The Narelle Oliver Lecture with Morris Gleitzman

Australian Children’s Laureate for 2018-2019, Morris Gleitzman, presented the Book Links Annual Narelle Oliver Lecture on 14th June, 2018, at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School.

Morris Gleitzman Lecture
Morris Gleitzman

Book Links President and children’s author Yvonne Mes introduced the lecture and Megan Daley, a passionate children’s literature advocate and award-winning teacher librarian,  who shared her personal and rich memories of her dear friend and colleague, the talented author-illustrator-artist, Narelle Oliver.

Megan and Yvonne
Megan Daley and Yvonne Mes

From the Narelle Oliver exhibition ‘I want to be in a book’, audience members were immersed in a recreation of Narelle’s home studio and her stunning illustrative artwork. It was the perfect setting to honour Narelle and her contribution to children’s literature.

The Annual Narelle Oliver Lecture aims to raise the profile of children’s literature, to stimulate discussion and disseminate the results of current research on children’s literature. There was no better introduction to this than Morris Gleitzman’s lecture theme, ‘young people need stories more than ever’.

As an author of nearly 40 books for young people, published in around 20 countries, Morris has won numerous awards for his work both nationally and internationally. Some of his titles include Two Weeks with the Queen, Grace, Doubting Thomas, Bumface, Give Peas A Chance, Extra Time, Loyal Creatures, Snot Chocolate and the series Once, Then, Now, After, Soon and Maybe.

Moris Gleitzman Lecture 2018

Morris commenced his lecture with an invitation of imaginings –  to firstly imagine living as an 11 year old in Australia and to consider whether this 11 year old could share the same dreams and aspirations of their parents and grandparents. Morris highlighted how young people today face unprecedented challenges as they take over a world that is worse than previous generations – a world that feels more unsafe and uncertain with the consequences of climate change, wars, terrorism and a breakdown in human compassion and respect.

Morris discussed ‘the surface imperative in which we live’, where the modern human condition is one that glances at the surface and makes some sort of judgement based simply on the physicality of others. In a culture with glittering, fascinating surfaces full of promise and hope there is no depth and our trust in truth is waning.

It is within this backdrop, that Morris discussed how young people need stories more urgently than ever. Stories to help equip, support and inspire them as they face huge challenges in their lives. He highlighted how it is in stories that children embark on a journey with their characters who they connect with and form a relationship. These characters can teach children bravery, honesty, team work, empathy, problem-solving, resilience and how to deal with enemies.

In understanding how stories transport children into a world where they too can learn to marshal their resources, we understand how important this imaginative journey is to their developmental. Morris emphasised that as guardians we need to take these stories to where they belong, at the centre of children’s lives.

He also delighted us with his own stories, such as his ‘Book at bedtime’ promotional tour where Morris toured around Australia in his pyjamas for five weeks. In one country town, he had to rush straight from a book signing in his pyjamas to the only restaurant in town before it closed for dinner. In illustrating the surface imperative, he quoted the thoughts of the other restaurant goers, ‘isn’t that nice they let him out for the night.’

We too were grateful that ‘they let him out for the night’.  Throughout Morris’ lecture we came to understand why now more than ever, children and young people need ‘stories to delight, stories to beguile, stories to inspire, stories to move deeply.

Story by Liane McDermott, aspiring author and grateful member of Book Links and Write Links. 

Morris Gleitzman Lecture 2018 Rebecca
Jessica Lim and Rebecca Sheraton
Morris Gleitzman Lecture 2018 Pamela
Pamela and Peter Rushby
Morris Gleitzman Lecture 2018 Hannah
Yvonne Mes, Morris Gleitzman and Hannah Klokman
Morris Gleitzman Lecture 2018 Dimity
Dimity Powell and Norah Colvin



Lecture Morris Gleitzman 2018


Writing history with Jackie French

Jackie French 3 2018

The room was buzzing with anticipation. Jackie French, National Patron of Book Links, is always a passionate and inspiring speaker. Today she was talking to a small group of writers about Writing History, in particular for children.

Through reading historical fiction, children can experience life as every character in the story. Jackie feels this can only happen in books not TV. Through well written books you can experience the smell and taste of the era.


Jackie talked about children’s ability to self-sensor or gloss over challenging events. The sensitive author provides a way for children to hold anguish and terror at arm’s length. Children understand that bad things do happen and they must know how to deal with them. This understanding gives children hope that they can also overcome the struggles they are experiencing or that they feel might be ahead of them.


Jackie passionately believes that historical fiction matters because things change. One day things won’t be the same. Children can learn not to be frightened of change. The author can create a safe place for them to examine what happened in the past. They need to know what has happened because by understanding what has happened we learn how to stop the future ogre’s destroying people and civilisation.


As writers, Jackie told us the depth of knowledge required to write historical fiction is substantial. If you need to research for a book then you are not ready to write it because you don’t know what you need to know.


