My Life As An Alphabet
Published 1st February 2013
This isn't just about me. It's also about the other people in my life - my mother, my father, my dead sister Sky, my penpal Denille, Rich Uncle Brian, Earth-Pig Fish and Douglas Benson From Another Dimension. These are people [with the exception of Earth-Pig Fish, who is a fish] who have shaped me, made me what I am. I cannot recount my life without recounting elements of theirs. This is a big task, but I am confident I am up to it.
Introducing Candice Phee: twelve years old, hilariously honest and a little ... odd. But she has a big heart, the very best of intentions and an unwavering determination to ensure everyone is happy. So she sets about trying to 'fix' all the problems of all the people [and pets] in her life.
Laugh-out-loud funny and wonderfully touching, My Life as an Alphabet is a delightful novel about an unusual girl who goes to great lengths to bring love and laughter into the lives of everyone she cares about.
Winner: The Gold Inky 2013; The Children's Peace Prize 2013; The Victorian Premier's Award for YA fiction, 2013, The Territory Read Award 2014.
Shortlisted: The Adelaide Festival Award 2013; The CBCA Book of the Year 2014; the NSW Premier's Award [Ethel Turner, YA], 2014. The WA Premier's Award 2014
The Author Says
I had so much fun writing this!
This is the way it came about... I am an English teacher and have been for more years than I care to remember [don't ask - a LONG time, okay?]. Despite my many years of experience I still want new ideas for assignments and my wife [an English teacher also, YAY] is brilliant at supplying them. I needed a good assessment task for a year 10 class and it had to be on recount, so Nita passed on the Alphabet Recount. Basically, students write a paragraph for each letter of the alphabet, A through to Z. This sounds horrendous, particularly if your class is not very keen on writing. I mean, TWENTY SIX paragraphs? But the amazing thing is, the students loved it. I got three thousand word assignments from kids who previously struggled to get a few sentences down. Another brilliant advantage was that I learned so much about my students - far more than I would under normal circumstances.
One of my students [Alex Bamford] wrote a great assignment and she called it My Life As An Alphabet. Hmmm, I thought. That sounds like a title for a book. So enter Candice Phee who decides that she must write a CHAPTER for each letter, rather than a paragraph. Candice is very strange in all sorts of ways. Suddenly other characters made appearances in my head. Penpal Denille, Rich Uncle Brian, Douglas Benson From Another Dimension and [my personal favourite] Earth-Pig Fish [who is a religiously confused goldfish]. There is also an English teacher [called Miss Bamford - see, Alex, you've become a character in my book!] with a wandering eye.
The book is completely crazy. But then again, I've always liked crazy...
Leah Cartwright is ninety-three years old. She's feisty, tartly amusing and senses that time is slipping away. Carly is sixteen, bold… and yet hesitant… and eager to interview Leah for her local history project. Slowly a relationship blossoms between this unlikely pair, as Leah revisits her past to share with Carly her unique coming-of-age story.
A free trip to the Northern Territory! Sounds good, thinks Marcus ('Mucus' to his sister Rose). But when his best friend Dylan joins the family holiday, mayhem is not far away.
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