Farrer, Vashti

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Farrer, Vashti

PERSONAL: Married; children: three. Education: M.A. (English literature). Hobbies and other interests: Acting, watching plays and films, attending concerts, reading. Has lived with assorted pets, including a rat, possums, and axolotls.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Scholastic Australia, P.O. Box 579, Gosford, New South Wales 2250, Australia. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer. Has worked as an advertising copywriter, book reviewer and film extra; Mitchell Library, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, research librarian; teacher of creative writing.

MEMBER: New South Wales Military Historical Society (vice president).

AWARDS, HONORS: Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year: Early Childhood shortlist, 2005, for Mr Noah and the Cats.

WRITINGS:

All in Together, illustrated by Patricia Mullins, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1974.

Tales of the Dreamtime, illustrated by Walter Cunningham, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1975.

Escape to Eaglehawk, Millennium Books (Newtown, New South Wales, Australia), 1991.

Eureka Gold, Millennium Books (Newtown, New South Wales, Australia), 1993.

Ned's Kang-U-Roo, illustrations by John Nicholson, Lothian Books (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

Princess Euphorbia (also see below), illustrated by Nan Bodsworth, Addison Wessley Longman (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1997, Sundance (Littleton, MA), 1999.

Molly O'Malley and the Magpies, illustrated by Margaret Power, Macmillan Educational (South Yarra, Victoria, Australia), 1998.

Plagues and Federation; The Diary of Kitty Barnes, the Rocks, Sydney, 1901, Scholastic Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

Walers Go to War, illustrated by Sue O'Loughlin, ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee (Aspley, Queensland, Australia), 2001.

Princess Euphorbia (play; based on Farrer's story), illustrated by Betina Ogden, Pearson Education (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2001.

Letters Back Home (play), illustrated by Penel Gamble, Pearson Education (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2002.

Fearsome Creatures, illustrated by Melissa Web, Pearson Education (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2002.

Lulubelle and Her Bones, illustrated by David Cox, Scholastic Press (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.

Mr Noah and the Cats, illustrated by Neil Curtis, Lothian (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Atlanta: The Fastest Runner in the World, Pearson Education (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Breakfast with Buddha, illustrated by Gaye Chapman, Scholastic Press (Gosford, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.

(With Mary Small) Feathered Soldiers, illustrated by Elizabeth Alger, ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee (Aspley, Queensland, Australia), 2005.

Big Feet, Very Sweet, illustrated by Neil Curtis, Lothian (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS: Australian writer Vashti Farrer writes for both children and older readers. In addition to short fiction for adults, she draws on her interest in Australian history in books such as Escape to Eaglehawk, Plagues and Federation; The Diary of Kitty Barnes, the Rocks, Sydney, 1901, and Feathered Soldiers, the last a tribute to the messenger pigeons that aided the Australian forces during World War II that was coauthored with Mary Small. A former librarian who also studied ancient history, English literature, and archaeology, Farrer is also an active member of the New South Wales Military Historical Society.

In Breakfast with Buddha Farrer presents young readers with a worthwhile lesson about patience, and she uses her favorite animal to teach it. When Sati the cat suddenly finds herself homeless after a giant flood, she makes her way to a nearby monastery, hoping to find shelter. While Sati is happily taken in, she suddenly realizes that her former position as top cat has ended. In the monastery she is only one among many adopted cats. With the guidance and patience of a caring monk, Sati learns to overcome her natural pride. Farrer's picture book, with its ties to Buddhism, provides readers with a "window into a culture rarely shown" and provides a positive "model of conflict resolution," according to Robin Morrow in Australian Bookseller and Publisher.

Felines are also the focus of Farrer's Mr Noah and the Cats, an updated rendition of the Biblical story about Noah and the Ark. In her interpretation of the traditional story, Farrer focuses on desert cats Urshanabi and Nishaba, who stow away on the Ark. When their mewling gives them away, the two felines become favored seafaring companions.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Australian Bookseller and Publisher, August, 2005, Robin Morrow, review of Breakfast with Buddha.

Magpies, September, 1997, review of Ned's Kang-U-Roo, p. 37; September, 2000, review of Plagues and Federation; The Diary of Kitty Barnes, the Rocks, Sydney, 1901, p. 34; September, 2003, review of Lulubelle and Her Bones, p. 34; September, 2005, Russ Merrin, review of Big Feet, Very Sweet, p. 31.

ONLINE

Aussie Reviews Online, http://www.aussiereviews.com/ (September 26, 2005), Sally Murphy, review of Lulubelle and Her Bones.

Lateral Learning Speakers' Agency Web site, http://www.laterallearning.com/ (September 26, 2005), "Vashti Farrer."

Vashti Farrer Home Page, http://www.vashtifarrer.com (December 19, 2005).