Sep 29

Monday Music: Root Beer Rag by Billy Joel

Image Source

Image Source

This song never fails to make me smile. A friend and his son played it as a duet at a friend’s wedding and it was just the most joyful thing – smiles all around from the performers and the audience. My daughter has been learning to play it on the piano and I have loved listening to her practise and grow in confidence and ability over the past few months.


Of course, the best way to listen to the song is when it is performed is by Billy Joel himself. First from 1978



and then from 2013, a little slower but still lightyears ahead of anything I could achieve.

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Sep 25

Banned Book Week 2014 – Are there any books banned in your home?

BooksIt’s Banned Books Week in the US from 21-27 September 2014.

As I do every year when I see the banned book updates and comments, I can’t help but wonder why people put so much energy into drawing attention to the books they don’t want other people to read.

“Hey everyone. Look over here. Look at this book. Now, DON’T LOOK. It’s awful and divisive and inappropriate and reading it will definitely rip apart the fabric of reality as we know it. DON’T LOOK AT THE BOOK! Which book? This one!”

An alternative would be perhaps “Hey everyone. Look over here. Look at this book. It’s fantastic and I really enjoyed it and I think you’d love it if you read it. You really should read it. Which book? This one!” What a novel idea (pun intended) – why not recommend the books you enjoy and want others to read instead of putting so much energy into pointing out the books you don’t like and don’t agree with.

Don’t get me wrong, stories that glorify child abuse, promote racism and inequality, degrade women and incite violence are not stories I want in my home or in my mind or, more importantly, in the minds of my children. I guess I’d prefer that people talk with me reasonably about what they think I should be reading, rather than forbidding me from looking at what they think I shouldn’t be reading.

It’s worth pointing that this philosophy doesn’t mean that I think children and young teens should have access to whatever books they choose without some screening by parents or other adults. My 13-year-old daughter recently grabbed a copy of Stephen King’s It off my bookshelf and started reading it, only to be told to return it to the shelf. She’s read The Hunger Games and various other dystopian novels, so it isn’t a matter of trying to keep her away from stories that have confronting scenes or imagery. It’s simply because I can remember reading It in my late teens and to this day, more than two decades later, I still hesitate occasionally as I step off the curb near a drain, just for a fraction of a second. Clowns freak me out too, but I’m not going to lay the blame for that entirely at the feet of Stephen King.

While I might be temporarily limiting my daughter’s access to some books given her age and my knowledge of her temperament, I’m not banning the book from our home and I’m not insisting that it isn’t suitable for other people to read or even for her to read at some future date. It is a work of adult fiction, so it makes sense to restrict access for younger readers, but adults can make their own choice about what is and isn’t suitable without me making it for them. You want to be freaked out by clowns and monsters lurking in the drainways channelling underneath your town? Knock yourself out. It is the book for you.

I’ll admit that I do get a few chuckles each year from reading the reasons given for some books being banned. Some, such as Nabokov’s Lolita, are hardly surprising, while with some others, particularly children’s picture books and junior novels, you have to wonder how much time people invested in coming up with their reason to remove the book from school and library shelves. After reading through this Buzzfeed list of banned children’s books I was fascinated to discover a subtext to Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham that I missed completely in my numerous readings of the book (namely homosexual seduction and early Marxism) and a topless bather in a Where’s Wally/Waldo book that we all know we would never be able to find even if we did go looking for it. You can find a list of frequently challenged classics here.

After the laughter dies away, however, I simply end up feeling rather sad and frustrated that in this modern day, we are still wasting time banning books instead of having discussions about issues and topics. It is ridiculous there are still people who believe they have the right to choose what ideas, information, stories and words I can have access to. Sadly, these people don’t limit this to taking books off library shelves.

Books are a wonderful way to encounter new ideas, new people and new situations that you might not deal with in your everyday life. They entertain, of course, but they also educate and challenge. Sometimes the help us to see a better way of thinking and sometimes they help us to see the dangers in certain ideas and practices. While we jokingly have a few ‘banned’ items in our home – crocs, Justin Bieber music, chewing gum – I hope that my monitoring of my children’s reading material is more a case of ensuring that they are accessing books that they can enjoy and relate to rather than stopping them from reading books simply because I don’t approve.

Do you restrict which books your teenagers have access to? What reasons do you give if you do? I’d love to know how others handle this situation.

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Sep 01

Monday Music: 2 Cellos – Thunderstruck

Image Source

Image Source

I love to see people who play well have fun with music. I’ve been a fan of the The Piano Guys for some time and love the way they perform.


I was delighted to stumble across this 2 Cellos clip on Facebook recently. I loved the clip and then enjoyed playing it for my children and seeing their eyes widen in recognition when they realised what song the duet was morphing into.



