Allison Tait https://allisontait.com writing, whimsy ... life Thu, 06 Dec 2018 03:51:37 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 Event: Kids’ Day Out 2019 https://allisontait.com/2018/12/event-kids-day-out-2019/ https://allisontait.com/2018/12/event-kids-day-out-2019/#respond Tue, 04 Dec 2018 23:24:50 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7260 Even as the year winds down, it’s time to look ahead to 2019! I’m pleased to announce that I’ll once again be taking part in the Kids’ Day Out at ...

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Kids Day Out Dapto January 2019 | allisontait.comEven as the year winds down, it’s time to look ahead to 2019!

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll once again be taking part in the Kids’ Day Out at Dapto Ribbonwood Centre and Library on 17th January, 2019. It’s a free event put on by the Illawarra-South Coast branch of the NSW Children’s Book Council Of Australia (my local chapter) and features a full program of fabulous local authors from 10am-2pm.

Here’s an overview of the authors involved, each presenting a fabulous workshop aimed at getting kids reading, writing and illustrating.

Program Kids Day Out Dapto January 2019 | allisontait.com

And here’s the full program, with something for all ages from 3-13 years.

Program Kids Day Out Dapto January 2019 | allisontait.com

As you can see, I’ll be presenting my ‘Find Your Writing Superpower’ workshop, and I’m really looking forward to helping a bunch of kids identify their writing strengths. There will also be copies of The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher series for sale, and I look forward to signing them for readers.

Hope to see you there. Tickets are free but space in some workshops is limited. Book tickets here to secure your spot in the sessions that interest you!

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Your Kid’s Next Read: recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, 14+ (2018 edition) https://allisontait.com/2018/11/your-kids-next-read-recommended-reading-lists-for-kids-10-12-14-2018-edition/ https://allisontait.com/2018/11/your-kids-next-read-recommended-reading-lists-for-kids-10-12-14-2018-edition/#comments Tue, 13 Nov 2018 03:53:30 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7203 In 2016, I started a Facebook group called Your Kid’s Next Read with everyone’s favourite teacher-librarian/blogger Megan Daley from Children’s Books Daily. Our idea was to bring together a community ...

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Your Kid's Next Read: Recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, 14+ (2018 edition) | allisontait.comIn 2016, I started a Facebook group called Your Kid’s Next Read with everyone’s favourite teacher-librarian/blogger Megan Daley from Children’s Books Daily.

Our idea was to bring together a community of parents, teachers, booksellers, librarians and other interested parties to recommend great children’s books to each other, ensuring that every kid – be they a reluctant reader or an advanced reader – would have a ‘perfect next book’ for their reading journey.

Not long after we started, we created a recommended reading list, which was an overview of books that were recommended over and over in the group. There are two parts to that list:

Your Kid’s Next Read: recommended reading lists for kids 3-9+

Your Kid’s Next Read: recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, YA for tweens

Both of these lists are terrific and the books and authors on these lists are STILL recommended over and over within our group.

BUT, time passes, new members join and amazing new books come out all the time.

Your Kid’s Next Read (2018)

Today, our YKNR community has 5000+ members and it’s a thriving, busy place (you should join us here). So, Megan and I, and our excellent moderator Allison Rushby, decided it was time for an update of our list. So we threw it open to our membership once again.

These are the books that YKNR members thought were missing from our reading lists, along with some stellar reads that the YKNR Admin Team wouldn’t want you to miss. Click the book title* to find out more about each book to help you decide if it’s right for your kid.

Between the new list and our earlier one, we just know you’ll find an amazing next read for your kid right here!

Books for kids 10+

Storm Boy by Colin Thiele

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

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

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

The Turnkey by Allison Rushby

The Mulberry Tree by Allison Rushby

Nevermoor (series) by Jessica Townsend

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (I highly recommend the audio book for this one – Heather, YKNR member)

The Penderwicks (series) by Jeanne Birdsall

His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda

City of Orphans (series) by Catherine Jinks

Tarin Of The Mammoths by Jo Sandhu

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

The Ateban Cipher (series) by A.L. Tait

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Ratcatcher’s Daughter by Pamela Rushby

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The YKNR Admin team would add:

Figgy In The World (series) by Tamsin Janu

Woo’s Wonderful World Of Maths by Eddie Woo

The Shop at Hooper’s Bend by Emily Rodda

Missing by Sue Whiting

Kensy and Max by Jacqueline Harvey

Lenny’s Book Of Everything by Karen Foxlee

The Boy and The Spy by Felice Arena

The War I Finally Won by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Glaser

The Endsister by Penni Russon

Lockwood & Co (series) by Jonathon Stroud

A Ghost in my Suitcase (series) by Gabrielle Wang

Greenglass House (series) by Kate Milford

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Snow Pony by Alison Lester

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr

Swallow’s Dance by Wendy Orr

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim

Whimsy and Woe by Rebecca McRitchie

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

Natural Born Loser by Oliver Phommavanh

Books for kids 12+

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird series) by Claudia Gray

Frogkisser by Garth Nix

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song Of The Lioness series) by Tamora Pierce

The YKNR Admin team would add:

The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Arkanae (The Medoran Chronicles series) by Lynette Noni

The Fall by Tristan Bancks

Liars (series) by Jack Heath

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

Indigo Blue by Jessica Watson

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Riders Of Thunder Realm (Paladero series) by Steven Lochran

Ice Wolves (Elementals series) by Amie Kaufman

Books for kids 14+

Divergent (series) by Veronica Roth

Carve The Mark (series) by Veronica Roth

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Across the Nightingale Floor (series) by Lian Hearn

Chaos Walking (series) by Patrick Ness

Road to Winter (Wilder series) by Mark Smith

The YKNR Admin Team would add:

I Am Out With Lanterns by Emily Gale

White Night by Ellie Marney

Living On Hope Street by Demet Divaroren

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology (Edited by Danielle Binks)

After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson

Words In Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Brontide by Sue McPherson

Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia (edited by Anita Heiss)

The Things That Will Not Stand by Michael Gerard Bauer

Warcross (series) by Marie Lu

Bro by Helen Chebatte

Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon

The Bogan Mondrian by Steven Herrick

Just Breathe by Andrew Daddo

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Don’t forget to check the original recommended reads list here as well. 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic adventure series for kids 9+ – The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher (click the titles to find out more about my books).

 

*NB: This site uses affiliate links. You’ll find more information here. Most of the books on the lists are also available at your local independent bookshop, on Amazon, or at your preferred online bookseller.

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Come and say hello at Wollongong Writers’ Festival https://allisontait.com/2018/11/come-and-say-hello-at-wollongong-writers-festival/ Fri, 02 Nov 2018 01:35:34 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7183 I’m gearing up for my last official public appearance of the year and I hope you’ll come along to cheer me on! I’m part of the children’s program for Wollongong ...

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A. L. Tait at Wollongong Writers' Festival2018I’m gearing up for my last official public appearance of the year and I hope you’ll come along to cheer me on!

I’m part of the children’s program for Wollongong Writers’ Festival, which is being held as part of Viva La Gong on 10 November, 2018, at McCabe Park in Wollongong.

It’s going to be a really fun day out, and the children’s program includes:

•the fabulous Sue Whiting, whose latest picture book In The Deep Dark Forest is proving a hit with young readers
Dale Newman, illustrator of KidGlovz, one of Book Boy’s fave graphic novels a few years back, and
Gabrielle ‘Journey’ Jones, whose spoken word poetry is a joy to behold.

My one-hour slot starts at 1.40pm, and I’ll be talking to kids about inspiration, ideas, and tips for writing great stories, as well as reading from The Book Of Secrets (Ateban Cipher #1).

I’ll have copies The Mapmaker Chronicles and Ateban Cipher series for sale, so come along and pick up signed copies for Christmas!

More information here.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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5 picture book picks for Christmas gifts https://allisontait.com/2018/10/5-picture-book-picks-for-christmas-gifts/ Tue, 30 Oct 2018 01:55:45 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7157 One of the best things about being an author with a blog is that you can call in the experts when you need to do so. Take Christmas for instance. ...

