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.

2009-07-23

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)

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5 Responses to “Festival Fanfare (part 2)”


  1. 1 Karen Tyrrell July 23, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Katherine, Loved reading about what you said about some Popular Childrens’ authors. Particularly enjoyed the photo of you and Michael. You both scrub up well.

  2. 2 Katherine Battersby July 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks Karen! We had a great time

  3. 3 Sheryl Gwyther July 24, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    What a fantastic experience, Kath! I’m so glad you got to be involved in it all. And knowing Michael I’d say you both were definitely on the table. :)

  4. 4 Kat Apel July 28, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Hi Kath. Great fun to read your enthusiastic account here. Now tell me honestly… Who had more fun – you or the kids? Or were you the biggest kid?

    Sounds like Mackay is doing fantastic things for children’s literature – for the lives of their children, fullstop!

    Well done everyone!

  5. 5 Katherine Battersby July 28, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Kat, I’m certain I had more fun! I felt so spoilt – the kids and organisers at the festival were all a dream to work with. Mackay has always had a thriving creative culture – I’m thrilled that they’re starting to get more recognition for it now.


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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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