I was met with a little drizzle as I landed in Sydney Tuesday afternoon, but that wasn’t going to dampen the book celebration at Lost in Books Fairfield later that evening.
Illustrator Christina Huynh, had done a wonderful job of setting up for the event prior to my arrival. And so we enjoyed a late Vietnamese lunch, together with her family in Cabramatta, before heading back to the bookshop for an interview with SBS News.
The air was filled with excitement as guests began arriving just before 6pm. Award winning author Susanne Gervay warmly welcomed everyone and opened the proceedings. The President of the Vietnamese Community of Australia, Paul Huy Nguyen, shared a little about the plight of the Vietnamese refugees to Australia in the early 1980s and the contributions they have made to Australia over the years.
Christina and I then took to the stage and talked about our experience of creating this book, followed by a reading and a book signing.
One of the beautiful things that has struck me about this book is the emotional response from adult Vietnamese refugees towards this book. I am overwhelmed to hear how much 'Grandma's Treasured Shoes' has touched so many. It is a story for Australian Vietnamese children to understand their heritage. It is a story for all Australian children to understand more about Australia’s history and it is a story for all people to encourage a sense of empathy as we all imagine what it is like to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”.