So, today we kick off the week with some classic(al) rock.



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Aug 25

Monday Music: Newcastle HSC Music Students

Each Monday, I want to share something musical – a classic music video, something new I’ve stumbled upon, or some musical news that I’ve heard recently.


For my first post, I’d like to share the link to a series of profiles run by our local ABC radio station recently, highlighting local Newcastle HSC music students. The students all attend the Hunter School of Performing Arts.


I tuned in to hear Sophie Davis perform Still Hurting on Thursday and then went to the ABC Newcastle website to listen to the other students who had been profiled during the week. I hope that these amazing young people were as encouraged by this experience as I was hearing them talk about what they love about music and performing. I had several friends who studied music for their HSC and I played the flute for 3 different HSC performances for other students. I know how much work and dedication (and how much stress) is involved in getting performances pieces ready for the final examinations. I wish these students every success with their HSC and beyond.


You can find soundcloud links for all of the profiled students as well as photos of their performances in the ABC studio here. Thank you ABC Newcastle for this wonderful series. I look forward to hearing similar profiles for music students from our region again next year.



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Jul 31

Reading List: Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Empathizing with Gaza does NOT make me anti-Semitic, nor pro-Hamas or anti-Israel. It makes me human. David Harris-Gershon (@David_EHG)

Over the past two weeks, I have struggled with my own ignorance about the Gaza conflict. My attempts to read news reports have left me frustrated with the obvious bias of the media and annoyed that my own knowledge of the situation is so limited.

My heart and mind ache for the people of both Israel and Palestine, particularly the everyday people whose lives are endangered by the fighting and those parents who watch their sons go off to fight in battles from which they may not return.

I feel particular concern for the Palestinians, for all they have lost and for the parents who must find it so incredibly hard to raise their children with any sense of hope for the future. Their situation seems so bleak and forbidding and I can only imagine their mourning at all they have lost of their heritage and independence.

Yet, it seems incredibly arrogant on my part to identify with one side or the other. There are certainly reasons to feel sympathy and concern for all those whose lives have been impacted by the fighting. I think that is why I connected with the quote above so strongly. I am not pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas or anti-Semitic. I don’t want to learn more about this conflict because I think it will make it easier for me to choose sides or assign blame, but rather because I think that being better informed is the least I can do to show respect to those whose lives are impacted directly by this situation.

As I have sought to understand the Gaza conflict this week (a mammoth undertaking, I know), I have been gathering links to news articles, websites and other sources. I have included them below for anyone who is interested. I have read some and have bookmarked others to read soon. I have tended towards information aimed at those with little background knowledge and away from intense political discourse, which is particularly evident in the book titles listed.

I would like to offer my thanks to author Randa Abdel-Fattah who has been very generous with her time in supplying me with several of the references mentioned below. Randa is a passionate advocate for the Palestinian people, but she went out of her way to provide me with references to Israeli and Jewish references as well as Palestinian sources.

The link to this video is included below, but I found it a useful overview before reading other information.

Mondoweiss – a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective.

B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

Global Policy Forum -  Independant policy watchdog monitoring the work of the United Nations and scrutinizing global policymaking. The page on Israel, Palestine and the Occupied Territories includes several links to further information including details of UN resolutions related to the conflict.

Middle East Research and Information Project – aims to provide information and analysis on the Middle East suitable for reference by journalists.

ABC The Drum – It’s about time Australian put pressure on Israel by Ben Saul

New Matilda – Israel’s Bloody Apartheid: What Happened And Why You Should Be Outraged by Michael Brull

Sydney Morning Herald – How language changes views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over Gaza by Randa Abdel-Fattah

The Lancet – Open letter for the people in Gaza by doctors and scientists (24 signatories)

The New Yorker – Israel’s Other War by Etgar Keret

New Matilda – Two Jews, Two Palestinians: An Open Letter on the Simple Truth by Michael Brull, Samah Sabawi, Peter Slezak and Randa Abdel-Fattah

Daily Kos – Empathizing with Gaza does NOT make me anti-Semitic, nor pro-Hamas or anti-Israel. It makes me human by David Harris-Gershon

ABC Religion and Ethics website – Not in My Name: Response to Alex Ryvchin by Michael Brull

NGOs letter to the Attorney General of Israel regarding Offensive policy in Gaza in Operation Protective Edge

Jews for Justice booklet – Origin of the Palestine/Israel Conflict

David Byrne website – Gaza and the Loss of Civilisation: Letters by Brian Eno and Peter Schwartz

The Promise mini-series directed by Peter Kosminsky.
ABC The Drum article by Larry Stillman about controversy surrounding the screening of the mini-series on SBS

