The Magic of Ephemera

The Magic of Ephemera
by Emma Janssen

Behind these locked cupboard roller doors is an amazing collection of ephemera from Australia’s most loved authors and illustrators.

“What’s ephemera?” I hear you ask. Well, in the publishing world, ephemera is referred to as collectable items that were originally created or used to launch or promote a book. They can also be items that extend on the content of a book like puzzles, activities and mugs.

Not only does NCACL house and document these precious items, but they also take great care of certificates, medals and trophies.

When I was a little girl, I often placed a school library copy of ‘The Journey Home’ by Alison Lester under my pillow. Once everyone had gone to bed, I would devour the beautiful illustrations and text. The warmth that radiated from the book was like a big, cosy hug that dissolved away my worries.

As a parent, when my children started primary school, I decided to immerse them in the wonderful world of Alison’s books by taking them to Magic Beach (Walkerville South) and Fish Creek (Alison Lester’s Gallery). We snuggled on the couch of our cottage reading book after book while out the window wild white horses raced to get to the land.

Discovering and cataloging Alison Lester’s ephemera, like this library bag, mug and puzzle, brings back very special memories.

In the classroom, I’ve engaged, entertained and educated students with Pamela Allen’s books. During the twenty years that she lived in Australia, Pamela produced a plethora of picture books, but did you know that ephemera was also created to extend on her books? Within the cupboard, I found magnetic stories for ‘Bertie and the Bear’ and ‘Fancy That!’.

These were intended to be used on fridges where caregivers and children could retell the story by moving and placing the magnets. The aim was to encourage the development of language and a love of literature.

When I delved deeper into the shelves, a big, white box stood out. I may have let out a delighted squeal when I opened the box and uncovered invaluable certificates awarded to the one and only Bob Graham.

As you can imagine, there were many; however, what is truly remarkable is that these awards span three decades. These awards include The Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year for ‘Crusher Is Coming’ (1988) and ‘Greetings From Sandy Beach’ (1991), as well as Book of the Year Early Childhood for ‘How to Heal a Broken Wing’ (2009).

In the office of NCACL, we showcase ephemera in cabinets and stands that can be viewed through the windows. On one of the stands sits a pair of brightly coloured maracas. These maracas were used to promote ‘Alpacas with Maracas’ and donated by Matt Cosgrove.

Recently, I was very lucky to experience a meet the authors session featuring Matt Cosgrove and Eva Amores. Whilst my children and I were being blown away by the very entertaining presentation, I noticed that Matt had created new maracas to act out the book. Maybe one day in the future, these maracas will find their way to NCACL.

Emma Janssen:
A primary school teacher for two decades, Emma Janssen adores sharing picture books and junior fiction with children. Her passions include writing quality children’s literature and empowering students to see themselves as writers and readers by assisting them to write and illustrate their own published picture books. Emma works for an international educational publishing company that publishes her picture books, a junior fiction series and supporting resources.

See also:
Ephemera – NCACL
Medals & Awards – NCACL
Lester, Alison – NCACL
Graham, Bob – NCACL

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