Big congratulations to the wonderful author-illustrator Gabrielle Wang, who has just been announced as the new Australian Children’s Laureate for 2022-2023. So well-deserved!
At Christmas Press we are thrilled to have Gabrielle as one of our wonderful authors: her beautiful picture book with illustrator David Allan, Two Enchanted Tales from Old China, which we published in 2017, is an absolute delight. Still available now from all good bookshops! Gabrielle also has a story, Pony for Sale, which she illustrated herself (see illustration below, on right), in our 2017 anthology A Christmas Menagerie. (The anthology is also still available.)
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 delighted to announce that the crowdfunding campaign has launched today for the fantastic non-fiction book Inside Story: the wonderful world of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books. Published by UPA Books, our new collaborative imprint with Little Pink Dog Books under the United Publishers of Armidale banner, it will be released in May 2022. A full colour, fully-illustrated production, the book will be an absolutely invaluable resource for aspiring children’s writers, illustrators, editors and designers, and also be of great appeal to anyone interested in the wonderful Australian children’s book world. The crowdfunding campaign will help to fund a significant print run, enhanced marketing, and much more, and campaign contributors can choose from a great range of perks. Check everything out on the campaign page, and consider being part of Inside Story: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/inside-story-children-s-books-demystified/x/3485227
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’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!
Six-year-old Australian author Chelsea Hardi’s first picture book to be published in 2021
Richmond Publishing, in association with Christmas Press, is proud to announce that in April 2021 it will be publishing The Magic Ball of String, a beautiful picture book with text by a fabulous debut author, six-year-old Sydney resident Chelsea Hardi, who is not only one of Australia’s but also one of the world’s youngest published authors.
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 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 a dream come true for the young author, and one that children and families across Australia will take to their hearts.
Richmond Publishing (a division of Oliver Freeman Pty Ltd) is delighted that The Magic Ball of String will be on the 2021 publishing list of award-winning children’s books publisher Christmas Press, which will be 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.
Three beautiful princesses set out to explore the kingdom, looking for adventure. When they become separated from their father, and cross paths with a hungry bear, they become lost in the midst of a dark forest. The eldest princess is determined to find a way home, and the King is determined to find his daughters. And with the help of a man with a brave and kind heart, the grateful gesture of a tiny hedgehog, and a magic ball of string, everyone may just find what they truly seek …
We are delighted to announce our new Junior Fiction list, for young readers who want to graduate from chapter books, but aren’t ready yet to move into middle-grade fiction, and who still like illustrations in their reading! And we’re even more delighted that Fil and Harry, the debut book on this list, is by the award-winning team of author Jenny Blackford and illustrator Kristin Devine. Jenny’s previous novel with us, The Girl in the Mirror (published last year in the Eagle Books imprint) won the 2020 Davitt Award for Best Children’s Crime Novel, while in 2019 Kristin won first place in the New England Illustration Award, which is open to illustrators all over Australia.
Can Fil’s cat Harry really talk? And can he find a way out of the tangle she’s in? Read more about this fresh, lively and touching novel here. We’re publishing it in May 2021. Watch this space!
Christmas Press is absolutely delighted to announce that Jenny Blackford’s fabulous middle-grade novel, The Girl in the Mirror, which we published in our Eagle Books imprint in 2019, is the winner of the Best Children’s Crime Novel category in the 2020 Davitt Awards.
The Awards, which were presented by legendary Scottish crime writer Val McDermid in a virtual ceremony yesterday, Saturday September 26, featured a shortlist of 24 books across six categories. You can find the video of the ceremony here.
Prestigious annual awards with a 20-year history, the Davitts are run by the Sisters in Crime Australia literary organisation and showcase the best crime novels by Australian women writers.
The Girl in the Mirror, an enthralling mix of murder mystery, time slip and ghost story, is the debut middle-grade novel of acclaimed poet and short story writer Jenny Blackford. Illustrated with atmospheric black and white pictures by Fiona McDonald, the novel has received wide acclaim, with reviewers praising its ‘clever storytelling’ (Buzz Words), ‘silky smooth prose’ (Compulsive Reader) and its ‘enjoyable and revelatory’ qualities (ReadPlus). As Geoffrey McSkimming writes in the back cover quote, it is truly a ‘spine-tingling winner.’
Publishing director of Christmas Press, Sophie Masson, said, ‘Jenny initially submitted her novel to us some time ago in one of our open submissions period, and it immediately caught the eye of our commissioning editor Beattie Alvarez, for its haunting atmosphere, gripping narrative and sharp, evocative writing. We loved working with Jenny and are very proud to have published The Girl in the Mirror. We warmly congratulate Jenny on this very well-deserved win and thank the Davitt Awards judges and Sisters in Crime Australia for supporting the best in crime fiction by Australian women writers.’
United Publishers of Armidale, a collaboration between children’s books publishers Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, is delighted to announce that it is the recipient of a 2020 Resilience Fund Grant, an initiative by the Australia Council for the Arts.
The 2020 Resilience Fund is designed to provide emergency relief to support the livelihoods, practice and operations of Australian artists, groups and organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australia Council has directed more than $5M to the Resilience Fund to provide immediate relief to the Australian arts sector.
United Publishers of Armidale was granted funds under the Adapt stream of the Resilience Fund, to create a wide range of fun new free activities and resources centred around their books, to join those already featured on their website, www.unitedpublishersofarmidale.net These are aimed at children, families and schools. Funds will also be used by the publishers to create special ‘Journey of a Book’ video presentations for adults which will look at aspects of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books, around a focus on books produced by each publisher. These presentations, to be hosted on the UPA You Tube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCebJK9zqg1f1ROlrSrtAFuA, and showcased on their website, will be aimed at aspiring creators as well as anyone interested in children’s books.
Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, under our United Publishers of Armidale banner, wish to warmly thank the Australia Council for their generous support of our joint initiative. We look forward to creating some fantastic resources–watch this space!
Congratulations to Rebecca Fung, author of the fabulous Princess Hayley’s Comet, who has just had a short story for children, Homecoming, published in the prestigious and popular School Magazine! The story is in the May issue of the Orbit edition of The School Magazine. Here’s a sneak peek:
You can also read about the ‘batty’ inspiration for Homecoming, as well as a few words about the inspiration for Princess Hayley’s Comet, on Rebecca’s website.