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Author Mark Carthew

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by Belladonna (subscribe)
Loves going out and about, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing about her adventures!
Published July 22nd 2020
Meet the award-winning multi-talented children's author
A football gets stuck up a tree. A crowd of kids gather round the tree to get their ball back. They shake the tree, throw sticks and rocks. Someone lobs a shoe up at the ball but it too gets stuck. Then another child throws a basketball. The basketball also gets caught amongst the branches.

Every day in school playgrounds, backyards, front yards, parks and properties across Australia, balls get stuck up trees, and children do whatever they can to get them back. This everyday experience inspired Mark Carthew to write his award-winning children's story, The Gobbling Tree.


Meet Mark Carthew
Mark Carthew is a man of many talents. He's an award-winning author, poet, educator, academic and musician (he owns six guitars). He's a photographer, bushwalker, bird watcher and cloud catcher. He was also the coach of his primary school's football team when during one memorable lunchtime, a football got stuck up a tree!


Mark has a strong passion for language and the power of rhyme and verse. His numerous books for children are well known for celebrating language, humour and word play. They include Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots, Wicked Wizards & Leaping Lizards, Witches' Britches, Itches & Twitches, Five Little Owls, The Moose is Loose!, The Great Zoo Hullabaloo!, and his latest book, The Dingle, Dangle Jungle.



Mark's love for language began in his teenage years when he began writing his own poetry. In later years he became a school teacher. During this time he penned songs, plays and school musicals. It was an especially inspiring and creative period in his life.

"My wife and I also teamed up with some close friends to professionally produce and write a number of musicals that were performed by a number of schools, as well as theatre groups," Mark tells me. "Songs are really poetry set to music and when that's combined with visual imagery and /or movement, sets and props, it is such a powerful form of storytelling and communication. It's no coincidence that a number of my picture books have associated songs and a strong musical rhythm in their structure."

Mark left teaching for a time to complete his PhD on the poetics of language, verse and children's rhyme. Since then he has returned to teaching, he has worked with various universities on their teacher education programs, and he has worked with Pearson Education Australia, one of the world's largest publishing companies. He then began to write and publish his own books.

Language has always been Mark's inspiration for writing. "Repetitive, rhymical word play and alliterative phrases fill my subconscious at the oddest of times and these phrases often result in ideas for poetry, songs, books and writing projects," he says. "I'm also extremely fascinated by old tales, stories and legends; so unearthing and reconnecting with myths and folkloric tales is a strong part of my ongoing interest in the power of story. Occasionally, though, real life events provide some inspiration and that was certainly the case with The Gobbling Tree."

The Dingle Dangle Jungle
The Dingle Dangle Jungle is Mark's latest children's book, published by Ford Street Publishing. The Dingle Dangle Jungle is a fun rollicking romp through the Amazonian forest, but it has a serious message for children too.

"Many of my books feature animals or the natural environment," Mark explains. "The links to learning about the importance of nature and ecosystems are clear with this title; and I have been delighted that we have been able to make a real contribution to community awareness of the diversity of animals in the Amazon jungle and by default, the need to protect the fragility of our world's rainforests and creatures."



The author in the time of Coronavirus
Like with so many authors, the Coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns have greatly impacted on Mark."While I am trying to be philosophical and count my blessings, this situation has been quite devastating at the forward planning level, as most of the school bookings and literary events I worked so hard on to organise well in advance, have all been cancelled or postponed," he explains. "I was also hoping to go to the UK to work on some creative projects and catch up with my UK illustrators Mike Spoor and Simon Prescott, but that's now a long way off indeed."

Fortunately, though, Mark managed to fit in and complete a wonderful tour of rural schools with Wimmera Regional Libraries in Victoria before restrictions kicked in near the end of term one.


But isolation has been hard for Mark too, especially since he and his wife have not been able to spend much time with their very first grandchild. "On the upside, though, the lockdown and restriction periods has provided some sustained time for reflection and creative endeavours," Mark says. "My wife and I live in a beautiful area next to Mt Dandenong National Park, so I am fortunate to have been able to stay close to nature by enjoying peaceful walks and of course, working from home is familiar and comfortable territory for authors and illustrators. In many ways the 'enforced isolation' has focused my attention and appreciation on the beauty of the 'little things' and it has also generated plenty of fruitful, creative ideas during those walks!"

Connect with Mark
Mark loves connecting with his readers. You can visit his website here.
You can also purchase copies of his books via Booktopia and Amazon Australia as well as Ford Street Publishing.

Mark is excited about his next picture book,The Thing that Goes Ping!, to be published by Ford Street Publishing. "The story is light-hearted and quintessentially playful, and without giving away the story or punchline; it is based around a childlike view of the simple and significant things in life," he tells me. "With so many problems in the world at the moment, connecting with the pure joy of language and comfort of a resolving shared story, has to be a good thing."


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