Oxford is joint winner at the 2015 Environment Award for Children’s Literature

Each year, the Wilderness Society awards outstanding children’s books that promote a love of nature, and a sense of caring and responsibility for the environment. This year, Our Class Tiger, one of our Oxford Literacy Independent titles, was joint winner in the non-fiction category for the 2015 Environment Award for Children’s Literature. In celebration, we chat to author Aleesha Darlison about her inspiration and key messages behind the book.

9780195589726Non-fiction category
Our Class Tiger
Aleesah Darlison

What was the inspiration for Our Class Tiger, why feature a tiger?

I adore tigers. They’re beautiful, powerful, spell-binding creatures – and unfortunately they’re becoming increasingly rare. Although children and adults alike are fascinated by them, most people probably don’t know a lot about them. So when the publisher at Oxford University Press asked me to write a story that featured a tiger, I was very excited. Writing this book was the perfect way to teach children important facts about tigers and also to highlight ways we can help save them. Our Class Tiger is a narrative non-fiction story so it engages young readers with an entertaining story while at the same time imparting key information, making the book perfect for use in the classroom.

Do you work with endangered animals, why choose a topic like this?
I have a great interest in and passion for animals, their welfare and protection. And I love books and writing. Being an author, I get to combine these two great loves to create stories about all sorts of animals. Many of my books feature endangered animals and while I haven’t been lucky enough to work with them on a daily basis, I have presented educational sessions at zoos and wildlife parks to help highlight the plight of those animals in danger and what we can do to save them. Books like Our Class Tiger are important so young children can learn to understand, appreciate, love and protect endangered animals. They need our help to survive.

What was the key message you wanted to share with the children reading Our Class Tiger?
An important part of the book is trying to impress upon children how crucial it is to help save tigers and how small things they do can help these beautiful creatures in big ways. No matter how old you are or where you live, you can make a difference.

What is your favourite spread in the book?
That’s a very difficult question to answer! The designer and illustrator have done a superb job bringing the story of Our Class Tiger to life. Every spread is interesting and eye-catching and, of course, Berhaga, the tiger cub in the story, looks magnificent in the photos. If I had to choose one, it’s at the start (Page 4 and 5) where Rose Carter, the little girl from class 3M, introduces the story and tells everyone that her class is adopting a tiger. The picture of Rose is accompanied by a gorgeous photo of a tiger cub with his pink, curly tongue sticking out – that photo is used on the front cover too. It’s irresistible.

Do you have any more fun facts to share about our endangered friends?
A group of tigers is called a ‘streak’ or an ‘ambush’. Oh, and tigers can jump over five metres in length and swim up to six kilometres. That sure beats me hands – or should I say, paws – down.

Aleesah Darlison is a multi-published, award-winning Australian children’s author. She has written over twenty books for children including picture books, chapter books and novels/series. Aleesah has won numerous awards for her writing including an Australian Society of Authors (ASA) mentorship. Aleesah travels throughout Australia and overseas delivering talks and workshops to children and adults at preschools, schools, libraries, literary festivals and writers’ centres.

Spotlight on: Christine Fotis, Senior Production Controller

We’re very proud of our books here at Oxford Australia, and we’re even more proud of the hard work that goes into creating the perfect textbook or digital product. There are a lot of different people involved in getting a book from conception to consumer; today in Spotlight On we introduce you to Christine Fotis, a Senior Production Controller with our Secondary Education division.Christine

Name: Christine Fotis
Title: Senior Production Controller – Secondary
When did you start at Oxford: Oct 2011
Sum up your job in 3 words: The Go Between

What are your day-to-day tasks?
It really varies from day to day, basically I’m the organiser and the middle person – a project manager of sorts. I answer all queries from designers, the editorial team, printers, publishers, illustrators etc about anything to do with the production of the book; I look after schedules and costings; I process invoices and manage supplier compliance; I send pages back and forth between the in-house team and external suppliers; I commission and manage artwork; I send off book purchase orders to the printers; I organise the online extras such as worksheets, etc etc etc! Lots of different things that all go together to keep the book moving along from manuscript stage to stock arriving in the warehouse and all of the digital extras being up online when they need to be.

