On Wednesday at the National Library of Australia, author Jackie French asked her audience (mostly of young, uniformed schoolchildren but with a sprinkling of adults) to imagine a tsunami careering across the ACT and bearing down on us.
French, only minutes earlier revealed to be the new (and only the second) Australian Children's Laureate, is such a vivid storyteller that this reporter found himself looking nervously out through the Library's glass doors. But it was too late, it was already here, an animated French insisted. The wave of it had broken on the Library's front steps.
''The waves are rushing up the stairs! It's crashing through the doors! And it's cold, the coldest thing you've ever felt in your life. It's a tsunami of ice cream! OK. Can anyone tell what flavour it is?''
''Honeycomb!'' one moppet piped up.
''Chocolate!'' trilled another.
''Strawberry!'' shrilled another.
''Honeycomb, yes! Chocolate, yes! Strawberry, yes!'' the excited Laureate confirmed, pacing to and fro on the podium and flinging herself into her saga.
Her point in this part of her very passionate pro-book, pro-story-telling address was that story-telling by a book or by a story-reader is always, always, infinitely superior to anything that can ever be done by TV or by a video.
Yes, she agreed, TV or a video might bring you some idea of what a tsunami of ice cream looks like but it takes a book and a story for us, our imaginations uniquely stoked by them, to be able to actually taste the flavour of the ice cream the tsunami is made of.
''We humans are a story-telling species'' the Laureate insisted, grieving that children are so often ''parked in front of video games because their parents don't have the time to give them books or tell them stories''.
''But a book will give you so much more [than a video game can]. A book will give you hope. Books teach you what life can be. Books give you empathy. When you read fiction your brain actually grows.''
French, author of over 140 books, will be the Australian Children's Laureate for 2014-2015, after she was presented on Wednesday with her Magpie Award (it is a statuette of a magpie) by the highly amusing actor and former Play School presenter Rhys Muldoon. Muldoon pretended he thought the statuette was a wombat. Earlier, a Canberra Girls Grammar choir of the young daughters of gentlefolk had chirruped a rather smug and ageist ditty about how, because they are the young, ''we hold tomorrow in our hands''.
The Australian Children's Laureate is an initiative developed by the Australian Children's Literature Alliance, founded in 2008. The Laureate's role is to promote the importance and transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians. The theme for French's two-year term as Australian Children's Laureate will be ''Share a Story'' and on Wednesday and as just reported, she shared with us her convincing story of a tsunami wave of ice-cream (to this reporter tasting of mint choc chip) breaking on the National Library of Australia.
Suburbia is bewildering for all of us but you can see from the anxiety etched on the face of Ian (pictured mistaking a brick column for a tree), it is even worse when you are a koala.
As previously reported, Ian the koala is the furry February of the must-possess Wildcare calendar for next year. The picture of him used in the calendar (and published here on November 15) was touching enough, but this poignant shot shows the confused little waif in Jerrabomberra at the home of the Douglas family just after his arrival there, and just before his gentle capture.
Wildcare is a support group that rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured and orphaned wildlife in our region.
Ian materialised, sickly and weak, in a Jerrabomberra backyard. Without expert veterinary care, he would have died. Healthy again, he has been released into an ideal spot for koalas near Cooma.
Ian Douglas said: ''It's me that the koala was named after. It was actually spotted by my wife, Cathy, but although 'Cathy Koala' has a nice alliterative ring, it would have been the wrong gender (and the veterinary files had already been established for 'Ian' before I was able to suggest the more family-generic 'Douglas Koala').''
The boutique calendar, which raises funds for Wildcare's work with local native creatures, great and small, can be bought via firstname.lastname@example.org
Timid ACT governments install new pieces of public art with great stealth (worried about how whingeing, anal-retentive Canberra philistines will rage about the cost) but the Snowy River Shire is making a modest song and dance about having commissioned Jesse Graham's great capering sculpture Song and Dance.
The shire rejoices that ''This 2.9 metre steel sculpture will be installed along Kosciuszko Road opposite the BP station in Jindabyne, where it will add interest and whimsy for travellers.''
Yes, it will. How we envy Jindabyne!
Sculptor Graham (he lives and works on the South Coast) explains that the happy sculpture celebrates the fact that ''Except for all the yucky bits, life is a song and dance.''
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