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Jackie French: The Australian Children’s Laureate

Jackie French (Credit Kelly Sturgiss)
Jackie French (Photo by Kelly Sturgiss)
Jackie French has written more than 140 books — and she’s received over 60 awards in Australia and overseas. Wow! Jackie is also the 2014–2015 Australian Children’s Laureate. As part of her role, she has co-created the Share a Story calendar (you can download it!) and given each month a theme. June’s theme is HEAR A STORY, SEE A STORY, FEEL A STORY.
If you were an Alphabet Soup reader from long ago, you might remember that Jackie French was the very first author we interviewed in our print magazine! Today we’ve invited her back to answer three questions from  members of our Top Readers team.
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How long does it take to write a book? (Celine, 12, WA)
Three months or thirty years, depending what answer you like best! I think about a book for at least three years before I begin to write, and many are based on ideas I have been thinking about since I was your age. The actual writing takes about three months, but then I rewrite and rewrite, and each book  takes a different amount of time to both think about, and write, or rewrite.
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Has your son read every one of your published books? (Joseph, 11, WA)
I don’t think he has read any of them! Except maybe a few he has read to kids as bed time stories.
It’s hard to be a mum and a writer too. There were stories I told my son as his mum when he was small, and those were his stories, and I won’t publish them. But the private ‘mum’ and the public ‘writer’ are two different roles, and his schools were good at making sure he didn’t have to read or study one of my books. It’s a bit like being the son of a teacher — you need to keep the teacher role and the parent role separate. He said that people talk too much in my books, too.

Which one of your books did you enjoy writing the most? (Matilda, 9, WA)
Diary of a Wombat: I just had to watch her, listen to her, and write it all down — and supply carrots — then work out how to create a wombat voice, in English.  And every time I read the book I remember Mothball.

Do you live in Perth, WA? Jackie French will be at a public event at St Stephen’s School Library, 100 Doveridge Dr, Duncraig at 5pm on Monday 22 June 2015. (A small donation is requested towards the Laureate program as a door entry fee.)
If you don’t live in Perth (oh dear!) find out more about Jackie French on her website. And check out some great ideas and activities for HEAR A STORY at the Australian Children’s Laureate website.

Hear a Story, See a Story, Feel a Story ©-ACLA. Image used with permission.
 

Author:

Rebecca Newman is a children's writer and poet, and the editor of the Australian children's literary blog, Alphabet Soup. rebeccanewman.net.au.