The suitcases have been packed, unpacked, packed and repacked, hauled around the country and onto many flights....such an adventurous year.
Since May I have ventured to Canberra to research a new book, spending many hours at the Australian War Memorial and quite a few at the National Library. I also attended the biannual National CBCA (Children's Book Council of Australia) Conference for 2014, also held in Canberra. A wonderful three days of mingling, drinking superb wines and nibbling delightful food treats, attending sessions by publishers, authors and illustrators, educators and the new Australian Children's Laureate, Jackie French. A wonderful time to catch up with old friends, meet new friends and also to meet those who are known on social media (ahh, Facebook, what would we do without you?!).
The highlight of the conference being the Conference Dinner, seated under the wings of a Lancaster Bomber to hear from Jackie French (we sat next to each other), a presentation by Morris Gleitzman and a wonderful performance inspired by his new book, Loyal Creatures.
A weekend filled with celebration of books, reading, book launches and also under a slight cloud of budget cuts and extreme measures threatening the literacy standards of our country amongst the myriad of many other things. We all stood united in our nations capital to discuss, stand together and stand firm for what we do as writers, librarians, illustrators and creators of quality literature for children.
The next journey gave me a week at home to unpack, re-organise, plan and re-pack for an amazing visit to Bundaberg and Gin Gin. I was invited to visit the school in the area for a five day tour and was treated by royalty. The weather was divine (they don't know what a frost is) and I even saw my first live cane toads. Cane fileds, pinapples, bananas, custard apples (I ate home grown ones!) were in abundance but not as abundant as my welcome to Queensland and the Bundaberg and surrounding area schools. Thank you all for inviting me and making my visit so wonderful.
A small reprieve to see if my family still recognised me then we packed again (took my family with me this time) to attend the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference in Sydney. This was my first attendance at this conference and it was AMAZING (sorry for shouting there, but it...just...was!!!) I will devote another blog just to that. I was so thankful to receive a grant to attend this conference (THANK YOU CAL) and it was mind blowing. It will not be my last.
Home again to ready for Book Week which was a quieter one this year with two schools visited, I am very grateful for it being quieter, the last few months have been wonderful but exhausting.
I was delighted to be invited back to my old school, Mowbray Heights Primary School in Launceston. My first visit in forty years. Gosh that makes me sound incredibly old. Of course the school has shrunk since then, the playground is much smaller and the toilet block which is still there is also tiny compared to my time there (or did I get bigger?) . In fact, the school population is much bigger than my days there in the 70's, much more multicultural as well which is just wonderful. I attended the school from Kindergarten, aged just five, until the end of grade two, aged almost 8. Even among the new buildings and facilities from the past few years, remnants of the school I remembered were still there and I even got to visit my old kinder room as well as my grade one and grade two rooms, which were still there. My first lesson on deciduous and evergreen trees in grade one was held on the oval, which is actually smaller now, but the tall poplar trees that I thought touched the sky and were used as a demonstration in our lesson still stand and yes, they really do touch the sky. Thank you Mowbray Heights for inviting me back, I plan to visit again but it won't be forty years before the next one.
So, happy writing, reading and learning. My suitcases are unpacked for the time being as I settle into work on two new picture books and also a new novel. It's good to be home.
All the best,