"Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"
Chico Marx (Duck Soup)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Open Book Melbourne Class Presentation

Class presentation tomorrow of Open Book Melbourne to fellow classmates and digital visionaries.

As a group we had a short meeting over the weekend at an apartment B was housesitting in Kew. Opposite Raheen (the Pratt Mansion), is was slightly incongruous to enter a small apartment with three, mostly friendly, cats on the loose.

Nonetheless, we all managed to ascertain who would speak to which part of not only our project, but also the criteria as well. So for my part, I obviously would talk about the Kids section: aims, audience, content, etc. And then at wrap up, we each would talk about a future agenda plan: e.g. how we could take this concept further and grow it.

It think each of us a pretty good handle on the concept, and the practicality of creating it online. It's been very helpful to have such savvy digital colleagues. I men, C was busily organising Facebook, twitter accounts, and linking in with friends and family. Very helpful indeed.

So I think, by all accounts we'll all be ready to showcase our project in class this week. What comes next after the project assessment's due date is expired - that's unclear at the moment. This project may still have some life left.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Open Book Logo

Time to talk branding...logo wise.

Have been endlessly fiddling with the Open Book logo; and NO the above one is not the newest version, cute though it is. I tell you it's not easy. Illustrator and InDesign are great programs by Adobe, but trying to exactly come up with what you want to fit within the small, tiny framework allowable by Wordpress is to put it ever so gently - FRUSTRATING!

Wordpress is not an easy beast to wrestle with, at least the free version isn't. The themes are so not adaptable. But that I suppose is the price of admission.

Anyway, after trying to squeeze my logo designs into the banner header slot - oh my lordie. I swear steam jets were rising up out of my ears. I think I'll be working at this right up until our presentation in a few days. Mind you it's nice that my fellow bookshop crew are encouraging and allowing me to provide this. J has a friend who works professionally as a children's illustrator, however she's too busy to come up with something at the moment. A shame cause I'm sure her contribution would have been fabulous. Maybe we'll get her to do something at a later date - I do so love a good illustration.

Have a face-to-face meeting with several of my colleagues tomorrow arvo, which should consolidate our ideas for the presentation. Will check in with an update after meeting.

Here's another fabulous little picture book trailer. It's called - 'It's a Book'. Very apt for our class project I believe. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Interviews with children's bookshop owners

Very happy today, as I finally received back some answers from an interview I sent to several children's bookshop owner's from around my area in Yarraville and Williamstown (inner western suburbs of Melbourne).

The only one to respond (it's a start I know) is Dharma from JP Junior Everlasting Books on Somerville Road Yarraville - featured in my second assignment article and online piece. Plan to make this into an upcoming post on Open Book in the Kids section.

Getting information and interview material from busy bookshop owners is tough!! Learning that you have to create and maintain a relationship with the prospective owner, and give them something in return, not just take as it were.

Anyway, lots of fun, and quietly chuffed. The picture of Captain Pugwash refers to Dharma's love of this book...you'll have to wait and read it!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Second Assignment task & feedback

Feedback from the second assignment came this week, and it was generally spot-on. Lots of great ideas to fix up what I'd written. In particular, how to make what I'd written into a better online article, rather than just a text-based piece. Mind you though, it's always confronting for a writer (no matter how confident or ortherwise) to examine exacting feedback on their 'creation'.

The process of having the article commissioned, writing it, and getting it edited by another colleague was also a challenging process. Mainly because I think J and I were a little confused over the actual process, and what was expected within the assignment. Generally we completed the task that was required, albeit rather sloppily from my end - no fault of J's. Communication during the process was via email, so at times it seemed to lag a little. Probably through my own slow reading and responding to emails. Nonetheless, J and I managed something reasonable, and it went into our first week or launch of our website - Open Book Melbourne.

Mind you it was lots of fun gathering the material for the article - that is visiting the bookshops and taking photos, and requesting interviews. My son even got in on the act, as you can see with last post's photo of the apple tree.

PS. Picture above is from Anthony Browne - one of the best modern children's illustrators from Britain, and a huge personal favourite. The picture is from his award winning bok Gorilla.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Review of children's bookstores around Yarraville

The western Melbourne suburb of Yarraville is practically flooded with young families, filled to the brim with babies, toddlers, youngsters of all ages. Perfect setting then for several top notch dedicated children’s bookstores.

