Has anyone seen my carrots?
Excuse me. I need a scratch.
Ah, much better.
Jackie has vanished to Adelaide, Somerset, Sydney and Perth, leaving me her computer AND NO CARROTS.
This is not acceptable.
Yours, non-respectfully, Wild Whiskers
(I wish I could find that itch)
Third Witch, Koala Bare (with Matt Shanks) and Millie Loves Ants (with Sue DeGennaro) have been made Notable Books by the wonderful Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA). Thank you!
The Lily and the Rose
Age range: 14+
World War I is over, but can there ever truly be peace?
Sophie Higgs, Australian heiress, faces the revolutionary turmoil of Europe to rescue her fellow student, Hannelore, the Prinzessen von Arneburg.
And what of the mysterious Miss Lily? Can she ever return?
Even love seems impossible as the women who helped win the war expected to forget all they achieved on the battlefields. Sophie is torn between her very different feelings for Nigel, Earl of Shillings; Dolphie, patriot and enemy; and ‘John’, the man who carves stone crosses on Sophie’s Australian property for every man who has died under his command.
This is the second in the Miss Lily series, a cross, perhaps, between James Bond and Downton Abbey, as well as following not just the changing role of women, but how we see ourselves.
Barney and the Secret of the French Spies
Age range: 8+
Barney Bean now has his dream, his own farm. But when Elsie suddenly falls desperately ill, the secret of why she will not speak is revealed.
This story reveals more of the secrets of our past: the French invasion ordered by Napoleon, and the women like Jeanne Barre who disguised themselves as men to take part in great scientific adventures on voyages across the world.
Goodbye Mr Hitler
Age range: 11+
This is the best book I have written and the most deeply important. It is a book that matters – and I have never said that about my work before.
Goodbye Mr Hitler is the third in the loose trilogy that began with Hitler’s Daughter and Pennies for Hitler. It is the story of Johan; of Heide, who has now become Helga Schmidt; and Georg’s mother.
The book still has too powerful a hold on me to write about it – if I could summarise it I wouldn’t have needed to write the book. Perhaps this quotation from the last chapter might say what I can’t about the book and why it is one that so many need to understand, now, today, before the world begins another insane spiral that, as an historian, I recognise too well:
The world has many ogres. Some, like Mr Hitler, do not even know that they are ogres, but dream they are the hero of the story.
But I have learned this in the years since I was ten years old: when you see injustice, stand beside each other and seize your spears. My spears are made of words. Yours may be different. But do not hesitate or look away. If too many look away, the ogres win. To be mostly deeply human we must risk our lives for others. Only when we stand together can we be truly free.
It is not easy fighting ogres. No one who fights an ogre comes away unscarred, even if you cannot see the wounds. And so you owe the ogre hunters this.
When the ogre has been vanquished, sit down upon the quiet earth and try to understand the ogre’s anguish and his twisted fear. Only by understanding can we stop them rising in our midst.
When you understand, forgive.
And then stand up, and live.
Facing the Flame
Age range: 12+
As grass dries and the hot wind howls, Gibbers Creek will burn. But if you love your country, you will fight for it.
Facing the Flame is the seventh in the Matilda series, a heartbreaking and powerful story of the triumph of courage, community and a love for the land so deep that not even bushfire can obliterate it.
Set in the late 1970s, this book tells the story of a small rural community suffering through a debilitating drought. When bushfire catches and spreads, the people of Gibbers Creek must come together to defend their home and all that they have worked for; a dangerous struggle that many Australians must face each year.
Lu Borgino has been recently blinded, but she battles flames to save a racehorse, even though her dreams of being Australia's first professional female jockey have been destroyed.
Scarlett O'Hara risks her hard-won life at medical school and the new love of Alex Romanov, to save a child.
Flinty McAlpine draws on the local knowledge of tens of thousands of years to protect her valley.
All the while Jed Kelly must escape not just bushfire, but the man who plots to kill her with its power.
There have been fires before, but not like this.
Facing the Flame is written for both teenagers and adults.
This doesn’t include many other non-public events, it’s just meant as a guide to where I may be if there's anything else possible while I’m nearby. For bookings, check the terms on the website and/or contact Booked Out.
Some of the following are ‘possible’ i.e. not confirmed yet or details still being organised.
14–16 March: Somerset Literature Festival, Gold Coast, QLD
27–28 March: CBCA event in Sydney and Hitler’s Daughter event organised by HarperCollins in Sydney, NSW
14 April: Opening of Josephine Wants to Dance: the Musical at the Darling Harbour Theatre, Sydney , by Monkey Baa Theatre for Young People and Royal Australian Ballet. The rehearsal clips I’ve seen have been brilliant, hilarious, extraordinary...
11–12 May: Possible conference, northern Tasmania
18 May: SPELD event, Brisbane, QLD
20 May: SPELD family day, Brisbane QLD
20 June: SEATA, Adelaide, SA
10 July: ALEA conference, Perth, WA
20–22 August: Melbourne Book Week events organised by Booked Out
8 September: Possible joint Laureate event, Brisbane Writer’s Festival and possible events the week before
18–21 September: Events in Hunter Valley, NSW
The March Garden
March is the harvest month; the time to gather in what you have grown and keep it safe for winter. It’s a gentle month. The sun isn’t as fierce and there’s a touch of lushness in the growth — the autumn flush before the winter.
The weather is cooling now. With a few exceptions, like spinach, broad beans, and cabbages, the main vegetable planting time is over.
Spinach in warm areas; early onions; lots of cabbages of different sizes — early, small ones may mature by winter, others will mature in spring. Early broad beans put in now may get aphids; just pinch off the aphid infested tops, wash them, steam them, and eat them.
Tomatoes will be glutting now. Melons and okra will be ripening. Test melons for ripeness by sniffing them (a fruity smell indicates ripeness) and by tapping them to see if they sound hollow. As well as most summer vegetables, early cabbages and other winter crops may be starting to mature. This is a good time for peas and for digging sweet potato roots. Don’t pick pumpkins till the stems turn dry near the base of the pumpkin. Then, let them ‘cure’ or harden for a week or two on a hot roof or on dry cement. This will help stop them rotting in late winter. Pumpkins that aren’t quite ripe will still be sweet but they won’t store well.
Olives, oranges, lemons, kumquats, figs, late peaches, late nectarines, apples, passionfruit, pepino, babaco, pawpaw or mountain pawpaw in warm areas, sapote mulberries, hazelnuts, almonds, orange, lemon, tamarillo, strawberries, raspberries, brambleberries, early quinces, early persimmons, pears, melons, pecans, bunya nuts, late grapes, and banana passionfruit.
Plant more peas or broad beans for ‘green manure’: slash them in late winter or early spring, just as they start to flower, to provide mulch and fertiliser for a no-dig garden.
Start to prepare for frost now: work out which trees are vulnerable, like avocados, citrus and tamarillos, and start building shelters for them.
Keep up fruit fly lures till there have been none caught for three weeks. Most pests will vanish as the weather cools down.
Some Autumn Recipes
Knitted Spaghetti with Zucchini and Prawns
Leeks in Sour Cream
Cheese and Anchovy Loaf
Olive and Parsley Loaf
Sugar Free Jam
Scones (to eat with the jam)
Rum and chocolate Tiramisu