More on Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature

If you read yesterday’s blog post you will know that I spent an hour  yesterday morning blogging about my time at the recent Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature, only to lose it all. It is now in that black hole in cyberspace.

No time to dwell on what cannot be recovered. So I trudged on, trying to remember what I had originally put in.  Couldn’t finish it yesterday as the insertion of pictures is very time consuming (for me anyway).  And, woke up in the middle of the night remembering I had forgotten to add something.


The festival started on Monday 31 August and ended on Monday 7 September.  I manned a tent, as part of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) from the Wednesday till the Friday. 

But before  I go any further, I must first show you the cosy Book Garden bookshop set up by two charming gentlemen.  I don’t think the following pictures I took do it justice but the bookstore looked soooo lovely, positioned in one of the beautiful wood panelled rooms on the ground floor of the gorgeous plantation style mansion at Woodlands on Marburg. (see prior blog entry describing the mansion)

BookGarden library Ipswich festival

I spent as much time as I could  browsing through many children’s books.   I took a bundle, found a little nook and read away.


And the Pièce de résistance  – seeing my children’s book, ‘Bubble Gum Trouble and other Giggle Poems’  sitting in a pile next to  lovely books by well known authors and illustrators. 

BGT in bookstore

I actually hadn’t expected to see my book there as I was advised that it was probably a good idea to supply the books myself and sell at the tent as it was less work for the co-organiser, John Moffatt.  But there it was.  I was very happy with the sales over the eight days – only three books left on the Sunday, with one day left.  Then it was off to Esk.  And no – I know what you are thinking – there were more than four books provided by the publisher.

I should add here that, Jenny Stubbs,  coordinator Ipswich District Teacher-Librarian Network and Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature, did an amazing job.  And the volunteers were very organised and friendly. Everything ran so smoothly.  But I forgot to take a photograph of  Jenny’s t-shirt.  Jenny and the  volunteers wore lovely, bright  t-shirts which  represented the theme of the festival, ‘Book  Safari.’                                                                               


Each morning, excited school children poured out of  buses for a day’s session at the festival.  Sessions were grouped according to levels: primary, middle and upper State Schools, with each group attending three sessions (on a rotation basis).

During the three week days that I was there, it was funny how each day differed for me in regards to the interaction of the students.

On the Wednesday I felt like a rock star. Students were very eager to collect autographs and ran with books and scraps of paper, from illustrator and author , Lynelle Zita Westlake’s tent to mine, then onto the tent manned by author/poet/artist/calligrapher Peter Taylor and writer/editor/artist, Jennifer Poulter.  There, students lined up not just for autographs but also  eager for Peter to sign their Christian name in beautiful calligraphy.

The line at Peter’s  table didn’t wane until the afternoon sessions were due to begin. 

On the Thursday my bright promotional cards, that can be used as bookmarks, were in great demand.  I didn’t expect my pink business cards to also disappear but  like little bower birds,  the children pecked them off the table.  I had been wondering of late how to dispense with my cards, without throwing them away, as they have my old logo.  So now, with only a small handful left I can get new ones. Yippee!!

And Friday was different again.  I had quite a few children  milling around the table  while I read from my book.  As the children  selected humorous poems,  ‘Trick or Treat’ and ‘April Fool’  were the most popular.  Two little boys made up ‘Knock Knock’ jokes using lines from these poems.  It was so cute.

Here are some pics of the tent area.

Writer/editor/artist, Jenny Poulter and some of her books.

Jennys' books

Jenny Poulter’s award winning children’s book, ‘Mending Lucille., taking the 2009 Crichton Award for New Illustrators. Sarah Davis illustrated the  beautiful pictures for this lovely story. Mending Lucille

Author/poet/artist/calligrapher and  Queensland Coordinator of SCBWI, Peter Taylor.

Peter Taylor2 

Peter at work.

Peter at work

Mmmm. I should have got Peter to write my name in this beautiful artform.

Below, Artist/Author/Illustrator,  Lynelle Zita Westlake at work.


Lynelle’s  lovely books

Lynelle's books

and me.

Me 3 

Now to the sessions.

As the children nestled in rooms, it was of course quiet in the tent/lawn area, so volunteers were able to attend any sessions, as long as we were back at the tents during the breaks.

So on the Wednesday I sat in on sessions with YA writer, Brian Faulkner, and  illustrator, Elise Hurst. Sorry about the blurry photo, but you can identify Elise by her hair. 

Down in the Dungeon with artist Elise Hurst

I first met Elise in May this year at the Page Parlour, Federation Square, as part of Melbourne’s Emerging Writer’s Festival.  From memory,  I think she had blue and pink hair  at that event.  Elise isn’t really an emerging artist but an established artist and now author. Unfortunately I didn’t get to talk to her at the Ipswich festival but I was able to catch one of her sessions in the ‘dungeon’.  I had to be careful of the stairs and remember to duck as I entered and it did feel like being in a dungeon with the stone walls.  With the children contributing their ideas, this talented artist produced a naughty fairy with purple hair (not Elise’s suggestion).

On the Thursday I was entertained by storyteller/author/dancer and didgeridoo player, Boori Pryor,  author/poet/musician Mark Carthew, and children’s entertainers and authors, Pat and Liz Flynn (brother and sister team).

Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos.

On Friday, Anne Haddon from Books Illustrated talked fondly about the  lovely children’s book, ‘Chester and Gil’ by Carol Faulkner (author) and Ann Jamesa (illustrator). My last session for the day was with author/poet Janeen Brian.


Here is the lovely Janeen telling a story with the help of her audience. If you look close enough you can just spy Janeen’s tiny toy monkey that she used for the story.

I couldn’t make the Saturday but the weekend sessions were mainly for teachers. librarians, authors and illustrators, aspiring Children’s/YA authors and illustrators, and anyone interested in children’s and YA literature and illustrations.

My Sunday programme started off with ‘Illustrating’ with Terry Denton and Ann James. This was a very enlightening session and both artists talked openly and humorously about their experiences.  My next tryst was ‘Breaking out in Rhyme’  with Janeen Brian and Mark Carthew. Both authors could open up their own book shop with the number of books each has had published.  My day concluded with Mark McBride’s ‘Airbrush Techniques’.  He captivated and entertained  his audience with his honesty and characteristic Irish humour. I love the way the Irish can laugh at themselves, and I also love the Irish lilt, though I can’t always understand them.
Anyway, Mark produced an amazing dragon, and has now got me interested in airbrush art.
Mark McBride

The dragon really looks like it is going to lift off the page – just amazing.. And that is  Artist Terry Denton’s head in the foreground. You can just catch a peek of Elise’s hair.

I really had a good time, and hope to attend next year’s event by which time I should have two books to promote.








About Helen Ross

Welcome to my creative world. I have many passions; some of which I write about in my blog posts. I have a quirky sense of humour, and dance to the beat of my own drum. Thanks for dropping by and hope you visit again soon. I always have tea, coffee, wine and cake.
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9 Responses to More on Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature

  1. Mark Carthew says:

    Thanks Helen.

    Top festival… and a terrific venue.

    These types of festivals are just so important for developing a cultural appreciation of the creative arts and literature for all ages, especially our children and young adults.

    Well done Ipswich!

    • Thanks Mark
      Yes, it was a top festival – well run.
      By the way I enjoyed your weekday session with the school children, and the Sunday session ‘Breaking out in Rhyme! run by yourself and Janeen Brian’. What a talented pair!

  2. Elise Hurst says:

    Hi Helen,
    Sorry we didn’t catch up! Wasn’t there a wonderful buzz all week? So much fun to be part of it all. Hopefully see you at another one some-time soon. I hope your book does brilliantly.

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review | Helen Ross writes

  4. Kelly Mcdonald says:

    That was a great read!!! Im a newbie here.. so really enjoying reading some of your past bloggs!! I look forward to making it to some of these festivals at the end of 2011.. or come 2012!! well done Helenx x Kels

  5. Jennifer says:

    Great piece of blogging Helen!

  6. Pingback: Book Safari – the Journey to Woodlands! « Jrpoulter’s Weblog

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