Somerset Celebration of Literature 2014

For three days each year, Children’s and Young Adult books become rock ‘n’ roll, at the Somerset Celebration of Literature. Somerset College on Queensland’s Gold Coast has just wrapped it’s 21st Celebration with more than 15,000 ticket sales.

I have been lucky enough to speak at the fest twice before but this year’s was more impressive than ever with packed sessions, fairy-lit night-time parties and amazing authors, staff, student helpers and parent volunteers. We stayed in a beautiful hotel and, most importantly, we ate Dippin’ Dots ice cream – that’s what keeps the peeps coming back year after year.

Here’s my experience of Somerset 2014 in pics.

With author Jacquie Harvey at the Prologue Party on opening night.
At the Prologue Party, I launched the 2014 Room to Read World Change Challenge,
our bid to raise $20,000 for 20,000 books for kids in the developing world.
Adele from the State Library of Victoria’s dynamic Centre for Youth Literature
announced the 2014 Inky Awards long list.

I ran a Story Scrapbook workshop which produced some fun creative results. The Web-based version of the tool will launch in the next couple of months.

In another session, the inmates turned on me, chanting, ‘Slime him! Slime him!’ And slime me they did.

International Slime-an-Author Day.
Don and Hayley were my student guides and constant companions for the fest.
I voted them employees of the year and have requested that they receive large cash payments
and bonus marks from the school. No word as yet.
I met lots of new authors and picked up lots of great books.
I’m almost done with ‘All I Ever Wanted’ – one of the best Young Adult books I’ve read.

With Jacquie Harvey, Sarana Behan from Random House, illustrator Tony Flowers and madman-author Nick Falk.
Tony Flowers’ Literary Dinner tablecloth decorations.
I haven’t eaten very many of my books before.
But this one was a cake, so I devoured it with the people below.
(L-R) Authors & illustrators Nick Falk, Jess Shirvington, Andrew Weldon, Tony Flowers, Me and Gabrielle Wang.
It was the most delicious book any of us had ever eaten. 

And, of course, Dippin’ Dots… Sure, kids like the books but they LOVE Dippin’ Dots. So, too, the authors.

Sadly, no Dots were available to be photographed. I had eaten them.

I wound down after the festival with a quiet spot of child-chucking (below). He’s mine, so I think it’s legal. And he asked me to do it again immediately after he surfaced. And again. And again.

Somerset is a school with a focus on service and on bringing literature to as wide an audience as possible, with some students travelling many hours by bus to attend. The festival is an impressive feat, executed with a sense of joy, camaraderie and kindness. A big thank you to all who contributed but, in particular, to Andrea Lewis and Karen Mackie who make the festival happen year after year. I look forward to attending the 42nd Somerset Celebration in 21 years’ time (hoping they’ll open up ticket sales to local nursing homes).


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