BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Once a Shepherd backstory… by Glenda Millard

In 2005 I was awarded a May Gibbs Fellowship and as a result was given a month’s use of a studio in Adelaide, South Australia. My main objective was to begin work on a new book. Along with that, I agreed to regularly spend time with the grade 5 girls at Seymour College in Adelaide.

Mary Clark was the teacher librarian at Seymour at the time and we communicated for several months before I arrived in Adelaide as to how to best use my time with the students.

What I hoped to do was show the girls in a very practical, hands-on sort of way, how to source a single idea and transform it into a story. It would be a challenge, not only for the students but for me, as I too promised to take part in the exercise.

glenda41I suggested an off campus excursion to a number of different locations around the city of Adelaide, including the Adelaide fresh foods market, a Japanese garden and a St Vincent de Paul charity shop. Mary readily agreed and arranged buses, permission notes from parents and numerous other things required to make the outing possible.

The students were given questionnaires for each location to prompt them to use their observation skills and to encourage them to ask questions. Our aim was to find something that would stimulate our curiosity and then, using a questioning technique I provided and our imaginations, to discover more about it. I hoped that ultimately the chosen article, place or person and the questions we would ask ourselves about them would lead to the framework of a story.

The object I chose was an old military coat at St Vincent de Paul’s. The girls and I, and Mary, all completed our stories over the four weeks I was at Seymour. My story, or course, turned out to be Once a Shepherd.

In the first few drafts, my focus was on where the coat might have come from in a real sense. For example, wool production and the process it goes through to make a garment, from shearing, carding, dying, weaving and then sewing the woven cloth into a garment.once-a-shepherd

However it soon developed into a much more personal story: the love story of Tom and Cherry, the coming of war, the hand-stitched coat, Cherry’s labour of love for her husband, the birth of their baby, the effect of Tom’s bravery and humanity on an unknown, enemy soldier.

I have a great fondness for handmade things. My mother used to make soft toys for my sister and me when we were little girls. I made them for my daughter when she was small and will make others for my first grandchild when it arrives next March. My daughter makes me an apron every year for my birthday. To create a gift for someone, to spend time on it, is significant to both the giver and the receiver, whether it be a garment, a toy, a cake or something else. With each stitch, Cherry put love into the coat she made for Tom and did so again with the toy lamb she made for their child.

I have used a circular technique in the book – beginning and ending with a lamb. There are many symbolic references to the lamb in history and in mythology including purity, innocence and new life. This could also be said of the child in Once a Shepherd.


Glenda Millard’s Once a Shepherd is a featured title in Walker Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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once-a-shepherdOnce a Shepherd

by Glenda Millard

A story of love and war.

Once there was a shepherd, a very special coat – and hope.

A moving tale that will help grandparents connect personal experiences of war with young children.

About the Author

Glenda Millard was born in the Goldfields region of Central Victoria and has lived in the area all her life. It wasn’t until Glenda’s four children became teenagers that she began to write in her spare time. She has been writing full-time since 1999 and has published several books for children. Her first book with Walker Books Australia, Isabella’s Garden, has been awarded Honour Book in the Picture Book of the Year category in the 2010 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, and has won a Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Award, Best Book for Language Development, Lower Primary Category (5-8 years), 2010; and short-listed the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards Children’s Book – Mary Ryan Award, 2010.

Glenda Millard’s Once a Shepherd is a featured title in Walker Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Final Round of Voting

There is only one more week of voting left to decide who is Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

This is the longlist as voted by you, congratulations to all the novelists for making it onto this extraordinary list.

But the job isn’t finished. We need your final vote to decide the order of the top 50.

Vote for all your favourite authors, and spread the word, tell your friends and family to get voting! The poll closes 5pm Saturday.

Next week we’ll announce the Top 50 as voted by you and decide who, in 2014, is Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

 

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 4

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Heat 4 is full of some huge names and exciting newcomers. Who will you vote for?

Thanks to everyone who has voted so far, the response has been incredible! And thanks to all the wonderful authors and publishers for spreading the word!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 3

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Today’s list is full of the most popular writers in Australia today, it’s a tough one!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 2

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Yesterday had some big surprises as Australia searched their hearts and bookcases, will today be the same?

A reminder that this is only Heat 2, so you might see some of your favourites missing today. Don’t worry, over the week you’ll have a chance to vote for all of your favourites in their respective heats.

