My life as a children's author while juggling being a mum, a wife and professional volunteer. (Sometimes it gets complicated)

Monday, 24 October 2016

Author and Illustrator Book Tour - Hunter Valley - October 2016




Kirrili and I embarked on an author and illustrator book tour last week from one end of the beautiful Hunter Valley near Scone to Singleton.

This Coal and Allied sponsored event lets all the schools in the area (public and private) once a year get access to an author or illustrator otherwise out of reach due to isolation or budget restrictions.

A wonderful committee made up of local librarians made magic happen again this year with our visit but not without hours of hard work, hundreds of emails and   
mountains of support from local school communities.

We were hosted by five amazing schools and teaching librarians who have a passion for celebrating books, reading and exposing children to some of the people who help bring books alive - authors and illustrators.

Kirrili and I provided a very informative session that included stories, drawing and games. We had just as much fun as the kids. We may have even taught the adults a few new things :)

Our total audience comprised of nearly 4000 
children from Kindergarten to Year 6 from 20

local schools. One host schools supported us each day while we presented three one hour sessions - anywhere between 200 - 400 children at a time. Our presentation was visual, inspiring, and exciting. Well that's what they told us! 

Thank you to the schools who reorganised school routines, jumped on buses, and behaved so beautifully ready to embrace reading and all it has to offer.




Participating schools:



St Mary's Primary School, Scone
Scone Public School
Scone Grammar School
Blandford Public School
Murrurundi Public School
Muswellbrook Public School
Martindale Public School
Denman Public School
Muswellbrook Christian School
St James Primary School, Muswellbrook
Aberdeen Public School
Muswellbrook South Public School
Sandy Hollow Public School
Singleton heights Public School
Mt Pleasant Public School
Broke Public School
Singleton Public School
King St Public School
Australian Christian College, Singleton
Milbrodale Public School

As you can imagine, Kirrili and I went home absolutely exhausted as we gave everything we had to touch as many children's hearts as possible. I just have to share some of the feedback we have been receiving.



From a participating school:

I wanted to email you to let you know that our school thoroughly enjoyed your presentation on Friday. Thank you so much for being willing to come up to the Hunter Valley and share with us your beautiful book and your journey in publishing it.

From a parent: 

Thank you for enlightening the children from xxx school. My daughter (6) loved your book and she took the time to read it to me one morning with only a small amount of help. It's a terrific book and my daughter was so excited to tell our family all about your visit, she was also excited the illustrator also attended, how wonderful! She had such beautiful stories to share with us. I just wanted to say thank you, the book is a beautiful story!

We spotted remnants of past Coal and Allied presenters hanging on some host school library walls (Terry Denton and David Legge) and heard tales about Frances Watts and Deb Abela - all good stories ladies!

Being able to go into a school as an author after being a primary school teacher is a thrilling thing indeed. It felt like only yesterday I had my own students and I was often reminded last week of the fun things we used to do and the books we used to share and dive into.

I had the rare opportunity to speak to my old primary school. The current Assistant Principal started Kindergarten with me only a few years ago :) During recess and lunch, it was like a reunion. Some of the staff from when I was there are still there, loving the small community. People were coming up to me sharing stories of when I was a student there. The old cricket pitch is still in the playground but there has been so many building improvements it's hard to see the buildings I have fond memories of - but they are there underneath.

I'm still on a high this week after such a mammoth expedition last week, but I'm glad to be back with my family. 

Thanks for hosting us Cecilia, Rose, Lisa, Jenna and Benita!

Thanks to the committee for taking on such an ambitious task of co-ordinating 20 participating schools, 5 host schools, funds, buses, equipment and food. 

Thanks to Coal and Allied who supplied the sponsorship for this annual event. We really appreciated the staff who came along and shared their reading beliefs and watched our presentation.

Kirrili and I will be returning to the area in November as part of the upcoming Scone Literary Festival. We will be having story and drawing fun with local preschool children.


And later that afternoon, I'll be speaking to Year 7 from my old high school about how picture books are made as it links into the Year 8 curriculum. No pressure! I just need to change from book fun with 3, 4 and 5 year olds to being a bit more educational for the 13 year olds - easy! (I think :) )

If you or anyone you know is interested in having Kirrili and I come and present as an author/illustrator team, feel free to contact me. (author@katrinamckelvey.com)

Now time to write more stories ...


3pm on Friday afternoon @ Singleton Public School - mission complete!