INCREDIBILIA

Incredibilia is a gem of a picture book and is timely as it comes when so much emphasis has been placed on academic testing and here we have a writing team celebrating the pure joy of imaginative play. They also illustrate what it is like to be the youngest in the group and the feeling of being ignored.

Georgie finds secret messages in leaves, flowers, on window panes and in the clouds. Max and Harriet are unimpressed …Georgie is undeterred. She continues to find messages and collects things to play her new game Incredibilia; this time the finally follow Little Georgie to a special place where they play together.

The illustrations by Gaye Chapman are light and whimsical; the children are part pixie, part flower fairies. The work uses mixed media with water colour, ink and pencil in a style that is perfect to stimulate the imaginations of young readers.

Libby Hathorn ‘s achievements are many and this new picture book will only enhance her status in Australia children’s literature with its pertinent message to our young readers (and perhaps to our teachers and parents.)

Carmel Bollinger

Magpies May 2016

A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy

This is a beautiful book with a very positive message about rising above the barbarity of war that will introduce young readers to the stories about Anzacs on the Western front.

REVIEW BY:
BY THE BOOK: KIDS

Out of the horrors of World War came some uplifting and inspiring stories such as an Australian soldier who smuggled home a French orphan boy so he could adopt him as his son. The true story inspired Hathorn to write this gentle and moving story set on the fields of France during the war. ..the story is told entirely in the form of dialogue which gives more immediacy and intimacy. Phil Lesnie’s gorgeous soft watercolour illustrations tells the emerging story in full colour, with memories painted in contrasting sepia. This is a beautiful book with a very positive message about rising above the barbarity of war that will introduce young readers to the stories about Anzacs on the Western front.

Troy Lennon, Daily Telegraph, April 21st 2016.


REVIEW BY:
‘READ ME’ ANZAC HISTORY FOR CHILDREN

Libby Hathorn’s moving story about a young Australian soldier at the Battle of the Somme . the ward-winning author and poet tells this powerful s tory of a young soldier far from home a boy left homeless and orphaned by war and the stray dog that brings them together. But the soldier realizes the boy needs the dog more- and perhaps his help as well. With beautiful illustrations by Phil Lesnie this is a deeply moving celebration of friend ship in times of war.

Laura Sullivan Daily Telegraph 23rd April 2016.

Eventual Poppy Day (Harper Collins 2015)

This is a deeply moving, uplifting tale that shows the redeeming power of love, loyalty and family ties, can blossom out of grief, loss and the unbounded tragedy of war. Highly recommended.

Hungry for adventure, seventeen-year old Maurice Roche volunteers for service at the outbreak of of the Great War. From his family farm at Kyogle, in northern NSW, he sails to the Dardanelles where he soon experiences the horror, misery and privations of war, as well as the transcendent gifts of loyalty and deep friendship that develop between young men sharing their precious lives in the hardship of battle.

After the Gallipoli debacle, Maurice and his mates are ordered to Europe, where they must now serve on the bloody fields of France and Flanders. Meanwhile, his mother has a change-of-life baby, his new little sister Dorothea.

As she grows into adulthood and eventual old age, Dorothea forges a deep bond with the brother she never knew, through his diaries and paintings of the conflict in Europe.

She tries to pass on her love of family, devotion, and patriotism, to her grandson, the deeply troubled sixteen year old Oliver Day, who at first wants nothing to do with ANZAC Day, family tradition, or anything else. However despite his hurt and hard-heartedness, Oliver still holds a deep, protective tenderness towards his little sister Poppy, rendered mute by an earlier bout of meningitis, and whom Oliver is desperate to help.

With these parallel story lines, Libby Hathorn has woven a multi-layered, richly textured tale which links Maurice’s short life to his great-nephew Oliver – through their love of painting- but also through Dorothea. The author effectively uses colloquial jargon and slang, and interjects songs and poems that resonated with those soldiers of long ago.

Although we are in very familiar territory with this subject, there is nothing clichéd or hackneyed about Eventual Poppy Day which is more a ‘circle of life’ family saga rather than a coming of age novel.

This is a deeply moving, uplifting tale that shows the redeeming power of love, loyalty and family ties, can blossom out of grief, loss and the unbounded tragedy of war. Highly recommended.

Magpies 2015

Outside (Little Hare 2014) illustrated by Ritva Voutila

This is a very special picture book created by internationally acclaimed author Libby Hathorn, whose love of poetry and nature is explored further in this masterpiece.

Her collaboration with Ritva Voutila is a triumph, as the digitally created illustrations complement the text beautifully. Outside takes the reader on a journey through a garden as seen through the eyes of two young children. All senses are aroused as they feel the warmth of the sun, the tickly grass on their feet and observe the brilliant colours in the garden.

