In Conversation, The Australian Children’s Laureates

Last night I had the pleasure in joining Australian Children’s Laureates Jackie French (current) and Alison Lester (2012-2013) in the beautiful Harper Collins offices in Sydney, as they discussed what it means to be the Australian Children’s Laureate.

To Alison, The Laureate is about reaching out to communities that have been left behind. She believes children are always bursting with potential and reading can be the thing that enables them to reach that potential. Alison said that being the Laureate was a privilege and a joy.
Children's Laureate Shelly with Bruce Whatley print
In the Laureate role Jackie has been reaching out to new audiences over the phone, using a speakerphone, as well as using video and radio. She has spoken to over 10,000 children in the last month alone.

Jackie believes Australian literature punches above it weight in quality and innovation. She spoke of ‘Magic books’ as books that turn children into readers. Jackie believes there is a ‘magic book’ out there for every child. It is about teaching children to become great book hunters.  She also spoke of the importance of parents continuing to read to children after the age of six. Once children can read for themselves it is easy to leave it to them. But she believes there is a huge amount of value in continuing to read together beyond six.

Of being the Laureate Jackie says, “It is an extraordinary experience and she is treasuring every single second.”

It was great to see such passion and commitment from both Jackie and Alison. It was also wonderful to walk away with a signed Bruce Whatley print at then end of the silent auction 🙂


An Amazing two weeks

On Monday 16th September I attended the Sydney SCBWI meeting. It was a fantastic evening and the passionate and successful children’s author Aleesah Darlison, spoke about the business of writing and marketing yourself as a children’s author. She shared her experience of how to secure book reviews, press opportunities and school visits, and talked about defining your own personal brand as an author.

On Wednesday 18th September I went along to the CBCA Northern Sydney Sub-branch AGM and Meeting. Here Zoe Bechara, Children’s Publicity Officer at Random House presented a talk on “A Publicist’s View.” Zoe was so engaging and gave a great insiders view into the role of the publicist in promoting and driving sales for children’s books.

And finally, on Tuesday 24th September the amazing Lisa Berryman, Associate Publisher – Children’s Books, Harper Collins came to our writers’ group to critique our work and provide an insight into the world of Children’s publishing for Harper Collins. Lisa gave great insight into how she selects books for her list and the most common problems she encounters in people’s writing. Needless to say I couldn’t sleep a wink last night, I think the whole group were buzzing after such an enjoyable and encouraging critique session from such a successful professional. And I was thrilled with her feedback on my story, Our Trip to the Zoo, which she declared I should submit, happy dance, but not to her, sad dance, but she gave some great suggestions of where to send it, happy dance, so that will be my mission over the next few weeks.

All in all it has been a fantastic and educational two weeks. I am pumped and ready to put all of this newly acquired knowledge into action.