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Series contributors: Lyn White; Rosanne Hawke; John Heffernan; Sophie Masson; Robert Hillman; Prue Mason.
Prue Mason lived for many years in the Middle East and draws on her own many exciting life experiences to write her children’s adventure novels that have been particularly successful with boy readers. She has also written many articles and short stories for children’s magazines in Australia and internationally.
Her book Zafir is the sixth book in the Through My Eyes series.
Robert Hillman has published more than sixty works of fiction and non-fiction. His books feature in school libraries all over Australia and his autobiography, The Boy in the Green Suit, won the 2005 Australian National Biography Award. His publications cover sports, Australian history, nation building, Young Australian achievers, and the plight of refugees and asylum seekers.
Robert Hillman’s latest book Malini: Through My Eyes was launched at Readings, Carlton on Thursday the 11th of September, 2014.
JOHN HEFFERNAN WILL BE TOURING MELBOURNE, MARCH 17-21 2014.
John Heffernan’s has written numerous books for older and younger readers, in a range of genres that includes realistic fiction, fantasy, futuristic, and picture books. He also writes for junior readers under the pseudonym “Charlie Carter” (most notably, the Battle Boy series).
What inspired you to write Naveed?
Years ago I spent time traveling through Afghanistan. The journey left an indelible impression on me, and since then I’ve followed the nation’s demise over more than three decades of war. Now, as the West prepares to leave, it is tempting to see only a bleak future for this beautiful country and its proud people. And yet in the many personal stories I read as research for this book I found real seeds of hope. Naveed is my story of one boy’s fight for the future of his country.
Rosanne Hawke is an award-winning children’s author with twenty books to her name. She lives in rural South Australia.
Rosanne, what inspired you to write Shahana?
For ten years I worked as an aid worker in the Middle East and most of that time was spent in Northern Pakistan. We lived in Abbottabad close to Azad Kashmir, but we were not allowed to cross the border. The war over Kashmir is the longest-running conflict in the world today, and possibly the least understood – and there are many different points of view.
It wasn’t until 2006 when the border opened for aid workers helping with the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, that I was able to visit Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir. There was a huge amount of damage, but I could see it had once been a beautiful place. Little is written in papers about how the Kashmiri conflict affects children, but many sources suggest there are over 200,000 orphans in Kashmir. I wanted to tell these children’s stories, albeit fictitiously, so other young people in peaceful countries like Australia can understand and care. Maybe knowing these stories can help.
Sophie was born in Jakarta, of French parents, and came to Australia at the age of 5. Sophie grew up between worlds, and between languages, an experience which has informed her work.
Sophie, what inspired you to write Emilio?
The Mexican drug war has claimed more than 40,000 lives since 2006 and shows no sign of letting up. Though Mexico is a country which has been steadily rising in prosperity in the last few years, the drug war has caused deep trauma to the Mexican population. This war is both a conflict between rival cartels/gangs battling for supremacy, and a war between them and Mexican government forces.
I have followed events in Mexico for some time, ever since I was a child and first devoured books about the great pre-Columbian empires of Mexico. I have come to a better understanding of what was happening there, and just how the drug war affects family life and people’s everyday dealings. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing can be taken for granted. It is that feeling which underlies Emilio; the feeling of what happens when a nightmare that’s always hovered at the edge of your vision suddenly becomes a lived reality.
Lyn White has been a primary school teacher-librarian and English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher for more than twenty years and is passionate about children’s literature. She has great expertise in engaging students with quality texts and teachers with relevant high quality resources. Her work with refugee and migrant children motivated her to create a series that spoke of their experiences, and led to the Through My Eyes series.
Lyn, what inspired you to commission Through My Eyes?
As a teacher-librarian I was frequently asked by students for fiction stories of children in other cultures that had a strong link to reality. As an English as a Second Language teacher I had the privilege of listening to the incredible experiences of refugee and newly arrived children who had been displaced and traumatised by conflict. I began to realise the potential of combining these two experiences – a fiction series of engaging stories of true events in troubled lands with insight into culture, conflict and identity through one child’s eyes.
Australia is home to many refugees and displaced people and we were mindful of the need to show due respect to their cultures and experiences. The integrity of our authors and their exhaustive research has been invaluable in meeting this challenge. This series aims to pay tribute to children whose worlds have been changed forever. I believe we have achieved this aim as each author has created a story that is primarily about the culture and identity of their character, and while there are certainly bleak moments in each story, the overriding sense is one of hope and triumph over adversity.