Posts Tagged 'Whitsunday Voices'

Literary Festival Season

We have just entered literary festival season. Writers, usually quiet pyjama encrusted and tea toting creatures, suddenly start popping up all over the place. Books begin to grow on trees. Festivals bloom in cities like pubs (ie. one on every corner). It’s an exciting time of year.

So far I’m having a ball – I’ve met so many wonderful writers, teachers, librarians and little reading rabbits. These festivals are put together by an amazing group of people who love books and the kids who attend are wonderfully enthusiastic. On the flip side, sleep is suddenly hard to find and I’m living out of a suitcase, but that’s kind of an adventure in itself.

If you want to catch me over the next few months, I’ll be doing talks and workshops and readings at the following places:

  • Aug 8th: Voices on the Range, Toowoomba based youth literary festival
  • Aug 20th-24th: Book Week, at various school around Brisbane and Toowoomba
  • Sept 5th-9th: Brisbane Writers Festival, both WordPlay and the adult program
  • Sept 11th-13th: Write Around Qld, an amazing program organised by the BWF that tours children’s authors around regional Qld
  • Sept 14th-16th: Cairns Tropical Writers Festival, kid’s and adult program
  • Sept 29th: Brisbane launch of Brave Squish Rabbit, at Black Cat Books
  • Oct (date TBC): Melbourne launch of Brave Squish Rabbit
  • Oct 28th: Making Picture Books Workshop (for adults) through the QWC
  • Dec 27th-31st: Woodford Folk Festival, kid’s program

Here’s a photo diary of the festivals and such that I’ve been involved in this year that have already slipped by:

May: Darwin Writers Festival (WordStorm) where I did a number of school visits and adult writing workshops and didn’t get eaten by crocodiles

June: Out of the Box Festival, which celebrates children’s books in big circus tents by the Brisbane river

July: CYA Conference, for adult writers of children’s and YA lit. I’m posing with the delightful Penny Whitehouse in front of Craig Smith’s playful illo

July: Setting up for the Brisbane Square Library ‘Journey of a Book’ Exhibition

July: Squish Rabbit glass cabinet display at the Brisbane Square Library

July: Whitsunday Voices, Mackay youth literature festival. Dave Hackett did awesome caricatures for all the presenters (which were very accurate – I think he had secret intelligence on us all…)

July: Whitsunday Voices – life sized bird-monster I drew with the help of some creative kids in an illustration workshop

July: David and I with Peter Carnavas at the launch of his latest picture book, the delightful ‘The Children Who Loved Books’

But I wont be able to convince you it’s all just work. Here’s some evidence that relaxing happened too…

Beach and sunset in Darwin. There may also have been wine…

Post festival breakfast on my parent’s back deck in Mackay

Illustration Workshop

At this year’s Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival I’ll be doing a series of talks for all different ages. I’m super excited, as getting the chance to connect with my audience is easily one of the most joyous parts of being a children’s writer and illustrator.

I’ll be doing several book talks with grades 2-5, where I’ll discuss the role of author / illustrator, read Squish Rabbit and talk about how the story and characters developed. I’ll also read my story Monster Music, teach the kids how to draw some of the characters and together we’ll create our own monster. Can’t wait to see the results!

I’ll also be doing a series of illustration workshops with grades 5-8 and 9-12, for those specifically interested in art. In these I’ll read my short story Haunted (from the anthology Short and Scary) and discuss how an illustrator would go about illustrating such a tale. Together we’ll then illustrate a single scene from the story, using collage and mixed media. We’ll also be making our own textured paper, using paint, oil pastels and certain tools. Yesterday I had a go at making the scene myself, which you can see below. There were some happy accidents, like the trees’ canopy – I had intended to keep the image limited to the rectangular canvas, but before folding back the overhanging trees I realised I quite liked them the way they were. I also figured out a few tricks in speeding up the whole process, and even discovered how not to do certain bits…

It should be fun. Kids are so creative, and I love hearing all their big ideas. I also know high school artists are incredibly talented, and am fully prepared for many of them to be better at drawing than me!

