Happy Australia Day 2018
from ABC Bunyip and the Gang at the Big Black Boogie Swamp
Hello. I am Kathy Littlemore and I have had my nose in a book since my first visit to the public library aged two. Good books always topped my preferred Christmas and birthday gift lists. And really, nothing has changed.
My love of words lead me first to writing non fiction about travel, photography and fishing. Okay it is debatable whether fishing stories are fiction or non fiction.
It was a quantum leap to writing a children's picture book, but what amazing fun it has been.
As a children’s
picture book author I am fortunate to influence young and not so young minds
with my own creations beginning with ABC Bunyip Saves the Big Black Boogie Swamp.
People from all around the world have always influenced my thoughts, stretched my imagination and indulged my love of reading, writing, travel and food from a young age. Aerograms arrived regularly from England throughout my childhood, introducing me to the deliciously romantic word, “abroad”, and injected me with the travel bug.
Living in the sugar
cane growing region of far North Queensland meant my schoolmates were Italian,
Greek and Chinese. Some entered school incredibly frightened as they did not
speak English. As a young bride, our neighbours were from Finland. Amazing
aromas wafted from Marie’s kitchen, but she confided that she had not one word
of English when she arrived in Australia.
It was not until we were living in the Outback, that I became acutely aware that I had never given a great deal of thought to how our migrants deal with their new lives. My own grandparents had been migrants, so it was an embarrassing revelation. Shamefully, I observed social isolation, loneliness and depression, particularly of migrant women. Our harsh environment seems to have hardened us to the feelings of newcomers.
My husband employed professional migrants for their outstanding skills, work ethic and their courage to leave the big cities behind. With them came highly educated wives, floundering in the unknown. My heart went out to them. Together, we explored library shelves, looking for good picture books by Australian authors, the supermarket and life in a small remote town. We became firm friends.
It was also in
the Outback that I learned migrants with English as their second language, are
not the only ones struggling with the English language. Our mature neighbour
was illiterate. And I was asked by the local secondary school to supervise a
year 12 exam and read the exam paper to the student as he could not read!
Emailing the Prime Minister of the time did not solve the issue so I resolved as a children’s picture book author to write books that bring the joy of reading to reluctant readers while helping migrants understand our quintessential Aussie traits and customs. ABC Bunyip Saves the Big Black Boogie Swamp introduces our Australian monster, the bunyip and is the first in a series of children’s picture books.
Little has changed since the 1960s when John O’Grady captured the essence of our Aussie soul and took a humourous and irreverent poke at the plight of an Italian migrant, Nino Culotta, trying to make sense of our slang, culture and social rituals so he could fit into everyday life in his new home. They’re A Weird Mob still describes us perfectly. My Dad absolutely loved this book.
Aimed at a
different age group, I hope my children’s picture books make a difference so
that today’s migrants find transitioning into the Australian lifestyle somewhat
easier than Nino Culotta did. And that Aussie kids learn to love reading, no matter where they came from.