I love my job!

I was out of town for a couple of days last week and came home to some lovely mail. These postcards were from children who attended the Speech Pathology Awards presentation.

These children sat patiently through the awards ceremony, then waited some more for the official photographer.

Thank you to the children and to the teachers who support and guide them.

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Some more pics from SCBWI

 Corinne sharing the sugar-hit

Corinne and I easing our way out of frame

Apparently I talk with my hands … a lot … hence  this action-hands shot!

We’ve had a grand old time, and Corinne has become a very good friend. Wonder what we’ll do next?

A final SCBWI adventure

On Saturday, Corinne King and I presented at our final SCBWI meeting in our respective roles as ARA (Assistant Regional Adviser) and helper. We’ve been doing this for eight years and we’ve handed over to the ‘new guard’.

Corinne talked about Serendipity – those delightful coincidences that guide our careers. My topic was ‘Highs and Lows’, and I talked about the fluctuating emotions that are so integral to working as a writer.

Our guest speaker was Kate O’Donnell, a wearer of multiple hats, all of them linked to her love of words and books. Was fabulous to hear her journey to here.

We ended with a handover. From here on, Caz Goodwin is our ARA in Victoria. She will be assisted by Chris Bell, Diana Lawrenson, Marjory Gardner and Betty Sargeant.
It’s been both a long and a short time for Corinne and I. We’ve been privileged to meet some amazing people in our roles, and have brought many of them to present at our meetings. We have seen connections made and projects generated. Writing can be a lonely business, and our aim was always to share knowledge and friendship.
We are both looking forward to attending the next meeting and sitting in the audience!

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Mr Pip and Bougainville

Last night, we, and about 140 others sat in a cinema in Carlton and watched ‘Mr Pip‘. ‘Mr Pip’ is based on a book by New Zealander Lloyd Jones about how literature can take you away from the world you live in, to a world only you can know and see.

It’s not a new notion, the idea that each of us experiences what we read differently because of what we bring to it. This showing of ‘Mr Pip’ was organised to support a new library that has been constructed in Bougainville, a small island about 1000 km north east of the Papua New Guinea mainland.

Every one in the audience had a connection with Bougainville. For some it was just that they were jollied there by charismatic organiser, Maggie. For most, though, it was because they had lived and/or worked there at some stage. I spent some of my childhood there and have powerful memories of that time – the people, the landscape, the humidity.  There were Bougainvilleans who had fled or been airlifted off when the fighting made it impossible to stay. There were expatriate workers who worked in the mine that sparked the war. There was a member of the peacekeeping force who had served there during the civil war.

At least some of us were there because we wanted to revisit a beautiful, challenging place that stayed with us long after we’d left. For others, there was a wish to open the conversation about who was to blame for all the death and heartache. Yet others wanted to talk about how to move forward and construct a meaningful future for a people who have lost so much.

I looked up a few reviews this morning, and many of them struggle to understand what the film is about. Partially I guess, that reflects how little known Bougainville’s challenges are in the wider community. Personally, I loved it. As someone who swam those beaches and rivers, I loved revisiting a childhood home. As a writer, I loved seeing what Matilda’s imagination made of the words of Dickens. It was also important, if not always comfortable, to again see what war does to people – passively and actively.

I hope that ‘Mr Pip’ is seen by many people and that it opens conversations. About the power of novels and films. About beautiful places and people. About war. About those forced to flee their homes and travel overseas to find new ones. About governments and those they govern.

File:Papua New Guinea location map.svg

Bougainville is the almost violin-shaped island to the right in the map above.

Mister PipThis is the novel.


… and the winners are …
2013 Award WinnersCongratulations to all the winners! The YABBA Awards are children’s choice book awards for Victoria. Other states have their own versions – WAYBRA, KOALA (go on, work out what the acronym spells) and more. 

Local and interstate authors are invited to attend, and share the fun of meeting students from a wide variety of schools. This year, we gathered at Haileybury in Brighton. Students offered a dramatisation from Andy Griffiths’ Just Macbeth and an interactive song and body percussion performance. I can confirm that the students were much more skilled at the percussion than the assembled authors and illustrators seemed to be.

This year, there was an added poignancy to the event, the first since the death of President and all around larger-than-life character, Graham Davey.

And after the formalities of the Awards, and morning tea, authors and illustrators sat around the auditorium while students gathered signatures and chatted.

Get the Inside Story

Today featured the inaugural SCBWI Inside Story event at The Little Bookroom

Fourteen authors and illustrators had three minutes each to talk about the story behind the story of a recent book.

What a treat to discover how these books began!

So many talented people in one place – one fabulous bookshop

Goldie Alexander and ‘eSide’

Krista Bell’s ‘Burning the Bails’ 

 Sherryl Clark and her verse novel, ‘Runaways’

Meredith Costain’s poetic ‘My First Day at School’

Hazel Edwards didn’t bring her new Order of Australia ribbon, but promised to bring it next time!

Nicky Johnston’s sharing ‘Actually, I Can’

How’s the engineering in this! Marjory Gardner ‘unpacks’ her Jeep book

Serena Geddes shows some artwork from Lulu Bell chapter books

Simon Mitchell and his trio of  ‘sophisticated’ fart books

Yours truly trying to demonstrate how I combined fact and fiction in ‘Big Red Kangaroo’

Renee Treml and the curlews that kept her studio messy …

Coral Vass

Annie White and her first author/illustrated book

Corinne’s turn – how a sparrow became an elephant …

Our enthusiastic, organised and very tall Leesa Lambert, owner of The Little Bookroom

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