Tag Archives: #imclever

Spotlight on Sir David Attenborough 

Sir David Attenborough – with his distinctive voice and his enthusiasm for the wonders of our natural world – is probably the best-known environmentalist in the world. As writer, presenter and narrator, he has been educating and entertaining audiences about natural history for almost 70 years. He has created a tremendous body of work that represents a comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on Earth, as well as showing generation after generation of viewers the marvellous diversity in our environment and our living things. Now 96 years old, Sir David is still an active advocate for environment protection, highlighting how issues such as climate change and population growth can impact biodiversity. If you want to learn more about Sir David’s life and career, here are some good starting points:

Wild Life

Wild Life: The Extraordinary Adventures of Sir David Attenborough by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe

Journey through the jungle and coral reefs, across the African plains and icy poles, and even to the Galapagos Islands, in this beautiful picture book about the life and work of Sir David Attenborough. We discover that David has been a nature-lover since a young age, collecting fossils, stones and natural specimens to create his own “museum”. His eighth birthday gift – a fire salamander – sparks his imagination and ultimately leads to David Attenborough travelling and filming across the continents, visiting astonishing places and mysterious animals, and showing them to audiences all over the world.

Living Planet

Living Planet: The Web of Life on Earth by David Attenborough

This is a new and updated edition of The Living Planet, originally published in 1984, which looks at how plants and animals have evolved and adapted to the differing geographies and climates found around the world. The chapters march majestically across the planetary surface, showing how adaptation has created enormous diversity: from the poles to the tundra, to forests and jungles, the grasslands, the deserts. From fresh water to salt water, deep oceans to mountains and volcanoes. With the help of zoologist Matthew Cobb, this updated edition describes our latest understanding about biodiversity and evolutionary biology, including a significantly revised chapter on human evolution. The Living Planet is packed with information and stunning photography, and like all of Sir David’s work, manages to both inform, entertain as well as inspire.

A Life on Our Planet

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future by David Attenborough

In recent years, Sir David has shifted his attention from showing us the wonders of the natural world, to highlighting the environmental threats that stands to destroy our biodiversity. A Life on Our Planet is Sir David’s “witness statement” for the “the dreadful damage” done by humanity, and his plea for urgent climate action. Using his lifetime as a framing device, Sir David captures the accelerating destruction of our planet – changes not obvious from day to day, but shown in stark clarity over nine decades. He then warns us of the painful consequences of inaction – ice-free summers in the Arctic by the 2030s, climate-induced difficulties in food production and large scale, unmanageable human migration by late this century. Nonetheless, his call for action ends on a hopeful note, with ideas on how to turn things around by reducing energy and resource consumption and adopting a more sustainable diet.

Adventures of a Young Naturalist

Adventures of a Young Naturalist: Sir David Attenborough’s Zoo Quest Expeditions by David Attenborough

One of the first television programs presented by Sir David was Zoo Quest, which followed him and his (very small) team on expedition to British Guiana (Guyana), Indonesia and Paraguay in the 1950s. These expeditions aimed to collect exotic live animals – that no other zoo possessed – and bring them back for display at the London Zoo. Adventures of a Young Naturalist takes an affectionate, funny look at these intrepid trips, where Sir David and his team encounter idiosyncratic characters, exotic animals including capybaras, komodo dragons and vampire bats, and pristine environments. We also see early glimpses of the passion, respect and confidence around animals that will become Sir David’s onscreen trademark. Adventures of a Young Naturalist also encourages us to reflect on how, through the work of Sir David and other conservationists, our attitudes towards wildlife conservation have changed.

Journeys to the Other Side of the World

Journeys to the Other Side of the World: Further Adventures Of A Young Naturalist by David Attenborough

This companion volume to Adventures of a Young Naturalist is a collection of stories from the later part of the Zoo Quest program, where the young David Attenborough and his team travelled to Madagascar, New Guinea and other Pacific Islands, and to Australia’s Northern Territory. These expeditions became lessons in anthropology as well as zoology, with the team learning about and recording the indigenous culture of these remote places, whose ways of life had never been encountered by most of the British public before. From Aboriginal rock art, to the land divers of Pentecost Island, to encounters with paradise birds and chameleons, these stories are a valuable record of rituals and wildlife never previously filmed, and that have become endangered.

Life on Air

Life on Air (Revised and Updated Edition) by David Attenborough

It makes perfect (and witty) sense that Sir David, who made his name with the Life on Earth series, would call his memoirs Life on Air. This latest version is updated to include the most recent activities in his 60+ year career. The story starts in 1950, when a young David, dissatisfied with his job in a publishing house, applied for a job at the BBC. He was not successful; however, he was eventually asked to join BBC’s television department, kickstarting his long association with wildlife programming. Sir David spent considerable time as station management before his love of natural history led him to return to programme-making (just imagine – if he had become the Head of the BBC, his monumental Life on Earth series might never have been made!). Like his TV persona, Sir David writes with unfailing modesty and a warm sense of humour, none of which obscure the groundbreaking work he has done, both as a broadcaster and as station management.

Climate Change Crusaders, the voices challenging the way we treat our world 

Climate Change is not a new issue, nor is it going to fix itself without our education, action and attention. There are a number of individuals and groups that have been trying to get society’s attention to take action for years. Some have made an impact quickly and have roused us to protest, change our behaviour and expect more from each other. Today we’re sharing six books tackling this topic in very different ways, one shows how their family has been impacted, another teaches us how to discuss this important topic and others outline how the world will look should we choose to ignore it.