What’s that?
It’s the fluttery leaves in the magical breeze
In the summery sun
Outside

Pre-school children, along with junior primary children will delight in the rhyme, rhythm and repetitive nature of the text. As the reader progresses through the pages the text accumulates, not unlike aspects of the nursery rhyme The House That Jack Built. Young children will be enchanted by the brilliant illustrations as they explore the patterns which create a magical garden, search for the cat which features on many pages and watch the mother as she engages the two children in a story whilst they all sit on a rug.

This picture book is indeed a celebration of childhood wonder, the joys of nature and the warmth of family life. It is a feast for the senses for all those who have the privilege to read it. Highly recommended.

Magpies 2015

Women’s Work: A Collection of Contemporary Women’s Poetry (PAX Press, 2013)

“… this beautifully decorated little book should come with a warning: this poetry causes delight.”

ONE of the things smartphones have reminded us of is that reading makes bearable the boring moments: waiting in queues, for a friend at a cafe, for the lights to change, for the halted train to trundle at last into the station.

This joyful little book, small enough to fit in a handbag or pocket, does that, and left me with a glow that lasted for hours, sometimes for days. As it is so joyful, reflective and wise, I find it sad that the economics of mainstream publishing would have kept it from us were it not for Sydney writer Libby Hathorn, a poet herself, who believed in it and published it.

I’m aware poetry doesn’t sell but it seems to me that much about this book would escape that stricture.

The poems collected here seem like salt and sugar and flour and soap, household necessities for anyone musing on what it is to be human, and especially to be a woman.

Some of the poets translate Women’s Work literally. Here’s Tricia Dearborn, for example, after a lunch hour lying on grass: “back at my desk I see patterns,/ hieroglyphics, a strange language// impressed on the skin/ of my inner arms// I’m sure I can read it/ I’m sure it says: give up your day job”.

Or Sarah Day, on wrapping a person in a sheet: “The linen origami is as follows:/ take up the sides of the sheet/ beneath and fold together/ As you’d wrap a gift;/ secure with pins or tape./ There will be pleats about the head and feet./ Faces are not easy./ Tape the second label/ to the outside of the sheet./ You will find you cease to talk/ as soon as the wrapping/ and the taping are done.”

And Judith Beveridge writing about a saffron picker: ” … She knows/ equations: how many stigmas balance each// day with the next; how many days divvy up/ the one meal; how many rounds of a lustrous/ table the sun must go before enough yellow// makes a spoonful heavy”.

Some poets consider housework, and are wry about it: Moya Pacey, for instance, on the thought that underwear should be kept out of sight, including “your french lace knickers/ forlorn & ragged as a bed/ of wild silk pansies/ at the end of a hot summer’s day”.

Others ponder women’s work in bearing and rearing children, such as in these charming lines by Lesley Walter: “I’m touched by what my children put in pictures … / how mum and dad are only ever smiling … “.

I’m a novelist, greedy for stories, but when potent images and lines of compressed meaning fill my mind and resonate in my heart, I’m once again convinced poetry is the highest form of art.

But the heart of my enjoyment of this book was the multiplicity of voices talking lyrically but truthfully – for the two can often be separated – that I as a woman am not alone. Often I need reminding of that.

So this beautifully decorated little book should come with a warning: this poetry causes delight.

Women’s Work: A Collection of Contemporary Women’s Poetry
Compiled by Libby Hathorn and Rachael Bailey
Pax Press

The Australian April 2013

A Boy Like Me: A Story About Peace (Harper Collins 2012), Illustrated by Bruce Whatley

The combination of Hathorn’s lyrical, contemplative text and Whatley’s introspective, haunting illustrations produces a thought-provoking book which cleverly explores the fraught, fragile and often fleeting nature of peace, on both a personal and much wider level.

Libby Hathorn sensitively explores the abstract concept of peace by putting it in a more personal context. Her allegorical text tells the story of one small boy who has a falling-out with his friend. The loss of his own inner peace helps him to understand what it must be like for boys like him in faraway places where the absence of peace is a matter of life and death.

This is a book that engages on many levels. The essence of Hathorn’s poignant prose-poem is graphically captured in Bruce Whatley’s unusual and moving imagery. While the usual symbolism is there – the white peace dove, the pulsating heart – the simplicity of Whatley’s imagery ensures that his illustrations are very emotive. His people are abstract, gingerbread-man shapes, with minimalist but highly expressive facial features. And his understated palette is all creams, whites and grey-blues, with just the occasional splash of illuminating warm reds or oranges.

