MonthMay 2018

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Stolen Crown, The Howl of the Baskervilles and Scandal in Bohemia

Canberra writer James Sanderson’s delightful rhyming Sherlock Holmes picture books for kids are testament to his boyhood interest in the great detective and his love of dogs. Beautifully illustrated by Harriet Rodis, they make a cheerful addition to the bedtime bookstand for read aloud parents. We hear there is a fourth just about ready.

You’ll be able to hear James reading these soon On LACE Radio. Meanwhile find the books at

The Stranding, The Lightkeepers’ Wife and The Grass Castle

Canberra writer Karen Viggers’ three novels are essential reading. Karen writes beautifully both from a stylistic point of view and within the art of story weaving. Each of these books takes the reader through an intricate web of time, place and character, finally neatly looping together the laces without leaving us with a sense of things being too resolved.

These books are deeply rooted in Australian place – Tasmania, Antarctica, the South Coast, the Canberra region – and speak of the writer’s regard for the land and its histories. Karen is a vet by training and this knowledge also shows through her sensitive treatment of wildlife and environment issues. I read the books in reverse order of publication but see a strong thread running through the work. Worth noting also is that Karen’s books have become fabulously successful with French readers. The Lightkeeper’s Wife has sold more than 400,000 in France.

Find Karen at

Four Winds

Four Winds in beautiful Bermagui on the far south coast of NSW is a music organisation hosting an annual Easter festival, a year-long concert schedule, residencies, events and a schools music education program. Formed in 1990, Four Winds has grown in scope and stature with both the outdoor amphitheatre seating 2000 people and the more intimate Windsong Pavilion for its programs. In November 2018 a new Youth Music Festival will be held gathering children from local schools to share in the joy of music and music-making and to present a major performance. Find them at


For Pity Sake Publishing

For Pity Sake Publishing (based in Sydney) not only espouse a refreshingly different publisher model for emerging and established writers, they are also a program partner at Living Arts Canberra. You can connect with their writer stable on LACE radio with our radio stories segments. Principal and Founder Jen McDonald provides the highest standard of professional service across a range of publishing services and treats writers with unfailing respect and courtesy. Get in touch at

Wild Voices Music Theatre

WildVoicesmusictheatre creates and presents music theatre events and activities with a commitment to trans-disciplinary arts pedagogy, alongside professional practice, and celebrating multiskilling. Musical, vocal and physical skills are central to their work. They eschew the concepts of ‘talent’ and ‘gifts’, and instead focus on relationships, process and long term goals. They recognise the rigorous work ethic and commitment required for the life of an artist. They see their work as a craft, supported by solid and ongoing training, with professional and sustainable work practices. They champion the arts as a valid career choice, and as a valuable contributor to modern Australian life – and aim to share their passion for the heritage on which performing arts practice is based. Find them at


Murdoch Books, an imprint of Allen & Unwin, Australia 2018

‘The Country Women’s Association of NSW aims to improve conditions for country women and children by lobbying for change, helping the local community, creating a network of support and meeting together in towns and cities.’ The recipes in this 2018 cookbook were previously published in The Country Women’s Association Cookbook 2 in 2011.

To win a copy of the book, write to me via the contact page. I will let you know if you are the lucky winner. First in, best dressed!

Barbie’s review

I started high school in NSW in 1962 in the first intake of students under the Wyndham Scheme*. The new scheme introduced six years of high school and a new set of examinations, the School Certificate after 4 years of high school and the Higher School Certificate after six – replacing the old Leaving Certificate system. The curriculum was reformed and thus it was that an otherwise academic education included six months of Domestic Science classes in my first year of high school.

I clearly remember giggling my head off with my mother while she seriously wrote comments on my Oslo lunch homework and other seemingly inane tasks.

I tell you this because the Bible of our cooking classes was The Commonsense Cookery Book and I still have today my battered and grease-stained copy of this little gem. It was compiled by The Public School Cookery Teachers’ Association of New South Wales with sections on, for example, Convalescent and Children’s Cookery, Meat Substitutes and Savouries, Steamed Puddings and Dressed Vegetables. This, of course, was before cook books became the visual porn of the domestic goddess or simply the collector of mouth wateringly fabulous photography.

And this brings me to the book at hand, a new edition of a CWA cookbook with recipes first published in the Country Women’s Associati  on Cookbook 2 in 2011. As well as providing a collection of stock standards in everything from soup to scones, the book pays tribute to the work of the CWA in nurturing rural communities. Long before city officialdom and media caught on to rural issues like depression, isolation and the health   and education challenges of living in remote communities the women of the CWA were establishing friendship groups for their members and raising funds to provide what governments didn’t.

This modest volume will slip easily into the kitchens and hearts of new generations of Australian cooks. It’s simple and practical, clearly set out and readable. And most importantly it contains do-able recipes without a plethora of exotic pantry items. While some of the quaint catering tips may raise a gentle smile, the chapter on Scones, Biscuits and Slices will equip you for any’ bring a plate’ occasion.

At $16.99 it’s at the very affordable end of today’s cookbooks. Let’s hope sales of the book allow the CWA to continue its valuable work in our rural communities.

Bridie Jabour: The Way Things Should Be

Echo, a division of Bonnier Publishing Australia, 2018

This is the debut novel of writer Bridie Jabour, a journalist by trade who has worked for News Corp, Fairfax and Guardian Australia. It is a novel about relationships within the family and the way long held patterns stick. Set in a country town, It’s written in a millennial voice, but you don’t have to be a millennial to enjoy this read.

To win a copy of the book, write to me via the contact page. I will let you know if you are the lucky winner. First in, best dressed!

Listen to Barbie’s interview with Bridie Jabour.


The Merry Month of May

The so-called merry month of May could be merrier in the northern hemisphere I suspect when spring is well in bud. In Canberra there have finally been some presages of Winter and people start hunkering down and refusing to go out. We do want to remind you (and ourselves) that artists need to eat all year round and so it is important that we get out and support them as audiences. Continue Reading“The Merry Month of May”