Category Archives: Kids’ News

Meet The Chaos Quad Kitties, herein known as, “The ChaoS’Quad Kitties” © Sam Sochacka 2015

Shhhhhhhhhh, they’re asleep!

This is the only hope I have of introducing you to the Chaos Quad Kitties, herein known as the “ChaoS’quad Kitties” © Sam Sochacka2015.

Let me give you an idea, this is me attempting to get the washing out of the machine:

See what I mean?!

So, their name.  I initially thought that they were the Chaos Quad Kitties.  However, after spending 48 hours with them, I realised that they are way more stealthy, and organised than that.  Hence, the  “ChaoS’quad Kitties”.  So yes, they are the Chaos Quad (there are four of them), but they are so good at creating chaos, that they deserve to be named as a ‘Squad’.  So, blend those ideas together, and you have  “ChaoS’quad Kitties”.

I was feeling fairly uninspired recently, so I thought the best way to ‘cure’ myself, was to foster some kitties.  These four, 12 week old, kittens have changed my life.  A whole world of creative endeavours has opened up, and it’s only been 48 hours……

I mean, look!  How can you not be inspired by this lot:

Anyway, I must away.  Time to clean up the kitty litter, and enjoy my last few minutes of quiet before the “ChaoS’quad Kitties” wake up.  AND it’s a full moon.  Oh no!

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(from left to right: Molly, Eddie, Max, and Sparky)

#TravellingKoala borrows backpack from #BristolBear

#TravellingKoala has caught up with an old friend, #BristolBear, and borrowed his backpack, as #TravellingKoala is ………… going travelling!

From the Family Archives – a complete set of the Sesame Street Library published in the 70’s

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My Dad recently gave me a box of books from the Family Archives, and look at what I discovered!  A complete set of the Sesame Street Library featuring the muppets.  The series features the numbers 1 – 15, and the letters A – Z.  They were published from 1971 – 1978.  The books have their fair share of wear and tear, but this is due to at least a decade of time spent in my sister’s and my hands being read over and over again.

I highly recommend that you hold on to your, and your children’s, childhood book collections, it is simply magic to rediscover them.  Check out the slideshow below for a look at all the covers in the series.

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I am to illustrating as a barbeque skewer is to a blow-up castle at a school fete, but….

52 week illustration challenge

I am more than at home at a keyboard for hours on end.  I can also weave some magic with a camera.  But when it comes to starting with a blank piece of paper and creating something, I am to illustrating as a barbeque skewer is to a blow-up castle at a school fete.

I have watched a wonderful illustration group go from strength to strength on Facebook this year.  The 52-Week Illustration Challenge was set up by Tania McCartney so she could return to illustration after a 20 year break.  There are now 2, 416 members!  Each week has a theme, and members submit their work to the group on Facebook.

Here is my first post, put up mere minutes ago…..

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Time to be brave…

Week 38. Giraffe.

This is my first time posting. I have admired this group from the safety of my writer’s desk as I am to illustrating as a barbeque skewer is to a blow-up castle at a school fete. A 10 year old friend and I were hanging out recently, and his Mum suggested we paint. He was not keen as he is a perfectionist and felt he couldn’t do it. So to encourage him, I explained my total lack of skills, and said I would have a go. I soon received a bunch of painting things as a birthday pressie, so I thought I would try some procrastipainting.

Water colours and markers on ‘German paper rough tooth’ – I have no idea what that means. The main giraffe is trying to step back from being painted by someone like me. And the little guy in the corner snuck into the pic so I could practise my brush skills, he’s a bit grumpy that he is not the feature.

I had an incredibly enjoyable morning getting this guy ready for his debut.  Check out some pictures from the process below:

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Amazing Times at StoryArts – The Adventures of a Children’s Literature Journalist

At a Children’s Literature industry Christmas Party in December 2012 I received the best Christmas present ever, an invitation to be the chief blogger and manager of the social media accounts for the 2013 StoryArts Children’s Literature Festival at Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.   My brief for the Festival was to document what went on in sessions for those who could not attend due to financial or geographical constraints, aspiring authors and illustrators, teachers and librarians, families and other interested industry professionals.  I felt honoured and privileged to be able to do this.

Fast forward 9 months and I found myself surrounded by legendary Australian, Kiwi and British authors and illustrators; dedicated teacher librarians; devoted book sellers; unstoppable volunteers; and enthusiastic kids who were blown away by the opportunity to see their favourite authors and illustrators as walking, talking human beings.  And all this in the stunning grounds of Woodlands at Marburg, the close-knit cluster of Arts venues in Ipswich City and the delightful rural outpost of Esk.

My days began early, thanks especially to the array of birdlife at Woodlands. I unhooked everything that had been charging overnight, it takes a lot of electronic tools to be a children’s literature journalist, and packed them into my bags for the day.  I tell you, working as a one-person media outlet is good for the muscles given everything I had to carry.  Breakfast with the Stars was next on the agenda, though there was an unspoken agreement that until everyone had caffeinated, all work conversations were off limits.

I spent the next 2 hours catching up on blog posts, editing photos and researching the authors and illustrators that I would be seeing that day.  As I sat typing at break neck speeds, people whirred past ensuring that everything was ready to welcome the kids.  Authors and illustrators were whisked away to various venues including local schools, and Andrew the Peacock screeched his encouragement to all.  I was amazed at how all this happened seamlessly day in and day out throughout the Festival.

When I was in Ipswich I attended 3 sessions a day, at Esk I attended 3 and at Woodlands I attended 4.  Depending on the presenter(s) I was treated to an insight into the book creation process, a frenzy of comic drawing, a tour through ancient China, a ‘how to draw’ lesson, a singing and dancing session, a tantalising tale by one of the world’s best storytellers, and even a magic show.  I duly and dutifully documented each session, and took a few pictures to add to each blog post.  I was completely inspired by all the presenters and thoroughly enjoyed watching the children discover more about their favourite books, authors and illustrators.  Though I am a fully fledged adult, I was often whisked away into another time or world by the creative genius of the presenters.  And as someone who is to illustrating as a BBQ skewer is to a blow up castle at a school fete, I was really surprised at how even I learned a thing or two about illustrating.

For every session I attended I attempted to capture the essence of each session, how each author or illustrator communicated with their audience, what the kids were encouraged to do, think and imagine, and the creative process of each presenter.  For a number of the presentations I know my efforts fell short.  If you have ever seen a children’s author or illustrator at work, you would know how lively and fast-paced these sessions can be.  However I did receive a number of compliments from authors, illustrators, teachers and librarians, so I guess I didn’t do too badly.

What I appreciate most about working as a Children’s Literature Journalist at StoryArts Festival Ipswich was the opportunity to network with and learn from the authors and illustrators, as well as seeing the Festival through the eyes of the children in attendance.  I was left in no doubt about the importance of Children’s Literature Festivals, and I look forward to being involved in many more in the future, as a journalist and (fingers crossed) an author as well.  Thanks must go the Festival organisers – The Ipswich District Teacher-Librarian Network, all the authors and illustrators, and of course the children whose joy and enthusiasm for reading and books was a pleasure to witness and share.