The Grand Imaginarium

The Grand Imaginarium – Your Story Garden.

Proudly presented by the Abbotsford Convent and Kids’ Own Publishing.

Spring 2017 Season

Children are invited to let their imaginations flourish at the Abbotsford Convent this Spring, as our stunning gardens are brought to life with award-winning children’s authors and illustrators through The Grand Imaginarium – Your Story Garden: a series of exciting book making workshops.

Followed by a magical tour, the kids will work with award winning writers and illustrators to write and create their very own book to take home!

A collection of the children’s stories and illustrations will be weaved together to create a story-trail around the Convent, for other visitors to enjoy.

The Grand Imaginarium – Your Story Garden sessions are recommended for children aged 5 – 12 years old. Children under 8 should be accompanied by an adult. Adults can attend for free.

 When: 2, 3, 4, 5 October 2017. Two sessions each day.

Session 1: 10am – 12pm.   Session 2: 1 – 3pm.

Where: The Salon, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford

Cost: $10 per child

$30 family (up to four children)

The Grand Imaginarium is presented in partnership with the Abbotsford Convent Foundation, and is supported by The Ian Potter Foundation and CAL Cultural Fund.


Monday 2 October – Uncle Egg’s garden adventures with Trace Balla

Award-winning author and illustrator Trace Balla will introduce children to her beloved characters Clancy and Uncle Egg, and participants will create their next adventures inspired by the Convent’s garden!

Trace’s book Rockhopping has just been announced as ‘2017 Book of the Year: Younger Readers’ by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Her other award-winning books include Rivertime, The Thank You Dish and Shine, and she is currently working very slowly on another graphic novella!  Read more about Trace at:

Session 1: 10am – 12pm     Session 2: 1pm – 3pm

Book Now

Tuesday 3 October – Story and garden plots with Michael Wagner

Michael Wagner cranks up his Instant Plot Machine to reveal the secrets behind top quality story plots and super successful story endings. Michael has taught this simple but awesome tool to primary and secondary students in Australia and overseas, and he’s even taught it to fellow authors!

Michael is the author of more than 70 books for children including the much loved, 20-book Maxx Rumble series (still in print after 14 years), the bestselling The Undys series, and the Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Picture Books Why I Love Footy and Bear Make Den (co-authored with Jane Godwin).

Before becoming a full-time author, Michael worked as a radio broadcaster with the ABC, wrote and produced animation for television and wrote comedy for ABC Radio National. Read more about Michael at:

Session1: 10am – 12pm     Session 2: 1pm – 3pm


Wednesday 4 October – Strange Characters, Unusual situations with Lucinda Gifford

Imagination is all about seeing with fresh eyes. Children are invited to join Lucinda Gifford on a journey of discovery, as she asks “What would our natural world look like to an out-of-world visitor?”.

With Lucinda’s guidance, and using collage and crayon, children will develop a unique character inspired by the Convent’s green open spaces. Children will then take their characters on a journey through nature and ask their characters, “What looks like food? What looks friendly? What looks fierce?”. Children will have fun imagining how their characters will interact with the wonderful gardens at the Abbotsford Convent.

Lucinda Gifford is an award-winning author/illustrator who has worked on more than 20 children’s books, including the popular Chook Doolan series by James Roy and The Cat wants Custard series by P Crumble. Before she puts pen to paper, Lucinda likes to ask herself a simple question: “What if…?”. This is how she develops her most fantastical ideas. Working with a broad range of artistic materials, Lucinda enjoys drawing strange characters, and putting them in unusual situations. Read more about Lucinda at:

Session1: 10am – 12pm     Session 2: 1pm – 3pm


Thursday 5 October – Laugh, move, create with Ailsa Wild

 With music and laughter as inspiration, Ailsa Wild will help children create the characters they need to bring the Convent’s garden to life, and to embark on new adventures led by their imaginations.

Ailsa, a former acrobat and whip cracker, ran away from the circus to become an author. The seventh book in her Squishy Taylor series has just hit bookshelves and has two books listed as Children’s Book Council of Australia Notables this year. Ailsa also writes books starring microbes in collaboration with Scale Free Network art-science publishers.

Ailsa works at City of Melbourne’s ArtPlay, supporting children to co-create with artists, and she loves collaborating to create stories – especially if everyone gets to laugh along the way! Read more about Ailsa at:

Session 1: 10am – 12pm     Session 2: 1pm – 3pm