Skip to content

June 2013

Megumi and the Bear’s big day

  • by

Organising a kids’ book launch is THE best fun. It’s one step up from a kids’ birthday party and it’s no secret among my friends that I enjoy planning my children’s parties as much as they do. So organising Megumi and the Bear’s big day has been a blast.

Naturally I was hoping for a good turnout but I never dared hope for the kind of crowd that crammed into Paperchain last Saturday. With 65 kids plus their accompanying big people there wasn’t much room to move. It was wild! So often book launches end up being attended mostly by friends and colleagues, so it was wonderful to look around the room and see it filled with unfamiliar faces.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The day before the launch I baked up a Megumi and the Bear-themed storm. My personal favourite? Snowballs, aka cake pops dipped in white chocolate glaze and rolled in coconut. Just because I liked the idea of them, and they tasted pretty good too. Not that I got a look in on the day. The kids swept in and left not a crumb (well maybe a few on the floor). But that’s just as it should be.

Read More »Megumi and the Bear’s big day

We kicked off with a book reading — the first time I’ve read Megumi and the Bear to an audience, so that was pretty special. And there’s nothing quite as lovely as a carpet full of wide-eyed kids.

020_Megumi Book Launch

While I signed books (including one for a Megumi who lives in Japan — how brilliant is that?), the kids ate bear cupcakes and biscuits, jelly cups, and those snowballs (thankfully they were only thrown into mouths).

Then the kids hit the craft table, making a bear mask each, and the goodie bags disappeared in a wild flurry. We drew the lucky door prize, and thanks to generosity of Meg at The Teddy Bear Shop we handed out impossibly soft teddy bears with the first 50 book purchases to some very happy kids.

After an hour of loud and raucous fun, everyone left clutching their goodie bags, books and bears, high on sugar and words. And the best bit? All of it. Because picture books are where it all begins, and playing even the teensiest part in fostering a lifelong love of reading is as good as it gets.

Next stop Sydney! If you’re in the area on 20 July at 2 pm come and join us for Megumi mark two. The illustrator Craig Phillips is flying in from New Zealand to be there, and bringing with him some original Megumi art. There’ll be more giveaways and food and craft. In short, it’ll be a beary good time. (Forgive me, I just couldn’t help myself.)

Finally a very BIG thank you to all the organisations that donated items for the goodie bags: Walker Books, National Library of Australia, Sugar Station and The Teddy Bear Shop. And to photographer Ash Peak who took all these gorgeous snaps.

For more photos from the launch head to my Facebook page. And if you still haven’t got your Megumi fill, Kids Book Review’s photo spread of the launch is here.

The story behind the story

  • by

Riding the publicity trail for a book can be surreal and lovely or exhausting and tedious. Sometimes it’s all of those things at once. It’s a strange experience to talk endlessly about the story behind your book, but fascinating to hear readers’ perceptions of the work. Many reviewers, for instance, have noted that Megumi and the Bear is about never giving up hope. They’re absolutely right, and yet this wasn’t consciously in my mind as I wrote it.

I’ve also realised that in recounting Megumi’s origins I’ve inadvertently given some readers a false impression. I’ve been talking about how this picture book is unusual because the illustrations came first. Craig Phillips emailed me a handful of drawings of a little girl and a bear playing in the snow, inspired by a trip to Japan, and I was in turn inspired to write the story that became Megumi and the Bear. However, it wasn’t until Alex Sloan interviewed me on ABC that I realised people have assumed that the story was all mapped out in pictures and I simply added the words. Not so. The illustrations were only the starting point, or the spring board, for the story. None of those original illustrations are in the finished book, though a couple of pages are variations on them. (Here’s an original so you can see why I fell madly in love with these two. Though you’ll notice how different the bear looks.)

Now what should we do

Sometimes in the publicity whirlwind it’s easy to lose the sheer pleasure of finally seeing your precious book getting out and about. As Craig Phillips wrote to me: ‘We should just be enjoying the fact that we have a book out. How many people have their own children’s book out on the stands?? Not many!’ A very good reminder.

Read More »The story behind the story

Come Saturday I intend to enjoy every second of our launch party at Paperchain. There’s nothing like a room full of kids to unleash joy and excitement. Bring it on!

(And if you missed my chat with Alex you can listen in below. It was possibly the most fun I’ve had on air.)