Announcements, authors, Books, Illustrators, News

Our upcoming picture book title

Two Tales of Brothers cover higher resWe are delighted to present advance information about our upcoming new picture book title, Two Tales of Brothers from Ancient Mesopotamia, by John Heffernan and Kate Durack, coming out in mid-May. It’s our tenth published title, and the sixth title in our ‘Two Tales’ series.

Two Tales of Brothers from Ancient Mesopotamia

Retold by John Heffernan

Illustrated by Kate Durack

Published by Christmas Press

May 13, 2016

Hardcover, A4 size

ISBN: 9780994234049

RRP: $19.99

The ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia, located in what is now Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, produced one of the world’s great heroic sagas, the Epic of Gilgamesh.

In this exciting, lively retelling, popular author John Heffernan brings two stories from the Epic to engaging life for young readers, while new illustrator Kate Durack’s striking illustrations, inspired by Ancient Mesopotamian art, superbly illuminate the mythical world of the heroic brothers.

John Heffernan is a well-known, award-winning Australian author who has written for children and teenagers in a variety of genres and styles, from picture books to young adult novels, reality to fantasy.

Born and raised in Brisbane, artist and illustrator Kate Durack lived and worked in Sydney and Malaysia before moving to the regional NSW town of Walcha, where she now lives. Her work has featured in several exhibitions. Two Tales of Brothers from Mesopotamia is her first picture book.

Announcements, authors, Books, Imprints, interviews, Launches, Second Look

Interview with Duncan Ball

Duncan Ball author picIn this great interview, author Duncan Ball talks about his fabulous book, This School is Driving Me Nuts and Other Funny Plays for Kids, launch title for our Second Look imprint, which was published this month.

First of all, Duncan, congratulations on the publication of This School is Driving Me Nuts! We are delighted that it’s the launch title of our Second Look imprint. Can you tell us something about the process you went through, updating and revising the original plays from Comedies for Kids?

Authors rarely get to re-write their work after it’s published. It’s all set in stone once it’s a book. After Comedies for Kids was published I read and re-read the shorter plays out loud in schools.  I could see that some of the jokes needed changing because either the kids didn’t get them or they just needed little changes to get bigger laughs. And when I saw some of the plays performed I could see how they could be improved. When Second Look agreed to re-publish the plays I had lots of notes about how to make the plays better and that’s exactly what I did.

You wrote a new play, “The Teeth of a Vampire”, for the new edition. What was that like, going back into the spirit and atmosphere of the collection to create something new?

I really enjoyed it. All I had to do was to re-read the other plays and I was back in the groove again. Writing comedy is very challenging but, when it works, it’s the best.

Performance of Perils of Prince Percy, Australia
Performance of Perils of Prince Percy, Australia 2009

Plays suitable for children to perform–especially funny plays!–are not easy to find. Why do you think that is?

Kids love to read plays. I discovered this when I was working at the School Magazine at the NSW Department of Education. I think the reason for this is because plays don’t have all the (sometimes boring) description that other writing has. They also like the novelty of having the story all in dialogue. I think that many publishers avoid publishing plays for kids is that they’re afraid that parents won’t buy them. They’re wrong, of course.

What are your top tips for writing plays kids will enjoy?

It’s important to write what you enjoy reading. If you enjoy it there’s a good chance that others will too. When it comes to writing for kids an adult (like me) has to try to become a kid again. When I sit down to write I become the

Perils of Prince Percy performance Canadian Northern Drama Festival 2010
Perils of Prince Percy performance Canadian Northern Drama Festival 2010

twelve year old I was many many years ago.

Tell us about some of your favourite anecdotes regarding these plays.

There are so many things that have happened regarding these plays. Here are a couple of them that spring to mind:

Three of these plays were performed by First Nations kids (Cree Indian high school students) in Northern Saskatchewan in Canada. They took their productions to provincial and national competitions and won themselves a number of prizes. I was sent videos of the plays but I wish I could have been there to see the actual performances.

Recently, a woman contacted me to say that when she was in primary school she and her cousin acted out one of the plays, “Yak Attack” for their grandmother. Last month her grandmother was having her 90th birthday and said that she loved the play so much she wanted the women to act it out again—which they did.

