Showcasing children’s author Diane Jackson Hill
I remember seeing Diana Jackson Hill at a SCBWI Conference at the Hughendon Hotel in Sydney, where this quiet, unassuming lady had brought along her ukulele and everyone joined in for a sing-along. Diane is a loyal and supportive SCBWI Victoria member, a regular at our gatherings. I believe Diane is the consummate quiet achiever, her quest to write and publish children’s books, only beginning with the arrival of her grandchildren.
Her original plan was to get ‘a’ picture book published – as of today, picture book number 7 is due out next year. Diane also won the 2017 Environment Award for Children’s Literature. Her book Chooks in Dinner suits is a book about the Middle Island Maremma Project. The Wilderness Society award honours books that demonstrate a passion for caring for the environment.
From the New Frontier website: Diane is a trained primary teacher with a Graduate Diploma in Music Education. She taught for many years in the classroom, later focusing on classroom music, science and special needs. Diane also worked on festivals for many years – managing and programming. She then managed her husband’s entertainment and music resource business. Diane’s writing career began in her 50’s. She co-authored a series of ukulele books Uke’n Play Ukulele which now has been released worldwide. Her interest in writing picture books was sparked when she became a grandma and she took short courses and workshops to learn the craft.
Queenscliff encounter seals it for local children’s author.
A picture book story came to life for local author Diane Jackson Hill when a seal, complete with fish in mouth, burst out of the water in front of her at the Queenscliff Harbour.
Diane, whose children’s picture book Saving Seal – the plastic predicament was released by Museums Victoria Publishing on October 1, was at the harbour with her granddaughter last month when the playful seal made its appearance.
‘There I was, actually locking eyes with my fictional book character!’ said Diane.
Saving Seal is about a girl and her grandpa keeping watch over a friendly seal in their local bay. They rescue it each time it gets tangled in floating rubbish, and try to work out a plan to prevent it happening again and again.
‘Thankfully, my own seal encounter resembled the happy end of the story,’ said Diane.
The initial idea for this story came while watching a seal at Port Fairy playing with an angler by biting the back end of each fish as it was reeled in.
Due to the growing concern about plastic waste in our ocean, Diane also wanted to write a story about simple things children could do to reduce the use of plastic, and to help prevent it from being washed or blown into the ocean and injuring the animals that live there.
Dr Rebecca McIntosh, a marine scientist at Phillip Island Nature Parks, provided the link to these two ideas.
Dr McIntosh is a member of a team that regularly visits seal colonies and resting places, such as Pope’s Eye in Port Philip Bay, to rescue seals caught up in plastics and fishing gear.
‘Seals present one of the more obvious issues with marine plastic pollution, because it is so visible and the injuries sustained can be awful,’ Dr McIntosh said.
Saving Seal – the plastic predicament is the latest environmental picture-book collaboration between author Diane Jackson Hill and illustrator Craig Smith, who has evoked the Port Philip Bay setting on each page by featuring relevant animal species and local landmarks.
Both author and illustrator are on the same page regarding the environment. As Craig says in the book’s acknowledgements, ‘We need to learn more about our environment. Take responsibility for a patch of it. Be in it, enjoy it and share it.’
Two previous books by Diane and Craig, Chooks in Dinner Suits (Museums Victoria Publishing)
and Windcatcher (CSIRO), was named a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book.
Chooks in Dinner Suits also won the Environmental Picture Book of the Year 2017 and Windcatcher won a Whitley Award in 2020.
‘By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!’ is the catchcry of many campaigns tackling ocean plastics. Saving Seal is a story about people working together to make the right choices, and about making them now.
Saving Seal is available online or at your favourite bookstore, with signed copies available at the Queenscliff Book Shop.