"Dubosarsky occupies a unique place in Australian literature. Her works cannot be 'classified' - but neither could Jane Gardam's 'A Long Way from Verona', EB White's 'Charlotte's Web", Antoine de Saint-Exupery's 'The Little Prince'... Their appeal is universal; they are timeless and ageless. All great children's classics have these qualities. And her books, let' s make no mistake about this, are classics. " Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright
"The most graceful, most original writer for young people in Australia - probably the world." Sonya Hartnett
Winner of nine Premier's Literary Awards and the Children's Book Council of the Year Award and nominated for the Astrid Lindgren and Hans Christian Andersen awards.
This coming week, Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 September, Ursula will be appearing at WAM, the Write Around the Murray Festival in Albury. Click here for details.
The weekend of July 29/30 Ursula appeared at the Sydney Living Museums Family Fair at the historic property Rouse Hill, west of Sydney. She spoke about her novel, Abyssinia, a kind of gothic ghost story inspired by the dolls' house belonging to the Rouse children who lived at the property in the late 19th century. For more background information on the book, click here.
"Abyssinia" won the Adelaide Festival Award for Literature and was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award and the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award. Two children play with a mysterious doll’s house on a remote Australian property named “Abyssinia”. Or are the children really dolls themselves?
“Brilliantly evokes the often-shadowy place of childhood, but at the core is an intriguing story that will have younger readers asking questions that adults won’t be able to answer.” The Age “A wonderful book of great intensity “ Andersen (Italy).
The Blue Cat was recently launched in Melbourne by novelist Lili Wilkinson (left) and in Sydney by novelist Kate de Goldi (below). Click here to read Kate's speech.
You can read blog interviews with Ursula on "The Blue Cat", with Jane Arthur at The Sapling and with Sophie Masson at Feathers of the Firebird. Click here and here for guest blog posts written by Ursula on the novel and here for recent press reviews.
A boy stood in the playground under the big fig tree. 'He can't speak English,' the children whispered.
If that cat could speak,’ Miss Hazel said, ‘imagine the secrets he could tell.’
SYDNEY, 1942. The war is coming to Australia –not only with the threat of bombardment, but also with the arrival of refugees from Europe. Dreamy Columba’s world is shaken when Ellery, the little boy from far away, arrives at her school, and a mysterious stray cat appears in the neighbourhood. Both the boy and the cat have secrets. Can they help Columba make sense of the changes that are happening around her? Or are there some things she may never understand?
Click here for more background material and classroom resources relating to The Blue Cat. And here for teachers' notes.
‘The Blue Cat imagines war and its legacies with singular daring, sensitivity and emotional insight, stalking the line between questions and fears in a time of deep uncertainty. Ursula Dubosarsky is Australia’s finest writer for young people and here she is at her enchanting best.’ Mike Shuttleworth
Some readers may note a connection between "The Blue Cat" and the family in two of Ursula's other books, the award-winning The First Book of Samuel, and its sequel, Theodora's Gift.
New editions of these books are now available in paperback and electronic book, with cover and design by Amy Golbach. "The First Book of Samuel" won the NSW Premier's Literary Award, was an Honour Book in the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards, and was shortlisted for the Adelaide Festival Award for Literature. "Theodora's Gift" won both the NSW and Victorian Premier's Literary Awards. For further background material and teaching resources on both books, click here.
Out now! a brand new book with illustrator Andrew Joyner - "One Little Goat". It starts with one little goat. It ends with one little goat. But what happens in between is a whirlwind of nonsense and fun! Ursula recently read the book aloud to children at the Children's Bookshop in Sydney and the Little Bookroom in Melbourne, and at the storytime at Concord Library.
"With a touch of The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, One Little Goat piles calamity upon small disaster as a dog, a stick, fire, water, a buffalo, a butcher and more seek to capitalise on the chaos. Repetition and a drumming rhythm are the text’s essential ingredients, while Joyner’s familiar retro-styled images bring the snap and crackle to match each twist and turn in the rhyme. (It also needs to be said that the baby goat is quite adorable.)" Review from Australian Books and Publishing.
Ursula has been nominated for the 2017 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world's largest children's literature award administered by the Swedish Arts Council. This is the fifth time Ursula has been nominated for this award. The winner will be announced in Stockholm and at the Bologna Book Fair in April next year.
A virtual reality storybook "Sammy the Space Koala", has just been launched by the Commonwealth Bank, as part of its children’s financial education campaign. Ursula wrote the text for the book, which comes with a Google Cardboard VR headset kit, ‘The Teleporter’, which turns the story into an interactive space journey. The VR experience was developed by M&C Saatchi’s in-house innovation lab Tricky Jigsaw. Read more here and here.
Ursula recently spent six months in Paris undertaking an Australia Council residency at the Keesing Studio. Click here or here to read an account of her experience.
Ursula has also been nominated for the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award. This award is to "recognize lifelong achievement and are given to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children's literature." The winner will be announced at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in 2016.
An interview for the Berlin International Literature Festival
Ursula also has a story, "Little Wars", in the new anthology from Walker Books UK, "The Great War" . This book has been longlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal and is a Junior Library Guild Selection for 2015.
Ursula will be reading aloud from both these titles on Anzac Day, at the Liverpool Anzac Centenary Commemoration Event.
Here are some comprehensive online teaching resources on The Red Shoe with particular reference to the Australian Curriculum and the NSW Syllabus, including an essay by Professor Clare Bradford: "Cold War Bricolage: Ursula Dubosarsky's The Red Shoe"
These resources have been developed by the Copyright Agency's Reading Australia program, designed to make significant Australian literary works more readily available for teaching in schools and universities, chosen to give a view of Australia's rich cultural identity: works that would tell Australia's history and also how we are currently developing as a nation.
