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- author Jackie French

Friday 8 March 2024

Guest Post: Romi Sharp on A Look Into The Lens Of Our Australian HeArt

As a creative in the children’s book industry, it’s quite common for inspiration to come from memories or experiences or nostalgic moments that remind us of our own childhood. 

Then, we blend those sentiments with our here and now. It’s like tying the pieces together to form some kind of warm and fuzzy ball of string that comes back around in a full circle (or something like that!).

The Just Write For Kids anthology – Our Australian HeART – was inspired by this very ball-of-string collection of moments for me.

As a new migrant in the mid-80s, many first experiences that struck chords for me as a young child were our regular family road trips along the south and east coasts of Australia. We did the BIGs and the littles, the wilds and the mesmerising. Acquiring souvenirs was a highlight, but so was acquiring a sense of curiosity, imagination, appreciation, and a new kind of belonging.

What I also discovered early on was Australian art. And in particular, the art of Ken Done. Yes, iconic in that era, but his vivid colours and intricate details of popular Australian locations were always kind of like reading and enjoying a picture book in my eyes.

So, fast forward to a few years into the foundation of Just Write For Kids – an online space for children’s authors and illustrators to collectively engage and support one another’s creative journeys. Our ‘Pitch It! Competition’ for writers was already established, but my heart had space for another. I longed for a collaborative project that raised opportunities for the talented creatives who literally bring visual magic to the pages in our beloved picture books – the illustrators.

Finally, in 2023, enter the first ‘Picture It! Competition’ for author-illustrators! We’re producing an anthology!

Now, what have my childhood memories and experiences got to do with this anthology?

Answer: Everything!

Our Australian HeART is a colourful look into the lens of Australia – a culmination of sixteen unique and vivid Australian art pieces (move over, Ken Done!) and heartfelt words capturing each contributors’ hearts about a treasured part of their country. From the BIGs to the littles, the wilds to the mesmerising. We have hopes that it will be appreciated and explored. We aim for it to spark creativity, curiosity and the imagination. And most importantly, we’d love for this book to be simply enjoyed.

Our contributing artists include:

Rachael Robertson 
Bridget Acreman 
Suzanne Barton 
Mel Corrigan and Rhonda Ooi 
Kim de Haan 
Michele Dodd 
Alisha Dyer 
Naomi Eccles-Smith 
Hannah Friend 
Daniela Glyntzos 
- Imogen Hartland 
Jacqui Hewlett 
Carla Hoffenberg 
Jennifer Horn 
Jessica and Lorraine Miller 
- Jeanette Stampone 

 Don't forget to check out the fantastic review of Our Australian HeART by our own resident artist and reviewer, Elizabeth Vercoe!

Romi Sharp is the director of Just Write For Kids Australia and publicist / marketing manager of Books On Tour PR & Marketing. She is supremely fond of reading, writing and reviewing picture books, and the teacher in her loves to extract every possible angle by exploring their possibilities with animation, graphics, fun and educational resources, and topical content.

Romi lives in Melbourne in a suburb aplenty with Oodles, cafes with good hot chocolate and easy access to books and nature – things that inspire a healthy dose of ideas and creativity!

Explore the Just Write For Kids website or follow their Facebook page and Support page.

For more information on this anthology visit the Our Australian HeART website.

Learn more about Books On Tour PR & Marketing via Instagram.