Walk-A-Book

Last week I received an email from Leonie Jordan, the Education-Marketing exec at Walker Books (who are publishing my new narrative non-fiction picture book Python later this year). They have set up a NEW blog Walk-A-Book, just for National Year of Reading and she wrote:
As you are a National Year of Reading Ambassador (and of course a consummate blogger) we were hoping you might be interested in writing the opening post for us?
and of course I jumped at the opportunity. SO … here is my post::

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I love 2 read. Now you may not consider that an amazing insight or revelation into the life of a full time children’s author. After all people usually consider writing and reading to go hand in hand and they are correct but reading wasn’t something I always loved to do. There were other distractions to entertain a growing boy like trees to climb to spy on the neighbours, although I did enjoy reading – a little.

Today though, I love 2 read. I am very specific in what I read, unlike my taste in music which is very, very eclectic. Yesterday, while pondering on this I was listening to the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture played by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra while today I have Ella Fitzgerald singing those wonderful jazz tunes and I am about to be immersed in Bob Dylan. It also helps that my wife is a teacher librarian. I don’t read books written for adults (big kids I call them).

This house is filled with ALL manner of children’s books, many of which are signed by the creators; picture books, junior fiction, older fiction, toddler books and non-fiction. But that is as far as the library in this house goes. Well, there are a few obscure biographies and scientific texts and journals.

I especially love picture books. I love the way those immensely talented illustrators can take a story that I have written, which I already thought was multi-layered, and weave and craft further layers into my story with their illustrations. A simple picture book people say – not likely. Just look at those pictures and you will see. Maybe my love of picture books comes from my teaching background and having children interpret stories themselves. Picture books are works of art that one day might be held in such high esteem that our Art Galleries will value them as much as they do the latest multi million dollar acquisition and proudly have them on permanent display.

I love 2 read most anywhere. Even though I love maps and can usually navigate them very well, I can’t read while I travel in a car, which is probably why I do lots of the driving (and no, it is not because I have to be in control). I can’t read while I am travelling in busses or trains – which would make those journeys rather long and tedious were it not for the fact that as I am a children’s writer and a keen observer. This mode of transportation is great for taking notes and scribbling down ideas – but not for too long. You can see the post at the Walk-A-Book blog and have a look at the beautiful header too. Check it out often as more posts will be coming but for now go and have a look.

Fortunately I can read on planes because there has been a lot of international travel lately speaking at conferences on my favourite subjects – writing and Australian children’s books. And having just returned from New York, I can easily tell of the highlights of the trip. I loved visiting New York Public Library (nypl.org). There are 4 research libraries and over 90 branch libraries scattered around New York but the 42nd Street Library where I was caught “Reading Between The Lions” is just amazing! Being surrounded by those glorious books and book cases in the reading rooms was exciting. And then the big one – standing in front of the display case holding the original Winnie-the-Pooh characters on which A. A. Milne based his literary creations. This bear is just like my bear that proudly inhabits a chair next to our bed. Piglet is small in Milne’s books, but seeing him in ‘real life’ in the case makes me realise how small he really is. That’s one less item on my bucket list.

And while I was there I wanted to register for a library card but as I don’t currently reside in New York City that I couldn’t do. But somewhere in this house where I live I do have my Reader’s Card from the Library of Congress (Washington D.C.) which I acquired when I was working in the USA. Note to self: renew card next time in DC – well I would if I lived there. I also have the cards from other local libraries where I have lived here in Sydney and from my college and universities (both here in Australia and the USA), and I still use my university card to access the online journals.

Reading for me is more than part of my job. It is a lifestyle. I do enjoy watching television (especially Dr. Who) but I love 2 read more. And yes I do read digitally. I have an iPad and I read on the iPad but I do love 2 read the traditional book more.

I love the sound of the book, first opened by ME, the crisp clean pages that creak open as they are turned.
I love the smell of a book, either the old book slightly musty and worn or the newly printed and packaged smell.
I love the feel of the book in my hands, the turning of the page, the glancing at the next page just to see if my predictions come true, or the snatch of a glance at the end that I sometimes take to see if I am right!
I love the fanning of the pages to see the animated art work.
I love that books let me imagine, allow me to escape, permit me to dream.
I love books …
… and I love 2 read.

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Do check out the Walk-A-Book blog and you can see my post there. And check in there often because there will be regular posts there from all sorts of bookish folk – including teachers and lbrarians.
Yeah!
Thanks Leonie and thanks Walker Books.

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