My flight landed early Saturday morning, ahead of a beautiful autumn’s day in Canberra. As I arrived at the National Library of Australia, plans were well underway for official book launch of ‘Grandma’s Treasured Shoes’.
‘Grandma’s Treasured Shoes’ is a celebration of those who have ‘come from across the seas, to share our boundless plains’ as our national anthem puts it.
ABC Journalist, Alex Sloan, started the proceedings with a wonderful introduction to Australia’s refugee history, along with her insight into the book and finally declaring the book officially launched.
Christina and I then shared our own personal journey of writing and illustrating this story.
As I was reflecting one day on the old saying- ‘walk a mile in someone’s shoes’, I had the idea of using actual shoes as a motif to convey a refugee’s life story and how that gave opportunity for a new beginning in Australia. And so, I was totally blown away one day, when Christina sent me a photo of an actual child’s shoe, she based her illustrations on. As an author, we can have grand ideas and use our imagination to create stories, but to actually see that there was a shoe, a treasured shoe, which brought a young child, all the way from Vietnam to Australia to start a new life, was so special.
The afternoon concluded with a book reading, craft activities for the children and a book signing.
It was a privilege to collaborate with Christina on this book. And a big shout out and thank you to my dear friend, Australian author and illustrator, Tania McCartney who orchestrated our collaboration. Not only are Christina’s illustrations stunning, but they bring an authenticity from her own family’s history and her own story, to this book.
It was an absolute honour, to create another special book with my publisher Susan and the team at the National Library of Australia.
Every person’s culture is equally worthy of celebration, respect, recognition and inclusion, and it’s only as we widen our own worldview and we seek to understand others first, that we can really champion well-rounded, open minded young people for the future and truly be understood ourselves.
*Stay tuned for the Sydney celebration of ‘Grandma’s Treasured Shoes’ in April!