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Thank you to all the parents, teachers, librarians and my colleagues, who are passionate about getting children’s books into children’s hands and especially for all the young readers who voted for A is for Australia.

For creators, recognition for our books is a rare gift. Recognition is important. Receiving the Crystal Kite Award and the Hoffman Award are extra, extra special because one is voted by one’s peers and the other by children.

The Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given annual award to recognize books from the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) regional divisions around the world. I share this year’s award for Australia and New Zealand with the extremely talented, Peter Carnavas and his book, Blue Whale Blues.

The Hoffman Award is presented to the highest ranked West Australian author voted by young readers’ organised by WAYRBA (West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award). Young readers were invited to nominate books that they’ve read and enjoyed.

Receiving awards gives creators the inspiration to keep going and the confidence to do what we love.  It is a huge honour which I humbly accept with great pride.IMG_1468

Children’s literature in India is blossoming. Parents and teachers are starting to appreciate the importance of books and reading for pleasure in their children’s lives. Festivals like Bookaroo are a testament to this growing understanding. Bookaroo’s mission is to bring children and books together in a borderless world and we need to celebrate the passionate founders: Jo Williams, Swati Roy and Venkatesh! It’s the first children’s literature festival held in India and has now expanded to over four cities – Delhi, Srinagar, Pune and Goa!   I was incredibly lucky to participate at my second Bookaroo Festival, this time held in Pune. 

The main festival is preceded by Bookaroo in the City, an outreach programme where authors/illustrators were taken into local schools. Visiting local schools is always a highlight for me, but going to a NGO (non-government school) and working with underprivileged kids is like mainlining to the core of my heart.

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There is nothing in the entire world more gratifying then to give time and support to these children. Getting an education in India is not taken for granted, especially for girls. When you see their eagerness to learn and how precious the opportunity to go to school is to each and every child from the earliest age, there is nowhere in world you’d rather be. To find out more, please check out the Peepal Foundation.

Then it was onto the main Festival where I conducted five sessions over two days.  On the Doodle Wall, the children drew themselves and pasted their portraits onto a gigantic train. Within minutes the train was full of happy faces, ready to chug off on travels through India.

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It’s easy to feel like a celebrity with so many journalists keen to interview authors and illustrators for the numerous daily print newspapers. The best rock star moment (and 15 minutes of fame) was when we needed the help of security to make our way through a crowd of eager children wanting autographs. Bring it on!

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My participation at the Bookaroo Pune Festival was made possible by a Market Development Grant through the Australia Council for the Arts.

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.