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5 PICTURE BOOK PICKS FOR CHRISTMAS | allisontait.comOne of the best things about being an author with a blog is that you can call in the experts when you need to do so. Take Christmas for instance. I have a gorgeous, smiley little 18-month-old niece and, because I am The Aunty Of The Book, I’m looking for just the right picture book for her.

But how do I choose between one lavishly illustrated picture book and another?

Well, I call in Sue Whiting, of course.

Sue Whiting is an award-winning children’s and YA author and editor. Years before I ever met Sue, I knew her work very, very well – her picture book The Firefighters (Illustrated by Donna Rawlins) was in high rotation at our house, a BIG favourite of my youngest son who went through a ‘fireman’ stage that seemed to last about 18 years. In fact, I could probably recite The Firefighters to this day.

And I am quite, quite sure that Sue’s latest book – Beware The Deep Dark Forest (illustrated by Annie White) – will be a firm favourite in many Australian households (and duly memorised by many Australian parents after countless reads…).

But I digress.

I asked Sue to come up with a list of her top picture book picks for Christmas 2018 and, being an obliging soul, she did.

Take it away Sue Whiting.

FIVE PICTURE BOOK PICKS FOR CHRISTMAS 2018

Since my children were tiny babes, I always popped a special book into their Christmas parcel each year. It, happily, became a Family Christmas Tradition of the Best Kind – so much so that said children, who are no longer children, are quite indignant if there isn’t a book in their parcels even now.

So with Christmas galloping towards us, I took on the challenge of creating a list of five fab picture books for presents this Christmas. This is not an easy task though! Without a doubt, there are many hundreds of wonderful picture books out in the marketplace, so in order to whittle my list down to five only, I set myself some rigorous guidelines.

  1. It had to be a new release – October/November, 2018, so it would be readily available in bookstores and online.
  2. It had to be by Australian creators.
  3. And to give a shout out to the girls, it had to be written and illustrated by Aussie female creators. Here’s to Aussie Girl Power!

So without further ado, here are my picks (in no particular order).

5 picture book picks for Christmas: There's a Baddie Running Through This Book by Shelly Unwin and Vivienne To | Allison TaitThere’s a Baddie Running Through this Book by Shelly Unwin and Vivienne To

This interactive book is so much fun! With simple rhyming text and lively illustrations, the book has a pantomime feel, which encourages reader participation as they follow the exploits of very wicked thief!

Ages 3-6 Allen and Unwin 9781760630614

5 picture book picks for Christmas 2018: When You're Going To The Moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To | allisontait.comWhen You’re Going to the Moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To

This heartfelt story about chasing one’s dreams, taps into that wonderful childhood belief that anything’s possible. With gorgeous illustrations from Vivienne To, the story follows one young girl as she prepares for her trip to the moon. Dreamy!

Ages 3-6 Affirm Press 9781925584936

5 picture book picks for Christmas: Under The Southern Cross by Frane Lessac | allisontait.comUnder the Southern Cross by Frané Lessac

Award-winning and best-selling, author/illustrator Frané Lessac takes us on an evocative tour of Australia under the cover of darkness in this beautiful picture book packed full of fun facts for the curious reader.

5+ Walker Books Australia 978192538101

5 picture book picks for Christmas: All The Ways To Be Smart by Davina Bell + Alison Colpoys | allisontait.comAll the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys

This book celebrates all the many ways one can be “smart”, from the practical, to the emotional, to the creative. A stunning combination of lively, pitch perfect rhyming text and vivid illustrations makes this book a delight to share.

2+ Scribe 9781925713435

5 picture book picks for Christmas: Beware The Deep Dark Forest by Sue Whiting + Annie WhiteBeware the Deep Dark Forest by Sue Whiting and Annie White

Well, what do you know, my own new release picture book fits the criteria! This a quest story that sees feisty Rosie set off into the deep dark forest to rescue her dog Tinky from the dangers within. With stunning illustrations from Annie White this fairytale-style adventure is for courageous young readers.

4 + Walker Books Australia 9781742032344

Here’s to Girl Power!

Happy Christmas shopping!

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! You can find out more about me here, and more about my two epic middle-grade adventure series – The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher – by clicking on the links to the titles.

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Industry Insider: How do you know when a story is ‘finished’? https://allisontait.com/2018/10/industry-insider-how-do-you-know-when-a-story-is-finished/ https://allisontait.com/2018/10/industry-insider-how-do-you-know-when-a-story-is-finished/#comments Mon, 22 Oct 2018 07:55:42 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7128 One of the most interesting aspects of any author workshop is the Q&A section at the end. You might remember this post, wherein I advised authors to be prepared for ...

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Industry Insider: How to know when your story is 'finished' | allisontait.comOne of the most interesting aspects of any author workshop is the Q&A section at the end. You might remember this post, wherein I advised authors to be prepared for ‘anything’ when it comes to this particular aspect of a talk. But I confess I was caught short during my recent visit to the Burdekin Readers’ & Writers’ Festival.

In my defence, it was the end of a very long, hot Friday, in a (mostly) year 9 workshop, when a year 11 student put up his hand and asked me this question:

How do you know when a story is finished?

I was focused on structure, so I blathered on about getting to The End, about three acts, about reading a lot of books so that you have an innate sense of story structure.

And then I thought about it all weekend. Because, of course, he wasn’t asking me about how to get to The End of a story, he was asking me how you know it’s time to Let Go of a story.

Which is a really, really good question.

Such a good question, in fact, that I decided to get some help to answer it. So I asked a few author mates for their perspective and they all gasped in horror – because the answer is at once simple and complicated.

But then they – in all their award-winning, bestselling glory – gave me their answers, which you’ll find below. They write across a whole range of genres, demographics, and styles. They write novels, novellas, short stories, and essays. Some have 30+ books to their names. In short, they know their way around a story.

Click their names to find out more about that award-winning, bestselling stuff on their websites, and the title of their latest book (in brackets) to find out more about it.

Ready?

11 top Australian authors share how they know a story is ‘finished’

“It’s never finished! I had to re-read The Paris Seamstress for the eleventy-billionth time to proofread it for the US market after it had been published here in Australia and I made changes to it yet again! So I prefer to think of a manuscript as “as good as I can make it at the time” rather than finished. Finished is obviously much shorter and punchier to say though!

So the moment when I submit a manuscript is when it really is as good as I can make it right then. I’ll always leave a manuscript to sit for at least a couple of weeks before I send it anywhere, have another look at it and then, if I’m just tinkering rather than really editing or redrafting, it’s reached the stage when it’s ready to go.

For interest’s sake, I did 13 drafts of my very first novel before it was accepted for publication; I now do around 5 or 6 drafts. I know they’re not perfect – that even the published book isn’t perfect – but it’s my best work at that moment.

Which is a good test – can you say, hand on heart, that you’ve done everything possible and given it your all and made it your best possible work? If so, then it’s ‘finished” – for now!”

Jack Heath (Liars #1: The Truth App)

“You know you’ve finished the plot when the reader can guess the rest. You know you’ve finished the first draft when you can’t think of any other things to change, and you can’t stand the thought of looking at it again. But you’ll have to read it at least four more times to implemented everyone else’s suggestions – that’s when the book is finished.

Melina Marchetta (Tell The Truth, Shame The Devil)

“I find that if I can read a hard copy without scribbling notes on the page, then that’s it.”

Anna Spargo-Ryan (The Gulf)

  1. When you write something, you know what’s supposed to be in it, all the background information and research. You have all this context that a new reader won’t have. In that sense, I think it’s very difficult to know when your own work is finished. Writing a book is a team effort. I rely on other people – not to tell me whether or not the story is finished, but to help me see why it isn’t.
  2. I also think you get to know your weaknesses as a finisher. I write rushed, terrible endings. I know that the first time I write an ending, it’s not finished, and probably still isn’t finished until I’ve rewritten it four or five times. I always think it’s finished, but I’ve come to know better.
  3. “Finished” always comes sooner than I expected. I’ll be writing and writing and then, suddenly, it will be done. That happens to me at first draft stage, and at final proofreading stage. It’s like a magic trick (the only magic trick that exists in writing).
  4. Lastly, most writers – and other artists – will tell you that nothing is ever truly finished. There’s a point at which you just have to abandon it. I sometimes read over my published writing and think, oh yeah, I would change all of these things. But you could honestly keep on doing that forever, and I think often you wouldn’t even necessarily make it a better work on the whole. Would this sentence be better written a different way? Maybe. Will it make the whole book so much better? Probably not. I read once that the painter John Olsen (I think) would take a brush to exhibitions and touch up his work while it was hanging on the gallery walls. There’s a point at which you have to recognise you’ve done as much as a project needs and that’s not the same as doing everything you wanted to do, but it doesn’t make it any less finished. Let it go.

