when I was in high school. Here's to bringing to life those voices already dead but caught in the vibrating air.

* Ahem. Hello, Bachelor of Arts in History & English.
** A hugely talented family all round, the Murrays!