'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 19 August 2019

10 Reasons to Visit Story Time: Australian Children's Literature Exhibition - with Dr Belle Alderman AM

Design adapted from: Koala Shape Book, (Sydney: John Sands Ltd., 1931) nla.cat-vn4272738

KBR warmly welcomes Dr Belle Alderman AM, Director of the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature with this guest post on the incredibly wonderful upcoming children's literature exhibition at the National Library of Australia. Here are 10 reasons why you simply cannot miss this stunning, extensive (free!) exhibition. For more on the exhibition and how to plan your visit, see here.

The National Library of Australia and the National Centre for Australia Inc have collaborated to bring you Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature at the National Library from 22 August 2019 - 9 February 2020. Here is your unique opportunity to enjoy almost 200 years of stories for children and the young at heart. Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature  offers many associated programs for adults all described on the National Library of Australia and the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature Inc websites. 

1.What are two very rare items?
A Mother’s Offering to Her Children published in 1841, featuring a child’s name neatly handwritten and coloured in opposite the title page, also coloured in!

The 1915 preliminary artwork by May Gibbs for her first Australian-published children’s book, Gumnut Babies : Words and Pictures (1916).

May Gibbs, Study for Lovers of Music for Gum-Blossom Babies, 1915, National Centre for
Australian Children’s Literature, © The Northcott Society and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance
2. What book has sold over five million copies after being rejected by nine publishers as Hush the Invisible Mouse?
That’s Possum Magic, of course! See the manuscript including Mem Fox’s famous post-it note.

3. Are there special attractions for children?
Yes! There are text panels at child-height that encourage children to think about the artworks. A ‘Playtime’ room features a spectacular wall of some 20 individual artworks from favourite books. These are there to inspire children to write and illustrate their own books.

Children are encouraged to lift the black curtains protecting Ida Rentoul Outhwaite’s delicate and spectacular watercolours. Story Box Library films of several stories in the exhibition are available for viewing and listening. 

4. Are there examples of the creative process?
Several! Bob Graham’s Silver Buttons (2013) and Max (2000) feature original artworks plus his amazing dummies detailing his thinking process. Alison Lester’s highly detailed and fascinating planning for Sophie Scott Goes South (2012) also feature, along with a fascinating dialogue between Jackie French and Nina Rycroft, plus a tiny laparello for Dinosaurs Love Cheese (2013).

Bob Graham, Artwork for Max, c.2000, National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature,
reproduced by permission of Walker Books Australia Pty Ltd
5. How do artists get their jacket covers just right? 
Have a look at Graeme Base’s final and draft jacket cover for The Eleventh Hour (1988), which shows his highly detailed pencil sketches and intricate positioning of animals.

6. What is a highlight of works by Australia’s First Nations people? 
Several works are presented, along with an entire wall devoted to Dick Goobalathaldin Roughsey’s The Rainbow Serpent (1979), which is simply unforgettable. 

7. What early work has never been out of print, is widely translated, televised by the BBC and the ABC, offered as an audio recording, appeared as a stage musical and made into a movie? 
This is Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner (1894), here presented with a portion of her manuscript and her comments on why she wrote this favourite classic.

8. Favourites! What’s on show by Shaun Tan and Jeannie Baker? 
Shaun has loaned several artworks from his personal collection, including detailed doodles, pencil drawings and various studies for both The Arrival (2010) and The Lost Thing (2000). Jeannie’s relief collages for The Hidden Forest (2000) offer mesmerising detail.

9. Who is Australia’s first merchandised author and what’s on show? 
That would be May Gibbs. A large showcase features handmade miniature calendars with May Gibbs’s Gumnuts, Forget-me-nots and A Bush Greeting to You; The Gumnut Game; Gumnut Babies 750 Piece Puzzle; a booklet of sticker fun; a Peek-a-Book Sweater; Gumnut Baby Badge; Gumnut Babies Fabric by the fabric designer Peter Stripes; a Gumnut Babies plate and a collection of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie toys.

10. Which authors’ manuscripts will be on exhibit? 
Here are just a few! Nan Chauncy, Jackie French, Morris Gleitzman, Elyne Mitchell, Joan Phipson, Emily Rodda, Ivan Southall, Nadia Wheatley and Patricia Wrightson. And check out whose typewriter is on exhibit!

A Memento of Story Time

The experience of Story Time is not over when viewers leave the exhibition or another exhibition takes its place. There is a ‘companion’ book, Story Time Stars: Favourite Characters from Australian Picture Books (2019), written by Stephanie Owen Reeder, which is the perfect companion when visiting and later reminiscing favourites featured in the exhibition.  

Story Time Stars spans 100 years and captures 60 favourite and memorable Australian children’s book characters appearing between 1918 and 2018. Each character has its own double page spread, a typical illustration from the book, story précis, its first appearance as a book, on stage or on screen, awards won and other points of interest. Story Time Stars is a welcome memento for family sharing of favourites.

Story Time Stars is out 1 September. You can learn more about the book, and pre-order, right here.