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Tuesday, November 24, 2020
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The story behind a little Canberra book

This one’s about as local as it gets.

A children’s book produced by Canberrans, for Canberrans, about Canberra, that is being generously supported by, you guessed it, Canberrans.

A new children’s book, Our Bush Capital, written by acclaimed author Samantha Tidy, illustrated by Juliette Dudley and published by Storytorch Press, is in the midst of raising funds, via online platform Pozible, required to publish their book.

A writer for 25 years, Tidy says when she became a mum seven years ago, she naturally developed an interest in writing children’s books.

“That for me changed the type of writing that I did as I started thinking about the world seen through my children’s eyes.”

She says the idea for Our Bush Capital came to her out of the blue while enjoying a local landmark with her children.

“I was on the Civic merry-go-round with the kids and they were smiling and having a great time.

“I realised that the experience would likely become a beloved childhood memory for them. I thought about how blessed we are to live in this city.

“The book will hopefully document that for them and for other Canberra kids.”

Tiday says Our Bush Capital was spurred on by her desire for her children to reflect upon their childhood fondly and appreciate growing up in Canberra when they’re older.

“The book essentially documents my own kids’ experiences of Canberra as children, but it’s the same type of childhood many kids in Canberra have.

“It’s going to see the balloons early in the morning, it’s looking at the big objects like the dinosaur at the museum and imaging all that world from children’s eyes,” she says.

Tidy says Our Bush Capital was spurred on by her desire for her children to reflect upon their childhood fondly and appreciate growing up in Canberra when they’re older.

Tidy says the story is told in a rolling rhyme that invites the reader in to be playful with Canberra.

“It’s celebrating our city and confirming to parents you’ve made the right decision to bring your children up in Canberra.

“One thing we all agree on, I believe as parents, is that this is a great place to bring kids up.”

Alongside her prolific 25-year writing career, Tidy has also worked at cultural institutions like the Australian War Memorial, National Archives of Australia, National Library of Australia and Royal Australian Mint, just to name a few.

“My whole career since leaving teaching has been about engaging young people with cultural institutions and the collections, or what those cultural institutions stand for.

“Bringing my career together with my writing world, that’s what this book is about. It’s about celebrating all of that, because that’s the gift of a Canberra childhood,” she says.

Dudley says she’s been able to draw on her own Canberra childhood for this project.

“It’s been interesting looking back on my own childhood whilst reading what Sam’s done.

“A lot of the joy of being a child in Canberra is the wide open spaces; I grew up in Melba, and being able to walk up Mt Rogers, the underpasses, going for bike rides down the creek and around the lake … Canberra’s like a big playground,” she says.

The only way Our Bush Capital gets published is if Tidy and Dudley achieve their Pozible fundraising target of $8,875 by 5 May.

Speaking with Canberra Weekly, Tidy and Dudley are happy to report their Pozible campaign is on track.

“A lot of people leave a lovely comment of encouragement for us. All of the comments about the book are ‘what a great idea’, and ‘I can’t believe this hasn’t been done yet’,” Tidy says.

Dudley says she isn’t surprised by the generous support they’ve received on Pozible to date.

“For creative people and the arts in Canberra, there’s a really close-knit community, so if anything this has been a really nice reminder of that.”

To support Our Bush Capital and secure your own copy, you can pledge money to this project at pozible.com/project/our-bush-capital-childrens-book

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Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts