This last week I attended the Children’s Book Council Australia Annual Conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
It began on Thursday 17th May in the evening with a welcome reception and an introduction to Alison Lester, one of the two Australian Children’s Laureates. The other is Boori Monty Pryor who unfortunately could not attend.
Following this was the launch of Rosanne Hawke’s new novel “Mountain Wolf“. This novel is set in Pakistan after the devastating earthquake but is more suitable for teenage readers than primary school students.
On Saturday morning the conference was officially opened by Phil Cummings, a very well kept secret,with some poetry readings and a song sung by Phil. The Music Festival Choir then sang two of the songs commissioned for this year’s performance, based on “Danny Allen Was Here” and written by John Schumann. This was an outstanding event and signs of great things to follow over the next two days.
Every minute of the days was taken up with either presentations or book launches and so it was a huge head spin but very enjoyable. Highlights on Day 1 for me were: listening to the work Alison Lester has been doing in remote Aboriginal schools around Australia, hearing the gorgeous Oliver Jeffers speak…at 100km/hr! and the “Humour in Teen Fiction” panel with the boys! Chaired by Phil Cummings and the panel of 3 funny men: Michael Gerard Bauer, Don Henderson and Doug MacLeod.
Day 2, Saturday morning, began with a 7:00am start. This was a breakfast where SA authors were seated with the attendees for a round table breakfast and chat. This was really enjoyable and I met a great group of women, all working in different areas of education and writing, and made some great new contacts. Also signed a couple of books which people had bought! Thanks to the book shop, “Pages and More” who had found some copies of Glass Tears to sell.
Other highlights of Day 2 were listening to Eoin Colfer’s wonderful Irish accent as he wooed the audience with his hilarious stories of living with his two teenage sons. Mem Fox had some thought provoking opinions about school “readers” which I have to agree with.
Isobelle Carmody was gorgeous to look at as well as to listen to as she told us about her fantasy writing. Later in the day she said, “Look at me. I’m all dressed to go to Narnia. All I have to do is find the door.”
Davide Cali’s presentation was sensational. The Italian born, living in France (I think) writer apologised for his poor English. I couldn’t fault it! And what an accent. I could listen to it all day. His books are so…o…o.. original and absolutely outstanding. I bought “Enemy” for our school library.
“The Future of Books ” panel was thought provoking as two publishers and a local book seller spoke of how they will need to change direction and become inventive to stay afloat.
Over the days of the conference I once again collected autographs on a long scroll, which I had made up earlier, and so will take it back to school to be laminated and displayed.
A truly brilliant conference and I am really looking forward to the 2014 conference which is to be held in Canberra. Maybe I will have another book published by then.Not for want of trying. Fingers crossed!