It’s National Bookshop Day!

10500382_657331307686192_2234955522137115305_nToday is National Bookshop Day in Australia. Bookshops around the country and putting on special activities and promotions to remind us all that they serve a vital role in our communities.

Just as books are more than just products, so too a bookshop is a lot more than just another retail outlet.

In a world where we are increasingly isolated from each other, a bookshop can serve as a social hub: a place where different ideas and ways of seeing the world are discovered and shared.

Bookshops have long been the major avenue through which our writers reach out to audiences.

And a bookshop is not only where you can find that next great book, but it’s a place to take children for guidance of what to read next, or even where to start reading.

For all their bells and whistles, there is plenty of research that shows book websites simply can’t replicate the discovery experience bookshops offer us, just as ebooks offer a pale imitation of the joys of owning a printed book.

In short, we can’t do without bookshops and they should be celebrated.

The best way—the only way—to celebrate them is to visit one. Today, on National Bookshop Day.

So, shut down your web browser, grab and friend and get down to your local bookshop—there’s still no better place to discover books.



’10 Little Insects’ will have readers chuckling: School Library Journal

10 Little Insects

’10 Little Insects’ is a hilarious tribute to Agatha Christie.

The worldwide interest in 10 Little Insects, Davide Cali and Vincent Pianina’s hilarious graphic novel/comic book has been tremendous.

The interest in the United States has been particularly strong, driven by positive reviews such as this one in the influential School Library Journal:

This graphic-novel homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None finds 10 bugs drawn to a mysterious weekend getaway on a remote island. As the hours tick by, the members of the motley crew meet untimely deaths in a variety of macabre ways: poison, freezing, electrocution, being eaten by a fish, and getting beheaded amid secret passages. The title is filled with Victorian spookiness, until only a detective and his assistant sail away with their lives. The boldly colored art in the cartoon panels, while simple, holds some hilarious details that will have readers chuckling. The size and format may turn off potential readers who see a picture book rather than a gruesome murder mystery but reluctant readers will find more than enough to engage and amuse them.—Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library

The reviewer, Marge Loch-Wouters, hosts Tiny Tips for Library Fun, a lively and creative blog for children’s librarians, which is well worth a visit.

‘One Red Shoe’ an exceptional book: ReadPlus

This is one of the most powerful picture books I’ve read for some time.

One Red Show is just released

‘One Red Shoe’ depicts life in a Middle East war zone

The superlatives keep flowing for Karin Gruss and Tobias Kreijschi’s new picture book for older readers, One Red Shoe.

In her review on ReadPlus (an excellent resource for children’s books), Barbara Braxton focuses on Tobias Kreijschi’s award-winning illustration:

Told in a minimalist style, almost like a photo essay would be, the imagery is so striking that the minds connects the dots without the need for superfluous words … From endpaper to endpaper there is nothing extraneous, but the astute eye will pick up tiny details that offer so much insight into who this man is, his thoughts and emotions.

She finishes with some comments that highlight the book’s enduring qualities:

This is a picture book for older students, right through to the senior years of secondary school. It has so many places in the Australian Curriculum and Ian McLean’s teachers’ notes offer many suggestions that demonstrate how it could be used across all levels from about Year 5 up. An exceptional book that has so much for so many.

You can read the full review here.

The book is available through all good booksellers or, in cases of difficulty, from the Wilkins Farago website.

Mad about books about books: a reading list

Paperbacks USA back - britishNot only do we love reading books, but also like reading books about books—from literary biographies to books about book design, and those occasional gems: books by and about publishers.

Here’s a list of the ‘books about books’ sitting our bookshelves.

Feel free to share your own favourites in the comments section below!

  • The Adventure of Publishing by Michael Joseph (Allan Wingate, 1959)
  • All Authors are Equal by Fredric Warburg (Hutchinson & Co, 1973)
  • The Art and Science of Book Publishing by Herbert S. Bailey (Ohio University Press, 1990)
  • Binding and finishing by Geoff Potter (Blueprint, 1988)
  • Bloomsbury: a house of lions by Leon Edel (The Hogarth Press, 1979)
  • The Book of Paperbacks: a visual history of the paperback book by Piet Schreuders (Virgin Books, 1981)
  • The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petrovski (Vintage, 1999)
  • The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street: letters between Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill 1952–73 edited by John Saumarez Smith (Frances Lincoln, 2005)
  • Business_of_books_PB-6b4f6fcb6cf86615a733893dfa59e024

