3 NEW simple Book Week ideas from Australian authors

3 NEW simple Book Week ideas from Australian authors

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?

How to be Gabe (+ more) from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week!

How to be Gabe (+ more) from The Ateban Cipher for Book Week!

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.

Better Reading 2018 Top 50 Kids’ Books + What I did on my holidays

Better Reading 2018 Top 50 Kids’ Books + What I did on my holidays

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

NEWS: Online creative writing course for kids open for bookings

NEWS: Online creative writing course for kids open for bookings

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.


And now, some straight talking about writing…

And now, some straight talking about writing…

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


•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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