February 4, 2018
Heat Wave No. 3 February 4th 2018
Of course it’s summer. Of course I live in Adelaide. Of course everyone’s now back at work or school, so of course there’s yet another heatwave looming at the end of this week. Of course that’s what usually happens at this time of the year, but it’s always a shock to live through days and days of temperatures over 37ºC/100ºF. And it’s always sad to watch plants wilt in sadness, shrivel and then die, in spite of one’s best efforts to save them.
And it’s always interesting to see what my fingers type when I sit down to write. I intended to say such and such, but I found myself saying this and that instead. The same happens when I sit down to start a story. I didn’t intend to complain about the weather. I’m a summer girl. I love it! But it ‘s hot, there’s no denying. So let’s move on…
2017 was a wonderful year, as I think I may have said several times. I didn’t dare to hope that 2018 would be anywhere near as good. I was perfectly happy with the way things were, counting blessings left, right, and over the moon.
But grand things have happened already.
I gave a speech on Australia Day (Jan.26th), finishing with a reading of I’m Australian Too, which praises of our immigration history and our tolerant, multicultural cohesion. Several people (adults) told me they’d had tears in their eyes. I feel a combination of alarm and joy when my books make people cry.
Australia Day is fraught with complex feelings, nationally: grief for the Aboriginal peoples, and celebration for those receiving their citizenship. I hope I got the tone right. Here’s what I said:
‘Thank you. It’s such a privilege to be here on such a beautiful day.
‘I would like to begin by recognising that today is a day of great sorrow and grief for the Aboriginal people of Australia, including the Kuarna people on whose land we find ourselves at this moment in history. I acknowledge that their lives and land have been most dreadfully affected by the arrival of the foreigners, our ancestors, who arrived in Australia in 1788. I pay the first peoples of Australia my deepest respect at this time.
‘And simultaneously, I pay my greatest respect to those of you who made the momentous decision to come to Australia from your original homelands. I’m wildly excited to meet those of you who have become new citizens today, from so many different parts of this planet. I know many of you have lived here for many years and I’m thankful that you have finally made the decision to sign on the dotted line, even though you know you’ll get fined if you don’t vote on election day! And to the brand-new citizens who have arrived only in the last few years (what stories you must have!), I know you’re already making an incredible contribution to this country and I thank you so much for deciding to come. This must be a very emotional day for you. A thousand welcomes, Aussies!
‘As you know, I’m a writer. My first book was Possum Magic, a madly, Australian book. My most recent book is even more madly Australian, if you can believe it—and it’s pretty much written for a day like today. It’s called I’m Australian Too, and the wonderful illustrator is an Indian Australian, who is a recent, and very welcome citizen of Australia: Ronojoy Ghosh. Allow me to read it….’
[The book tells the immigration history of Australia, beginning with the Aboriginal peoples and moving right through to the Syrians who have come here most recently to escape the current terrors in their country.]
This what I was wearing when I left the house.
Er, I wore it all day, not just leaving the house!
A Review in the Horn Book
Another lovely 2018 occurrence has been the starred (!!) Horn Book review of the USA edition of Ducks Away! Judy Horacek illustrated the book in a hilarious and delightful way. She manages, in her inimitable fashion, to paint/create so clearly and cleverly that small children can grasp immediately what’s going on, and fall in love with the action. Here’s what the prestigious Horn Book had to say: