Search Results for: gleeson

August 26

Dinner with Libby Gleeson

I was lucky enough to attend a dinner held by the Blue Mountains CBCA Sub-branch recently, at which the amazing author, Libby Gleeson, was the guest speaker.

Libby is a renowned Australian children’s author, having written over 30 books – many of which have won awards. In particular, she has had books shortlisted for the CBCA Awards thirteen times and won three times – and she has also been applauded in many many other literary arenas. (See her current tally of awards here).


A fascinating and passionate speaker, Libby spoke about her collaborations with many talented illustrators, read a favourite picture book to us (Uncle David) and then moved on to discuss her writing for older readers. She spoke in detail about developing the story for a picture book, and certainly knows the ways to engage readers of all ages.

Sharing an example of what inspires her writing, Libby spoke about the encounters she had with refugee children at a Sydney school which lead to the novel, Mahtab’s Story.

Libby Gleeson was privileged to meet some young girls who had already faced many devastating  situations in their homeland, and who are survivors of their refugee struggle – this could be part of their tale… (From another point of view : Mahtab’s story)

We were also honoured as she read from her newest manuscript, 1918, which is due for release in 2018, as part of the Australia’s Great War, book series from Scholastic. It is exciting to be able to look forward to more from Libby Gleeson, and we are thankful that her inspiration as writer and mentor to others continues.

It is exciting to be able to look forward to more from Libby Gleeson, and we are thankful that her inspiration as writer and mentor to others continues, alongside her passion for great children’s literature.

[Click here for other posts about Libby’s books on ‘Weeksy Reviews’.]

## I was also lucky to win a prize on the night – a package of books from Empowering Resources – a publisher of high-quality children’s picture books and junior novels that nurture educate and empower children. We encourage meaningful conversations in homes and in classrooms. (Thank you to  Empowering Resources.)

May 22

Who am I? ‘Red’ by Libby Gleeson

She rouses herself, caked in mud, covered in debris. Where is she? what has happened? Better still, who is she?

In a daze, her eyes finally focus on a boy ‘sitting on a kitchen table in a muddy pool’. As she babbles incoherently, he slaps her hard across the face – not a very auspicious beginning to a friendship. However, they do becomes friends, as Peri is a person she has to rely on, while the girl struggles to remember who she is and how she got there.

‘Red’ is set in Sydney, following the events created when a cyclone devastates the eastern suburbs. In survival mode, Red and Peri team up. Glimpses of memory return as they move about finding food and shelter amongst the devastation. Red, though she cannot remember, is sure she has a family who could be searching for her, and so they skirt around the shelters set up to help those impacted by the cyclone’s destruction.

Peri was a street kid before the disaster, and so his skills protect them. They want to avoid the authorities taking charge of them – a decision which comes mainly from Peri, though his reasons are unclear. Red accepts this, and together they move about in survival mode, until a discovery makes their anonymity even more important.

Libby Gleeson has successfully created a mystery which unravels slowly as ‘Red’ recovers her memory, bit by bit. A friend from the past fills some gaps, though lost contact between Jazz and Red leave an absent period in Red’s life. Objects and places they encounter jog her memory also – but only to suggest to her that she is in great danger.

There are some interesting devices in Libby Gleeson’s story:

1. I love that a safe haven for Red and Peri is the school library

2. Red carries a picture book from that library with her – the story of which brings hope and colour into her thoughts. (#Trying to guess which one – think this may be similar to a recent publication?)

3. The disaster hits Sydney with an impact that recalls our shock about the Queensland floods, while we were still able to carry on our daily lives here in NSW – in the story life carries on in the suburb of Burwood, and areas outside of the eastern suburbs seaboard.

There are also others that I won’t mention, as they may be spoilers, but needless to say, Libby Gleeson has created a tale which reflects the chaos caused by natural disasters and the inner resilience of people, woven into a thriller which has you guessing ‘what next?’.

As an extremely successful author, an advocate for quality children’s literature and a passionate teacher of her art, Libby’s talents provide another great read for enthusiasts from senior primary to lower secondary school – certainly one to promote interest and discussion.

Here’s a book trailer, released by to introduce ‘Red’ and a link to Libby’s website for more great writing:

August 13

Author! Author!

Image-1Have a look at these author websites – which abound with information about their books, and many of which discuss their writing styles and writing ‘secrets’.

(Note, their websites differ,  just as their writing styles differ… but are there similarities in their writing advice?)

