Mid-year book tag: children’s books

I’ve seen a few mid-year book tag posts on book blogs recently. (No-one has tagged me, but that won’t stop me joining in.) Because no-one has officially tagged me, I’ve changed up the questions a bit to suit myself. That’s the upside of tagging yourself.

I’m all about children’s books for under 12s. (I just don’t get through many books for grown-ups — or young adults — in 6 months.)

If there’s an asterisk it means I borrowed it from a library. I do love a library.

Here goes:

Currently reading:
The Dog with Seven Names by Dianne Wolfer

Favourite picture book read in the last 6 months
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel*
The cat walks through the world, and we see the cat through the eyes of other creatures. An interesting approach to changing perspectives. I really loved the illustrations, too.

Favourite fiction book read in the last 6 months
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby*
Magic! Meddling! Mayhem! and also dry humour. There are pirates. And faeries. And dragons. Basically there’s something for everyone, in a satisfyingly chunky and beautifully-presented book.

Favourite nonfiction book read in the last 6 months
The Bee Book (DK Books) by Emma Tennant and Fergus Chadwick*
A hardcover book with all the facts about bees you could want. Includes stunning photographs and illustrations.

Favourite poetry book read in the last 6 months
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith
Poems on topics that are super familiar to primary school kids. Hilarious, clever, and entertaining. Every child and adult I shared it with loved it.

Favourite new-to-me author discovered this year
Kimberley Brubaker Bradley (The War That Saved My Life)*

Favourite new-to-me illustrator this year
Lorna Scobie (Apes to Zebras: An A–Z of Shape Poems by Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee, and Sue Hardy-Dawson).* A book of concrete poems about animals, with some illustrations and graphic detail to enhance the text. Good poems! And a beautifully presented hardcover book. I also bought 365 Days of Art because I loved Scobie’s work so much. I haven’t tried it out yet. Because I am no Lorna Scobie. Wah.

Favourite picture book I read aloud to children in the last 6 months
The Hole Story by Kelly Canby and
Oh, Albert!* by Davina Bell, illustrated by Sara Acton
Both these books are fun to read aloud. Also easy to read aloud (no stumbling). The perfect length. The illustrations were lovely. I (as a grown-up) enjoyed the story. The kids loved the story and joined in with the obvious repetition.
Both excellent read-alouds. Yay!

A book that made me cry this year
The War that Saved My Life* by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley 
Ada has a twisted foot and is trapped inside day in and day out. She and her brother join the students evacuated to the countryside in WWII and are put into the care of a woman who isn’t expecting them. I couldn’t put it down. 

A book that made me laugh this year
Duck! by Meg McKinlay and Nathanial Eckstrom 
This is a picture book that’s funny to read out loud and the pictures are funny and the twist at the end is funny and it’s just a wonderfully silly book for those times when you need a good laugh.

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone* by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby

A book that surprised me this year
Room on Our Rock* by Kate and Jol Temple, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
A picture book that can be read from front to back. And then read from back to front — and this flips the message from negative to positive. With the treatment of refugees and people we’re being told to call ‘other’ in Australia at the moment, this is an interesting book to share with young readers through to older readers.

A book I’ve bought as a gift in the last six months
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith

Most beautiful book I’ve read this year — which sounds fickle, but … hey, I do judge books by their covers. If you’re a book with a beautiful cover, you won’t stay on that TBR pile very long.
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone* by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby

The extremely inconvenient adventures of Bronte Mettlestone. Cover is dark blue, with gargoyles and girl and a boy and the title is in gold foil.

This image doesn’t do it justice. The cover is so shiny. The words are in gold foil. It’s a beautiful book.

Most anticipated new release in the second half of 2018
Fiction: The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Walls by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby (out November 2018)
Picture book: Maya and Cat by Caroline Magerl (out August 2018)
Nonfiction: Zeroes & Ones by Cristy Burne (out August 2018)

Three books waiting on my TBR (yes, I do have loads more than three on my TBR, but I’d get RSI typing it up)
The List by Patricia Forde
My Life as an Alphabetby Barry Jonsberg
Wormwood Mire* (Stella Montgomery Book 2) by Judith Rossell 

Know any good books I should put on my TBR before the end of 2018?