    A must-read if you want to understand the modern trade

    The Business of Books: how the international conglomerates took over publishing and changed the way we read by André Schiffrin (Verso, 2001)

  • A Certain Style: Beatrice Davis, a literary life by Jacqueline Kent (Penguin Books, 2001)
  • The Censor’s Library: Uncovering the lost history of Australia’s banned books by Nicole Moore (UQP, 2012)
  • A Feeling for Books: the Book-of-the-Month Club, literary taste, and middle-class desire by Janice A Radway (The University of North Carolina Press, 1997)
  • The Forbidden Bestsellers of Pre-Revolutionary France by Robert Darnton (HarperCollins, 1996)
  • Foyles: a celebration by Penny Mountain with Christopher Foyle (Foyles Books, 2003)
  • Gaston Gallimard: a half century of French publishing by Pierre Assouline (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988)
  • A Gentleman Publisher’s Commonplace Book by John G. Murray (John Murray, 1996)
  • George Robertson: a publishing life in letters by Anthony Barker (UQP, 1993)
  • The Girl in the Fiction Department: a portrait of Sonia Orwell by Hilary Spurling (Penguin, 2003)
  • Gluttony, Pride and Lust and other sins from the world of books compiled by Michael Turner and Michael Geare (Collins, 1984)
  • One of our favourites – the story of the Olympia Press, which published Nabokov’s Lolita and a lot of other ‘dirty books’ is a riot.

    The Good Ship  Venus: the erotic adventures of the Olympia Press by John de St Jorre (Pimlico, 1995)

  •  Grub Street Stripped Bare: the scandalous lives sand pornographic works of the original Grub Street writers by Philip Pinkus (Constable & Company, 1968)
  • The Hill of Content: books, art, music, people by A. H. Spencer (Angus & Robertson, 1959)
  • The House of Harper: the making of a modern publisher by Eugene Exman (Harper Perennial, 2010)
  • How to Market Books (4th ed.) by Alison Baverstock (Kogan Page, 2008)
  • The Invisible Art: the pursuit of book making by Christopher Hurst (C. Hurst & Co, 2002)
  • Jonathan Cape, Publisher by Michael S. Howard (Jonathan Cape, 1971)
  • The KGB’s Literary Archive by Vitaly Shentalinsky (The Harvill Press, 1995)
  • Left Bank Waltz: the Australian bookshop in Paris by Elaine Lewis (Vintage, 2006)
  • The Little Bookroom: gift years with children’s books by Jeffrey Prentice (Braidwood press, 2010)
  • The Making of a Publisher: a life in the twentieth century book revolution by Victor Weybright (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968)
  • Max Perkins: editor of genius by A. Scott Berg (Hamish Hamilton, 1979)
  • Memoirs of a Libel Lawyer by Peter Carter-Ruck (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1990)
  • Michael Joseph: master of words by Richard Joseph (Ashford Press Publishing, 1986)
  • Milli Milli Wangka: the Indigenous Literature of Australia by Mudrooroo (Hyland House, 1997)
  • My Life in Print by Michael Zifcak (Lothian Books, 2006)
  • Now, Barabbas by William Jovanovich (Longmans, 1965)
  • Warburg was publisher of George Orwell’s greatest works.

    An Occupation for Gentlemen by Fredric Warburg (Hutchinson & Co, 1959)

  • Oscar’s Books by Thomas Wright (Chatto & Windus, 2008)
  • Paper Empires: a history of the book in Australia 1946–2005 edited by Craig Munro and Robyn Sheahn-Bright (UQP, 2005)
  • Passion’s Fortune: the story of Mills and Boon by Joseph McAleer (OUP, 1999)
  • Penguin by Design: a cover story 1935–2005 by Phil Baines (Penguin/Allen Lane, 2005)
  • Penguin Portrait: Allen Lane and the Penguin editors 1935–1970 edited by Steve Hare (Penguin, 1995)
  • Philip Larkin, the Marvell Press and Me by Jean Hartley (The Sumach Press, 1993)
  • The Secret Life of Words: How English became English by Henry Hitchings (John Murray, 2009)
  • Stet: an editor’s life by Diana Anthill (Granta Books, 2001)
  • The Story of Writing by Andrew Robinson (Thames & Hudson, 1995)
  • Trafficking in Old Books by Anthony Marshall (Lost Domain, 1998)
  • The Trial of Lady Chatterly: Regina v. Penguin Books Limited, edited by C. H. Rolph (Penguin, 1961)
  • Sir Stanley Unwin’s memoir is one of the great publishing stories.

