It’s book number 21 for Katoomba author Steven Herrick, and it’s proving to be one of his best.
Pookie Aleera is not my boyfriend last week won the Western Australian Premier’s literary award for children’s literature. It has also been shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary award, Queensland Literary award, Speech Thera-pists book of the year award and the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) younger readers award.
The latter, said Mr Herrick, is the shortlist every children’s author wants to be part of.
“It’s the list that many librarians take notice of when they buy their books,” he said.
“As soon as a book is shortlisted, the publisher reprints because they know they will get a lot of sales.”
And Pookie Aleera was no exception – it has had two reprints since the CBCA announcement.
Mr Herrick started writing 20 years ago, to entertain his own children when they were young.
“They’re adults now but I’ve kept writing for young people because I like their optimism and their world view,” he said.
He writes poetry and verse novels for children, young adults and adults. He also visits about 150 schools a year, reading his poems and talking about his books.
Mr Herrick, who has lived in Katoomba for 20 years with his partner Cathie, a belly dance teacher, has also toured extensively. He has given talks in international English-language schools in such countries as Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Sweden and Spain.
Pookie Aleera is aimed at primary aged children, he said.
“It’s about Year 6 students living in a small country town who get a new teacher... It’s about the effect a good teacher can have on a bunch of young people and what they can show the teacher.”