For those of us who create, work with or love books, May has become the month of festivals! There are so many writers’ festivals this month, it’s almost impossible to keep track. If you live in or near one of the many cities hosting a writers’ festival, I hope that you’ve managed to find something that both piques your interest and you were able to get tickets for. If you don’t live near one of these festivals, many of them still have some virtual or hybrid sessions you may be able to attend, so make sure you have a look. The Australia Reads website is a good starting point to find links to most of the major literary festivals and celebrations in Australia.
The Teeny Tiny Stevies are not just very talented musicians, they also tackle some really big topics that many caregivers struggle with when they need to discuss them with very small children. Their latest picture book, How Brave I Can Be, looks at the small moments of fear and bravery that come with being a kid, and that parents also navigate. Children are encouraged to build resilience and keep trying new things, while the tricky bits of navigating parenthood are also portrayed. The overall message that parents can learn from children as much as children can learn from their parents lets kids know that learning is a lifelong journey. The accompanying illustrations are bright and engaging, and help the reader follow the changing voice of the narrative. A fantastic addition to any school, classroom or home library.
It’s time for Pebble to leave the forest and live with humans for a while so he can release his proper monster skills. He’s not sure that he’s ready for this, but bravely ventures forth, and finds himself living with Wren and her dads. Wren is excited to have Pebble living with her; she really enjoys being scared. But it turns out that they both have a lot to learn: Pebble isn’t a very scary monster and doesn’t enjoy being scared himself; while Wren surprises Pebble with her “shape-shifting” skills for Halloween, and the fact that she has bones. This funny, sweet graphic novel tackles problems both big – what makes a good friend – and small – don’t eat candy wrappers – as Pebble and Wren learn how to see the world through the eyes of someone very different from themselves. Pebble and Wren is ideal for children 7+ with some experience with graphic novels.
The tale of Orpheus and Eurydice is a tragedy of a life cut short through jealousy and love almost conquering death. As the title suggests, Orphia and Eurydicius switches the genders of the two protagonists, but it does much more than just retell the story. As Apollo’s daughter, Orphia is a powerful warrior and poet. However, her poetry forbidden her by father, she concentrates on the skills of a warrior. She wins every tournament, aided by the power of the poetry that flows within her. The men she trains with treat her with disdain and coldness, while Orphia notices the bruises of the women around her. Finally, Orphia uses her anger at the treatment of these women, and herself, to defeat the king’s son. That evening she meets Eurydicius, a shield maker, who looks at her with something that’s not contempt, but nor is it merely desire. But while love grows between them, Orphia knows that there are other battles she must fight, battles that affect both the gods and the people on earth… This is a stunningly written reimagining of the classic tale, as well as exploring contemporary issues in an insightful and considered way.