How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference by Rebecca Huntley

Why is it so hard to talk about climate change? While scientists double down on the shocking figures, we still find ourselves unable to discuss climate change meaningfully among friends and neighbours or even to grapple with it ourselves. The key to progress on climate change is in the psychology of human attitudes and our ability to change. Whether you’re already alarmed and engaged with the issue, concerned but disengaged, a passive skeptic or an active denier, understanding our emotional reactions to climate change – why it makes us anxious, fearful, angry or detached – is critical to coping on an individual level and convincing each other to act. This book is about understanding why people who aren’t like you feel the way they do and learning to talk to them effectively. What we need are thousands – millions – of everyday conversations about the climate to enlarge the ranks of the concerned, engage the disengaged and persuade the cautious of the need for action.

Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change by Nathaniel Rich 

By 1979, we knew all that we know now about the science of climate change; what was happening, why it was happening, and how to stop it. Over the next ten years, we also had the very real opportunity to stop it. Obviously, we failed. Nathaniel Rich’s groundbreaking account of that failure and how tantalisingly close we came to signing binding treaties that would have saved us all before the fossil fuels industry and politicians committed to anti-scientific denialism, is already a journalistic blockbuster, a full issue of the New York Times Magazine that has earned favourable comparisons to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and John Hersey’s Hiroshima. In the book Losing Earth, Rich provides more of the context for what did, and didn’t, happen in the 1980s and, more important, is able to carry the story fully into the present day and wrestle with what those past failures mean for us today. It is not just an agonising revelation of historical missed opportunities, but a clear-eyed and eloquent assessment of how we got to now, and what we can and must do before it is truly too late.

Hot Air: The Inside Story of the Battle Against Climate Change Denial by Peter Stott 

Hot Air is the shocking inside story of the fight to halt climate change over the past twenty-five years by a world-renowned scientist, Peter Stott. Ours is the age of global warming. Rising sea levels, extreme weather, forest fires. Dire warnings are everywhere, so why has it taken so long for the crisis to be recognised? Here, for the first time, climate scientist Peter Stott reveals the bitter fight to get international recognition for what, among scientists, has been known for decades: human activity causes climate change. Hot Air is the urgent story of how the science was developed, how it has been repeatedly sabotaged and why humanity hasn’t a second to spare in the fight to halt climate change.

Climate: Powerful Voices, Inspiring Ideas by Christina Limpert

With climate change at the forefront of current discussion, Words of change in Climate offers a curated collection of thought-provoking quotes and passages from the writings and speeches of activists in the environmental community, with a focus on diverse and previously unheard voices.

Compiled by social scientist and researcher Christina Limpert, this collection of stirring words is intended to enlighten, to prompt change, to provide encouragement, and to deepen readers’ conviction. Celebrating activism, focusing on solutions, and avoiding apathy and pessimism, this book is call to action. The back matter includes a brief bio for each person quoted to provide context for their life and work.

Stand Up! Speak Up! A Story Inspired by the Climate Change Revolution by Andrew Joyner

From a #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator, and the creator of The Pink Hat, comes a timely picture book about a young girl’s mission to inspire others to help the planet. Celebrate young climate change activists in this charming story about an empowered girl who shows up, listens up, and ultimately, speaks up to inspire her community to take action against climate change. After attending a climate march, a young activist is motivated to make an effort and do her part to help the planet… by organising volunteers to work to make green changes in their community, from cleaning a lake, to planting trees, to making composting bins, to hosting a clothing swap and more! Here is an uplifting picture book that is an important reminder that no change is too small, and no person is too young, to make a difference. With simple text and lively illustrations, Andrew Joyner has given young children a timely story about activism, community, and hope.

In a few weeks we will be sharing more books on how to talk to children about climate change so be sure to check back again for more titles.

Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Ernman, Svante Thunberg

The profoundly moving story of how love, courage and determination brought Greta Thunberg’s family back from the brink. This is the story of a happy family whose life suddenly fell apart, never to be the same again. Of two devoted parents plunged into a waking nightmare as their eleven-year-old daughter Greta stopped speaking and eating, and her younger sister struggled to cope. They desperately searched for answers, and began to see how their children’s suffering reached far beyond medical diagnoses. This crisis was not theirs alone: they were burned-out people on a burned-out planet. And so they decided to act. Our House is on Fire shows how, amid forces that tried to silence them, one family found ways to strengthen, heal, and gain courage from the love they had for each other and for the living world. It is a parable of hope and determination in an emergency that affects us all.

You can read other titles by Greta Thunberg here.

Next week on the blog we’ll be sharing six books offering suggestions as to what changes we can do at home to aid the future of the planet. 

Enjoy!

Biographies: Australian Stories 

What counts as an Australian Story? Australia has a diversity of landscapes, cultures and attitudes; these form the basis of endless unique stories. And more and more of these diverse stories are being shared, so we can learn about each other. Whether you enjoy finding common ground, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, or sneaking a peek into famous lives, there is an Australian biography that you will love.

All Mixed Up by Jason Om

The seed for Jason Om’s memoir was sown when, in 2017, he wrote an enormously moving story about how his father struggled to accept his (Jason’s) sexuality for 16 years, before finally voting “Yes” in the marriage equality plebiscite. Its popularity motivated him to describe more of his life. The award-winning ABC reporter grew up in a multi-ethnic, multi-faith household, with a Cambodian Buddhist dad, a Eurasian Catholic mum, and a Muslim-Malaysian half-sister. When he was 12, he watched his mother die of a heart attack while they were home alone; 20 years later, he was finally ready to process her death, by using his journalistic skills to unravel the family secrets that could explain her sorrowful outlook and often-erratic behaviour. All Mixed Up will make you laugh and cry and laugh again. It is a compelling story about trauma, identity and acceptance; it is also an uplifting celebration of the second-generation migrant experience, and of a son’s love for his mother.

Am I Black Enough For You? (10 Years On edition) by Anita Heiss

“I’m an urban beachside Blackfella, a concrete Koori with Westfield Dreaming, and I apologise to no-one.” Anita Heiss highlights the diversity in modern Indigenous Australians by sharing her own story – she is a proud Wiradyuri woman, yet has pale skin from an Austrian father, grew up in the suburbs, has a PhD and lives an urbane, cosmopolitan life. In her distinctive sassy voice, she challenges stereotypes about what qualifies as “truly” Aboriginal, illustrates the systemic and casual racism against Indigenous Australians with her own family history, and also discusses the growth of her activist consciousness. Am i Black Enough For You? also includes a gripping account of a landmark court case where Anita Heiss and eight co-plaintiffs sued shock-jock Andrew Bolt for doubting their Aboriginality (Heiss and co. won; Bolt was found to have breached the Racial Discrimination Act). Re-released on its 10th anniversary, this is still a powerful yet accessible introduction to understanding Indigenous identity and activism.

Your Own Kind of Girl by Clare Bowditch

When Clare Bowditch was 21, and recovering from a breakdown, she promised herself that she would write down the story of what led to, and how she survived, her nervous breakdown, in the hope that it can inspire anyone who’s ever struggled against their inner critic. Over 20 years later, flourishing and empowered, she has finally found the courage to complete her memoirs. Your Own Kind of Girl reveals a childhood punctuated by grief, anxiety and compulsion, telling how these forces shaped Clare’s life, and how she finally arrived at happiness when she took charge of the stories she told herself.  Your Own Kind of Girl is candid, generous and heartfelt, showing that Clare Bowditch – beloved musician, actress, broadcaster – is a powerful storyteller, in prose as in song.

Good Riddance: Get Rid of your Fears and Doubts. Unleash your Potential by Stacey Currie

Stacie Currie grew up in a chaotic, disadvantaged family and has beaten incredible odds to become happy and successful. Pregnant at 15 and homeless at 17, she was a mother-of-three and family-abuse survivor by age 21. Government authorities gave her a stark choice: turn her life around, or lose custody of her kids. But how to strive for a better, “good” life when you can’t comprehend what that looks like? Stacie realised that she can work backwards – identify what she doesn’t want, and work to get rid of unhelpful thinking that fosters these bad habits. Good Riddance shows how it was done – each chapter focusses on a behaviour she didn’t want, and her advice on how to overcome it. Now a successful businesswoman and motivational speaker, Stacie is committed to paying it forward – using her insights to empower audiences to unlock courage and make positive changes, as well as working with charities that support at-risk children and youth.

Honey Blood by Kirsty Everett

Honey Blood is the evocative title of Kirsty Everett’s memoir, about a childhood and adolescence lived in the shadow of leukaemia. Kirsty Everett was going to be an Olympic gymnast, but her dreams were derailed by a leukaemia diagnosis at age 9. Having survived the experience, she was diagnosed again at age 16. Facing a low chance of survival, she decided to live life to the full – and, after an amazing recovery, still does to this day. Honey Blood juxtaposes vivid descriptions of cancer treatment with the nostalgic story of a girl growing up in as normal a way as her health allows – with sport, school, takeaway dinners and first kisses. This book may offer particular support to anyone touched by cancer; but Kirsty’s courage, resilience and positivity offers inspiration to everyone.

Born Into This by Adam Thompson

Born Into This is actually a short story collection rather than biography, but his characters are so vivid and heartfelt that you can feel they are drawn from life. These 16 stories, about black and white relations, colonialism, class friction, racism and the gradual destruction of heritage and environment, are clearly anchored by Adam Thompson’s ancestry, his work within the Aboriginal community, and his native Tasmanian landscape. A particular highlight is his large cast of distinctive and vividly-drawn characters, who speak to the diverse lived experiences of Indigenous people. Born Into This is dark, funny and confronting, with an in-your-face energy that nonetheless delivers thoughtful messages. A strong debut by this Tasmanian Aboriginal author.

Biographies: Business and Innovative Ideas 

Successful businesspeople are a great source of life lessons, even if you don’t have entrepreneurial ambitions of your own. This week’s pick of business biographies combine terrific, candid storytelling with thought-provoking discussions around ambition, passion, resilience, and the importance of values. Enjoy!

We Can All Make It: My Story by Sara Davies

Sara Davies was still a university student when she founded Crafter’s Companion, a craft supplies company. Through passion, ambition and sheer hard work, Sara has grown her business to a multimillion-pound company, become the youngest female entrepreneur on the Dragons’ Den, mentored businesswomen, as well as become a media personality. Like Sara, We Can All Make It is vivacious, determined and full of wisdom. Sara’s story of learning to juggle a young family, managing a company, and an investment portfolio – all the while training to compete in Strictly Come Dancing as well as writing her book – is sure to offer inspiration to budding entrepreneurs everywhere.

Future You: Be Curious. Say Yes to Change by Frances Valintine

Frances Valintine is a futurist and entrepreneur who helps people and organisations learn new technologies and adapt to technological change. She understands that change is hard to embrace – even when you know it will be better for you in the long run. Future You draws upon her personal as well as business experience, to show you how to overcome self-doubt, pass less judgment, break away from routine and take risks. If you have ever imagined a different life – Future You will empower you to take the steps to make it happen.

Nice is Not a Biscuit: How to Build a World-Class Business by Doing the Right Thing by Peter Mead

You may not have heard of Peter Mead, but you have probably seen his work – as a founder of advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers, Peter has been at the top of the advertising industry for over 40 years. In Nice is Not a Biscuit, Peter Mead shares 100 business lessons with a contrarian message – that, unlike a stereotype of ruthlessness, decent behaviour makes commercial sense. He cites niceness as the secret of his and his firm’s success – that it creates an environment of calm and well-being that allows creativity to flourish, fostering a sustainable business with unbelievable loyalty and commitment. At a time when the work / business landscape is going through enormous change, his upbeat advice will both challenge and enlighten you.

Authentic: a Memoir by the Founder of Vans by Paul Van Doren

When skate- and surf-culture went mainstream in the ’70s and ’80s, it also made Vans sneakers a household name, beloved for its cool, artsy, laid-back vibe. Authentic celebrates the rise of a blue-collar kid, with no higher education nor retailing experience, into an all-American success story. Memoirs and business lessons are intertwined because Paul Van Doren is a hands-on entrepreneur whose personal and professional lives became blurred. Read fascinating stories about his innovations (including setting up sneaker-only stores, selling single shoes and designing with user-input), as well as the importance he places on deep-rooted values and on vision, which has culminated in the muc-admired, people-oriented culture of his company.

Walking Through Honey: My Journey with Parkinson’s Disease by Brian Sherman with A M Jonson

“Walking through honey” describes Brian Sherman’s experience of Parkinson’s Disease – the daily struggle with moving, the inability to get your body to do what your mind wants. For the last ten years, Parkinson’s Disease has been the biggest challenge for Brian, who has had 50 years’ of success as a business leader, animal rights activist and philanthropist. The fragmented diary format, illustrated by artworks and multi-exposure photographs, vividly evokes his experience of illness. Walking Through Honey is a raw and candid memoir that offers Brian Sherman to regain control over his narrative, while helping readers understand the impact of Parkinson’s Disease.

Unprecedented: Canada’s Top CEOs on Leadership During Covid-19 by Steve Mayer

Unprecedented is not only a business book, it is a documentary record as well as a fundraising effort towards Canada’s COVID recovery. This collection of essays by the CEOs of Canadian businesses – including Lululemon, Air Canada and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts – are deeply personal accounts of what they have experienced, and what they have learnt, during the current pandemic. These companies – including airlines, nursing homes, grocery stores and banks – have been on the frontline of the health crisis and have had to make sudden and unprecedented changes to how they operated. These candid stories – full of humour, compassion, and plenty of fear and struggle – offer us remarkable insights into top-level decision-making that overcomes adversity.

The Newest Arts and Entertainment Biographies

Inspiring people come into our lives at all different times, some are there from the beginning guiding us with their values, others are friends during our schooling years holding our hands through challenging times, and some are fleeting interactions where someone offers us words of wisdom when we needed it most.

It it with the memory of these amazing people that we are looking into the world of biographies this month. There are so many people who we can learn from, be inspired by and propelled forward by. This week we are exploring art and entertainment biographies. We have found six of our favourite stories but hold on tight because they are a mixture of amusement, heartache and devastatingly honest views of the world and each offers us a little nugget of inspiration to take away.

Only Wanna Be with You: The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish by Tim Sommer

In 1985, Mark Bryan heard Darius Rucker singing in a dorm shower at the University of South Carolina and asked him to form a band. For the next eight years, Hootie & the Blowfish, completed by bassist Dean Felber and drummer Soni Sonefeld, played every frat house, roadhouse, and rock club in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, becoming one of the biggest independent acts in the region. In Only Wanna Be with You, Tim Sommer, the ultimate insider who signed Hootie to Atlantic Records, pulls back the curtain on a band that defied record-industry odds to break into the mainstream by playing hacky sack music in the age of grunge. He chronicles the band’s indie days, their chart-topping success and near-cancelation of their major-label debut along with when the band inspired a plotline on the TV show Friends, also the lean years from the late 1990s through the early 2000s and one of the most remarkable comeback stories of the century. Featuring extensive new interviews with the band members, some of their most famous fans, and stories from the recording studio, tour bus, and golf course, this book is essential reading for Hootie lovers and music buffs.

Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis

In this book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life changing decision to stop running forever. This is Viola’s story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path she took to finding her purpose and her strength, but also to finding her voice in a world that didn’t always see her. 

In her words: As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. They are bogarted, reinvented to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone who is searching for a way to understand and overcome a complicated past, let go of shame, and find acceptance. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be…you. Finding Me is a deep reflection on my past and a promise for my future. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.

A Funny Life by Michael McIntyre

Laugh along with Michael McIntyre as he lifts the curtain on his life in his long-awaited new autobiography. Michael’s first book ended with his big break at the 2006 Royal Variety Performance. Waking up the next morning in the tiny rented flat he shared with his wife Kitty and their one-year-old son, he was beyond excited about the new glamorous world of show business. Unfortunately, he was also clueless . . . In A Funny Life, Michael honestly and hilariously shares the highs and the lows of his rise to the top and desperate attempts to stay there. It’s all here, from his disastrous panel show appearances to his hit TV shows, from mistakenly thinking he’d be a good chat show host and talent judge, to finding fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams and becoming the biggest-selling comedian in the world. Along the way he opens his man drawer, narrowly avoids disaster when his trousers fall down in front of three policemen and learns the hard way why he should always listen to his wife. Michael has had a silly life, a stressful life, sometimes a moving and touching life, but always A Funny Life.