Pamela Freeman/Pamela Hart (The Desert Nurse)

“I know it’s finished when the characters/plots etc don’t bug me when I’m waiting in line, or at the traffic lights – if my mind is disengaged and the book doesn’t appear in it, it’s probably done.”

Krissy Kneen (Wintering)

“I know I am about to be finished when a new book starts to knock on my brain. I get the urge to move on because the new book feels so much more interesting. I start to read and collect material that relate to the next book. This is how I know I am about to finish a project. Pretty soon after this I can put the final sentence in, read over the book and just feel the urge to submit it. Moving on is a sure sign it is done.”

Alan Baxter (Devouring Dark (coming 6 November, 2018)

“I know it’s finished when I’ve had it read by a couple of people I trust and addressed their concerns, and it subsequently doesn’t keep knocking on my brain for more. I never trust that feeling unless others have read it, too.”

Cat Sparks (Lotus Blue)

“When it comes to judging my own work on this score, I am almost always wrong when I initially decide a story is done. Everything I write needs to be composted for at least three months, enough time for glaring errors of style and judgement to become visible to my own eyes. Sometimes longer.”

Ian Irvine (The Fatal Gate (The Gates Of Good And Evil #2)

“I don’t show my work to anyone for an opinion, I judge it myself. And I like to meet my deadlines, so I normally submit on the day or a few days later. Occasionally, well in advance, I might ask for an extra month, in which case I treat that as a firm deadline.”

Dmetri Kakmi (Mother Land, plus essays, short stories and novellas)

“For me a piece is never really finished. You can always do better. But I do recognise when I’ve done the best I can for the time being. I stop and send it to my trusted editor, who then pushes me beyond whatever barriers I might have. Ultimately though I know when a story is ready to go into the world, flawed or not. It’s a gut feeling.”

Jacqueline Harvey (Disappearing Act (Kensy and Max #2)

“I know it’s finished when I feel like I’ve brought together the loose ends and untangled the mysteries – the last line really needs to give me a feeling of ‘ahh, it’s done’ (either that or I’m crying tears of joy for my characters).”

I hope you found this helpful! Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! You can find out more about me here, and more about my two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, here

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10 spooky (or scary) middle-grade books for Halloween https://allisontait.com/2018/10/10-spooky-or-scary-middle-grade-books-for-halloween/ Thu, 18 Oct 2018 03:28:43 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7119 Whether you love it or loathe it, Halloween is more and more of a thing in Australia. With that in mind, fabulous Australian writer (and lover of all things spooky) ...

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10 spook/scary middle-grade books for Halloween! | allisontait.comWhether you love it or loathe it, Halloween is more and more of a thing in Australia.

With that in mind, fabulous Australian writer (and lover of all things spooky) Allison Rushby, author of two fabulous ‘spooky, not scary’ books for middle-grade readers, had come up with a list of books to suit. 

Boo! How do you take your scares? Ten scary/spooky Middle Grade reads for Halloween.

How scary is scary? Well, it’s hard to say. Some readers are more than happy to romp through a literary graveyard before bedtime and go straight to sleep, while others will need to keep the lights on for weeks after reading about things that go bump in the night.

I’ve now released two books with supernatural elements – The Turnkey and The Mulberry Tree. With ghosts and graveyards galore and evil trees that steal away little girls on the eve of their eleventh birthday, both books certainly have their fair share of creep.

Surprisingly, however, the top comment I receive from teacher librarians is that they love that my books are “spooky, not scary” and that they’re happy to hand them over to Middle Grade readers looking for a safe bedtime thrill.

While it’s good to know I’m not sending small children to bed scared witless, there are also those other readers. The ones who love nothing more than to scare themselves wide-eyed silly. The more ghoulish and gruesome the tale, the better these readers will like it.

So, with Halloween on the horizon, I thought it might be a great time to offer both sorts of readers five book suggestions each.

Five sweet and spooky reads

  1. The Endsister by Penni Russon
    A ghostly tale of an old house with resident ghosts, but one wrapped up in a warm and loving family that kids will feel safe in.
  2. A Ghost in my Suitcase by Gabrielle Wang
    Celeste takes a trip to China to visit her grandmother, Por Por, and finds out she comes from a family of ghosthunters. Lots of exciting action distracts from the scary (but not too scary!) ghosts.
  3. Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
    Serafina is a girl with a secret that not even she knows. With a super-interesting mansion to investigate and new friends to make, this is a story that has just the right amount of thrills.
  4. Magrit by Lee Battersby
    Living in an abandoned cemetery, lonely Magrit has only Master Puppet (fashioned from rubbish) for a friend. Magrit is definitely creepy, but also full of light, heart and hope.
  5. Ghosts Of Greenglass House by Kate Milford
    A chilly winter mystery set in a haunted smuggler’s inn.

Five nail-bitingly scary reads

  1. The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
    Steve has problems. His house has a wasp nest and his newborn brother is sick and his parents are worried. Then the wasp queen invades his dreams and offers him a deal … This is an intense and terrifying read that is only for the bravest of readers of any age!
  2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    Three words: buttons for eyes.
  3. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Lockwood & Co #1)
    Great Britain is in the grips of something they call “the Problem” (a ghost epidemic). Lucy joins a ghost hunting agency and we’re off on a whole series of ghostly adventures.
  4. The Night Gardener by Jonathon Auxier
    A dark and disturbing tale of good and evil, expect to wake and see the Night Gardener’s muddy footsteps on your floors!
  5. The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell
    Clara is trapped by her heart condition in a mansion complete with an aviary full of scary, squawking birds. When old secrets are revealed, Clara starts to realise the birds are trying to tell her something.

10 spooky/scary middle-grade books for HalloweenAllison Rushby is the author of more than 20 books, including four YA novels and eight Middle Grade novels. Her latest novel, The Mulberry Tree, falls firmly into the spooky, not scary, category. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! You can find out more about me here, and more about my two epic, middle-grade adventure series by clicking on these links: The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher

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15 more tried-and-tested books for 13/14 year old boys (+ 13 expert choices) https://allisontait.com/2018/09/15-more-tried-and-tested-books-for-13-14-year-old-boys-13-recommended-by-an-expert/ Thu, 27 Sep 2018 05:26:32 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7066 If I had to highlight the one post that THE MOST people search for on this blog, it would be this one: 21 tried-and-tested books for 13/14 year old boys ...

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25+ tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old boys | allisontait.comIf I had to highlight the one post that THE MOST people search for on this blog, it would be this one:

21 tried-and-tested books for 13/14 year old boys

The post was based on books read by my own 14 year old, Book Boy, and many of the books on that list are accompanied by his reviews.

The sheer volume of traffic that post receives suggests to me that there are a LOT of people out there desperately searching for books to engage their teen readers.

Being a helpful kind of author, and given that the post is around a year old now, I thought I’d update it. I know that Book Boy is not a typical reader, so I thought it might be interesting to expand our horizons to include the reading stylings of other 13/14-year-old boys around the nation.

So I sent out the call, asking them to nominate the BEST book they’ve read this year – and why – and (inexplicably) some of them answered. (Click* the name of each book for more information about it.)

THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ THIS YEAR

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

“It’s a complex book but still relatable. The characters are people you would like to know. It’s not predictable like a lot of other books.” Max, 14, NSW

The Maze Runner series by James Dashner

“They are a good read, full of action, different to other things I’ve read, good plot twists!” Ben, 14, NSW

The Paladero series by Steven Lochran

Paladero has everything you can imagine, and lots of things you could never think of. I actually love it even more than Harry Potter.” Sam, 13, Vic

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Warcross by Marie Lu

Obsidio (Illuminae #3) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

In The Dark Spaces by Cally Black

“I know you said one, but I really liked all of these books, mostly because of the ideas the writers came up with and how the world all fits together. Obsidio and Dark Spaces really made you feel like you were in the characters’ world. Warcross was just plain awesome – it was an awesome concept.” Will, 13, Vic

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

“It was an extraordinary and unique premise, nothing like I’ve ever read before. Although it’s about dying, it was more about friendship and how it can transform. The writing was beautiful and the plot kept me guessing right until the end.” Hamish, 13, WA

The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

“It’s about magic in a modern era which I find interesting. The main character Jack is a likeable person. I also like the author’s other books.” Ben, 13, NSW

Light (Gone series #6) by Michael Grant

“I love the whole Gone series – the storyline, the setting and the dialogue are all excellent. Light is no different. It’s the sort of story that drives you to read on no matter what else is going on and stays with you long after you’ve turned the final page.’ Barnaby, 13, NSW

Tales from a Tall Forest by Shaun Micallef

“I found this book hard to put down! This book weaves together your favourite fairy tales with new twists. Shaun Micallef changes the way that you think about fairy tales making them funnier, darker and a new experience for the older reader.” Josh, 14, NSW

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“I found it hard to narrow it down, but this is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year (see my review here). I’m really looking forward to her new book, On The Come Up, which is due out here early next year.” Book Boy, 14, NSW

Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber

“The favourite book that I have read this year is Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber. I like it so much because it’s an entertaining and suspenseful story that combines my 2 favourite things: Star Wars and Zombies.” Karl, 14, Qld

The Trial by Franz Kafka

“It’s really well written and a good story. But I also like the backstory – it was the last book the author wrote, and when he finished it, he threw the papers on the floor and then killed himself. The pages were all over the place, but the friend he left it to had to try to rearrange it in the right order – and sometimes when you read it you wonder if he got it right.” JD, 14, NSW

One Way by S. J. Morden

“In One Way a company is contracted to build a mars base for NASA, so to get cheap expendable astronauts so they get 8 convicts to build the base. As the building process is happening certain crew members start to die off. Frank Kitteridge has to find the killer before it’s too late. I liked this book because it delved into a new and unknown world presenting the crew with multiple hurdles and because it had me on the edge of my seat waiting for Frank to uncover the killer.” Saxon, 14, NSW

I think the varied responses here highlight just one thing – there’s no ONE 13/14-year-old boy reader, so it’s about the right book for the right kid at the right time. And so I decided I’d add in a new dimension to the list this time, and called in an expert.

THE EXPERT’S CHOICES

Trish Buckley is a teacher-librarian who blogs at Trish Talks Text, and who brings a critical perspective to YA literature. As she told Books + Publishing in 2017:  ‘I have been reading YA novels since I was a teenager, so that’s 30-odd years of context, historical reflection and knowledge … I treat them seriously. I understand that it takes all sorts of books to appeal to teenagers, so I try not to be too judgemental or cynical.’

I asked Trish to recommend some NEW books she’s read this year that she thinks will be just right for 13/14-year-old boys. She came through with two lists:

CONTEMPORARY TEEN READS

Changing Gear by Scot Gardner

A boy on a road trip on a postie bike trying to come to grips with his beloved grandfather’s sudden death. It’s full of philosophical musings, quirky interactions with strangers, and a positive representation of a male teen protagonist

The Things That Will Not Stand by Michael Gerard Bauer 

Covers one day at an open uni event when MC Sebastian meets enigmatic Frida, and the secrets they try to keep as they slowly develop a friendship. Witty and understated.

The Bogan Mondrian by Steven Herrick (spoiler alert – awful death of a lovely dog)

Luke hates school so spends most of his time recording memories on his prized possession, his camera. He is taken by the new girl at school, and bears witness to her ugly family situation. Very authentic and hopeful.

White Night by Ellie Marney

Bo’s family lives in a country town, and his world is shaken when he meets Rory, who resides in an off-the-grid community. Builds to a tense suspenseful final show down. Offers a thoughtful exploration of the meaning of ‘community’ and a realistic portrayal of teenagers.

A Song Only I can Hear Barry Jonsberg

A funny and poignant story about Rob who is just trying to find who he really is. A clever and triumphant novel.

Just Breathe by Andrew Daddo

Hendrix is an elite sprinter, controlled by his strong-willed father. While he meets and falls for Emily, he starts to question his priorities and his father’s expectations.

SPEC FICTION (FANTASY, SCI-FI, POST-APOCALYPTIC)

Ice-Wolves by Amie Kaufman 

Exciting, first in a new series, solid world building, brave but flawed main character.

Light Years by Kass Morgan

Diverse and inclusive, multiple narrators, exciting sci fi adventure.

Impostors by Scott Westerfeld

Set in the Uglies universe, new characters, suspenseful and twisty.

Jinxed by Amy McCullock

Futuristic adventure, set in an elite school where personal ‘bots are your best friend, your communication device, and your entry into privilege and power.

After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson

Post-apocalyptic survivalist story, twisty and unpredictable, courageous main character battling the ethical dilemma involving the have’s and the have-not’s.

Hive by A J Betts

Unsettling dystopia, claustrophobic and tense. Main character asks all the right questions but no one’s giving her answers.

Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw

Scary and thrilling futuristic novel exploring a post-Brexit England determined to keep its borders shut, from anyone coming in or going out.

So there we have it! I hope you find something for your teen reader here.

Are you new here? You’ll find out more about me here and more about THE MAPMAKER CHRONICLES and THE ATEBAN CIPHER, my two epic adventure series for readers 10+, HERE.

Still need more books? Join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community for fantastic book recommendations for kids of all ages!

 

 

*This post contains affiliate links. See contact page for details.

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NEWS: Join me at the Sydney SCBWI Conference in 2019! https://allisontait.com/2018/09/news-join-me-at-the-sydney-scbwi-conference-in-2019/ Wed, 19 Sep 2018 05:25:30 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7049 I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at the 2019 SCBWI Sydney Conference, alongside my podcast partner-in-crime Valerie Khoo. The bi-annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ...

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Presenters at the 2019 SCBWI Sydney Conference | allisontait.comI’m very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at the 2019 SCBWI Sydney Conference, alongside my podcast partner-in-crime Valerie Khoo.

The bi-annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference is a fantastic opportunity to meet and network with local and international professionals, to hear from agents, editors and publishers, to have your artwork seen by the very best in the kids’ book world.

So Val and I are looking forward to being part of a stellar line-up of speakers!

This is the blurb on our presentation:

How to make yourself more marketable as a writer – and sell more books!

At the SCBWI Biannual Conference Feb 2019, the incredible speakers and writing gurus Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo will reveal the steps you can take to build your platform as a children’s author.

The team behind the successful podcast ‘So you want to be a writer’ have interviewed hundreds of authors. They dissect what separates the authors who make their mark – and those that don’t.

It’s a highlight for all authors and illustrators at all levels of their careers!

You’ll find the whole program here, and conference bookings have just opened here.

Hope to see you there!

Are you new here? You can find out more about me here and more about my two epic middle-grade adventure series here.

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Be prepared for anything: the inside story on author talks https://allisontait.com/2018/09/be-prepared-for-anything-the-inside-story-on-author-talks/ Wed, 12 Sep 2018 02:09:06 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=7004 The life of a children’s author is a funny one. On one hand, we sit alone in our offices, talking to no-one, revelling in isolated splendour. And then term three ...

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The inside story on author talksThe life of a children’s author is a funny one. On one hand, we sit alone in our offices, talking to no-one, revelling in isolated splendour. And then term three of the school year rolls around, and suddenly we emerge, blinking, into the light, and into the wonderful chaos that is author talks and Book Week (which now seems to extend for about three months).

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been talking. And talking. And talking. To thousands of kids. After a week of Book Week school sessions in Sydney, which looked (in part) like this…

allison tait speaker in schools | allisontait.com

 

 

 

 

 

I rolled into a week that included a school literary festival, which looked like this…

David Legge, Belinda Murrell, Louise Park and A. L. Tait | allisontait.com

With David Legge, Belinda Murrell and Louise Park.