PS. The competition in the last post is still open, so remember to comment if you want a chance to win…

Competition Time!

This July I’ve been invited back to the Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival, which is held in tropical Mackay (north Queensland), my old home town. I’ll be doing a series of book talks and illustration workshops, along with a number of other wonderful authors and illustrators. I had such a fabulous time at last year’s festival and am thrilled I’ll get to be involved again.

Unfortunately Squish Rabbit will not quite be published in time for the festival, so instead I’ve created a series of postcards and bookmarks featuring my characters. They’ll be for sale through the festival bookshop.

COMPETITION: For your chance to win a signed copy of one of my postcards and bookmarks just leave a comment on this post, telling me which ones you’d choose if you won. Once I return from the festival (21st July) I’ll draw a winner out of a hat and announce it in the comment thread. Make sure I have some way of contacting you in case you win!

22/07/10 UPDATE: Thanks for all who entered and said such lovely, supportive things. I decided to draw three winners, and they are – Lynne the Lurker, Meg McKinlay and Susan Bonaci. I drew the winning names using an online random number generator (I wrote a few names out on pieces of paper, wanting to stay true to my above promise to draw the names from a hat, before giving up – clearly I’m too impatient). In a strange twist of fate, each person chose a different character. I’ll contact you each individually to find out where to send your prize…

Sound Waves

As most of you know, while in Mackay for the Whitsunday Voices youth literature festival I was interviewed at the local radio station, ABC Tropical North. I got to have a chat with the delightful morning show host, Aaron Stevens, who was incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic. We talked all about the festival and the importance of books in children’s lives, and also discussed some of my work. If you’re prepared to lose 6 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back then feel free to listen below (by the way, the images are of the Mackay beach side suburb I grew up in):

Those astute listeners will have picked up on my clumsy plug for this blog…

Festival Fanfare (part 2)

Rabbit - climbI have now officially unpacked after the Whitsunday Voices festival (orderly Andrew was very restrained, and never said anything over the last few days). While unpacking my suitcase, I was also mentally unpacking, thinking through all I experienced and learnt. My favourite thing about the festival was that I had plenty of breaks, which allowed me to sneak into several of the other author / illustrator sessions to watch them work their magic…

  • Michael Gerard Bauer: Even with a tough crowd (well over 200 mid-graders) Michael had them captivated with tales from his childhood, revealing events that influenced scenes in his books. He’s a natural storyteller and had us all in stitches, and ignited a love of literature and stories in even the most reluctant reader
  • Sally Rippin: Sally is just delightful and discussed the evolution of several of her books, followed by an illustration workshop. She cleverly broke down the drawing of complex forms into simple shapes, and had the kids marveling at what that they could create with her help
  • John Marsden: John is a master at audience participation and used several clever games and volunteers from the audience to demonstrate how stories are created. I find his passion for stories and good writing is catching (the audience clearly felt the same way)
  • Boori Pryor: If you ever get the chance to see him speak, don’t miss it. He’s like the rockstar of kid’s literature. Storytelling is clearly in his blood, and he has a wonderful way of making every child in the audience feel like he’s speaking to them alone. He naturally involves the entire audience in his performance, reeling you in with his energy and humour. Then he whipped out his didgeridoo and had the kids doing dance interpretations of australian wildlife. I laughed so hard I actually cried when one little boy did a hip-hop style butterfly (the kind of butterfly you wouldn’t confront in a dark ally)
  • Matt Ottley: Matt ran an illustration workshop that literally had the audience wide eyed and gasping in awe. He started with simple shapes, then the audience marveled as, with a few lines, they emerged as characters from his books. He had kids draw ‘Mr Squiggle’ style doodles on the board, then transformed them into funny animals and fantasy creatures. Every child in that room left with the desire to learn to draw like Matt.

