Something wonderful has just happened!
We, in Australia now have two wonderful Children's Laureates; author/illustrator Alison Lester and author/storyteller Boori Monty Pryor and I was fortunate enough to be at the launch of this inaugural, momentous occasional. The launch was held in the beautiful historic house of Carclew overlooking Adelaide on the lovely, fine morning of Saturday 10 December.
We gathered in the original ballroom where Dyan Blacklock,
Publisher of Omnibus Books and Acting Chair of ACLA (Australian Children's Literature Alliance) welcomed everybody. She stood against a backdrop of banners featuring artwork by another member of ACLA, renowned artist and illustrator, and Director of Books Illustrated, Ann James. Magpies were the theme of Ann's Work; a wonderful Aussie icon.
Aunty Josie then gave the traditional Welcome to Country for the Kaurna people. Following that, Dyan introduced another respected and well-known Aussie icon, Noni Hazelhurst, as guest speaker.
Noni gave a speech of passion and drive, highlighting the need for positive change in the world of children and children's books and how we must all work harder for our children and their future. Having two Children's Laureates who will travel widely during their two year tenure, and raise the profile of children's literature and illustration both in the world of media and politics is a welcomed and timely event.
Noni's speech was deeply moving and certainly everyone in the room felt the intensity and sincerity of her words. ACLA will be putting her speech onto their website soon, so watch out for that!
After the Honorable Grace Portolesi formally announced the two Laureates, we were provided with a delicious morning tea. Outside, in the grounds of Carclew, we were entertained by the children from Kaurna Plains school who danced traditional dances and then Alison read her picture book, Noni the Pony (and jokingly thanked the key speaker for loaning her the name!) and Boori told stories - which featured didgeridoos, snot and flies!
I came away uplifted and joyous.
During these difficult times of publishing uncertainties, here was something of substance, support and hope.
Thank you to all involved with ACLA and best wishes to Alison and Boori!