Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Sunday 25 March 2018

When writing children’s books, it pays to go the extra mile…

 Claire Saxby is well known for her non-fiction picture books on historical figures and Australian animals. Koala, illustrated by Julie Vivas is on the Notables list for this year’s Eve Pownall Award – the Shortlist is released on Tuesday March 27.

Claire Saxby has been writing for children for about 20 years. She has nearly fifty books in print with more in production.  One of her books was read on Play School.  Claire travels around Australia to research her books as much of the best information comes from libraries, family stories, newspaper archives and museum exhibitions. Claire has featured in award lists including most recently the Bangkok Book Awards.

Claire recently visited Launceston as a guest speaker at the Lunchbox Lecture series organised by Friends of the Library Launceston and Launceston LINC. Claire spoke about and read her two Tasmanian stories My Name is Lizzie Flynn (illustrated by Lizzy Newcomb) and Bird to Bird illustrated by Wayne Harris. 
Claire’s research, her quest to go the extra mile to base her stories in truth, has provided her with serendipitous discoveries that add richness to her stories.  Lizzie is based on 13-year-old Scottish convict Rose Ford transported to Tasmania on the ship Rajah.  A chance remark that some convicts would have been very unhappy to be making a quilt for a wealthy woman while the sewers, convict women, had nothing, led to the creation of Martha. 

Hearing that convict bunking was removed from a ship, made into a weaving loom and then into a lean-to kitchen was the impetus for Claire’s recently published picture book Bird to Bird. This history of Australia in 170 words is Claire at her poetic best. Claire is a fascinating speaker, so if an opportunity arises to hear her, grab it. 
Tasmanian readers might be interested to know that the picture of the hut in this story is based on the Reg Wadley memorial hut.  (There are many pictures – perhaps the best is here.)

 Nella Pickup, Avid Reader and Retired Librarian


  1. Thanks Nella as always your reports and informative and engaging. It will be interesting to see how the book goes in the Eve Pownall Award this year.

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