The 2018 Dromkeen Medal was presented to iconic Australian author John Marsden.

The Dromkeen Medal was founded in 1982 by Joyce Oldmeadow to honour outstanding contributions to Australian children’s literature. It has since been awarded to 36 leading Australian writers, illustrators, editors, publishers and booksellers.

John Marsden is one of Australia’s most respected authors and advocates for children’s literature. In a writing career spanning 27 years and more than 40 books, John has influenced and inspired generations of children with his ground-breaking, best-selling books. His acclaimed Tomorrow series is the most enduring series ever published in Australia and he has won every major writing award in the country for young people’s fiction.

In his acceptance speech, John Marsden acknowledged how much he owed to the authors of the books that he read as a child. He had the following to say about the books that meant the most to him.

The children of Cherry Tree Farm, Enid Blyton

Cover of The children of Cherry Tree Farm

“I pretty much knew it off by heart. There’s a lot text in there so it wasn’t easy. I did become the de facto storyteller for my class … I’d stand up in front of the class and just tell them from memory the next chapter of the book.”

A little bush maid, Mary Grant Bruce

Cover of A little bush maid

“I didn’t discriminate between girls’ and boys’ books when I was a kid and this meant a lot to me, and there’s certainly influences of that in the Tomorrow series.”

Good luck to the rider, Joan Phipson

Cover of Good luck to the rider

“Influenced the Tomorrow series so much that I could be accused of plagiarism for the first few chapters of Tomorrow when the war began, which had very strong similarities to the first few chapters of Good luck to the rider in the characters and the setting and the situation they encounter.”

Tiger in the bush, Nan Chauncy

Cover of Tiger in the bush

“My favourite Australian children’s author Nan Chauncy; everything she wrote I read over and over and this was my favourite. I’d say this and Children of Cherry Tree Farm were the two most important and powerful books for me as a child.”

John described the impact of these books on his childhood:

“Those books I’ve mentioned – which might have appeared quite simple in some ways – also had profound implications for me as a child and helped me to understand that there were other lives that could be lived, other ways of doing things, other lifestyles, and that’s why I guess I owe so much to those authors I’ve mentioned plus many more.”

Dromkeen Librarian’s Award presented to Sue Wootton

We also presented this year’s Dromkeen Librarian’s Award to library worker Sue Wootton.

Sue Wootton is the Eastern Regional Libraries (ERL) Children’s Support Officer. She joined ERL in 1999 and by 2002 was the Youth Services Librarian at Ferntree Gully Library, where she developed a variety of children’s programs. By 2016, Sue had become the Children’s Support Officer for three council areas. In 2017–2018, the dedicated children’s and youth services worker engaged close to 100,000 participants in State Library Victoria’s children’s and youth services program across ERL.

The Librarian’s Award recognises the central role libraries play in improving literacy and fostering a passion for reading in young people. Sue is a proud advocate for children’s literature and the benefits that children’s library services play in cultivating a love of books in young people.

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