Chasing Shadows Launch
‘CHASING SHADOWS’ LAUNCH
a report by Errol Broome
Kew Library reflected sunshine on Sunday 9 March when book fans, writers, parents and children gathered for the launch of Corinne Fenton and Hannah Sommerville’s picture book Chasing Shadows.
Surprise special guest was Maverick, a golden retriever who gave Corinne the title for the book. Nearly three years ago, Corinne sat in her backyard watching the puppy ‘tumble, twist and turn about in the autumn leaves, chasing shadows.’
Kew Library, too, has a special significance for Corinne, for it was at Booroondara Library Service’s Balwyn Library that she attended a creative writing workshop with Hazel Edwards; and there found the inspiration that led to her career as a successful writer for children.
Noted children’s author Claire Saxby (Seadog, Big Red Kangaroo and the recently released Meet the ANZACs)launched Chasing Shadows when Hazel Edwards was unable to be there.
Claire praised Corinne’s poetic prose.
On a yellow morning
when the sun is new
and shadows long
a puppy comes to live at Beth’s house.
For Beth, it is too soon.
Beth, who sees only shadows, isn’t ready for the puppy her father brings home in an attempt to break through his daughter’s grief. Beth’s silence speaks.
Claire pointed out the challenge of picture books, which must tell a rich and complex story with very few words. While the story primarily focuses at a particular age and stage, it must also have appeal and be engaging beyond that focus age group.
‘The skill is to make it look easy, effortless, although the opposite is true.’
Chasing Shadows is a book for children from 5years up, and for older children and families to help them understand depression and how it differs from sadness.
Claire congratulated Corinne, illustrator Hannah Sommerville and Paul Collins and the team at Ford St Publishing for a book that speaks to readers on many levels. ‘Chasing Shadows is a gentle book exploring big issues.’
In reply, Corinne traced the journey of Chasing Shadows from the Maverick-inspired title to the book in hand. ‘The idea was only the beginning, the scraping of the surface. All I had was the bones, very bare bones.’ But when Paul Collins of Ford St contacted her to ask if she had a picture book manuscript, she did have something new, nowhere near finished or polished, to offer him.
The writing began then in earnest, writing and rewriting, ‘adding and subtracting,’ fiddling, tweaking and reaching higher in consultation with Ford St editor Niki Horin.
Corinne thanked Hannah for the delicate, evocative illustrations. The book has already been praised in reviews as subtle, beautiful, touching, heart-wrenching and honest.
The afternoon ended with cake and drinks with Maverick in the adjoining park.