What the Davitt Awards judges, and Jenny, said at the awards ceremony

At the 2020 Davitt Awards ceremony the other day, presenter Sue Turnbull read out the judges’ great comments on Jenny Blackford’s prize-winning book, The Girl in the Mirror, after Val McDermid announced her win. That was followed by a short speech by Jenny herself. We thought readers might be interested to see the transcript, which follows, courtesy of Sisters in Crime Australia. And remember, you can watch the whole thing here.

DAVITT  AWARDS CEREMONY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2020.

SUE TURNBULL: This year 12 crime books competed for the Davitt for Best Children’s Crime Novel. 4 were shortlisted.

 VAL MCDERMID: And the Davitt for the Best Children’s Crime Novel goes to JENNY BLACKFORD for The Girl in the Mirror (Eagle Books, an imprint of Christmas Press)

 JENNY BLACKFORD is an award-winning Australian writer and poet. Her poems and stories for adults and children have appeared in Asimov’s, Westerly, The School Magazine and many more Australian and international journals and anthologies. She won two prizes in the Sisters in Crime Australia Scarlet Stiletto awards 2016 for a murder mystery set in classical Delphi, with water nymphs. Eagle Books published her spidery, ghostly middle-grade novel The Girl in the Mirror in October 2019. It’s based on a story that originally appeared in The School Magazine. Pitt Street Poetry published her third poetry collection, The Alpaca Cantos, in April 2020.

 SUE TURNBULL: This is what the judges had to say:

“Separated by more than a hundred years, and brought together through a mysterious mirror, Maddie and Clarissa provide comfort and wisdom at a time when they feel desperately alone. The girls band together to defeat a creeping evil that threatens the lives of their families. The Girl in the Mirror is a refreshingly contemporary time-slip mystery. Maddie and Clarissa are intensely relatable with their shared frustrations at the way in which they are dismissed by the adults in their lives. Jenny Blackford has captured the pains of early adolescence – loneliness, fear, uncertainty – in a gripping mystery that is perfectly pitched to the middle readers who will love it.”

Over to you JENNY.

JENNY BLACKFORD:

“I’m so delighted! The Sisters in Crime do an amazing job of encouraging and supporting Australian crime readers and writers. In 2016 I won two prizes in the Scarlet Stiletto awards, run by the Sisters in Crime, for a murder mystery set in classical Delphi, and that has certainly encouraged me to write more crime fiction and poetry. And now this, the Children’s Crime Novel Davitt for The Girl in the Mirror. Thank you, Sisters!

“I must thank Christmas Press Commissioning Editor Beattie Alvarez, who pulled my submission out of the slush and turned it into a real book. Eagle Books is the adventure story imprint of Christmas Press, based in Armidale and run by Sophie Masson, Fiona McDonald and David Allan. Huge thanks to them all. They were the perfect publishers for my mix of crime, ghost story and mystery, with added spiders. The design of the book is amazing, thanks to Beattie and Fiona – there are tiny redback spiders on every page, and gloriously creepy black and white illustrations sprinkled through it. And thanks to illustrator Liz Anelli, who launched it at MacLean’s Booksellers and at Maitland Library.

“My friends and family have been admirably patient whenever I’ve stopped doing whatever I was halfway through and looked blankly into space. Many of them have also helped with proofreading and editing for many drafts of the manuscript – especially my husband Russell.”

Very exciting news!

PRESS RELEASE

September 27, 2020

Christmas Press is absolutely delighted to announce that Jenny Blackford’s fabulous middle-grade novel, The Girl in the Mirror, which we published in our Eagle Books imprint in 2019, is the winner of the Best Children’s Crime Novel category in the 2020 Davitt Awards.

The Awards, which were presented by legendary Scottish crime writer Val McDermid in a virtual ceremony yesterday, Saturday September 26, featured a shortlist of 24 books across six categories. You can find the video of the ceremony here.

Prestigious annual awards with a 20-year history, the Davitts are run by the Sisters in Crime Australia literary organisation and showcase the best crime novels by Australian women writers.