Waiting for John Doe performance Canadian Northern Drama Festival 2012
Waiting for John Doe performance Canadian Northern Drama Festival 2012
Murder at Muckup Mansion Canadian Northern Drama Festival 2009
Murder at Muckup Mansion Canadian Northern Drama Festival 2009
Announcements, Books, Business, Eagle Books, Imprints, News, Second Look

Two new imprints coming soon!

We are very excited here at Christmas Press, because not only have we got some fabulous new titles coming up in our core Christmas Press Picture Books list–watch this space!–but we are also debuting two wonderful new imprints this year–Second Look Publishing and Eagle Books.

second look logo Final mediumSecond Look Publishing: New editions, in e-book and print on demand format, of classic out of print Australian children’s literature, featuring plays, poetry and fiction. Our launch title(March 2016) is a completely revised edition, with a new play added, of a hilarious collection of plays for children by Duncan Ball, illustrated by Craig Smith, which we’ve retitled This School is Driving Me Nuts and Other Funny Plays for Kids (originally published in 1988 as Comedies for Kids). It will be followed in July/August 2016 by a new illustrated edition of Libby Gleeson’s powerful first novel, Eleanor, Elizabeth.  We plan to publish two-three Second Look titles a year.

 

 

Eagle Books: A new list also debuting in 2016, this will focus on adventure novels for older readers,  by both classic and contemporary authors. The launch title (April 2016) is a magnificent limited edition of the first new English translation in over a hundred years of  a great classic adventure novel by the legendary French author Jules Verne. Translated by distinguished translator Stephanie Smee, with illustrations by David Allan, Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff is a major publishing milestone! Eagle Books logo small

Eagle Books will publish 1-2 titles a year.

More details on the Eagle Books and Second Look websites soon!

Books, Business, Launches

Welcome to Little Pink Dog Books!

little pink dog booksWe are delighted that our hometown of Armidale now boasts another children’s books publisher besides Christmas Press!

Little Pink Dog Books, which opened for business on December 30 2015, will be specialising in picture books for young children, by new and unpublished authors and illustrators only, and will publish between one and three books a year initially.  They are open to submissions at the moment.

Little Pink Dog Books is owned and operated Kathy and Peter Creamer, who are fairly new to Armidale but have previously run a children’s books publishing company overseas. Kathy is an author-illustrator with a long publishing career, and has worked on over sixty books, while her husband Peter looks after the business and production side of things.

We caught up with them this week, and asked them a couple of curly questions!

What’s the reaction been to Little Pink Dog Books so far from authors and illustrators?

The reaction has been remarkably good, with our first manuscript submission arriving just a day after the launch of our new website and Facebook page.  Since then, we’ve had submissions arriving at the rate of two or three a week, but unfortunately, not a single submission from illustrators. I think we may need to adjust the information on our website to make illustration portfolio submission a little more prominent.

Other reactions have been that it’s good to see a new publisher that specializes in Children’s picture books.

It’s been viewed as a very enterprising initiative that could help a significant number of locally based talented authors and illustrators.

What are the advantages of running a publishing company from a regional town like Armidale? and the disadvantages?

 Advantages

 Armidale is full of creative people who know each other and are keen to work together.

Being a small community, everyone knows about you and what you do, so you don’t have to advertise too much.

Artists and illustrators in Armidale are keen to experiment and we have been impressed with the range of different techniques, skills and media people use as part of their creative expression.

Armidale is on the NBN, which is a fabulous advantage in terms of moving information around.

We are also very conscious that quality is vitally important and hence your reputation stands for a lot!

Disadvantages

 The book services for printing, distribution and marketing do not appear to be readily available within the Armidale area.

The number of traditional retail outlets for the product is very small in number.

Access to events and shows where one can promote picture books is difficult, but not impossible, with most such events being held in the various state capital cities.

Costs for services, equipment and consumables are also inevitably a little higher than in the larger cities.

Getting your products and the authors and illustrators who created them a public profile will be more expensive here, as they would need to travel to key events usually held in major cities.

 

Congratulations on the launch of Little Pink Dog Books, Kathy and Peter! 

