Book Week 2021 is shaping up to be similar to Book Week 2020 for many – which is to say that parades and author talks are being held online.
But that’s not to say that dressing up as your favourite character is out of vogue.
Not at all.
Nothing breaks up the monotony of lockdown life quite like donning a cloak, putting a blue stripe in your hair or making yourself an alpaca mask.
And there are still parades to attend, face to face in many states and schools and online in others. In fact, we’ll be holding one online in the Your Kid’s Next Read community next Friday with prizes to win. Join us now for details and to take part!
Plus, ideas for simple Book Week costumes never go out of style.
With that in mind, I asked the Australian children’s literature community to share posts (blog or social media) that show us how to recreate their characters for Book Week. And I got some brilliant new responses.
Australian authors share Book Week costume ideas for their books
I’ve listed the author’s name and then the book inspiration. Click the book name for details of the characters and how to create them at home.
I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and a new ‘almost history’ detective series called the Maven & Reeve Mysteries (you’ll find book #1 THE FIRE STAR here).
August has been a crazy-busy month, featuring planes, trains and automobiles, Book Week, the MS Readathon, the first Your Kid’s Next Read Live event, and media appearances on television, radio and in print. Add to that the business of writing a new manuscript, and I’m a bit surprised I’m still upright.
These monthly posts are collated for the purposes of keeping a record on this blog of my author life, so thanks for sticking with me.
Where to begin…
The month kicked off with the launch of the 2019 MS Readathon, and, in my role as author ambassador for this year’s event, I visited The Illawarra Grammar School. My boys were very excited to see me on the 6pm news that night!
It was a terrific start for a wonderful event, and I was thrilled to see that, as of last week, the MS Readathon had raised over $1 million, and kids at 3,500 schools had read more than 75,000 books!
A few weeks later, I was sitting with a great group of kids at the CBCA (Illawarra-South Coast Branch) Literary Lunch, which is always a great day out. This year, I was asked to give the writing workshop for the event, which was a great honour.
And then, before I knew it, Book Week was upon us! This year, I visited schools in Sydney, Brisbane and Milton, talking to around 1500 excited and enthusiastic kids in total.
I was blown away by the warm welcomes I received in every school and, in particular, the library team at Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane were next level with their enormous floating Ateban Cipher and their escape room based on The Book Of Secrets. Teacher-librarians are truly an amazing bunch!
And, last but not least for my Book Week report, I’m thrilled to announce that the first-ever Your Kid’s Next Read Live Event + Meet-Up was a smashing success.
Nervously awaiting the crowd! From left, Megan Daley, Allison Tait, Allison Rushby, the admin team behind Your Kid’s Next Read.
The Living Room at St Aidan’s, Brisbane.
Answering some of our community’s most pressing questions about kids and books.
We had a lot of laughs along the way!
Megan Daley, Allison Rushby and I were delighted by the response of our YKNR community, and enjoyed meeting you all, talking about books and answering your questions! (Allison R. particularly enjoyed the incredible grazing table at St Aidan’s school…)
I absolutely love the fact that the reviewer Annamaree is someone who said ‘I’d love to write a book’ over and over and, after reading this book, is inspired to actually do something about it!
“If writing is something that you have thought about but never done anything about, then I suggest that you get your hands on a copy of this book and absorb all the wonderful information contained within.”
It’s exactly the response that Val and I were hoping for!
I’ve been interviewed several times for radio over the past month, mostly in my role as MS Readathon Ambassador, and often at very short notice. It’s always an interesting process – in one case, I was huddled under a tree in a windswept park in Rose Bay, trying to sound sensible – and it never quite goes the way you expect.
It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write a ‘how to be interviewed’ post for this blog for ages, so I’ve put it back on the To Do list. Let me know in the comments if there are any questions in particular you’d like me to cover!
Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.
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!
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 of author (yay!) and not-crafty parent (stress!).
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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!
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).
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.