‘Koala’ was an Honour Book in this year’s CBCA Awards, in the Eve Pownell category. What a thrill to be in Brisbane with illustrator Julie Vivas for the Award announcements, along with Linsay Knight and Steve Spargo from Walker Books Aus. The CBCA, both state and national, work so hard to champion books and their creators. It was wonderful to join the Award celebration dinner with so many champions, and to hear speakers talk about influential books from their childhoods. Guest speaker, Lisa Shanahan, captivated us all with stories of shoes, eavesdropping and the wonders and dangers of the shopping mall.
There’s a balance to be maintained between ‘getting on with the job’ of making books and stopping to celebrate – it’s hard sometimes to work out where that balance should be. Some books find their place in the sun, while others take longer, or never find that spot at all. I have had two emails from parents recently looking for books that are no longer in print. Both reported that these books have become such household favourites that borrowing from the library is no longer enough. Fortunately in both cases, I had copies I could send.
Book Week is a loose term these days, as who can contain celebration of the book to a single week? Not me. There are only five school days in Book Week and it’s been a relief to see schools spreading the book love well beyond this pivotal week.
I am happy too that PNG has their own Book Week at the beginning of August, meaning that it is possible to eat cake and have it too. There may be footage around where I lead early years students in spirited renditions of ‘Baby Shark’ ‘Galumpf’ and other delights, but I couldn’t possibly confirm. In fact, it’s difficult not to sing and dance with students who are so happy to join in, and who pick up new songs so easily and generously share familiar ones. They are also creative writers. One exercise we gave the writing club as homework produced a very adept new story that incorporated traditional cultural, familiar fairy tale (fractured) and contemporary elements, all effortlessly intertwined. A writer to watch. I enjoyed a week of warmth in our ‘near-north neighbour, a country of such wonder. So grateful for the opportunity.
In addition, there have been school visits locally, regionally and interstate. I have also been editing drafts, trying to capture new ideas, drafting poems, taking photos, reviewing and working with a new local writing group at HB Libraries (waves at Rachael). And a tiny bit of quilting.
‘Koala’ is also short-listed for an Educational Excellence Award.