COMMENTATORS (Wikipedia profile links provided)
Ilan Pappé – Israeli historian and social activist
Gideon Levy – Israeli journalist
Jonathan Cook – freelance journalist
Ben White – journalist and activist

James Longley documentary – Gaza Strip

#PrayForGaza video

BOOKS – Non-Fiction
Cry Palestine – Said Aburish
Palestine Inside Out – Saree Makdisi
Sharon and My Mother-in-Law (Ramallah Diaries) – Suad Amiry
Strangers in the House: Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine – Raja Shehadeh
Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel’s Separation Barrier. For Fun. – Mark Thomas

BOOKS – Fiction
Where the Streets Had a Name – Randa Abdel-Fattah
Before We Say Goodbye – Gabriella Ambrosio

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Jun 25

I Really Should Blog About That…

It’s been a wonderfully bookish and writerly start to the year. I have attended author talks, book launches, writing workshops, a teacher/librarian conference and I have read a pile of fantastic books. I have been to the theatre, socialised with other writers and generally indulged in my obsession with books and words. Oh, I was also one of the guest speakers at a library events about children’s creativity and have signed a contract to have a picture book published. Like I said, it’s been a great start to the year.

Given that this is fundamentally a book blog, you’d think I would have had no trouble finding things to write about and publish here given all the great bookish things I have been doing. Some posts would be more appropriate for my writing website, but generally speaking, there has been no shortage of content for Reading Upside Down. In theory.

In practice, I have put a lot of thought into all the things I could write about and haven’t done very much actual writing. I blame a combination of busyness, procrastination and an inability to work out where to start.

But, start I must, otherwise I will continue to go around and around getting nowhere. Like this:

So, in an attempt to clear the backlog of topics from my head, I have put together a summary of what I have been up to. I am hoping to expand on many of these points in the near future. The points are in neither chronological nor logical order.

  • Book contract signed! Watch this space for more information. I’m expecting my first picture book to appear on shelves in March/April 2015. The story will be illustrated by the amazingly talented Gwynneth Jones.
  • Joined author/artist Ursula Kolbe at Charlestown library to discuss Ursula’s latest book, Children’s Imagination: Creativity Under Our Noses. I contributed content to this book and I am very passionate about the message the book promotes – the importance of encouraging children to think creatively and the value of imaginative play.
  • Attended a fabulous talk by author/illustrator Narelle Oliver at Belmont Library.
  • Attended several book launches, including Almost Dead by Kaz Delaney, Tiddas by Anita Heiss, Jam for Nana by Deborah Kelly and Lessons of a Lac by Lynn Jenkins and Kirrili Lonergan.
  • Attended several events held as part of the Newcastle launch of Anita Heiss’ Tiddas including an ‘in conversation’ event between Anita and Lisa Heidke, the launch at the Lake Macquarie Art Gallery and a Girls’ Night event where Lisa and Anita both read from their books and discussed women’s fiction. We also managed to fit in two social events – lunch at Rustica and a post-event cocktail at Le Passe Temps on the Friday.
  • Took my 13-year-old daughter to see the Hunter Region Drama School’s performance of Romeo & Juliet at the Civic Playhouse in Newcastle.
  • Took my 10-year-old son to see a performance of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s The 13-Storey Treehouse at the Laycock St Theatre in Gosford.
  • Attended a Writing for the Education Market workshop run by writer Kerri Lane/Kaz Delaney.
  • Attended various local CBCA meetings and events as part of the wonderfully dynamic Newcastle sub-branch, which celebrates its first birthday this month. I have taken on the role of Promotions Officer for this group.
  • Visited a local primary school as a Role Model for Books in Homes, talking with the students about why I love books.
  • Attended the first Newcastle/Central Coast/Hunter SCBWI meeting, along with 13 other local writers and illustrators. I’m really looking forward to seeing this group grow and develop.
  • As part of my decision to take my writing more seriously, I have joined several professional organisations including CBCA (last year), SCBWI, ASA and the Hunter Writers’ Centre. I have also registered as a Role Model with Books in Homes.
  • Failed to get to the CBCA Conference and Sydney Writers’ Festival. Also completed failed to attend even one session at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival thanks to family illnesses and other commitments. I also missed attending the first National Book Bloggers Forum (#NBBF14) held in Sydney and hosted by Random House and Penguin and I don’t have any plans to attend either the SCBWI or CYA Conferences in July. This has been a source of great frustration. I am hoping that I will have more opportunities to attend conferences and festivals in 2015 and have plans to volunteer at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival.
  • I am planning to attend the NSW Writers’ Centre Kids’ and YA Festival in Sydney this weekend.

