Happy Children's Book Week, everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating books and reading with your friends, families and teachers. Yet this is also a good time to remember the children around the world who don't have books, or schools, or libraries.
As I said when Flight was awarded Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year, I like to think this prize is a vote of support for the millions of refugees who, like the characters in this story, are sacrificing everything they have in the hope of finding a safe home.
If you would like to see my Thank You speech at the CBCA Awards ceremony, click on the link to the video
Natasha Mitchell and I revisited our discussion of the picture book Flight on ABC Radio’s ‘Life Matters’ this morning. Here is the link:
When I originally wrote the text of the picture book Flight, I had no idea how timely its story about the journey of a family of refugees would prove to be. In Conversation with Natasha Mitchell from ABC Radio’s ‘Life Matters’, I recently discussed the background for this contemporary fable at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney. Thanks to everyone who came along and made this a great evening, and to Professor Robyn Ewing for organising the event.
At last week's Professional Learning workshop at Sydney University, we made coolamons to reflect our own ngurra (the place we call home), and filled them with bush plants. We also made Circle Stories, a process of mapping our identity and belonging that comes out of the Papunya Model of Education.
I used to think that the only thing my father ever taught me was how to fold a map. Recently, however, I have been discovering the legacy of a fascinating story that he inadvertently bequeathed me through his work in post-war Germany. I spoke about this recently with Michael Cathcart, on ABC Radio’s Books and Arts Daily.
I really enjoyed talking recently with Tom Tilley from Radio Triple J about the writing of my first book, Five Times Dizzy. Although it was original published over thirty years ago, the story’s Greek connection seems particularly timely at the moment. The interview (part of the Copyright Agency’s Reading Australia project) is live on the ABC Splash website. You can access it here: http://splash.abc.net.au/home#!/digibook/1909272/interviews-with-10-australian-authors
I recently travelled to Germany to attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belsen concentration camp. My multi-media essay Belsen: Mapping the Memories, electronically published by the Griffith Review, opens a series of windows — personal and political, past and present — into the place and its history.
Read it here: https://griffithreview.atavist.com/belsen
I have recently been researching material in the archives of the Belsen Memorial, Germany, and have been invited to attend the commemorative events that will be held on 26 April to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen.
My connection with Belsen history is through my father, a British doctor, who while working for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association became Medical Superintendent of the hospital at the Belsen Displaced Persons camp in September 1945. This camp was housed in a huge German army ‘kaserne’ (barracks) a couple of kilometres from the site of the concentration camp. Since the departure of the DPs in 1950 it has been a British army base.
Visiting the site of both the concentration camp and the Displaced Persons camp a few months ago, I was intrigued by the multi-layered story of this place. With the British Army due to leave Höhne Base in the middle of this year, this milestone coincides with the 70th anniversary of the events that brought the British to Belsen.
I am looking forward to meeting teachers at the Professional Learning Day at Sydney University on Friday 13 March, and to visiting the new Deakin Library in the Waterfront at Geelong on Tuesday 24 March. See Events page for details.
August 27th, 2015
I will be visiting St Mel's Catholic Primary School in Campsie during Bookweek.
Good to meet so many new colleagues at the ALEA/AATE Conference, especially those who came to my Circle Story Workshop. A great way to make connections, and so good to hear each others' stories! Hope you are continuing to share your stories with your families, friends and students. Thanks to Robyn Ewing and Helen Chatto for inviting me to the conference, and to all the volunteers who worked so hard to organise the event.
Thank you to everyone who came to the "In Conversation" last week, especially to Caroline Jones who asked me such interesting questions about my new book, AUSTRALIANS ALL. Thank you, too, to the Faculty of Education and Social Work in the University of Sydney, which organised the event, and especially to our host, Professor Robyn Ewing.
It was fascinating for me to see how the audience responded to the power of story — unadorned by technology or visual aides. It was a great reminder that human beings love to listen to the spoken word.
I was also very interested in the question posed by a member of the audience, as to how the current generation of Australian children will develop a sense of belonging to country and even identity as Australians, given that so few urban kids any longer have any connection with bushland.
In a recent schools tour of the Murrimbidgee Irrigation Area, it was great to meet students, teachers and librarians at primary and secondary schools in Leeton, Griffith, Narranderah and Colleanbilly. Thanks, everyone, for making me feel so welcome.
Congratulations to all the writers, illustrators and publishers who have been successful in this year's Children's Book Council of Australia Awards. I am currently very busy going to schools for Children's Book Week... It is great to meet so many enthusiastic young readers as well as their dedicated teachers and teacher-librarians.