A new studio and other exciting happenings

Lots of excellent happenings have been … happening … around here. A few months back  I said yes to a shared studio space at Paper Bird Books and Arts in Fremantle. There are three of us being creative in the studio space. It’s light and bright, and since I started writing here (about twice a week) I’ve finished three picture books and I’ve written a good number of poems, too.

Don’t you love this mat?

Paper Bird studio

Speaking of poems (and not so much about mats), The School Magazine has bought two more of my poems this year. And I’ve posted new poems to the Poetry Tag site. Here they are, and if you haven’t already, you should definitely zip straight over and see them in all their glory:




For my birthday, my very clever musical daughter composed a choral work based on ‘Sea Secrets’, which I might post to the blog once I figure out how. *ahem*.

And I’m now on instagram. Over there I’m @rebeccanewmanbooks. I post some poetry stuff, some booky stuff, some garden-y stuff, and some day-to-day-just-sort-of-noodling-about stuff.

In other (kitchen garden) news: this season we’ve planted a new passionfruit vine to replace the old one that’s not really thriving, cucumbers (which are thriving and already have flowers on them, go little cucumber plants!), watermelon, sunflowers, and lettuce. Everyone is thrilled to know that the succulents I planted earlier this year seem to be doing OK. But I imagine even I would have trouble killing those …

Thrives on neglect

New Years’ Resolutions — I have some.

Submit manuscripts to publishers.

I need to send more of my work out on submission. Shortly after coming to this conclusion: I submitted a short story to an anthology on 5th January. Pat on the back for me.

Turn my garden into a low-maintenance garden that has actual living plants in it.


Ready to plant …

I bought pots of succulents. Lots of them. I don’t love succulents — I prefer leafier sorts of plants that rustle when the wind blows (the same sorts of plants, it turns out,  that can be burnt to death by summer sun and desiccated by scorching salty winds). But, emboldened by my new resolve to stock my garden with appropriate flora, I bought a stack of succulents — in particular the ones with labels that said:





They are now planted in between my roses (because I can’t give up my roses). I’m still growing some edible plants, too. This year we have cherry tomatoes (with tomatoes on), cucumber vines (with no sign of a cucumber), passionfruit vines (with two passionfruit, hang in there!) and basil, thyme, rosemary and mint.

Draw something little every day.

I’ve always wanted to be able to draw. And so I’ll try to draw something little every day, even if it’s complete rubbish. Because I quite like drawing. Even if it’s complete rubbish.

In other news, I was very excited to find real mail in my postbox this week.

Rebecca with poem

It’s my latest poem ‘Body Beat’ in the February 2017 issue of The School Magazine (Countdown). The wonderful illustration is by Cheryl Orsini.

And I’ve had a couple more poems up at Poetry Tag (which were not written in 2017 but I thought I’d catch you up). Here they are:

2017 is looking good.

~ Rebecca








Happy World Poetry Day!

World Poetry Day

The School Magazine celebrating 100 Years.

Some of you more savvy readers will already know that this year The School Magazine is celebrating 100 years in print. To add to the excitement, today is World Poetry Day, and Jackie Hosking has talked a bunch(?)* of poets who’ve been published in The School Magazine into a poetry blog tour to mark the day. (Yay!)

My very first poem in The School Magazine was called ‘Odd Socks’, published in June 2014 — and that was the first time I’d been paid for a poem, too. The opening line of the poem came to me while I was at work one morning but I can’t remember if I had odd socks on that day. I do have a history of wearing non-matching socks. You would think that people wouldn’t notice socks … especially since I mostly get around in jeans. In fact, it’s surprising the number of Helpful Souls who will point out to you when your socks don’t match. Those same people are unfailingly astonished to discover it wasn’t a mistake, and that I left the house wearing clashing socks on purpose. Since June 2014, I can tell any Helpful Souls that my wearing odd socks worked out to be quite profitable, really.

The icing on the cake was that Kerry Millard illustrated my poem. As you can imagine, June 2014 was a truly wonderful month for me. (I am strongly in favour of The School Magazine continuing in print for another 100 years!)

