Saturday, October 18, 2008

Victorian Premier's Reading Challenge and my writing challenge!

Yesterday I joined a group of Victorian writers including Felice Arena, Terry Denton, Leigh Hobbs, Glenda Millard, Kirsty Murray, Wendy Orr and Sally Rippin (sorry there were others, of course, but I don't have the whole list on me....) to attend the Victorian Premier's Reading Challenge finale. Representatives from schools as far away as Cobram and Bairnsdale took part. The Cobram students and teachers were the clear winners in getting up early - they left Cobram at 5.30 a.m. in order to attend. Go Cobram! I think Euchca had to leave at 6.40 a.m though the girl I asked was so sleep deprived she couldn't quite remember. Bairnsdale left at 6.00 a.m.

It was a great morning that dawdled into afternoon when Kirsty, Wendy and I had coffee. I did a quick impromptu survey of the young readers who were present and five could tell me their favourite books:
Winnie the Pooh
The Waterhole (x 2 - lucky Graeme Base!)
Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows (of course!)
the Twilight series - the girl in question was an Edward girl, not a Jake girl which was disappointing in the extreme. I have yet to meet a Jake girl, although one of my students has converted. That's not quite the same thing. When this girl (not my student) found out I was a staunch Jacob supporter she cleverly inserted a spoiler into the conversation. When I say 'inserted' I'm really distorting the truth. That sounds subtle, almost sly. Nope. She waited until she was five paces away from me and then she loudly declaimed that I was a Jake supporter for nothing because...I won't repeat it here but the rest of the sentence was said with a decided superior hip wiggle and a discernable hair toss. Suppose I'll have to give in and buy the final book. I was resisting it because the last one made me so cranky. Actually, the last one and a half made me so cranky.

Writing exercise;
What books did you love as a child/teenager? Where were you when you read them? (I do think the most important books you read you can remember exactly where you were when you read them, maybe even what you were wearing or eating or drinking.)

I remember reading Mary Grant Bruce's Norah of Billabong series. We were living at Camp Hill at the time. The first book I got was either dark green or blue. It had a black drawing of Norah riding on the cloth cover. Why did I love her? Because she was in love with Wally.

I also loved Ethel Turner's Seven Little Australians. My memory is that I was reading that book the night my father died, which would mean I was nine. But I'm not certain that it was the first time I'd read it. I know I was allowed to read later than I should have been because I had to finish the book.

Louise May Alcott was another favourite. I read right through the Little Women series and loved - oh dear, I just went into Wikipedia and the book I thought I read isn't listed. How weird. Oops, no I think it was Rose in Bloom. I know the heroine in question was given a wonderful trunk full of Oriental treasures from a voyaging uncle.

Later on in my reading life I can remember the exact desk at which I sat in the Ipswich Girls' Grammar Library and read my first Adrian Henri poem. I was fifteen, in love and completely bowled over that this poet, writing in Liverpool, UK some ten or so years after I was BORN, could express is heartbroken feelings in exactly the way I wanted to express mine.

Just last year I can remember listening to Jane Gardam's Old Filth on an audio book on train rides between Box Hill and Belgrave. Unfortunatley I missed recording one whole section, but then found the book in the library again and read it on train trips between Box Hill and Belgrave. I later found the book in a secondhand bookshop in Fremantle and it took all my will power to give it to a friend I'd raved about it to rather than keep it for myself. I just managed it.

Over to you; books you remember, authors you remember, where you read, why you read, what you were wearing or eating or listening to....happy memories!


vlowe said...

Dear Catherine,

I finished 'Seven Little Australians' in bed and was managing not to cry until my mum came in and said my pet rabbit had died. It was the saddest morning of my life (up to then. I was seven)

Warm regards, Virginia

Dr Virginia Lowe
Create a Kids' Book
PO Box 2, Ormond Victoria 3204
ph: 03 9578 5689
fax: 03 9578 3466
mob: 0400 488 100
"Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two children tell" (Routledge 2007)

Anonymous said...

Bravo, magnificent idea