Children’s Book Council of Australia National Conference

A Myriad of Possibilities

19 – 21st May 2016 at Menzie’s Hotel in Sydney


The CBCA is a not-for-profit, volunteer run organisation which aims to ‘engage the community with literature for Young Australians.’ Last year they celebrated 70 years.

Every two years the CBCA has a National Conference. This year is was in Sydney and what a fabulous conference it was with over 300 delegates listening to 35 of Australia’s top children’s book creators, publishers and book sellers.

Congratulations to CBCA NSW – Gail Erskine, Margaret Hamilton, Felicity Jagavkar and the CBCA NSW committee for organising an excellent event.

The conference kicked off with a welcome cocktail party at Custom’s House. Robyn Ewing made the opening address and then we were treated to a taste of Wendy Blaxland’s latest play- ‘Pioneers and Petticoats’- talented actress- Bridget O’Sullivan playing Lola Montez.

Libby Gleeson opened the Friday morning session at the Menzies. Among other things she spoke about the physiology of the brain and the impact of reading on the development of neural pathways.

Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs entertained us with stories about his writing career and he stressed the vital importance of school libraries- he had no arguments there.

There were so many highlights for me- the panel with Deb Abela, James Roy, Jack Heath and George Ivanoff on ‘How to hook young Readers’ was a wonderful discussion. Then there was Susanne Gervay and Anna Pignataro speaking about their collaboration on ‘Elephants have Wings’. Steven Herrick talking about the wonders and dangers of self-publishing on Amazon… Nathan Luff telling us about the possibilities of stories to screen… Graeme Base imparting stories about his success with ‘Animalia’ … there were so many interesting sessions. I can’t list them all here.

The Short List of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards were announced.

The School Magazine has turned 100 this year so editor Alan Edwards cut a cake to celebrate. All the people who have been published in the School Magazine were asked out the front for a photo. I was excited to join the throng as my story ‘The Year of the Monkey’ is going to be in the September issue of Blast Off.

But my favourite moment of the conference had to be the Musical Celebration on Friday afternoon. Composer and conductor George Ellis created music to accompany Julie Vivas illustrations. Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas sat in the front row as their picture books were flashed onto the screen. A young girl with an operatic voice sang or recited the words while the chamber orchestra played. It was absolutely stunning. What a fabulous tribute to 2 outstanding Australian children’s book creators.

Our CBCA NSW Branch Inc Northern Sydney Sub-branch has invited Julie Vivas and Margaret Wild to be guest speakers at our Christmas Party on Wed 30th November.

All in all, this year’s CBCA National Conference was a resounding success. Once again I am impressed by the passion, enthusiasm, warmth and generosity of the children’s book community in Australia- CBCA, SCBWI and others. We have so much extraordinary talent and a growing list of outstanding literature for children.

We know that a love of reading is such a valuable gift to give kids. We know how important it is to share our stories. I know that being part of this community enriches my spirit and charges my batteries. That’s why I like to be part of the CBCA.