Category Archives: children’s literature

Oh What A Night!

The Children’s Books Council of WA’s annual A Night With Our Stars event was held on Friday 18 March at the Bendat Parent and Community Centre in Wembley. En-masked, sanitised and socially distanced teachers, librarians, publishers, booksellers, writers and illustrators were out in force, and those of us lucky enough to present were boggled at seeing the list of more than 75 – count them, 75! – books by Western Australians published in 2021. We really are punching above our weight in this state, and Friday’s event showcased a mere sliver of the talent out there.

Some of the presenters, mind you, were alone the producers of two (Amy Calautti, Aśka, Alicia Rogerson, Cristy Burne and Denis Knight) or even, ridiculously, three (Karen Blair, Jasmine Berry, Kitty Black) books in 2021 – although utter ridiculousness was reached only by Briony Stewart, who published four books with three different publishers.

I was the last presenter of the evening, talking about Mel and Shell, and rather felt the weight of the highly entertaining presenters before me. I was gratified at the response I received from the assembled crowd, perhaps because they were eager to return to the glories of the catering and wine supply – and I was even more gratified when a number flocked to my ABBA record display and fondly recall which they had possessed back in the glory days of the Swedish superstars.

Thank you CBCWA for organising another smashing event, and to everyone who shared in the joy. I leave you with a couple of happy snaps to recall the energy of the evening.

Thanks Bianca!
Ask H M Waugh how many times she’s been kidnapped
Seasoned professionals
You can tell we’ve entered a new phase of the pandemic
Not terrified of her first presentation at ANWOS, no!

The Flyaway Girls: what Paula thinks

As a jiggly-bottomed girl who can’t do a cartwheel, reviewing a novel that focuses on competitive gymnastics drew some trepidation and perhaps a wobble around my middle.

But the The Flyaway Girls is a well paced story for young girls aged between ten and fourteen. I read it one sitting. It flows beautifully like a rhythmic ribbon touching on the nature of friendship, competiveness and self-acceptance.

Chelsea is a devoted hard working gymnast who at the ripe old age of eleven has to work out although hard working and dedicated she is not naturally gifted or exceptionally talented. She does not have the right stuff. Chelsea is steaming mad when an untrained new comer Telia, apparently rips her dream position on the coveted National team from her grasp.

Chelsea’s focus becomes so intense and driven that it begins to cause her all sorts of problems particularly with her friendships and family.

Her obsession to get to the Olympics over rides life. The competitive nature of sport and coaching is called into question.

After a knee injury, she is rude to her two friends, Rosie and Gemma who don’t understand her ambition and single mindedness. They are devoted to their musical instruments but choose to enjoy it and take a more moderate approach.

Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Dad has chosen to live in Canberra with his new partner and that’s got to hurt. In fact, it is revealed that Chelsea channels her negative feelings to overcome her fear of the vault. It’s a tip she gives Telia who is having problems with this one piece of equipment.

Telia is a naturally adept at all sports but doesn’t have that drive and prefers to have fun. Ironically, it is in Telia’s company that Chelsea enjoys herself but the green-eyed monster gets in the way and bridges have to be built.

It’s all pretty intense and a little bit alarming that by the end of primary school the girls have worked out their limitations and accepted them. Telia drops out to enjoy the next sport and Chelsea realises she is great at supporting and teaching gymnastics. The two combine their skills and zest for fun to come up with The Flyaway girls, their dance gymnastic display rocks the end of the year concert and a compromise is found.

The themes of the natural verses the hard worker, of self-acceptance and seeing where you fit into the big picture of things are well drawn and totally accessible and relevant to the young pre/teen girl.

Reviewed by Paula Hayes, Creative Kids Tales

The Flyaway Girls: what Wendy thinks

From Good Reading magazine, February 2016

Four stars

‘… In Chelsea we see a character who is determined and goal-oriented to the point of obsession. It’s the sort of drive that an elite athlete needs, but sometimes, no matter how hard the person words, the goal isn’t achieved. We feel Chelsea’s distress when her dream is shattered. But we’re also delighted when she learns that family and friends should never take second place to their own ambitions. It’s a story for those of us with dreams and for those of us who live with someone who has a driven personality.’

Wendy Noble