Archive for July, 2012

MY FATHER’S ISLANDS: Abel Tasman’s Heroic Voyages – launch at the State Library of South Australia Treasures Wall, Adelaide, 18 May 2012


"My Father's Islands" launch, Adelaide, 18 May 2012

“My Father’s Islands” launch
Adelaide, 18 May 2012

First I acknowledge that we are on the land of the Kaurna People, traditional custodians of what we call the Adelaide Plains, and I respect them, their ancestors and culture.

Thank you, Anna Angelakis, for organising this great occasion in South Australia’s wonderful State Library, so appropriately at the Treasures Wall.

Thank you, Susan Hall, for inviting me to write another book for the National Library of Australia and for publishing My Father’s Islands.

Thank you, Julie Wells, for your support for My Father’s Islands and for agreeing to launch it in this busy week as Chair of the National Conference of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, an honour I truly appreciate.

And thank you all for coming.  I am very pleased that there is a keen young reader with us who is about the same age as I imagined Tasman’s daughter, Claesgen, in My Father’s Islands.  And my special thanks to Mr Willem Ouwens, Consul for the Netherlands, who has kindly lent the Dutch flag for the occasion.

My respect and affection for the Netherlands and its people goes back almost 60 years, to our first visit in 1954, when the cities still showed the ravages of WW2.  Then on a visit to England in 1975 at a National Book Council reception at the House of Lords no less, I met illustrator Carl Hollander and author Paul Biegel, who invited us to visit them in Holland, where in Amsterdam I had one of the best conversations of my life with a stranger in a pub about Shakespeare!  And at the Loughborough Children’s Literature Conference in Bremen, Germany, I met Christien van Reenen, children’s literature expert and enthusiast, who also invited me to stay and speak to her tertiary students in Tilburg.  On our second visit to Christien, by coincidence Holland was celebrating the Tall Ships Festival, which we had also seen in Tasmania.  So the spirit of Tasman was already reaching out to me.

As Susan Hall has mentioned, some years ago when the National Library of Australia was beginning to plan its new Treasures Gallery and choosing items from its magnificent collections to include in the display, she asked me if I would write a book for children about one of them.  She sent a preliminary catalogue and as you would realise, many of the documents and realia, important as they are, do not have immediate interest or appeal to children.  But I noticed a postage stamp sized image which contained a child!  It was a photo of a full size portrait by the renowned Dutch portrait painter Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp and the subject was Abel Janszoon Tasman, his second wife Jannetje and his little daughter Claesgen by his late first wife.  You may have seen this wonderful painting, part of the Library’s Nan Kivell collection, in the National Portrait Gallery where it has been hanging for some years on loan.  Now it has come home to the Library.

And in the portrait I found my subject and two characters with a great story to tell!



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A Writer’s Journey with Hans Christian Andersen
International Children’s Book Day talk, 31 March 2012

Santa Maria del Monte School, Strathfield NSW

Christobel Mattingley receiving the Hans Christian Andersen 2012 Certificate of Congratulation for the 2012 award by the IBBY National Section of Australia

Christobel Mattingley receiving the Hans Christian Andersen 2012 Certificate of Congratulation for the 2012 award by the IBBY National Section of Australia

Everyone loves stories.  You wouldn’t be here today if you didn’t!  The First Peoples of this ancient land we now call Australia have been telling stories around campfires for 60 000 years.  And I would like to pay tribute to the Eora People who cared for this magnificent area we now call Sydney, to their culture, their ancestors and their beliefs.


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