Escaping between the covers

06 November 2017

First memories are intensely recalled, such as sitting on a green ants’ nest age two, or making daisy chains on Nana’s front lawn and being stung by a bee (treated with Reckitts Blue) age three. But the one that resonates more than any other is that of my mother sitting close, reading me a bedtime story from a favourite book. She had a beautiful voice and I leaned in close as she pointed at an illustration. I studied those pages filled with the marching rows of small black shapes. Letters, Mum called them, sounding each one out for me. Then one day, overnight it seemed, all those funny little shapes joined together and made a word that I could read! Some key had turned and opened a door to reading books! What a gift. What worlds opened to me. I was an only child but never alone. A book was my constant companion. I loved the escapism, the strange places, dear friends, funny rhymes, new ideas and answers to questions I found in the pages of books. So by age seven it seemed quite logical to me that “when I grow up I will write books.” Once I had children of my own, and now grandchildren, I read to them from birth. And my greatest joy has been to write a book for each of my four grandchildren – Sonoma, Everton, Bo and Ula. And how fortunate that I have the lovely Julie Sydenham to illustrate them! Becoming a published author has been a circuitous journey. But the joy, the wonder, the excitement of holding a book with my name on the cover, has never left me. And I’m so grateful and thrilled when readers tell me how they get lost, entertained, informed, transported, when they read one of my books. But the greatest joy is seeing my grandchildren find that key to open the door to the magic world of reading books. Of sharing stories, studying the illustrations, discussing the characters and adventures, learning something new and interesting as you turn the pages. When I think about it, books are pretty magical. While a great one-on-one companion, they are also sociable. It’s immensely stimulating to share opinions and ideas and feelings about a book with someone who’s read it too. So books mean many things to me. But the greatest joy is sharing the intimacy of escaping between the covers, snuggled up close, slowly turning the pages with a child you love. Di Morrissey

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