ONE MONTH after securing a $2000 grant from Coastline Credit Union, Crescent Head Playgroup was wowed to learn that acclaimed Australian artist Darren Pryce and author Reeta Dhar would be delighted to visit the group to read their children's picture book, Willow the Wonderer.
Playgroup secretary Susan Snape had purchased an advanced copy of the book online for their weekly Storytime session when she was contacted to see if the group would be interested in a reading by Reeta and Darren.
"It absolutely made our day - schools and playgroups typically pay for visits by quality authors and illustrators and here we were receiving a personal delivery of the book with the author and illustrator in tow," Susan said.
Authors and artists are an essential source of education for children, offering glimpses into the wonder and reality of creating stories and pictures unlike any other learning experience.
Playgroup coordinator Sarah Hammersley, an early childhood teacher and mother, was also impressed by the visit.
"Opportunities for children to meet real world creative people is a source of inspiration and builds a strong love of and connection to literacy and arts engagement. This was our first special guest visit at playgroup and we hope to welcome more members of the community to share their skills and knowledge with the children and families," Sarah said.
Author Reeta Dhar said visits were an opportunity to connect with the people she wrote the book for in the first place.
"You never really know if the book you've spent months writing is any good until you read it out aloud to kids. To see them excitedly gather around for Storytime and engage with the story, rhyming and counting made my day," Reeta said.
Australian artist Darren Pryce welcomed the change of pace after a whirlwind month surrounding his much-publicised submission to the recent Archibald Prize competition.
"I think the kids outsmarted me and all my illustration tricks. Was absolutely wonderful seeing them drawn into the pictures and count out all the creatures I had hidden in the landscape ... I think I will make it harder next time," Darren said.
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