As a child, the book Charlotte’s Web just about turned me off bacon for life. I cried and cried at the thought of Wilbur the pig being slaughtered. I hung on to every part of his friendship with Charlotte the spider as she spun clever words to make everyone at the farm believe the runt pig was gifted.
Charlotte remains at the fair to die, but insists the pig takes home her egg sac with her unborn baby spiders back to the farm. Death. Sacrifice. Trickery. Friendship. Egg surrogacy. It was a lot for an overly emotional seven-year-old girl to get her head around in the late 1970s!
The next book that had a profound impact on me was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was transfixed with the winter white fictional world inside the covers of my book and I would carry that treasured novel around with me from breakfast until dinner time.
And anything by Enid Blyton was treated as sacred. I’m sure my grandmother would spend half her pension buying me countless books, including all of the Famous Five and Naughty Amelia Jane series. My parents were going through a divorce and I never had great friendships in primary school, but I found ‘my people’ in books.
I loved being transported to different places and meeting different people while lying in my bed silently reading with a torch under the sheets. I found solace and escapism in books. I still do.
That’s why I was so happy when I read the news about an initiative from Sunshine Coast Council that has just been recognised as one of the best in the world, winning a Top 3 Award for its Story Seat project in the 2019 International Federation of Library Associations Marketing Awards.
There are 10 Story Seats in parks around the region and each seat features pages from well-known Australian books, such as Where Is The Green Sheep? at Currimundi and I’m A Dirty Dinosaur at Landsborough.
My kids love going to each seat and we have made it a project lasting for months as we slowly tick off reading each book and exploring each park and each suburb.
Mayor Mark Jamieson says the award is recognition of just how wonderful our local library initiatives really are.
“The Story Seats are a bright and engaging addition to our parks and a positive way to reinforce the importance of early literacy skills into new and unexpected places,” he says.
There has been great debate with my friends and family over the list of the actual top 10 books selected for the seats. Notable Aussie classics that did not make the cut include Blinky Bill, Possum Magic, The 13-Storey Treehouse, The Very Cranky Bear and Pig The Pug.
So there is only one solution, which I put to our mayor today: please create 20 or 50 story seats across the Sunshine Coast!