I'm a children's author, wife and mum in no particular order. I perform these jobs simultaneously and I love them all!

Thursday 14 September 2017

CBCA Lunch with the Stars - Newcastle

Photo: CBCA NSW Branch Inc. Newcastle Sub-branch - Lunch with the Stars Booklet Cover

What a day we had yesterday!

The CBCA NSW Branch Inc. Newcastle Sub-branch hosted its third annual 

Lunch with the Stars

A committee of eight local CBCA members spend the last 6 months planning, discussing and organising this year's event. It's a mammoth task to pull together an event like this but it's all worth it once the kids enter the room and fill it with an overwhelming atmosphere of excitement and anticipation.

Thanks to: Kirrili (chief co-ordinator), Jodie, Ruth, Julie, Gwynne, Amanda, Lillian and myself. 
It would never have happened without this team.

Our local children's literature community is such a dedicated bunch when it comes to supporting our local CBCA branch. They jumped on board once again and gave us an entire day to be part of this event.

Photo: Lynn Jenkins, Liz Anelli, Renee Price, Katrina McKelvey, Ant Wood, Oliver Phommavanh, Karen Hughes, Deb Kelly, Paul Russell, Gwynne Jones, Lizzie Wilcock, Kirrili Lonergan, Jenny Blackford and Lillian Webb.

Thanks to our stars: Gwynne Jones, Deb Kelly, Kirrili Lonergan, Liz Anelli, Paul Russell, Oliver Phommavanh (special guest), Lizzie Wilcock, Lynn Jenkins, Anthony Wood, Lillian Webb, Jenny Blackford, and Karen Hughes. We missed you Jess Black - hope you feel better soon :)

Schools came from everywhere to join in the festivities with over 100 children having lunch and a chat with these 14 amazing local authors and illustrators. The kids decorated their tables so wonderfully - such a creative bunch! Check out the photos below.

Thanks to our schools: Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College, Ashtonfield PS, New Lambton PS, Edgeworth Heights PS, Tanilba Bay PS, St Therese's Primary - New Lambton, Kahibah PS, Belair PS, Our Lady of Lourdes Primary - Tarro, Tarro PS, Shortland PS, Waratah West PS, 
and Beresfield PS.

Photos: Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College - Jess Black, Katrina McKelvey, and Renee Price 
(long story as to why they had three stars!)

Photo: Waratah West PS - Jenny Blackford

Photo: St There's Primary, New Lambton - Paul Russell

Photo: Shortland PS - Lillian Webb

Photo: New Lambton PS - Deb Kelly (First Place)

Photo: Belair PS - Lizzie Wilcock

Photo: Our Lady of Lourdes Primary, Tarro - Lynn Jenkins

Photo: Edgeworth Heights PS - Kirrili Lonergan

Photo: Kahibah PS - Oliver Phommavanh

Photo: Tarro PS - Ant Wood

Photo: Tanilba Bay PS - Liz Anelli

Photo: Ashtonfield PS - Gwynne Jones

Photo: Beresfield PS - Karen Hughes

The unforgettable Oliver Phommavanh, our special guest, entertained the room 
with amazing stories and funny jokes. 

Thanks Oliver!


This event was impossible without financial support from our wonderful sponsors. We had schools sponsored who would otherwise have never been able to participate. I heard whispers these children went home after having the best day of their lives - happy days!

Newcastle Region Libraries sponsored several schools and gave a free, signed copy of one of Oliver's books to every child who attended. Thanks to Oliver who arrived super early to sign every single copy (over 100!).

Newcastle and Charlestown Toyota also sponsored several schools who would have otherwise not been able to attend.

MacLean's Booksellers in Hamilton always support our local CBCA events with book donations. Amanda also set up an amazing pop-up bookshop full to the brim with books from 
our participating stars for our attending schools to buy.

Beresfield Bowling Club supplied the venue and set up the room perfectly to meet the needs 
of our event. Nothing was too hard. The staff were superb!

Thanks to: Newcastle Region Libraries, Newcastle and Charlestown Toyota, MacLean's Booksellers and Beresfield Bowling Club.


We were very lucky to have had two beautiful volunteers on the day to help troubleshoot 
and support our guests (and the MC! - me). They ran around all day making sure 
everything was just right. And they left last!

Thanks Linda and Robyn - you're angels :)

Our booklet took a while to pull together but it finally did thanks to a huge team of clever people. This booklet is aways a popular keepsake from the day and treasured by the kids for years.

Thanks to: Gwynne and Deb for the internal pages
Thanks to: Liz, Kirrili, Gwynne and Lillian for designing the cover

The illustration activity was fun and challenging indeed. I asked children to chose nouns, verbs and places to mash together for our resident illustrators, Kirrili, Liz, Lillian and Gwynne to draw on easels around the room as the kids followed along. Six rounds, one minute time restrains, and lots of pressure made this part of the day truly 'challenging'. It proved to all of us just how clever these illustrators really are no matter how hard I tried to make the suggestions. 
They had to draw:

~ a rooster scratching for fleas in a helicopter, 
~ a unicorn wrangling a crocodile at the zoo, 
~ a librarian knitting underwater, 
~ an alien parachuting in outer space, 
~ an astronaut jumping on pogo stick on the back of a whale. 

Sounded hard to me but they nailed it!

Round six involved a 'Mr Squiggle' type activity and they named that too! Magic!


Photos: Gwynne Jones and Liz Anelli (photos by Karen Hughes)

Photos: Kirrili Lonergan and Lillian Webb (photos by Kirrili Lonergan)

Congratulations to the children and schools who won lucky seats prizes and 
book packs for best dressed tables.

It was an honour to have helped Kirrili and the committee provide such a unique and special event for our local community and to be the MC once again. The day ran smoothly thanks to everyone pitching in and helping when needed and for all the finer details being sorted before the day.

Kirrili did an amazing job co-ordinating this event this year (and for being a star, and for being my MC wingman). It's a hard task, especially when the odd thing goes wrong, but we handled it like pros and provided an experience these children will never forget. You're a star!

Thanks Kirrili!

It's now time for us to evaluate and recover. The feedback has been amazing so far and we've loved seeing all the photos popping up on social media. Hope you have too!