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Stephanie Owen Reeder

Dr Stephanie Owen Reeder is a Canberra-based author, illustrator, editor and award-winning reviewer who has been reviewing children’s books for nearly thirty years. She has also worked as a secondary school teacher, a librarian, a university lecturer and a Hansard editor at Federal Parliament. Stephanie co-edited The Inside Story: Creating Children’s Books (1987) and was the editor of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s journal Reading Time. Her historical novel Lost! A True Tale from the Bush (2009) was shortlisted in the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Awards in 2010, while Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea (2011) won the New South Wales Premier’s History Award in 2012. Her picture book I’ve Got a Feeling! (2010) was an International Board on Books for Young People Outstanding Book in 2011. Her latest book for children is Dance Like a Pirate (2013).

CYA Survey by Stephanie Owen Reeder

July–August 2007, no. 293 01 July 2007
Once upon a time, identifying a good picture book was simple: it had bright-coloured illustrations, an easy-to-read text, and it dealt with things relevant to a child’s life. While these elements are still important, the genre has developed to such an extent that simplicity is no longer the prime criterion. As some recent titles show, picture books can cover a multitude of styles and themes; how ... (read more)

Stephanie Owen Reeder reviews 'Baby Wombat’s Week' by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley, 'Jasper & Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle' by Rhys Muldoon and Kevin Rudd, and others

March 2010, no. 319 11 October 2022
In the 1970s and 1980s many Australian children’s picture books had a distinctly Australian look. The local landscape, flora, and fauna predominated, and unique Australian characters abounded. Today, it is much harder to pick an Australian picture book. Globalisation and market imperatives have led authors to broaden their subject matter, and illustrators have adapted their styles so that a more ... (read more)

Stephanie Owen Reeder surveys recent Australian children's fiction

February 2009, no. 308 01 February 2009
While the children’s picture book is a relatively recent literary phenomenon, most picture book authors still tap into the strong traditions of oral storytelling. Multi-award winning author Mem Fox is particularly good at this. Fox’s picture book texts are firmly grounded in the three R’s – the traditional rhythms, rhymes and repetitions found in children’s songs and verses throughout th ... (read more)

Stephanie Owen Reeder surveys young adult literature

March 2007, no. 289 26 August 2022
Last year, the Tamworth Regional Council voted not to accept five Sudanese refugee families into their township. The decision was reversed in January 2007, albeit with qualifications and overtly racist reactions from some locals. In our post-Tampa society, such seemingly xenophobic reactions have become frighteningly normal, especially at the government level. We will ultimately be a much poorer c ... (read more)

Stephanie Owen Reeder reviews 'Good Dog Hank', 'I Have a Dog (an inconvenient dog)', 'Imagine a City', 'Snail and Turtle Are Friends', 'Poppy Cat', 'The Hairy-Nosed Wombats Find a New Home', 'That Car!',

August 2014, no. 363 01 August 2014
In order to appeal to a child audience, picture books often deal with similar subjects or themes. To compete in the marketplace, they therefore need a point of difference – something in the artist’s style, the author’s approach, the design of the book to set them apart. The relationship between children and their pets is a popular picture book subject and one that Jackie French explores in ... (read more)

Stephanie Owen Reeder reviews 'Fire' by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley, 'Here in the Garden' by Briony Stewart, 'My Nanna is a Ninja' by Damon Young, 'The Swap' by Jan Ormerod, 'The Bouncing Ball' by Deborah Kelly, and 'Max' by Marc Martin

April 2014, no. 360 31 March 2014
A good picture book melds a well-crafted text with illustrations that interpret and extend the narrative. The illustrator’s choice of artistic style is central to how effectively this combined narrative is communicated to readers. Australian Children’s Laureate Jackie French and illustrator Bruce Whatley have had a long and successful collaborative relationship. Their latest picture book is F ... (read more)

Stephanie Owen Reeder reviews 'ANZAC Biscuits' by Phil Cummings and Owen Swan, 'An ANZAC Tale' by Greg Holfeld and Ruth Starke, 'The Promise' by Derek Guille, Kaff-eine, and Anne-Sophie Biguet, 'Vietnam Diary' by Mark Wilson

July–August 2013, no. 353 27 June 2013
Depicting war in a picture book requires a deft hand. Historical imperatives need to be considered, while also avoiding glorifying war for a young and impressionable audience. Ideally, such books should promote informed discussion rather than mindless militarism. ... (read more)

Stephanie Owen Reeder reviews recent picture books

September 2012, no. 344 28 August 2012
Good picture books stimulate a child’s imagination. Nick Bland and Stephen Michael King celebrate creativity in The Magnificent Tree (Scholastic, $24.99 hb, 32 pp, 9781742832951). Bonny and Pops enjoy sharing ideas and making things together. Bonny’s inventions are ‘simple, clever and properly made’, while Pops’s creations are ‘big, brave and brilliant with bits sticking out’. Determ ... (read more)

Stephanie Owen Reeder reviews recent children's picture books

November 2011, no. 336 21 October 2011
A common theme in picture books for children is the pivotal role of family and friends. Bee, the main protagonist in Good Morning Mr Pancakes (Allen & Unwin, $29.99 hb, 32 pp, 9781742377193), has a bevy of animal friends, all of whom must be catered for before she heads off for a week’s holiday with her family. Chris McKimmie’s idiosyncratic book explores the world from the child’s point ... (read more)

A survey of recent children's picture books by Stephanie Owen Reeder

November 2010, no. 326 07 October 2011
Many Australian picture book authors and illustrators continue to develop the genre in exciting and unusual ways. For example, Jeannie Baker’s Mirror (Walker Books, $39.95 hb, 44 pp, 9781406309140) challenges the very notion of a picture book. It contains dual narratives that are presented as two separate books in one. These books are designed to be opened and read simultaneously – one from le ... (read more)
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