December 29, 2020

Some year! Christmas New Year 2020/2021

I’m imagining that at this moment in the world’s history every Facebook entry, every blog, card, tweet, diary, letter, journal, instagram, email and so on, will mention the ghastliness of 2020 and how glad we are that it’s over, and how much we’re looking forward to 2021, so I won’t mention any of that. Although I now have. Darn. I had hoped not to be boring. Too late!

Do we really need to tell each other what it was like?  We can remember 2020, surely. I remember best what an unusual year it was for my health (excellent) and relaxation (endless), even though I feel I’m blaspheming when I say so, since many millions have been affected so terribly and continue to suffer so grievously. My little family and I happen to live —through an accident of life choices— in one of the luckiest states in one of the luckiest Covid countries in the world: Australia, I love you. But I feel ridiculously guilty that we haven’t suffered as others have. My guilt-ridden love and sympathy to anyone who has indeed been ill, and to everyone who has  been locked-down for weeks and months, and to anyone who has lost dearly loved members from family-and-friendship groups. Such an unimaginable woe.

To those of you in winter right now (late December 2020) I assure you that summer always returns. I hope these Australian summer skies above the grape vines this week lighten up your world.

I have no news, really. (I just knew I ought to indicate I was still alive after such a long silence.) Two new books are coming out next year but I’ll be writing about them in  more detail in due course. The first is Early One Morning, illustrated by Catherine Devenier, published by Beach Lane Books. It will be available in March in the USA, and in Australia in February, published by Penguin RandomHouse. One of its lovely early reviews called it ‘a mid-century-style classic’, which is exactly what I had hoped for. It looks like a picture book from the 1950s. The artist had made it absolutely hilarious for both children and adults.

I haven’t written anything new this entire year, nor have I missed that arduous activity in any way. All I’ve done is re-write, and re-write, and re-write books already in the pipeline and Coming Soon to Somewhere Near You! Writing picture books is, as I know from long experience, not for the faint-hearted. This month, my editor Allyn Johnston and I finally nailed book we’d been working on for eleven  years. A picture book! Under 500 words! Eleven years!

A magical aspect of writing for children is that I rarely know what happens to the books that leave my mind to live in other people’s lives. I can only imagine the reactions, and hope that happiness is the result. I have no idea what pleasure they may bring little children, nor what grinding boredom they may bring to the parents who have to read those stories over and over again. Then photos like this one pop into my world and make me gasp: so this is what can happen! The three children in the top picture live near me. The parents set up the photo to look like one of the pages in my book Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. The likenesses were so astonishing I did a literal double-take, but guess what? It’s real—and adorable, as you see…

There’s been a ‘thing’ this year, commonly known as Covid brain: a sort of fuzzy slowness and flatness, a lack of zing. I’m in the throes of it right now, relieved to have made blog-contact at last, if briefly, and even more relieved to know I don’t actually have to write another thing this time around, except to say I’m thinking of you, whoever you are, wherever you are in this big wide world, and sending my love and every best wish for 2021.

We can now turn over that page…

Mem xxx

Adelaide, South Australia