The combination of Hathorn’s lyrical, contemplative text and Whatley’s introspective, haunting illustrations produces a thought-provoking book which cleverly explores the fraught, fragile and often fleeting nature of peace, on both a personal and much wider level.

Stephanie Owen Reeder, Canberra Times 2012

A Boy Like Me: picture storybook

Libby Hathorn and Bruce Whatley have teamed up to tackle very difficult subject matter in an inventive and evocative way in A Boy Like Me.

We see the world through a young boy’s eyes in all its harshness and beauty, and the reader is shown the kernel from which hope springs as well as the barrenness of the world without it.

A Boy Like Me is one of those picture books which speaks to the reader’s soul and illuminates, for a short time, the bigger picture-the role which peace plays in giving humanity hope. Beautiful poetry by Hathorn is accompanied by emotive illustrations by Whatley to convey the hope and salvation offered through peace. Retailers will find this a difficult book to promote as it doesn’t fit easily into the children’s picture book category and could quite comfortably sit in the gift book or motivational sections of a book store. However, difficulties in promotion will be surpassed by this book’s potential appeal to a wide cross section of readers.

A Boy Like Me is sure to feature on award lists in 2012 and will impress any adult reader who takes the time to be embraced by its warmth.

Natalie Crawford is a freelance reviewer and works at Dymocks Claremont, WA 2012

Fire Song (Harper Collins 2009)

Fire Song is a gripping portrayal of life in the 1950s and the pressures facing families.

In Fire Song, the year is 1954 and Ingrid Crowe lives with her mother and four-year-old sister, Pippa, in Grandma Logan’s house in the Blue Mountains. While Ingrid loves the house and the many memories it holds of her dead grandmother, her mother loathes it and the quiet town she feels is suffocating her.

Desperately poor and determined to burn the house down for insurance money, Ingrid’s mother enlists her help in the arson. This forces Ingrid to battle her loyalty to family and her own sense of right and wrong.

Frightened and with no one to turn to, Ingrid feels she has no choice but to do as her mother says.

Fire Song is a gripping portrayal of life in the 1950s and the pressures facing families. It draws on the influences and experiences of migrants, and the bigotries, misconceptions and kindnesses of a small community. Hathorn’s characters, their situations and their idiosyncrasies are the lifeblood of her storytelling.

Appeared in Sun Herald 2009

Fire Song: novel

Highly commended The Prime Minister's Literary Award 2010

‘Hathorn’s confident, award-winning style of writing makes this a rewarding book that a range of readers will be happy to curl up with and enjoy.’

Jenny Zimmerman, Viewpoint Spring 2009

Georgiana: Woman of Flowers (Hachette 2008)

“Hathorn has brilliantly portrayed Georgiana’s short life, which includes the lives of those that surrounded her, and the brutality and presence of the era. The writing flows beautifully throughout.”

Georgiana Molloy was a woman of incredible strength, courage, great compassion and generosity. She left a privileged upbringing in England, to take up a pioneering life in the Swan River area of Australia, in the early 1800s. After settling with her magistrate husband, John Molloy, at Augusta, she cultivated her love and interest in flowers and the surrounding natural world of which she never grew tired, and which earned her the name ‘Woman of Flowers’.

Loved by many, though her religious zeal managed to alienate some, Georgiana documented all her floral findings and much of her daily life in journals.

Hathorn has brilliantly portrayed Georgiana’s short life, which includes the lives of those that surrounded her, and the brutality and presence of the era. The writing flows beautifully throughout. Especially visual are the descriptions of the plants and flowers, their colour, and the wildness that bred them.

Good Reading July 2008

Georgiana: Woman of Flowers: novel

First prize at the NSW Society of Women Writer's 2009 Biennial Book Awards

 ‘Hathorn has crafted an eloquent and often gripping portrait of a fledgling settlement and of a little known trailblazer.’
– Rosemary Neil Kids’ Lit – The Australian, 25 June, 2008

 

Rift (Hachette 1998)

Libby Hathorn’s most potent young adult novel to date…

A Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book; Winner society of Women Writers’ NSW Book Award, shortlisted in the Family Therapy Awards and the Christina School Award, 1999

A rift seemed to have taken place. It was as if the town had slowly and silently split into two parts. Two opposing camps. Those who wanted to be with the Pastor- and those who did not.

When Vaughan Roberts’ parents take off to United States he is dumped with his grandmother in an isolated coastal town Vaughan longs to join the local gang of boys, but before he can, he must complete a frightening initiation- a seemingly impossible underwater swim. Little does Vaughan know he is a pawn in a terrifying ritual and he must fight for his very survival.