To overcome this, she suggested we

  • keep it small – set it over a day or like Jackie did in Hitler’s Daughter, at the end of the war when the concentration camps were no longer so strictly run so she didn’t need to know the exact routines.
  • just write about the bits you know
  • only include a few settings, characters, places, themes and time
  • include a new arrival who asks questions as a way to share information


Check your primary sources and make sure you have 3 substantiated reports that agree

  • firsthand accounts
  • maps
  • paintings
  • letters
  • newspapers
  • memories and diaries


Through reading historical fiction children learn that the past was not ea

Jackie donated her time to Book Links. Funds go to writing workshops for children.
Jackie donated her time to Book Links. Funds go to writing workshops for children. Jackie and Book Links President Yvonne Mes and the donation Bunyip.

sy. They may also feel the present is not easy and may be unsure about their future. This understanding gives children the courage to survive all the things to come, to face and take on the challenges in our imperfect world.


We passed up on the opportunity to ask questions just to get a few more minutes of listening to Jackie. I have to admit to shedding a few tears at the stories she told of the bravery and sacrifice of people that she had uncovered in her passionate uncovering of memoirs and secrets.

There is also a light-hearted side to Jackie as you will discover if you follow her on Instagram and enjoy her ‘witty ditties’ about the wombats that frequent her carrot filled garden.Lucy and Jackie FrenchStory by Lucy McGinley

New Event – Jackie French talks about Writing and Researching History and the Thrill of Finding Secrets.

Book Links is proud to present a morning with Jackie French!

Jackie will be sharing all she knows about ‘Writing History, Researching History and the Thrill of Finding Secrets!’

Book your tickets now and pay a donation!

Saturday May 19th, 10.30am Room 1B, State Library QLD, Southbank.

Samantha Wheeler Inspires Young Authors

These lucky children were not only able to have a workshop with Samantha Wheeler and practise their writing skills on the 24th of March, they also took home a copy of her latest junior fiction novel, Turtle Trackers, BEFORE it was launched that afternoon!

Samantha was impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge the children brought to the workshop.



Here are some of the children’s thoughts:

‘I enjoyed coming  up with crazy book ideas.‘ Anna (9)

‘I loved that I got to meet a REAL author!’ Mackenzie (almost 10)

‘I loved the freedom we had with our ideas.’ Emiko (almost 11)

‘It was really fun and I made new friends.’ Chloe (9)

‘I enjoyed everything!’ Micah (9)


Writing Workshop for Children with Author Samantha Wheeler

You love animals and you’d love to write a story about them? But where do you start? How do you finish? Let author Samantha Wheeler help you plan your story so that it starts with a boom, races across the page towards the finish, and comes to a rounded, satisfying end. Become the champion of storytelling in one short workshop that is sure to leave your narrative shining.

Find out how Turtle Trackers was written and get your complimentary copy autographed. 10:00-11:30 am $25 members, $30 non-members

Booking Button

Saturday 24 March – 10:00 – 11:30am. | $25 Book Links member (ie family is a member), $30 non-members includes free copy of Turtle Trackers. This workshop best suits 8-12 year olds.

Samantha Wheeler Canva

Workshop format:

  • Brainstorming/warm up activity
  • Planning of stories to encourage exciting starts, develop rising tension and ensure well-rounded endings
  • Discussion. Have you structured your story? Have you planned a satisfying ending?
  • Brainstorm the use of language and sentence structure to create tension, description, and dialogue.
  • Drafting a short narrative piece.



Room 1B, State Library of Queensland
Cultural Precinct
Stanley Place
South Brisbane, Qld 4101



Book Links presents: Romancing the Stars 2018

It won’t be long until you can mingle with the literary stars! Meet Queensland children’s authors and illustrators who will share their latest books, the stories behind their stories and feed you delicious bite-size insights into what it is like to create stories for children.

Now in its 7th year, come and join Book Links and Voices on the Coast, for two nights of entertainment, laughter, knowledge, reading, beverages and canapes, which of course, wouldn’t be complete with a book shop on site!

Whether you are a teacher and want to know what will appeal to the children in your class, or a librarian seeking out the latest and hottest books by local authors and illustrators, or perhaps you are a book creator yourself and want to see what everyone has been up to, or maybe you are a parent or lover of children’s literature and want a chance to find out more about the latest and greatest in children’s literature, whatever you are looking for, you are sure to find it at Romancing the Stars!

Professional Development Certificates are available on request.

There is a  choice of two fabulous locations!

Thursday March 1, 2018
Brisbane, Indooroopilly
Ambrose Treacy College, Twigg Street
A list of the stars, their books and their bios can be found here.

Friday February 23, 2018
Sunshine Coast, Buderim
Immanuel Lutheran College, Library
126-142 Wises Rd
A list of the stars, their books and their bios can be found here.

Cost: $25.00 for members and $35.00 for non-members.
Not a Book Links member yet? Head to our members page to sign up (membership $20.00 per person or $30.00 per family).