Congratulations to Carole Wilkinson for winning the KOALA older readers award last Friday. I went up to Taronga Park Zoo for the announcement on Friday and stayed for lunch. The spontanous cheer from the audience when Dragonkeeper's win was announced left Carole almost speechless. This book has an extraordinary power to reach out and touch people's hearts. It's a book without pretention and the more powerful for it.
The event was humble (in the better sense of the word) and humbling, It was superbly orchestrated - I've not seen a book event better done, or prepared for. I was impressed when Val Noake started with an acknowledgement that we were on traditional Aboriginal land and paid respect to the elders, past, present and future. That heralded the humility and the inclusiveness of the event. Every school in the auditorium was acknowledged and every school let out an affirming cheer as their name was read out. There were lots of authors and illustratos lining the front row. Matt Dray had flown down from northern Queensland with Dougal. There was a Hall of Fame for the books that had appeared many times on the short list but never actually got over the line for a gong. A neat way of acknowledging those really consistent performers. Felice persuaded the kids to do an exquisie slo-mo of a crowd cheering one of their own on to do a slow mo specky. (Morris Gleitzman was a bit of smart arse about it when he came up next but that's Morris.) It was excellent to catch up with Richard Tulloch. We went to the same school and during a brief stint at Penguin I assisted Mr Biffy's Battle along its way through the publishing process. He's spending half his time in Amsterdam. All up an excellent event.