The Girl in the Mirror, an enthralling mix of murder mystery, time slip and ghost story, is the debut middle-grade novel of acclaimed poet and short story writer Jenny Blackford. Illustrated with atmospheric black and white pictures by Fiona McDonald, the novel has received wide acclaim, with reviewers praising its ‘clever storytelling’ (Buzz Words), ‘silky smooth prose’  (Compulsive Reader) and its ‘enjoyable and revelatory’ qualities (ReadPlus). As Geoffrey McSkimming writes in the back cover quote, it is truly a ‘spine-tingling winner.’

Publishing director of Christmas Press, Sophie Masson, said, ‘Jenny initially submitted her novel to us some time ago in one of our open submissions period, and it immediately caught the eye of our commissioning editor Beattie Alvarez, for its haunting atmosphere, gripping narrative and sharp, evocative writing. We loved working with Jenny and are very proud to have published The Girl in the Mirror. We warmly congratulate Jenny on this very well-deserved win and thank the Davitt Awards judges and Sisters in Crime Australia for supporting the best in crime fiction by Australian women writers.’

Some fantastic news!

United Publishers of Armidale, a collaboration between children’s books publishers Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, is delighted to announce that it is the recipient of a 2020 Resilience Fund Grant, an initiative by the Australia Council for the Arts. 

The 2020 Resilience Fund is designed to provide emergency relief to support the livelihoods, practice and operations of Australian artists, groups and organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australia Council has directed more than $5M to the Resilience Fund to provide immediate relief to the Australian arts sector.

United Publishers of Armidale was granted funds under the Adapt stream of the Resilience Fund, to create a wide range of fun new free activities and resources centred around their books, to join those already featured on their website, www.unitedpublishersofarmidale.net These are aimed at children, families and schools. Funds will also be used by the publishers to create special ‘Journey of a Book’ video presentations for adults which will look at aspects of writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books, around a focus on books produced by each publisher. These presentations, to be hosted on the UPA You Tube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCebJK9zqg1f1ROlrSrtAFuA,  and showcased on their website, will be aimed at aspiring creators as well as anyone interested in children’s books.

Christmas Press and Little Pink Dog Books, under our United Publishers of Armidale banner, wish to warmly thank the Australia Council for their generous support of our joint initiative. We look forward to creating some fantastic resources–watch this space!

(And as a Christmas Press imprint, Eagle Books is delighted to be part of it!)

Shadow puppets: a creative activity around The Phantasmic Detective Agency

In the first part of The Phantasmic Detective Agency, shadow puppets play a big part in the action. And we’ve put together a fun creative activity to enable readers to make their own shadow-puppets and their plays. These can be either cut-out shapes on sticks or using your hands to make the shapes.
You can write simple plays using twisted versions of fables or fairytales (as  Uncle Alfred did!) or create your own wild adventure—your imagination is the limit. (Just watch out for Shadow Wolf! 😊)

You can find the activity at the United Publishers of Armidale website, with links to some fabulous how-to videos on You Tube.

Publication week for The Phantasmic Detective Agency

We are proud to announce the publication this week of Julian Leatherdale’s wonderful novel for middle-grade/YA readers, The Phantasmic Detective Agency, available now from all good bookshops around Australia.

Prepare to be swept into an amazing world….

London, Christmas Eve, 1911: the world is changing fast: giant warships, aeroplanes with bombs,  spies and assassins, fear of war with Germany. And the cosy lives of teenagers Lily and Leo Keeler,  who long for adventure, are about to be torn apart by secrets, espionage and monstrous creatures. When a shadow-puppet play unexpectedly releases the hungry spectre of Shadow Wolf, Lily and Leo get more adventure than they ever bargained for, as they battle the threat with their uncle Alfred, a brilliant, notorious Sherlock Holmes- like paranormal detective.