For Kate de Goldi's essay on "The Red Shoe" for the Library for Young Europeans click here. For other critical responses to "The Red Shoe" click here. For student and teaching resources click here.
Ursula and illustrator Sue de Gennaro together created a specially commissioned story "Reindeer's Christmas Surprise" for the much loved David Jones Christmas Window display in the the Elizabeth Street store in Sydney. The book and accompanying toy reindeers were available in David Jones stores all over Australia.
Do you love puzzles? mystery stories? and... guinea pigs? Join the world's greatest guinea pig detectives, Coco and Alberta, as they track down mysteries in the big city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in this series of six books, The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta, illustrated by Terry Denton. Click here and here for some Coco and Alberta puzzling activity sheets, and here for teachers' reviews and classroom ideas.
NEVER TOO MANY ELEPHANTS ...
AND a rollicking stage version of the book was performed the same week at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney!
"The Golden Day" is an IBBY International Board on Books for Young People Honour Book, listed on Publishers' Weekly's Best Children's Books and is one of the Wall Street Journal's Top Ten Children's Books of 2013. It was published in Germany by Ueberreuter as "Nicht jetz, niemals" and awarded a Lynx prize; and published in the UK by Walker Books. See also thegoldenday.info
A rare jewel. Restrained, poetic literature for adolescents and adults…a small masterpiece.
A cryptic work. A beautiful book.
"Dubosarsky’s spare prose explores the space between innocence and adulthood. Shaped by the girls’ growing awareness of the world, her scenes are uneasy dreamscapes. Questions about responsibility, violence, sex, fear and death bloom beneath their placid surface. Unanswerable, they linger past the end of this slender but powerful volume."
"Atmospheric, chilling and haunting"
Booklist *Starred review
"In a stunning feat of perspective, Dubosarsky inhabits all 11 girls at once, snaking through a thousand small joys and triumphs and fears and petty grudges as they absorb life’s bleakest truths as well their own complicity in them... a masterful look at children’s numb surprise to the most unsavory of adult developments. "
(US) Publishers Weekly *Starred review
"Dubosarsky subtly shows the impact of the tragedy through fragments of conversations, observations, and memories, while expertly sketching a cast of vulnerable, inquisitive children and ridiculous authority figures. Laced with humor amid a steady feeling of dread, the atmospheric narrative chillingly evokes lurking forces capable of tarnishing even the most golden and innocent of days ..."
"Few sentences, when spoken by an adult to a child, possess the sinister ambiguity of: “It will be our little secret.” It is the language of the liar, the creep and the pedophile—a confiding technique that exploits a child’s loyalty to keep quiet something that should probably be spoken aloud. In Ursula Dubosarsky’s chilling, elegant, atmospheric novel “The Golden Day” (Candlewick, 149 pages, $15.99), it is what a fourth-grade teacher in an Australian girls’ school says to her class of obedient pupils. Its effect, especially the “thin, strong bond of shame” it creates, will last through the girls’ childhoods and change the contours of their lives.
The time is 1967, and the teacher is Miss Renshaw, a springy-haired freethinker who begins taking her uniformed charges out of school and into Sydney’s botanical gardens to release their inner spirits... Ms. Dubosarsky deftly conveys the confusion of childhood, the strangeness of things half-glimpsed and only partly understood. With quiet brilliance she evokes the distinct personalities of the classmates who, in a haunting final section, we see again in 1975 as they are finishing their final exams. “The Golden Day” is the sort of book that churns something up deep inside the reader; it will be as hard for an adult to forget as the young people ages 12 and older for whom it is intended."
"The girls’ communal silence in the face of increasingly desperate adults is bewitching. Dubosarsky...makes the simplest observations both poetic and terrifying. If you’re wanting for quality literature in your life, read this now."
"When the headmistress, the priest, the school psychologist and even the police come to question the girls, they silence themselves; eleven petals of a flower close in tight around the bud. They will not rat out each other or their beloved teacher. With haunting, sparse language and a timeless style, Dubosarsky expertly explores this pivotal moment in these girls' lives. She does this by inhabiting all girls' points of view at once. I can't adequately explain the breathtaking tension, urgency and emotional resonance this technique creates. It is unique, highly inventive and it deeply works. ... Perhaps Dubosarsky has arrived at a point of view that is the essence of childhood. I recommend The Golden Day to readers ages 12 and up, and urge adults to read it too."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Delicate, atmospheric and provocative, this bijou tale stirs young adult readers to remember vividly the beguilement in which teachers can hold their little charges, and to consider with mature vision the complex meaning of adult actions that are only half-understood by child observers. With secrecy, elegant language, crime, a short page count, and a touch of the supernatural, here's a teen book club selection that everyone is likely to finish. "
Dubosarsky is one of those rare writers whose work feels both true and invented, always, the uncanny seamlessly interwoven with the fabric of life. It’s impossible reading this book not to think of the quote from Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight: ‘‘But they never last, the golden days. And it can be sad, the sun in the afternoon, can’t it? Yes, it can be sad, the afternoon sun, sad and frightening.’’ The Golden Day is a highly recommended portrait of life interrupted, in all its sad and frightening – but beautiful – reality.
"This acclaimed Australian author takes her chapter titles from paintings and drawings of schoolgirls by Charles Blackman, and her tale beautifully evokes the loneliness of childhood, the claustrophobic confines of a girls school and the dark turbulence of the world outside."
"One of my favourite books this year was The Golden Day...(the girls) in their resolve not to speak up, themselves gradually lose sense of the truth and what actually happened on that fateful morning slips away. This succinct novel combines a love of poetry, an intriguing mystery and an exquisite study of group mentality and the dynamics of friendship."