Christopher Cheng is Creative Kids Tales amazing featured author this month.
While researching Chris, I was overwhelmed by his accomplishments and accolades.
I have copied Chris's summary of his life from his website www.chrischeng.com
I am a husband, a writer, a teacher, an uncle, a godfather, a brother, a friend and even a pal!!
I am a full-time Children’s author of picture books, fiction and non-fiction in both traditional and digital media. I didn’t start out being a writer. In fact, all I ever wanted to do was be a primary school teacher. Today all I ever want to do is to write. I know my best book is yet to come.
I grew up with my family in a large federation house in Sydney. Primary school was fun (I still know some of my magical primary school teachers), high school was okay, and eventually I snuck into University – what a blast. Not many males trained to be teachers at my university!
While summaries give us an insight into authors, I wanted to share with you all that I discovered about this gifted storyteller.
After graduating and before a full-time teaching gig became available, Chris taught in few city schools before taking up a teaching role at Taronga Zoo’s Education Centre. He soon received the call, via telegram, that kids needed him in Bourke. Chris happily spent three years teaching in Bourke and eager to stay in touch with his city life Chris, regularly visited his Sydney home.
North Sydney Demonstration School was his next stop but only briefly before receiving a call from Taronga Zoo. They wanted him back!
However, this time they wanted Chris not only as an educator but to set up their new Zoomobile (a travelling Zoo) program. It was the first of its kind in Australia, and Chris happily zoomed around in the Zoomobile with his winged companion, Corky, Ding and Monty for eight years.
Some of Chris’s fondest memories were made at Taronga Zoo. From meeting celebrities, working with keepers and, of course, the animals. He even led the chorus in singing Happy Birthday to the monkeys. But most of all Chris loved working with children. During his eight years, he taught thousands of children and also penned Night Creatures that was published by Scholastic in 1990. Chris was bitten by the writing bug and was eager to see where it might lead.
After his Zoomobile days had come to an end, he returned to Dulwich Hill Public School briefly before taking up a position as the National Children’s Development Manager with one of Australia’s biggest booksellers. He loved travelling around the country and helping organise events and bringing books to life for Aussie kids.
Meeting children’s authors and illustrators continued to fuel Chris’s desire to write more.
He bought his first house in Sydney, a little yellow single storey terrace where he spent his evenings creating his magical stories. And, as they say, the rest is history, well almost.
Chris is co-chair of the International Advisory Board for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and was the Australia and New Zealand Co-Regional Advisor. He created the International peer voted Crystal Kite Awards. And he is also a board member of the Singapore based Asian Festival of Children’s Content. In 2012, he became an Ambassador for the National Year of Reading, similar to his involvement with the Federal Government’s National Literacy and Numeracy week from 2004-2008 for which he was a National Ambassador.
National Literacy and Numeracy week is sponsored by the federal government and promotes the importance of literacy around the country.
“National Literacy and Numeracy Week is one way to make us all more aware of the importance of literacy, being able to 'play' with words and to have fun reading!”
Chris has received the following awards:
- 2014 listed as “Outstanding Merit” in the Best Books of the Year for Children and Young Adults, selected by the Bank Street College of Education Children’s Book Committee - python
- 2013 – Shortlisted Eve Pownall Award, Children’s Book Council Australia – Python
- 2012 – Aurealis Award – Sounds Spooky
- 2000 – Skipping Stones (USA) Honour Award – One child
- 1999 – Wilderness Society shortlisted – Rainforests and Alpine Regions
- 1998 – Wilderness Society Picture Book of the Year – One child
- 1994 – Wilderness Society shortlisted – Rainforest Animals
In 2009, Chris received the Lady Cutler Award for his service to the children’s book industry and in 2010, he was named the SCBWI Member of the Year.
In 2011, he was elected to the International Advisory Board for the SCBWI. A position he feels extremely honoured to hold.
In 2014 Chris was an Australia Day ambassador.
Chris is one of the International Consultants for e-journal, First Opinions, Second Reaction, which originated from Purdue University.
He holds a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature and is a regular at conferences, book festivals and talks here and overseas. Chris lives in Sydney with his wife, a teacher librarian and is now a full-time author.
We invite you to read more about one of this country’s most celebrated storytellers here www.chrischeng.com
Read Creative Kids Tales' Feb 2015 interview with Chris Cheng