You can read ‘Odd Socks’ on the POEMS tab of my website.

So — Happy World Poetry Day to you!

* Internet wisdom suggests ‘an iamb of poets’ but that doesn’t really trip off the tongue, does it? Oh, the irony. In my online wanderings I stumbled across someone’s vote for  ‘a jubilee of poets’ and maybe I should go with that …

Autumn and baking and more poems

Since we returned from the summer holidays, I have taught myself how to make fromage blanc (with the help of the internet, and a kit), and one of my lovely sisters-in-law taught me how to make sourdough bread.

Here’s my first attempt at fromage blanc:

Fromage blanc, made by me. Weird, huh?

Fromage blanc. Weird, huh?

And here’s my latest batch of sourdough:

Sourdough bread, made by me.

As you can see, my sister-in-law is a very good teacher.

I’ve also been busy poem-making, and you can see two of my recent poems over at Poetry Tag:

  1. Beneath the Backyard Lemon Tree and
  2. Cottesloe Beach Skipping Rhyme (with bonus instructions for skipping in a group). BYO skipping rope. And a large bottle of water if you’re in Perth and suffering through this heatwave.

Speaking of heatwaves, looking out of my window I can see my sad garden. Other than my brave rosebushes, there’s not much in it because we were away over the summer break. So, here’s a photo of some of my roses because I didn’t get around taking a shot of the cos lettuces … or the weeds.

Roses from my garden.

Roses from my garden. They smell like turkish delight.

~ Rebecca

A monkey skipping rhyme

Over the school holidays we visited friends in Europe. The landscape was so different, and I took lots and lots of photos (it turns out I have a thing for bare tree branches arching over streetlights in the gloom. Especially if it also involves water nearby and/or cobblestones).

More on that later.

Today I have a skipping rhyme for you in celebration of Year of the Monkey. (Happy Chinese New Year!)

You can share it with anyone and print it off — as long as you leave my name attached to it … and do find a rope and skip to it. Well, OK — maybe not today because it’s eleventy-hundred degrees in Perth and we are all wilting. (If you are in another Australian state, feel free to skip to it.)

I really loved skipping rhymes as a child, and I loved the skipping part too, especially in a big crowd with two people turning the rope.


Over in the jungle
it’s the monkeys’ time for lunch.
They like to eat bananas,
they eat them by the bunch.

Father likes the yellow ones,
Mother likes the brown,
and Baby likes the green ones
munching upside down!

Stay cool. Skip on!

~ Rebecca

Spring fever

Happy spring! You can tell it’s spring because this is flowering in my garden.

Hardenbergia flowering.

Term 3 is always the busiest term of the year at our house. The calendar pages stuck to our fridge (actually just A4 sheets I’ve printed out) get so full of writing that they can’t take the weight of all that activity and they drop onto the floor … and slide underneath the fridge. Calendar pages that hide underneath the fridge really don’t help much with the Term 3 Busy-ness.

(Also, on a side note: our fridge door is silver-coloured but is not magnetic. Who makes non-magnetic fridge doors, I ask you? Where am I supposed to stick up my magnetic words for fridge-door poetry-writing? And artwork by our artists-in-residence? What am I supposed to do with all the fridge magnets that inevitably accumulate in a house?!)

In poem-y news, I have new poems up at Poetry Tag: the first one is called ‘The Birth of an Idea’ (Sally gave me the words birth, and together) and the most recent poem is ‘For Sally (on her birthday)’ (my words were take, feline, and cloud). Now I’ve tagged Sally, and it’s her turn to write …

As Term 3 draws to a close  (we still have a week to go here in WA) I am back to writing as much as I can. This week I’ve been writing first drafts of poems, and working on the final drafts of my folktale-style picture book.

Garden update: No carrots, and the green stuff wasn’t a success. There are nasturtiums flowering though, as well as ranunculi, and one poppy plant. You might find that single poppy plant amusing if you follow me on Twitter:

Tweet about sowing lots and lots of poppy seeds

Oh, April Rebecca. So optimistic.

Wait! I did get some passionfruit off the vine. Three in fact. Proof:

Passionfruit photo.

8 sleeps till the school holidays. I’ve got some more writing to do.