Stories for Little Queenslanders 

Stories for Little Queenslanders’ introduced by Kathryn Apel

As one of the contributing authors of the ‘Stories for Little Queenslanders’ picture book series, Kathryn Apel – who wrote Up and Down on a Rainy Day in the series – introduces these books.

Kat is particularly well-known for her popular verse novels Bully on the Bus, On Track and Too Many Friends (UQP) as well as her picture books The Bird in the Herd and This is the Mud!

Kathryn Apel and some of her books

Kathryn Apel writes:

Stories for Little Queenslanders is an initiative of the State Library of Queensland to provide Queensland stories for Queensland kids as a part of First 5 Forever, a program that promotes literacy during those crucial early years.

The project was birthed during COVID, and was a whirlwind to completion. Stories and artists were chosen through a competition. Entries closed 31 January 2020. Successful candidates were contacted in April. Books went to print mid-August and were released (after much secrecy!) as print, audio, flip and e-books on 9 December 2020 – with more resources to support the books being uploaded on an ongoing basis.

It was a mammoth undertaking by SLQ, who paired authors and illustrators with experienced kidlit editors to create a collection of 12 picture books in 8 months.

I was teamed with debut illustrator, Janet Turner, and we worked with the lovely Kristy Bushnell, who had also edited two of my earlier verse novels – and has since edited my upcoming verse novel with UQP. Janet grew up on a sheep property in New South Wales, so she knew the value of regional stories – though her farming landscape was a little different to that in the story, set on a Queensland cattle property.

If there was one thing we needed during 2020, it was a creative purpose – or few. After waiting more than 10 years for my second picture book, I was in fact working on two Australian farming picture books simultaneously. I sent final approvals on THE BIRD IN THE HERD cover in one email, to have first sketches coming in for UP AND DOWN ON A RAINY DAY cover in the very next email. Crazy but fun! (THE BIRD IN THE HERD, illustrated by Renée Treml and published by UQP, was released March 2021.)

Image from Up and Down on a Rainy Day by Kathryn Apel & Janet Turner

UP AND DOWN ON A RAINY DAY follows a farming family as they celebrate wet and muddy fun when the rain falls down. Other books in the series take kids to the outback, a quiet beach, the vibrant Great Barrier Reef, and all over Queensland, where they encounter people, places, animals and icons – and sample sweet seasonal fruits. There’s even a book based on the story of a cow that swam out to sea during the Brisbane floods.

As a teacher, I have seen first-hand how parents who read and interact with their children, set them on a positive path through their schooling. Parents don’t need a university degree to do this. They don’t even need a senior certificate. If they spend time reading with their child, it shows! I’m thrilled to be included in this series that supports parents with a wealth of resources (and tips!) to get them reading and interacting with their kids. On my website (katswhiskers.wordpress.com) you’ll also find a booklet with 16 different activities to engage young children and enhance the reading experience of ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’. (Think water-play, mud and fun! Also puppets, drama and colour.) Click on the ‘Books’ tab and scroll down to ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day‘.

It was an honour to have UP AND DOWN ON A RAINY DAY shortlisted in the Speech Pathology Australia, Book of the Year Awards for Birth to Three Years, along with ONE REMARKABLE REEF, a counting book, set on the Great Barrier Reef, by Kelly Byrnes and Rachel Tribout, and also a part of the SLQ series. THE COLOURED ECHIDNA by Eunice Day and IS THIS YOUR EGG? by Ella Kris and Emma Cracknell also shortlisted in the Three to 5 Years category, with both of those titles also eligible for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Authored Children’s Book Award. Winners will be announced on Friday, 29th October.

Earlier in the year, KOALAS LIKE TO …  and THE LITTLE QUEENSLANDERS ALPHABET BOOK both made the shortlist of the Australian Book Design Awards.

Books in the Stories for Little Queenslanders series are available in all Queensland Public Libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres – and more recently, selected kindergarten programs in regional, rural and remote Queensland. There are also very limited hardcover editions available for sale at the State Library Shop – in person and online.

Relevant Links:

SLQ Links and Resources: https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/first5forever/books

SLQ Bookshop: https://www.shop.slq.qld.gov.au/books-all/childrens-books/stories-for-little-queenslanders

UP AND DOWN ON A RAINY DAY Resources: https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/books/up-and-down-on-a-rainy-day

UP AND DOWN ON A RAINY DAY Flip Book: https://www.flipsnack.com/mackaycouncil/up-and-down-on-a-rainy-day.html

Thank you very much, Kathryn. It is great to hear about this important initiative.

I am also thrilled to be interviewing Kat about her verse novels in an upcoming post in conjunction with the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature (NCACL).

Kathryn Apel’s website is https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/

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