A. L. Tait author talk Book Week 2018 | allisontait.com

Can you spot me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then straight into the amazing Word Play program at Brisbane Writers’ Festival, which looked like this…

A. L. Tait 'Find Your Writing Superpower' Brisbane Writers' Festival 2018 | allisontait.com

Full house for ‘Find Your Writing Superpower’ presentation.

Allison Rushby, Megan Daley, Allison Tait @ Brisbane Writers Festival 2018 | allisontait.com

With Allison Rushby and Megan Daley: The Your Kids’ Next Read Team at BWF

A. L. Tait Online Literature Festival Brisbane Writers' Festival | allisontait.com

My first webinar presentation as part of the Online Literature Festival at BWF

A. L. Tait Brisbane Writers' Festival | allisontait.com

The weirdness of seeing your face on a wall…

BWF Top 10 bestseller bookshelf | allisontait.com

The excitement of The Mapmaker Chronicles being in the Festival Top 10 (for a minute)…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the process of all this, I lost my voice, caught up with author friends, met new author friends, and remembered the reason

why we all do this in the first place – because kids are enthusiastic and creative and incredibly entertaining and it is an absolute honour to write a book that a 10 year old will tell you is ‘the best book ever’.

I also answered questions. Lots and lots of questions. And I am here to tell you that if I had to give an aspiring children’s author any advice about author talks and presenting to kids it would be this:

Be prepared for anything.

When you get to the Q&A section of your author talk or presentation, and you are looking out at a sea of waving hands, all desperate to find out… something… brace yourself.

Questions you are likely to be asked include, but are not limited to:

How much do you get paid? (Be ready with a short, succinct answer to this)

Where do you get your ideas?

How long does it take you to write a book?

Did you draw the picture on the cover of your book?

What’s your favourite book?

Who was your favourite author as a child?

When did you know you were going to be an author?

When did you write your first book? (I’ve always wished I could answer ‘when I was six’ like some of my author friends, but this is not me…)

But then there are the other questions…

Over the course of three weeks, I was asked everything from ‘what colour is your toothbrush?’ to ‘does your dog ever get tired of walking?’ and ‘do you have any time to spend with your own children?’. Pulling out a favourite question wasn’t easy, but in the end, I think this one wins:

Tips for author talks | allisontait.com

To show just how ready you need to be, I asked some of Australia’s favourite children’s authors to give me their favourite question from their Book Week presentations this year…

‘Do you sleep with your books under your pillow in case of burglars?’ – R.E. Devine, Jack McCool series

‘Can I have your jacket? / How was your weekend? / Can you dab? / Do you play Fortnite?’ – Mick Elliot, The Turners series 

‘Does your mother ever steal your story ideas?’ – Allison Rushby, The Mulberry Tree

‘How do you have blonde hair?’ – Jacqueline Harvey, Kensy and Max series

‘When you were at school did you use a pen or a quill?’ – Catherine Pelosi, Quark’s Academy

‘Can you take your beanie off?’ – Matt Stanton, Funny Kid series

‘What do you want more than anything else?  – Zanni Louise, Errol

And now I’m heading back into my quiet study for a few weeks, before my next appearance at Burdekin Readers’ and Writers’ Festival in October.

It’s time to get some writing done.

Are you new here? Welcome! You can find out all about me here, and all about my books here. If you’re interested in talking to me about presenting at your school or event, go here. And if you’re keen to write your own book, you’ll find a heap of posts about writing here, as well as information about my courses, and you can listen to my podcast here.

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Authors For Farmers: 100 brilliant Aussie books to be won! https://allisontait.com/2018/08/authors-for-farmers-100-brilliant-aussie-books-to-be-won/ https://allisontait.com/2018/08/authors-for-farmers-100-brilliant-aussie-books-to-be-won/#comments Mon, 27 Aug 2018 01:04:47 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6946 If you received my newsletter last week, you’ll know that Aussie authors have banded together to donate 100 books for a monster raffle to benefit drought-affected Australian farmers. The aim ...

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authors for farmers: win 100 books! | allisontait.comIf you received my newsletter last week, you’ll know that Aussie authors have banded together to donate 100 books for a monster raffle to benefit drought-affected Australian farmers. The aim is to raise $100,000.

Well, the list of books is finalised (you’ll find it here) and includes books from authors such as Liane Moriarty, Josephine Moon (organiser), Nick Earls, Monica McInerney, Sally Hepworth and more. I’m very happy to have a copy of The Book Of Secrets as part of this incredible TBR pile.

First prize is 75 books.

Second prize is 15 books plus $30 Dymocks voucher.

Third prize is 10 books.

A fantastic prize for any bookworm, with a huge array of different literary styles and genres on offer.

Tickets are just $5 each and you can buy them here until 2 October 2018.

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3 NEW simple Book Week ideas from Australian authors https://allisontait.com/2018/08/3-new-simple-book-week-ideas-from-australian-authors/ Mon, 13 Aug 2018 04:16:27 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6941 You might remember last year that I put together this post, where six Australian authors shared ideas, templates and printables for how to be their characters for the Book Week ...

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3 new Book Week ideas from Aussie authorsYou might remember last year that I put together this post, where six Australian authors shared ideas, templates and printables for how to be their characters for the Book Week parade.

You could be Tristan Banck’s Tom Weekly, Zanni Louise’s Archie (from Archie and the Bear), Jen Storer’s Truly Tan, Sandy Fussell’s Samurai Kid, Anna Pignataro’s Agatha, or, ahem, A.L. Tait’s Quinn from The Mapmaker Chronicles. You’ll find links to all the details here.

Well, as parents across the nation begin to post their annual Book Week Panic (this is an actual thing) posts on social media, I thought I’d bring you a couple of new ideas to help the cause.

Debra Tidball, award-winning author of The Scared Book, has some great ideas for how to be a monster (her book is full of monsters).

Matt Cosgrove has some terrific printables to help kids be Macca The Alpaca, or his best pal Al. There are even some maracas to colour and shake, a la Matt’s book Alpacas with Maracas.

And A.L. Tait is back again (surprise!) with ideas on how to be Gabe, Merry, Gwyn, Midge and Eddie from The Ateban Cipher series.

As for my own panic situation, Mr11 has decided to be Hal from John Flanagan’s Brotherband series, and, yes, we’ll be dragging out the faithful cloak for that one. It’s our last year as a family in primary school and the first year he has actively chosen to be something other than a soccer or rugby player for the occasion, so I’m very happy to dust if off for the occasion!

What are your kids doing for Book Week this year?

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How to be Gabe (+ more) from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week! https://allisontait.com/2018/08/how-to-be-gabe-more-from-the-ateban-cipher-for-book-week/ https://allisontait.com/2018/08/how-to-be-gabe-more-from-the-ateban-cipher-for-book-week/#comments Thu, 09 Aug 2018 05:30:54 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6924 It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, one of them. Regular readers of this blog will know that my thoughts on Book Week are divided along the lines ...

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Book Week Inspiration The Ateban CipherIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, one of them. Regular readers of this blog will know that my thoughts on Book Week are divided along the lines of author (yay!) and not-crafty parent (stress!).

If you missed my post last year in which I outlined these thoughts at length – as well as sharing various fabulous options for being characters from The Mapmaker Chronicles for Book Week – you’ll find them here.

This year, we’re just diving straight in with idea on how to be Gabe, Merry, Gwyn, Midge and Eddie from The Ateban Cipher series for the Book Week Parade! Given my ridiculous lack of crafting skills (you can read about that here), I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded in my neighbourhood by really clever and creative friends – and their kids, who are willing to dress up for my posts.

So I put out the call and one afternoon they all turned up and – well, have a look below at the results.

Characters from The Ateban Cipher For Book Week | Allison Tait

This is the whole gang (minus Scarlett, see why below), and you’ll find some instructions below for working up your own Ateban Cipher magic at home.

How to be Gabe from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week

How to be Gabe from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week | Allison Tait

Having lived his whole life in a monastery, Gabe is very attached to his robe. You could get yourself a monk’s outfit like this one (easy peasy) or you could do as we’ve done here and fashion one yourself.