I have also read a gazillion awesome books. OK. That’s an exaggeration, but I have read some really fantastic books this year, many of them by Australia authors. I have made an effort to read some grown-up books, since my work at Kids’ Book Review tends to mean that my reading pile is mostly picture books and novels for kids and teens.

Reviews are on the way for:

  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
  • Heart Beat – Elizabeth Scott
  • Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia – Amra Pajalic, Demet Divaroren (eds)
  • Tiddas – Anita Heiss
  • Chocolate Cake for Breakfast – Danielle Hawkins
  • Calypso Summer – Jared Thomas
  • Writing Clementine – Kate Gordon
  • A House for Donfinkle – Choechoe Brereton

I think that covers most of the things that I should have been sharing here, but haven’t. Now I can focus on what is coming up and I’ll also backtrack to share more details about several of the things listed here, as well as posting some reviews. I also want to post a weekly update about what books I am currently reading.

Hopefully now that I have taken the first step, I’ll be able to get myself into a blogging routine once again.

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May 16

Review: Austenland

AustenlandIt’s no secret that I’m a Jane Austen fan. I’m not over-the-top fanatical – I can’t quote sections of text and I haven’t even read Mansfield Park – but I do love Austen’s work. I love her characterisation and her wonderful use of language and I love the social commentary aspect of her novels.

I’m not at all precious about Austen either. I don’t get the vapours when someone writes an Austen-inspired novel, although I do expect them to treat her work with respect if they do. There have been Austen-inspired books that I have really enjoyed and others that I have not bothered finishing. My favourites are generally those that refer to Austen, rather than trying to replicate her work.

So, having read and really enjoyed Shannon Hale’s middle fiction novel Princess Academy (KBR review), I bought a copy of Austenland with an open mind and a belief that if nothing else, this would be a well written and interesting novel. I wasn’t disappointed.

The premise of Austenland is simple – Jane is unlucky in love, largely because she is fixated on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice in general and on Colin Firth’s version of Mr Darcy in particular. She can’t help but compare any man she meets to her fictional perfect man.

In her will, Jane’s wealthy great-aunt leaves her a ticket to Austenland, a re-enactment resort for the Austen-obsessed. Tempted to ignore the ticket but ultimately unable to resist, Jane leaves New York for England and braces herself for two weeks of living within the setting of an Austen novel.

I really enjoyed the fantasy versus reality aspects of this story. Jane’s realises that her obsession with Austen’s world is based on the most superficial aspects of that world and not at all on the reality of day to day life for women in Regency England. The conflict within Jane between wanting to indulge in the opportunity to fantasise about being part of Austen’s world and the awareness that the whole situation is make believe is well portrayed and makes Jane’s character quite believable and sympathetic for the reader.

There is, of course, romance in the air at Austenland and this also supports the fantasy vs. reality theme, as Jane is attracted to Martin the gardener (a man she believes is simply a member of the support staff at the resort) but also drawn into the manufactured ‘romantic’ situations with other male Austenland ‘visitors’ (who Jane believes are actors playing a role where they are required to provide her with a romantic experience during her stay). This aspect of the story, men paid to romance and seduce the female visitors to the resort, was unpleasant, however it isn’t a huge focus of the story and was something that I was generally able to skim over, probably because Jane herself finds this situation quite off-putting as well.

Austenland is a fun and light-hearted romance that offers an entertaining look at the obsession so many readers have with Austen’s world and characters. It isn’t an Austen wannabe, but rather uses Jane Austen’s world and themes as a springboard for an enjoyable chick lit novel.

Book Details
Title:  Austenland
Author:  Shannon Hale
Publisher:  Bloomsbury, 2007
ISBN:  9781408840092
Genre: Chick Lit, Romance
Source: Purchased

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Apr 19

The Travelling Bra – Part 1

IMG_2156It seemed like a good idea at the time. Donate to The Travelling Bra campaign to raise awareness of the work of Support for Mums.  Nothing wrong with that. Supporting the work of an organisation that supports mothers and families through circumstantial crises seems like a good and worthwhile thing to do. Well done me.

As part of my donation, I agreed to go onto the mailing list to receive The Travelling Bra. This is all part of the plan to raise awareness for Support for Mums – when it arrives, I need to take a photo of myself with the Bra (a family friendly shot, of course) and post it on my social media channels. Too easy.

My initial plan was to take the Bra to the beach. A couple of towels, a book or two, some sunscreen and maybe something cool to drink while we (the Bra and I) soaked up some sunshine and relaxed to the soothing sounds of the ocean.

IMG_2159Once the bra arrived, however, I felt less confident about venturing out amidst the beach going crowd with the rather generous 18HH proportions. So, in my usual manner, I avoided making a decision by focusing on something else. The arrival of the Bra coincided with the end of school term, so it wasn’t all that difficult to find other things to occupy my time.

