The Inspiration Behind GRANDMA'S TREASURED SHOES

This collage of different refugees' shoes was the picture that initially inspired me to write GRANDMA'S TREASURED SHOES. I can only imagine that each shoe would have a different tale of danger, hardship, sacrifice and the cost of freedom to tell.

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*All these photographs were taken by Michael Jensen as part of the collection of Photographs of Vietnamese Boat People, Darwin, November 1977.

At the fall of Saigon in 1975, many children and families had no choice but to escape the effects of the war. This resulted in the biggest intake of refugees in Australia’s history and an international response and forced changes to migration policies across the world. I’m sure many refugees lost their shoes on the journey or left their shoes behind on the boat at the point of rescue. However, as I tried to ‘put myself in their shoes’, I could only imagine that the ‘shoes that brought them here’ would become one of the most treasured pair of shoes ever owned.

*This are the actual shoe that inspired Christina Huynh and she based her illustrations from, as well as some artefacts that her family members brought with them on the boats from Vietnam to Australia.

GRANDMA’S TREASURED SHOES is available in stores next month.

GRANDMA'S TREASURED SHOES....advance copies have arrived

IN STORES MARCH 2019

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Dear Coral, I have been lucky enough to receive an advance copy. I took it home last night to read to my stepdaughter, and I found myself in tears by the end of it….It’s a beautiful story…I was overwhelmed imagining the experiences of not just the grandma in the book but all who make such journeys. Thank you so much for giving me that—I hope that everyone who reads it has the same rush of empathy.

Speech Pathology Australia- 2018 Book of the Year Awards

On Friday 9th November 2018, a group of Australian authors and illustrators, a few hundred students from Richmond West Primary School, as well as invited guests and staff from Speech Pathology Australia, all gathered together at the State Library of Victoria, to hear the winners announced for the 2018 Speech Pathology Australia Best Book for Language and Literacy Development.

I was thrilled to hear that SORRY DAY was awarded the Best Book for Language and Literacy Development Indigenous Children 2018, and thank Speech Pathology Australia for this honour. I also want to shout out a huge thank you to my wonderful publisher at the National Library of Australia, for believing in this book and giving Dub Leffler and I the opportunity to share this incredibly important part of Australia’s past and present, with this next generation of young Australians; for it is only in acknowledging past wrongs, that forgiveness is facilitated, healing can begin and reconciliation can be achieved.

Book Week 2018- Wrap Up!

5 Days, 8 Schools, 20 Sessions, 1,000kms, 2,000 students....and all in 1 fabulous week of championing and celebrating children's literature!

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From Coburg to Croydon, Kyabram to Kew, Essendon to Eltham! I had a wonderful week of sharing books, facilitating writing workshops, watching book parades and re-enacting stories with dress-up shenanigans in many schools across Victoria.

Books are for living, lessons and truths. Books can feed us for a lifetime and fill our souls. Books can make us want to live. They are passed between generations. They never get old.

But in a world dazzled by the latest gadgets and mesmerized by the internet and video games, the humble book seems like the most ordinary thing that could be—until you learn to look closer … and closer … and closer … and all of a sudden.... you FIND YOUR TREASURE.

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School Visits, Book Launch & National Sorry Day Celebrated in our Nation's Capital

Visiting Canberra in the autumn promised to be stunning, and this year it did not disappoint. A magnificent display of yellows and reds lined each street, with warm sun-filled afternoons to delight. Having arrived in Canberra on Thursday afternoon, my dear friend (and amazing author/illustrator) Nicky Johnston and I headed straight to Dymocks Canberra to meet up with the incredibly talented Dub Leffler, and illustrator of SORRY DAY, for a book signing. We then popped into the National Library of Australia, where planning was well underway for the official launch of SORRY DAY on Saturday. 

Dub and I had the privilege of visiting two Primary schools in Canberra on Friday; Holy Trinity Curtin and Forrest Primary Schools, and shared SORRY DAY with hundred of receptive students.

On Saturday, Australia stopped to celebrate National Sorry Day, and we began our day at the Woden Library. Dub and I shared stories with the Us Mob Writers at a Meet the Creators Event, before heading to the National Library of Australia for the official launch of SORRY DAY. We were only a kilometre away from where Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave the National Apology a decade earlier.

Director-General of the National Library, Dr Marie-Louise Ayres, chaired the proceedings with Brother Tyrone giving a wonderful Welcome Country. The National Library's first Indigenous Curator, Sister Rebecca, shared a very emotional testimony of her connection to the Stolen Generations and what the book meant to her and her family.

Dr Anita Heiss officially launched and OPENED the book, before Dub and I took the podium to speak. To conclude the ceremony, Dub and I read the book to the huge crowd gathered; reading each paralleled story; I read the story of Maggie and her mother gathering on the lawns of Parliament House to watch the National Apology, while Dub read the story of the group of Aboriginal children who were taken from their families on that fateful day. 

We finished the event, and the celebration of National Sorry Day, with a book signing and a delicious afternoon tea together. I am incredibly grateful to the National Library of Australia, and in particular Susan Hall, my publisher, for believing in this important book and for organising the momentous launch of this book. It was also wonderful to catch up with creative friends at the launch, and during our time in Canberra, including the exceptionally talented author/illustrator Tania McCartney. And I even had the wonderful privilege of meeting Christina Huynh, the illustrator of a new book I've written, coming out in 2019.

Launching SORRY DAY in our nation's capital was a thrill. It is my hope that SORRY DAY helps children understand our history and the damaging injustice done, in a way that is sensitive and appropriate, but also to remind us all, that in that one powerful word – SORRY- there is hope for a way forward for every Australian- that what had been, would never be again.

The Meet...Don Bradman Book Launch Wrap-up

A large crowd of young cricketing fans gathered in the MCC Library at the mighty MCG on a classic rainy Melbourne’s day, being the perfect backdrop for the official launch of the new children’s picture book, Meet…Don Bradman.

Channel Nine’s Livinia Nixon warmly welcomed everyone, giving a brief history of Don’s sporting achievements and his relationship to this great stadium; where he scored more Test centuries than anywhere else in the world.

I donned a Baggy Green and gave everyone a first look at Meet…Don Bradman, with a cricket stump and golf ball in hand (you’ve got to read the story to know why).

The children had a sporting time creating their own ‘paper’ cricket balls, ‘balloon’ Baggy Greens and cricket bats.

And as we sat, surrounded by such amazing cricket history, everyone cheered as Meet…Don Bradman scored a six and was officially launched.

Meet…Don Bradman is available in stores from 18 April 2016.

The Hairy Maclary & Friends Waterfront Sculpture Project

On a recent trip to New Zealand, I was thrilled to visit the new Hairy Maclary & Friends Waterfront Sculpture Project in Tauranga.  The Sculpture Park is a tribute to local Tauranga resident of over 20 years and author to the world renowned Hairy Maclary series, Lynley Dodd.

The project is a "storybook scene" of permanent bronze sculptures of Hairy Maclary and some of his friends – Scarface Claw, Slinky Malinki, Hercules Morse, Muffin McLay, Bottomley Potts, Schnitzel von Krumm, Bitzer Maloney and Zachary Quack.

It was a joy to watch as children recognised the characters, called them each by name (as a beloved family pet), touched, hugged and climbed them with delight. Against a stunning waterfront setting and adjacent to the children’s playground, the larger-than-life public art truly brings the loved children's book characters to life and leaves a legacy for generations to come.

If you are a Lynley Dodd fan (like me), Tauranga Waterfront NZ is a must see!