Children’s Book Week Author Visit and Story Competition Winners

We were delighted to welcome Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood, author and illustrator of Real Pigeons Fight Crime, to help us celebrate Children’s Book Week 2018, if a little belatedly.  And boy did we use ALL our new space post-renovations!!  What an incredible crowd we had, with well over a hundred budding authors and illustrators and their families joining us for a great afternoon.

Andrew and Ben entertained us and shared what it was like to collaborate to create a book like Real Pigeons – and even created a whole new pigeon character with the help of the crowd – perhaps we’ll see a nose-shaped pigeon with the superpower of ‘super snoring’ in one of the next books?!  (Real Pigeons Eat Danger, Book 2, will be out in November)

But of course, everyone was also there to hear the announcement of the winners of this year’s Story Writing Competition.  With a record 195 entries across 5 categories from lower primary to upper secondary, we certainly had a massive task on our hands deciding on the winners.  If we could, we’d give EVERYONE a prize, but for those who missed out this year – keep honing your skills and delving into that imagination and maybe next year will be YOUR year!!

So congratulations to the winners for this year, who were as follows:

(click on the individual titles to read the story)

Lower Primary School 

Amelie Masters for Little Brown Bear
Fehin Contini for The Wawel and the Witch 

Middle Primary School

Rowan Fitzgerald for Charlie’s Adventure to the Planets

Louis Morgan for Oh Winter Weather

Lily Grant for The Forgotten Name
Bethany Greenstreet for Bessie’s Story
Gwendolin Mapp for Zara’s Ice-cream
Mia Spicer for Miranda 

Upper Primary School

Anya Renwick for The Wheel of Life
Isabel York for Bluebell Farm

Lower Secondary School

Emily Marthick for Hugo Essay

Charli Lloyd for Sincerely Dorothy
Alex Tepaske for The Edge of Insanity

Upper Secondary School 

Elise Harrington for Remember September

Thanks to everyone for being involved in our Story Competition this year – it is truly one of our favourite times of year and we feel so blessed to be a part of a community that is so invested in reading, writing and the arts!!  Bring on 2019!!!

2016 Story Writing Competition: Winners and Honours List

We were quite overwhelmed this year by the number of entries (almost 100!) and the levels of enthusiasm put into them by everyone – it’s so fantastic to see the bucket loads of talent we have here on the Peninsula in all our budding young authors.  You are certainly a very impressive lot!!

It was wonderful to see many of you at our Author Event with Wendy Orr on Saturday 27 August – you had some fantastic questions for her about what it’s like to be an author.  I hope her responses were helpful to those of you dreaming of one day becoming one yourselves.

Unfortunately, there can only be a few winners and our judging task was a difficult one, but we are pleased to announce the 2016 winners as follows:

LOWER PRIMARY (Prep to Yr 3)

Winner: How I Dreamt of a Super Dog by Rupert Brancatisano

Winner: My Friends by Zali Horner

Winner (Illustration): Going Around Australia by Ayana Barker

Honourable Mention: Footy Cards Save the Day by Jiah Patane

Honourable Mention: Some Days by Lily and Oliver Rivett


Winner: The End of Mr HB by Mia Davies

Honourable Mention: Lost Eggs of Elsia by Siena Yap

Honourable Mention: Quontana by William Atta


Winner: Goldilocks and The Revenge of the Three Bears by Maddy Scharpenack

Honourable Mention: The Girl in Blue by Emily Savage

Honourable Mention: God’s Angel by Holly Newgreen


Winner: Tom, Leon and Jill Go to Space by Chris Hollins

We have uploaded the winning entries, so just click on the links if you’d like to have a read.

If you didn’t win a prize this year, don’t be disheartened – keep working at your stories and illustrations, and read lots for inspiration – next year might be your year!!

We have prepared a Certificate for every entrant – you can collect yours in store – just ask our friendly staff.

We will dispose of any certificates and stories not collected by the end of October.

Thanks for helping us celebrate Children’s Book Week 2016
– we can’t wait to see what you’ll have for us next year!!

Reading Resolutions 2016

This time of year everyone seems to be making plans for all things ‘self-improvement’ – lose weight, get fit, declutter the house, quit to pursue that dream job, try not to yell at the kids so much… Otherwise known as ‘new year’s resolutions’. As for many (most?!) people, I’ve never been particularly successful at keeping many of my resolutions, but one area in which I have mostly succeeded in recent years has been in my reading goals for the year.

Having annual reading goals started out of necessity during my ‘young babies’ years, when I set the bar very low indeed (who in their right mind prioritises reading over sleep?!) – back then it was a case of “read one book – my book club book – per month”. This was as much an escape from the less joyful aspects of young babies as an attempt to cling to the remnants of my thinking mind. But eventually having reading goals for the year took on more of that ‘self-improvement’ aspect, and I challenged myself to read two books per month (book club plus something else I fancied)

Now that my kids are just a little bit older and I’ve returned to part time work, I’m able to be a bit more ambitious in my annual reading goals, but last year it all felt a bit ad hoc – read it when you can / have to, a bit of this, a bit of that. It was chaotic. And although I managed to increase the breadth and quantity of my reading, I didn’t really end the year with any great sense that I had achieved what I would like to reading-wise.

So what to do this year to improve on that?

There have been many New Year’s Reading challenges and frameworks floating around the Internet and social media over the last week, many of which seem to provide interesting and different ways to challenge your reading for the year ahead. So I thought I’d put some of them together in the one place for a bit of inspiration for those of you who are seeking some, as well as some ideas to help you select the actual titles you might have on your list. A few of our staff will be doing these challenges and as always we’re more than happy to help you with suggestions and recommendations throughout the year.

