Book of the Year 2022 certificateIt’s been a BIG Book Week

On Friday 19th August – the official start of Book Week – Jess Racklyeft and I were beyond thrilled when our picture book, Iceberg, was announced as the CBCA Picture Book of the Year. We were able to watch the announcement together with Eva Mills, who accepted my manuscript and offered Jess the job of illustrating (how inspired was that!) Jess and I then walked through some of Melbourne’s best gardens (public ones!) in sunshine, as we absorbed the news.

Congratulations to all the winners and Honour books in all categories. Thanks to the CBCA, the voluntary judges who read all the books and all the ‘back-room’ workers who make sure books make it to the judges.  Details of the shortlists and winners are here

Congratulations to every entry in the CBCA Awards because it is no small task to publish a book. Many people contribute in small and large, formal and informal ways to turn a manuscript into a finished product. It takes a long time. Congratulations to every writer, illustrator, publisher, designer, editor, publicist, marketer who contributes along the journey to publication.

But back to Book Week …

Welcome Claire Saxby Poster
Display of Claire Saxby books
Book of the Year 2022 poster

Book Week started for me in the last week of July and finished this past Monday. It was wonderful to be back in classrooms (and halls and theatres and multi-purpose spaces and basketball courts) sharing books and stories.

I travelled to all points of the compass, mostly within the boundaries of Greater Melbourne, to suburbs familiar and unfamiliar. Mostly, I found my way to my destination with little drama, but there was that one damp day where I literally circled the school (and it was a big one) for many minutes before parking and walking too far to what I discovered was the wrong Reception. The right Reception was a drive away and it kept raining. But the students were bright and so full of life that it chased my shadows away.

Claire Saxby with classroom of children
Display of Claire Saxby Books 2022
childs drawing of sea and the lighthouse

My smallest group was fewer than ten, my largest more than 180. More than once, my visit coincided with dress-up day and it was a treat to see the enthusiasm and creativity that both students and teachers brought to their book-related costumes. One week I spoke to 1800 plus students! Oh, my.

Children dress up with Claire SaxbyThere were even some icebergs!

I was constantly in awe of the amazingly prepared and flexible teachers and librarians. There were CBCA Dreaming With Eyes Open displays. There were Iceberg displays, book reports, illustrated fiction and non fiction writing and so much more.

Claire Saxby with children and books 2022
Children holding up their drawings
Child holding up poster of icebergs

There were also ovals with nesting plovers, an in-house student-run cafe, schools bigger than a small suburb and another clinging to a hillside with a great (distant) view to the city centre. There were labyrinths tight and loose, stairs and even lifts. There was one school that lost its staffroom between my two visits (Monday and Friday) as they prepared for a massive renovation/rebuilt project. There was even a live radio interview.Radio studio for Claire Saxby interview

Book Week is intense, wherever, however you connect with it. But it is also fabulous. Thank you to the teachers, the librarians, the helpers, the administrators, the families, the bookers and most of all to the wonderful, imaginative, innovative, enthusiastic students of all ages who welcomed me into their classrooms so we could share the magic of stories.