Thank You Day 2017

This fortnight, I was fortunate to attend three special events – all of which are close to my heart.

Last week I spoke about WAYRBA (West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award) at a Library and Information Focused Training PD day for library staff on why I believe children’s choice awards are so important to encourage young people to read. In addition, for authors, a shortlisting on a children’s choice award is confirmation that their words have spoken to their target audience.

On Tuesday I attended the ‘Writing For Life 2017 Prize-giving Ceremony’ held by DonateLife WA and sponsored by DonorMate. I was one of three judges for the competition, alongside fellow SCBWI member Nadia L King and Brigid Lowry. It was a competition that I judged with both my writing hat, and as a transplant recipient.
For me, three entries stood out above the crowd. Not all of them won their categories, but all of them caused an emotional reaction – and that sometimes is more important than having a technically well written piece.
One of these, written from the perspective of a transplant recipient, contained a paragraph that perfectly summed up my own feelings. The other two were written from the perspective of a donor family member and both made me cry.

On Friday as a volunteer Role Model for Books In Homes, I spoke to the students at Majella Catholic Primary School during their Book Giving assembly about my lifelong love of books, and how I have made a career out of my love of reading, despite being told by high school guidance councillor that it simply wasn’t feasible. Thanks to the sponsor Mainfreight Australia, the students were each given three books to take home and treasure. It was an honour to be part of such a worthwhile program.

Seven years ago, the thought of having enough energy to simply attend these events, let alone speak would have been impossible. Seven years ago I was in Stage 1 Respiratory Failure and about to be listed on the transplant waitlist. Seven years ago, I could barely breathe let alone have enough spare breath to say a word or two without gasping.

At the 2016 DonateLife WA Honour Ceremony when asked what I would say to my donor family if I had the opportunity, I had this to say,
“The gift that results in a transplant is between strangers, but it is also a deeply personal gift, which makes the words thank you seem a little inadequate. It’s more than a physical gift – it also carries the opportunity to have a future, a second chance.
I will never meet or know the person who gave me this second chance, but I think about them every day.
So, to their family I would say, you made an important decision, one that made a great difference to my life and the best way I can show my gratitude is to take the best care of these wonderful lungs that you entrusted me with, to live life well and to the full.”

This past fortnight, I’ve shared my passion for both writing and reading and I hope that in some way I contributed to making a difference in someone’s life. Because making a difference fits my definition of living my life well and it’s the best way I can say Thank You.

Sunday 19th November 2017 is the national Thank You Day for Donor Families.

West Australian Kids love Aussie books!

The West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) shortlist for 2016 has been announced, with just over half of the 58 books on the three shortlists coming from Australian authors/illustrators.

What this says about Australian books.

Although books nominated by young readers must meet the eligibility criteria (see below) they are not restricted to nominate books by Australian authors.  This demonstrates that West Australian kids love Aussie books and that here in Australia, we have a children’s publishing industry to be proud of!

What is WAYRBA?

Launched in 1980, WAYRBA is the longest running Children’s Choice Book Award in Australia. Each year the young readers of Western Australian are invited to send in nominations for books they would like considered for the shortlist. From February  to September, young readers all around the state vote for the books they have read.  After collating all the votes, the winners in each category are announced in November.

My 2016 WAYRBA Display

My 2016 WAYRBA Display

Qualifying criteria is applied by the WAYRBA Committee after children have nominated.

  • The book must have been published in the previous five years and be commercially available within Western Australia.
  • Only one title from an author may be included on a shortlist, however, as there are three shortlists, this does not exclude another title from the same author appearing on a different shortlist.
  • Each book can only appear on a shortlist once, and cannot be nominated in subsequent years.
  • If the book is part of a series it must be able to be read as a stand-alone book (either as the first book in the series, or a series that is not impacted by strict reading order.)
  • The author must be living.
WAYRBA Display 2016

WAYRBA Display 2016

Why are Children’s Choice Awards so Important?

Children’s Choice Awards offer an alternative to the some of the other prestigious, and much celebrated awards, where both the shortlists, and eventual winner are selected by adults. Children’s Choice Awards celebrate those books that children and teens love to read. Access to books selected by other young readers can also be a critical influence towards convincing reluctant readers to pick up a book.

“I have won three Hoffman awards at the WA Young Reader Book Awards and the trophies hold pride of place on my sideboard. I am so proud of them. The main reason is that these awards are chosen by the actual readers, the kids I wrote the books for, so that makes them special and the very best thing to win. Finding out you have appealed to a whole load of readers and written something that they liked, is a huge reward after all the doubt and uncertainty and self-doubt during the long haul of creating a manuscript. I hope the WAYRBA continues for many years, or as long as I keep writing at least.”
Norman Jorgensen, West Australian Award Winning Author

Another Book Nerd Moment when Mandy and I presented Norman and James with their trophies for The Last Viking Returns. WAYRBA AGM 2016

Another Book Nerd Moment when Mandy and I presented Norman and James with their trophies. WAYRBA AGM 2016

You can view the 2016  WAYRBA shortlists here

Older Readers’     Younger Readers’     Picture Books