A lovely first review of Phoebe McArthur’s Lucy Newton, Cat Trouble, has just been published on the Read Plus blog. Here’s a short extract:
This is a short but charming story that is full of magical ingredients, apprentice witches, spell books and talking cats, a world that is part ordinary and part magic. Lucy has a habit of ignoring adult warnings and then having to solve the problems she creates. Her spell book is also a ‘learner’, hence the well-intentioned chaos that ensues.
We are delighted to announce that we have acquired author Rebecca Fung’s fabulous new chapterbook for young readers, A Very Special Moon Mission. Rebecca’s earlier chapter book with us, Princess Hayley’s Comet, illustrated by Kathy Creamer, was published in 2018 and this year has also been produced as an audio book by Spineless Wonders Audio.
A Very Special Moon Mission is a standalone title, and features main characters Phoebe, Elliott and Julia. Phoebe and Elliott are best friends but Julia, the unpopular new girl at school, has tagged along with them on them on a visit to the local Space Station. There, they meet the three astronauts competing to be the first woman on the moon, and they’re also introduced to the magnificent rocket known as The Obsession, and its know-all super computer IMP. But when they start the rocket without meaning to, and IMP malfunctions, the adventure takes a real turn for the unexpected! Sure, a moon mission is great: but how do you get back to Earth?
Written with Rebecca’s characteristic verve and humour, this is a really fun read for young readers 6-9. It will also feature pictures by acclaimed illustrator David Allan, and will be published by Christmas Press in July 2022.
About the author:
Rebecca Fung works and lives in Sydney, Australia. She loves to write children’s fiction and several of those stories have been published in Christmas Press anthologies Once Upon a Christmas, A Toy Christmas and A Christmas Menagerie. Her first book, Princess Hayley’s Comet (illustrated by Kathy Creamer) was first published in print by Christmas Press in 2018, with an audio book edition published in 2021. A Very Special Moon Mission is her second book.
About the illustrator:
David Allan is an illustrator and artist whose first picture book, Two Trickster Tales from Russia(retold by Sophie Masson) was published by Christmas Press in 2013. His second picture book, Two Tales of Twins from Ancient Greece and Rome(retold by Ursula Dubosarsky) was listed in Good Reading Magazine’s Best Books of 2014. He has also illustrated Two Tengu Tales from Japan(retold by Duncan Ball, 2015) and Two Enchanted Tales from Old China(retold by Gabrielle Wang, 2017), and the chapterbook Petal and the Really Hard Riddle, written by Kathyrn England (2018), all published by Christmas Press. He illustrated Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff(translated by Stephanie Smee, Eagle Books 2016) and has also illustrated for storybooks and anthologies, including The Stuff of Tales, published by Arts North West. David’s work is in private and public collections and he has exhibited artworks in both solo and group shows. He lives in the New England region of NSW. www.davidallanart.com
We are very pleased that the delightful audiobook of Princess Hayley’s Comet, narrated by Aimee Smith, is included in a couple of great little promotional videos by Spineless Wonders which focus on the books and authors in their growing audiobook list. Check out the videos below or on the Spineless Wonders Audio You Tube channel.
We are delighted that Sophie Masson and Cheryl Orsini’s delightful duo of chapter books, Four on the Run and Four All At Sea, have just received a pair of lovely reviews from Matt Wilson at his excellent blog, A Word About Books.
Here are extracts from each of the reviews:
Four on the Run: Desperate times call for desperate measures and these four plucky and spirited wheeled friends are determined to do whatever needs to be done…..Sophie Masson’s funny, charming and original adventure story about four friends who just happen to have wheels is a great early chapter book….The story races through its seven chapters and features black and white illustrations from Cheryl Orsini. With lots of excitement, a little bit of peril and bags of friendship and heart, Four on the Run will be a hit with vehicle loving children.
Four All At Sea: It’s far from smooth sailing for Flash, Lady, Fergie and Maxie as the four ‘wheelie’ good friends find themselves in all sorts of bother in their second adventure together….Bags of fun, mayhem and close scrapes are in store in this fast-moving and delightful early chapter book that will be a hit with children who love vehicles and adventures….The exciting storyline and fabulous illustrations will keep young children hooked and with seven short chapters it is the perfect book to read over the course of a week.
Following the recent publication of Lucy Newton: Cat Trouble, the second book in Phoebe McArthur’s fabulous Lucy Newton series, we are very pleased to announce that the audiobook edition of the first book in the series, Lucy Newton, Little Witch, is now out and able to be purchased from many retail platforms. Beautifully narrated by the wonderful Aimee Smith, with sound design and effects by Gio Sancho, and production by Spineless Wonders Audio, it is an absolute pleasure to listen to and conveys so well the warmth, fun, and humour of this lovely title.
We are delighted to announce that today is publication date for our latest fabulous chapterbook title, Phoebe McArthur’s Lucy Newton, Cat Trouble. It’s the fun sequel to Phoebe’s earlier title, Lucy Newton, Little Witch, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards. An enjoyable story full of twists and turns, some unusual characters–like a talking spell book and a gossipy library–as well as bright, engaging Lucy, and lively black and white illustrations combine to make this a real treat for young readers.
Want to know more? Here’s the fantastic trailer for the book:
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!
The first review for Four All At Sea has just been published, on Kids Book Review, and it’s great! Here’s a short extract:
In Four All at Sea, the personification of the characters and the objects that surround them, steer the story through dialogueand point of view with humour.
Flash, Fergie, Lady and Maxie have tasted success after living on the farm in unintended neglect. Now, with shiny new paintwork that matches their stardom, they are travelling for the first time overseas on a ship with their owner Mrs Brown, to film their first movie with Peachey Productions.
You can read the whole review here. It’s by Anastasia Gonis, who also reviewed Four On The Run last year.
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.