2016 Reading Challenge Ideas

Choose 12 for one book per month, or more or less depending on your time and goals. If none of these take your fancy, just try googling ‘reading challenges’ and you’ll find a plethora of different blog spots and other websites suggesting many other interesting ideas.

The more abstract…

  • a  book published this year / last year / the year you were born

  • a book you can finish in a day

  • a book you’ve always meant to read

  • a book recommended by your local bookseller or librarian

  • a book you should have read in school

  • a book chosen for you by your partner / sibling / child / parent / friend

  • a book that was banned at some point

  • a book you previously failed to finish

  • a book you already own but have never read

  • a book that intimidates you

  • a book that has won an award

  • a book that you read a long time ago (it’s amazing the different ways we experience a book depending on where we’re at in our life at the time we read it).

By genre / subject matter / country of origin…

  • picture storybook or young adult fiction

  • a shorty story collection

  • an Australian classic

  • fiction – crime or thriller, science fiction, fantasy, historical, romance, magical realism…

  • non-fiction – autobiography, biography, history, politics, current affairs, science, philosophy…

  • something translated from a language other than English

  • combine two or more things from the above lists (eg. Norman Lindsay’s The Magic Pudding would be an Australian classic children’s book or Stieg Larsson’s ‘Girl with a Dragon Tattoo’ series would be crime / thriller and translated a book (from Swedish)).

  • Try Book Bingo (example from– many more available free online)

Or for your habits:

  • Remember the Title & Author of the books you’ve read

  • Remember who you lent a book to

  • Attend a literary or writers festival or go along to an author signing / book launch

  • Remember who lent you a book and return it before 2017

  • Keep a book journal

  • Write an online review

Once you’ve set your challenge, how do you select which book for each category?:

  • Ask your favourite friendly Farrells staff member for a recommendation!

  • Check out our regular best sellers lists

  • Ask your friends and family which books they have loved – or hated! – or found particularly memorable/fun/relaxing/challenging – whatever you’re after

  • Have a look at the national best sellers lists published weekly in the media

  • Keep an eye open for interesting pieces written on classics, new releases or different authors

  • Look at online reviews – just be wary of spoilers!!

  • If you sign up for an online reading challenge (eg. through Goodreads or another site) you end up with a ready-made online book club of other readers with whom you can share your thoughts or feelings about the books.

  • Visit your local library and draw on their experienced librarians

 We wish you all a rewarding year of reading in 2016!!

For the love of book clubs…

I’m not a particularly obsessive person, but one thing that I do love – unapologetically – is my book club.

A small group of us – family and friends and friends of friends and friends of family – started it around six years ago.  Just a group of people, who all loved reading, and were looking for a way to read more and get more out of our reading.  Our membership has waxed and waned over the years as people have moved away, moved closer, had babies, taken on new commitments etc, but I have come to realise that we are (amusingly, if you knew any of us personally), considered a ‘serious’ book club – that is, we don’t just get together to drink wine (although that’s obviously a bonus) – we are there to discuss our book.

We take it in turns to select a book each month, taking December off each year to celebrate with a Christmas dinner and reminisce about the books we’ve read over the course of the year.  It also helps take the pressure off at a busy time of year.  We agonise about what our next choice will be or alternatively have piles of books waiting in the wings for our next turn – should we select a classic?  A new release?  Something obscure?  Something mainstream?  We prepare questions in advance to guide the discussion.  We sometimes have quizzes – with prizes!!  One memorable month (and I wish I still had them to include a picture), one of our members, who happens to work at the State Library, printed all of her questions on little miniature book covers, smaller than matchboxes, of classic titles.  Now THAT’s love and obsession at its finest.

In our first year we tended to share books around, but I’ve personally developed the need to own every one of our book club books.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep it up in the decades ahead (simply from a space perspective), but for now we have the room and I have become quite anal about them – labelling them by month and year, grouping them in their chronological order.  In six years I’ve only missed 2 discussions (both because, rather inconveniently, I was giving birth), but I still have those 2 books and will read them one day (when I have the time…).  I am also determined to go back and buy those books from the first year that I don’t have – until then my shelves will feel incomplete.

Book club means so much to me for so many reasons – on a monthly basis it is an escape, a stress relief, an accomplishment, an education, a laugh, a cry…and an opportunity to engage in meaningful discourse with other wonderful individuals with varied opinions, personalities and tastes.  It has led me to read books that I would never have otherwise read .  Some I have loved.  Others I have hated.  Some I am indifferent to.  Only once have I made the decision to not finish reading a book because I was so thoroughly despising it (I won’t tell you which one…).  I still maintain it was the right decision.  The brilliant thing about book club is that even if the book is not to your taste, the discussion will often lift it up and give it value that you had not been able to see while reading it.

There is something quite magical about different people coming together and revealing to each other whole new aspects of a book – demonstrating how the human brain and personality can influence how we experience things.  I was once in Somers General Store for lunch and bumped into a long time Farrell’s customer, who would have been in her early 70s.  She started talking about her book club, which at that time had been running – continuously – for 42 years.  And it still had all its original members.  Now that is commitment.  That is love.

That is the shared joy of books.  :).

There are many ways to get involved in a book club if you’re interested – from online groups to community organised ones to just setting something up with your friends as we did.  And I can assure you, it’s well worth it – even if you run out of room on your bookshelves…