Australian Children's Laureate for 2014 – 2015
Welcome Jackie French to Creative Kids Tales.
Jackie French has a list of awards longer than your arm. She has long been cemented as one of this country’s must have authors on your bookshelf. If you haven't heard of Jackie French you must have been living under a rock, in a cave, in the middle of a desert!
If you've been in one of these places for years, don't worry. We are very pleased to be able to introduce you to her right here at Creative Kids Tales in our special Birthday Edition.
When I originally emailed Jackie, I was fortunate that she too was online. I spent a wonderful day corresponding back and forth with her. For an author with over 140 books to her name she was extremely gracious with her time and supportive of Creative Kids Tales and our objectives.
The gorgeous Jackie French lives in the Araluen Valley in NSW with her husband Bryan. Together they share the stone house they built together complete with homemade waterwheel and solar panels to power their house, even their computers.
Jackie is a full time writer who has won numerous awards both here and overseas. In fact, she is one of the few writers to have won both literary and children's choice awards. Her writing career spans over 20 years with her books being translated into thirty six languages. Wow!
In 2000 she won the CBC Book of the Year for Younger Readers in the UK. Awards from Australia, Japan and the USA also feature in her long list of literary achievements. Her story, Hitler's Daughter has been adapted for the stage by Monkey Baa theatre and will open on Broadway in 2012/13 for a season as well as tour the UAS and Canada.
How Jackie became an author is a well publicised.
I was broke. I needed $106.40 to register the car, and sending off a story was the only way I could think to do it. (I was living in a shed in the bush with a wallaby called Fred, Smudge the wombat and Gladys a black snake and a young kid at the time). The story was accepted, and I went on from there...
Jackie always wanted to be a writer. Using a typewriter she found at a local dump she wrote her first manuscript for submission, Rainstones. Her Editor at HarperCollins remembers it was the messiest, worst spelt manuscript they'd ever received. After all, Smudge the wombat left his droppings on the typewriter each night and the spelling was because Jackie is dyslexic. It was not the most ideal way to stand out from the pile. But stand out it did, and as the old saying goes, the rest is history.
Not only has Jackie penned many children's and Young Adults books, she is also well known for her gardening and cooking books. Her love of gardening saw her as a long time presenter on Burke's Backyard. In fact, my favourite segment of the show was watching Jackie’s unique brand of storytelling jump out from my screen. Perhaps it was watching her dance around a blossoming garden dressed as a fairy.
She also writes columns for the Canberra Times, Australian Women's Weekly, Earthgarden Magazine, Australian Wellbeing and Gardening Australia.
Jackie welcomes her animal friends as part of her family. Her respect for their independence prevents her from calling them ‘pets’. Meet some of her family: There is a possum who dances across her roof, eagles that soar high above the cliff tops, geese and wallabies that eat from the delicate rose bushes that frame her expansive gardens. And of course lots of wombats, one in particular who has been immortalised in her wombat books. Her other furry neighbours include Rikki the Wrestler, Bad Bart the Biter, Pudge, Megabyte and Chocolate.
Diary of a Wombat which was gorgeously illustrated by Bruce Whatley is celebrated as one of this country's best loved stories. Mothball's antics are well known not only in Australia but France, United Kingdom and the USA. This year marks 10 years since its release. A special anniversary edition has been released to commemorate this milestone.
Jackie researches the content of her Young Adult novels to ensure her readers are provided with not only an adventure but facts as well. Her works cover the last 60,000 years of Australian history. From Tom Appleby: Convict boy; The Night They Stormed Eureka and Dingo: the dog who conquered a continent. Her latest The Girl From Snowy River, the second in the five part series that began with A Waltz for Matilda.
To find out more about this national treasure visit her website: www.jackiefrench.com
There you will find an abundance of useful tips and information.
We hope you enjoy this month’s featured author, Jackie French.
Listen to Georgie interviewing Jackie French on The Author's Shelf on 2SSR 99.7FM.