Last weekend I went to the Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature exhibition at the National Library of Australia:
Seven Little Australians, The Magic Pudding, The Rainbow Serpent, and Where is the Green Sheep? are much-loved children’s books that have been read and shared over the decades. They are just some of the books featured in Story Time, an exhibition of Australian children’s literature from the colonial period through to the present day. It includes books for very young children through to teenagers, as well as other material associated with these stories. Get ready to venture into a kaleidoscopic landscape of words, pictures, people, places and animals as Story Time reacquaints you with old friends and introduces you to new ones.Blurb on entrance to exhibit at NLA
This is a fabulous exhibition. The first exhibit is Australia’s first children’s book, A Mother’s Offering to Her Children by Charlotte Waring Atkinson (also known as Charlotte Barton), published in 1841.
The exhibition had drafts of books, such as this one from author Emily Rodda (real name Jennifer Rowe). Apparently when Jennifer began writing her Deltora Quest series there was little in the way of high fantasy for children. I wonder if she had any idea of how hugely popular this series would become?
Below is the explanation for the illustrator of what should be in the images for the book Dinosaurs Love Cheese (2013) by Jackie French and below that one of the final illustrations.
The last one I want to talk about is a wonderful book called Possum Magic by Mem Fox. Published in 1983 the book has been in print ever since. It tells the story of Hush, a possum (note to any American readers, different to an opossum), whose Grandma Poss has made her invisible to protect her from danger. They travel to seek a cure for the invisibility and sample foods, such as lamingtons and vegemite on their way.
This was the first of Mem Fox’s books. It’s hard to believe now, but it was rejected 9 times. Below is a page from her first draft along with a note from Mem about that first draft.
Definitely an exhibition worthy of a visit.