Category Archives: The Truth About Penguins

Speaking Youth to Power

Many moons ago when I was teaching at UWA, I heard a creative writing lecturer talk about how writers often find themselves ‘worrying at a particular knot’. Maybe they’re writing all kinds of different things, but somewhere in the midst of each of them, if you look deeply enough, or from the right angle, you’ll find some version of this one theme or concern.

The writer, of course, doesn’t always know this. Slightly fewer moons ago, when I was easing out of teaching at UWA, I had a student say to me, “It’s interesting how so many of your poems are sort of about containment.”

And I said Huh?

And she said, “You know … how you’re always talking about borders and margins, inside and outside, about edges and stuff like that.”

And I said, No I’m not … am I?

And then she showed me. And lo and behold, I was. And still am. At least in my poetry.

poetry2 Poetryimage1

There are similar knots in my work for young people, one of which I became aware of recently because it features in both The Penguins Are Coming! and DUCK! Continue reading

Two Birds, One Stone

… would be the name of my book launch, if I was having one. Which I’m not, even though Frané Lessac is standing by to dress up as anything I so choose.

Despite the allure of Frané in a duck costume or a penguin outfit, or possibly both in rapid succession like the quick-change artist she definitely is, I won’t be having an actual launch event this time, but two books will nonetheless be launched onto an unsuspecting picture-book-reading public.

One book about a duck. The other about penguins.

I told you a bit about the first one recently. I told you a bit about the second eight years ago, at which time I was also launching-but-not-launching my very first duck book. I guess there really is nothing new under the sun. Continue reading

The Truth Is Still Out There

As many of you know, I have been working for some years to dispel the many myths that circulate about penguins. My picture book The Truth About Penguins was an important step in this process.

Since its publication, I have gone into schools, libraries, festivals – wherever they will have me – presenting the facts to children young and old. Some of my audience, I find, are more easily persuaded than others. Some are downright stubborn.

Earlier this week, to kick off the National Year of Reading, I went down to Kwinana Library. There I attempted, mostly in vain, to preach my penguin-y gospel.

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Everything Old Is New Again

Or at least one thing. Specifically, this:

It’s my new book, The Truth About Penguins. And my old book, The Truth About Penguins.

Confused? Don’t be.

If you look closely, you can see differences in the two books – in size, font, and other small elements to do with presentation.*

I’m delighted to announce that The Truth About Penguins will be out in paperback in December, just in time for Christmas. It’s lovely to see my work getting a new lease on life like this, and I can only hope the new format helps it find its way into the hands of even more readers over the coming months.

* For the eagle-eyed reader, there is another crucial difference. If you have access to both copies, the last page of text will reveal all.

At the Zoo

Just a fine and fancy ramble
To the zoo.

But you can take the crosstown bus
If it’s raining or it’s cold,
And the animals will love it
If you do.

Somethin’ tells me
It’s all happening at the zoo.

It wasn’t cold or raining. It was fine and sunny. I didn’t have time to catch the bus but that was okay because my thoughtful hosts had reserved a parking space for me.

But it was most definitely all happening at the zoo.

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a1050-cvrduckforadayYesterday, I learned that Duck for a Day (illust. Leila Rudge) had been selected as a Notable in the Younger Readers Category of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards. An hour later, I learned it was on the shortlist. Shortly after, my inbox looked like this:


Thank you, lovely, supportive writing friends. Thank you, Children’s Book Council. I never imagined my duck might quack loudly enough to be noticed. I’m thrilled.

And I’m mindful, too, of the many books that didn’t make it on to the various lists (Duck is my fourth book, my first listing). With every award, there’s a chorus of excitement and head shaking. What about this one? And that one? Why that one?

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Penguins in Japan

After the book trailer workshop I did in late 2009, I had the best intentions of putting together trailers for my 2010 titles. However, life and busy-ness overtook me and that didn’t eventuate. I was very excited to see recently that my penguins nonetheless have an international video presence. Skip ahead to 14:50 in the video below (original version here) and you’ll see what I mean.

[Update Feb 2015: It appears that the video has now been taken offline. The internet is now sadly without “Penguin TV”. But you can still read the transcript/translation I made below]

This guy Kazuoki Ueda seems to be some sort of penguin researcher who is fond of picking up representations of penguins in literature and popular culture. On a visit to Melbourne last year, he came across The Truth About Penguins in a bookstore and decided to pick up a copy for his discussion group back in Japan.

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Three More Things on Thursday

I am still in the trenches. Last week, I said I would pop my head up again, “all things being well”.

That may be something of an overstatement. The novel goes slowly, more slowly than it needs must (is that an actual sentence? It sounds like it should be. I guess this sort of digression has something to do with why the novel goes slowly. If I’m having to ask what constitutes a sentence, I am clearly in trouble).

But today was better than yesterday. There is progress. And that is a good thing, on a Thursday, when the book is due on a Monday.

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Three Things on Thursday

It’s been too long between posts again and that may continue for a while. Sometimes there is a limited number of words to go around and I have to use them all for the more important stuff, being the books themselves.

I have my head down on a deadline at the moment, which is equal parts energising and terrifying. If you had told me a couple of years ago that in October I could strip back and rewrite a book scheduled for publication in March, I would have laughed.

I’m not laughing now. In a secret place, I may be weeping. But I’m writing, and that’s good. It’s the main thing, after all.

So it’s a quick post from the trenches, to poke my head up briefly and share three things that have made me smile mightily over the last few weeks of bloggy silence.

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The Penguins Are Here!

It’s launch day at last! Following relatively hot on the heels of the publication of Duck for a Day, I’m very excited to announce the launch of my first picture book, The Truth About Penguins, featuring illustrations by the copiously talented Mark Jackson.


There will be no official launch as I am still in Japan. This is perhaps fortunate as it has made it easy for me to resist the temptation to hold a joint launch party for both books under the banner “Two Birds, One Stone”, a slogan which may have traumatised small children.

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