My latest Heritage Heroes book, Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony, has done better than I could ever have imagined. The book has been shortlisted for three awards, optioned for a film, and it has helped to inspire a musical, two songs and a statue! Of course, the main reason for all of this is Lennie Gwyther himself and what he achieved as a child. The book’s strength lies in the true story that it is based on. Here are some highlights from Lennie the Legend‘s journey so far:
- The launch of Lennie the Legend in February 2014 led to an article on Lennie Gwyther by Carolyn Webb in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-nineyearold-who-rode-a-pony-1000km-to-sydney-20150122-12v3kq.html. Lennie’s story then inspired a school musical: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/kids-musical-tells-of-boys-epic-1932-horse-ride-20151026-gkimf7.html. There is also now a website dedicated to Lennie Gwyther, and an appeal has been launched to raise money to erect a statue to him in his home town of Leongatha in Victoria: http://www.lenniegwyther.com/.
- Lennie the Legend was shortlisted in the New South Wales Premier’s History Awards 2015, in the Young People’s History Prize category. The winners were announced at an elegant event at the State Library in Sydney on 4 September 2015, which I attended with my family. Congratulations to the winner, My Gallipolli by Ruth Starke. The Judges’ comments for the three shortlisted books are available at http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/about/awards/premiers_awards/nsw_premiers_history_awards/2015_nsw_premier%27s_history_awards/2015_pha_shortlist/2015_young_peoples_history_prize.html.
- Lennie the Legend won the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Awards 2016 in the Eve Pownall category for information books: https://cbca.org.au/book/lennie-the-legend-solo-to-sydney-by-pony. Here is the judges’ report http://readingtime.com.au/judges-report-cbca-book-year-awards-2016/. My acceptance speech is avaialable at: http://readingtime.com.au/cbca-eve-pownall-award-information-books-acceptance-speech-dr-stephanie-owen-reeder-author-lennie-legend/. It was a truly wonderful experience to be a part of the award ceremony along with so many notable Australian children’s authors and illustrators, including Robert Ingpen, Morris Gleitzman, Peter Gouldthorpe, Libby Gleeson, Anna Walker and Emily Rodda. It was also an honour to receive the award from Australia’s Governor-General, His Excellency Sir Peter Cosgrove.
- Lennie the Legend was Highly Commended in the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards 2016, in the Children’s category, which was won by the wonderful Jackie French for her picture book Horace the Baker’s Horse. A book that I edited, This is Captain Cook, by the talented duo of Tania McCartney and Christina Booth, was also Highly Commended: https://actwritersblog.com/2017/01/19/2016-act-writing-and-publishing-award-winners/.
One of the delights of being an author is getting feedback from your readers. The response of the children at Gunning Public School to Lennie and his story was truly inspiring: http://www.goulburnpost.com.au/story/4181245/author-makes-school-visit/ and http://www.gunning-p.schools.nsw.edu.au/gallery/author-visit. And I love the illustrations created by the children at Oromahoe School in New Zealand. I have also received much-appreciated letters from people who knew and worked with Lennie and wanted to share their memories of him.
Thank you, Lennie. It has been a roller-coaster ride of epic proportions – who knows where we will go next!