Tasmanian based illustrator, Alyssa Bermudez, reports on her recent attendance at the KidLitVic conference where authors, illustrators and publishers inform, inspire and ignite their passions.
What are some vital aspects for success in the children’s book publishing industry? Lastweekend I had the pleasure of attending the KidLitVic Conference in Melbourne – “Meet the Publishers.” The State Library felt like the perfect venue to listen to publisher panel discussions, participate in expert workshops and network with industry professionals from across Australia. A vibrant energy filled the conference with reacquainted faces and introductions to new ones. Illustrators like me had their portfolios in hand and the authors were ready to pitch their next big idea.
The conference began with Bethany McDonald’s insight into childhood literacy and cognitive skill development. Literacy is essential for this development. She mentioned the success of the State Library of Victoria's initiative, 1000 Books Before School, which offers incentives and goals for children and parents to read together more often. “Books aren’t dead, not if kids have anything to do with it.”
A common theme for the day was the puzzling thought of what makes a great children’s book. In the first panel discussion, regarding chapter and middle grade books, the panellists noted that a common trifecta for engaging children is, “heart, smart, and fart.” Children want stories with real authentic emotions, intelligence and humour. Susannah Chambers of Allen & Unwin later noted in the picture book panel that is vital for there to be a true sense of character and a sense of place. The young adult panellists added that a memorable character doesn’t even have to be likeable, but more importantly they need to be fully formed, unique and real with a strong individual voice.
|© Alyssa Bermudez! Used with permission|
As children’s books evolve and grow throughout time, the vital elements of storytelling remain the same with a strong story and character at the centre of it. The end of the conference day came quickly and I’m sure I was not the only one to feel invigorated and energised with new ideas.
Children’s and commercial illustrator
Alyssa Bermudez is a children’s and commercial illustrator, art teacher, and craft lover from New York City residing in Hobart. Her debut publication, Lucía the Luchadora is distributed worldwide and has received multiple starred reviews. She is eager to try on her author/illustrator shoes soon too! Stay tuned!