Spinning Plates by Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s kitchen discos became a source of much needed escapism, catharsis and sequinned joy for a swathe of the population during lockdown. From knackered mothers and fed up fathers, to cooped up partiers with nowhere to go, Sophie’s gloriously chaotic Friday kitchen performances have cheered and revived us. Now Sophie is bringing that same mixture of down to earth candour and optimistic sparkle to her first book. Part memoir, part musings, Sophie writes about the conjuring act of adulthood and motherhood and how her experience of working while raising her five sons has given her the inescapable lesson of how to navigate life in the face of failure and imperfection. 

Covering relationships, good enough parenting, the importance of delusion and dancing, Sophie writes about the things that take on greater importance as life becomes more complicated. From the non negotiables (solitude, music, glitter) to the unimportant (clean hair, deadlines, appropriate behaviour), this is a book about learning from our experiences and not being afraid to smash a few plates for the sake of what we actually need want and value. 

The Hockneys: Never Worry What the Neighbours Think by John Hockney

Technically this book isn’t a new release, but it’s a goodie. The Hockneys is a never before seen insight into the lives of one of the world’s most famous artists and his family by youngest brother John, from growing up in the Second World War in Bradford through to their diverse lives across three continents. Hardship, successes as well as close and complex relationships are poignantly illustrated by both famous and private pictures and paintings from David Hockney. With a rare and spirited look into the lives of an ordinary family with extraordinary stories, we begin to understand the creative freedom that led to their successful careers and the launchpad for an artist’s work that has inspired and continues to inspire generations across the world.

To the End of the World by Rupert Everett

Okay, so this isn’t totally new…but it is a new paperback version, and also a great read. Rupert Everett tells the story of how he set out to make a film of Oscar Wilde’s last days, and how that ten-year quest almost destroyed him. (And everyone else). Travelling across Europe for the film, he weaves in extraordinary tales from his past, remembering wild times, freak encounters and lost friends. 

There are celebrities, of course. But we also meet glamorous but doomed Aunt Peta, who introduces Rupert (aged three) to the joys of make-up. In ’90s Paris, his great friend Lychee burns bright, and is gone. While in ’70s London, a ‘weirdly tall, beyond size zero’ teenage Rupert is expelled from the Central School of Speech and Drama. Unflinchingly honest and hugely entertaining, To the End of the World offers a unique insight into the ‘snakes and ladders’ of filmmaking. It is also a soulful and thought-provoking autobiography from one of our best-loved and most talented actors and writers. 

Enjoy!

World Book Day Celebration: Our favourite 6 books on the market now

We love a good World Celebration Day; International Ice Cream Day (17 July), International Hot Chocolate Day (28 January), International Star Wars Day (4 May), World Gin Day (12 June), World Pizza Day (9 February), International Cookie Day (4 December). It will be of no surprise that we also love World Book Day… which just happened to be last Saturday (23 April). 

So while we like to throw ourselves into the various festivities (usually tasting and drinking all of the delights) we also dove into the world of literature and found six of our favourite books that have recently hit the bookstores. 

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Every mother has a bad day… Frida Liu is a struggling mother. She remembers taking Harriet from her cot and changing her nappy. She remembers giving her a morning bottle. They’d been up since four am. Frida just had to finish the article in front of her. But she’d left a file on her desk at work. What would happen if she retrieved it and came back in an hour? She was so sure it would be okay. Now, the state has decided that Frida is not fit to care for her daughter. That she must be re-educated. Can this mistake cost her everything? The School For Good Mothers is an explosive and thrilling novel about the pressures of perfectionism, parenthood and privilege.

Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown

This major new work from the international bestselling author of Gifts of Imperfection and Dare to Lead examines the 87 emotions and experiences that define us, and provides a compelling framework to help us all become more emotionally fluent and connected. In her latest book, five-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr Brene Brown, writes, “If we want to find the way back to ourselves and each other, we need language and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories, and to be stewards of the stories that we hear. This is the framework for meaningful connection.” In Atlas of the Heart, Brown takes us on a journey through 87 of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. As she maps the necessary skills and lays out an actionable framework for meaningful connection, she gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances – a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heart-breaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection. Over the past two decades, Brown’s extensive research into the experiences that make us who we are has shaped the cultural conversation and helped define what it means to be courageous with our lives. Atlas of the Heart draws on this research, as well as Brown’s singular skills as a researcher/storyteller, to lay out an invaluable, research-based framework that shows us that naming an experience doesn’t give the experience more power, it gives us the power of understanding, meaning and choice.

Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby

Multi-awardwinning Hannah Gadsby transformed comedy with her show Nanette, even as she declared that she was quitting stand-up. Now, she takes us through the defining moments in her life that led to the creation of Nanette and her powerful decision to tell the truth – no matter the cost. Gadsby’s unique stand-up special Nanette was a viral success that left audiences captivated by her blistering honesty and her ability to create both tension and laughter in a single moment. But while her worldwide fame might have looked like an overnight sensation, her path from open mic to the global stage was hard-fought and anything but linear. Ten Steps to Nanette traces Gadsby’s growth as a queer person from Tasmania – where homosexuality was illegal until 1997 – to her ever-evolving relationship with comedy, to her struggle with adult diagnoses of autism and ADHD, and finally to the backbone of Nanette – the renouncement of self-deprecation, the rejection of misogyny, and the moral significance of truth-telling. Equal parts harrowing and hilarious, Ten Steps to Nanette continues Gadsby’s tradition of confounding expectations and norms, properly introducing us to one of the most explosive, formative voices of our time.