In this case, we used a slanket (yes, it’s a thing, you can read the story here), a curtain tie, a rather fabulous faux-leather short cape arrangement that adds an edge of toughness, and, of course, a pair of sandals (remember, Gabe’s nickname is ‘Sandals’, so these are key).

Accessorise with a book – gold-covered for early Ateban Cipher, brown leather for the version Gabe carries for most of the story.

How to be Merry from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week

How to be Merry from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week | Allison Tait

Ah, Merry, of the flaming red hair, bow and arrow and can-do attitude. There is a little of the Robin Hood in her, and you could get a costume like this or like this and be in the zone (yes, both boys’ costumes but this is Merry we’re talking about!).

But, as long as you have the bow, breeches and a pair of boots, Merry is also easy enough to pull together at home and is a fantastic choice for the anti-princess in your house. Here, Belle is modelling a range of woodland tones, some faux fox from the dress-up box, and a stylish bow made by her brother. Add a cloak if your Merry likes a bit of swish and drama.

Bonus points if you can actually use the bow…

How to be Gwyn from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week

How to be Gwyn from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week | allisontait.com

When I think of Gwyn, I think of dark shades because she goes where she wants, when she wants, often at night. With black pants, black shirt, boots, and belt, Lola has channelled Gwyn’s inner fierceness beautifully.

The crossbow is Gwyn’s weapon of choice, so add one if you have one (something like this might do the trick), and perhaps pop a tea cup in that little pouch she has. After all, her mother’s tea cup is Gwyn’s most treasured possession.

How to be Midge from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week

How to be Midge from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week | Allison Tait

In essence, Midge, here represented by the lovely Fleur, could wear the same as the other girls – boots, breeches, flowing shirt – but she also wears a dress for the castle scenes. I think of her in softer colours than the older girls, and these blues and pinks are beautiful.

We tried really hard to think of a way to represent Albert, Midge’s beloved falcon, but nothing we had really cut it, so we left him out. You could put a leather cuff on her arm or have her carry a plush version like this one if you want to get serious, or you could simply have her carry a plush animal of any kind – after all, Midge is the animal whisperer of the group. Just ask Procrastipup…

How to be Scarlett from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough neighbourhood girls to create a real-life Scarlett for our shoot, but I always think of her dressed as she was for her visit to town with Gabe, and that means putting her in a peasant-style dress with a basket. Something like this would work well.

How to be Eddie from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week

How to be Eddie from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week | Allison Tait

Oh but we had some debate about Eddie. Should we portray him as dressed in rags as he is for much of The Ateban Cipher story, or should he be dressed as the prince he truly is? In the end, we decided that the best approach is half and half, so Finn wears a plain white shirt, black pants and ‘dress boots’, with a little touch of royalty in his sash.

If you wanted to go all out, you could give him a crown and a velvet cloak (something like this maybe), and, of course, that tiny gold tattoo that marks him as a true prince.

As you can see, we had a lot of fun creating our Book Week versions of Gabe, Eddie and the band of rebel girls, and non-crafty mums (I wave to you in solidarity) will find it easy enough to replicate them without too much trouble (and no sign of a hot glue gun).

It’s not an exact science, and, as I’ve discovered, everyone has their own interpretations of the characters and there are NO wrong answers – they look exactly as you envision them in your mind (or whatever your dress-up box can come up with…).

If your kids choose any of these looks (or The Mapmaker Chronicles) for their own Book Week parade, please share pics with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I just love seeing what you come up with!

You’ll also find some ideas on how to be Quinn and Ash from The Mapmaker Chronicles here.

Are you new here?  You can find out more about the Ateban Cipher books – full of secrets, codes, rebel girls and adventure – here.

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The first-ever Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival wraps up https://allisontait.com/2018/08/the-first-ever-shoalhaven-readers-writers-festival-wraps-up/ Mon, 06 Aug 2018 06:10:06 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6886 If you’ve been reading my blog, or listening to my podcast, for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been heavily involved over the past six months or so in organising ...

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If you’ve been reading my blog, or listening to my podcast, for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been heavily involved over the past six months or so in organising the inaugural Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival. Well, the event took place on Saturday (4 August) and I’m excited (and, yes, relieved) to say, it was, by all accounts, a roaring success.

Huzzah!

I thought I’d share some images and impressions of the day, for me as much as you!

As the director of the children’s program, I was thrilled to see audiences turn out for terrific sessions by Tim Harris and the incredibly popular Jackie French. (Even Wombat from The Block came along to meet Jackie French!)

Tim Harris in action.

wombat and jackie french srwf | allisontait.com

Even Wombat from The Block came to meet Jackie French!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An unexpected highlight for me of the children’s program was the storytime session in the morning, where the Nowra Library’s Children’s and Youth specialist librarian Carla De Castri gave as splendid a storytelling performance as I’ve seen anywhere. My school visit on the Friday morning, part of the festival, also went really well!

shoalhaven readers and writers festival stage by so and so events nowra | allisontait.com

The stage is set for the Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival 2018.

Arnold the vintage coffee van outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The adult program was held in the beautiful old School Of Arts building in Nowra, with staging by the team from So & So Events setting up a fabulous ‘literary salon’ vibe right from the beginning.

Who could resist a signing room like this?

As an author, I was delighted by the gold velvet curtains that created an air of glamorous mystery for the signing room.

Highlights from the adult program included a thoughtful conversation between Walkley Award-winning journalist and non-fiction author Mark Whittaker and Catherine McKinnon, shortlisted for this year’s Miles Franklin award for her novel Storyland; a lively panel on the role of place in historical fiction, featuring Jackie French and Eleanor Limprecht; and an entertaining discussion on the everlasting appeal of genre fiction, starring Dianne Blacklock and Alan Baxter (both of whom also conducted popular workshops for writers).

They all look at home on couch, don’t they?

catherine mckinnon and mark whittaker at shoalhaven writers festival | allisontait.com

Mark Whittaker and Catherine McKinnon

eleanor limprecht at shoalhaven writers festival 2018

Eleanor Limprecht

genre fiction shoalhaven writers festival

Kathy Sharpe, Dianne Blacklock and Alan Baxter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allison Tait and Melina Marchetta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highlight of my day was interviewing the wonderful Melina Marchetta, author of  YA classics Looking For Alibrandi, On The Jellicoe Road and Saving Francesca, as well as a host of other titles (her crime novel Tell The Truth, Shame The Devil is a great read!). We snuggled into the comfy seating and just got right into it. I have lined her up for a podcast interview early next year when her new novel, The Place On Dalhousie, comes out.

All in all, it was a terrific day and being part of the organising team for an event like this really opens your eyes to the work involved. As an author, literary festivals of all kinds are invaluable for a host of reasons, from sharing ideas to lifting your profile, meeting readers to finding new writers to read, and allowing you to connect face-to-face with the huge community of people out there who love books and words as much as you do.

So I tip my hat to every volunteer out there who works hard to ensure that Australia’s wonderful tradition of readers’ and writers’ festivals not only continues, but flourishes.

Thank you!

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Better Reading 2018 Top 50 Kids’ Books + What I did on my holidays https://allisontait.com/2018/07/better-reading-top-50-kids-books-what-i-did-on-my-holidays/ https://allisontait.com/2018/07/better-reading-top-50-kids-books-what-i-did-on-my-holidays/#comments Wed, 25 Jul 2018 05:20:28 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6869 After three weeks in Canada, I’m back at my desk and catching my breath. It was an amazing trip in a ridiculously good looking country and I’ll recap some highlights ...

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After three weeks in Canada, I’m back at my desk and catching my breath. It was an amazing trip in a ridiculously good looking country and I’ll recap some highlights below. But first, some news.

While I was away, the good people at Better Reading released their 2018 Top 50 Kids’ Books – and to my absolute joy, The Mapmaker Chronicles was on the list. It’s a terrific list, jam-packed with big names, classics – and me. Thank you to everyone who voted for Quinn, Zain, Ash and Co – you made my day/week/year!

