Last night I attended the Children's Charity Network dinner. It's a sort of literary lunch/dinner in that each table has a writer or illustrator sitting there, but is really about awards for young writers and artists. The annual competition is run by the same people who do Oz Kids In Print, a magazine for and by children, both on line and, for a fee, print. This is something I need to check out for our students, both the competition and the magazine, in consultation with some of my colleagues. See? I went there in my capacity as a writer and ended up thinking of my teaching role! I've bookmarked the web site to look at later - for the moment I have work to prepare for tomorrow.
I was at a table with George Ivanoff, Corinne King and her husband and a proud family who had come from interstate to see their young daughter collect an award for a short story about a volcano. The children's stories and art were published in a magazine that everyone received. The cover was a photograph that had won a prize. It looked very professional, something for which I would pay, but was done by a primary school child.
The young lady who had won a prize for her story was in Grade 5. She said her teacher had helped her, but this was an extensions teacher. Translation: she had this teacher in the first place because she was bright and creative and the school thought she merited extra support. Apparently, the teacher had left the school and still doesn't know she had won this prize! I suggested that if she couldn't get details from the school she try Googling the teacher, as one of my former students did me when she needed help and the school wasn't responding. "But I don't know her surname!" she wailed.
She was a terribly mature little thing. I never talk down to children anyway, though I do confess to the odd endearment. We talked. She told me she really was more interested in music than writing and played two instruments. I made her laugh by telling her that at her age I was reading a book on my music stand while practising scales and my family had to keep coming in and snatching the books away. She said this happened to her too.
The awards were presented over the course of the evening. Unfortunately, despite the screens around the room, there was no way to see the presenters or the presentations unless you were sitting near the stage (I was near the back and with my back to the stage anyway, so had to twist around and stretch to see). Mistake! Sometimes I could barely hear them, especially when people got bored when the awards had gone too long and their own children had had their prizes and chatted, not listening. It might have been better to have kept the photos till the end and perhaps done the awards between courses.
Still, it was a great evening and I'm glad I went. There were some amazingly talented children and teens there who will do wonderfully well in publishing when their time comes. And I got to meet them now.