National Conference of the Children's Book Council of Australia

Michelle Morgan - Monday, May 19, 2014

The 11th National Conference of the Children's Book Council of Australia was an inspiring and thought-provoking event, which I had the pleasure of attending over the weekend in sunny Canberra.

There was an interesting range of speakers, presentations and discussions to cater for a wide range of interests. Some of the sessions were fun and entertaining such as the Barry Jonsberg / Michael Gerard Bauer Trash & Treasure session, the Motherhood and Mayhem discussion panel, chaired by the effervescent Tania McCartney, and Andy Griffiths, who held a captive audience with his self-effacing, laconic wit.

The presentations by three different picture book partnerships was absolutely fascinating. The authors (Libby Gleeson, Margaret Hamilton on behalf of Margaret Wild, and Glenda Millard) and illustrators (Freya Blackwood, Julie Vivas and Stephen Michael King) were very open and generous in sharing the nature of their creative processes and collaborations - a real insight for budding picture book creators!

The most inspiring speakers for me included Jackie French (particularly her address at the conference dinner at the Australian War Memorial), Nadia Wheatley and Anthony Hill, all of whom have made significant contributions to children's / YA and historical literature in Australia. I'm also a history buff and was hanging off their every word.

I was captivated by Bronwyn Bancroft's presentation and her artwork, which not only grace the pages of many picture books but can be found in the National Art Gallery and other major art galleries in Australia, as well as in prominent public buildings such as the Royal North Shore and Auburn Hospitals in Sydney. The short presentation by the Indigenous Literary Foundation was also very inspiring and one of the best at the conference.

As an author, I was keenly interested in the presentations by prominent Australian children's publishers, including Erica Wagner (Allen & Unwin), Margrete Lamond (Little Hare), Laura Harris (Penguin) and Rochelle Manners (Wombat Books) and intrigued by their views on publishing literary treasures. I was also hanging off every word in Mark Macleod's challenging, and at times, confronting, session on how LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) characters are depicted in children's / YA literature.

I'm looking forward to the 12th National CBCA Conference in Sydney in 2016, but in the meantime it's back to the writing desk!

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