Review Blog

Jul 25 2011

Interview with Dawn Meredith by Fran Knight

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Interview with Dawn Meredith by Fran Knight
Meeting an author in a bookshop leads to all sorts of discussions about books and their future, and so talking to Dawn Meredith at Mary Martin's on the Parade, Norwood, led us in quite different directions surrounded by the end product of the work done by people such as she.  I am grappling with all the ideas about the future of books, now that the digital age is here, but not so Dawn. She is adamant that there will always be a place for books, the tactile and intimate awareness of the book cannot be replaced by an electronic gadget. I am hopeful that she is right, and looking at her blog tells me that this belief is heartfelt, as her mission statement confirms: her desire is to get kids away from computers and back into reading. Armed with a concern such as this cannot be easy when faced with the array of computers and electronic devices now attached to modern kids, but she espouses the view that while these are necessary they need to be tempered in their use.
A special eduction teacher, Dawn is now training to be a counsellor, as she feels that much of her work with remediation of kids' learning is dependent upon counselling. Between writing and studying, she works at a writers' centre and offers writing workshops herself, while working at the Springwood Children's Learning Centre. Through these she sees the end result of kids who have lost their way with reading and so spends a lot of time teaching reading and writing. This is reflected in the workshops she has taken while in South Australia with schools at Victor Harbor and in Adelaide. A gig at Victor Harbor Primary School saw her workshopping 23 classes during the week, and her open door policy at lunch time meant that many more children were able to spend time on a one to one basis, sharing their writing and ideas.
Dawn has had a number of books published, some in the wonderful Livewires Real Lives series, telling the stories of some of our foremost citizens in an easy to read, direct style suitable for those readers who find reading more difficult. These include those by Dawn, Sir Donald Bradman and Tony Lockett, and although out of print, are likely to be reprinted soon, so popular is this series. Pearson Education has also published The Wobbly Wombat, by Dawn and several other books in the successful Blueprint series by Pearson, feature her work. The Wobbly Wombat is about bullying and the way to overcome it, as wombat, small for his age and a little wobbly on his short legs is derided by others. He retreats to the forest where he meets a variety of animals who tell him how to overcome the intimidation he receives. Their sage advice helps him achieve this, and in a smart resolution learns that he has friends. Her story, The Anything Shop is soon to be released by Wombat, a relative newcomer to the publishing industry in Australia.
Her two books in the Livewires Real Lives series espouses another of her missions, that of creating books for boys. She believes that many boys do not have a significant male in their families to mentor their reading and so it is important for boys to be targeted in schools. A display which caught her eye at one Adelaide school, had an array of photos of the male staff reading, a promotion by the library to encourage boys into its doors (scroll down to June 16 on her blog for more information. )
Armed with such resolve to encourage boys reading and focus her books on the needs of those within the school community to overcome bullying, there will be more books on the shelves by Dawn Meredith, so watch out for them.
Dawn has been in South Australia as a recipient of the May Gibbs Fellowship, allowing her to stay in an apartment at Norwood for a month to enable her to write. This venture has seen a number of authors who are now well known staying in South Australia. Past recipients include Shaun Tan, Karen Tayleur, Lorraine Marwood and John Nicholson.
More about the May Gibbs Fellowship can be found here.
While in South Australia, Dawn has been working on several projects for publishers and we wish her well.

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