Two fabulous bookshops that openbookmelb will review include: JP Junior Everlasting Books, and an extension of the Sun Bookshop in Yarraville Village, the Younger Sun.

JP Junior Everlasting Books is an offshoot of JP Books an education bookseller and stockist catering to several independent schools around Melbourne. The Yarraville shop is run by one of the booksellers Dharma as an adjunct to the main business, and a personal passion of her own; as she says, ”The shop is filled with all the books that I loved growing up with.”

The store is located on Somerville Road Yarraville, unmistakeable with its outside wall festooned with a very cute mural.

(Of which my young bookshop tester enjoyed larking about with!)

Inside the store there is plenty of space, necessary for the large gatherings of young families—a weekly cyclonic pram city—assembling there every Thursday at 11am for Dharma’s entertaining book reading.

The store’s collection of both illustrated and AYA books is impressive to say the least. Every favourite author and illustrator is foreseeably covered along the bookshelf display, or in easy to find slipcases.

JP Junior is a fantastic bookshop and a wonderful addition to the local community. Get on down there, and enjoy chatting with someone as knowledgeable and passionate about children’s books as Dharma. A must for all fans of children’s books, young or old.

The Younger Sun (cute pun!) is an offshoot of Yarraville Village’s very successful and well-loved independent store, the Sun Bookshop, which is located adjacent to the historic Sun Theatre—an art deco masterpiece, restored and still thriving with packed crowds of cinema goers. The Younger Sun grew too large for the adult shop, and stepped across the road to a cosy space just about right for the intended reading age.

Inside it is fabulously well stocked with the latest and best of children’s literature and AYA books, puzzles, stuffed characters from picture books, plus it’s staffed by incredibly helpful and informative booksellers.

The store’s only drawback may be the very tight space inside, but only when it is busy with multiple shoppers at the same time. But generally, the shop is a fantastic space for finding that special book or something for the right niece or nephew, or indeed your youngest son. Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Neil Gaimon children's books and promo trailers

As a follow-on from the last post on pop-ups, this week I'm just going to highlight one of my favourite authors and what his publishers have provided for him with trailer videos on Youtube.

Neil Gaimon (I absolutely, definitely, definitively follow his journal) has written some fabulous children's books recently; or should I say has allowed some of his material to be repackaged and envisioned as illustrated children's literature.

Two books in particular: the first being Blueberry Girl (actually an original work, inspired by a friend's child), and the second is Instructions (which was originally a poem in one of his short story collections). Both books are illustrated by renowned artist Charles Vess - a specialist in fantastical imagery.

Blueberry Girl is a wonderful poem about fostering a young girl's growth through life from an early age, filled with much underpinning mythological significance (as per Gaimon) - or maybe that's just my reading.

Instructions is a truly wonderful poem, and should be learnt by heart by every primary school student. I think I might start at home with that idea. It's a poem detailing all the necessary 'instructions' a traveller in fairy will need in order to return safely home - to return, but to a new changed home. It is wonderfully evocative of the power inherent within fairy stories, and what that can bring to the human imagination young and old. Highly recommended.

Below are two of the promo trailer videos of the books. Enjoy my brave fairy land wanderers.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pop-up books and videos

I love pop-up books.

Last semester I did Professional Communication, and one of the major assessments was to orally present a presentation convincing the other students in the class that you had a fabulous commissioning idea on an old out-of-print book.

Now naturally I took this on a creative side bender, and considered resurrecting an out-of-print book - but bringing it back as a glorious pop-up book al la Robert Sabuda (the picture above). My book was Jorg Louis Borges Book of Imaginary Beasts; a fantastical cavalcade of mythical and superstitious animals and beasts - perfect for 3-D treatment. I'm still absolutely sure it would be a great success.

What this round-about rave is getting to is, that one of my great discoveries doing this project was to find pop-up videos on youtube and such. These were little hand made videos of people opening and reading books with a video camera, and then adding a wondrous soundtrack as accompaniment.

This is more of your basic variety.

Other books credit a more professional quality, such as...

Pop-ups, you've got to love them.