Good morning everyone, my name is Megan Light and I am the 7th President of the Kids Own Australian Literature Awards. It is my great pleasure to welcome you to Blackheath today to celebrate the stories that you all love and to acknowledge and honour those who create and bring them to us.
This year is a special milestone for KOALA – 30 years.
KOALA began in 1986. It was the creation of a group of motivated volunteers who valued both children’s opinions and the promotion of Australian books and authors. After a great deal of work and the involvement of just about every school, library and publishing body they could muster, the scene was set for the first awards ceremony at Taronga Zoo in 1987.
We have come a little bit closer to the bush for awards day this year, and warmly welcome some very special guests to help us celebrate.
A number of past KOALA Council members have joined us today including Janet Sorby – the first KOALA president, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Presidents Miranda Harrowell, Val Noake and Antonina Fieni; past council members - Yvonne Louis, Cathie and Alan Tasker from KOALA books, Di Simpson, Marita Thomson and Judith Ridge. I also wish to acknowledge the contributions of the many Council members who have sent their apologies today. And of course the current KOALA council! We also welcome and appreciate the support of Jackie Hawkes from the CBCA NSW, Margaret Hamilton who is highly respected and honoured in the world of children’s literature, Melanie Elkan from Blackheath Public Library and two awesome KOALA Legends, Duncan Ball and Richard Tulloch (Richard Tulloch's Birthday Song).
Richard Morecroft presented the first awards in 1987, which went to Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas and Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein. Unfortunately, Richard couldn’t be with us today but has sent us a message (see presentation slides).
I would like to share with the children of NSW the top 10 primary books in 1987. I wonder how many of them you have read? I’m sure quite a few. They are stories of endurance indeed. (See presentation slide 8)
KOALA is about kids’ choice and giving the readers a voice – we received almost 7000 votes from the children of NSW this year. Please welcome Alyson Simpson to introduce the voices that are here today - both the children’s and our shortlisted authors and illustrators. Thank you.