Allison Tait https://allisontait.com writing, whimsy ... life Thu, 18 Oct 2018 03:28:43 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 10 spooky (or scary) middle-grade books for Halloween https://allisontait.com/2018/10/10-spooky-or-scary-middle-grade-books-for-halloween/ https://allisontait.com/2018/10/10-spooky-or-scary-middle-grade-books-for-halloween/#respond 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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100+ great books for your young reader https://allisontait.com/2018/05/100-great-books-for-your-young-reader/ Tue, 01 May 2018 05:08:09 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6808 Over the past year or so, I’ve created some terrific book lists and I thought, given things have been a bit quiet around here of late, that I might take ...

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100+ great books for your young reader | allisontait.comOver the past year or so, I’ve created some terrific book lists and I thought, given things have been a bit quiet around here of late, that I might take the opportunity to corral them all together in one post. If you’ve got a young reader aged 8-14 or thereabouts, there’s bound to be a book here for them!

10 Amazing Adventure Stories for Girls 10+

16 Great New Books For The School Holidays

30 Brilliant Books For Girls

5 Books Featuring Reluctant Heroes

21 [gift] Book Ideas For Boys And Girls

12 Books For Kids About Maps

21 Tried-And-Tested Books For 13/14-Year-Old Boys

Also (bonus!), this is an older one, but really useful:

Your Kids’ Next Read: Recommended Reading Lists for Kids 10+, 12+, YA for tweens

If you’re looking for great new book suggestions for your kids (and who isn’t really?), the Your Kids’ Next Read Facebook group is a great place to start. We have 3700+ members – parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, authors – all sharing their knowledge, recommendations and love of books with each other in a lovely space. We’d love to see you!

And if you’re new here, you can read more about my epic middle-grade adventure series The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher by clicking the links. Lovely to meet you!

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The week that was: filming, festivals and Creative Writing for Kids https://allisontait.com/2018/04/the-week-that-was-filming-festivals-and-creative-writing-for-kids/ Mon, 09 Apr 2018 04:25:55 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6799 If you’ve listened to the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast recently, you’ll know two things about me: video is not my happy place, and I’ve recently created ...

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Filming the Creative Writing for Kids course Australian Writers' CentreIf you’ve listened to the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast recently, you’ll know two things about me:

  1. video is not my happy place, and
  2. I’ve recently created a new creative writing course for kids for the Australian Writers Centre.

These two things came together in a perfect storm last Saturday when I spent many hours perched on the edge of a very hard stool trying to keep my ‘joy’ up as we filmed the modules for the online course.

I love this course, which is aimed at kids aged 9-14 (or thereabouts). I love the content, I love the message, I love the detail (as with everything I do, I’ve tried to make it as useful, informative and inspiring as I possibly can).

It’s a course for kids who love to write – and a course for kids who’d love to write better.

So the joy in the course wasn’t hard to find. By the end of the day, while I did not love the filming, I could feel that it had come together in a really special way. I’m actually quite thrilled with it.

You can read all about the course, which launches soon, here. (You’ll also find links to some writing tips for kids at the bottom of this post.)

I was also thrilled to share the news that I’m heading to North Queensland later this year as part of a stellar line-up of authors for the Burdekin Readers’ and Writers’ Festival. If you’re based up there, I’d love to meet you, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for event and ticket details.

If you’re not in NQ, don’t fret. I’ve got more event announcements to make for this year, so stay tuned!

Lastly, I’d just like to thank everyone who’s taken the time to contact me via email or social media to let me know how much they and their kids loved The Book Of Answers. Or The Book Of Secrets. Or The Mapmaker Chronicles.

Launch week for a new book often brings new readers for an author’s other titles as well, and your feedback means so much to me.

Now that the dust is settling a little, I’m turning my attention to other new stories. It’s so much easier to start all over again when you know that your books have found readers to love them.

Writing tips for kids

10 top tips from bestselling author Jacqueline Harvey

The 10 keys to a great story

My best writing advice for kids by Allison Rushby

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The week that was: launch week for The Book Of Answers https://allisontait.com/2018/04/the-week-that-was-launch-week-for-the-book-of-answers/ Tue, 03 Apr 2018 01:36:42 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6790 Goodness me, but that was a whirlwind. I can’t believe The Book Of Answers (Ateban Cipher #2) has been out for a week already. The Easter long weekend in the middle, ...

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Goodness me, but that was a whirlwind. I can’t believe The Book Of Answers (Ateban Cipher #2) has been out for a week already. The Easter long weekend in the middle, plus the end of daylight savings, has left me with a strange jet-lagged feeling (what is it about that one ‘extra’ hour that makes such a difference?), but I thought I’d put together an update.

This blog is my record of all that goes on, so apologies if you’ve seen some of this on one of my various social media platforms, and “hello” if you’ve seen none of it.

A big thank you to my local booksellers (Dymocks Books Nowra and Dean Swift Books) for inviting me in to sign books for my local community. Our region is so lucky to still be so well served by bookshops (another fantastic bookshop in my area is Boobook On Owen and I hope to get there soon) and I feel blessed that, as an author outside a capital city, my local booksellers are so incredibly supportive.

Signed copies of The Book Of Answers at Dean Swift Books Nowra

Support your local bookshops everyone – they do an amazing job!

