of ceiling wax and other things

reading YA, graphic novels and the spaces in between



when is YA not YA? when it’s a fishbowl

I found Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (Bloomsbury, 2017) in the YA section of my local bookshop. I’d seen it around Goodreads and liked the vibrant cover and the premise, so I bought it. It took me almost a year to start reading and while laughing uncontrollably, I’m confused by the whole YA thing.

Continue reading “when is YA not YA? when it’s a fishbowl”

Justine Larbalestier vs Lili Wilkinson

In my new(ish) blogging adventure (which is somewhat lonely without MJ) I’m not meant to go off on tangents. I try really hard, but they just appear sometimes (and no one tells me off – occasionally I’ve been about to go too far, but I stop myself before uploading). eg. I was going to write a whole post about Craig Silvey’s nomination for Cleo’s Bachelor of the Year, way better than getting on the short list for the Miles Franklin Award :) My friend Cleo told me he’s a virgo. I once read virgos go together (and we have the same initials) so I thought I should ask him out. I’d better read Jasper Jones first – don’t want him thinking I’m shallow. I did like Rhubarb, particularly the hermit crab, but you can’t talk about hermit crabs for a whole date (well I could, but the other person mightn’t be so impressed). Luckily for CBCA WA blog readers I managed to relegate this little tale of no consequence to the comments, but here it gets first para!

Liar by Justine Larbalestier But hot guys and hermit crabs are not what I’m trying to blog about. How did I manage to start a post on a tangent!? At that other blog when I wrote about February’s Book Discussion Group of Liar by Justine Larbalestier (Allen & Unwin, 2009), things were going great, until suddenly Pink by Lili Wilkinson (Allen & Unwin, 2009) popped up without any warning whatsoever. Well, I was comparing them so there was a reason in my mind.

One of my points of comparison was both books

feature very odd schools (I have a theory JL and LW were competing to see who could imagine the most bizarre school, but I then discovered JL did go to an alternative school somewhat like Micah’s).

Pink by Lili Wilkinson LW commented that she went to a school similar to Ava’s in Pink. Being a catholic high school girl I’ve not experienced such schools, but catholicism caused my high school experience to be just as bizarre, it’s just I didn’t notice at the time. I did enjoy the class of no work, just sleep with your eyes open – religion. LW also said perhaps she and JL should have a competition for their next books.

I have the perfect idea for this comp, which hinges on JL’s recent gardening adventures, so here is another (very necessary) tangent. I was excited as an volcano to find out that JL was going to fill her very empty Sydney balcony with native plants, seeing as half my garden is filled with them (including a rapidly approaching 5m gum tree which might grow 10-40m). I do have a thing for locally native plants, rather than any old Aust plant, but I enthusiastically provided (way too many) Perth egs after someone suggested WA plants (many of which are happy to grow in sand with little watering) might be good for a sunny balcony.

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Governments do listen

Wow, I didn’t think they did, but the Australian Society of Authors told me yesterday that Federal Minister for Competition Policy Craig Emerson announced,

The Government has decided not to change the Australian regulatory regime for books introduced by the previous Labor government…read the rest

This means parallel importation restrictions on books detailed in Australia’s Copyright Act will remain unchanged. The ASA, Australian publishers, authors, illustrators and others campaigned all year to bring about this decision and they’ve succeeded.

ASA Executive Director Dr Jeremy Fisher acknowledged the Australian publishing industry was facing significant pressures.

Minister Emerson correctly highlights the fact that e-books and digital technology are having an impact on the Australian publishing industry. The ASA welcomes change. We constantly seek new means to increase authors’ incomes. We are currently in discussions relating to fair contracts for authors with regard to e-books and products such as Kindle. We have also taken an active role in the US-based Google Book Settlement, which will see authors being able to pursue income streams for out-of-print works. The ASA will always seek improved income streams for its members in both print and digital forms.

