Australia Day honours to Jackie French – named Senior Australian of the Year this week! Applause!!
What a great and well deserved honour for this prolific Australian children’s author. As author of over 140 books, named the Australian Children’s Laureate in 2014, and a bold force promoting the richness of children’s literature, Jackie has been a household name for many many years.
Her first book for children was Rain Stones, was published in 1991. This was in spite of the fact that she had dyslexia (a condition which makes it hard to read and understand words). Her wonderful imagination and determination to tell her stories, firstly to friends and family, must have pushed her beyond this difficulty, though her editors have commented that they did struggle with some of her early manuscripts. She is certainly a model for all aspiring writers and creative people!
As her popularity arose over the years, naturally, Jackie has constantly been called upon to talk about her books and how she gets her ideas. As many schoolchildren will attest, she is an entertaining and inspiring author. She also makes it clear that writing involves a great deal of effort and focus – and even picture books take an extremely long time to perfect.
Jackie is a perfectionist. When she wants to bring an historical event to life, it is usually because it is a period of time which she has already had a great interest in herself. From the realities of the Depression years in Somewhere Around the Corner, to the dramatic world of The Night They Stormed Eureka, Jackie aims to get the mix of history and fiction just right in her books. Her fun but informative non-fiction books also aim to either bring history to life, to excite children about nature and science, or to encourage kids (and adults) to get down and get dirty in the garden!
The many awards Jackie has received, span across the years of her writing, beginning with her first book, which was shortlisted for 3 awards. Another well known book, the Diary of a Wombat, is a classic which is in many home libraries, and has either won or been nominated for nearly 20 separate awards since it was first published in 2002!
Jackie’s passion is obvious when you hear her speak, and this was evident in her acceptance speech below:
To quote Jackie from this speech: “If you want intelligent children, give them a book. If you want more intelligent children, give them more books.”
For more insights into the person of Jackie French, have a look at this 2009 interview, one of many you can find online.
How many Jackie French books have you read? If you haven’t, maybe it’s time to search them out?