Noosa News & Noosa Today coverage
Mervyn gets a book review in Noosa Today!
Fifty Funnies Book Launch
Media Interview on ABC Brisbane with Clare Blake
I gave a talk to 30 talented and gifted students at Noosaville State School – all of whom have shown promise with their writing. I went through my Children’s books – Snowybright and the Eight Dwarfs and Ralph, Buster and the World’s First Dogathlon – my comical books – The Humphrey Hatt Letters and the recently launched The Curious Letters of Mervyn Mudal. I talked about what sparked my desire to write. I provided advice on ideas and topics and how the children might improve their writing.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Yes Minister, they’re Humphrey’s Letters. Sydney finally has an answer to Primary Colours. It’s The Humphrey Hatt Letters, a volume of farcical correspondence between the anonymous Mr. Hatt and celebrated folk such as Nelson Mandela, John Major and Pauline Hanson. The letters written by the bombastic Mr. Hatt who in his day job poses as Sydney headhunter Neville Mills, receives replies from equally pompous celebs or their personal assistants. When Hatt asked John Major about Prince Charles’s stallion farting near Camilla, Major’s PA stated coyly; “I note and understand your concern about the story concerning HRH Prince Charles. I hope you will understand that this is not a matter on which the Prime Minister can comment”. And a plea to Tony Abbott that he organise a Mosman Gay and Lesbian Festival elicited the following: “In my uni days, I was something of a Homophobe. While time (and my friendship with the likes of Christopher Pearson) has mellowed and matured my outlook, I’m not sure that I am quite your man.” Many seem to have fallen for Humphrey’s thinly disguised ruse, including Nick Minchin, John Howard, the Queen’s Lady-in Waiting and even the old charmer Bryce Courtenay. Courtenay – speaking from Melbourne where he’s flogging his latest opus Jessica – denied that he had ever been sucked in, despite writing Hatt an extensive letter exhorting him to “have courage” in tackling his novel Trotter Trips and Triumphs. The best selling author’s tips for success included’ The novel form can be reduced to mathematics” and, something Hatt obviously ignored, ‘Don’t try to be cute.” “You have to maintain his fiction,” Courtenay said, “It’s much better just to go along with them.” Sydney Morning Herald. 7 December 1998. Business Review Weekly – Seriously Cheap Tricks. In the 1980’s the letters of Henry Root caused hilarity throughout the English-speaking world. Root (in reality the English writer William Donaldson) wrote to British celebrities and institutions, offering support and flattery, sometimes appealing to their vanity or bigotry, and asking for their assistance. He was generally taken seriously, and this was evident from the replies he received, which must have caused much embarrassment when they were published in a book. Now there is an Australian version: one Humphrey Hatt (aka Neville Mills) who has landed some plump catches. The Humphrey Hatt Letters and Their Replies includes missives to and from such notables as President Bill Clinton (about male circumcision) former Prime Minister Paul Keating (limericks) and Janet Holmes a Court, offering her Heytsbury Group three ridiculous inventions: A “twins” perambulator that can be converted into a concrete mixer. A camouflaged dog kennel equipped with plastic down-pipes and a heated ski-boot cupboard. A frying pan for seafood that automatically switches on when the telephone rings. Holmes a Court replied to the offer in this way: Dear Mr.Hatt, Unfortunately we are unable to become involved in your business opportunity as we are not looking to make any outside investments. As you can imagine, our six enterprises within the Heytesbury Group, being construction, beef production, theatres, road haulage, viticulture, and thoroughbreds, keep us quite busy. We wish you all the best for the future’ Sincerely, The Holmes a Court Foundation. Business Review Weekly, 21 December 1998.
Review by Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright.
Snowybright and the Eight Dwarfs. In this contemporary fairy tale, Neville Mills has re-told the story of Snow White, giving it an unusually inventive edge of humour and wit. For in it he not only re-invents a classic fairy story, but he also plays with words and numbers in order to entice kids into the joys of both reading and simple calculations: Add One is a writing style. As you will see in just a while. And every number will be gone, As you increase them all by one. Remember what you have to do And note ‘no one’ becomes ‘no two.’ These rules determine the action and ensure that readers are kept on their toes. There are even eight dwarves instead of seven! The author has also not simply catered to the first reader’s prior knowledge of language and words, but has encouraged new investigation with phrases such as: ‘Impressed by the Prince’s elevenacity…’ To illustrate this tale, Roy Bisson has adopted a style which is characterised by vibrant, primary coloured hues, and humorous visual asides for kids to observe such as the mobile washing trolley and the potty under the bed. Bisson also creates images in which there are many things to count and many colours to identify. This much loved tale of the beautiful princess who is cast out by an ugly stepmother is given new life in this book which is the first of a series of six and is designed to delight young children. In the words of the author, ‘Twice read, never fivegotten’!
Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright is a freelance writing and publishing consultant who has been a director of the Queensland Writers Centre, President of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (Qld Branch), and has published and lectured widely on children’s literature.
Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright.
Ralph, Buster & the World’s First Dogathlon. Robyn is one of Australia’s most respected authorities on children’s literature, describes the book:– Ralph’s grandfather needs a heart operation, but there’s a long waiting list. If Ralph can raise $5,000, then Pop can have the operation privately. His only hope is to win the world’s first Dogathlon, being held in Ralph’s hometown, Noosa, Queensland. The race involves a boy (or girl) and their dog, running for three kilometres and swimming two hundred metres. First prize is $5,000. But Ralph and Buster have serious competition, particularly from his school rival, Jimmy and his dog, Fang. Pop, who used to take part in the Noosa Triathlons, has agreed to train Ralph and Buster. Can they win the race and secure the prize money for Pop’s operation? The concept of a ‘dogathlon’ is unique and likely to be very appealing to a junior audience, particularly given the enormous participation in triathlons in recent years. This story for 6 – 12 year-olds is about triumphing over adversity, and a moving account of a boy and his grandfather’s teaming up to develop a winning program for a new race. It’s also a story about a boy’s close relationship with his dog, and how Ralph and Buster find the strength to defeat their competitors. The characters are engaging, and there’s plenty of conflict in the rivalry between Jimmy and Fang, and Ralph and Buster which creates some nail-biting action. Neville Mills has created a very entertaining story, and Roy Bisson’s illustrations perfectly capture the fun and the fast-paced energy of this exciting new work.