School Visit – Kangaroo Ground Primary
Last Tuesday I was part of a children’s literature festival at Kangaroo Ground Primary School, a small country school on the edge of the city of Melbourne. The drive for me was a blissful 8 minutes, although it took almost that long to find the school’s entrance – an occupational hazard for creative visitors to schools.
I read each of my picture books to different groups and talked about the writing and research behind them –
journeyed to Gundagai to visit ‘The Dog on the Tuckerbox’, talked about the legend, bullockies, pioneers and wagons and the poetry of the Australian masters – Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson and Judith Wright.
I shared ‘Flame Stands Waiting’ with a younger group with talk of magical carousels and riding them to follow your dreams. I showed photos of Carousels all around the world and talked about their differences, finishing with a prance about the room (teachers included) all pretending we were a carousel horse called Flame, in time with the music of Rogers and Hammerstein’s ‘Carousel’.
I never tire of hearing the silence whenever I begin reading ‘Queenie: One Elephant’s Story’ and this group were no different. We discussed her iconic status at Melbourne Zoo over 4 decades, we talked of a long sea journey from Calcutta in 1902 and we discussed the differences between the zoos of today and way back then.
On Friday, this email dropped into my ‘Inbox’. I’ve blogged before on the subject of Why I Write, but ‘letters’ such as this make me wish I could go on writing and advocating ‘story’ forever.
I just wanted to thankyou so very much for the pure inspiration you gave to our daughter Isabella and her class mates on your recent visit to Kangaroo Ground Primary School.
Belle couldn’t stop talking about you and your friends, Queenie resonated so well with her that her retelling of the story had me driving home to Eltham through eyes full of tears. Thankyou so much.’
Friday I also received an advance of the paperback of ‘Queenie: One Elephant’s Story’ which will be released in January. A launch is being planned and I am hoping lots of children, who now know Queenie’s story, will come along and help me celebrate her life.