A Good Day to Bake by Benjamina Ebuehi

Going through the ritual of bringing out the measuring scales, pouring out flour, whipping up the eggs, stirring the batter and impatiently slicing up warm cake is a beautiful thing that deserves to be enjoyed all year round no matter the day, season or occasion. This is a cookbook that embraces simplicity, mindfulness and the therapeutic comforts of baking. The Great British Bake Off‘s 2016 contestant Benjamina writes so warmly about cakes and her recipes speak to a natural, seasonal and down-to-earth way of baking. Chapters include Herbs Tea, Stone Fruit, Berries, Vegetables, Best of Beige, Spice Cupboard, and Chocolate. Because every day is a good day to bake.

Pink House Living For People Cheating on Fashion with Furniture by Emily Murray 

Pink House Living is a beautiful, practical guide to decorating with pink by Emily Murray of the award-winning The Pink House blog. Emily draws on her recent interiors projects to guide the reader through their own rose-tinted renovations and includes case studies on well-known interiors experts that reveal their use of pink, their go-to paint shades and where they glean ‘pinkspiration’. Pink House Living is not about decorating your home in pink from rooftop to rugs, but a look at how the colour can be used alongside other hues – sometimes sparingly, sometimes in spades. Divided up by room, the book uses the colour pink and its history as a starting point from which to discuss the decorating process. Readers will be entertained by Emilys interiors insights and witty turn of phrase while gaining invaluable advice on adding pink (and colour in general) to their homes.

Megan Hess: The Little Black Dress by Megan Hess

The Little Black Dress is an illustrated love story about fashion’s most enduring and chic uniform, celebrating the designers, the women and of course the dresses. A piece of fashion is so much more than an object. To the designer who created it, the muse who inspired it, the fashion lover who lusts after it, the stylist who is lucky enough to own it, or the star who made it iconic; that fashion piece is part of a story. Introduced by Coco Chanel and made famous by Audrey Hepburn, the little black dress redefined how women dress and remains one of the most elegant and versatile pieces in any wardrobe. Vogue said it would become ‘a sort of uniform for all women of taste’, a prophecy that has more than come true. And this little book is the perfect accessory. Filled with fascinating information and stunning illustrations from Megan Hess, and packaged up in a beautiful hardback, Megan Hess: The Little Black Dress is a timeless love story, and the first in Megan Hess’ new Ultimate Fashion Wardrobe series.

Enjoy!

Return Yourself to the Library these School Holidays 

Need some ideas for what to do during the school holidays ? Your public libraries can help! Libraries are a great source of low-cost and no-cost activities and educational and entertainment options for all ages. Whether you want to attend organised workshops and activities in-person, or borrow materials – including books, DVDs, even console/board games or robotics toys – to create your own activities at home, libraries have you covered.
In my home state of Victoria, public libraries are running a campaign called Return Yourself to Your Library. As libraries return to full services following disruptions caused by the pandemic, they would love to remind their members (past, present and future!) of the wide range of services they offer. Not only are they a great source of borrowable and/or downloadable materials, they can also support your entertainment and creativity needs, as well as being welcoming spaces where you can make new friends and feel part of a community.
In today’s blogpost I am highlighting some activities offered by libraries around and beyond Victoria, to show the diversity of events available. I hope this inspires you to contact your nearest library to see what they have to offer. From story times and craft workshops to robotics and dance sessions, library events can add some welcomed variety to your school holidays!

Image Source: City Of Melbourne

Treasure Hunt at the City of Melbourne Libraries
Whether you live in the City of Melbourne, or are visiting for the day, you can drop into one of their five branches (City Library on Flinders Lane, Southbank, Docklands, North Melbourne, East Melbourne, and Kathleen Syme in Carlton) for a treasure hunt! Follow the clues, discover some surprises, find the hidden pictures and collect your treasure! This is a self-guided activity available anytime during library opening hours – speak to a staff member for full details. Also look out for pop-up library spaces throughout the CBD – perfect for a bit of quiet downtime or free internet access.

The Australian Ballet at Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries
One of the biggest library services in Melbourne, Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries is offering an extensive holiday program across its nine branches.  One highlight is its collaboration with The Australian Ballet – ballet storytime for young children (5 years and under) at Watsonia Library, and STEAM dance workshops for 5-12 year olds at Ivanhoe Library.  These workshops encourage and nurture movement, creativity as well as literacy. No dance experience required, bookings essential.  Other holiday activities include movie afternoons, Minecraft and coding.

Little Warriors Yoga at the State Library of Victoria Every Wednesday, you and your preschooler can enjoy a fun and free 45-minute yoga class hosted by Little Warriors Yoga.  Help your little one grow into happy and confident beings with tips on stretching, calmness and wellbeing.  Two sessions available every Wednesday morning, bookings essential.  Part of the Playdate at the Library series of events suitable for 3-5 year olds. And while you are there, why not explore the beautiful spaces in this iconic building, including the famous Dome Reading Room, and the beautifully refurbished, dedicated Children’s Quarter?

LEGO Club at the Geelong Libraries The popular LEGO Club at the Geelong Regional Libraries is running a bricktastic workshop as part of its school holiday program, where you can make new friends and explore your creativity.  These sessions are for parents and children to build together, and can suit diverse needs, especially for children on the autism spectrum.  Sessions are held at the Bannockburn Library and are suitable for 5-11 year olds.