The word ‘controller’ is quite misleading in my job title, I’m like one of those performers with the multiple spinning plates on poles that has to keep them all going and not let them fall, moving back and forth between each one and keeping them spinning, rather than controlling anything!

I’m also a manager of two people in the production team and a member of the Green Committee.

What product or project are you most proud of working on?
Oxford Literacy Independent – the in-house team and our group of freelance designers have been amazing, we’ve refined the workflow and procedures, it’s really quite a smooth process for something that involves 100 plus books on a really tight schedule!

What is your favourite thing about working in publishing?
Holding the finished book in my two little hands, it’s pretty amazing to be able to hold the physical product after about a year’s worth of production! Also working with the designers and illustrators, seeing the amazing creations they come up with.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a role like yours?
There are lists, lots of lists!

What are you reading right now?
Leonard Cohen – Beautiful Losers

Films through the dessert lens


Sweets in films carry messages, bringing a key plot point, theme, or character into healthier view. Sweets elicit sympathy, expressing love, healing and togetherness, as well as heartbreak, sadness and sickness. Sugar is so facile in films that it can function as the stocky nectar that binds characters to each other or as a poison powder that dries relations to a crumble.

The following list of films employ sweets to tell their stories, showing the different ways sweets can be used to heighten the flavour of a films narrative fiction or feed the premise of a documentary.

  1. Forrest Gump
    When the affable and egoless title character utters, “My momma always said, ‘Life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get’”, he sets in motion the film’s key metaphor, as Forrest finds himself a part of the major American cultural events of the second half of the twentieth century, in contrast with the less charmed life of the girl he has loved since boyhood.
  2. Marie Antoinette
    Set against a modern soundtrack and decorated with Ladurée pastel macaroon pyramids to demonstrate Marie Antoinette’s love of all things stylish, pretty and decorative, this amped-up story of the legendary queen of Versailles is a lavish, decadent affair, regardless of whether she actually uttered the phrase “Let them eat cake.”
  3. Grease
    This kitschy teen dream of a musical about love between a good girl and a bad boy includes many misguided attempts at sophistication among the young characters, including drinking wine with Twinkies. “It says right here it is a dessert wine,” says Jan, the chubby compulsive eater in the Pink Ladies.
  4. Pulp Fiction
    This off-kilter crime treasure is so packed with sweet foods it almost induces a coma, including noteworthy scenes with Pop-Tarts, doughnuts, blueberry pie, and a “five-dollar shake” that eases the chill between Mia and Vince, eventually leading them to the dance floor together.
  5. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
    A musical fable about five children who win a chance to visit a magical candy factory, where, when faced with sweet temptations, the reveal their selfishness and suffer an array of confectionary punishments. The 2005 remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by director Tim Burton, decreases the sugar and ups the Grand Guignol.

Do you know any other sweet films? Let us know in the comments!

This extract is oxford-companion-to-sugar-and-sweetstaken from The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Celebrating sugar while acknowledging its complex history, this Companion is the definitive guide to one of humankind’s greatest sources of pleasure. Like kids in a candy shop, fans of sugar (and aren’t we all?) will enjoy perusing the wondrous variety to be found in this volume. ISBN 9780199313396 | AU$78.95

Winter warmers: Doughnuts

Popular around the world, doughnuts are made from balls or rings of fried dough. They can be dusted with cinnamon and sugar, covered with icing, or filled with jam, cream or custard.