TBA

The Echo of Thunder: movie

Hallmark Hall of Fame, starring Judy Davis. Everything is perfect and then a husband’s daughter arrives, upsetting the balance.

REVIEW BY:
Will Joyner, The New York Times

‘…Ms Davis, surrounded by an appealing supporting cast, deftly displays the rewards of self-scrutiny – “The Echo of Thunder” becomes a coming-of-age tale for all ages. That’s something television could do with a lot more of.’

April 18, 1998



TELEVISION REVIEW:
A MATTER OF LOVE AND TRUST, IN SHORT FAMILY

The echo of Thunder – the movie version of Thunderwith
Hallmark Hall of Fame

Everything is perfect and then a husband’s daughter arrives, upsetting the balance.

These days the fine actress Judy Davis so completely represents a frenetic urban brittleness, by way of Woody Allen, that it’s startling to contemplate her against the lush and incompletely tamed vistas of Australia, her homeland. And that’s exactly where she is placed in The Echo of Thunder a quiet but effective Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.

Ms Davies plays Gladwyn Ritchie a contemporary woman who escaped to a farm in the wilds with her husband Larry (Jamey Sheridan) and their three children Opal (Emily Jane Browning), Pearl (Chelsea Yates) and Jasper (Ben and James Hanson). With much struggle, the Ritchies grow palm trees to sell to hotels and shopping centre chains. The densely green landscape overlooking pristine beaches, is gorgeous, but safety requires and educated vigilance regarding animals and the elements….

The film proceeds through a series of realistic impressively unsensational crises- a fire, an accident with an axe, a brush with a bully from a neighbouring farm – as Lara, anything but a self centgred city girl tries to toughen up. Along the way she has to decipher the cold reaction she encounters especially on the part of Gladwyn and to figure out if she is still alone in the world.

It’s not surprising that what ends up being essential here is Ms Davis and her talent at exploring the intricate vocabulary of neurosis. Gladwyn a forbidding, can-do sort of woman is deeply threatened by the embodiment of her husband’s beautiful artistic, first love and early on she seems downright cruel to Lara. But as she realizes how much she identifies with the teenager-and as Ms Davis, surrounded by an appealing supporting cast, deftly displays the rewards of self-scrutiny-The Echo of Thunder becomes a coming of age tale for all ages. That’s something television could do with a lot more of.

CBS Channel 2 in New York. Will Joyner The New York Times, April 1998.

Notes:
Shot near the town of Beecham, Victoria, directed by Simon Wincer, the cast includes Ernie Dingo as the Aboriginal story teller and Michael Caton as father of the bully boy Gowd . Dorothea G Petrie, producer, Brent Shields, co -producer and Richard Welsh, executive producer. Read more about the making of Thunderwith.

Thunderwith: novel

Honour Book, Children's Book Council of Australia

“Hathorn deftly injects a sense of wonderment into this intense, very real story.”
– Publishers Weekly

Thunderwith possesses “a believable plot featuring a shattering climax and a satisfyingly realistic resolution.”
– Horn Books

“Hathorn’s especially expert weaving of story and setting.”
– Robert Strang, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Hathorn’s control over her complex subject is admirable; her insight into character sure and true; her ear for dialogue keen.” …the author’s “nimble detour from the usual route will leave readers surprised, even breathless.”
– Karen Jameyson, Magpies

Feral Kid (Hachette 1994)

‘This is a most powerful novel. Libby Hathorn has created a haunting picture of vulnerable and trouble youth…Highly Recommended.’ Reading Time

A Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book; Winner, Society of Women Writers’ NSW Book Awards.

Can Robbie survive alone on the streets?

Robbie a homeless boy is caught up in a crime he want no part of… It is is an old lady he mugs in the park. Their chance meeting brings about an unlikely friendship which offers both of them a new future. But can he forget Mandy away from the bully Pale who pursues him?

1994

Way Home (Random House 1994) illustrated by Gregory Rogers

Winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, 1995

“This is the dangerous inner city at night and we travel with Shane as he takes home a stray kitten, running terrified from a gang, leaping through screaming traffic, escaping a fierce dog and finally arriving ‘home’…The stunning artwork and brilliant design of this dark book make it an exciting read for older children”.
– Anthony Brown, London Financial Times

“The writing is slangy, tough and vivid. The pictures are powerful, realistic and convincing. Altogether, Way Home is a terrific book”
– Raymond Briggs, TES

“Dark and dramatic…streetwise and inventive…”
– Guardian

“It’s not only a perfect picture book to pore over – it’s a powerful story too”.
– Daily Telegraph

1994