Image Source: Goldfields Libraries

Make a seed bomb at the Goldfields Libraries
The Goldfields Libraries service a number of central Victorian towns including Bendigo, Castlemaine, Gisborne and Kyneton.  The current school holiday program has a Peter Rabbit theme and focusses on hands-on activities including craft, LEGO and robotics.  If you have young people who love gardening and/or messy play, drop into one of their branches and make a Seed Bomb.  Seed bombs are a tried-and-true method of providing an optimal environment for germinating seeds – great for home-use and also as gifts.  All materials supplied.

Laser-cut Jewellery workshop for teens at the City of Sydney Library
Further afield, the City of Sydney Libraries are hosting a range of creative workshops at their Darling Square Library.  Many public libraries offer Maker Spaces with equipment that are free to use and help support your creativity – from sewing machines to 3D printers to design software and even sound studios.  The gorgeous new Darling Square Library is offering a jewellery-making session for adults and older teens.  Suitable for beginners, the workshop will show you how to use Adobe Illustrator software to create a design, that can then be turned into reality using a laser cutter on plywood or perspex.  Follow the link for booking and cost details.

Ted Talk: How to design a library that makes kids want to read

When Michael Bierut was tapped to design a logo for public school libraries, he had no idea that he was embarking on a years-long passion project. In this hilarious talk, he recalls his obsessive quest to bring energy, learning, art and graphics into these magical spaces where school librarians can inspire new generations of readers and thinkers.

Boredom Busters for the School Holidays  – the coolest activity books on the market

The school holidays are right around the corner and if they have snuck up on you as they have us, then fear not, we have found some amazing books that will eradicate any complaints of boredom over the next two weeks. But if these aren’t enough to fill the days, next week Karen is going to be sharing what’s on in the libraries over the holidays too, just in case you are running out of ideas. 

Get ready to get clicking because we know that the children (and perhaps a parent or two) will absolutely love these creative activity books. 

Absolutely Epic Sudoku by Ivy Finnegan

We all know that Sudoku puzzles reinforce logic and problem-solving and this is a bumper book of these number based puzzles.

Young puzzlers can put their number and logic skills to the test with this ultimate book of over 180 sudoku puzzles. Inside you’ll find puzzles for everyone, from sudoku beginners to number ninjas. They’re graded by skill level so that you can start wherever you feel comfortable – then level up when you’re ready for a challenge. With epic cartoon illustrations, this collection offers hours of fun and satisfaction while improving memory and critical thinking too! Fantastic fun for puzzlers aged 7+.

Everything Under the Sun: a curious question for every day of the year by Molly Oldfield

This is a wonderful collection of 366 curious questions asked by children from around the world, based on the award-winning podcast by Molly Oldfield. How much bamboo can a giant panda eat? Do aliens exist? What we would do if we didn’t have a prime minister? Why do hammerhead sharks have such strange-shaped heads? Find out the answers to these curious questions and much, much more! Find out why you taste things differently when you have a cold with Michelin star chef, Heston Blumenthal. Learn about everything from how astronauts see in the dark to what the biggest dinosaur was with experts from the Natural History Museum. Fascinating facts are accompanied by gorgeous illustrations making this the perfect school holiday activity book. Whether you read a question a day, or dip into it whenever you are feeling curious, this is a book to treasure and share all year round.

Big Life Journal, Second Edition: A Growth Mindset Journal for Children by Alexandra Eidens

This is a second edition of the popular Big Life Journal for Children (you can buy the first edition here). It’s an illustrated and guided journal for children to develop a growth mindset, and promotes social-emotional learning. Children’s negative self-talk can lead to a fixed mindset, they begin to fear failure and their self-esteem plummets. As parents, we can make a huge impact on how much our kids believe in themselves and how they approach challenges. By giving them the right tools, we help them better understand their brain and learn the importance of positive self-talk.

Big Life Journal incorporates the latest research in positive psychology, brain science, and youth development. With plenty of room to draw and write on each page, this interactive journal is a growth mindset workbook for kids to work through at their own pace as they reflect, learn and grow. And there is a different engaging activity on every page, so this is the interactive journal kids will actually want to use! A life story journal becomes a beautiful future keepsake. With a bright, colourful and durable hard cover, this kids journal with prompts contains 176 high quality pages that stand up to pencils and markers with a lay-flat design, and a sewn in satin bookmark.

How to Draw a Mermaid and Other Cute Creatures by Lulu Mayo

From a magical mermicorn and a friendly narwhal to a puppy cupid and a panda cupcake, these cute creations are loads of fun to draw. The book demonstrates how to create quirky kawaii-style characters in an easy, step-by-step way that will also have readers coming up with their own cute characters in no time. Using simple shapes, illustrator Lulu Mayo explains how to draw each mythical, magical or just plain marvellous creature. Her 30 imaginative creations are sure to keep budding artists entertained and inspired to dream up their very own weird and wonderful characters.

if you have a budding artist that you know will love this book, Lulu has written more. You can find them here.

Puzzlooies! Space Cats to the Rescue: A Solve-the-Story Puzzle Adventure by Russell Ginns, Jonathan Maier

Snag a pencil. Sink into the story. Solve the puzzles – and save the day!

Say goodbye to boring downtime and hello to Puzzlooies!, the latest in portable entertainment. Meant for kids to write in, these illustrated and compact books flip up like a reporter’s notebook, making them perfect for fast fun while on-the-go. Each zany adventure is packed with eclectic puzzles to decipher and decode, as well as jokes, riddles, and true trivia galore that’ll keep readers laughing ’til the very end . . . if they can reach it!