A couple of days ago I came up with a brilliant plan. Rather than venturing out to the beach (it’s really too cold now for the scenario I had in mind anyway), I would buy a stack of books by Australian women authors, make myself a cup of tea in my favourite mug, treat myself to a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and show my support by having a photo taken curled up on the lounge, taking some time out with a good book. I would be supporting Support for Mums AND supporting Aussie authors. Win-win.
IMG_2287Of course, that was a cop out. It’s not really all that adventurous to take a photo of myself posed on my lounge, eating chocolate and half hidden by a pile of books (I did go a little bit overboard on my shopping spree. I found some great books though, so I can highly recommend you venture out and support Australian women writers as well).
IMG_2288The Travelling Bra campaign is all about showing support for women dealing with challenges and raising awareness of the work of Support for Mums.  Women in these situations are bravely accepting help and dealing with whatever circumstances they find themselves in. The least I can do is step up and do something a little more challenging than eating chocolate and drinking tea (which it would appear is no challenge for me at all, since the chocolate orange has already significantly diminished in size while I have been writing this post.)

IMG_2284So, I am stepping out a little, posting a Travelling Bra duck face selfie as well as a more ‘normal’ selfie (as normal as I get, anyway). I hope you can tell the difference. (Yes, I’m aware that technically they aren’t selfies, but honestly, my arms weren’t long enough to get my face AND that humongous bra in the photo by myself.)

I am heading out to a casual dinner this evening with my husband, 10-year-old son and in-laws. I’m hoping that I will be brave enough to don the Travelling Bra for a quick photo before we have our meal. I’m feeling pretty confident about doing it at the moment, but that could falter once I get out in public. I’m not quite sure what my mother-in-law will think of it all either, although a little head shaking at my immaturity may IMG_2285be all the encouragement I need to make a fool of myself. We’ll see.

I’ll post photos on Instagram if I take them, so make sure you are following me at ReadUpsideDown or check my Twitter timeline at @ReadUpsideDown.

Don’t forget to check out the Support for Mums website and Facebook page, as well as The Travelling Bra Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts. You can still donate to this cause and have your own opportunity to take happy snaps with The Travelling Bra by visiting The Travelling Bra campaign donation page.

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Jan 27

Dear Daughter Starting High School…

IMG_1743Two years ago, I became a high school mum for the first time when my older son started Year 7.  At the time, I wrote this letter to him, published at Happy Child.

This year, my daughter starts her high school journey. Like my son, she is moving to a high school where she knows no other students. She will enter into a grade of 180 boys and girls with only a couple of faces familiar from orientation days and information sessions.

At times I think my daughter is far better equipped to deal with the challenges of everyday life than I am, but I still want to send her off into this new adventure with some words of encouragement and advice. I have adapted the letter I wrote for my son, as it still represents what I want to share with my children as they move into this next life stage.


Dear Daughter,

First and foremost, I want to tell you how overwhelmingly proud I am of all that you are. You bless me every day with your wonderful sense of humour, your gorgeous smile, your quick wit, inquiring mind, warmth and amazing creativity.

In some ways, it seems incredible to me that you are here, on the threshold of high school and teenage years. The last (almost) thirteen years have passed so quickly. In other ways, it makes sense to me that you are moving into this next stage. I know that you are ready for more challenges, more independence, more opportunities to make decisions and carve your own path. I am excited for you and look forward to seeing what is ahead but I know that you will have moments of doubt and uncertainty, so I want you to remember these things:

You are more than the marks you achieve in tests and assessments.
You are an intelligent girl who works hard and shows an amazing willingness to give your best to every task you complete, but you are so much more than the marks on your test papers, which only measure one aspect of who you are. You have gifts and abilities that will never translate into a grade or assignment mark, yet they are a very real indication of the woman you will become one day. You are creative, compassionate, kind, gentle, insightful, wise and funny. Your test results show what you can do, but your character is who you are.

You are not alone.
Teenage years, and high school in particular, can sometimes leave you feeling isolated and disconnected, but even if you feel alone, you aren’t. You are surrounded by friends and family who love you. We’re a bit dorky at times and not always as funny as we think we are. We miss the point, misunderstand and make mistakes, but we will always have your back and be willing to hold your hand, both literally and figuratively. Always.

And when you look at others who seem so happy and connected and carefree, remember that some of them are looking at you, wondering how you can be so happy, connected and carefree when they are feeling isolated and discouraged. I was astounded to discover at my high school reunion that many of the ‘popular’ kids struggled with the same feelings of being an outsider and not fitting in that I did at school. Your friends and classmates are working through the same issues you are, even if it doesn’t look like it from the outside.

