November News Round-Up: The Magic Bookshop & Wandering Star

WS Cover

It seems difficult to believe that we are now in November, and I have spent the day looking through proofs for a book that is going to be published in May, 2019!  My next book is another picture book, one which I am sure is going to appeal to many horse-loving children. The book is called Wandering Star, and it’s a bit different, because it is the first picture book text I have written in verse form. It’s also the first complete book I have had illustrated by Stephen Michael King, an illustrator whose work I have admired for many years. Stephen and I have worked together before, as he illustrated my poem, “A Boat of Stars”, included in the anthology of the same name which I edited with Margaret Connolly. Stephen’s illustration was used on the cover of A Boat of Stars when the anthology was published by ABC Books earlier this year; and many years ago, he also did a complete set of beautiful covers for one of the Australian editions of the Lily Quench series. You’ll be hearing more about Wandering Star over the months to come, but for now I am happy to share Stephen’s exquisite cover. The book will be published by Scholastic; its publication date is 1st May, 2019.

The Magic Bookshop, my latest collaboration with Cheryl Orsini, is now in the shops. If you have read either The Tales of Mrs Mancini, or our books about The Fairy Dancers, you will recognise the format: it’s a 48 page, fully colour illustrated collection of three connected stories. The format is particularly good for children who are transitioning out of picture books and into chapter books, because the stories are a little bit longer, but still have colour illustrations on each page. Cheryl and I have had a lot of success with this format in the past, and we really enjoyed working on this one, which is about a boy called Ben (named for my godson), whose grandfather owns a very mysterious bookshop. It’s a place where practically anything can (and does) happen, as you can see from the picture below. The metaphor of the bookshop as a portal into other realities is very resonant one, and has almost unlimited potential for a writer. With this in mind, a superb set of teachers’ notes (complete with magic tricks!) has been prepared by HarperCollins. It is available for download here.

INT TheMagicBookshop FinalPages LR pdf  page 18 of 25 INT TheMagicBookshop FinalPages LR pdf  page 23 of 25

One of the things I have always appreciated about Cheryl's work is her use of colour. Each book has its own specific colour palette, and as you can see from the pictures included here, The Magic Bookshop is particularly rich and beautiful with lots of reds, yellows and dark blues. The illustration to the left comes out of a conversation we had very early in the process, when I was still writing the stories, and asked Cheryl if there was anything she particularly wanted me to include. She said she wanted to do some illustrations with lots of white rabbits. The result was a scene in the third story, “Magician” where Ben finds himself having to deal with a population explosion of bunnies in a theatre that appears behind one of the bookcases. (Needless to say, he manages to find loving homes for all the strays.)

  The Magic Bookshop is available now from your own magical, local independent bookseller, or click here to order a copy from Booktopia.

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