And, of course, if you’re not local and you’d like a signed copy, head to Booktopia, where I signed a stack before launch day – but get in quick because there aren’t many left. (Handy tip: if you scroll to the bottom of this link, you can order The Book Of Secrets and The Book Of Answers for $25)

First reviews of The Book Of Answers are starting to come through, and I was thrilled with this one from Ashleigh at The Book Muse:

“Gabe’s discoveries were unexpected but worked well with the story – and came at just the right time, with the right pacing. Overall, the elements of The Book of Answers worked really well together, and all the elements tied together nicely at the end. A great read for children aged ten and older, and adults if they like these sorts of stories, and it is a nice quick read as well, which is all down to the well-written pacing of the story.”

Speaking of reviews, Quinn and the rest of the crew of The Mapmaker Chronicles series continue to find fans and friends all over the world. I was absolutely thrilled with this series review by Erik of This Kid Reviews Books:

I really liked this entire series. Five out of five bookworms all-around! Yay! 

Having the books available in the US, the UK, and other territories means that they are finding new readers all the time, which just makes me feel like a proud parent. And, given it was Erik’s fabulous blog that inspired Book Boy to begin his own blog a few years ago, I’m just chuffed with his review of each book (click here to read them all).

Kid reviewers are the best!

Writers might be interested in a couple of podcast chats I’ve had this week.

On this week’s episode (228) of So You Want To Be A Writer, Val and I had a chat about the strange sensations of launch week and why my online community (that’s you!) is so important to me at this time. (If you haven’t discovered my podcast as yet, there’s more info about it here.)

I also talked to Kel Butler from the Writes4Women podcast about author platforms – what they are, why you need one and where to put your energies. Lots to think about.

In related news, for those of you who have young writers and who live on (or near) the south coast, I’m experimenting with some school holiday writing workshops for kids on Wednesday 18 April 2018. There are two sessions, one for kids aged 9-11, one for the 12-14 set.

Click the link for each age group to see all the details and book a spot for your young writer (but be quick – each workshop is limited to 10 young writers and tickets are selling fast).

Okay, I think that just about covers a very big week. Thank you for reading this far and thanks you once again for all your support. 

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Today’s the day: THE BOOK OF ANSWERS is out now! https://allisontait.com/2018/03/todays-the-day-the-book-of-answers-is-out-now/ https://allisontait.com/2018/03/todays-the-day-the-book-of-answers-is-out-now/#comments Tue, 27 Mar 2018 03:17:03 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6776 Today, my new book came out. THE BOOK OF ANSWERS (Ateban Cipher #2) is out there on the shelves, ready and waiting for someone to just wander on by and ...

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The Ateban Cipher adventure series for kids 9-12 is out now!Today, my new book came out. THE BOOK OF ANSWERS (Ateban Cipher #2) is out there on the shelves, ready and waiting for someone to just wander on by and pick it up. (Doesn’t it look pretty there, standing behind THE BOOK OF SECRETS…)

You’ll find more details about the books here.

I’ve written before about the strangely anti-climactic experience that is Publication Day. After years of writing, editing and waiting, there it is, out there while you, the other, are… still doing whatever it is you do on a daily basis.

And all you can do is to wait and see.

Wondering if anyone will buy it.

Wondering if anyone will like it.

Hoping that everyone LOVES it (even as you know that there’s no book in the world that EVERYONE loves).

Fly high my little book.

I’ll be over here. Tidying my desk and, yes, writing a new book.

You can buy THE BOOK OF ANSWERS (and THE BOOK OF SECRETS) at your local bookshop or at these online booksellers. 

Abbey’s Bookshop

Angus & Robertson

Avid Reader

Berkelouw Books

Booktopia

Dymocks

Gleebooks

Readings 

And thank you all so much for your support.

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Advance copies, dedications + a giveaway https://allisontait.com/2018/03/advance-copies-dedications-a-giveaway/ https://allisontait.com/2018/03/advance-copies-dedications-a-giveaway/#comments Mon, 12 Mar 2018 04:50:25 +0000 http://allisontait.com/?p=6766 With just over two weeks to go until The Book Of Answers (Ateben Cipher #2) lands in bookshops all over Australia, excitement levels are mounting – and hit ‘very high ...

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With just over two weeks to go until The Book Of Answers (Ateben Cipher #2) lands in bookshops all over Australia, excitement levels are mounting – and hit ‘very high to ridiculous’ this morning when the first printed copies arrived via courier.

You might think that, given this is my sixth children’s novel and 11th book in total, somehow I would have become grown-up and mature about this moment but no.

This. Never. Gets. Old.

See. I even made a video about it.

Anyway, this post is really just to share my excitement levels with someone other than Procrastipup, and to share the book’s dedication.

You might remember I’ve talked about dedications before, sharing 10 of my favourites here, along with the dedication for The Book Of Secrets, which remains a high point for me. (Go look – I promise I’ll be here when you get back.)

Well, here is the dedication for The Book Of Answers.

Book dedication: The Book Of Answers (Ateban Cipher #2)

Anyone who’s read The Book Of Secrets and loved the bond between Gwyn and Merry will get it. Anyone who’s had sisters will get it.

If you’d like to show your excitement and pre-order your very own copy of The Book Of Answers, go here. And you can buy The Book Of Secrets here right now.

Speaking of excitement, I’ve got a special giveaway planned for my newsletter subscribers this month (hint: may involve a little package of signed books, bookmark plus not-available-in-shops The Mapmaker Chronicles cap), so if you’d like the opportunity to get involved in that, make sure you’re signed up for my newsletter before 15th March 2018 and stand by!

In the meantime, I’ll be over here. Excited.

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