Hey cHEwY gum gums!

Last night, I went to a book launch in real life. It feels so good to say that haha. We were all there to celebrate the release of a fabtastic picture book, March of the Ants by current Oz Laureate Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrated by Tobhy Riddle.

But at the same time, it was also a chance to see so many people in the #kidslit community that I haven’t seen for a long time. I must admit, it was overwhelming. My mind was a little rusty in remembering everyone as usernames on IG and Twitter came to life. You remember that first day of the school year, when you haven’t seen anyone in the long Summer holidays? Last night had that kind of chatterbox vibe, as we all tried to catch up with each other.

Yes, the greetings were awkward at times, with invisible hugs, hands in the air because we weren’t quite sure if we should shake hands or not, and the covid marshall at the Friend in Hand pub was doing his best to enforce the ‘drink in hand, must sit down’ rule. Bless him, he was as patient as a kindy teacher trying to herd their class into two straight lines. In the end, we were just glad to be in a room, with an actual crowd for once.

I first heard The March of The Ants at the Laureate Ceremony in Canberra, where Ursula got six kids to re-enact a story that she just made up for the ceremony. It quickly got snapped up by Paul and Beth MacDonald, for their boutique publishing house, Book Trail Press. Tohby Riddle came on board as the illustrator and designer. He hadn’t illustrated a picture book for another author since the 1990s.

Yes, the story is that special. A bunch of ants who are on a journey, and one of the ants brings a storybook, because she thinks its essential. And spoiler alert, it is very essential. It was the perfect way to kickstart Ursula’s reign as Laureate, and this well-crafted picture book will be a nice way to send her off as she passes on the torch at the end of the year.

As I left, there were still a ton of people that I didn’t get a chance to say hi too. But I know there will be a next time.

Yeah, it feels so good to write that too haha.


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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