When you leave the house at 6.00am (and not required to be at Taronga Park Zoo until 10.00am), it's very hard to guess what to wear. I took a chance that it was going to be hot, so I chose shorts (but good ones, because I was to be in the presence of the New South Wales Premier, Morris Iemma), a shirt with a collar and my leather bush hat, but made sure to take my umbrella. It was just as likely to have been torrential rain all day. I did feel a little silly heading off in a hat, shorts and comfortable shoes at 6.00am, but it did turn out to be a glorious hat day: a trip on a ferry, and then overlooking Sydney Harbour from the Free-Flight Bird Show open-air amphitheatre at the Zoo.
The occasion was the annual Premier's Reading Challenge presentation ceremony. I was invited as a member of the booklist review committee, but my Very Important Task today (pic, above right) was to chaperone children's author Duncan Ball (ie. a close friend of Selby, the talking dog). In fact, during the sit-down proceedings I got to be right near artist Kim Gamble (who drew an amazing picture from the forthcoming "Tashi and the Phoenix" in pastels which they raffled off to one of the invited school groups) and authors and/or illustrators such as Anna Fienberg, Emily Rodda (aka Jennifer Rowe), Tohby Riddle, Ursula Dubosarsky and Libby Gleeson, to name just a few. Several of the teachers exclaimed that Gordon Winch, also present, had been their lecturer at university but for me, it was Barbara Poston-Anderson, also present and who'd arrived with Gordon, who had been my lecturer of teacher-librarianship.
Every person who spoke at the formal part of the ceremony did it with such enthusiasm, it was easy to be swept away by the positiveness of this celebration of literary achievements. Because of the PRC, over eight million books have been read by NSW students (that otherwise may not have been).