Poo, Spew and Other Gross Things Animals Do wins a Whitley Award!
In October 2022, myself, Rom, Rachel and the whole CSIRO team were stoked to win a prestigious Whitley Award from the Royal Zoological Society of NSW! Every year, the Whitleys recognise books that profile Australasia’s unique wildlife. Poo and Spew was commended as the best Children’s Investigative Zoology book – we don’t think that stinks at all! There were a bunch of other great books also awarded – have a squiz here to see some of the others on the list.
Children’s Book Council of Australia Conference, June 2022
In June, I went to the CBCA 2022 conference in Canberra – it was excellent!
On the Friday night, we got to pitch our latest books to the assembled crowd of authors, teachers, publishers and librarians. I took a couple of stuffed friends with me, who were very helpful, although the masked owl did fly into the audience at one point – no work ethic whatsoever. The border collie was predictably better behaved.
I was so honoured to be there that I even ironed all my shirts! (This is very rare, as I am very bad at ironing – see evidence below). After making myself presentable, I appeared on two panels: one called “Dreaming of sharing the wonders of the animal kingdom” (which was aimed at teachers and educators), and another called “Dreaming of sharing the wonders of the natural world” (which was aimed at other creators). I had a fabulous time, appearing alongside fabulous kidlit stars Clare Saxby, Gina Newton, Stephanie Owen Reeder and Sami Bayly. We all agreed that it was excellent to have a captive audience to tell weird and gross animal stories to.
I also avoided being attacked by any of Canberra’s famously shirty magpies, ate lots of fancy cakes, and hung out with lots of cool teacher librarians, authors, and publishing types – 10/10, would attend again!
Our Book Launch Party Poo-Stravaganza!
Poo, Spew and Other Gross Things Animals Do was released on April Fool’s Day 2022 (my publisher swears this was an accident), so we had to make sure our book launch was no joke!
Rom and I held our book launch party on April 1 in nipaluna/Hobart, on the traditional lands of the Muwinina people. With a little help from our friends, and the lovely Fullers Bookshop team, and it was a total poo-stravaganza!
When visitors arrived, they were given a picture of a dung beetle and told close their eyes. After a few spins, they then had the chance to try to “pin the beetle on the poo”! The person closest to the poo’s epicentre won a PooFlip (a truly essential guide to identifying Tasmanian animal poo in the wild).
We had a quick chat about how the book came to be, and then Nic did some detection dog training with some of the kids. When Rom and Nic work with their conservation detection dogs in the field, they use whistles to direct their dogs around. Fun fact – you can also whistle train people! There was a prize for the best detection dog, and then Rom led a “know your poo” quiz of Australian animals. This was an enjoyably shouty affair, and Nic enjoyed throwing poo-shaped erasers at the children who yelled the correct answers.
After this, Rom talked about her work as a koala poo detection dog handler, and about her work saving koalas affected by bushfires with her five amazing koala dogs.
Then we brought out a real live detection dog! Nic’s dog Zorro came in and demonstrated his owl spew sniffing skills (he looks for Tasmanian masked owl pellets, which are basically big fur balls full of bones and skulls that the owls throw up after eating). We hid jars of owl pellets around the room, and Zorro sniffed them out with wild, tail-wagging enthusiasm, and got to chase his ball around the place as a reward. After he was done racing about, everybody got to give him a pat. We thought we’d lost him there for a bit, but he was just buried under a pile of children!
Just when we thought things couldn’t get any more exciting, Masked Owl Spew Man appeared! 6 foot 4 inches of brown, gross owl pellet, covered in bones and skulls, Masked Owl Spew Man brought something even more exciting with him – a huge wombat pooñata!
Everyone lined up in order of height, keen to hit the pooñata. The littlest children went first, gently tapping the swinging pooñata with a mop handle, with the hits and kids getting larger as the line progressed. But despite everyone’s best efforts, the pooñata would not burst! It had been tied up too securely, and would not spill out its delicious contents. The last big kid hit the pooñata with all his might – but still, it swung, intact and defiant on the rope. There was only one thing left to do.
“Let’s tear it apart with our bare hands!” The mob fell on the pooñata, and soon, children were running around, clutching bags of what looked suspiciously looked like poo (but later turned out to be different types of chocolate).
Rom and I got to sign lots of books, see lots of friends old and new, and talk about poo, spew and other gross things animals do for a whole hour. I think we can call that a book launch party success!