Every year, on the middle weekend of the July School Holidays, the children’s authors, illustrators and story tellers of Western Australia (authorillustratus juvenile) leave their usual nests and take off, like a flock of migratory birds, for Balingup in the South West. Since its inception four years ago the Telling Tales Festival has gone from strength to strength. It has doubled in size and diversified to include a circus troupe passing on their skills, a chef talking about her recipe book and a vastly expanded parade of storybook characters. This year the parade included what would have to be the world’s tallest frog and an ageing fairy wearing her thermals underneath her gossamer dress. Who could blame her? The weather in Balingup at this time of year is always freezing. As it turned out she was the Fairy Grandmother from the Bob Graham picture book, Jethro Byrde Fairy Child. She explained that, at her age, it was important not to catch a chill. Speaking from inside my overcoat, woollen hat, scarf and knee length boots I had to heartily agree with that.
Although the weather is cold, the warmth of our welcome, the efficiency of the organisation and the rare opportunity to network with colleagues in such a relaxed and supportive environment makes this one of the most sort after gigs in the year. Then there is the bonus of meeting and sharing our books with enthusiastic readers and writers.
Congratulations and thanks to Helen Christensen and her wonderful team of organisers. Long may the Balingup Telling Tales Festival continue to thrive.