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Laureate Morris Gleitzman visits The Illawarra Grammar School
Talk turned to the leadership crisis in Canberra when the Mercury caught up with best-selling Australian children’s author Morris Gleitzman on Thursday.
The Australian Children’s Laureate was at The Illawarra Grammar School (TIGS) as part of National Book Week.
The guest author also took the opportunity to talk about his latest book, due to be released next week.
Help Around the House is about a 11-year-old boy who moves to Canberra and “decides to give parliament some help in running the country”.
With his father elected as an Independent federal member, the boy wants to make sure his dad can do the work he wants to do unimpeded.
“He doesn’t actually stand for the leadership of the Coalition but he has his own way of offering help,” Gleitzman said.
“But kids that age are starting to notice, and a few would have noticed it this week, that it is not always as simple, this business of looking after the rest of the population and making things good for them because there's a lot of other aspects to politics.
“I reckon most of the young people in this room, if they heard the press conference this morning, they would have said we have just heard from a series of government ministers, each of whom have said the only reason I’m a part of this, the only reason I’m no longer supporting the prime minister is because of all those other ministers.
“But if they are all only doing it because the others are doing it. That doesn’t make sense.
“And, an 11-year-old can spot that a mile off.”
Hearing the views of the thousands of children Gleitzman meets yearly through his laureate role inspired the Brisbane-based author to write his 40th book.
“It is a pretty complicated world they are looking at today,” he said.
“And a lot of my stories explore ways they try and make the world, their personal world and the world in general a better place for them to occupy in the future.
“This is the sort of age that this character and the kids who read the book, are starting to understand some of the systems that we’ve set up, like parliament, like having elected representatives.
“I wanted to explore that notion that there is a whole bunch of people who have decided that the job they want is to make things better for the rest of us.”
Gleitzman, whose books including Two Weeks With The Queen, Grace and Doubting Thomas have been published in more than 20 countries, stories are still important, particularly to children.
“Every time that we read, every time we share the journey of a character in a story who is struggling to solve and survive the big problems that are always at the heart of a story……. we get a little bit better, and braver and more confident at confronting and solving the problems in our own lives,” he said.
“Look at the world [children] they are going to inherit. It has some pretty big problems in it.
“I think probably globally there hasn’t been a generation of young people who are going to step into the world, take it over and have to deal with bigger problems, and they need everything stories can give them.”