It was a humbling experience and – to be honest – a slightly embarrassing one. On Friday night a great honour was bestowed upon me. In the grand foyer of the Australian Museum, I received the Whitley Award for Best Children’s Series. So why did I feel embarrassed?
It was something to do with the calibre of the other recipients. The Whitley Award is presented by the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales – a scientific organisation dedicated to the study and conservation of native Australian fauna. The awards are a tribute to Gilbert Whitley, an eminent ichthyologist (a branch of zoology dealing with fish). Each year, awards are presented for publications that ‘contain a significant amount of information relating to the fauna of the Australasian region’.
Most of the recipients were scholars, experts in their chosen fields. Their books were comprehensive scientific guides, generally the result of years of dedicated work. Whereas my books were about – well, gross and weird animals doing gross and weird things. Farts and vomit featured rather more often than I’d care to remember. But as the hosts so graciously said, the books were fun and informative, and may well be inspiring the next generation of budding zoologists! What a wonderful thought 🙂
The books were my That’s Gross series, a set of six published by Pascal Press earlier this year.
So yes, I felt a wee bit embarrassed getting up to make my speech … saying how much fun I had writing it (lots and lots!) … and rubbing shoulders with some of the country’s most brilliant zoologists. The pre-ceremony glass of wine helped somewhat.
Once I recovered from my bit, I was lucky enough to be able to listen to the interesting work of the experts, and to bask in some of their shared glory.