Kate Simpson is one third of the team behind One More Page, a kids’ book podcast launching next month. Based in Sydney, Kate and her co-hosts Nat and Liz are all kids’ book fanatics with experience in a variety of areas of the writing industry, and all write picture books. Their podcast will cover books for babies through to early YA. I caught up with Kate to find out what’s involved in creating a podcast, what inspired them, and a little more about what to expect from One More Page.
Allison is a bestselling middle-grade author from the south coast of NSW. She has published five books with Hachette in Australia, with another release due in March 2018. Her first book, Race To The End of The World, was named a notable book by the CBCA Book of the Year 2015, and shortlisted for several other awards. Allison also works as an online tutor for courses with the Australian Writer’s Centre.
Vanessa Williams is the Children’s International Associate Publisher at HarperCollins. HarperCollins is Australia’s oldest publisher, in operation for more than a hundred years, and has its Australian office in Sydney. Vanessa currently manages the Australian publication and sales of children's and YA books from international authors.
Sue is Head of Library Services at Haileybury’s Brighton campus in South East Melbourne. Haileybury is an independent school, and the Brighton campus has about 1300 students from Early Learning Centre through to Year Twelve. Sue has worked in libraries for over 30 years, the previous twelve of those in schools.
Koala Lou - Mem Fox My son, like most kids, will go through a phase of wanting the same bedtime story every night for a week or two until you manage to distract him with a new favourite. I was trying to distract him after only a few nights with this one because every time the sad little koala goes back to her mummy and gets that hug, I have to blink and swallow. Motherhood. It screws up your hormones.
At the moment, it feels like the "what I'm currently reading" section on my homepage never changes. Partly because The Idiot takes a lot of brainpower to read, partly because I'm also beta-reading several unpublished novels that I can't put there, and partly because my time is eaten up by writing and small children. What I am reading a lot of, several times a day, is picture books. Reading with my children is one of my favourite things to do, has the added benefit of being easy when I'm physically tired AND it helps kids prepare for school. But every now and then I come across a book that seems to affect me a lot more than it affects them...
Someday - Alison McGhee Ok, I'll be honest. This didn't make me cry. But I have friends who bawled their way through it, so I'm including it on the list because again, it speaks a truth about parenthood that resonates with people. Children come to us with no expectations about their own lives, but we have all these dreams for their future that are ultimately tied up in one: we want them to experience life.
Love You Forever - Robert Munsch This is the one that made everyone cry at Emma's first birthday party on Friends. Happy tears, of course. Because there's something about unconditional love that is so beautiful we can't help but feel overwhelmed by it. When you're holding your own tiny, trusting little person that brings you joy and pain and hope all in one, books like this only repeat a truth that you - and every generation before you - already knew.
Here in the Garden - Briony Stewart The good thing about children's books that deal with loss is that it's pretty obvious as soon as you pick the book up what's going to happen. There's no being shocked by a horrible death halfway through, because that's just cruel to do to a small child. That said, you can still get a lump in your throat from reading them. This one is about a little boy who is remembering the good times he had with his rabbit. Most of us who have had a pet will also have lost a pet (assuming you're a grown-up reading this) and its hard not to read a story like this without thinking of that special buddy. *sniff*
Missing Mummy - Rebecca Cobb Ok, this was written for a pretty specific purpose and I'm not recommending you read it to your child unless they're actually going through something very similar. But as an adult, skimming through books in the library, I was silly enough to open this and read through the pages. Then I was that weirdo in the children's section of the library quietly sobbing to herself. Mostly because the thought of my children having to grow up missing me and putting flowers on my grave is just too much. That said, if your child has lost their other parent and you just want to be able to cry together, go for it. Or if you're wanting to use this in a classroom with high school kids to talk about Point of View and how books are used to relate human emotions, have fun trying not to tear up in front of your class.
Croc and Bird - Alexis Deacon We're out of the "make you bawl" territory and into the "give you a warm fuzzy feeling" zone now. This is a sweet little story about two brothers who are very different but who love each other as family all the same. It's really about finding your place in the world, and learning that there are people who will accept you and celebrate you for who you are.
Only One Woof - James Herriot Much like Here in the Garden, I think this is a story for animal lovers more than anyone else. It's bittersweet, and probably hit me extra hard because we had to rehome one of our two dogs and it feels like we split up best friends. Even sad kids' books have a happy ending or moral to the story, and this is certainly no exception, but it's exactly that happy ending that gives the preceding story more of a sad feel.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge - Mem Fox I moved to a different continent when I was five, so I was never as close to my grandparents as some. It's only much more recently that I've come to appreciate the elderly and begun to take the time to listen to all they have to say about life. I'm a sucker for stories about cross-generational friendships like this one (and mine). There needs to be more kids in the world like Wilfrid.
The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein The rest of the books on this list were published before I was born, but they've had a big enough impact on the world that people are reading them generations later. This one is beautiful. It's a story for adults more than children, reminding us that we are the ones that make happiness more complicated than it needs to be, and perhaps destroy good things in the process. It's a lesson in gratitude; one I think we could all stand to learn again and again.
Oh! The Places You'll Go - Dr Seuss This always used to be a fun rhyme to me and nothing more. Nice lessons, sure, but emotional? Nah. Then I had a little person to read it to, and suddenly it was giving me shivers. "Be sure where you step, step with great care & great tact and remember that life's a great balancing act."
Dogger - Shirley Hughes I toyed with putting this in "friendship" but what gets me about this story isn't Dave and his toy dog. That's a beautiful attachment, of course, but everything about this book is predictable. Oh, it's a story about a kid and his favourite toy? I bet he loses the toy. Oh, his family are off to the fair? I bet they'll find it there. Oh, he's gone to find more money? I bet some other kid will buy it before he gets back. Nothing new. Maybe it was new to its very first audience. Anyway, I count it as "bringing the feels" because of the big sister. There's nothing more special than watching someone you birthed and raised show genuine compassion and love for another person. This is a book that any kid with a favourite toy, any adult who once had a favourite toy, or any parent of a kid with a favourite toy can relate to. But if you're a parent of two or more, it might make you extra misty-eyed.
Do you have a favourite children's book that makes you cry, or shiver, or leaves you feeling warm and happy? Share it in the comments below!