Today’s list includes Nobel, Pulitzer, Orange and Miles Franklin Prize-Winners!

Vote now to see them advance to the final round of voting next week and have the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 1

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

We’ve taken your nominations and today is the day to put your votes forward. You can vote for as many novelists as you like.

A reminder that this is only Heat 1, so you might see some of your favourites missing today. Don’t worry, over the next 5 days you’ll have a chance to vote for all of your favourites in their respective heats.

Today we have brilliant bestsellers, acclaimed award-winners and exciting newbies! Vote now to see them advance to the final round of voting next week and have the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

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GUEST BLOG: Six Masterclass Picture Books by Nicki Greenberg, author of The Naughtiest Reindeer

I love picture books in so many different ways: as stories, as works of art, as frolics, as meditations, and of course for the joy and fascination that they spark in my own kids. But sometimes I encounter a book that especially inspires me as a practitioner.

These are picture books that perform their dances with such mastery that I want to stand up and applaud – and then sit down again to study and learn from their moves.

Here (in no particular order) are six of the best: my current favourite master class picture books.


Frog and Toad Together

by Arnold Lobel

A master class in simplicity

Frog and Toad are all about understatement: deadpan dialogue, sober brown-toned pictures and quietly delivered punch-lines, with Frog playing the gracious straight man to his shambolic friend Toad.

The stories’ wit, poignancy and wonderful dialogue are especially impressive because the books are written as “easy readers” for children just beginning to read by themselves.

Most “readers” make you want to tear your own head off. But these are a master class in the weight and subtlety that simple language can carry off.

Click here for more details


Too Many Elephants in This House

by Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner

A master class in visual and verbal balance

Every line in this book – whether of the written or the drawn variety – is perfectly formed and performed. And better still, text and image “pass” the storytelling back and forth seamlessly. Eric and his Too Many Elephants rampage through the book, but their moves are always wonderfully choreographed in daring, assured compositions. Fabulous.

Click here for more details


Doctor De Soto

by William Steig

A master class in humanity

Doctor De Soto is a mouse and a dentist who generally refuses to treat animals dangerous to mice. But one day he and his wife make an exception for a very sore fox. The humanity of these characters – ordinary (animal) people who have great ideas, make mistakes, work together, are brave in everyday ways, and sometimes take a day off – is beautiful. Steig’s lovely drawing style embodies this humanity: a master class in the strength and character of a wobbly line.

Click here for more details


The Great Paper Caper

by Oliver Jeffers

A master class in design

My favourite piece of picture book design: gorgeous page layouts combining quirky creatures, rich application of paint, landscapes of vibrating colour, clever collage and lots of visual humour and physical comedy.

I want these pictures blown up floor-to-ceiling size so I can live inside them.

Click here for more details


The Arrival

by Shaun Tan

A master class in world creation

Shaun Tan is kind of superhuman. In The Arrival he creates not only a linked collection of fantastical and meaningful outer worlds, but also invites us into the fully realised inner worlds of their characters – all without a word. It’s emotionally powerful, paced like a great piece of music and spectacularly beautiful. How does he do it?

Click here for more details


Madeline

by Ludwig Bemelmans

A master class in freedom

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines / Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines… And those might be the only straight lines in the book! I love Madeline for the irrepressible spontaneity of Bemelmans’ writing and drawing style and of Madeline herself – a perfect conflating of form and content. This book reminds me of the importance of the happy accident: the magic that can happen when you let yourself doodle, daydream, riff on a catchy line, loosen up. A master class in letting go and letting rip.

Click here for more details


Nicki’s new book, The Naughtiest Reindeer is published by Allen & Unwin.

A gorgeous, funny Christmas picture book from an acclaimed CBCA award-winning creator.

Rudolf the reindeer was lying in bed with a runny red nose and an ache in his head. ‘I’m sorry,’ he groaned. ‘I just can’t pull a sled. You’ll have to ask my sister Ruby instead.’

It’s the night before Christmas and Rudolf is sneezing his little red nose off. So Santa needs another reindeer to help pull the sleigh. Rudolf’s sister Ruby is a little reindeer who always finds herself in BIG trouble. Will she find a way to bring her best behaviour? Or will she bring chaos to Christmas Day?

A cheeky and charming celebration of the Christmas spirit.

Grab a copy of Nicki’s The Naughtiest Reindeer here

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