After an impressive teaching career spanning almost five decades, Di Perkins is extending her Midas touch to a broader range of youths with her inspiring collection of stories. For the benefit of the Mater Children’s Hospital, Di is sharing the tales of twelve former students who she encountered across her whirlwind career. Aptly named Wallaby Stew, the anthology was inspired by the American novel series Chicken Soup for the Soul, which she would read to students at the closing of tiresome summer days on school camps.
The stars of the book range from a miracle car crash survivor to a girl who lost her mother to cancer. The young people affected narrate these point-of-view stories, and though they aren’t celebrities or national heroes, their stories are significant. “The young ones need role models - realistic ones. They need to have a complete book where the wisdoms of a whole range of young ones are canvassed,” says Di.
Di’s journey was filled with challenges from the outset - beginning with the title of the book. After she and her colleagues had agreed ‘Vegemite on Toast’ would be appropriate, Vegemite producer Kraft disallowed use of the name. She was also forced to self-publish, making Wallaby Stew a true labour of love. “Financially, I was unsuccessful in gaining a backer for the publishing of Wallaby Stew despite approaching numerous wealthy people. This was disappointing and challenging.”
The Mater Children’s Hospital is the sole beneficiary of profits from Wallaby Stew. “The concept was conceived while we were nurturing children so it was appropriate that the profits be directed towards children. The Mater Children’s is a worthy cause and because they look after sick children, they were the natural recipients. My immediate goal is to sell the 3000 copies so the Mater Children’s receives $72 000 profit. Next year they amalgamate with the Royal Brisbane Children’s and it would be most gratifying to know we have contributed to the welfare of these young ones.”
Of her next endeavor, Di says, “This project has been so all-consuming that I cannot envisage another exciting project until this one is totally complete. My immediate goal is to sell the 3000 copies so the Mater Children’s receives $72 000 profit.” If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of Wallaby Stew, you can email Di personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Mater Hospital will also be retailing the book in the near future. A perfect present for readers of all ages, the stories interweave themes of health, happiness, life, love and loss.