Tag Archives: Martine Murray

Snapshots from a novel #3

Extracts from the sensory and beautiful How To Make A Bird by Martine Murray.

‘I didn’t mean to say it like that. Sometimes sentences rushed out before I checked them over for holes or hidden weapons.’ p6

‘I spent a lot of my life waiting, to tell you the truth, which was why I was getting out of town. It was a deliberate strategy, a counterattack to waiting, which wasn’t getting me anywhere. There are two types of waiting. There’s the waiting you do for something you know is coming, sooner or later – like waiting for the 6.28 train, or the school bus, or a party where a certain handsome boy might be. And then there’s the waiting for something you don’t know is coming. You don’t even know what it is exactly, but you’re hoping for it. You’re imagining it and living your life for it. That’s the kind of waiting that makes a fist in your heart.’ p16

‘It’s not surprising that someone in my circumstances would always be wanting something. Probably ever since I started out with the wrong shoes. There was the wanting and there was the waiting, too. That’s two feelings that move all out of step with each other. Waiting doesn’t really move, it doesn’t have direction, whereas wanting dashes out of you, like an arrow. So if you wait and want and wait and want, then you live in a jagged way. You go along in zig zag, not in a clear line forward, like most people do.’ pp41-42

BTW, I was reading Martine’s Henrietta Gets A Letter aloud to the Little Monkey (5) recently and was pleasantly surprised when the Little Dragon (9) joined us, then my god-daughter, aged 10. Moments later my god-son (7), added to the throng. Only a good story draws kids in like that. The Henrietta books are junior fiction in the vein of Lauren Child’s Charlie & Lola books – quirky & fun.

Favourite children’s books

My daughter, the Little Monkey, has just started school. So far, so good. Her feedback consists of “great” and “all you do is play in Prep”. On the down side, she thinks attending school necessitates accelerated maturation. On a recent visit to the library she announced that she was too big for picture books and only interested in chapter books now. Then she armed herself with bundles of pink stuff about fairies and ballet dancers.

Much as I admire her ambition and determination (she doesn’t read yet), I was sad to hear this. I love picture books and I read to one or both of my children every night. As a result, I’m fairly familiar with the children’s bookshelves at the local libraries. We also have an extensive collection at home. Personally, I plan never to grow out of picture books.

Here are 25 books for little people that this big person never gets sick of reading and the kids don’t tire of hearing:

    1. The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson, illustrated Axel Scheffler (Small conquers big with smarts. A deserved award winner)
    2. Dogzilla – Dav Pilkey (Punster heaven)
    3. I am Not Sleepy & I Will Not Go To Bed – Lauren Child (Delicious use of language with house-faves Charlie & Lola)
    4. The Kiss That Missed – David Melling (Fantastic illos and a fun story focused on a lost goodnight kiss)
    5. Applesauce & the Christmas Miracle – Glenda Millard, illustrated Stephen Michael King (Beautiful. Hard to read without getting teary, esp. since the Victorian bushfires)
    6. Vegetable Glue – Susan Chandler, illustrated Elena Odriozola (Healthy message made fun)
    7. Jethro Byrde, Fairy Child – Bob Graham (Be kind)
    8. Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten – Bob Graham (Light overpowers darkness)
    9. Bim Bam Boom – Margaret Wild, illustrated Wayne Harris (Counting fun with great sound effects for the kids to do)
    10. Ruby Makes A Friend – Tina Burke (Imaginary friends are cool)
    11. Wombat Divine – Mem Fox, illustrated Kerry Argent (Finding your place at Christmas)
    12. Amy & Louis – Libby Gleeson, illustrated Freya Blackwood (Friendship defies distance)
    13. Rosie Sips Spiders – Alison Lester (Fave foods, games, jobs, beds, lists, gorgeous pix)
    14. Splat: Explosive Adventures of a Fish Left Home Alone (series) – Terry Denton (Anarchic tales full of twists)
    15. The Giant Jam Sandwich – John Vernon Lord (Co-operation saves a town. Zany pix)
    16. Blue Hat, Green Hat – Sandra Boynton (Colours & humour. The kids used to laugh themselves silly.)
    17. Dumb Bunnies Collection – Dav Pilkey (Every boy I know loves these.)
    18. Yuk – Kes Gray, illustrated Nick Sharratt (Tomboy Daisy dresses herself for a wedding)
    19. Where is the Green Sheep? – Mem Fox, illustrated Judy Horacek (Opposites and simple rhymes for toddlers)
    20. The Waterhole – Graeme Base (Lush, mysterious illustrations and an environmental warning)
    21. Millie – John Marsden, illustrated Sally Rippin (Love knows no limits)
    22. Mannie & The Long Brave Day – Martine Murray, illustrated Sally Rippin (Courage and creativity)
    23. We’re Going on A Bear Hunt – Michael Rosen (Fun to chant aloud)
    24. Miss Lily’s Fabulous Pink Feather Boa – Margaret Wild, illustrated Kerry Argent (Friendship, loneliness and the horrors of a guilty conscience)
    25. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak (Classic adventure starring a boy with a temper and a wild imagination)

That’s just a taste. Get into a good children’s bookstore or library and you’ll find there’s hours of fun to be had.

Newsflash: The Little Monkey has decided she still likes picture books. Most excellent news!

Listing

Coming up to Christmas the media fills up with list articles. Top Tens of this and that. Bests and Worsts. Most memorable. The Season/Year/Decade/Century in Review and so on. It will be even more rife this year as we’re ending a decade.

Why do so many of these get published? Because they’re easy to write. Because people like them and argue over them. And because they’re usually a great filler at a time of year when less newsworthy stuff happens.

I indulged in lists here last year. This year I’m so befuddled I’m listing sideways myself. Better to be listing than listless, I guess. Here be some recommendations from me:

Favourite things I read in 2009, (old or new)

A Beginner’s Guide to Living – Lia Hills
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
The Faceless Ones – Derek Landy
Henrietta – Martine Murray
Little Brother – Cory Doctorow
Paper Towns – John Green
Somebody’s Crying – Maureen McCarthy
Ten Mile River – Paul Griffin

Picture books:
Mannie & The Long Brave Day – Martine Murray & Sally Rippin
Isabella’s Garden – Glenda Millard

2009 favourite listens

It’s been an odd year for my iPod. Normally I buy albums. This year I purchased individual tracks and largely sat with favourite albums from 2008 – or delved into the past to discover Tom Waits, John Coltrane and retro Wilco.

Of the few new albums that have had regular rotations, my favourites have been Smoking Gun from Lady of the Sunshine, Wilco from Wilco and White Lies for Dark Times from Ben Harper & Relentless7.

2009 favourite films

Man, there were so many flicks I wanted to see this year but didn’t get to in time (District 9, Samson & Delilah, Balibo, Blessed, The Changeling, Coraline). I’ll catch some of these on video over the silly season. Of those I did get to, I really enjoyed Ponyo, Watchmen, The Reader and The Hangover. I saw the latter with a bunch of mates on a boys’ night out. Laughed until my jaw hurt.

Given my aforementioned befuddlement, I know there will be things I’ve forgotten.

Personal highlights from the year have included finding a passionate publisher for Five Parts Dead, some of the workshops I conducted with students around the state and getting to know several other authors … and then realising we all struggle with the same stuff.

Every year has its tough times too. My thoughts are with those whose lives were altered forever by the February 7 inferno, along with those confronted by cancer or mental illness. Hang tough.