I understand.
I know that I seem hopelessly old and outdated. I don’t know about the ‘cool’ music, fashion or words (see, I still think it’s okay to call things ‘cool’). Believe it or not, I was young once and I do remember what it was like. My parents’ rules frustrated me; I felt both annoyed at the childish limitations they imposed and nervous about my new freedoms. I worried about physical changes, struggled with new emotions and rode the same hormone rollercoaster that you will.

I remember and I understand.

Cherish good friends.
I know that you’re sad about leaving so many friends behind as you change schools. I know their friendship and your shared memories are special to you. For some of these friends, taking a step away will make your friendship stronger. You will have new things to talk about, new ideas to share and your time together will seem more special because it takes some effort. Sadly, for some of these friends the time apart will change things in a less positive way, but this may well have happened anyway. The coming years will bring lots of changes, in you and your friends. You would naturally move in different directions even if you stayed at the same school and that’s okay. Your memories of these friendships will still be precious.

You’ll make lots of new friends at high school. Some will be friends for a few weeks or a term, some for a year, others for longer. People will let you down sometimes, you’ll misjudge some people and you’ll be disappointed by others, but at the end of the day, the true friends will stll be with you and the trials you’ve gone through with others will be worth the treasure you discover in those few who remain. I’m still friends with someone I met on my first day of Year 7. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

You get to choose.
You can’t opt out of writing essays and assignments in subjects that don’t interest you (sorry about that), but when it comes to what you say, wear, eat and do, who you hang around with and who you allow to influence your actions and your thoughts, you get to choose. You have such a wonderful sense of style and confidence in what makes you happy. Don’t let others undermine that because of their own insecurities, jealousy and other issues. Don’t let anyone make you feel that you are powerless. You aren’t. Ever.

Reach for the stars, but keep your feet on the ground.
The next six years will be amazing. Embrace the opportunities that come your way. Try new things, meet new people, think new thoughts.

Know that you can achieve amazing things. While you reach for the stars, we’ll be here cheering you on, keeping you connected for those times when you need to temporarily backtrack so that you can follow a different path.

Mistakes are okay.
In fact, they’re kind of inevitable. Everyone makes them, even parents and teachers. (Don’t tell anyone, but I might even make a mistake or two myself occasionally.) Your friends will make them and so will you. Learn from them and then move on. No-one expects you to be perfect. We love you exactly the way you are.

Everyone changes at a different pace.
It’s really hard to not compare yourself physically with the other girls, but no-one can control when hormones will kick in. You will grow and develop at the time that is right for you. Girls who are comfortable with themselves no matter what stage they are at will always be happier, whether they are tall, short, busty, sporty, slender, or curvy, whether they shave or wax their legs, fuss with their hair and makeup or would sooner poke their eye out with a sharp stick than use an eyelash curler.

Society’s definition of beauty keeps changing. Comparing yourself to photoshopped images and chasing ever changing social ‘standards’ regarding your appearance cannot make you happy. You ARE beautiful and unique. Don’t wear yourself out trying to achieve impossible appearance goals. Set your own standards and encourage your friends to do the same.

Summary for a busy pre-teen.
I love you, I believe in you and I’m proud of you. Work hard, have fun, enjoy the moment. Cherish the good times, learn from the tough times and continue to be the amazing person you already are.

Love Mum xx

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Jan 26

My Australian Author Reading List

IMG_9034For a country with a small population, relatively speaking, Australia has a rich and diverse literary heritage. From picture books to literary fiction and everything in between, Australian authors take their place as some of the best in the world.

Below is a list of Australian authors whose books cover a range of genres – picture books, junior and middle fiction, YA, contemporary fiction, romance, memoir, chick lit, classic novels, thriller and more. I’m aiming to read at least one book by each author on the list and I’m hoping this list will inspire me to read more Australian authors across a range of styles and genres.

If you are interested in focusing on Indigenous Australian authors specifically, I have shared Anita Heiss’ two Black Book Lists here on Reading Upside Down (or you can find them on Anita’s blog here and here). You can also visit the Black Words section of the Aust Lit website if you are keen to find our more about Indigenous authors.

I have listed authors alphabetically by surname. I will list book titles as I read them, including books I have read prior to this date. I will note in brackets if I have written reviews either here at Reading Upside Down or at Kids’ Book Review.

This list is a work in progress. I’d love to hear your suggestions for further authors  to include, so please leave a comment below.


