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Monday, February 26, 2024

Rippin yarns make Sally the new Australian Children’s Laureate

She describesWild Things as a book written by a parent who did everything wrong. She hesitated writing it because she thought: “Who am I to think I have any advice to give other parents?”

“I was learning much too late to be able to give my son the proper support he needed, but had lots of friends with kids starting in the education system,” she said. “Really, the book is the book I needed when he first started school, and it’s my gift to parents who are starting down that journey and consider their child in the same way. Giving them everything that I learned, that way it doesn’t feel so wasted; all those things, all those hard lessons, I get to share them.”

Having taught writing for children at RMIT and run courses at Writers Victoria and the Centre for Adult Education in Melbourne, she says she’s excited by the future of Australian children’s writing. “I see a lot of talent coming through.”

As to the influences on her own work, she cites Roald Dahl and Judy Blume. “I know for some valid reasons Dahl’s gone a little bit out of favour, but I loved everything he wrote. I loved his capacity for imagination, his ability to go inside the mind of someone else – and also his ability to go into dark places, which some children’s authors can avoid, often for good reason. And then as a teenager, I think I was obsessed with Judy Blume.”

Rippin has hired a PA to help with the increased workload she faces as laureate and carrying on with her own writing. And she has one other important commitment to fit into her schedule later in the year: she has just got engaged to an old school friend whom she has known for 30 years.

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