Of course the whole world, and one little rabbit, knew this before me, but I only have a few more paragraphs of thesis, then I might be able to join the living again.

Inky Goodness

Matata the reading Bengal cat by Justin Atkins on Flickr The longlist for the 2009 Inkys has been out for a while, but I’m experiencing some thesis induced insanity at the moment and the Inkys just remind me of all that YA reading I have to catch up on. You may notice Matata the reading cat has a predilection for classics, but she’s not averse to YA in between. I think she could out-read Inky the dog any day of the week.

When I first saw the list I thought the best book of recent times, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, outranked everything else, even the books I hadn’t read :P

Skim by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki But then I read Skim by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki which utterly captivated me and The Hunger Games moved down my list. I hadn’t noticed Skim was on the Inkys list at first, but how could such a masterpiece of word and image (my two fav things) not be. I didn’t think its graphic novel-ness was the deciding factor in my opinion. But perhaps it was because it’s the combination of the words and pictures which I love so much, especially the full and double page spreads of illustration, with Skim’s diary creeping across the scene. My favourite is Skim and Lisa trying to summon the dead boy’s spirit in the woods, and missing him because they’re facing the wrong way (right). Its partial repetition on the end papers makes for a beautiful book design.

My favourite words in Skim are repeated in the blurb. The Inkys page also has them, but they missed the most important line (you can’t trust a dog with ink on his paws)

I had a dream
I put my hands
inside my chest
and held my heart

to try to keep it still

The unusual angles, tantalizingly crossed out words of Skim’s diary and obscuring of Skim’s face so much of the time, until she finds herself and an unexpected friend, combine to make a work of art on a very different level to The Hunger Games. And I much preferred the UK/Aust cover to the Canadian.

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Confabulating Beastly Hunger Games

Beastly by Alex Flinn The other day I mentioned Beastly by Alex Flinn and mistakenly said it was by Suzanne Collins. I would love to read Beastly by Suzanne Collins, but sadly it’s only available in a parallel universe.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins I enjoyed Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (although I only read the first in the series) but her latest The Hunger Games is much darker and thought provoking. I read Beastly and The Hunger Games in quick succession and they morphed into one in my rantings about the Productivity Commission’s report on removal of parallel importation restrictions on books. I said the copy I read was printed in the US. Subsequently I looked more closely at the paperback Beastly and found no mention of where it was printed. I’m pretty sure it’s a US produced book due to the not-so-white paper and a second barcode on the inside front cover, which I don’t think Australian produced books have. Most books state where they were printed, as did the hardback of The Hunger Games I read (printed in the US).

I have a thing for pictures in books (in case you hadn’t noticed) and when a book has no pictures, I have to make do with the cover, thus I’m passionate about cover design. Despite my non-existent design skills, I have an amazing ability to establish just how lacking someone else’s design skills are :P which is what I’m about to do with Beastly and The Hunger Games.

I wasn’t particularly enamoured of the cover designs of either book. They’re both true to their contents but the “futuristic” font of The Hunger Games grated and the rose on Beastly annoyed me. You can’t really see this from the small pic of the cover, but it had some strange texture thing going on, which I obviously didn’t get. The roses in the story are real and the cover rose just looked photocopied. (Spanish cover is way better.) But I don’t hate everything, if you remove the dust jacket of The Hunger Games the golden mocking-jay on the plain binding is stunning.

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Parallel Importation Restrictions on Books

I cannot begin to convey to you the destructive stupidity of what is being proposed, nor the intense sadness and great anger that so many Australian writers feel about this proposal.

said Richard Flanagan in his Closing Address at the Sydney Writers Festival in May.

Unfortunately, the Productivity Commission ignored Richard Flanagan and many others in its report on the investigation into the current provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 that restricts the parallel* importation of books. The report was released this week and is 240 pgs, but you can download each section separately, the most important being the Overview which includes key points and the Recommendations.

Continue reading “Parallel Importation Restrictions on Books”

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