Australian Legends of Children’s Literature
The Australia Post Australian Legends Award honours individuals who are leaders in their field of endeavour, having dedicated their adult lives to their chosen pursuit, shaping Australian society and culture in the process.
This year’s recipients are celebrated and award-winning authors – talented creators of narrative books and picture books for young people, from the youngest readers through to adolescents.
The Legends of Children’s Literature stamp issue, released today, honours Mem Fox AM, Morris Gleitzman, Leigh Hobbs, Alison Lester and Shaun Tan. Designed by Jo Muré of the Australia Post Design Studio, the stamps feature a portrait of each Legend together with a photograph of one of their iconic publications.
|0:00||Lyrical music||A hand draws a picture of a child in pencil.
Hands flick through a colourful picture book.
Hands draw using a nib pen and ink.
A bald man nods thoughtfully as he reads a book titled 'Help Around the House' by Morris Gleitzman.
|0:11||Mem Fox: In a book, children want comfort, they want joy, they want interaction, they want to laugh, they want to gross out, they want to feel exquisitely sad so that their hearts are broken - I mean, this is what literature does that nothing else can do for them.
||A blonde woman wearing a purple jacket is interviewed.
Text: Mem Fox AM:
|0:27||Leigh Hobbs: On the first page, basically, I map ...I say to the kids, "This is Leigh Hobbs's world, in words and pictures." Now, if they turn the page and they're engaged, they've accepted unconsciously... what my world is.
||A white-haired man in a paint-splattered jacket is interviewed.
Text: Leigh Hobbs
|0:43||Alison Lester: When the story starts to form in your head and you can... I'm not actually thinking of the words, but I'm thinking about what the book will look like, how the illustrations will lay out, and it's, um...yeah, it's really just like making a little movie in your head.
||A blonde woman wearing a flowered top is interviewed.
Text: Alison Lester
|0:56||Shaun Tan: My respect for children's understanding of imagery has just skyrocketed, and it's taught me a lot about how to work as an adult artist.
||A man wearing black-framed glasses is interviewed.
Text: Shaun Tan
|1:07||Morris Gleitzman: For me, writing a book is a delicious tension between knowing exactly what I'm doing and knowing exactly where I'm going and sometimes getting lost in the most wonderful ways.
||The bald man is interviewed.
Text: Morris Gleitzman
|1:20||Mem Fox: What I say about a book of mine is,
||Mem Fox opens her book I'm Australian Too.
|1:22||if a child's heart is not changed from the first page to the last page, if the heart is not changed, the book won't grab them.
||Back to Mem Fox talking to camera.
|1:32||"My dad grew up in Darwin, my mum in Humpty Doo.
||Mem Fox reads from the book.
|1:36||Our mob's been here forever - now we share the place with you. How about you?"
||Back to Mem Fox talking to camera.
|1:41||Leigh Hobbs: I've always had a passion for creating characters, not necessarily for kids' books.
||Using a nib pen and ink, Leigh Hobbs draws the big shaggy head of a monster.
|1:48|| I mean, the passion has never really been for kids' books. It's just that I fell into that and they're an ideal vehicle for how I think,
||Back to Leigh Hobbs sitting down in his art room.
|1:59||and they've been a wonderful vehicle for me to give my characters a life.
||Leigh Hobbs flicks through the pages of one of his books.
|2:06||Shaun Tan: "The rabbits came many grandparents ago.
||Shaun Tan holds the picture book 'The Rabbits' by John Marsden and Shaun.
|2:10||At first, we didn't know what to think. They looked a bit like us.
||Shaun reads from the book.|
|2:13||There weren't many of them. Some were friendly."
||A picture shows a large rabbit in a suit collecting a lizard.
|2:17||With a book, children move on to the next image.
||Shaun is shown flicking through the pages of The Rabbits.|
|2:19||There's no set duration. They're not captured. They're free to move through the book. And I love picture books, 'cause they're so short.
||Shaun sitting and talking to the camera.|
|2:28||Picture books work forwards and backwards too. They're a bit different from novels. Kids just look at it and go,
||Back to footage of Shaun flicking through the pages of The Rabbits.
|2:32||"What an interesting shape! That reminds me of this, and that." And that's how you're meant to look at a picture.
||Again back to the original view of Shaun sitting and talking to the camera.
|2:38||Alison Lester dips a paintbrush into a glass bowl of water.
|2:40||Alison Lester: I always say it's a perfect job for a
||Alison dips brush into violet paint.
|2:42||control freak to be the author and the illustrator. I'll sit down with a bit of paper like this and just start sketching out what I think the main character might look like.
||Alison Lester is now shown at her desk drawing with a pencil.
|2:51||I could draw them or times,
||Alison adds colour to drawings of a dog and a mouse.
|2:54||just really quickly, sketchily,
||Close up of Alison's face|
|2:57||just thinking, "Oh, no, those ears are too big.
||Alison is again shown painting|
|3:00||What about trying a squarer body?"
||Shot of Alison's book Magic Beach|
|3:02||And I can probably spend days doing that.
||Back to Alison at her desk talking to camera.
|3:04|| It's the most frustrating part of my creative process,
||Alison adds colour to her drawing of a mouse and dog.
|3:09||is actually getting that right.
||Back to Alison at her desk painting and drawing.
|3:12||Morris Gleitzman: From a very young age, I had secret friends.
||Help Around the House by Morris Gleitzman lies on black fabric.
|3:14||If my parents took me on a trip as a very young kid, I would in my head be writing postcards to my secret friends about what was happening, what I hoped might happen, and occasionally - I'll confess this - about things that hadn't actually happened but I thought it would have been good if they had.
