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2019 Night of our Stars

The third CBCA VIC Branch Night of Our Stars event took place on Tuesday 12th November. Once again this event was held in partnership again with Lamont Books and generously supported by Allen & Unwin, Penguin Random House Australia, Scribe and Affirm Press.

Geraldine Woolnough (CBCA VIC Branch Secretary) shared with us a moving acknowledgement to country. It was a beautiful video presented by the children of Watsonia Pre-school, which brought goosebumps to attendees.

This year we celebrated with eight authors and illustrators sharing their recently published books. It was wonderful to see these creators talking about their work to a range of professionals in the south eastern children’s literature community. We played a game called First Lines where attendees had to guess who wrote a book. It was so much fun to see us all guessing the titles of new and upcoming books.

Session 1 was all about the Early Childhood & Picture Book stars. Davina Bell was sadly unwell, so I had the pleasure of sharing her award-winning picture books All the Ways To Be Smart, Under the Love Umbrella, and The Underwater Fancy-dress Parade. It was very special to have a raffle where the Lemonade Jones stories were won by three guests.

Katrina Lehman was our next guest. She is lucky enough to spend her days crafting words as a writer and editor, across various platforms, and helping other writers unleash their inner magic. Katrina and Sophie Beer created Wren, a beautiful story about how one family coped with the arrival of a new and very loud baby. This book is published by Scribe and is an excellent way to talk about the importance of giving family members space from each other.

Vikki Conley is a children’s author and her presentation was just like what you would see in the classroom, including puppets and the use of images. For over 20 years and across three continents, she has worked as a journalist, photographer and professional communicator. Vikki is also part of the CBCA VIC Branch Authors in Schools program and the Author Visit program with Lamont Books. She is an active player in both the arts and literary industries and she loves creating multi-art form experiences for children at schools, libraries and festivals. Her creative literacy and story art sessions bring the natural world, drama, puppetry, ceramics and innovative thinking into the classroom. Ella and Mrs Gooseberry, Little Puggle’s Song and Christmas Wonder are Vikki’s recent publications. In 2020 she’ll release Tomorrow Girl and The Lost Moustache.

Jess McGeachin completed this session by sharing his new book Fly, published by Penguin Random House. He draws on a love of natural history. Why wouldn’t you, when your day job is at the Melbourne Museum? Jess hopes that his stories inspire the reader to explore both real and imaginary places and meet the characters that live in them.

During the break there was ample opportunity to purchase these recently published books and have them signed. It was a time too for eating, drinking, chatting about all things literary and connecting as a group of like-minded people. Plus, there was a raffle of an amazing pack of books, kindly donated by Allen & Unwin and Lamont Books.

Session 2 was fiction for our young adult readers and Susannah McFarlane opened for us in style. Best known as the author, creator and publisher of some of Australia’s most successful children’s book series, such as the awarding winning EJ12 Girl Hero and EJ Spy School series, Boy vs Beast, and the Little Mates series of alphabet books for under fives. She is also the series editor for Stuff Happens! She shared her belief in the need for age-appropriate but fun content for kids. Her latest release published by Allen & Unwin is Bold Tales for Brave Hearted Boys.

Michelle Aung Thin spoke about Hasina, a new Through My Eyes story recently published through Allen & Unwin. Born in Burma, now Myanmar, in the year of the military coup, her story offers a real life connection with honesty and compassion.

Lili Wilkinson is the award-winning author of eleven young adult novels including The Boundless Sublime, Green Valentine, Pink and After the Lights Go Out. She is also the author of a picture book called Clancy the Quokka, released in October 2019. Lili established the Inside a Dog website and the Inky Awards at the Centre for Youth Literature, State Library of Victoria. She has a PhD in Creative Writing, and lives in Melbourne with her husband, son, dog and three chickens.

Adrian Beck finished the night by sharing his new release Derek Dool Supercool with us. He has also written Stuff Happens! Dale, with Susannah McFarlane. All of Adrian’s stories are fun to read – even for kids who struggle to get interested in books. Most recently his Total Quack Up! and Total Quack Up Again! have been very well received. Adrian shared his passion for raising childhood literacy levels across the country and is a fierce supporter of teachers and librarians.

Thanks to all who helped with Night of Our Stars, especially Michelle and Rob from Lamont, Geraldine Woolnough, Lu Smith and Annette Wright. We had a wonderful star-studded evening!

Michelle Nye

CBCA VIC Branch Committee Member