  1. Abdel-Fattah, Randa
  2. Adams, Glenda
  3. Alexander, Nicole
  4. Alexandra, Belinda
  5. Allen, Pamela – Alexander’s Outing; Belinda; The Potato People; Brown Bread and Honey
  6. Anderson, Jessica
  7. Apel, Kathryn – This is the Mud
  8. Arthur, Keri
  9. Astley, Thea
  10. Baker, Jeannie – Window; Mirror (KBR); Belonging;
  11. Bancroft, Bronwyn – Remembering Lionsville (KBR)
  12. Base, Graeme – Animalia
  13. Baxter, Carol – Breaking the Bank
  14. Bell, Johanna – Too Many Cheeky Dogs (KBR)
  15. Betts, A J – Zac & Mia (KBR)
  16. Blacklock, Dianne – Wife for Hire
  17. Birmingham, John
  18. Bland, Nick – The Magnificent Tree
  19. Bowe, Steph – Girl Saves Boy (KBR)
  20. Bowen, Victoria – War’s End
  21. Brooks, Geraldine
  22. Brugman, Alyssa
  23. Byrski, Liz
  24. Carey, Gabrielle
  25. Carey, Peter
  26. Carmody, Isobelle
  27. Carnavas, Peter – The Children Who Loved Books; Jessica’s Box
  28. Clarke, Marcus – For the Term of His Natural Life
  29. Clarke, Sherryl – Runaways (KBR)
  30. Clement, Rod
  31. Collum, Karen – Samuel’s Kisses
  32. Courtenay, Bryce – The Power of One; Tandia
  33. Cox, David – The Fair Dinkum War
  34. Crew, Gary – Memorial
  35. Crowley, Cath
  36. Cusworth, Fran – Hopetoun Wives
  37. Davis, Tony
  38. Delaney, Kaz – Dead, Actually (KBR); Almost Dead
  39. Dennis, C J – A Book for Kids; The Sentimental Bloke
  40. Divaroren, Demet
  41. Do, Ahn
  42. Douglass, Sara
  43. Dubosarsky, Ursula
  44. Duncan, Susan
  45. Dunstan, Kylie – Same, but little bit diff’rent (KBR)
  46. Earls, Nick – The Curious Dictionary
  47. Facey, A B
  48. Falconer, Delia
  49. Fedler, Joanne – The Reunion
  50. Fitzsimons, Peter
  51. Flanagan, John
  52. Flanagan, Richard
  53. Fogorty, Renee – Fair Skin Black Fella
  54. Ford, Jaye
  55. Foster, Sara – Shallow Breath
  56. Fox, Mem – Where is the Green Sheep?; Possum Magic;
  57. Franklin, Miles
  58. French, Jackie – Diary of a Wombat; A Rose for the Anzac Boys; Shaggy Gully Times; The Night They Stormed Eureka
  59. Funder, Anna
  60. Garner, Helen
  61. Gemmell, Nikki – The Bride Stripped Bare; The Kensington Reptilarium
  62. Germein, Katrina – Big Rain Coming; My Dad Thinks He’s Funny; Little Dog
  63. Gibbs, May
  64. Gleitzman, Morris
  65. Goldsworthy, Peter
  66. Graham, Bob
  67. Greenwood, Kerry
  68. Grenville, Kate
  69. Griffiths, Andy
  70. Gunn, Jeannie/Aeneas – We of the Never Never
  71. Gwynne, Phillip
  72. Hardy, Frank – Power without Glory
  73. Harmer, Wendy – I Lost My Mobile at the Mall; I Made Lattes for a Love God
  74. Hartnett, Sonya
  75. Harvey, Roland – Everything We Ever Saw (KBR)
  76. Hawke, Rosanne – The Messenger Bird (KBR)
  77. Heidke, Lisa
  78. Hein, Cathryn
  79. Heiss, Anita – The Diary of Mary Talence (KBR); Manhattan Dreaming; Paris Dreaming
  80. Herbert, Xavier
  81. Hill, Anthony – Captain Cook’s Apprentice
  82. Hill, Loretta
  83. Hooper, Chloe – The Tall Man
  84. Howell, Katherine
  85. Hunter, Kate – The Parfizz Pitch
  86. James, Rebecca – Sweet Damage
  87. James, Wendy – The Steele Diaries
  88. Janke, Terri – Buttlerfly Song
  89. Jeffrey, Belinda – One Long Thread (KBR)
  90. Jennings, Paul
  91. Johns, Rachel
  92. Johnston, George
  93. Jones, Gail
  94. Kelly
  95. Keneally, Thomas
  96. Kent, Hannah
  97. King, Stephen Michael – Never Ever Before; Bella’s Bad Hair Day
  98. Klein, Robin
  99. Koch, Christopher
  100. Kostakis, Will - The First Third (KBR); Loathing Lola
  101. Kruszelnicki, Dr Karl
  102. Kwaymullina, Ambelin – The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (KBR); The Disappearance of Ember Crow
  103. Kwaymullina, Ezekiel
