Tasmania is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Luckily, I get to visit the island state and conduct author visits to young students. My time at the Bonorong “school” near Hobart had to be one of the best author visits ever! All the students were named Joe and they acted like young ones do everywhere – cheeky. They absolutely loved hearing and reading about kangaroos from A is for Australia. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary specialises in the caring for and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured wildlife. It’s a unique chance to get up front and personal with some of Australia’s most precious and endangered wildlife. Worth a visit the next time you’re in the vicinity. Here’s some of my favourite photos with the students.
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Author Mark Greenwood and illustrator Frane Lessac answer our five questions (plus one) about their lives, careers and their book Midnight: A True Story of Loyalty in World War I.

About the book:
Midnight
A True Story of Loyalty in World War I
author: Mark Greenwood
illustrator: Frané Lessac
http://candlewick.com/cat.asp?browse=.

First Thanksgiving

Mark:
Frané and I have celebrated Thanksgiving in the US, the UK, the Caribbean and many other countries. No matter where we are in the world, we always manage to gather friends and family to share a special day of celebration.

This year our Thanksgiving will be in Australia. So what does an Australian Thanksgiving mean? Our maritime history is full of stories of the Dutch and Portuguese, French and English exploration. These days we have many refugees who embark on treacherous journeys by boat across the vast ocean. Stories like The Mayflower can help us all recognise that although times may change, universal needs – hope, respect, love, freedom and security – remain unchanged.

On September 6, 1620, one hundred and two brave souls began a long, dangerous journey on the Mayflower. Seeking a better life, the Pilgrims crossed thousands on miles of ocean to reach a mysterious destination – the new world we call America.

Thanksgiving is a lesson from history about a moment when people from different races and backgrounds forgot what separated them and rejoiced in what united them. It was about what defines us as humans – a sense of family and community, caring, sharing and a vision of a world where all live in peace and harmony.

It is universal celebration. So, no matter where you are in the world…Happy Thanksgiving.

Pilgrims Leaving England

Frané:
Thanksgiving has always been my favourite day of the year. As a child, I had trouble sleeping the night before. I couldn’t wait to see all my cousins.

My childhood Thanksgivings were spent at Norman Cousin’s county house in Connecticut. This beautiful man continues to be a great inspiration in my life. Quotes by Norman Cousins. Our extended family was so large that it required four turkeys to feed everyone. Sometimes Thanksgiving was comparable to a United Nations meeting. Norman would bring home visiting dignitaries. People from many different cultures from around the world would share the celebration with our family. I remember the excitement when U Thant, Burmese diplomat and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, spent one Thanksgiving with us.

One of my fondest Thanksgiving memories is of a dozen cousins riding through the autumn forest along a dirt track on the roof, hood and bumper of a car – all of us hanging on for dear life. A cousin old enough to reach the car pedals drove with everyone singing and laughing.

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Thanksgiving unites family and friends in a way no other holiday does….so we give thanks to Samoset, Squanto, Massasoit and the Wampanoag people – and to those brave Pilgrims, who set sail almost 400 years ago to seek a better life in their little ship, the Mayflower.

TEACHER’S NOTES click here.

THE MAYFLOWER BOOK TRAILER

Imagine a 16th story library. Fill it with publishers, educators, agents, parents, librarians, authors and illustrators from all over the world. All gathered to celebrate, learn and share knowledge at the most dynamic and fastest growing literary festivals – the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC).

I was honoured to be one of six selected delegates from West Australia to present at this year’s Festival. There were many wonderful moments…

…being on a panel moderated by children’s book historian, Leonard S. Marcus. If you haven’t seen his landmark exhibition: The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter at The New York Public Library – move it up to #1 on your bucket list as it ends in September.


The panel was shared with Junko YokotaDirector of the Center for Teaching through Children’s Books. Coincidentally, she is a coauthor of four college textbooks that I’ve illustrated: Children’s Books in Children’s Hands. Even though Junko and I have worked together for the past twenty years, we only met in person recently.To round up our panel was Mariko Takagi, an author and book designer extraordinaire.


Another best bit was conducting an all day masterclass alongside the charming Spanish illustrator, Javier Zabala. We hope all attendees went away with new skills and loads of inspiration. I look forward to seeing your illustrative published work in the near future.


 

I wish to thank writingWA for their support in making this opportunity possible. Thank you to the WA State Government through Department of Culture and the Art for their recognition of important cultural exchanges such as the AFCC. And of course thank you to the National Book Development Council of Singapore for the initiative of bringing Asian content to the world’s children.