In association with Richmond Publishing we are delighted to announce that today is publication day for The Magic Ball of String, a beautiful picture book written by young Sydney resident, seven-year-old Chelsea Hardi.
Chelsea was born to tell stories and narrates them to her mother, Irina, before going to sleep every night. She has always been in love with Russian fairytales which comforted her when at the age of four and a half, suffering from pneumonia, she was in hospital in Moscow for an extended period. It was during this difficult time that, influenced by those fairytales, she created the first version of The Magic Ball of String, telling it to her mother who wrote it down for her. Since then, the story has evolved through the normal editing process, which Chelsea was fully a part of, to become a fresh and charming tale of adventure, family love, the power of kindness, and the unexpected magic of a certain ball of string.
With beautiful pictures by acclaimed international illustrator Olya Badulina, this book is one that children and families across Australia will take to their hearts.
Richmond Publishing is delighted to be publishing the book in association with award-winning children’s book publisher Christmas Press, which is promoting and marketing the book across its networks. And Christmas Press is delighted to be working in association with Richmond Publishing on the release of this very special book which so exemplifies the magic of stories in the lives of children.
We are very pleased to announce that the delightful audiobook of Rebecca Fung and Kathy Creamer’s chapterbook, Princess Hayley’s Comet, is now available to buy at lots of online audiobook retailers, not only in Australia, but all over the world! Below is the full list of retailers where you can purchase the book, along with direct links to the book on their sites. And if you buy it and enjoy it, please do leave a review on the retailer’s site, or on your social media and tag us!
We’re delighted to announce that Princess Hayley’s Comet is soon to be released as an audiobook. Rebecca Fung and Kathy Creamer’s lovely chapterbook, which we published in print in 2018, is going to be launched into the audio market, which is very exciting! Created by the fabulous team at Spineless Wonders Audio, it’s a truly gorgeous production, and will be released in October on many audio book retailer sites (more on that soon).
To celebrate the upcoming release of the audiobook, we chatted to the talented Aimee Smith, who did the fabulous narration, about the fascinating process of voice acting and recording.
We love your narration of Princess Hayley’s Comet, Aimee! It’s as bright, breezy and fun as the storyitself. How did you go about preparing to create the narration, in terms not only of reading the story beforehand but also thinking about characters, pacing etc?
Aww thank you so much, it was such a gorgeous story to read! I absolutely love narrating children’s books. I think that having been a Primary School teacher for several years before taking the leap to becoming a full-time Voice Actor had been an interesting realisation for me that being a teacher doesn’t only stick with you as a profession, but it stays in your heart too. It was exceptionally organic for me to have picked up a book on a whim when we had some minutes in the day to spare, create an engaging and magical environment in the classroom without being self-conscious for sounding a little silly and ﬁnding those beats in a story to give kids the chance to giggle and gasp in response!
Those real-life experiences don’t just leave you, the audience is always really close in mind when I’m reading a story and I feel that’s important in kids’ books: When are they going to react? And I use those instincts to play up my emphasis in the right spots and leave a poignant beat. In the case of the technicalities of audiobook narration, something I like to do to form deﬁnitive consistency is keeping little audio ﬁles of each of the characters I’ve voiced early on in the story, and I like to ﬂick between them to ensure there’s something special and memorable with them all, as kids aren’t going to see the physicality like they do in the classroom to realise when a new character is speaking!
You have your own home studio and do your own initial recordings. Tell us how you work: what’sthe process like?
Yes, I’ve had a home studio for almost 10 years (upgraded many, many times in that period!) and do a solid 95% of my work from it here in Sydney, Australia! For a lot of my work I like to stand in my studio to keep energy high and dynamic, however with audiobooks and other long-form work I generally like to pull up a stool to keep an even pace throughout (but my hands always go crazy, gesturing is super important in all forms of narration, so I use them to play with emphasis, cadence and beats!). This was a self-directed session, which meant I had freedom to listen back over my character ﬁles to cross-check my voices, could pause for more water when I needed it, and spend a little more time going back over segments if I wasn’t 100% sold on them. Sometimes in live-directed sessions you don’t always feel like you have that freedom to be a bit nitpicky, so it was really nice!
How do you work with the audio engineer on the edited ﬁles? And what happens afterwards?
The process of working with an audio engineer is always a little diﬀerent depending on the client and the story. In the case of Princess Hayley’s Comet, I really got into the story fast, and when I achieve ﬂow I really like to stay in it! So I actually ﬁnished the audiobook within minutes of getting the email introducing me to the audio engineer which was funny timing! I had already created an into and outro to the audiobook, however every publisher has a preference for the exact language, so in this case I had a small revision on that front to send back to the audio engineer and we were then done! It was a very, very quick easy partnership due to the timing of our communication and the audiobook being a shorter text.
Have you worked on other audiobooks for children? Why do you think audiobooks are anincreasingly popular way to take in a story—both for children and adults?
I’ve worked on quite a few texts for children, including ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ by Talethings on mobile devices, ‘Tommy’s Tooth’ on Farfaria, ‘Douglas You Need Glasses’ on the Learning Ally and many more! I ﬁnd that most of my audiobook work is more catered for under 18s in the ﬁction and non-ﬁction spaces which I love. In terms of why audiobooks are popularly, I think it just comes down to the fact we’re part of a multi-tasking age, which makes audiobooks such an easy thing to implement into our lives. If you spend 30 minutes driving to work, why not pop on a chapter of an audiobook you’re enjoying? Some people would listen to music as they sleep which in some cases, has now become listening to a relaxing audiobook. Whether for information or for enjoyment, it’s such an easy and enjoyable way to consume media.
