I absolutely love that modern libraries can truly be places where writing comes to life for people of all ages. There are spaces for those who want quiet reading and study, and areas where the sounds of small people responding to what they are reading, or to storytime can be heard and enjoyed.
Yesterday morning on Day Two of Write around the Murray, there was laughter and some intakes of breath as Bethanga children’s author, Susan Berran launched the latest book in her Freaky series, Chomp’d.
The launch was devoid of a big name and instead Susan read Chomp’d to a captive audience of Lavington East Primary School children.
Susan told the group that she didn’t read a lot as a child, but she did have three brothers and there was a ‘lot of grotty stuff going on’. She’s used those experiences and some of her own as inspiration for the five books in the Freaky series – Splinterz, Toe Jamm’d, Lick’d, Bonez and now Chomp’d.
Before reading from the book, Susan related the story of the family holiday that inspired Chomp’d. She and her family travelled to Cairns for a holiday, but from the outset – crowded bus to the resort, mega sea sickness while out on the Barrier Reef , a jealous (and hungry) cheetah at a wildlife park, and poisonous trees while tree surfing – it was a holiday to remember for all the wrong reasons.
‘So, I took this story and I blew it up! Next time you go on holidays – blow it up. If you’re on a rollercoaster, have it break in half. If you’re having a pool party – put some piranha in the pool. Whatever happens in real life – blow it up!’ Susan told the group.
But, she also issued a word of caution for the kids NOT to try skateboarding off a roof or some of the other dangerous antics of her characters.
During question time Susan was asked who was her favourite author? ‘Roald Dahl because he makes me laugh.’
Susan said her aim too was to make children laugh and the best way was to talk about those things that adults find gross, for example – toe jam.
‘I’d been out gardening and was wearing a pair of woolly socks on my feet. I came inside all hot and sweaty and took my sock off and when I saw the sock fluff between my toes I thought ugh, toe jam. And then I thought Ah! Toe Jam.’ And her second book in the series was born.
Susan also does her own illustrations and likes to use different fonts to keep the reader engaged. She loves to hear from her readers and between library and school visits and working on her books – the Freaky series might go up to 13 – is very busy in Bethanga, on the banks of Lake Hume.
Feedback on Chomp’d so far is that it is the funniest yet in the Freaky series.
This is Susan’s third Write around the Murray Festival and as well as promoting reading, she also uses the festivals as a chance to network with other writers.
Find out more about her entertaining series of books and how to book her for school and library visits at her website susanberran.com
PS Yesterday was my first visit to the new Lavington Library that occupies the ground floor of Northpoint Tower in Griffith Street, Lavington. It’s all very bright and shiny, but feels very welcoming.
More Write around the Murray Book Launches
Today: 5pm Albury LibraryMuseum
Honor Auchinleck – Elyne Mitchell: A Daughter Remembers
Paul Terry – In Search of Captain Moonlite
Download the Write around the Murray program here