Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Embodiment of Dreams

This week in the Lounge (or on the Lounge?) we are talking books. I want to talk about a sadly now defunct but genius idea that I stumbled across about a decade ago. The book was written in 1997. The imprint is Starfish Publications, and it specialised in "quality books written by children aged five to fifteen". I love this idea so much; that books for children can be written by children. What a way to open the door to a love of reading and writing. I have struggled to find more information on this publisher, so I can only guess it is unfortunately no more. Please correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.

The book is called Escape. It is a picture book written by the then thirteen year old, Matthew Roden. The book is hilarious. It's witty and clever and was a favourite with my boys, even though the humour is quite sophisticated, appealing to adults.

The story tells of the adventures of a school boy trapped on a desert island with nothing but his Handi-Dandi Survival Kit and Book.  The book is great, and if you can somehow lay your hands on it, do! However, even eBay came up empty, so it may be a tricky task.

What I love most of all however, is that it was written by a child. A business set about making dreams come true, something rare these days. The book embodies the fulfilment of a child's ambition. To borrow from Epic, it is a reminder that 'no dream is too big, and no dreamer too small' or as the more mature thirteen year old said at the time:

Maybe next time a child says they want to do something or be something, we will listen a little more and open our minds to the possibility of what could happen, if we really set out to make it so.

Linking up with #Whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge
In my totally disorganised fashion, I managed to track down the author of this much beloved book of ours, in order to see if he was still writing. He is (some articles here if you're interested),  and volunteers at the Sydney Story Factory, a not-for-profit creative writing centre for young people. Check out their website for workshops and events, or sign up to their newsletter to see their on going offerings.

And while on books, these are the last few days of the wonderful Lawn Library, for those in Sydney that have yet to check out the truly delightful offering in the Festival Village.


  1. I absolutely love that the young author is still in the biz, and now helping others to express their creativity too by the sounds. I guess this sort of writing for/by young people takes place online now. I've seen a few writing competitions along those lines. But I bet it was awesome for those young Starfish writers to hold their book in their hands.

  2. I love the idea of children writing these books. One of my favourite things to teach at school is narrative writing. The kids get so into it and then we make their stories into little books that they also illustrate. There is nothing better than reading their gorgeous stories! xxx Lucy from Bake Play Smile

  3. How awesome is that! And what a great concept for a publishing house.

  4. That's a really cool idea. :)

  5. I LOVE that he is still writing all these years later. Such an amazing thing this company did for those young kids. I'd love to build a company like this one day.. so inspiring for young writers chasing their dreams. Though I suspect it wasn't very profitable and everything lives on line nowadays, the hardcopy book has no compare for a true sense of achievement. Awesome ideas brains some people have.

  6. Oh, such a shame it's been defunct! This is a great way to get kids into writing! But it's lovely that the author volunteers in helping other kids with their writing.

  7. What a way to encourage young kids to share their stories, so sad that it is not around any more.

  8. I love this idea so much Lydia! I would so love to set something like this up, to encourage kids to write and have the opportunity to have a physical book to show for it. Maybe I'll add that to my list of challenges to set myself....

  9. This is why I LOVE the internet - ideas like this have a hope of being revived and of surviving x

  10. Hi Lydia, I love the idea of a child writing a children's book. My grandson who is 7 writes books and I always have a new one given to me when I visit. They are short only a few pages but he also adds drawings as well. I am filled with joy that he loves reading and now writing books. Thanks for sharing and joining us for our monthly #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge

    1. And it's a brilliant book. An adult would not have improved upon it.

  11. Hi Lydia, this does sound like a great way of introducing youngsters to writing, what a shame it's now defunct. Thanks for sharing the update about the author and for joining in with our #whatsonyourbookshelfcghallenge. I've included a link to your postin mine.