Jackie French grew up in a family full of stories passed down from her grandmother who told stories of her grandmother before her.
But the award-winning author's latest picture book, Horace the Baker's Horse, isn't just a retelling of one of her grandmother's treasured tales - or injecting a "breath of life" into historical artifacts, like the horse-drawn cart sitting in the National Museum of Australia where the book was launched on Wednesday.
It's ensuring the tradition of passing down stories continues from generation to generation.
French fears the close of this chapter.
"I grew up in a world without TV and everyone told stories," she said.
"We've lost the time to tell stories. One of the saddest things I know of is actually videos in cars because a car journey is one of the most wonderful times to tell a story.
"When you tell a child a story of your childhood or your parents' childhood you are explaining who you are, who they are, but you're also explaining how the world works. You're giving them a moral compass and social guidance. Please don't leave that to a TV set."
Horace the Baker's Horse is "very much my grandma's story", French said.
"It's the sort of story that she'd tell while we were doing the washing up or while she was making the gravy."
Set in 1919, the time of the Spanish influenza epidemic, it tells the tale of Horace who – when Old Bill the baker is struck down by the flu – sets off on his well-trodden round to deliver bread to the townsfolk.
The cart Horace pulls around is similar to the historic baker's cart sitting inside the museum, the publisher of the book. This vehicle delivered bread throughout the Newcastle area after World War II.
"It's the story of what could have been a very, very bad era in which Grandmother was living," French said of her book.
"Grandma arranged all the kids in the district to milk the cows and feed the hens and grow the vegetables while the adults were sick or nursing the sick.
"Grandma also cooked vat after vat of stew – and she needed bread."
The 2015 Senior Australian of the Year's books are regularly steeped in history because "history's got the best adventures".
"History has pirates and mummies and exploding volcanoes [and] you know how it ended," she said.
French said Horace's story was still relevant to a generation that wasn't surrounded by horses and carts, or even community's dotted with paddocks full of retired stock.
"Horace saved hundreds of lives and he was just a horse with big feet and a bigger heart," she said.
"Every generation has its own challenges...but I want to show [children] that humans are good at challenges. When the time comes...anybody can be a hero."
Another challenge is keeping kids reading.
French perhaps has more faith in children's love of literacy than most.
"When we complain about kids watching DVDs or TV we don't give them a choice," she said.
"These are kids who are probably watching a pirated version of Game Of Thrones – they're not going to be satisfied with Spot's Big Adventure – and we are losing them.
"Yes, give them the books they can read, but that's not the magic book; the book that turns them into a reader. The magic book is usually a big, complex book. So, keep reading to your kids until they say, 'it's embarrassing', and be prepared for them to never say that."
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