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The rush: an advance copy arrives

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Last night I did a happy dance. On the spot, feet drumming the floor, a yowl of joy wanting out. And this is why. A package arrived. A big brown package with a Walker Books sticker on it. I sat on the couch with my two older kids. I felt giddy with anticipation. I pulled the little red cord and…carefully removed one advance hardback copy of Megumi and the Bear.

Honestly, I’ve never felt so excited holding a book in my hands. Why this is I’m not sure. After all, it’s not my first. But there’s something about the way this story arrived in a rush — a kind of gift. And the pleasure of working with the illustrator, my dear friend Craig Phillips. And perhaps it is also that I can share it — truly share it — with my children.

As we sat together on the couch we were about to read another chapter of the Famous Five (they are madly obsessed, and we are devouring the series in chunks every evening) before my husband placed the package in my lap. So when my nine-year-old — who is really too old for this book, and has already read it multiple times at draft and proof stages — said, ‘Let’s read your book first, Mum’, I felt a small thrill.

And so we read the book together.

Megumi and the bear play hide-and-seek.
Megumi hides carefully and tries to make her breathing quiet.
But the bear always finds her.

‘That’s because the bear can sniff her out!’ my six-year-old son said with a grin, and we all laughed.
‘It still makes me sad when the bear goes away,’ my daughter said after we’d finished. ‘But then it’s happy in the end.’

And I’m happy, too. So damn happy the grin won’t be wiped.