Monday, April 25, 2011

More Aki pics and some exciting news

Click here to see some more of Aki Fukuoka's gorgeous Billie sketches. This time for The Big Sister. I love seeing the way Aki's illustrations develop. I am such a fan of her work.
Recently, one of the Billie B Brown books, The Secret Message, was chosen for the 2011 Get Reading! campaign. This year's '50 Books You Can't Put Down' list features 35 Australian titles, with 13 of the 50 titles being children's/young adult books. This is obviously very exciting news, but for me, the best thing about this news is that Aki and I might get to do some gigs together and finally meet in person. Aki lives in New Zealand, so up until now we have only been able to correspond by email or through our blogs. Wouldn't it be fun if Aki and I could do some Billie events together? If this happens, I will definitely let you know. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Aki Fukuoka's preliminary sketches

For anyone who is a fan of Aki Fukuoka's gorgeous Billie B Brown illustrations, click here to see her preliminary sketches for The Secret Message.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Billie, Blondie and Birthdays - or how to survive a party with a hundred and one six-year-olds.

Who would have thought when I woke up last Sunday morning that later that very day I would be dancing to Blondie in The Victorian State Library with a sea of six-year-olds?
As part of the Wheeler Centre and State Library's inaugural Children's Book Festival, last Sunday we celebrated twelve months of Billie B Brown with a one year birthday party.
I was hoping for a good turn-out but had completely underestimated just how many excited little Billie fans I would encounter. It was a wonderful, if not slightly daunting, surprise. Immediately I began to worry about how on earth I was going to run all the party games I had planned when even getting all those dozens of kids to sit in one big circle nearly required a sheep-dog. But, we managed, and before long all the kids were sitting in an almost circle ready for the first game.
First up was pass-the parcel. But it was so noisy in that great big echoey Experimedia room jam-packed with excited children and parents that nobody could hear when the music stopped or started. The children were fabulous though and I am frankly quite amazed that the whole thing didn't end in tears.
Next, we played musical statues. But with so many more kids than I had anticipated, all of them grimly determined to win the prize, it took forever to eliminate the 'not winners'. Poor Jen, my publicist, was almost in tears herself after having to pull out kids each time the music stopped. Being a mother, I am made of tougher stuff. Having said that, we did actually end up with three winners but that was mainly because we ran out of time to play all the other games I had planned. Fortunately, I still managed to squeeze in a reading of The Birthday Mix-Up, though I think a 'shouting' would be a better description of what I did, and I'm still not sure that the kids in the back heard everything I said. Next time I will definitely request a mike!
It was a great day and hugely successful according to this article in The Age.
I finished up by signing what felt like hundreds of Billie books and meeting some adorable girls (and the odd boy) and their families.
So, thank you all so much for coming.
And hopefully see you all again next year when Billie turns two!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The POTS Club

Being the eldest of three girls, it never occurred to me that I would have sons. I simply assumed I would have three daughters like my own mother did – but obviously things don’t always turn out as planned. So, instead of swapping clothes, shoes and secrets, I find myself grappling with muddy soccer boots, smelly socks and testosterone swings.
After my third son was born, a fellow parent of three sons said to me: ‘Welcome to the POTS club!’
‘POTS club?’ I asked.
‘Parents Of Three Sons,’ my friend explained.
‘So... what happens if you have decide to have another child?’ I asked.
My friend looked at me, shaking her head, sagely. ‘Nobody ever tries.’
Being a mother of three sons turns you into a particular kind of person. You bond very quickly with other families of boys. Only POTS understand the noise, space and quantity of food boys need. Staying with friends who aren’t POTS requires a huge amount of planning and preparation. You can’t exactly call it a holiday.
Once, I was foolish enough to take up the offer of childless friends in Sydney to stay at their place rather than rent a motel room. Despite the rotten weather that week, I felt obliged to take my sons outside all day and every day, to the local park to burn off energy. After all, watching three boys wrestling in the middle of the loungeroom floor doesn’t appeal to everybody. Particularly the childless. Then, at the end of each day, I would feed my boys loaves of bread in the car before we went in to dinner to fill them up so they wouldn’t wolf down our host’s beautifully prepared meals in two seconds flat. It was exhausting.
When you go away with POTS, it’s merely a question of working out how many trays of meat and boxes of Weet-bix you should bring. As long as you’re equipped with plenty of meat and carbs, as well as a couple of footballs, you know you’ll be right.
But there are wonderful things about raising boys, too. Many, many wonderful things. My eldest son turns eighteen this year, yet he is still so full of love and affection towards me. Every morning he lumbers out of his bedroom like some kind of reeking Frankenstein for his morning cuddle. He lopes around in saggy jeans and a beanie in the middle of summer looking like a hooligan, yet he will jump up from his seat on a tram for an old lady without any prompting. Future girlfriends: he also cooks a mean chicken curry and even cleans up after himself!
My middle son will be fifteen this year, but every afternoon when he gets home from school he takes his seven year old brother out into the garden, to dig for worms, take apart an old toy or build a birdhouse. Sometimes they even play dress-ups and my oldest son will film them and make hysterical movies we all watch together.
My grubby, wrestling little boys are growing into beautiful young men: funny and gentle and kind. Now I can’t imagine having three more lovely children. What’s more, while my once smug friends of daughters have begun complaining about their increasingly difficult relationships with their teenage girls, my sons continue to be exuberant, loving and uncomplicated.
So, for any other other POTS out there, don’t feel daunted. Despite what people may lead you to believe, being a parent of three sons can be extremely rewarding. Just as long as you feed them lots and take them outside to kick a footy around every once in a while.

(This piece was originally written for: - a new parenting blog created by my Billie B Brown publishers, Hardie Grant Egmont)