us in the US

November 7th, 2014 | Category: News

Before the nation’s capital city woke up, we took a jetlag stroll.

Over two weeks, we conducted nine extraordinary events in Washington D.C., New York & Massachusetts.…from book festivals, presenting to Children’s Book Guild and SCBWI peers, conducting hands-on workshops, launching a book and meetings with publishers. Bonus was this all took place during my most favorite time of year – Autumn!

The tour was kick-started with an invitation to present our new book, The MayflowerHoliday House Books at the renowned Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington D.C. To speak at this celebrated bookstore was a great honour. From this one invitation,  all other events rolled into fruition.







The following day we were guest speakers at the Children’s Book Guild’s luncheon held at Busboys and Poets. Attended by many members of the Guild, including established authors, illustrators and specialists in children’s literature, such as professors of children’s literature, librarians and reviewers, bookstore folk and some familiar faces:

Dr. Ernie Bond, Dr. Patty Dean, and Marcella Terrusi all the way from Bologna…




…and the one and only, Laura Krauss Melmed, fabulous wordsmith for the following books created together:

Capital! Washington D.C. from A-Z

New York, New York: The Big Apple A-Z,



and Heart of Texas: A Lone Star ABC.

The highlight of our tour was An Open Book Foundation’s school visit to Savoy Elementary School. An Open Book Foundation’s mission is to promote literacy among disadvantaged children and teens in the greater Washington, D.C. area by giving books to students and providing access to authors and illustrators – and what a unanimously positive experience it is for all involved! We conducted a ‘meet the author and Illustrator’ presentation followed by an art activity. At the conclusion of each presentation An Open Book Foundation gave each student a copy of our book – Drummer Boy of John JohnLee & Low Books – to take home,

signed and personalized by the people who actually wrote and illustrated it. The students were so excited to leave each our sessions clutching their very own book. An Open Book program is as uplifting and rewarding for authors and illustrators as it is for students. We will never forget the look of joy on the faces of the students, who couldn’t wait to take their new books home and share the experience with their families. Comments by students: You mean we get to keep the book? We don’t have to bring it back?” andI can keep this book for my whole life. Even when I grow up?

For a complete set of photos click here!

Off to New York to participate in the children’s program at one of America’s premier book festivals – the Brooklyn Book Festival!

The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City, presenting an array of national and international literary stars and emerging authors. We loved catching up with legendary Australian author Libby Gleeson and spent the day checking out the many Indie publishers’ booths together…

…and always fun to catch up with the local tribe of the New York City Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators represented in true style at the Festival.

While in NY, we met up with the lovely Louise May, Lee and Low Books editor of Drummer Boy of John John & the brilliant Grace Maccarone, Holiday House Books editor on The Mayflower.







We then zigzagged across the state of Massachusetts for a series of events, where the autumn colors were truly starting to burst and home to some serious red barns.

First was the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators New England chapter meeting. We shared a presentation about cross cultural books & our experiences of creating books and bookmaking workshops in Australian indigenous communities, inspiring student’s natural curiosity about reading and writing in remote regions where story is more than words.

The old streets of Boston led us to visit the “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture in the Public Garden. Robert McCloskey’s other classic book, “Blueberries for Sal”, was my all time childhood favorite.

Boston is the home of Candlewick Press. In preparation of the April US release of Midnight we shared the story behind the story to a packed roomful of keen sales, marketing and editorial staff.

Crossing over to western Massachusetts for our story time and art activity at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst.

But not before an evening playtime with good old friends from the little Caribbean island of Montserrat who live nearby in Northampton! Photo taken by amazing photographer & children’s book author, Shelly Rotner.

The Eric Carle Museum was created to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. It is the only museum of its kind in the US. The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world. The Museum’s has a collection of more than 10,000 picture book illustrations, three art galleries, an art studio, a theatre, picture book libraries, and educational programs. It was a huge honour to be invited to conduct a presentations there for the second time.



Finally, and absolutely fabulous, was an invitation to present at the Plimoth Plantation Museum in Plymouth Massachusetts.

The Plimoth Plantation offers powerful personal encounters with living history built on thorough research about the Wampanoag People and the Colonial English community in the 1600s. Plymouth is also home to the Mayflower II replica.

Returning to the site of our original research which began three years ago, was full circle for us.


Our book, The Mayflower, tells the story of the Pilgrim’s journey to New England. It’s been getting some pretty awesome reviews:
Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Children’s Book Council
Booklist – to be posted October 15th.

And then, after nine extraordinary events in three states, it was our own long voyage home.

THANK YOU to West Australia’s Department Culture and the Arts for their contribution of my airfare, Artflight.

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