Award-winning Australian children’s author Debra Tidball is set to tour the Riverina for Children’s Book Week (19-25 August) with her new book Anchored.
The author has been invited to speak and share her story with school students at eight Riverina Regional Library branches including Gundagai, Henty, Culcairn, Jindera, Holbrook, Tumbarumba, Temora and Cootamundra from 15 to 18 August.
Inspired by her own childhood experiences of missing her father when he served with the RAAF in the Vietnam War, Debra’s book celebrates the connection between children and their loved ones when separated by distance.
Debra hopes her new story will resonate with military families and others who spend time away from the people they love.
“I come from a military family,” Debra says. “My dad was in the RAAF. He went to Vietnam when I was little and I just remember those ‘missing you’ feelings. That was part of the emotional core that I found with this story,” Debra said.
“Anchored is about a big ship and a little tugboat and the transformative power of knowing they are anchored in each other’s hearts even though they are oceans apart.
“It’s for anyone who spends time away from someone they love, which I think is all of us at some point or other. Children living between parents, distance from grandparents, parents going away for work, special friends moving away – there are so many ways that people spend time apart and to know that they are connected by love is a powerful thing.”
It took Debra six to nine months of shaping the story and much feedback from her writer’s group before she finished the book.
Debra volunteers with the organisation behind Children’s Book Week, the Children’s Book Council of Australia and serves as vice-president of the NSW Branch – Northern Suburbs sub-branch.
She said a great aspect of Book Week was being able to celebrate how important books are for children.
“Sometimes people think writing for children is lesser than writing for adults. But I think writing for children is incredibly important because it’s a foundation for their learning and has so many benefits in terms of literacy and social benefits,” Debra said.
“Reading for pleasure is one of the biggest predictors of a child’s future success even more than economic status.
“It’s important to celebrate the importance of books to children and I’m excited I’ll be able to do that around Children’s Book Week.”
Debra is excited about her first tour of the Riverina, meeting all the students and engaging children with her new book.
“It’s a lot of nautical fun.”
The Sydney-based author became interested in writing children’s books after becoming a mother with young children.
“I fell in love with picture books when I was reading to them,” Debra said.
“I must admit, it made me also realise that when I was a teenager, I was a bit nerdy and I really loved picture books. All I wanted for my 13th birthday was Beatrix Potter books because they were just so adorable.
“I’ve always had this love for picture books in particular and when my kids were growing up the picture books were just amazing, profound, beautiful and best of all written and illustrated in Australia.”
For Debra the best part of being a picture book author is “being able to play with words all day” and create something that is significant and meaningful.
Debra is the author of two other picture books, When I See Grandma and The Scared Book. She has another book coming out next year with Harper Collins as the publisher.
Children’s Book Week runs from 19-25 August. To find out more about Debra’s Riverina tour visit Riverina Regional Library.