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book launch

Megumi and the Bear Sydney launch

24 July 2013

On a foggy Saturday morning with Canberra due to reach just eight degrees we packed our kids into the car and headed for Sydney and its positively balmy 21 degrees. Some three hours later we rolled into the CBD. My bloke managed to drive up a bus-only road but then scored a street-side park just around the corner from Kinokuniya. A miracle frankly, or, if I was superstitious, a sign that it was going to be a good day. I’m not, but it certainly was.

AAIMG_0357As Allyx from Kinokuniya said when introducing us, it’s not often that you get both the author and illustrator in the same room. Especially given that Craig (once a Sydney-sider) now lives in New Zealand, and I’m down the highway in Canberra.

Craig kicked things off by talking about the back story. If you haven’t heard about Megumi and the Bear’s long and strange road to publication you can read about it in The Canberra Times here. I followed up with a reading of the book (a lovely hush descended over the room).

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Irma Gold_Megumi and the Bear launchAnd then Craig gave a show and tell that revealed the evolution of the artwork. Craig explained that the original bear (pictured below) was based on his friend, Zimzam, who had a mohawk. When Walker accepted the book for publication they asked Craig to make the bear more realistic. Needless to say Zimzam wasn’t pleased, but Craig was glad Walker made the call. I love our final (terribly sweet) bear but I still feel attached to his endearing teddy-like predecessor who inspired my story.

Then it was time for a tandem book signing. It’s always fun meeting readers and my favourite moment was writing a dedication to a baby born that very morning. I even got to see a snap of the gorgeous little man.

While the parents queued and we signed, the kids got busy with craft, making bear masks and decorating bear biscuits and cupcakes. Most of the kids used the technique my six-year-old self would have employed – cramming on as much icing and as many silver balls as possible. I’m sure my two-year-old son consumed more sugar in that one hour than in his lifetime thus far.

And that’s a wrap! My two older kids declared it ‘the best launch ever’, though truth be told they said that about the Megumi Canberra launch and will probably say it about whatever book launch we go to next. Afterall, what’s not to love about books and food and fun?

Special thanks must go to my bloke who did a damn good job of snapping these pics while wrangling our sugar-high, sleep-deprived toddler. And to all the sponsors who donated items for the launch to help make it such a special occasion: National Library of Australia, The Teddy Bear Shop (Canberra), Walker Books, Kinokuniya Bookstore, and The Art of Teddy Bears.

For lots more photos of all the Sydney launch shenanigans head to my Facebook page.

Megumi and the Bear launch prep

20 July 2013

Tomorrow is another big day for Megumi and the Bear as launch number two hits Sydney town. We’ve got lots of good stuff planned. Fifty teddy bears to give away for starters (thanks to The Art of Teddy Bears) along with this pile of goodie bags. Kids will get to make their own bear mask (a hit at the Canberra launch). I’ll be there to give a reading, and illustrator extraordinaire, Craig Phillips, is over from New Zealand with his original art for a show and tell that I am so looking forward to.

Unlike the Canberra launch, I’ve only done a little baking this time (some cute gingerbread bears for the goodie bags), but the Kinokuniya Bookstore staff are baking lots of bears for the kids to decorate (and eat!) on the day.

So tomorrow we’ll be packing our three excited kids into the car and heading to Sydney. If you’re a local come on down and join us for a jam-packed hour of fun at Kinokuniya from 2pm. Hurrah!

Thanks to all the sponsors: National Library of Australia, The Teddy Bear Shop (Canberra), Walker Books, Kinokuniya Bookstore, and The Art of Teddy Bears.

Megumi and the Bear’s big day

20 June 2013

Organising a kids’ book launch is THE best fun. It’s one step up from a kids’ birthday party and it’s no secret among my friends that I enjoy planning my children’s parties as much as they do. So organising Megumi and the Bear’s big day has been a blast.