WEBSITE AUTHOR Tristan Bancks Jackie French Scott Gardner Libby Gleeson Morris Gleitzman Andy Griffiths Richard Harland Sonya Hartnett Libby Hathorn Sue Lawson James Moloney Michael Morpurgo Alice Pung James Roy Karen Tayleur Fiona Wood Suzy Zaill
Category: | Comments Off on Author! Author!
August 21

And the winner is… (CBCA Awards 2015)

protectedHow exciting! Congratulations to local Blue Mountains authors and illustrators who were awarded highly in this year’s CBCA awards.

Firstly, Claire Zorn, who was nominated last year for her debut novel, the Sky so Heavy, took out the Book of the Year honours in the Young Adult category with the Protected. A timely book – dealing with bullying, sibling relationships and the impact of the untimely death of youth – the Protected is raw, real and thoughtful, and well deserving of the CBCA accolades. Previously reviewed here – we loved it too!

Another Blue Mountains winner was Freya Blackwood who was shortlisted in 3 categories.. and won in 3 categories. Obviously, the authors with whom she collaborated were part of the equation, but to to be teamed with the likes of Libby Gleeson and Irena Kobald, Freya must have proven her worth. Having worked with Libby since their first collaboration on Amy & Louis, won a Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in 2007, Freya’s talents have continued to shine through in 2015.

‘It’s the first time in the awards’ 69-year history that a single creator has been honoured three times in the same year’
. [Three times lucky…]

Freya’s beautiful pencil and watercolour illustrations in The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and The Present combine well with Libby’s prose to tell a tale many young children will identify with, if they have enough imagination to look for ways to have fun.

cleo cover_s

Freya and Libby also paired to win the Early Childhood category with Go to Sleep, Jessie! – a heart warming story of a sister trying to find a way to comfort her little sister.GotoSleepJessie

my two blIn My Two Blankets, Freya’s illustrations combine this time with Irene Kobald’s concise prose to reflect a cautious integration into a new culture by a young refugee girl.

The gentle nature of the illustrations, with the repetition of the safety of the blanket, and the slow development of the girls’ friendship help to show how new relationships can grow in the face of change; just as Freya works in a different relationship with another author.

# I loved this year’s awards, so much much to ponder  – the first time in many I have actually agreed with the judges!

What did you think? Did you agree with the judges for 2015? or were there other more deserving winners?

July 11

List of Reviews

Here is a list of the books reviewed at this website since 2007. I will endeavour to keep it up to date; though if the links don’t work, you can always search the title in the search box to the right… (Forgiving human failing, of course.)