But that proves to be only the first mystery in a conspiracy that threatens the whole Keeler family, as Lily and Leo’s stage magician parents vanish for real in the middle of their latest spectacular magic act. From the Royal Naval dockyards of Plymouth to the bone-stacked catacombs of Paris, Lily and Leo and their uncle must confront eerie creatures and spine-tingling danger as they are chased by a ruthless spy-ring determined to harness the dark forces of Magick as weapons of war…

An exciting, inventive mix of adventure, fantasy, mystery and history,  written with a light, sure touch, and featuring engaging characters, atmospheric settings and many twists and turns, this is a novel to enthrall readers and keep them on the edge of their seats. As Michael Pryor notes in his cover quote: With bucketloads of colourful history, all the magic of the theatre and excitement galore, The Phantasmic Detective Agency is a cavalcade of imaginative steampunk delight.

As we mark the publication of this fantastic book, we mourn the loss but celebrate the brilliant creative achievement of its lovely author, Julian Leatherdale, who died last week. It was Julian’s first novel for young readers, after three acclaimed historical novels for adults, and though we are sad that we will not see more fabulous adventures from his pen, we hope that many, many enthralled readers are swept away into the riches and wonders of a truly special novel.

Julian at the Historical Novel Society of Australasia conference, Sydney, October 2019

The Phantasmic Detective Agency a Featured Book on United Publishers of Armidale

Eagle Books is very pleased to say that our upcoming(May) title, The Phantasmic Detective Agency, Julian Leatherdale’s wonderful historical fantasy adventure novel for middle-grade readers, is one of the Featured Books for the newly-launched United Publishers of Armidale website.

As well as details of the book, including buying links, on the page you will find some great activities and resources centred around the book.  We invite you to check them out!

Announcing United Publishers of Armidale!

Exciting announcement!

Christmas Press(of which Eagle Books is an imprint) and fellow children’s books publisher, Little Pink Dog Books, are delighted to announce a brand-new joint initiative, United Publishers of Armidale, with the launch of a new website, www.unitedpublishersofarmidale.net, and associated social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The United Publishers of Armidale website features a number of books from each publisher, with free activities and resources to go with each, as well as information on each title. Activities and resources include audio and video presentations by creators, puzzles, quizzes, word searches, printable colouring pages, teachers’ notes, and more. The Featured Books page will be updated regularly with new, upcoming and backlist titles and their associated activities, while the About page gives information about the UPA partner publishers.

‘The idea behind United Publishers of Armidale is that in these difficult times, it makes sense for publishers, especially small, regionally-based publishers like us, to pool our efforts and resources in order to promote and showcase our books and help to support our creator communities, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Little Pink Dog Books on this,’ said Sophie Masson, co-director of Christmas Press. ‘But it’s also very much about supporting the wider community, especially children, their families, teachers and carers, by offering free resources and activities through a dedicated website.’

‘We are delighted to be partnering with Christmas Press in this new enterprise and we hope that everyone will have lots of fun discovering our featured books and the activities around them,’ said Kathy Creamer, co-director of little Pink Dog Books. ‘And we warmly thank our authors and illustrators for getting so enthusiastically behind the project and creating such fabulous and diverse activities for our readers.’

Books featured for the website launch are, for Christmas Press, middle grade historical fantasy novel, The Phantasmic Detective Agency, by Julian Leatherdale (out May 2020 in Eagle Books) and Australian Children Laureate Ursula Dubosarsky’s recent collection of plays, The Boy Who Could Fly and Other Magical Plays for Children(2019); and for Little Pink Dog Books, author-illustrator Trish Donald’s picture book Tissy Woo and the Worry Monsters(2018) and Parmesan, The Reluctant Racehorse, written by Jacqui Halpin and illustrated by John Phillips (2017).

Check it all out here.

All welcome to celebratory Newcastle launch of The Girl in the Mirror!

On Saturday November 30 , 4pm-6pm, our latest title, Jenny Blackford’s fabulous The Girl in the Mirror, will be officially launched at MacLean’s Booksellers in Hamilton, Newcastle, NSW. The book will be launched by celebrated  Newcastle-based illustrator Liz Anelli, and Jenny of course will be in attendance to sign copies of the book. All welcome!

This is a free event but you should register your interest in attending here.