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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Award-winning author tells authentic Canberra story

Showcasing Canberra through the eyes of a child in her latest book has been a dream come true for local author Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern, given she’s had plenty of first-hand experience lately with two young children.

de Rose-Ahern’s new book Aussie Kids: Meet Matilda at the Festival was released at the start of the month as part of Penguin Books Australia’s Aussie Kids series. Penguin commissioned eight Australian authors from each state and territory to write books set in their state of origin for emerging readers aged six to eight years.

“Canberra is known as meeting place and I wanted to showcase that in terms of how many people come to Canberra for work and leisure and the connections you can make,” she said.

The book tells the story of its protagonist Matilda, who has to say goodbye to her friend Hansuke, who lives at the Japanese Embassy and will soon move home to Japan.

de Rose-Ahern completed the book with local illustrator Tania McCartney and drew on her childhood when a Japanese friend moved back home.

“I was able to draw on my own personal experience as a child going through that and how hard it was to say goodbye and remain connected,” she said.

“We’re lucky with technology available now, but it’s letting kids know they’re not alone in this either and there are ways to sustain friendships; goodbye doesn’t need to be an end of something.”

While de Rose-Ahern’s internationally acclaimed Charlie’s Adventures draws inspiration from across the world, Meet Matilda at the Festival showcases her hometown as the bush capital, also featuring the city’s famous institutions and festivals.

de Rose-Ahern said she was initially approached by Puffin to write a story that captured the vibrancy and essence of Canberra.

“It was so special … the story itself was really important to me that it represented my home of Canberra and I was able to celebrate what made it so special.”

Since the book was released on 1 September, de-Rose Ahern said the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Moving forward, she hopes to keep on publishing stories and continue her work mentoring adults and children in their creative pursuits.

“I’m constantly writing while looking after my two little ones at the moment,” she said.

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