Sharpen your pencils and prepare for liftoff! Here come . . . Space Cats to the Rescue! In this exciting Puzzlooey instalment, Earth is in big trouble. A deadly asteroid is on its way to pummel the planet. Humanity’s only hope is a fearless foursome of felines.

You can buy more Puzzlooies here

Give This Book a Cover by Jarrett Lerner

Inspire kids to grow their imaginations with this second collection of creative activities from Jarrett Lerner, author of the EngiNerds, Geeger the Robot, and Hunger Heroes series! This collection of fun, open-ended writing and drawing prompts will kick-start creativity and challenge kids to be imaginative in new ways with every turn of a page. The Finish This Comic section features a variety of scenarios and characters inspire kids to write and illustrate a six-panel story. How to Draw instructions encourage kids to find their own drawing styles. Drawing and writing prompts and a smorgasbord of other activities add to the fun perfect for home, road trips, school, and anywhere!

Enjoy!

Author Spotlight: Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight novels which have been translated into thirty-four languages in thirty-five countries. Jodi has a penetrating insight into the hearts and minds of real people and writes these insights in page-turning detail. 

Born and raised on Long Island in America, Jodi thought her uneventful childhood would not help her as a writer, in fact it was the opposite. The core of a family and the tangle of relationships is something that is central to all of her stories. Jodi studied creative writing at Princeton and published two stories while studying and then went on to further her study with a Master’s of Education at Harvard. 

Jodi is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, and the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit. Her stories have also been made into movies and television series. 

Here are six of our favourite Picoult stories (you can buy all of Jodi’s books here)

My Sister’s Keeper 

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukaemia that has plagued her since childhood. Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate, a life and a role that she has never questioned until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister – and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

Told from multiple points of view, My Sister’s Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? What happens when emotion catches up to scientific advances?

Nineteen Minutes

Set in a small town in the wake of a horrific school shooting, Nineteen Minutes features the return of two beloved Picoult characters – Jordan McAfee, the lawyer from The Pact and Salem Falls, who once again finds himself representing a boy who desperately needs someone on his side; and Patrick Ducharme, the intrepid detective introduced in Perfect Match, whose best witness is the daughter of the superior court judge assigned to the case. As the story unfolds, layer after layer is peeled back to reveal some hard-hitting questions about the nature of justice, the balance of power and what it means to be different. Nineteen Minutes is a riveting, thought-provoking tale with a jaw-dropping finale.

The Pact

In this contemporary tale of love and friendship, Jodi Picoult brings to life a familiar world, and in a single terrifying moment awakens every parent’s worst fear: we think we know our children – but do we ever really know them at all? For eighteen years the Hartes and the Golds have lived next door to each other – they’ve grown so close it seems they have always been a part of each other’s lives. Parents and children alike have been best friends, so it’s no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily’s friendship blossoms into something more. They’ve been soul mates since they were born. So when midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the appalling truth: Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There’s a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris took from his father’s cabinet – a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris has described.

The Pact paints an indelible portrait of families in anguish, culminating in an astonishingly suspenseful courtroom drama as Chris finds himself on trial for murder.

The Storyteller

For seventy years, Josef Weber has been hiding in plain sight. He is a pillar of his local community. He is also a murderer. When Josef decides to confess, it is to Sage Singer, a young woman who trusts him as her friend. What she hears shatters everything she thought she knew and believed. As Sage uncovers the truth from the darkest horrors of war, she must follow a twisting trail between terror and mercy, betrayal and forgiveness, love – and revenge.

Keeping Faith

At her controversial and compelling best, Jodi Picoult explores the moment when boundaries break down, and when the only step left to take is a leap of faith. As Mariah White struggles with depression her seven-year-old daughter Faith seeks solace in a new friend – a friend who may or may not be imaginary. Faith talks to her ‘Guard’ constantly and begins to recite passages from the Bible-a book she’s never read. After a succession of visits to psychiatrists, all of whom conclude Faith is not hallucinating, the unimaginable starts to seem possible: perhaps Faith may actually be seeing God. When Faith’s cachet is enhanced by reported miracle healings and alleged stigmata, she is touted as a prophet. Amidst the gathering storm of controversy, most disruptive of all is the arrival of two men: one a renowned television atheist who plans to debunk Faith’s claims and help boost his flagging ratings, and the other her divorced father whose fear for his daughter’s safety leads him to battle for custody. As Mariah finds herself fighting to keep her daughter, she has to push past her own insecurities and stand up for herself and her competence as a parent. Keeping Faith explores a family plagued by the media, the medical profession, and organised religion in a world where everyone has an opinion but no one knows the truth.

The Book of Two Ways

Dawn thinks she knows everything there is to know about dying. As a death doula she helps her clients fix what is left undone so they can peacefully make the final transition. But when her plane plummets from the sky and she thinks she is experiencing the last moments of her life, she is shocked to find that she isn’t thinking of her husband or teenage daughter – but of a road she strayed from 15 years earlier, when she turned her back on her PhD studies. Against all odds, Dawn survives, and the airline gives her a free ticket to wherever she needs to get to. in alternating chapters, we see possible choices: Land – returning to her husband, a quantum physicist who studies the possibilities of parallel universes, she is faced with a test to her marriage and a daughter who is struggling with self-image issues. And Water: returning to her studies and the archaeological site she worked on 15 years earlier, where the man she abandoned is about to make the discovery of a lifetime. But time may not be as straightforward as we think. As Dawn explores her possible futures, she is finding out what a well-lived life means, what we leave behind of ourselves when we leave the earth, and who she might have been…

Enjoy!