What a weekend!
I’m just back from four days in Canberra, where I attended the CBCA National Conference. The CBCA is a not for profit organisation dedicated to fostering a love for and awareness of literature for young Australians. And, in a time when bookstores are closing, funding for the arts (including literature) is being cut, libraries are under threat, and we hear lots of doom and gloom about the future of books, let me tell you that the future of Australian children’s books is looking bright, if this weekend is anything to by. The conference was full of authors, illustrators, publishers, librarians, teachers, academics and more, all passionate about putting good books into kids’ hands.
Highlights, for me:
- The above. Spending time with so many friends, old and new, with the common love of children’s books. I think I’ll blog some more about friends in the coming days.
- The launch of Roses are Blue, during morning tea on Sunday. The book isn’t due out till July 1 so there will be another launch closer to home a bit later on, but seeing the book in print, and sharing it in that environment was fabulous. It was especially wonderful to share the moment with my special friends (again, I’ll say more about this in another post), and to also share the moment with the delightful Choechoe Brereton, whose debut picture book A House for Donfinkle, was launched at the same time. We’d not met before, but I know we will meet many more times, and after a short time together I felt like I’d know her forever. Gorgeous gorgeous lady.
- Andy Griffiths‘ session where he discussed whether Humour is Really Necessary in Children’s Books. He had the audience laughing and nodding and laughing some more. His answer? In brief – not every book for children has to be funny (think A Bridge to Terabithia, for example) , but yes we need humorous children’s books, as well as humour within books which are not completely funny. I agree whole-heartedly.
- A session celebrating the wonderful work of The School Magazine.( In a wonderful piece of serendipity, I didn’t know my poem Rain was in the new issue of the magazine, so that was a lovely surprise, as was the fact it was illustrated by Matt Ottley. Then, in another lovely coincidence, my first email this morning was an acceptance for another poem for the magazine.) But back to the magazine itself. This wonderful set of publications is produced monthly, and has been around for almost a hundred news, sharing stories, poems, articles, puzzles and wonderful illustrations with school children in NSW and around Australia. Significantly, it is basically the only publication which purchases and publishes poetry for children, something which is very close to my heart, not just as a poet but as someone who adores poetry and wants to see it on every child’s reading menu.
- Anne Bell. She is covered also as one of the friends I refer to above, but she is a highlight all on her own. This wonderful wonderful lady is a poet and an artist whose work I’ve long admired, and who is a stalwart of the Dorothea MacKellar Poetry Competition, which I judged for three years, and which encourages children from around Australia to write poetry. She’s also very good for my ego, as she told anyone who’d listen (and probably some who didn’t) how wonderful she thinks I am for focussing on children’s poetry for my Doctoral studies. She even offered to come over and wash my dishes if it would help me get it done! I adore the energy, the dedication and the wonderful spirit of this lady, as well as her humour, and it is an absolute privilege to call her a friend.
I could go on. And on. But I’m still processing the wonders of the weekend. Luckily I have two years to plan for the next conference, in Sydney, 2016.