Launch preparation for Harry and Collins Croydon Booksellers for this Saturday’s launch of Little Dog and the Summer Holiday

As we get ready for this Saturday’s launch at 11.00 a.m. of  Little Dog and the Summer Holiday at Collins Croydon Booksellers, I thought I’d add some photos showing how great the bookshop looks and how excited Harry the Westie is about the launch.

I also thought I’d go back a bit so I’ve included the launch speech I did in November last year for the paperback of Little Dog and the Christmas Wish. It gives some details of how it all began and how Harry became part of this Little Dog journey.

So, just like Little Dog, Harry enjoys a run along the beach. Here’s Harry this morning doing a work-out in readiness for his busy week.

Then it was back to the bookshop, to keep an eye on things

and make sure the window was looking ship-shape

and that Harry’s personal launch invitation was on display and easy to read. Then he checked

to make sure Corinne’s other books were in stock.

A busy day for such a little dog, but Harry knows that Saturday will be even busier . . .

LAUNCH SPEECH

FOR LITTLE DOG AND THE CHRISTMAS WISH PAPERBACK

THE BLOCK ARCADE, COLLINS STREET, MELBOURNE – CORINNE FENTON 19.11.16

This story began in August 2008, when Maryann Ballantyne and Andrew Kelly, Publishers at Black Dog books, asked me to write a Christmas Book.

I remember Maryann’s words – they went something like this . . . ‘We want a traditional Christmas story and Corinne, you can be as sentimental as you like . . . we’ll edit it back.

Little Dog began as Eugene, became Pip and ended up simply as Little Dog and since that day, my Little Dog has been on a very long journey.

This book is special to me for many reasons. A child of the 50’s, it was actually nice to know, first hand, what I was writing about – to remember the enormous Foy’s Santa on the corner of  Swanston and Bourke Streets, calling children toward him like this   . . .. (finger) and to remember coming into the city on the green and cream rattly trams to marvel at the Myer windows every year –   I also remember the clip-clopping of the Clydesdale horses as they delivered milk or bread to our front gate.

Remembering all of this didn’t mean the research was less. I chased snippets of detail like what was the theme of the Myer windows and what movie was screening at the Regent Theatre on Christmas Eve that year . . . and were there buskers in the 50’s?

As I keep saying, picture books don’t have many words – it’s often about what isn’t said, the breathing space in between – and it’s the marriage, the togetherness of the words and illustrations that tell the story.

We launched the hard cover in this exact spot on 25th October 2014, even then Harry was the guest of honour – and the book flew.

Then one day in January last year while I was at my desk writing – and happened to be minding Harry for the day – I received a phone call – totally out of the blue – telling me that Little Dog and the Christmas Wish had been selected for the 2015 Myer Windows. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming and I remember saying to Harry – ‘Did that really happen?’

I rang Maryann and asked her to verify the call – as it turned out I wasn’t going ‘nuts’ after all. I then had the pleasure of calling Robin.

I would like to thank Maryann Ballantyne for her continued support and belief in my words,

Black Dog/Walker Books, Robin Cowcher for her delicious illustrations, John and Connie from Stage One for championing Little Dog and taking something I imagined, to another perfect level,

Laraine from Collins Booksellers Croydon for selling books today and her outstanding support and bringing Harry along today, Grant Cohen – Block Arcade Manager for allowing us to launch in this beautiful space, Kelly Koutoumanas, Manager of the Hopetoun Tea Rooms for the beautiful cake, and scones to my family for being part of all of this and to my parents, for a privileged-with-love childhood, full of the kinds of memories worth re-living and sharing.

I’d like to now read a page from the book –

If you can all imagine it’s Christmas Eve 1956, and a little dog just like Harry is lost and frightened. He takes shelter here in the Block Arcade –

‘A heavy drip-drop rain began to fall. To Little Dog it felt like the whole world was shivering. Where was Jonathan? Trams rumbled past.  

Little Dog dashed across the wide street, over the tram tracks and … . . . . . . . 

out of the rain.  

Here no one was rushing. Little Dog shook away the dampness and rested awhile, listening to the music.’

I would now like to pass on to illustrator Robin Cowcher. Thank you.

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