Elaine Forrestal

Book Week 2019

Australian cover of Someone Like Me

Amidst all the excitement of Children’s Book Week, with its revelations of brand new talent and acknowledgements of familiar favourite authors, it is good to know that some of the past winners of Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards still survive and even thrive.

In the present era, when it is often said that books have the shelf-life of milk, Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas has recently celebrated 35 years in print since it was first published in 1983. And on the 6th September it will be acknowledged at The Literature Centre in Fremantle that Someone Like Me, my second novel, which also won a CBC Book of the Year Award and has been published in the UK and translated into Slovenian and Italian, is now regarded as an Australian Classic. It  has been continuously in print for 21 years.

Yay! Let’s have a party! And wish all of this year’s winners every success and a long career in the fascinating world of children’s books.

Spreading the Love

Miss Llewellyn-Jones and Teddy resting their feet at Subiaco Library

Love Your Book Shop Day got off the a great start when Miss Llewellyn-Jones was getting out of her car in the Subiaco Library car park. A 4yr old who happened to be passing by with his dad, asked loudly and curiously, ‘Why is she dressed up?’ That gave me (aka Miss Llewellyn-Jones) the perfect opening to have a conversation with them both about Love Our Book Shop Day and the fact that we would be telling stories and having fun with Miss L-J’s washing.

And our luck held for the rest of the morning. The sun shone, children came and went, with or without their parents who were shopping at the Subiaco Saturday Markets next-door or changing their library books. Miss Llewellyn-Jones kept telling her story and Dymocks Subiaco staff and management smoothed the way for the event, which was held in the library because the Dymocks book shop is too long and narrow for such an expansive person as Miss L-J. However the people there are full of enthusiasm and knowledge about books and the library was happy to provide a bigger venue.

Many thanks to everyone involved. We are already looking forward to next year when, hopefully, we will do it all again – with a different story.

Miss Llewellyn-Jones and Love Your Bookshop Day

Elaine Forrestal disguised as Miss-Llewellyn Jones

Miss Llewellyn-Jones has lost her washing again. If you see her searching for it outside Dymocks Subiaco Book Shop, or at the Subiaco Library between 10am and 11 am next Saturday, go up and talk to her. She will tell you the stories of how the wind blew, many times, and took her washing away on all sorts of unusual adventures. And if you already know the story you might be able to answer one of her questions and win a prize. She will be giving out books to anyone who can help her find her well travelled washing, and telling some of her other stories as well.

Award winning illustrator, Kelly Canby, also loves Dymocks Subiaco and will be painting a Miss-Llewellyn scene on one of the shop windows on Saturday morning. She and her son, Will, talk to Miss Llewellyn-Jones when they see her shopping in the store with her grand children, Isaac and Naomi. Although on those occasions Miss L-J is heavily disguised as Elaine Forrestal.

We hope to see you in Subiaco on Saturday morning. If not, go along to your local book shop on Love Your Book Shop Day – Saturday 10th August 2019.

WA Premier’s Literary Awards Resurrected!

The Hole, by Kelly Canby, The Happiness Box, by Mark Greenwood, Puddle Hunters, illustrated by Karen Blair, took the top three spots in the WA Premier’s Awards

Hearty congratulations to all the winners, shortlisted authors,  illustrators and everyone who entered the new, revamped  WA Premier’s Literary Awards !

‘But …,’ you are entitled to say. ‘What about YA?’ ‘What about creative non-fiction?’ ‘What about …?’ The list goes on. We all know that this year’s Awards are not perfect. But they are a new start. The judges this year were invited to make comments on things that needed to be improved. They  have raised several relevant points and made suggestions about how the competition can be improved for next year. For now, suffice it to say that there will be a ‘next year’, which is a relief after such a damaging hiatus. As Lesley Reece said to the Minister for Arts and Culture on the night, ‘We punch above our weight here in WA, with more successful writers, per capita, than any other State in Australia. We deserve support –  and more funding.’

Good on you, Lesley! You are such a trouper!


Grab the chance to see the SSPP production of Fox

One of the great joys of School Holidays is that they provide an excuse for going to Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. Fox was showing during these holidays.

The first production of this stunning show was staged in 2015 and my friend and I took all four children to see it. They were, of course, four years younger then, the little one just four years old. Recently we asked them how much they remembered about the show from last time. ‘Not much’ was the consensus. ‘Good,’ we said. ‘It will be quite new to you then.’ At this point the eldest, who had been fourteen at the time, began to dredge up some details from what seemed to her to be a very long time ago. Hearing her recollections sparked the interest of the others. ‘Does the crow die?’  her brother wanted to know. She refused to tell. After a few unsuccessful attempts at making her spill the beans everyone decided they needed to go and see the show again to find out.

With tickets duly booked and all four children in tow my friend and I met at the theatre. There was a mixed audience ranging from toddlers to teenagers but, once the show began, there was not a sound from the auditorium. From the youngest to the eldest, everyone was absolutely mesmerised by the story unfolding on stage. In a combination of dance, drama, music and sound effects this powerful story, adapted from the picture book by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks, wove its timeless spell. My friend and I were blown away, not only by the stunning production of this immensely powerful story, but by the fact that, for 50 minutes, over a hundred people of all ages sat watching in complete silence. Usually, in children’s theatre, at least one kid wants to go to the toilet. But this time no one moved.

At the restaurant afterwards we all agreed. There are some stories that speak to everyone. And this is one of them.