THE Australian Children’s Laureate for 2020-2021 is author Ursula Dubosarsky, it was announced at the National Library this morning (February 11).
Described as “incredibly hard-working”, Dubosarsky is known for picture books, such as “Too Many Elephants in This House”, but also for her many novels and nonfiction books, written for all ages.
She succeeds Morris Gleitzman and previous laureates Alison Lester, Boori Monty Pryor, Jackie French and Leigh Hobbs.
As laureate, Dubosarsky will be the national ambassador for reading and Australian children’s literature, speaking on behalf of all creators, representing reading advocates, educators, librarians, booksellers and publishers.
She was honoured by a performance of the song “Words Make the World Go Round” by pupils from Forrest Primary School and formally welcomed in French and English by two students from Telopea Park School.
Making the announcement was Megan Mitchell, who explained that she was the first ever children’s commissioner to be appointed to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
She praised Dubosarsky as “a champion, tireless and powerful”.
Dubosarsky then took the stage, armed with a glove version of the magpie statuette she had received, to explain to the audience, packed with children, what a “laureate” was, showing a crown of green leaves while explaining how over the centuries it had become possible to dispense with the leaves when referring to high honours as “laurels” and have “the word alone”.
“I wanted to be a writer since I was six-years-old,” she said.
“I’m excited to have my crown.”
She told the crowd that over the next two years she would be encouraging young people to sign up to their local library – no matter whether they lived in a city or a remote area where they might be dependent on a travelling library.
The theme for Dubosarsky’s two-year term as Australian Children’s Laureate is “Read for Your Life” but that, she pointed out, “could mean to read for your whole life or to read to save your life”.
Then, it was time for the new laureate to demonstrate the communication skills, which had led to her selection. Diving into the audience to find a team of “ants”, she read a new story with a hopeful message about reading called “The March of the Arts”.
The morning finished with a screening of the film about Dubosarsky in which she talked about “the enchantment of reading”.
As she stepped down from the podium, she called out to everybody that there was one big message – “join a library!”