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The Emily Rodda Event 2011

Belle Alderman, Emily Rodda and Stephen Parker

Children’s Books Unite the World

That’s the title a journalist chose when interviewing Emily Rodda during her visit to the Lu Rees Archives and Canberra on the 23rd-24th of March 2011.

We celebrated the end of a year-long project to catalogue 469 overseas translations in 30 languages. Emily Rodda, being Australia’s most translated children’s author gave an inspired speech on the topic, ‘Australian Children’s Books in Many Languages’.

We were very pleased to have Professor Stephen Parker, Vice-Chancellor of the University, open our proceedings. He talked about the links between the University and the Lu Rees Archives. He also told an amusing story about his daughter who greatly enjoyed Emily Rodda's books as a child.

The Alumni section of the University of Canberra sponsored this event held at the Ann Harding Conference Centre - a wonderful new building. Over 200 people attended and enjoyed an exhibition of our framed artworks including explanatory plaques about each. A series of these artworks demonstrated the creative process. We also had displays of various merchandise relating to Rodda’s books – games, puzzles, models, DVDs, cards, Nintendo games, calendars and much more. Emily Rodda’s book, City of Rats featured in 28 languages. Everyone was fascinated by our display of Rodda’s handwritten manuscripts for her first two books, Something Special and Pigs Might Fly. Emily Rodda said she felt like an ‘ancient monument!’ After her speech, the Archives formally accepted the donation to the Archives of her papers and manuscripts – all 33 boxes – and presented her with a guide to these.

Fund Raising Campaign

In April 2010, we began our campaign to raise $6,000, which we needed to catalogue 469 books in overseas translations. While the University Library usually catalogues our books, we had a backlog and with the addition of over 200 Emily Rodda books in different languages, we hired CAVAL, a professional cataloguing service, to do this job. The University Library ensured the process went smoothly, checking each record before uploading these onto Libraries Australia for the world to see. One of our clever dreamers and supporters of the Archives conjured up the idea of writing to all the Canberra Embassies and asking for small donations from each, in accordance with the numbers of their books we needed to catalogue. Lots of letter writing! Nine embassies very kindly offered funds including the Embassies of China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Thailand. We also received financial support from Emily Rodda’s publisher, Scholastic Australia, the Scandinavian Australian Association, the Australia-Japan Foundation and Victor Crittenden, a private donor and the foundation librarian who accepted the Lu Rees Archives collection into the University in 1980.

Emily Rodda’s books now happily occupy two complete bays (that’s 15 shelves), all neatly arranged by title and then by language for each title, complete with bold signs to keep them in order. The Archives proudly holds the largest and most complete collection of her work in the world – at last count, 659 items

Emily Rodda Talks With Children

We collaborated with the National Library to offer a public event for families and children. Their event, on Thursday the 24th of March, was totally booked out with over 250 children and adults - standing room only. An 11-year-old boy, J-Max, and a 15-year-old girl, Caitlin, both huge fans, interviewed Emily with great panache. With each question she shared so much about her books and how she works. The audience visibly loved her. Afterwards, the National Library served both kids' and adults' refreshments while she signed book after book after book, speaking to each child with parents pleading to have pictures made of her with their children. The National Library said no signing line had ever been so long! There was one father of four children who had four books signed for his children who all waited patiently in the line. He then went to the end of the line so he could have the 20 others he brought along signed as well.

Earlier that day she spoke with all 200 children in years four and five at Radford College, where both children and teachers showered her with adoration. It was a very busy two days, with just enough time to show her around the Archives, which she hadn’t seen for more than 15 years.

The World is Coming Together

We were very pleased to have wonderful media coverage. There was a full-page article in The Canberra Times on Monday, Harmony Day, which we were celebrating as an important part of our cataloguing project. This article generated a lot of interest, as did a lengthy radio interview on ABC 666, as well as another interview on a smaller radio station. She also appeared in Canberra Weekly, our free weekly magazine, on the National Library’s website for events, the Lu Rees website, and in The Canberra Times literary events. Here is a comment from Emily Rodda, which appeared in the Canberra Weekly. It sums up what our project was all about. ‘With works translated across the world, I think it’s a real sign that the world is coming together. We might be apart in many things but at least in our love of the same stories it’s a place were we can all meet.’

Top right: Emeritus Professor Belle Alderman, Ms Emily Rodda, Professor Stephen Parker, Vice-Chancellor of the University.