Title First Name Surname
10 Little Insects Davide Cali
A Rose for the Anzac Boys  Jackie French
After Sue Lawson
Alek, the Extraordinary Life of a Sudanese Refugee Alek Wek
Alexander Altmann, A10567 Suzy Zail
Anonymity Jones James Roy
Are You Seeing Me? Darren Groth
Baking Cakes in Kigali Gaile Parkin
Beautiful Malice  Rebecca James
Black Water  David Metzenthen
Born to Fly  Ryan Campbell
Brain Fit Dr Jenny Brockis
Burial Rites Hannah Kent
Butterfly Sonya Hartnett
Chanda’s Secrets Alan Stratton
Chasing the valley Skye Melki-Wegner
City of Ember (2nd review) Jeanne Duprau
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, The Mark Haddon
Dead I Know, The Scot Gardner
Diet Starts on Monday Tamar Chnorhokian
Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, the  E. Lockhart
Do Hard Things Alex & Brett Harris
Don’t Call Me Ishmael!  Michael Gerard Bauer
Dragon Rider  Cornelia Funke
Dying to Know You Aidan Chambers
Expressologist, The Kristina Springer
Extra Time Morris Gleitzman
Fault in our Stars, the John Green
Finnikin of the Rock  Melina Marchetta
Forgotten Kat Patrick
Frida: Chosen to die, Destined to live Frida Gashumba
Friday Brown Vicki Wakefield
Future Minds Richard Watson
Ghost’s Child, The  Sonya Hartnett
Go Set a Watchman Harper Lee
Golden Day, The Ursula Dubosarsky
Hamlet: a novel John Marsden
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  J.K. Rowling
Hatched: Celebrating 20 years of the Tim Winton Award for Young Writers Tim Winton (ed)
Hating Alison Ashley  Robin Klein
Help, The  Kathryn Stockett
Hostage Karen Tayleur
Incredible Here and Now, the Felicity Castagna
Inheritance of Loss, The Kiran Desai
Into White Silence Anthony Eaton
Invention of Wings, the Sue Monk Kidd
It’s a Book Lane Smith
Jac of Hearts Jenny Mahoney
Jane Bites Back Michael Thomas Ford
Jarvis 24 David Metzenthen
Jasper Jones Craig Silvey
Kensington Reptilarium, the N.J. Gemmell
Kill the Possum James Moloney
Leaving Barrumbi Leonie Norrington
Lesson Before Dying, A Ernest J. Gaines
Level Up Gene Luen Yang
Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher, The Doug Macleod
Life of Pi, The Yan Martel
Life on the Refrigerator Door Alice Kuipers
Light Between Oceans, The M.D. Stedman
Listen to the Moon Michael Morpurgo
Love like Water Meme McDonald
Loving Richard Feyman Penny Tangey
Mahtab’s Story Libby Gleeson
Marty’s Shadow John Heffernan
Midnight Zoo, The Sonya Hartnett
Minnow, the Diana Sweeney
Miss Chopsticks Xinran Xue
Monster Blood Tattoo: Book One: Foundling D.M. Cornish
Monster Blood Tattoo: Book Two: Lamplighter D.M. Cornish
Mountain Wolf Rosanne Hawke
My Big Birkett Lisa Shanahan
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece Annabel Pitcher
the Night Circus Erin Morgenstern
Nine Days Toni Jordan
One Whole and Perfect Day Judith Clarke
Orphan Train Christine Baker-Kline
Peasant Prince Li Cunxin
Pharaoh: the boy who conquered the Nile Jackie French
Prized Caragh. M. O’Brien
Red Libby Gleeson
Red Shoe, The  Ursula Dubosarsky
Red Spikes  Margo Lanagan
Rosebush Michele Jaffe
Ruins of Gorlan, The John Flanagan
Shahana Roseanne Hawke
Shiny Guys, The Doug MacLeod
Shiver Maggie Stiefvater
Shooting Kabul N.H. Senzai
Short and Scary Karen Tayleur
Six Impossible Things Fiona Woods
Slave of the Lamp Paula Fogarty
Slaves of Socorro John Flanagan
Still Alice Lisa Genova
Stolen Lucy Christopher
Straight Line to the Heart Bill Condon
Switched Amanda Hocking
Tales from Outer Suburbia Shaun Tan
Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love Sarah Butler
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
Tomorrow When the War Began John Marsden
Trash Andy Mulligan
Twilight Stephenie Myer
Two Wolves Tristam Bancks
Unpolished Gem Alice Pung
Vincent Barbara Stock
War Horse Michael Morpurgo
Wavelength A.J. Betts
We Were Liars E. Lockhart
What I saw and how I lied Judy Blundell
When we were two Robert Newton
Where the Streets had a Name Randa Abdel-Fattah
the Wishbird Gabrielle Wang
Wilful Eye Ursula Dubosarsky
Wizard’s First Rule Terry Goodkind
Wonder R.J. Palacio
Worldshaker Richard Harland
Wrong Boy, the Suzy Zaill
Yoko’s Diary Paul Ham (editor)
Zac and Mia A.J. Betts
Zebra Forest Adina Gerwirtz



March 20

From another point of view… Mahtab’s Story

mahtabThe plight of refugees is often in the headlines – and often for the wrong reasons. Thus, it was interesting to read this tale from Libby Gleeson, which reflects many of the feelings of families of war-torn countries who flee for a better life.

You can imagine that the decision to leave your homeland is not one taken lightly, and it can be fraught with great dangers, disappointments and frustrations. But faced with the alternatives of the ongoing conflict and daily struggles for survival, many families take on these challenges, risking life and limb (and complete family savings) to find a better place to live.

Libby Gleeson was privileged to meet some young girls who had already faced many devastating  situations in their homeland, and who are survivors of their refugee struggle – this could be part of their tale…

“Two weeks crouched and hiding, body rigid, waiting every minute for the loud bangs that might come on the cabin wall. Two weeks of fear, of the ice stone in the belly, of holding your breath, of whispering, of blocking from your mind everything you know or have heard of what they can do. They. Taliban. The whip-carrying men in black turbans. The ones who had been cruel to her father, to Grandpa…” (pp. 21-22)

Mahtab and her family begin their journey away from the troubles of Afghanistan in the back of a truck, beneath heavy furniture and sacks of grain, as the truck lurches towards the mountains and Pakistan – their first safe haven. Once there, their struggles have only just begun as her father is told: “you must go first… it is better that way.”

Will he go? After all, Mahtab thinks, their survival so far had relied on the fact that they were together. And if her father goes ahead, how long might they wait for him? Will they be safe – a woman with no man to protect her in an unfamiliar city? Will they ever see him again? And where will they ultimately find a home?

Mahtab’s story is based on the true story of a couple of refugee girls Libby met at a Western Sydney high school. She has captured some of the horrors they faced, the multitude of feelings common as they flee, and, using Mahtab’s thoughts, she reveals how it might well be for many, many young children who have simply been born in the wrong (war-torn) location. Lots of food for thought.

See Libby discussing the beginnings of her book here: