CBCA Big Book Day Out 2014

by Georgie Donaghey

After an eternity of rain, the skies opened up and gave us a glorious taste of spring for the inaugural CBCA Big Book Day Out at the NSW Writers’ Centre, Rozelle.

There were authors to my left and my right. I was surrounded. It was fabulous!

The excitement had been building in the writing industry about this inaugural event, and it did not disappoint. From the moment, it began at 8.30 until 2.30pm there was something for everyone: book launches, author talks, illustrator demonstrations, and a story tent filled with technicolor rugs, plush cushions, posters and stuffed toys. After all the guesses of just how many jelly beans were in the jar and un-jumbling the fairy clues the story tent was an inviting haven for children to relax and hear some much-loved stories.

It had all the excitement of the Easter Show with balloons filling the sky, stalls bustling with fellow lovers of the written word and even a jumping castle.

My eight-year-old daughter and I chatted with Deborah Abela, Kate Forsyth, Sue Whiting, Belinda Murrell, Jacqueline Harvey, Tony Flowers and the list goes on and on.

There was an abundance of gifted story-tellers such as Susanne Gervay donning a pink piggy hat and entertaining the kids with stories from her I am Jack series. Sue Whiting had everyone ready to tackle fires with her picture book; Firefighters and Deborah Abela told tales from the sequel to her award winning book Grimsdon. Lesley Gibbes introduced us to her new picture book while Libby Gleeson, Jill Carter-Hansen and Margaret Roc enchanted children for hours reading an assortment of picture books.

Oliver Phommavanh led the fancy dress parade around the grounds. Sandy Fussell sat under the shade of a tree and bestowed on her young samurai’s the art of origami.

Children made pirate hats adorned with jewels in the craft room, and autograph seekers queued patiently to have books signed by their favourite authors.

There was coffee for the mums and dads and cakes and gelato for the kids. A sausage sizzle at lunch time complimented the festival atmosphere. There were books for sale and an art show showcasing works from illustrators visiting on the day. Every space inside and out of the historic building had been put to use. Other presenters on the day included Jacqueline Harvey, Kirrili Lonergan, Toni Brisland, Nathan Luff, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, Stephen Measday and Dawn Meredith.

It was a glorious day with something for everyone and a wonderful way to connect with authors. Well done to the organisers, and I look forward to next year’s event.

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