Aurora Australis: Superheroes, Merfolk, and Corporate Insects

Welcome to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand! In Australia, there’s been controversy over which national politicians are actual dual citizens or not (thus invalidating their election as members of parliament), and we voted yes in the optional-postal-survey on marriage equality; we’re now waiting for our politicians to make it law. You would think that a poll about the Australian bird of the year would be less controversial, but that’s before you factor in an obsession with the bin chicken (aka Australian White Ibis) and how seriously some people take getting swooped by magpies.

Anyway, onto the publishing news!

Author James Bradley and artist Melanie Cook have teamed up to create The Death of Neutrino Man. It’s a brief comic taking a look at the life and experiences of one B-list superhero, Neutrino Man, from gaining powers to the world changing ...

Stars donate handmade book covers for House of Illustration charity auction

Fundraiser includes Peter Blake’s vision of Alice Through the Looking-Glass, Neil Gaiman’s Fahrenheit 451, Peter Capaldi’s Metamorphosis and more

A Hunchback of Notre Dame drawn by Quentin Blake, a portrait of Lewis Carroll’s Alice by Peter Blake and Peter Capaldi’s vision of Franz Kafka’s Gregor Samsa will go under the hammer to raise money for the House of Illustration.

More than 30 artists, illustrators, designers and other famous names, including Neil Gaiman and Maggi Hambling, have designed new dust jackets for classics ranging from The Jungle Book to Jane Eyre. The jackets will be wrapped around first editions of each book and auctioned at Sotheby’s on 11 December, with guide prices starting at £1,000.

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An Echo in the Mind: The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan

SingingBones_247x189_CVR.indd Shaun Tan, an artist whose oeuvre spans a variety of mediums but who primarily works in the fantastic genre, has just published a collection of photographs of sculptures based on the Grimm’s Fairytales. The handsome collection, small enough to carry and big enough to appreciate at length, is called The Singing Bones. Tan is not the first artist to tackle these stories, not by generations and continual fistfuls of illustration and reenactment, but sculpture isn’t the traditional medium. With introductory material written by Neil Gaiman and Jack Zipes, the reader had a good sense of the project before delving into it. Gaiman addresses the emotional resonance of the pieces in his foreword—how it makes him want to put the stories in his mouth, like a child does. Zipes addresses the history—the Grimm brothers, their publications, and the traditional of illustration that made those publications as popular as they are today. ...

Aurora Australis: New Books, Old Books, and Musical Cues

Art by Julie Dillon Welcome back to Aurora Australis, your source for publishing news and genre highlights from Australia and New Zealand! This month we’ve got new books, old books, awards, and a RED HOT TIP. 9781925267242 First, some new books! Allen&Unwin have released the cover for the second in the Zeroes series from Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti. Called Swarm, it promises to “raise the stakes” from where Zeroes left the teenagers because they’ll be confronting a “sinister power-wielder.” CUE SINISTER MUSIC. A&U also have Karen Foxlee’s A Most Magical Girl coming out soon. A girl’s mother disappears, leaving her in the care of two eccentric aunts and resulting in her undertaking a quest with a young witch, Kitty. It also involves trolls and faerie bones. CUE WHIMSICAL MUSIC. New from Hachette: James Islington’s The Shadow of What Was Lost is a debut novel set twenty years after the overthrow ...
Anna Smaill The Chimes sweepstakes
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Stories have the power to create a more hopeful world

In the wake of the Brexit vote, children’s author Sita Brahmachari on the sustaining stories that will help young people find hope and strength in these unsettled times Please tweet book recommendations to help children and teens with post-Brexit anxiety to @GdnChildrenBks I’m an author that spends a lot of time with my young readers and their teachers in schools and beyond. I have heard from teachers that student’s responses to the EU referendum have been deeply unsettling, both in rural and city schools. For some, their students came into school the day after the referendum with a sense of anxiety about their futures. In other schools teachers are unsure about the celebratory responses of their students and what aspects of referendum campaigning students are responding to. I imagine that in every family parents are discussing the outcome of the referendum and what it might mean for the next generation.

The magical thinking of Shaun Tan’s Rules of Summer

Shaun Tan’s mesmerising picture book perfectly captures the wonder and terror of the childhood dreamworld, says Lifers author MA Griffin

Rules of Summer appeared in the autumn of 2013, but the story of my relationship with this remarkable book doesn’t start until the following year. Manchester’s Central Library had just re-opened after a £50 million refurbishment and one sunny morning that spring I rode the tram to St Peter’s Square with my wife and three-year-old daughter. There’s room enough to borrow six books on a kid’s library card and I was scheming; the little girl was getting five, I figured, and I was having one. I’d always loved Edward Gorey and when I saw Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan that morning, (the lack of article is important by the way – these are only one of many possible lists of weird childhood regulations) I was immediately mesmerised. I bought ...

Aurora Australis: There’s More to Life Than Anthologies

Art by Emma Weakley This month we are overjoyed by anthologies, glum about waiting for books to arrive (but excited that they exist), and mildly anticipatory about the 2016 awards season. All but the last is pretty standard… one of these days I’m going to chart emotions over the year based on awards shortlists/announcements… But first up, a plethora of anthologies! Firstly, Fablecroft’s Pozible campaign (the Australian version of Kickstarter) got off to a great start in January, being fully funded within just twelve hours. At the time of writing it was funded to three times its initial target, meaning that authors will be getting more than initially assigned. In mid-January, they announced a preliminary table of contents, including reprints from Paul Haines (“Wives” is one of the most horrific stories I’ve ever read, so it’s perfect for this anthology) and Angela Slatter, as well as original fictions from Tansy Rayner Roberts, Dirk ...

Kermit the Frog and other terrors: the appeal of scary children’s books

A Wisconsin woman wants kids kept away from the popular puppet’s ‘traumatic’ book about poverty, but children crave disturbing stories

We’d go to the library once a week when I was little. While my little sister always chose to take home Anthony Browne’s Gorilla, I would uneasily check to see if a certain title was there. Just looking at the cover frightened me almost too much too bear, but I couldn’t resist doing it. Actually taking it out to read would take months of steeling my courage.

The book was Kevin Crossley-Holland’s The Dead Moon and Other Tales from East Anglia and the Fen Country, illustrated by Shirley Felts. The title story, in which the moon comes down one night to investigate the “things that live in the darkness”, was my object of terror. Looking at the front cover still makes me shudder. The moon, trapped. The witches. God. You ...

Aurora Australis: The Past, the Now, the Future


Welcome back to Aurora Australis, your go-to column for book news from Australia and New Zealand! This time we celebrate the immediate past and look forward with slightly unbecoming drool to the delights of the next few months… all the way up to January 2016.

Immediate Past


This month was an exciting one, with some goodly novels arriving: Lament for the Afterlife, from Lisa L Hannet and ChiZine and the highly-anticipated Zeroes from the power team of Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti. And boding very well for the future, September gave us the news that Angela Slatter and Kathleen Jennings have signed on with Alex Adsett Publishing Services together. Together Slatter and Jennings have created some wonderful words+pictures combinations, so the idea that this means their work may more easily find homes fills me with joy.

As I write this, Conflux – Canberra’s annual convention – is ...