You also work on other audio projects than audiobooks, such as narration for video games. Tell usa bit about that.
Oh yes! So I actually started my career as a Voice Actor working in video games, and have worked on well-over 100 games, some of which include SMITE, Mobile Legends, Freedom Planet and a bunch more.
I also work in kids’ animation shows and anime, having worked on shows that stream across Binge, Funimation, meWatch and YouTube. I’m very fortunate to have an incredibly fun and fulﬁlling career that embraces my sense of play. We’re often told as we enter adulthood to ‘grow up’ when we do something a little silly, whereas in the land of being a Voice Actor it’s incredibly important that you can harness your sense of play and aren’t scared of showing that side of yourself. Silly mistakes make for wonderful characters. It’s an incredibly valued skill that is often lost by adults!
How did you get into voice acting? What advice would you give anyone interested in making it acareer?
Back in October 2011 I came across an online voice acting website called ‘The Voice Acting Club’ while I was studying to be a Primary School Teacher. It still exists today, and was my ﬁrst foray into the online voice acting world and I got hooked instantly. I already loved acting and tried theatre and screen, but they didn’t click in the same way voice acting did. I felt it was a cultivation of everything I loved in one beautiful little art form.
I’d love to suggest just two things: 1. PLAY. It can be hard to train yourself to enjoy and relish in the mistakes and the ridiculousness of it all. Go with it, it doesn’t have to even be a career, it’s also just abeautiful creative outlet if that’s what you’re after. 2.KNOWLEDGE. Consume as much information you can. Go to www.iwantobeavoiceactor.com and the Voice Acting Club and read everything, because without a doubt they’ll answer most initial questions you have!
That was so interesting, Aimee! Thank you.
Thanks so much for chatting with me!
More about Aimee:
Aimee Smith is a full-time Australian voice talent specialising in recording for audiobooks across Australian/American/British accents, with 10+ narration credits to her name. She’s even recorded a couple of these audiobooks at the studios of Penguin Random House in Sydney! Aimee is a former Primary School Teacher and experienced video game voice actor (SMITE, Mobile Legends, Freedom Planet) and animation voice actor (Unicorn Girls, Sunset Paradise, Dragon Goes House Hunting) which really helps her stay in a constant state of make-believe!
There’s a lovely interview with Four All At Sea author Sophie Masson on the international writing site, Writer Unboxed. Here’s a short extract:
Q1: What’s the premise of your new book?
SM: It’s a new adventure for four old friends who just happen to be machines: two cars (Maxie and Lady) a motorbike (Flash) and a tractor (Fergie). In the first book, Four on the Run, our friends took to the road after thinking they were going to be sold for scrap. They had many adventures, which ended in them being offered a part in a film. This book takes the story further: the four friends are on a luxury cruise, bound for the film set, when a big storm washes their container overboard and they land on a desert island. But it’s not quite deserted: there’s someone else there, someone not very friendly…Much fun and mayhem ensue as they try to think up a way to escape.
Q2: What would you like people to know about the story itself?
SM: It’s sheer joyful fun for young readers and families, and it has fabulous illustrations by the wonderful Cheryl Orsini.
It’s publication day for Four All At Sea, the exciting, funny sequel to last year’s popular Four on the Run! We’re delighted to be publishing the next adventures of the four lovable friends who just happen to be machines:-) Congratulations to writer Sophie Masson and illustrator Cheryl Orsini on another fabulous book for young readers!
We are delighted to reveal the gorgeous cover of Lucy Newton, Cat Trouble, written and illustrated by Phoebe McArthur, which we are publishing in November. It’s the fabulous sequel to Lucy Newton, Little Witch, which we published in 2018 and which was shortlisted for the 2019 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards.
Here’s a bit about the story:
Lucy is spending the holidays with her grandparents at an old house near a loch.
Thomas the cat disappears on the train trip there and Lucy is frantic.
Taking advice from her spell book and a talking library, Lucy casts a spell to find him.
But when she does there’s something different about him…
Can Lucy Newton solve the mystery in her second magical adventure?
Charlie Chaplin: The Usual Suspect, by Phoebe McArthur, has just received its first review, in Read Plus, with the reviewer, Carolyn Hull, recommending the novel. Here’s a short extract:
This book has been written in the style of a Trixie Belden mystery – a young girl who can solve problems and crimes with only the help of other kids. It will appeal to young readers who love a mystery story...
We are delighted to reveal the gorgeous cover of Four All at Sea, our September title and upcoming new chapter book, written by Sophie Masson and illustrated by Cheryl Orsini. It’s also the sequel to Sophie and Cheryl’s popular title, Four on the Run, which we published in September last year. In this cracking new adventure, the four loveable friends(who just happen to be machines!) find themselves marooned on a deserted island: at least, they thought it was deserted! But eek, what is that scary noise they can hear??
Another lovely review for Fil and Harry: this time by Dannielle Viera, on the Buzz Words site. Here’s a short extract:
Award-winning author Jenny Blackford has delivered a delightful junior fiction novel suitable for kids aged seven to ten. The friendship headaches that Fil suffers from are common in this age group, so youngsters will immediately feel empathy for the troubled protagonist. And who doesn’t love the idea of owning a talking cat? …..Kristin Devine’s images are exceptionally detailed, which encourages young readers to pause and ponder what is happening in the story.