Makes: 15
Prep time: 95 minutes
Cook time: 10 – 15 minutes
Special equipment: small saucepan or microwave, sieve, deep-frying pan, rolling pin, 3cm and 7cm cookie cutters (or 6cm double ring cookie cutter), baking tray, slotted spoon
Nutrition: high in carbohydrate and saturated fat
Skills: sifting, rubbing in, kneading, rolling out, deep frying


1 ¾ teaspoons (9g) dried yeast
2 tablespoons (40g) castor sugar
1/3 cup (95ml) milk
1 ½ cups (225g) flour
¼ teaspoon lemon rind
1 ½ tablespoons (30g) butter
1 egg
5 cups (1L) oil
Cinnamon and caster sugar to serve  


  1. Place yeast and 2 teaspoons (10g) caster sugar in a bowl.
  2. Warm milk in small saucepan or microwave until lukewarm.
  3. Stir milk into yeast mixture to form a smooth paste. Set aside for 10 minutes, or until frothy.
  4. Sift flour into large mixing bowl. Add remaining 1 ½ tablespoons (30g) sugar and finely grated lemon rind.
  5. Rub butter into dry ingredients.
  6. Beat egg lightly in another small bowl. Add egg and yeast mixture to dry ingredients and mix well with a spoon or your hands to form soft dough.
  7. Place dough in a clean bowl, cover with oiled cling wrap, and set aside in a warm place to prove for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  8. When mixture has nearly doubled, start to warm oil for deep frying. It should be 190°C.
  9. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly to expel air. Roll out to 1cm thick. Cut out doughnuts with a 7cm cutter and a 3 cm cutter for the hole, or use a 6cm double ring cookie cutter.
  10. Place doughnuts on a lightly floured tray and allow to rise in a warm place for 10 minutes.
  11. Fry doughnuts in batches of 3 for about 1 minute each side until golden brown. Lift doughnuts out of the oil carefully with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper.
  12. To serve, roll doughnuts in cinnamon and sugar while hot and serve immediately.

This recipe is taken from Oxford’s The Food Book.

Oxford Word of the Month – July: Hoon operation

hoon-operationHoon operation (also anti-hoon operation, hooning operation) – noun: a police campaign targeting dangerous drivers.

A 2015 media release by the Queensland Police Service stated:

Police are investigating after a vehicle allegedly evaded them and later crashed at Yatala following a targeted hoon operation late last night. (Australian Government News, 12 April)

The term hoon operation, a targeted police campaign against hoon drivers, has recently developed in Australian English, often with the variants anti-hoon operation or hooning operation. Anti-hoon operation was first recorded in 2002, hoon operation in 2003, and hooning operation in 2009.

The terms seem to be chiefly used in Queensland, suggesting the Queensland police use them to describe their campaigns against dangerous drivers:

In conjunction with the [school holiday] campaign Rockhampton police staged a hooning operation last Thursday night. (Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, 15 April 2008)

Seven cars have been impounded after their drivers were allegedly drag-racing and doing burnouts on busy main roads. The vehicles were seized for 48 hours when traffic police patrolled the city in unmarked cars as part of an anti-hoon operation codenamed Brighton on Thursday night. (Cairns Post, 6 December 2008)

More recent evidence suggests such campaigns are also being held elsewhere:

A Bullsbrook man (19) had his car seized and was one of 11 people charged in a police anti-hoon operation in Perth’s northern suburbs last week. (Perth Advocate, 14 March 2012)

The term derives from hoon as a noun meaning ‘a young hooligan, especially one who drives a car dangerously or at reckless speed’, and as a verb meaning ‘to drive or ride recklessly, especially to show off’; both were first recorded in 1988. The word has a longer history in Australian English with several senses developing in the twentieth century. The first sense to develop was that of ‘a lout, an exhibitionist’, first recorded in 1938 and from which the car-driving sense likely has evolved. The other sense current in twentieth-century Australian English was ‘a pimp’, first recorded in 1950.

Hoon has been a productive word in Australian English: hoondom and hoonery refer to hoon-like behaviour, which can also be described as hoonish; and a hoon’s car is sometimes referred to as a hoonmobile. Aside from hoon operations as a means to curtail dangerous driving, some States have introduced hoon laws (also anti-hoon laws).

A number of terms relating to hoon will be included in the second edition of the Australian National Dictionary.