Click here to see the full list of Better Reading 2018 Top 50 Kids’ Books. (It’s worth noting that it’s best viewed on desktop as the mobile version doesn’t seem to load very well.)

And so to Canada…

The trip was a combination of family holiday, creative inspiration and a little bit of work. I visited the fabulous Kidsbooks in Vancouver, where I met Phyllis (pictured below), Sarah and the rest of the team and signed some copies of The Mapmaker Chronicles series, published in the US and Canada by Kane Miller (if you’re new here, check out their tiny teaser video here).
the mapmaker chronicles series is available at kidsbooks vancouver

All of my other photos from the trip are of towering mountains. Or lakes of incandescent blue. Or deep, dark, densely wooded forests.

It’s the kind of landscape that conjures up mystery and adventure at every turn. Particularly when you throw in the added lustre of the possibility of a bear sighting with every hike (I confess, I was a bit nervous about getting too close to a furry friend…).

To give you an idea of what I mean…

 

 

 

 

 

 

But all good things must come to an end, and now I’m back at my desk with a head full of ideas and a full month of Book Week activities ahead of me.

My first appearance for August is at the Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival on 4 August, where I’ll be talking to the fabulous Melinda Marchetta about her life as an author.

melina marchetta in conversation with allison tait

I’m really looking forward to it and would love to see you there! You’ll find full program details and bookings here. 

Are you new here? I am the Australian author of two epic adventure series for children. Find out more about them by clicking on the titles below.

The Mapmaker Chronicles

The Ateban Cipher

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NEWS: Online creative writing course for kids open for bookings https://allisontait.com/2018/06/news-online-creative-writing-course-for-kids-open-for-bookings/ Thu, 21 Jun 2018 04:50:41 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6857 After a lot of hard work from a lot of people, my online creative writing course for kids is now open for bookings through the Australian Writers’ Centre! So much ...

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Book now: online creative writing course for kids | allisontait.comAfter a lot of hard work from a lot of people, my online creative writing course for kids is now open for bookings through the Australian Writers’ Centre!

So much goes into creating a course like this, from developing the course content, to creating each module, to building the means to deliver the content to kids in an exciting and entertaining way, to providing weekly feedback, to … well, you get the idea, and Valerie Khoo and the team at the Australian Writers’ Centre are the absolute best people to be undertaking such an adventure with. When I look at what we’ve created, I could not be more proud!

You can read more about the course here (there’s a full course outline and a whole bunch of answers to FAQs) and see me talk a little bit about it, but basically, it’s a step-by-step course on the basics (and beyond) of writing a great story.

It’s for kids who love to write – AND for kids who’d love to write better. Every child (9-14 is the sweet spot) who takes part will receive video feedback from me on their final submitted story (see the outline for details).

I’m really excited about the course and looking forward to meeting my first bunch of young writers on 7 July 2018. Maybe your young writer will be one of them?

In the meantime, I’ve got some fantastic writing tips for kids, from me and from other amazing Aussie children’s authors, below:

10 top writing tips from bestselling author Jacqueline Harvey

How to create remarkable characters by Tim Harris

Write what you love by Allison Rushby

How to be more creative by A.L. Tait

How to write comics by Shane W. Smith

Are you new here? Welcome! You can find out more about me here, and more about my two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, here.

 

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BIG book giveaway: win with Your Kid’s Next Read! https://allisontait.com/2018/06/big-book-giveaway-win-with-your-kids-next-read/ Wed, 20 Jun 2018 01:31:55 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6854 In case you missed my newsletter yesterday (sign up here if you don’t want to miss the next one!), the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group now has 4000+ members ...

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In case you missed my newsletter yesterday (sign up here if you don’t want to miss the next one!), the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group now has 4000+ members and to celebrate my fab co-host Megan Daley and I have organised a fantastic book giveaway!

One winner will receive EIGHT signed books from some of Australia’s top children’s authors. And because this is an all female-author affair, we’re calling it our Favourite Fierce Female Authors giveaway.

WIN: 8 signed books from top Australian female authors | allisontait.com

Signed titles include:

Kensy and Max by Jacqueline Harvey

Alice-Miranda in Scotland by Jacqueline Harvey

Pippa’s Island ‘Camp Castaway’ by Belinda Murrell

Missing by Sue Whiting

The Turnkey by Allison Rushby

The Most Marvellous Spelling Bee Mystery by Deborah Abela

and The Book Of Secrets and The Book Of Answers by A.L. Tait (that would be me).

You can read more about each book by clicking on the title link. They’re all perfect for middle-grade readers!

You’ll find all the terms and conditions here in Megan’s blog post and you can enter there OR in the YKNR group here.

Good luck!

Are you new here? Welcome! You can find out more about my two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, here.

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Tickets are now on sale for the first Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival https://allisontait.com/2018/06/tickets-are-now-on-sale-for-the-first-shoalhaven-readers-writers-festival/ https://allisontait.com/2018/06/tickets-are-now-on-sale-for-the-first-shoalhaven-readers-writers-festival/#comments Tue, 12 Jun 2018 01:55:30 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6849 If you’ve been listening to my podcast of late, you’ll know that I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes as part of the team creating the first Shoalhaven Readers’ ...

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Shoalhaven Readers' & Writers' Festival informationIf you’ve been listening to my podcast of late, you’ll know that I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes as part of the team creating the first Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival. It’s a project dear to my heart as, having grown up in a regional area and watching my kids grow up in a regional area, I understand just how difficult it is to experience all the various things that city folk take for granted.

So it’s very exciting to be able to bring authors to our doorstep.

The festival will take place on Saturday 4 August, 2018, in Nowra, NSW, and comprises an adult festival, with panel discussions, workshops and more, and a children’s festival, with sessions for all ages and a fabulous Jackie French-inspired costume parade.

Featured authors include Jackie French, Melina Marchetta, Frank Moorhouse, Dianne Blacklock, Alan Baxter, Eleanor Limprecht, Catherine McKinnon, Ron Petty, and Tim Harris.

I’m very much looking forward to (and a little nervous about!) my opportunity to be ‘in conversation’ with the fabulous Melina Marchetta. Otherwise, I’ll be buzzing about all day so if you come along, be sure to say hi!

You can find out more about the program and buy tickets here (they’re limited, so get in quick!). And like the festival on Facebook to keep up with news and updates!

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40 YA Books for Tweens (+ 25+ MG books that feel like YA) https://allisontait.com/2018/06/40-ya-books-for-tweens-25-mg-books-that-feel-like-ya/ https://allisontait.com/2018/06/40-ya-books-for-tweens-25-mg-books-that-feel-like-ya/#comments Fri, 01 Jun 2018 05:15:27 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6838 Aside from ‘what to read after Harry Potter?’, the most frequent question that come up in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group is this one: ‘Can anyone suggest YA ...

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40 YA Books for Tweens (+ 25+ MG books that feel like YA) | allisontait.comAside from ‘what to read after Harry Potter?’, the most frequent question that come up in the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook group is this one: ‘Can anyone suggest YA fiction suitable for a tween?’

While there is an entire ‘middle-grade’ (8-12) section of the bookshelf available, many tweens, particularly advanced readers, want to move up. They want to read what older kids are reading and, often, they’ve read the library dry of the books deemed appropriate for their age group.

They’re hungry readers, and parents are often at a loss as to what to give them to read next – because, let’s face it, just because you can read a book, doesn’t necessarily mean that now is the best time to read it. It’s not just that YA fiction can feature themes and subject matter that’s just not suitable for tweens, but that books are best enjoyed when you’re ready for them.

Go in too early with a book that you love and your young reader may put it aside after a chapter or two, and never, ever pick it up again.

So, because I am the helpful sort, I have canvassed not only the YKNR group members (made up of nearly 4000 parents/booksellers/librarians/publishing professionals/teachers/grandparents/authors), but other interested parties (authors, booksellers, librarians) to come up with this list* of YA books that they would recommend for tween readers.

I’ve cheated a bit (not really but it sounds intriguing, right?) by splitting the list into two sections – what I would call Proper YA (aimed at readers 14+) and then a section that is Technically Middle-Grade But With A YA Feel. It might be that your younger tween is just looking for something in the latter category that feels more grown-up than what they’ve been reading. Proper YA has been divided into categories,  but other than that there’s no particular order.