Naturally I was hoping for a good turnout but I never dared hope for the kind of crowd that crammed into Paperchain last Saturday. With 65 kids plus their accompanying big people there wasn’t much room to move. It was wild! So often book launches end up being attended mostly by friends and colleagues, so it was wonderful to look around the room and see it filled with unfamiliar faces.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The day before the launch I baked up a Megumi and the Bear-themed storm. My personal favourite? Snowballs, aka cake pops dipped in white chocolate glaze and rolled in coconut. Just because I liked the idea of them, and they tasted pretty good too. Not that I got a look in on the day. The kids swept in and left not a crumb (well maybe a few on the floor). But that’s just as it should be.

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We kicked off with a book reading — the first time I’ve read Megumi and the Bear to an audience, so that was pretty special. And there’s nothing quite as lovely as a carpet full of wide-eyed kids.

020_Megumi Book Launch

While I signed books (including one for a Megumi who lives in Japan — how brilliant is that?), the kids ate bear cupcakes and biscuits, jelly cups, and those snowballs (thankfully they were only thrown into mouths).

Then the kids hit the craft table, making a bear mask each, and the goodie bags disappeared in a wild flurry. We drew the lucky door prize, and thanks to generosity of Meg at The Teddy Bear Shop we handed out impossibly soft teddy bears with the first 50 book purchases to some very happy kids.

After an hour of loud and raucous fun, everyone left clutching their goodie bags, books and bears, high on sugar and words. And the best bit? All of it. Because picture books are where it all begins, and playing even the teensiest part in fostering a lifelong love of reading is as good as it gets.

Next stop Sydney! If you’re in the area on 20 July at 2 pm come and join us for Megumi mark two. The illustrator Craig Phillips is flying in from New Zealand to be there, and bringing with him some original Megumi art. There’ll be more giveaways and food and craft. In short, it’ll be a beary good time. (Forgive me, I just couldn’t help myself.)

Finally a very BIG thank you to all the organisations that donated items for the goodie bags: Walker Books, National Library of Australia, Sugar Station and The Teddy Bear Shop. And to photographer Ash Peak who took all these gorgeous snaps.

For more photos from the launch head to my Facebook page. And if you still haven’t got your Megumi fill, Kids Book Review’s photo spread of the launch is here.

books and bears

7 June 2013

The Megumi and the Bear Canberra launch is just eight sleeps away and I’m starting to feel that inevitable mixture of nervous excitement. Planning a kids book launch is like planning a kids party—there’s an awful lot to do—but it’s wicked fun. Take last night when Meg from The Teddy Bear Shop dropped off this massive bag of teddy bears. Fifty of the softest little guys, each with their own birth certificate. My kids went goggle-eyed. Thanks to The Teddy Bear Shop’s generosity we get to hand these out at the launch with every book purchase. Now, how cool is that?

Hope to see some of you there with kids attached. It’s on Saturday 15 June, 2 pm at Paperchain Bookstore. They’ll also be goodie bags for all the kids attending, a lucky door prize, lots of yummy food, craft activities, and a book reading. RSVP to Paperchain on info@paperchainbookstore.com.au or 6295 6723. It’s gonna be fun!

Parang

7 March 2013

A quick heads up to let you know that next Wednesday I’ll be launching poet and rapper Omar Musa’s latest collection, Parang.

I first saw Omar perform some years ago at a poetry slam evening at the Front. I’d been hearing about how good he was for some time, and I’d read a few of his poems. That night he outshone everyone. Omar has the kind of x-factor reality show judges lust after. Combine that with the musicality and muscularity of his words and you’ve got something special. Coincidentally, the poem he performed that night, ‘Queanbeyan’ from his first collection The Clocks, was subsequently selected for inclusion in The Invisible Thread anthology that I recently edited.

Omar has won numerous awards for poetry, including the Australian Poetry Slam and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam. He memorably performed ‘My Generation’ (included in Parang) on Q&A, and his debut novel, Here Come the Dogs, will be published by Penguin in 2014. He’s definitely one to watch.

All the details for the launch are here. In the meantime you might like to check out Omar’s book trailer, or watch an interview I did with him last year where he talks about the power of poetry slams for young people, how Sophie Cunningham unwittingly forced him to write his debut novel, and why he wants to change the perception that poetry is ‘irrelevant’.