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THE ELTHAM FESTIVAL OF STORIES

August 12, 2017

Earlier this year, I was invited to form the Eltham Authors’ Collective, along with some incredibly talented writers, including Kate Mildenhall, Zana Fraillon, Penni Russon and Luke Harris. Together with the Eltham Bookshop, we created the inaugural Eltham Festival of Stories, a day jampacked with authors, illustrators, craft and stories. Lots and lots of stories.
The day began with a Welcome to Country by Lisa Kennedy (Welcome to Country), followed by some wonderful picture-book panels featuring Nicki Greenberg (Meerkat Choir), Tull Suwannakit (What Happens Next?) and Lili Wilkinson (Merry Everything).
In the afternoon, festival-goers heard from panels of writers of middle grade and YA fiction and had the opportunity to chat with teen members of the Inside A Dog Advisory Board. Artists appearing included Ailsa Wild (Squishy Taylor), Zana Fraillon (The Bone Sparrow), Kate Constable (Crow Country), Kelly Gardiner (1917), Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood & Simmone Howell (Take Three Girls), and Kate Mildenhall (Skylarking).

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BOOK WEEK

August 24, 2017

What a joy Book Week has been! It started with a fun crafty session to help dress my daughter as Thelma the Unicorn and finished with four fabulous sessions at Eltham College with the kindy kids, and two sessions with the talented grade 1 kids at Boronia Heights Primary School. We read Dance with Me and other stories about dancing and then settled in to make our own books. There were books on wild animals, fairies and unicorns, a magical mystery pop-up book, and the tale of the tall skinny man. So many clever ideas. I also gave a talk to 100 kids at Watsonia Heights Primary. Yikes!

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LOVE YOUR BOOKSHOP DAY

August 12, 2017

This year’s National Love Your Bookshop Day was extra special in my neck of the woods as it coincided with the 20th anniversary of our beloved Eltham Bookshop. Owner Meera Govil organised a wonderful celebration, complete with book signings, cupcakes, giveaways and, of course, books! I spent the morning signing copies of Dance with Me, and was very fortunate to meet the talented authors Mark Carthew (The Great Zoo Hullabaloo) and this year’s CBCA Eva Pownall award winner Gina Newton.

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DANCE WITH ME – ON THE ROAD

December 23, 2016

Dance with Me has just finished a whirlwind tour of the Nillumbik shire. We started with two fun-filled dance-themed storytime sessions at the Diamond Valley Library, to coincide with the Australian Ballet Company kids’ workshops.

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Then, there was music and craft aplenty in The Common’s popular storytime corner.

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And we finished the year with a bang as part of The Eltham Bookshop’s 12 Days to Christmas celebrations.

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THE SUGAR AND SPICE COLLECTION LAUNCH!

October 9, 2016

I’ve just landed back in Melbourne, but I’m still flying high after my trip to Newcastle for the launch of The Sugar and Spice Collection at the Wallsend District Library. It was such a thrill
to join the rest of the “team”, including illustrator Gwynneth Jones and authors Anouska Jones and Susan Whelan, for a truly magical day.

There were balloons and pom poms in hot pink and orange, cupcakes (even ballerina cookies, fairy bread and pony food), stories, craft activities and lots of laughs. Huge thanks to
EK BooksMacLean’s Booksellers, the Wallsend District Library, author Deborah Kelly (our divine MC), Luke Arms (who took the fabulous photos below) and to everyone involved for creating such a special launch.

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PUBLICATION DAY

October 1, 2016

It’s here!! Happy publication day Dance with Me. Illustrated by the oh-so talented Gwynneth Jones and published by EK Books, the book is sold individually and as part of a gorgeous boxed set, The Sugar and Spice Collection, which includes books by Anouska Jones and Susan Whelan, also illustrated by Gwynneth. And the launch of the collection is set for October 8 at the Wallsend District Library, Newcastle. Hope to see you all there, with bells and dancing shoes on.

