Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Rajah Quilt

Yesterday, I had a cup of tea with Eva Abbinga, an artist who is creating a sculpture and quilts, inspired by the Rajah quilt.

She showed me some of the quilts that will form part of her installation and talked about stories that are 'written' into the quilts. The quilters, like those on the Rajah, had varying degrees of experience in quilt-making before agreeing to participate in this project. The fabric is hand-dyed and there are embroidery panels and both simple and complex quilting designs.

The panels were amazing individually but will be even more so when the quilt and project is complete.

The Rajah quilt is full of stories, and it's wonderful that it continues to gather stories.

Look out Eva's project, appearing in a number of places. You can see a little of Eva's work here

Friday, 26 June 2015

And now for your Friday meerkat.

Just because.

Lizzie in the classroom

A wonderful Yr4 teacher just sent me this. Thrilled I am.

Monday, 1 June 2015


It's been a big week!

Emu has been shortlisted for the Environment Award.

Then there was lunch with Walker and Black Dog peoples from both sides of book-making. I received my copies of the US version of 'Emu'. It has a dust jacket and looks very swish.


That evening I was lucky enough to attend the announcement of the Text Prize. There was a shortlist of four manuscripts and Kimberley Starr won with The Book of Whispers. Look forward to seeing this novel set in the 11C making its way into print.

Friday signalled the beginning of Reading Matters. So many wonderful sessions, so many people to catch up, and to meet. I actually had a conversation with someone who teaches at the school where I was a boarder (many moons ago). What are the odds? The conference opened with a panel of YA readers and finished with video 'Shelfies' from more young readers. Both groups were wonderfully articulate and thoughtful. Laurie Halse Anderson (US) was amazing, as was Sally Gardner (UK).  Priya Kuriyan shared her illustrations. Highlights for me included the discussion between Sean Williams and Jaclyn Moriarty about Science and Magic and the panel with Laurie Halse Anderson and Sally Gardner - very different but equally passionate. I also love the opportunity to mix with so many book people. I saw some sketches for an upcoming book (oh my giddy aunt they're gorgeous!), and realised why another manuscript is still not ready to be a book. There was a wonderful reception in the beautiful Queens Hall in the State Library and then a dinner at Supper In, Melbourne icon. I came away exhausted but full of ideas and inspiration.

Sunday included a celebration for son2's birthday. Always lovely to be surrounded by my boys and their girls.

This morning sees the official release of two new books. 'My Name is Lizzie Flynn' and 'Meet Weary Dunlop'. Asking me to choose a favourite is like asking me which of my children I love best. I hope they both find their way in the book world and that readers enjoy them.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Oh the places you'll go!

ABC Melbourne had an outdoor broadcast from Fed Sq today. Well, actually it was an inside outside broadcast but it was very different to being in a studio.

I was invited in to talk about 'Meet the Anzacs' and I don't mind saying I was a little nervous. But we went in early enough to see most of the Anzac Parade first and that drained away my nervousness almost completely. We watched the descendants of WWI veterans parade by, then those of progressively more recent conflicts. As each group moved past there were more medals worn the left (active service). Such faces. Both on servicemen and their families. I, perhaps unreasonably, hadn't expected to be so moved. So by the time I was in the 'studio' preparing to begin a conversation, I was ready to go.

We talked about how to introduce war to young people. We agreed that tinned meat is something for dogs and that war is unspeakably dreadful. We also agreed that it is important that young people have connections to their history. With luck, understanding the horror of war will one day stop war from happening. We can only hope.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Leading up to Anzac Day

On Tuesday, I drove from Melbourne to Avoca to visit their primary school to talk about 'Meet the Anzacs'. Over Tuesday and Wednesday, I presented to all grades and finished up with a presentation to adults at the local library.

As always, there are questions that make me laugh (Can I have some more of that hard tack biscuit? It's yummy!), some that make me want to cry and the one that stumps me. Sometimes I'm stumped because I don't know the answer, sometimes it's because of the depth of their understanding. And there's never, never enough time. The Grade 5 & 6 class wrote poignant poems about the 24 hours after learning their war is to begin. They also tested me on Army leadership structure. Luckily, I had notes and could answer their questions! Every class was prepared and keen to learn. A joy to be there.

In between, and overnight, I was reading Sally Murphy's new book '1915'.  '1915' begins where 'Meet the Anzacs' leaves off, overlapping its first few days with the last few in my book. I liked that her main character, Stan, had a twin sister, Elizabeth at home in Bunbury who was teaching his class while he was away. This allowed the reader to know the effect of his enlistment on those left behind. Stan is a thoughtful and level-headed bloke, who makes friends readily and who is prepared to do as he has been asked, despite the challenges that presents. I did have to stop reading on Wednesday morning, or I would have had red puffy eyes leading into my school sessions. I think I would have struggled to talk about Gallipoli at all. Sally uses a variety of techniques to include many viewpoints on war. There are those of soldiers, of his parents, his sister, of 'enemy aliens', and of the Turks. War correspondent, Charles Bean, has a word or two to say as well, and there is discussion about what will become 'The Anzac Book'. Stan is a teacher, a brother, a son, a poet and a young man trying to make sense of war while simultaneously trying to survive it. I was cheering hard for him and holding my breath. Congratulations Sally on a fascinating and moving novel for young readers.

To Anzac Day. Tomorrow, at about 10.40 am, I will be 'appearing' on ABC Melbourne, as part of the live broadcast from Fed Square in Melbourne with Jon Faine, to talk about 'Meet the Anzacs'.