Last week Sydney hosted it’s annual Writers’ Festival. It’s the largest writers’ festival in Australia (which isn’t too hard), and the fifth largest in the world, which is kind of impressive given how far away we are from everyone else. I have always watched the festival from afar. I’ve never managed to get myself there, just wished and regretted when I hadn’t quite made it. This year there was a reason to go. My favourite children’s author was talking. He also happens to be the Drama Queen’s favourite author too. Every time she has to choose a present for a friend or cousin she goes straight to his books.
Oliver Jeffers creates beautiful children’s books. I’m so glad I had children because without them I might not have discovered his books. When I saw him listed as part of the festival I knew that I had to go and see him talk. Fortunately Mr Perfect gave me a day off, so I ventured out on my own, such a rare treat. Another bonus was that the Festival is held in Sydney’s Walsh Bay, on the historic finger wharves. I love this part of Sydney. To reach Walsh Bay from the bus I had to walk through the Rocks. I’m not sure if its the historic architecture and atmosphere or the memory of too many nights mis spent in the pubs, but I always feel happy in The Rocks. I love imagining the society that grew up around this area, Sydney’s oldest and probably most interesting.
There was a buzz around Walsh Bay that I hadn’t witnessed before. With a diverse collection of writers speaking, I witnessed the whole spectrum of the book loving community. There were babies, kids, adults and seniors, all equally as excited to soak up a little piece of knowledge and inspiration. I wish I could have seen some more writers, Roddy Doyle was also speaking, but he clashed with the Daredevil’s birthday, so I had to give him a miss.
After queuing in the rain, which was so much fun as I taught people how to make hats out of newspaper, the doors were opened and we filed into the space that would provide us with an hour of Oliver Jeffers’ time and inspiration. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew he was and Irishman living in New York, kinda cool, but when I saw a very creative looking soul in a hat, vest and jacket I knew I was in for an interesting hour.
I wish I had the memory to recall Oliver’s stories word for word, but I was too mesmerised by his Irish accent tinged with the slightest little bit of New York, and can only remember the feeling of happiness that I felt as he told us how his stories are created. He doesn’t consider himself a writer, he is an artist first, and it’s the weaving of words and images that make his books so interesting and attractive. It may be the fact the the books are not created for children, not really created for any audience besides himself that might be the real reason that they work so well. Oliver Jeffers doesn’t write children’s stories, he creates picture books, picture books he would like to read, and I’m another reader who is hooked.
The best part of my day was that I got to take a little piece of Oliver Jeffers home to the Drama Queen. I picked up two of his books and got them signed for the munchkins. When she opened the book and saw her name, she couldn’t believe that Oliver Jeffers had signed a book just for her. She asked me to say thank you to him and tell him that he wrote her favourite books. The good news was that I had already told him. So, if by the odd chance that you happen to read this post Oliver Jeffers, you made a 4 year old and her much older Mum’s day.
If you haven’t read any of Oliver Jeffers books, you really should. You can find them on his website here. The Drama Queen’s favourites are Lost and Found and Up and Down (she has a bit of a thing for the penguin), though she is also rather fond of The Heart in the Bottle and the Incredible Book Eating Boy as well.