KOALA 2017 by Georgie Donaghey.

We are always looking for ways to further support the writing community, and for the past few years, we have been the major sponsor of the KOALA Awards. 

KOALA is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers (teacher/librarians, public librarians, teachers, publishers and other supporters of children's literature).
Every year, young readers from all over New South Wales judge their very own literary awards. By voting in the KOALA awards, they can reward the Australian children's books that have most inspired, amused, terrified, enlightened and engaged them.

Last November, Creative Kids Tales was invited to join the annual celebrations at North Rocks Public School, and it was an amazing experience.
From the moment I entered the grounds, I was made to feel like royalty.

A lovely young man greeted me at the school gate and escorted me through the school. We chatted as we walked to staffroom about his love of reading, his favourite authors and who inspired him. He was so excited; he'd never met an author before. I was thrilled he was able to participate in the day and meet many of those he had just mentioned as we walked.

In the staffroom, I mingled with fellow authors Jacqueline Harvey, Deborah Abela, Kate Forsyth, Belinda Murrell, Meredith Costain, Oliver Phommavanh, Will Kostakis, John Heffernan, Rowan McAuley and Tim Harris joined by illustrators Tony Flowers and Danielle McDonald.

I'd not met Tim, John or Danielle, so it was great to be able to connect with them. I'll be chatting with Tim and John later in the year on CKT. 

North Rocks Primary school had gone all out. The kids were pumped, the walls were filled with beautiful artwork designed by the kids, and the authors and illustrators were on the edge of their seats. I was thrilled to be attending my first awards. Everyone had come together to celebrate children's literature and KOALA.

Proceedings were opened by KOALA President, Megan Light and Treasurer, Alyson Simpson.

John Heffernan entertained us with a song. Authors shared their favourite words 'Delightful', 'Joy', 'Serendipity', 'Memories' and in Oliver Phommavanh's case 'Stupid pineapple' or was that 'Super pineapple'. 

Tony Flowers was the resident illustrator. He took to the stage and created a few masterpieces right before the audiences eyes. 

There were lots of laughs, prizes for the attending schools and smiles all around the room. 

Deborah Abela and Tony Flowers hammed it up on stage in between the announcements that everyone had been waiting for. 

Drum roll…

Andy Lee - 'Do not open this book' received favourite picture book for 2017. 

Aaron Blabey - 'Bad Guys episode 2' received the younger readers' prize.

Andy Griffith & Terry Denton - '78-storey treehouse' received the older readers' category.

And Jackie French for 'Pennies for Hitler'.

Deborah Abela was left in shock after being crowned the Legend for 2017.

In the blink of an eye, it was over. But not before the children were able to secure the autographs of all the visiting guests. Eager little bodies patiently lined up their arms filled with crisp new books purchased from The Children's Bookshop bookstall.

During the signings, I caught with Megan Light and congratulated her on a successful event. It was wonderful to hear first-hand what these awards mean to the school community, the kids, authors, and illustrators. 

This year I've decided to get more involved and have signed up as their Website and Social Media helper. 

Thanks to everyone involved for making this day so special. To the children who participated – you were so well behaved and polite. Your school and parents should be proud. 

You too can get involved with KOALA by joining their team or donate. To find out how you can support this organisation visit http://www.koalansw.org.au/ 

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Sunday, 23 September 2018

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