In September I attended the StoryArts Festival Ipswich. It was amazing, inspiring, at times intimidating, exhilarating, informative, fun, overwhelming and exhausting. And I am rather sad I have to wait two years to experience it all again.
Many thanks to Jenny Stubs and her team from the the Ipswich District Teacher-Librarian Network for pulling it all together.
I almost filled an A5 notebook with notes on all the sessions, but I'll try to keep this post brief.
About the festival:
The festival began in 1995 as the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature and has been held every two years since then. The festival offers free sessions for children and low cost sessions for adults and young adults with an interest in children’s literature such as teachers, librarians, and emerging writers and illustrators. The festival aims to increase an awareness of the value of the arts in relation to writing and illustration and help build and maintain increased audiences for children’s literature. We plan to inspire young people to buy and read more books and gain an appreciation of the processes involved in writing and illustrating. We also aim to enthuse teachers and parents about the value of stories and encourage them to promote literature to young people. (from the website)
If you want to read more in depth coverage of the festival check out the excellent blog by roving reporter Sam Sochacka. I was honored to write the blog posts for the Sunday adult program, check them out here.
It wasn't easy picking my favorites but here they are:
My personal highlights
I met many inspiring writers, illustrators and editors and learned something from each; Margaret Hamilton,Leila Rudge, Briony Stewart, Mike Spoor, Leila Rudge, Alison Lloyd, Carole Wilkinson, Meg McKinlay and the awesome Meredith Costain.
One of my favorite moments on Friday was when I got to meet Alison Lester.
Alison gave a great presentation on her CBCA honour book 'Sophie Scott Goes South' and her several trips to Antarctica. During the panel session she shared some of the stories she worked on with Indigenous children in remote communities.
Read more about her presentation here.
Sarah Davis - Illustrator - Sounds Spooky Exhibition
I sat in on two sessions with Sarah Davis. She is a prolific illustrator with a huge range of styles and is amazing to listen to engaging, informative, supportive (though I admit to being a tiny bit intimidated by her intelligence and talent), and a whole lot of fun.
For more information on the Sunday session with Sarah Davis, read more on the StoryArts Festival blog here.
The Ipswich Central Library also had a 'Sounds Spooky' Exhibition showcasing the models of her characters and the models. Sounds Spooky was written by Christopher Cheng and illustrated by Sarah in 3 months!
More about that here.
Meeting Gus Gordon
As soon as I borrowed 'Herman and Rosie' (written and illustrated by Gus Gordon) from the Library, I wanted to get my own copy and I am glad I did.
Gus signed it when we sat at the same table for lunch!
During his session on 'Herman and Rosie', he talked about how he tries to capture the naivety of children's drawings and how people tend to lose touch with this naive story telling ability as they grow up. He discussed other illustrators who have kept in touch with this childlike way of storytelling and how they inspired him.
Read more here.
Gala Dinner at the Mangy Hound Jazz Club
inspired by “Herman & Rosie” by Gus Gordon
What was not to love!
Dinner with a bunch of writers, illustrators and editors in a setting inspired by the Mangy Hound Jazz Club from 'Herman and Rosie'.
Great conversation, crazy dancing, wine flowing, all accompanied by a lovely jazz band.
Read more about the night here.
Sue Whiting from Walker Books and Helen Chamberlan from Windy Hollow Books were on this panel chaired by Mia Macrossan
For a detailed account of this session and some inside information on pitching to editors read my guest blog on the StoryArts Festival blog.
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Children's Writer and Illustrator