Book People: Lyn White

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When I grow up I think I’d like to be Lyn White. She’s a teacher librarian, editor, marketing guru – she’s all of the things I love rolled into one. I’m always saying to my students at school ‘when I grow up I’d like to be…’ (usually it’s the owner of an endpaper art gallery!) and today I’d rather like to be Lyn.

Lyn is the editor of the ‘Through My Eyes’ series, a fiction series set in contemporary natural disaster and conflict zones. Lyn’s work with refugee children motivated her to create the series, to help spread understanding and so that Australian refugee kids feel represented in the stories they and others read.  The inspirational stories of courage, resilience and hope give insight into environment, culture and identity through one child’s eyes. This series was the Winner of the Best Educational Picture or Chapter Book Category at the 2019 Educational Publishing Awards and deservedly so.

The ‘Through My Eyes’ series is such an important series to have in your home or school library collection and I cannot recommend them more highly. The stories of young people living in challenging circumstances allow readers to connect with others and develop empathy and understanding.

Each book in the series has an incredibly strong sense of place and any of of them would make an excellent class novel study for HASS or English for students from 9 years+. The personal impact of natural disasters or conflict zones is introduced with characters we can all connect with and while the stories depict the emotional and social implications of horrific situations, each story is full of courage, selflessness and hope…always hope for a better future.

Thank you so much for joining us on Children’s Books Daily today Lyn!

Editor Lyn White. Photo credit: David Israel

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1. Tell us about your latest book.

The latest book that has joined the Through My Eyes series of books is ‘Hasina’ by Michelle Aung Thin, who was born in Burma, now Myanmar, in the year of the military coup and left with her parents when she was an infant.

‘Through My Eyes: Hasina’

by Michelle Aung Thin

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A gripping story of one child’s experience of the refugee crisis in Myanmar.

The men come at night. The first Hasina knows of it is her aunt’s voice, urgent, full of fear. ‘Up, up. Get up! ‘ The second thing is smoke. Then there is a scream. ‘Run,’ her father shouts. ‘And don’t stop!’ Hasina races deep into the Rakhine forest to hide with her cousin Ghadiya and her little brother, Araf. When they emerge some days later, it is to a silent, smouldering village. Their own house has not been burnt down but where are the rest of her family? Perhaps they have been gathered up and taken away … or worse. So many Rohingyas are gone, how will she survive? Will her parents return? Hasina must find the courage to save her family amid the escalating conflict that threatens her world and her identity.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I am actually an editor. I created the series Through My Eyes, which now has 11 books  – 7 in the conflict series and 4 in the natural disaster zones series. I am currently commissioning the third series of four books in Australian Disaster Series.

I commission and edit all the books with the editorial team at Allen & Unwin and am involved in all aspects of book production, marketing and promotion. 

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

At the moment I am busy commissioning authors for the new series. I spend quite a bit of time writing series and author briefs and tweaking them to suit the preferred authors. I work with my publisher on fashioning the series and deciding which synopses we want to have in the series.

I am emailing and having phone conversations with my authors. At the same time I can be communicating with my vast education network as I continue to promote and find opportunities to extend the reach of the titles into Australian schools. 

I may also be writing articles, brainstorming with other literacy associations and/or preparing submissions for conference presentations, doing interviews etc.

4. Can you describe your workspace for us?

I have my own office in our new home that we built last year. It is right next to the kitchen so I can pop out and grab a cup of tea and a snack whenever I need to, which is quite often! My office has sliding doors so when visitors come or at the end of the day I can just shut all the mess away!

Lyn’s home office

5. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?

Follow your dreams.

I was a teacher-librarian and decided I wanted to enter the world of publishing. I made it happen and I am so glad I did. Take hold of every opportunity you can to connect to the world of publishing and literature generally – networking is key, as is the commitment to giving your writing the time it deserves. 

Young readers – read as widely as you can, try not to limit your choice of genre, there are so many fantastic books out there for you. Don’t get too comfortable! Stretch yourself and you will be rewarded. 

6. Do you have a favourite book or character (your own or somebody else’s)?

At the moment I am particularly fond of Anna Chiu, the protoganist in Wai Chim’s latest book: ‘The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling’. Anna is an inspirational character who has so much to cope with as her mother struggles with mental illness and she tries to hold the family together and be a normal teenager. It is heart-warming, sad and funny – all at the same time. 

7. If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?

I would be in marketing as I love creating events and bringing people together for a worthwhile cause. 

I am a teacher and have been for many years so I think I would probably still have chosen this as my primary vocation. I am passionate about high quality literature for young readers and have spent many years connecting young people with such books. 

8. What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books? 

My favourite food is risotto – any kind and my favourite music is classical music. 

9. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?

This is more a question for the authors of the individual books in the series but I feel I am reflected in the quality of the works as I have a very high standard for my authors, having been a librarian myself and being a perfectionist. 

I will say that when I first decided to create the Through My Eyes series, the inspiration for the conflict books that the tell the stories of children in war zones was the refugee children I was teaching at the time and who were finding it difficult to cope in the mainstream schools.

The Australian-born students knew little about these children, their countries, cultures and what it was like to live in a war zone every day. The stories of the refugees were uppermost in my mind when I started to commission the first series. I wanted to pay tribute to them, their families and their suffering as well as their incredible resilience and courage. 

10. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?

That the adults in power would listen to the voices of children. 

Visit the ‘Through My Eyes’ series website here or shop all the titles below.

‘Through My Eyes: Angel’

by  Zoe Daniel

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‘Through My Eyes: Lyla’

by Fleur Beale

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‘Through My Eyes: Shaozhen’

by Wai Chim

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‘Through My Eyes: Hotaka’

by John Heffernan

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‘Through My Eyes: Zafir’

by Prue Mason

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‘Through My Eyes: Malini’

by Robert Hillman

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‘Through My Eyes: Emilio’

by Sophie Masson

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‘Through My Eyes: Naveed’

by John Heffernan

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‘Through My Eyes: Amina’

by J. L. Powers

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‘Through My Eyes: Shahana’

by Rosanne Hawke

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1 Comment

  1. Megan Forward on Feb 17, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    Thanks Megan, always lots of food for thought and great reading ideas!

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