After all that, on the final day we had the big literary dinner. When I say ‘big’ I mean it – over 400 people attended. There was much chatting, socialising, eating and drinking. Even some dancing (although not on tabletops, as Michael Bauer would have you believe). Below are some photos of the night, which prove even us ‘reclusive’ writer and illustrator types can scrub up alright for a party.

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Michael and I (we may be on a table at this point - you'd never know)

Robert Newton (writer), me and Steven Herrick (poet)

Robert Newton (writer), me and Steven Herrick (poet)

Marc Macbride (illustrator), me, Matt Ottley (writer/illustrator) and Sally Rippin (writer/illustrator)

Marc Macbride (illustrator), me, Matt Ottley (writer/illustrator) and Sally Rippin (writer/illustrator)

Festival Fanfare (part 1)

Rabbit - floatAs mentioned in my last post, I was invited as an emerging author to speak at Mackay’s Whitsunday Voices youth literary festival. I returned to Brisvegas many days ago, but after several days of festivities followed by the big literary dinner, I’ve only just caught up on sleep and rejoined the land of the living.

The festival itself played out over Thursday 16th and Friday 17th of this month, and was run by a bunch of delightful teachers, volunteers and students. I had the opportunity of speaking with all the kids from prep through to grade three – kids who were enthusiastic, engaging and full of both thoughtful and hilarious questions. They truly made little-old-me feel like a rock star (I was even asked to sign many drawings and school diaries!). Several of my talks were in my original grade 4 and 5 classrooms, which brought back some very vivid memories of my childhood self.

While each talk varied slightly depending on the class, they looked something like this:

  • Storytelling: I introduced myself as someone who tells stories through words and images. We also discussed the history of storytelling and how it has evolved
  • Reading: The classes were my first test audience for Squish Rabbit. It was such a thrill to see how they responded to the story. I was constantly amazed at how their minds unpacked the characters and events
  • Discussion: There were lots of questions about how I made the images and where the ideas came from
  • Illustration Workshop: I went in armed with a cartooning workshop on people, but all the classes requested I teach them how to draw Squish and his Squirrel friend Twitch, which was great fun
  • Characterisation: After the drawing workshop, the kids created their own versions of my characters by adding colours, clothes or props. They were so imaginative that I had to share some

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Agent Twitch

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Daddy Squish, mummy Squish and baby Squash :)

Even though I was invited there to talk, I feel like I left with more than I contributed. Everyone was so generous and the kids filled me with energy and self-esteem, as well as many ideas for future stories…

Whitsunday Voices

The Mackay Festival of Arts is growing into a distinctive regional QLD presence.  This week it presents the annual Whitsunday Voices youth literature festival, which each year is attended by over 5,000 students.  2009 sees a stunning cast of authors and illustrators; people like Michael Gerard Bauer, John Marsden, Emily Rodda, Matt Ottley and Sally Rippin.

And me (*cheeky grin*). I’ve been invited to attend as an emerging author and illustrator, and will get the opportunity to be involved in the festival events and talk to a number of junior classes. The festival itself is held at my old school, so it will be an interesting experience standing up in front of kids in the very same classrooms I sat in as a student. Even some of my old teachers still work there. No doubt the experience of running into them in hallways will make me unconsciously duck away guiltily, feeling like a troublesome school girl again.

The festival itself runs on Thursday and Friday, but I’m in Mackay a day early. I had the fortune of being invited into the local ABC Tropical North studio to do an interview with the delightful morning show host, Aaron Stevens. It was lovely having the chance to speak about the great work the festival does in introducing a new generation of kids to books and reading, and to also be able to speak about my craft. While there I got to catch up with an old school friend, Melissa Maddison, whose dulcet tones present the news each day.

The Whitsunday Voices festival launch is tonight, and I’m all amped up for the beginning of what will be several days of writing and illustrating mayhem. I’m going in equipped with stories, art and even some little bookmarks I made for the kids I’ll be speaking to. Bring it on!

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:

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