New Zealand Book Awards

Heartiest congratulations to SCBWI members who were all honoured at this year's New Zealand Book Awards.

House on the Hill, illustrated by Sarah Davis, text by Kyle Mewburn (Scholastic NZ)  won the Children’s Choice Picture Book Award

Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner, the Young Adult award

Anzac Heroes by Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic, the Non-Fiction award and special congratulations to Maria for winning the overall Margaret Mahy Book Of the Year.

You can find out more below.

Fun Facts - Getting inside the Sydney Conference

It takes more than just mere wind to set ships in motion. Soon many of the Roving Reporters you’ve met over the past few months will be recording all the wonders, wisdoms and wit of the SCBWI Sydney 2016 Conference for you rather like the bold explorers and navigators of old, albeit now armed with iPads and Androids in lieu of parchment and quill.

But what of those behind the scenes who organise, program, coordinate, provision, negotiate, book, agonise, encourage, and ultimately create the wind that keeps the whole Conference forever afloat and moving forward? This committee, helmed by the indomitable, Susanne Gervay consists of Margaret Roc, Caz Goodwin, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, Sarah Davis and Deb Abela. Together they more than ably navigate every conference detail, whim and worry with infinite professionalism and patience. Over the years, they have amassed a staggering amount of Conference highlights; fun facts and figures, some of which are too irresistible not to share. Here are but a handful to set your Conference jive alive.

  • In 2014, 47 publishers, editors, designers and other leading industry peeps attended the Portfolio Showcase to view the 50 portfolios being exhibited - that's almost one publisher per folio! Great odds of getting a receptive audience for your work. 
  • The SCBWI Conference supports Room to Read. The Illustrator Duel was a highlight in 2014 with Bruce Whatley and Stephen Axelson and the HUGE PICKLE!!!!!! The auction raised nearly $1000 for Room to Read!!!
  • Including the Committee, there are over 60 volunteers involved, helping to make our SCBWI 2016 Conference to be the most amazing and the best ever.
  • The Beatniks will once again appear at the SCBWI conference—by popular demand.
  • The six-piece band The Beatnickers will be led by veteran SCBWI members Scott Chambers (lead guitar) and Meredith Costain (keyboards) and feature guest vocals and flute from first-time attendee Karen Collum. 
  • They’ll be playing two sets of ‘get up and dance’ rock and blues classics, ranging from Nutbush to Wild Thing. Prizes will be awarded for the best dancers on the night. So don’t forget to pack your dancing shoes!
  • There are over 150 delegates booked which includes a wealth of experience in Children’s Publishing: around 30 Publishers, editors, art directors or agents, and the major proportion are published (and award winning!) authors and illustrators.
  • We have organised approximately 130 critiques with top Australian and International publishers, editors, art directors and agents
  • Just a reminder.... it is compulsory to dance and sing loud and karaoke-style as the band plays up a storm at the party.

If that doesn’t make your heart race with excitement, then I think you need a bigger boat!

So as I prepare to steer my ship of reporters into Sydney Harbour spare a thought for those who have brought life and breath into this Conference and given us something so exciting to report on.

Rove you from Sydney, soon!





Making room for Room to Read

SCBWI Roving Reporter, Kel Butler warms up her note pad with this guest post on why SCBWI and so many of its members are active supporters of Room to Read.

SCBWI has long been a supporter of Room to Read. Susanne Gervay was the very first writer ambassador, even before the organisation launched a fundraising operation in Sydney in early 2009. Jennie Orchard led the launch into Australia, drawing on her collateral as a speakers’ agent and publisher to engage the many writers and illustrators she had worked and formed close relationships with over the years; people like Susanne Gervay. Melina Marchetta and Libby Hathorn.

All three took part in the inaugural Students Helping Students event at the State Library. Later other SCBWI luminaries Deb Abela and Sarah Davis added their support. And at this year’s conference we’re delighted that ambassadors Oliver Phommavanh and Dianne Wolfer will be with us, as well. All of these wonderful ambassadors contribute in a variety of ways, putting the importance of global literacy and education in the spotlight. Our theme this year is ‘Taking Leadership for Literacy’ - and we are so grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness and funds, helping to give the gift of literacy and education to millions of children across Asia and Africa.

So why are so many great Australian writers stepping up to fundraise and advocate for Room to Read? Let’s borrow a few words from Deb Abela, who says: ‘Every child has the right to an education and to the joy of reading. By helping to educate the world’s poorest, we are not only creating better communities, we are helping build a better, brighter world. It is that fundamental.’

Room to Read focuses on literacy because literacy is the foundation for all future learning. Since it was founded in 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of over 10 million children by establishing school libraries, publishing original children’s books in more than 25 local languages, constructing child-friendly classrooms and supporting educators with training and resources to teach reading, writing and active listening.

  • More than 18,000 libraries have been established in 10 low-income countries in Asia and Africa
  • More than 1250 children’s books have been published in over 25 languages, including Khmer, Tamil and Swahili
  • More than 18 million children’s books have been distributed
  • More than 38,000 girls have benefited from the girls’ education program

Room to Read attracts support because it is an organisation achieving extraordinary results, and yet at the same time it recognises that there is so much more work to be done. In addition to those already mentioned, our committed writer ambassadors include Jesse Blackadder, James Foley, Kate Forsyth, Jacquie Harvey, Gus Gordon, John Larkin, Frane Lessac, Sophie Masson, Belinda Morrell,  Alice Pung, Sophie Masson and Sally Rippin. Other writers and journalists lend more informal support.

The fundraising campaign which is supported by our ambassadors is the World Change Challenge. This was the brainchild of Tristan Bancks , designed as a way of encouraging schools and libraries to get involved in fundraising and spreading the word for global literacy. This year we want student leaders to take leadership for literacy, understanding the global issue and spearheading initiatives in their school communities. There are still 781 million illiterate people in the world, two-thirds of them girls and women. As UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, has said: ‘Literacy is much more than an educational priority – it is the ultimate investment in the future.’

Right now Room to Read needs schools, libraries and businesses all over Australia to get behind the World Change Challenge and take Leadership for Literacy to a whole new level. Many schools are currently in fundraising mode already, with some of them incorporating stories of Room to Read’s programs into their curriculum. St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School in Brisbane is a perfect example of this, giving students the opportunity to learn about Room to Read’s work in Nepal in the wake of the 2015 earthquakes.

If you are interested in getting involved you can find more information on the World Change Challenge on Tristan's website Or like, share or message us on Facebook at

So that's it in a nutshell, really, why SCBWI and so many of its members choose to actively support Room to Read and to raise awareness and funds for Room to Read. Because there is no greater gift than literacy. And – as Room to Read believes profoundly: World Change Starts with Educated Children.