As with any book recommendation, you know your child best, so be sure to read the book’s description closely to make sure it will be suitable for your particular reader – as noted below, some series get darker as they progress, so look beyond book #1, and check with your local bookseller or librarian regarding any themes or storylines you may be wondering about!

Good luck – and do join us over in Your Kid’s Next Read if you have any questions about these or other books for your young readers! 

Contemporary

•The Other Side Of Summer by Emily Gale “Had some mature themes but nothing inappropriate for the younger readers.” – YKNR Member

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

•Spurt (A Balls And All Story) by Chris Miles

Shooting Stars by Brian Falkner

How To Hang A Witch by Adriana Mather (Kid review)

The Wonder Of Us by Kim Culbertson (Kid review)

The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish

From The Cutting Room Floor of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi

Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

•Blueback by Tim Winton

The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham (Suggested by Una (12))

Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher

•The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Mystery/Thriller

I Am Not Esther by Fleur Beale

•Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks

•The Fall by Tristan Bancks

•Missing by Sue Whiting (Kid review)

A little bit romantic

•Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood

Two Summers by Aimee Friedman. “A really good book that provides a gentle intro to this theme.” – YKNR Member

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell “Is sweet… Some more serious stuff touched on but not too heavy.” – YKNR member (Kid review (mini))

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

•Unrequited by Emma Grey

Fantasy/Sci Fi

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (series)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (series)

The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (series)

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (series)

•Obernewtyn by Isabelle Carmody (series)

The Tiffany Aching sequence by Terry Pratchett (series)

•Arkanae by Lynette Noni (series) “Recommended for tweens/teens done with Harry Potter. The themes get darker as it progresses but not too much that they cause problems. It’s not overly romantic and has a great focus on adventure and friendship.” – YKNR member (Kid review)

Contagion by Teri Terry “I’ve read the first book in the series. I loved her ‘Slated’ series too but it got darker by the third book.” – YKNR member

•Pandora Jones by Barry Jonsberg

The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

Little bit scary

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Kid review)

Historical

The Other Side Of Truth by Beverley Naidoo

Salt To The Sea by Ruta Septys “Perfect intro to World War Two – historical fiction without language or storylines that are too advanced.” – YKNR member

•Once series by Morris Gleitzman. ‘It’s in hot demand with the Year 6s at my primary school library – girls and the boys.” – YKNR member

Technically middle-grade but might be just what your YA-seeking tween is looking for

•The Secrets We Share by Nova Weetman “The sequel to Nova Weetman’s brilliant The Secrets We Keep – Clem starts high school in this book.” – YKNR Member

•My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg

Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

•Quincy Jordan by Jen Storer

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Lily Alone by Jacqueline Wilson

Dizzy by Cathy Cassidy

Stay Well Soon by Penny Tangey

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter

Survival Strategies Of The Almost Brave by Jen White

Drama by Reina Telegemeier

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes “Deals with a first realised crush that doesn’t turn out the way she hopes.” – YKNR Member

Parvana by Deborah Ellis

•A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon “The next level up for Lemony Snicket fans.” – YKNR member

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

•The Timeslip series by Belinda Murrell

Pennies For Hitler by Jackie French “Really opens up tricky themes in sensitive ways.” – YKNR member

The Family With Two Front Doors by Anna Ciddor “There’s lots to talk/think about from an historic and a feminist perspective.” – YKNR member

A Night Divided by Jennifer A Nielsen

Nevermoor (The Trials Of Morrigan Crow) by Jessica Townsend

•The Girl Who Brought Mischief by Katrina Nannestad

Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai

I am Malala (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick

Are you new here? Welcome! If your middle-grade reader loves epic adventure stories, be sure to check out my two series: The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher – click the title links to find out more.

You might also like:

24 books for tween boys with ‘nothing to read’

31 books for tween girls with ‘nothing to read’

21 tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old boys

100+ great books for your young reader

YKNR: Recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, YA for Tweens

Jazzy’s Diamond Dozen (12 favourite reads from a kid book reviewer)

 

*As with all my book lists, if you click on the title it will take you to online bookstore Booktopia, where you can read the blurb and purchase the book if you like the sound of it (disclosure: this will result in a small commission to me at no extra charge to you). International visitors will find most of these titles in either paperback or ebook form on Amazon. Australian authors are denoted with a •

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News: Say hello at The NSW Writers’ Centre’s Kids & YA Festival 2018 https://allisontait.com/2018/05/news-say-hello-at-the-nsw-writers-centres-kids-ya-festival-2018/ https://allisontait.com/2018/05/news-say-hello-at-the-nsw-writers-centres-kids-ya-festival-2018/#comments Wed, 23 May 2018 01:43:18 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6826 First, the news!  ICYMI, the program for The NSW Writers’ Centre’s Kids & YA Festival 2018 dropped yesterday, and I’m included in the seriously fabulous line-up of authors, illustrators and ...

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First, the news! 

ICYMI, the program for The NSW Writers’ Centre’s Kids & YA Festival 2018 dropped yesterday, and I’m included in the seriously fabulous line-up of authors, illustrators and publishing types curated by this year’s festival director Belinda Murrell.

We’ll be gathering at the centre in Rozelle, NSW, on 30 June, and I really hope you can join me! More details and tickets here.

This is the festival’s 10th year, and Belinda has gathered together an amazing array of talent, including Kate Forsyth, Jaclyn Moriarty, Will Kostakis, Tim Harris, Garth Nix, R. A. Spratt, Deborah Abela, Jacqueline Harvey and more. You can read the full program here.

I’ll be chairing a panel with Kate Forsyth, Garth Nix and Louise Park, and we’ll be discussing The Business Of Writing – all about creating a long-term career as a writer. There’ll also be book signings, pitching sessions, and the opportunity to simply immerse yourself in the world of writing for children and young adults.

See you there!

Reviews

Thanks to Sue Warren for this lovely review of The Book Of Answers.

“A .L. Tait’s knack for creating these gripping and often tense exploits has been well demonstrated in her Mapmaker Chronicles series (as a reader said to me in the last week of school – “I just LOVE this series – it keeps you on the edge of your seat!”) and now continues the success with this new series.”

Lastly, some interviews

As a bonus, over the years, Val and I have interviewed several of the speakers for Kids & YA Festival on the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, and I’ve included links to those episodes below.

Authors

Louise Park

Jacqueline Harvey

Kate Forsyth

Jaclyn Moriarty

Belinda Murrell

Oliver Phommavanh

Publisher

Suzanne O’Sullivan

Speaking of interviews, you can hear me talk about The Ateban Cipher series here on the Booktopia podcast (and why I think we all love a quest) – there are just a few signed copies of The Book of Answers left on the shelves at Booktopia, so if you want one, now’s the time

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And now, some straight talking about writing… https://allisontait.com/2018/05/and-now-for-some-straight-talking-about-writing/ Mon, 07 May 2018 00:46:02 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6813 I seem to write about writing a lot (you’ll find my hundreds of blog posts about writing here). And if you listen to So You Want To Be A Writer, ...

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I seem to write about writing a lot (you’ll find my hundreds of blog posts about writing here). And if you listen to So You Want To Be A Writer, the podcast I co-host with Valerie Khoo, you’ll know that I also talk about writing, and ask other authors about their writing, a lot.

But I don’t often talk about my own writing. I’m usually asking the questions, not answering them.

That all changed when Kel Butler from Writes4Women podcast interviewed me about all things writing. The first part of the interview came out a few weeks ago as a ‘minisode’, focussing on book promotion and building your author platform. You can listen to it here on the web or here on iTunes (Ep 18).

The main interview was released a few days ago and, as Kel says, you’ll need a cup of tea for this one. The interview covers a lot of territory, including:

•finding your writing voice

•writing while parenting

•dealing with rejection

•writing without a plan (aka how I learnt to outline)

•making time to write

•podcasting,

•raising readers, and lots more.

You can listen to the interview via the web here or on iTunes here (Ep 20).

I hope you enjoy!

Are you new here? Welcome! You can find out more about me here and all about my books here: The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

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