Colour of Courage
Australian children’s literature has its own established heavies, writers whose work is well enough known both here and abroad, frequently in translation, and whose names would be well up in the Public Lending Right cheque lists. Some are so much in demand these days, that the time taken in preparing and giving speeches at conferences of librarians and others leaves them little time for the actual business of writing. However, they continue to dominate; each new work from them is eagerly awaited, read, reviewed and avidly discussed, if not by children then certainly by the growing adult following.
The trouble is that there doesn’t seem to be a confident new wave of younger writers advancing to either join, or replace, the established writers who have been around for some time now. That seems rather strange in this brave new ‘golden age’ of children’s literature. Ethel Turner was only twenty-two when her Seven little Australians suddenly appeared back in 1894: it’s hard to imagine anyone of that age and with that talent and staying-power suddenly appearing, full-blown, on the present scene, with books guaranteed to sell in hundreds of thousands and still be doing well eighty-five years hence.