||Morris Gleitzman is interviewed.|
|3:33||Mem Fox: Now, I know you won't believe this, but I don't have an imagination, really. OK? I need
||Mem Fox is interviewed.
|3:38||an original idea from life. I can then reimagine that idea. But I am not the kind of writer who
||The colourful covers of some of her book appear - Koala Lou, Where is the Green Sheep?, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes.
|3:47||sits down in the morning and says, "Right. I'm going to write a story about blah blah." Because if I do that, it's bound to fail. It has to be something that has touched me somehow.
||Back to Mem Fox interview.|
|3:57||Lyrical music||Stuffed toys of the yellow monster and a girl sit side by side on a shelf.
|3:58||A sheet of vibrant book covers by Leigh Hobbs hang on a wall. Camera pans over some of Leigh's drawing tools.
|4:00||Cut-out drawings of scarred orange cats are pegged on a line.
|4:01||Leigh Hobbs: The thing in my head that I love employing
||Leigh is drawing at his desk.|
|4:06||doing these books is giving the characters life. To me, I love that. I...I know how
||Interview with Leigh.|
|4:14||Mr Chicken would respond or react in any sort of situation that you could name. You could say anything and I could draw it.
||A selection of books by Leigh featuring the yellow monster are titled Mr Chicken Goes to Paris, Mr Chicken Lands on London, Mr Chicken Arriva a Roma are shown.
|4:22||I think that's what engages the kids - that these are real characters. They're not just two-dimensional.
||Back to interview with Leigh.|
|4:28||Alison Lester: I think you probably can't help the way you write. And, you know, whenever you read something, you can sense what the writer is like
||Alison Lester is interviewed.
|4:34||by the way they see the world and the way
||She looks through picture books. A horse running.
|4:37||they express themselves, and I think these books that I do that are kind of
||Picture book showing children play in the sea.
|4:42||soft, cosy, welcoming books,
||On the cover of Ticky's Bad Day a cat rides a scooter.
|4:43||it's just the way I kind of exist in the world.
||The cover of the book Imagine is crowded with animals.
|4:45||Shaun Tan: My tip for encouraging kids to fall in love with reading is the same as falling in love with drawing or writing -
||Shaun Tan is interviewed.
|4:52||is just to focus on things that they love. And so constantly expose them to new things,
||His books Rules of Summer and a page from it are displayed. The page shows a picture, a huge eye fills the visor of a helmet being worn by a child.
|4:57||but it should always be things that they are interested in, that they're passionate about,
||His books The Lost Thing and a page from it are displayed. The page shows a man throwing Christmas decorations into a vat of tentacles.
|5:02||and most importantly, that reflect on problems that they're experiencing in their day-to-day life, because that's what kids are interested in.
||Back the Shaun Tan is interviewed.
|5:08||Morris Gleitzman: Kids reading can help prepare them for the world that's in front of them.
||Morris Gleitzman is interviewed.
|5:14||I discovered about 30 years ago that when I wrote characters who were 10, 11, 12 years of age, they were in what I think is the most fascinating time in all our lives.
||A selection of Morris's books are displayed - Soon, Funny Stories, Help Around the House, Maybe and Grace.
|5:26||This generation of kids are probably facing more challenges as they go into their adult lives, and we need to help equip them.
||Back to Morris Gleitzman is interviewed.
|5:33||An "Australian Legends" postage stamp features a photo of Mem Fox and the cover of Where is the Green Sheep?
|5:38||Mem Fox: To be given this honour of the Australia Post stamp...is... you know, well, it makes me feel tearful. I'm so honoured, you know, to have it happen to me.
||Back to the interview of Mem Fox.|
|5:50||Alison Lester: A stamp! I'm gonna be on a stamp! (LAUGHS)
||On a stamp Alison Lester smiles beside the cover of Magic Beach.
|5:50||And I wasn't supposed to tell anyone, but I told my husband straightaway, and he was like, "You're kidding!" (LAUGHS) Yeah, really, really honoured. It's just a fabulous thing to happen.
||Back to Interview with Alison Lester.|
|6:06||Leigh Hobbs: I'm actually pleased that my dad's still around to, uh...
||Leigh Hobbs's stamp features Mr Chicken Goes to Paris.
|6:11||to be... He's probably more excited than me. He's 95. And Dad was the one that - you know, Mum and Dad - Dad was the one that, as a little boy, you know, fostered my love of art and bought me books and paper and stuff, so, you know, it's good that he's...he can see that all that slog was worthwhile.
||Leigh Hobbs is interviewed.|
|6:32||Shaun Tan: I think it's kind of nice and a little bit poetic
||The cover of 'The Lost Thing' appears on Shaun Tan's stamp.
|6:37||to be appearing on a stamp, because of the number of stamps that I've used just in my early career, in getting my work out, actually being able to send samples to publishers and saying, you know, "This is who I am and this is what I do."
||Shaun Tan is interviewed.|
|6:51||Morris Gleitzman: The post office has allowed
||The stamp for Morris Gleitzman includes the cover of Once.
|6:56||millions of Australians who don't see themselves as writers to share intimacies using words. I mean, I think there's more good and important writing has passed through Australia Post than any of the great publishing houses in this country. And so it's a bit special for a writer to find themselves part of that legend.
||Morris Gleitzman is interviewed.|
|7:23||Voiceover: We celebrate the Australia Post Australian Legends Award for 2019.
||The red Australia Post logo appears on a white screen.
|7:25||Lyrical music||Text: Australia Post Legends Awards, 2019.
|7:37||Music fades||Screen fades to black.|