On an autumny Saturday morning I went to Storyline’s Margaret Mahy Day in Auckland.
Storylines works really hard for children in New Zealand. I took my girls to the Auckland Family Day for years and came away feeling inspired .. full of talk, stories and books.
Here are my highlights from Saturday (apart from catching up with all the writers, librarians, Storylines people and fans of children’s books!)
1. There is always an awards part and I was delighted to see Jenny Hessell, the author of the fabulous Grandma McGarvey books, got the Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book.
When Jenny made her ‘thank-you’ speech, she said she woke up with the first two lines of Grandma McGarvey in her head, and that it was like a gift. And then she went on the big Grandma McGarvey adventure. The books are all illustrated by Trevor Pye. See Scholastic page about news here.
2. Emma Vere-Jones was awarded the Joy Cowley Award for a Picture Book. The book will be published by Scholastic. Her book is called Stan and the Van.
I loved Emma’s speech. She thanked her parents for ‘giving me the gift of reading, it is truly a great gift.’ She also admired teachers that help children find books they are really passionate about.
3. There was the launch of last year’s Tom Fitzgibbon Award Winner, Juliet Jacka‘s book Night of the Perigee Moon. It is a novel about a 13 year old.
In her speech she said she gets easily distracted — but that when you get past the distraction you transform yourself into what you want to be. Here is Juliet with the fabulous Fleur Beale (lots of writers made special trips to be part of the occasion!).
4. Terrific news! Tessa Duder announced that thanks to the Walker Books Australia, The Tessa Duder Award for a YA novel would be run again. Entries have to be in by October. Here is Tessa with the effervescent Deborah Burnside.
5. Melinda Szymanik won two Notable Book Awards for books I have sung the praises of on Poetry Box. While You are Sleeping illustrated by Greg Straight (Duck Creek Press) and A Winter’s Day in 1939 (Scholastic). See my features here and here. Well deserved!
6. Finally David Elliot, winner of the year’s Margaret Mahy Medal and illustrator extraordinaire, gave The Margaret Mahy Lecture. It was such a treat to see the images of his drawings and to hear stories behind them. He told us that when The Moon and Farmer McPhee was finished, Margaret said: David and I have done our 50% of the work, now it’s your turn! I love the way as readers we get to bring a book into our own worlds as we read.
And a great fact: David used to be the Gatekeeper of a zoo in Britain which meant he lived in the Gatekeeper’s House. The house was in the wall and wasn’t much wider than the wall, and was TALL! And when everyone left for the day he got to roam and draw and imagine! Wow!
He told us how the zoo sparked his pen. How the lion keeper was large and gruff with a mane-like beard. He also said there were cages and fences for all the exotic wild animals that people came to see. But local British animals also snuck in – foxes, rats, badgers and they were all thieves!).
It was a wonderful talk and, if you get a chance, come and hear the talk of next year’s Medal winner. I have been to a few now and they have all been great. Here is David signing a book for Matt Katz (also an illustrator).