Children’s Book Council Shortlist Announcement – 14.4.15
As all those in the children’s book industry know, yesterday was the announcement of the Children’s Book Council Shortlist for books published in 2014.
For everyone it is a day of trepidation, fear, heartache, agony, disappointment, joy and excitement – and all experienced in the time it takes to take a breath and the shortlist to go live.
I am happy to say that ‘Little Dog and the Christmas Wish’ was one of 6 books shortlisted in the Crichton list, an award which recognises new talent in the field of Australian children’s book illustration. I would like to congratulate Robin Cowcher and thank her for illustrating ‘Little Dog’ so beautifully.
This made me think back to the book’s beginning so I’ve taken extracts from last year’s launch speech to give some background. Little Dog and the Christmas Wish was launched by the Right Hon. Robert Doyle in the Block Arcade on 25th October, 2014.
‘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 long journey.
Black Dog Books became an imprint of Walker Books Australia and yes the text was edited back, re-written, many times and by the third illustrator, I think we got it right.
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 and to remember coming into the city on the green and cream rattly trams – and walking under the portico of the Melbourne Town Hall. I also remember the clip-clopping of the Clydesdale horses as they delivered milk or bread to our front gate.
As I’ve said many times, 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.
I would like to thank Maryann Ballantyne for her continued support and belief in my words, Black Dog/Walker Books, with special thanks to Donna Rawlins who is a designer wizard, Robin Cowcher for her delicious illustrations, my Cranny crew who bled with me on the re-writes, Ann Ryan and Andrew Kelly for photos, the Greensborough Cake Decorating Centre for another beautiful cake, Leesa from the Little Bookroom who will be selling books today, Grant Cohen – Block Arcade Manager for allowing us to launch in this beautiful space, Kelly Koutoumanas, Manager of the Hopetoun Tea Rooms for her wonderful help and the scrumptious scones, to my family for putting up with me
and to my parents, for a privileged-with-love childhood, full of the kinds of memories worth re-living and sharing.
And last of all to Harry, who I discovered by chance at the Collins Croydon Bookshop a few weeks ago. All along I wanted a real Little Dog to be here to share this day with us and Harry’s owners, kindly offered to lend him to me.
This is Harry!!!!
I’d like to now read a page from the book to you –
If you can all imagine it’s a 1950’s Christmas Eve, 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.’