  104. Ladd, Kylie – Last Summer
  105. Lanagan, Margo
  106. Lane, Karly
  107. Lawson, Henry
  108. Lawson, Sue
  109. Le, Nam
  110. Ledson, Kathryn – Rough Diamond
  111. Leffler, Dub
  112. Lester, Alison – Are We There Yet?; Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo;
  113. Lette, Kathy – Puberty Blues
  114. Lindsay, Joan – Picnic at Hanging Rock
  115. Lindsay, Norman – The Magic Pudding
  116. Lord, Gabrielle
  117. Lucashenko, Melissa
  118. McCallum, Fiona
  119. McCartney, Tania – An Aussie Year (KBR); Beijing Tai Tai
  120. McCullough, Colleen – Tim; The Ladies of Missalonghi
  121. McDonald, Fleur
  122. McGahan, Andrew
  123. McInerney, Monica
  124. McInnes, William
  125. McKenna, Ebony
  126. McKinlay, Meg
  127. McMullin, Neridah – Kick it to Me (KBR)
  128. Magro, Mandy
  129. Malouf, David
  130. Marchetta, Melina – Looking for Alibrandi
  131. Marsden, John
  132. Marshall, Alan
  133. Matthews, Penny – Show Day (KBR)
  134. Miller, Alex
  135. Modjeska, Drusilla
  136. Morgan, Christopher – Currawalli Street
  137. Morgan, Sally – The Last Dance (KBR)
  138. Moriarty, Jaclyn – Finding Cassie Crazy
  139. Moriarty, Liane
  140. Morphew, Chris – The Phoenix Files series
  141. Morrissey, Di
  142. Morton, Kate – The Forgotten Garden
  143. Moss, Tara
  144. Mulligan, David – Heroes of Tobruk
  145. Murphy, Sally – Toppling; Pearl Verses the World
  146. Murrell, Belinda – The Forgotten Pearl (KBR); The River Charm (KBR)
  147. Musgrove, Marianne
  148. Nicholas, Caitlyn
  149. Niland, Darcy
  150. Nix, Garth
  151. Nunn, Judy
  152. Odgers, Sally – Rainforest Lullaby
  153. Oliver, Narelle
  154. O’Reilly, Benison Anne – Happily Ever After?
  155. Orr, Wendy
  156. Osborn, Margareta
  157. Overington, Caroline – I Came To Say Goodbye
  158. Pajalic, Amra
  159. Palmer, Fiona
  160. Park, Ruth
  161. Parry, Bronwyn
  162. Pascoe, Bruce – Fog a Dox (KBR)
  163. Paterson, A B (Banjo)
  164. Phelan, James
  165. Pryor, Boori Monty
  166. Reeder, Stephanie Owen – Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea (KBR)
  167. Reilly, Matthew
  168. Reynolds, Alison – The Littlest Bushranger
  169. Richardson, Henry Handel
  170. Riddle, Tohby – The Singing Hat; The Royal Guest
  171. Robotham, Michael
  172. Rogers, Gregory – The Boy, the Bear, the Baron and the Bard (KBR)
  173. Rudd, Jessica – Campaign Ruby; Ruby Blues
  174. Safran, John
  175. Shute, Neville
  176. Silvey, Craig – Jasper Jones; The Amber Amulet
  177. Simsion, Graeme – The Rosie Project
  178. Sparrow, Rebecca
  179. Stead, Christina
  180. Stedman, M L
  181. Stewart, Lolla – Savannah Dreams
  182. Tan, Shaun – The Lost Thing
  183. Temple, Peter
  184. Thiele, Colin
  185. Toltz, Steve
  186. Tozer, Gabrielle – The Intern
  187. Treasure, Rachael
  188. Tsiolkas, Christos
  189. Turner, Ethel – Seven Little Australians
  190. Wagner, Jenny – John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat
  191. Wakefield, Vikki
  192. Walker, Anna – Peggy (KBR)
  193. Wall, Dorothy – The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill
  194. Wallace, Adam
  195. Wang, Gabrielle – Little Paradise
  196. West, Morris – The Clowns of God
  197. Wheatley, Nadia – My Place (KBR)
  198. White, Dee – Letters to Leonardo
  199. White, Patrick – The Twyborn Affair
  200. Wild, Margaret – On the Day you were Born (KBR)
  201. Williams, Sean
  202. Winton, Tim – Breath; Dirt Music; Cloudstreet
  203. Wood, Charlotte – Love & Hunger
  204. Wood, Fiona – Wildlife (KBR)
  205. Young, Felicity
  206. Young, Helene
  207. Zorn, Claire
  208. Zusak, Markus
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