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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Back From The YABBAs

Andy Griffiths accepts his award

A slightly adapted version of a post first published on Write On!

I've spent a wonderful morning with five of my terrific students and a whole lot more at the YABBA Award ceremony.

We met at Flinders Street Station this morning - poor Dylan was sick, so there was Ryan,Thando, Paige, Kristen and Selena, three of whom were readers on the Banned Books Week DVD. From the station, we got to Collins St to catch the 109 tram to Kew, where the event was happening at Trinity Grammar. We started to walk down Charles St to the school, when someone pointed to a sign on a corner building that said"YABBA Awards" and sure enough, the building was a Trinity Grammar hall. We were the first school there, which was nice - I'd worried we would be running late. We parked our bags at the side, where there were chairs. It seemed they expected the students to sit on the floor, but as there were only five of them and the rest seemed to be primary children, I got permission for them to sit on the chairs.

The MC was Graham Davey who, apart from running YABBA, is a professional story teller and knows how to work the audience, who were delighted with him. There was a sort of Mr Squiggle thing in which children were invited up to do a scribble which three of the guest artists( well, two - one was Felice Arena, who's a writer, author of the Specky McGee novels, but did a great bit of art)had to turn into a drawing.

Some very cute children brought a special cake to Corinne Fenton, author of the book about Queenie, the Melbourne Zoo elephant, as it was Queenie's birthday. The audience sang happy birthday to Queenie.

Corinne Fenton and elephant cake

Andy Griffiths won two prizes, one for Just Doomed(older readers), the other inducted into the Hall Of Fame as it had been nominated five times. The picture book prize went to Fearless In Love by Colin Thompson and illoed by Sarah Davis. The prize for younger readers went to Alice Miranda At School by Jacqueline Harvey, who couldn't make it but sent a video message. The Year 7 to 9 prize went to Chris Morhew's Phoenix Files. Chris, a teacher in NSW, couldn't make it, so his publisher accepted the prize on his behalf. It was a reminder that most writers here have day jobs. If I hadn't lived in Melbourne I couldn't have made it either, but as it was, I wanted to grab the chance for my foundation book clubbers to have one more excursion together and we went.

I had three books to be signed for students who weren't there. I had thought Vikki Wakefield would be coming, but she wasn't there, so I'm afraid Jenny will have to have her copy of Friday Brown unsigned. :-( I got Dylan a copy of 26 StoreyTreehouse.  Natasha had requested one of Oliver Phommavanh's books - and guess what? The two gentlemen were sitting together in the author section and I sat next to them and asked for their autographs, which they gave readily, and very nice ones too, not just their names or "best wishes" but cute drawings. I introduced Kristen to Carole Wilkinson and she finally got a Dragonkeeper book signed. Selena had a chat with Gabrielle Wang, who signed for her in Chinese (Selena is a Chinese immigrant).

While my students wandered around mingling with the guests, I sat down for a signing and was pleasantly surprised at how many children asked for my autograph, two little girls even asking for a photo with me! The book stall, alas, didn't have any of my books and I hadn't brought any because it would have been too much to lug books home and then out again by train and tram, but I had brought a pile of Crime Time bookmarks and they all went. Hopefully some children will request copies at their libraries, at least, if not buy. ;-)

I sat next to Sophie Laguna, who gave me a pen because mine had gone missing and I hadn't time to look for another with those delightful children making my day by asking for my autograph. Sophie had to leave soon because of a babysitter at home, so I chatted with Gabrielle Wang and Nicky Johnston. Here's a photo of us, after Gabrielle kindly signed a couple of bookmarks for my students.
L-R Nicky Johnston, Gabrielle Wang, me

We met my friend George Ivanoff,who has visited my school to launch Wolfborn, and two of the students bought copies of Gamer's Challenge. (George is more cluey than I am and brought his own copies). I got a photo of him with Book Club, but it didn't turn out too well.

Thando was interviewed for the YABBA web site, but I have to get the permission form before they can use it. I hope they do use it; the snippets I could hear sounded good and Thando looked splendid in the school's new uniform, all blue and gold, with her Student Beacon Ambassador badge on.

We left at a little after noon, with a lovely goody bag of some of the short listed books and others and, over lunch in town, sorted which ones the library already has and which it doesn't. Those we already have I let them take home, while we have several new books to gloat over tomorrow at school. Thando had made sure the author's who were there had signed. She also did an interview for the web site and from what I could hear, it was a good one.

 Now to see if I can be invited again next year... And maybe take some of the younger students next time. It just wasn't possible today - the event started in Kew at 9.30 and getting there from Sunshine,we would have had to leave well before school. I took the older ones who could meet me in town and be left at the station on the way home.

They must have felt like Gulliver in Lilliput, with the rest being primary kids, but had a great time anyway! 

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