 

 

 

Books, Business, celebrations

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

As 2015 draws to a close, we celebrate a great year, with some wonderful achievements for Christmas Press, our gorgeous books, and our fantastic authors and illustrators!  Thank you to everyone–creators, readers, booksellers, reviewers; our wonderful production manager Karen Small, our hardworking distributors Dennis Jones and Associates, Australian Standing Orders for ordering our Christmas book again, and all our friends and supporters!

Here’s to a lovely Christmas and an even better year to come!

WP_20151206_005

Books, Reviews

Great review by Hazel Edwards of Three Dragons!

hazelWe were delighted and honoured to hear that the distinguished and very popular author Hazel Edwards has posted a wonderful five-star review of Three Dragons for Christmas, on Goodreads. The review follows below but you can also read it here.

Review by Hazel Edwards

Dragons appeal to young readers and even pre-readers. Lots of thoughtful artwork in this collection.

‘Three Dragons for Christmas’ is a suitable gift of the imagination for an entire family. It won’t be read only at Christmas.

Beautifully designed with traditional illustrations and even a mouse on each of the endpapers, plus a bookplate for the owner’s name, this is a book for keeping (even when downsizing). Check out the green dragon scales on the endpapers too.

The three tales are very different but all share the rhythm of well structured stories where the reader identifies emotionally and cares what happens to the character…in each case a small dragon.

Sophie Masson’s ‘The Christmas Dragon’ wants to be a sleigh-pulling reindeer. The job interview with Santa when you’re fiery, not cool, was fun. Lisa Stewart’s postcard provided a different perspective even if 5 cents seems cheap postage in dragontimes.

Fiona Mc Donald’s ‘Dragon Market’ was like many present day community markets and the eventual dragon merchandise sells well.

And the witty book titles within the Beattie Alvarez’s illustrations for ‘The Dragon’s Pet’ include Encyclopedia Draconica and First Flames.

Both the design and type of tale have a traditional feel, and the book is VERY green, with scales. All read well aloud (especially by grandparents to 5 year olds).

Older readers ( and adults) will also enjoy this trio of stories by three different authors, two of whom are illustrator-authors and the extra Dragon artwork by illustrator David Allan.

Highly recommended.

Announcements, Books, News

A sneak peek at our Christmas title!

Dragons Front Cover LargeOur fabulous new Christmas title, Three Dragons for Christmas, is being released officially this week, and we thought you’d enjoy a sneak peek at it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book, which is a gorgeous hardcover with gold foil stamping on the front cover titles, coloured endpapers, and lavishly illustrated throughout, features three fabulous stories: Dragon Market, written and illustrated by Fiona McDonald; The Christmas Dragon, written by Sophie Masson and illustrated by Lisa Stewart; and The Dragon’s Pet, written and illustrated by Beattie Alvarez.

Illustra
Illustration by Fiona McDonald

 

Illustration by Lisa Stewart
Illustration by Lisa Stewart

It’s a wonderful book to read aloud to children, or for children to read by themselves. The perfect Christmas gift! Available from all good bookshops, or direct from us.

 

dragons beattie Christmas-Day-Brighter
Illustration by Beattie Alvarez
Announcements, Awards, Books, Illustrators

Congratulations, Ingrid!

wolfskin and huntressCongratulations to wonderful illustrator Ingrid Kallick, whose gorgeous illustration for Charlotte McConaghy’s story, Wolfskin and the Huntress, in our Once Upon A Christmas anthology(edited and compiled by Beattie Alvarez, published 2014) has just won the Society of Illustrators (USA) Bronze Medal for Children’s Illustration! It has also been chosen to feature in the Society of Illustrators’ big show in Los Angeles.

We are absolutely delighted!

Once Upon a Christmas front cover

Books, Business, Events

We are at Book Expo this weekend

Duncan Ball with Tengu TalesWe are going to be at Book Expo in Sydney this weekend, showcasing our beautiful books, merchandise and exciting things to come. And our fabulous author Duncan Ball will be there on both days doing events. Come and see us there and say hi! By the way, we still have a few free tickets available… email us for details on contact@christmaspresspicturebooks.com

And check out our Facebook page for Book Expo updates.