Posts Tagged ‘CBCA 2012’

It’s not often one is lucky enough to be totally immersed in a world of literature, but that is exactly what happened to me last weekend!

Attending the 2012 CBCA Conference in Adelaide was an amazing experience – a wonderful opportunity afforded to me by my school for which I am very grateful.

Meeting, speaking and listening to a range of authors and illustrators is always fantastic.   But having more than 25 of them assembled in the one place at the one time, as well as an additional 385 delegates all of whom came from a wide range of allied fields related to children’s literature and had, like me, travelled considerable distances from remote corners of Australia, was indeed something very special.

The range and variety of presentations at this two day conference was outstanding.   Following the opening presentation by seasoned author and storyteller, Phil Cummings, who recited a moving poem about his life, we shared with him the joy of seeing a performance of songs by The Festival of Music Choir.  Based on Cummings’ stories “Danny Allen was Here” and “Take It Easy, Danny Allen”, the songs were written by Red Gum song writer, John Schumann.  The performance was a most moving and inspirational start to the two day conference.

Listening to the inspirational words of the first Australian Children’s Laureate, Alison Lester, at both the welcome reception on the evening prior to the conference and then again as the opening keynote speaker at the start of the conference was indeed a pleasure.    Her cry for a teacher librarian to be instated in every library in every school was met with much hearty agreement.  Words shared by Nicki Greenberg in a panel discussion about Graphic Novels was inspiring as was the presentation chaired by Christobel Mattingley in which Jacqueline Hunter and Dorothy Davey shared the literacy program that evolved around the creation of the book “Our World” written by the children and reflecting the Bardi culture of One Arm Point Community School.

I was riveted to my chair listening to panelists Rosanne Hawke, Gabrielle Wang, Ruth Stark and Sally Heinrich as they discussed the topic ‘One world, many cultures’.  Having the opportunity to listen to their views about the well-worn themes of ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘cultural diversity’ was very thought provoking.  “Celebrate the difference rather than trying to be the same” was a wisdom shared by Gabrielle Wang.  It was fitting to follow this presentation with that of Penny Matthews.  Her topic ‘Uses of History’ outlined the importance of ensuring authenticity and credibility in the writing of novels.  A second panel discussion later in the day with Doug McLeod, Michael Gerard Bauer and Don Henderson discussing humour in teen fiction had the audience in stitches!   Without a doubt, this trio would make a great line up for any school’s literature focus.

Hearing the thoughts and opinions of authors such as the inimitable Mem Fox was both enlightening and entertaining.  Having never heard her speak before, I was transfixed and felt as though I could have listened to her speaking for an additional hour to that allowed by the program.   This seasoned author, teacher and lecturer easily planted into the minds of conference delegates new ways to approach story sharing with children.  In more ways than one, she proved that we are never too old to learn.

Having the opportunity to listen to overseas authors such as Oliver Jeffers, Eoin Colfer and Davide Cali was a blast.   While an amusing and professionally polished presentation by Oliver Jeffers about the importance and wonder of the illustrated book left the audience begging for more, anecdotes shared by Eoin Colfer’s were priceless! This man is so funny; he must surely have a second career as a stand-up comic!  While I admit to having only ever read the first Artemis Fowl story, I now have the whole series on my list of ‘must reads’.  Unfamiliar as I am with the work of Davide Cali, I was mesmerized by his presentation which outlined the inspiration behind many of his books.

Perhaps many in the audience hesitated over the session titled ‘Non Fiction for Children’, but the presentations by both Dr Carla Litchfield and Dr Mark Norman had us spellbound.  How children can learn, not only about gorillas, apes and an assortment of marine life, but how they can learn to care for the environment so as to ensure the longevity of these creatures made for a very powerful presentation.  Being followed by Isobelle Carmody, speaking on the theme ‘Fairy Tales’, provided a fast speed analysis and a complete contrast to the seriousness of the previous session.

One would have thought that by the time we got to the final session of the conference that both interest and attentiveness would have waned.   The complete opposite was the case though!  Chaired by Dyan Blacklock, panelists, publisher Erica Wagner and bookseller James Williams, had the audience vying to share their opinion on the given topic ‘The Future of Books’.  Troubling as it was to listen to what publishers see as the sudden appearance of eBooks and its devastating impact on the viability of the publishing industry, it was apparent from audience comments that publishers need to accept that it is the format of books that has changed not the interest in books.   Caught up in the demise of their businesses, it was clear that publishers are lamenting the rise of eBooks while those working at the coalface with young readers see eBooks as an enhancement to reading.

Fourteen sessions were crammed into the two day conference, but an opportunity to indulge in more was offered at each morning and afternoon break when book launches were aplenty.  A chance to browse through the work of authors in the conference bookshop was complemented by a visit to the State Library to view the Treasures Wall Exhibition ‘Multistoried’.  And in an effort to maximize all minutes of the day, a ‘Breakfast with the Stars’ early on the second day of the proceedings provided delegates the chance to connect in a more personable way with participating authors.

The conference was a memorable occasion for me.   Not only did it offer an opportunity to hear some of the best names in children’s literature, but it gave me a chance to ponder the significant contribution of a wide range of professionals working in the ‘book trade’ – authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, librarians, teacher librarians, journalists and reviewers each contribute much to the lives of our population of evolving readers.

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