It’s Story Time with Stephanie Owen Reader


Blog post thanks to Nicole Godwin.

What a treat to have Stephanie Owen Reeder act as our personal tour guide at the 'Story Time: Australian Children's Literature' exhibition at the National Library of Australia. Stephanie knows all there is to know about the exhibition because she wrote the beautiful companion book 'Story Time Stars'. Copies of her book were even chained to the seats throughout the exhibition!

The exhibition and Stephanie’s companion book took SCBWI members on a nostalgic tour of our own childhoods. Everyone found some favourite books as the exhibition features literature from the colonial period through to the present day.


Stephanie’s tour focused on special items that gave us insights into everything from drafts, book dummies, covers and of course, artwork. Here is just a taste:

·      The first children’s book titled ‘A Mother’s Offering to her Children’ was published in Australia in 1841. The author was originally listed as ‘A Lady resident in NSW’ and was later identified as Charlotte Barton, who just happens to be an ancestor of Kate Forsythe.

·      The stunning artwork from Rainbow Serpent, by Dick Roughsey and Percy Trezise, was on display. The images are based on rock art and landcapes in Cape York. The book was the first time that Aboriginal Dreamtime Legends were told for today’s children.

·      Mem Fox’s first draft of ‘Possum Magic’ started out as a university assignment and was titled ‘Hush the Invisible Mouse’. It was rejected nine times over years. Finally, Omnibus suggested changing the story and ‘Possum Magic’ as we know it was created.

·      A manuscript for Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda provided insights into the editing process with hand written notes by the editor on ‘no one’ v ‘no-one’. To hyphen or not hyphen; that is the question!

·      Working sketches for ‘The Arrival’ by Shaun Tan provided stunning examples of visual literacy. You could spend hours just looking at these sketches.


You have lots of time to plan your trip to Canberra to visit the 'Story Time: Australian Children's Literature' exhibition as it runs until 9 Feb 2020. When you visit, make sure you pick up a copy of Stephanie’s book, which is clever and interesting in so many ways. We all particularly loved the fact that 'Story Time Stars' takes a fresh look at each book featured from the main character’s perspective. For example, the Green Sheep tells us all about the book that she just happens to be in.

Huge thanks again to Stephanie Owen Reader. SCBWI ACT loves having you as part of our tribe.

Scroll through some more pictures below.