Oh, happy me. I actually forgot the day the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards were to be announced (April 8, 2014). The reason was that I was consumed with my week-long involvement with a dance production for babies (more about that later!)
So, when one of friends left a text message of congratulations, I was gobsmacked. I think I startled the rest of the creative development team with my sudden yelp of delight!
I was thrilled to hear that That Boy, Jack, a novel set in the early copper mining days in South Australia was a Notable Award in the Younger Readers’ category and my picture book, illustrated by Ann James, I’m a Dirty Dinosaur received a Notable in the Early Childhood category.
An hour later, I heard more good news. I’m a Dirty Dinosaur had done another leap and was now Shortlisted!
As the saying goes, ‘I could have danced all night!’
Are you one who’s curious about BEGINNINGS? I am and so I thought I’d share the briefest whiff of the beginnings of both books.
I’m a Dirty Dinosaur began its life as a poem. It was one I’d written specifically for a program of poetry and rhymes, which I’d been taking to kindergartens and child-care centres. It was part of an innovative project designed by a children’s librarian. She felt many children in the area weren’t receiving much in the way of language and rhymes in their early years. The poem wasn’t perfect, but it certainly captured the children’s interest.
Then, when I was up in Queensland as part of the Ipswich Literature Festival, I approached my friend and colleague, Ann James, with the question, ‘Do you think this would make a good picture book?’
There’s more, of course – but that’s the first whiff!
The second book, That Boy, Jack, was really a labour of love, and that love was laboured over for 10 years before the book was finally accepted and published in June, 2013. Its beginning started with my many visits to the little historic Cornish mining towns of Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo in South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. When I discovered a photo of a group of picky-boys (young boys who worked laboriously above the mines, sorting copper into various grades) it struck a chord.
Some years later I wrote a short story and sent it to an educational publisher who was looking for Australian stories at the time. Unfortunately, it missed the boat. They’d finished the series.
There’s more to that too, of course – but that is also the first whiff!
Hope you enjoyed the beginnings!