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BIG NEWS!

June 23, 2016

I’m very excited to be working on a second picture book for EK Books with (insert drum roll) the lovely and amazing Penelope’s Nest. If you aren’t familiar with her work, have a peek at her website – it’s absolutely stunning! And here’s a little teaser as to what the book, due for release early in 2018, is about…

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CBCA CONFERENCE

Here’s my article for the CBCA Vic newsletter:

A snap shot of this year’s CBCA Conference, written by CBCA Vic member Penny Harrison

As a new picture book author, I was delighted to learn I’d won tickets to my first-ever Children’s Book Council of Australia conference, in Sydney, on May 20-21.  Thanks to the CBCA Victorian branch, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the heavenly world of children’s books for two days. Surrounded by more than 300 people, all passionate about children’s books, I enjoyed an awe-inspiring line-up of speakers and events exploring the theme READ: Myriad Possibilities.

Each speaker left goosebumps, beginning with Libby Gleeson’s opening at the Menzies Hotel about the impact of reading on neural pathways.  Picture-book partnerships was the session I had most looked forward to and the host of presenters did not disappoint with plenty of laughs and fabulous insights into their adventures and creative processes.
Some interesting and quirky facts from this session:
Susanne Gervay and Anna Pignataro are a comic sensation and, yes, there is such a colour as ‘spiritual red’ (you’ll find it in their latest picture book Elephants Have Wings).
Janeen Brian and Ann James have a wonderful way of complementing each other’s work and much of their book, I’m a Hungry Dinosaur, was written in a hotel room.
Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton are seasoned travel buddies, journeying to remote parts of Australia together to research their picture books Jandamarra and Boomerang and Bat.

Another stand-out speaker was author/illustrator Trace Balla whose concurrent session gave us a peek at her intricate artistic process, which involves an impressive amount of bushwalking and ‘taking photos’ with her pencil and sketchbook.

Margrete Lamond (Little Hare – Hardie Grant Egmont) was enthralling with her thought-provoking lecture on the nuances of art and the power of the artist/illustrator to evoke emotion in the reader.  And the softly spoken Jeannie Baker held a captive audience with a detailed discussion on her latest book, Circle, following the ancient pathways of the godwit birds.

The CBCA, celebrating its 70th birthday, treated us to a stunning musical feast paying homage to Julie Vivas and Margaret Wild. The illustrations of their beloved picture books were shown on screens while a singer and chamber orchestra performed the compositions of conductor/composer George Ellis in a breathtaking operatic recital of the words.

The conference dinner was also a wonderful chance to mingle with fellow delegates, a glorious mix of authors, illustrators, publishers, librarians and teachers from all over the country. Speaker James Valentine had us in fits of laughter with his self-deprecating wit as he regaled with tales of his journey from Ballarat school boy to radio announcer and author.

Sadly, an early flight meant I missed some literary legends on the Friday, including Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs and Graeme Base, but, overall, my experience of the conference highlighted the incredible dedication of the CBCA and its many members to engaging young readers with quality Australian literature. I felt honoured and enriched to be part of it, and came away with a head full of ideas and a suitcase laden with books.

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May 6, 2016

So, this happened just recently:

The CBCA Victoria member winner of a free registration to the CBCA National conference was Penny Harrison. Penny is the author of a picture book due out in October and says ‘I can still recall the thrill at seeing the first illustration for it. Everything I had dreamed was forgotten as the illustrator’s imagination and talent swept me away. I am fascinated by some of the inspiring partnerships in Australia and I am excited at the chance to learn more about the power and possibility of such collaborations at the Picture Book Partnerships session’. Congratulations Penny!

I’m so jazzed to be attending my first conference and so grateful to CBCA Victoria for the opportunity. Looking forward to all the stimulating sessions, the conference dinner and all those glorious picture books. Stay tuned for a full wrap-up of the conference here.

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