    The Truth about a Publisher by Sir Stanley Unwin (George Allen & Unwin, 1960)

  • The Truth About Publishing by Sir Stanley Unwin (George Allen & Unwin, 1960)
  • UQP: the writers’ press 1948–1998 edited by Craig Munro (UQP, 1998)
  • Victor Gollancz: a biography by Ruth Dudley Edwards (Gollancz, 1987)

‘One Red Shoe’ one of our very best, says Magpies

One Red Show is just released

‘One Red Shoe’ depicts children’s lives in a Middle East war zone

A wonderful review for our new title, One Red Shoe from Joy Lawn in the July issue of Magpies magazine. Here’s an extract:

Wilkins Farago is a publisher who discovers exemplary picture books form around the world and publishes them in Australia. One Red Shoe, one of Germany’s five ‘Most Beautiful Children’s Books’ in 2103, equals the best of the their titles …

Told from an adult’s point of view, One Red Shoe is a sophisticated and powerful story for older readers … This picture book reveals a situation that we may not want to acknowledge, but one that should be faced and grappled with.

One Red Shoe, written by Karin Gruss and illustrated by Tobias Krejtschi, is in bookstores now.

A champion of children’s books

9780987109989The July edition of Magpies magazine features reviews of two of our new books: Oyvind Torseter’s The Hole and Karis Gruss and Tobias Krejschi’s One Red Shoe (more of the latter review in a later post).

Poignantly, the review of The Hole was written by Jo Goodman, who died earlier this month.

A tireless champion of children’s literature for many, many years, Jo was one of our great enthusiasts and an astute judge of a book. To learn more about her life in kids’ books, read Dr Belle Alderman’s touching tribute. She will be missed.

Over the years, Jo reviewed several of our books and was a great supporter of our publishing. Her extensive interview with Davide Cali in Vol. 27 of Magpies magazine was a culmination of that interest.

I first met Jo around 20 years ago, when I was just starting out as a publisher. It’s moving to consider that one of her last reviews was for a Wilkins Farago book.

Of The Hole, she wrote:

This is a book to intrigue readers and to generate a wide variety of playful and philosophical responses and interpretations.

Thanks, Jo. Rest in peace.


A picture book set in … a war zone

One of Tobias Krejschi's award-winning illustrations for 'One Red Shoe'

One of Tobias Krejschi’s award-winning illustrations for ‘One Red Shoe’

How do you even start to explain to a child what’s happening in the Middle East?

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen some dreadful reports from Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Do we turn off the TV and radio and hide the newspaper? I’ve been sorely tempted.

We’re lucky in Australia that violence on such a scale is largely alien to us. It would be forgivable for kids here to think that such problems are ‘overseas problems’ with little relevance to their lives.

But, of course, we know that such ‘overseas problems’ have a history of finding their way to us sooner or later, often in ways we don’t expect—in the past century, Australia has not been immune to terrorism, refugees or war.

Earlier this year, we bought the rights to Karin Gruss and Tobias Kreijschi’s One Red Shoe, a picture book for older readers set in a place which could well be the Gaza Strip. It was published a month ago—before the tragic events of recent weeks.

It’s the challenging story of a photojournalist sent out to cover the bombing of a school bus by his newspaper. He encounters an injured child in hospital whose single red sneaker is identical to those in a pair he recently gave his far-away nephew.

The red sneaker reminds the photographer that, but for an accident of geography, the injured child could be his nephew.

One_Red_Shoe_07_16With great sensitivity, One Red Shoe allows the reader to leave their own world of relative safety and comfort and enter a war zone. It encourages them to imagine what it might be like for the children who live there. What if that injured child were me, or one of my friends? What if it was me trying to play in those streets of rubble?

The book doesn’t attempt to pick sides or go into the complex background of the Middle East’s problems. It’s just a picture book, after all.

But it does encourage empathy in the reader—empathy for the suffering. From that empathy may spring a desire for greater understanding of situations around world where violence reigns.

The world is not a great place for many millions of children who are forced to grow up in harm’s way.

If One Red Shoe can encourage our children to feel more empathy for others’ circumstances, and to be a little more grateful for their own good fortune, then it may well have served its purpose.