Young authors celebrate

James Zalakos has just had his second book published and he is only 11 years old.

The Year 6 Towamba Public School pupil was one of the Bega Valley’s 30 new published authors all under the age of 13. 

More than 100 people gathered at Tura Marrang library on Saturday, February 11, for the official book launch celebrating the achievements of the region’s talented primary school kids. 

Pupils aged from 8-12 years from Bemboka, Candelo, Cobargo, Tanja, Tathra, Wolumla, Merimbula, Towamba and Wyndham Public Schools were involved in the WebCaTS’ Create a Picture Book 10-week program last year.

At Saturday’s book launch Bega Valley Shire mayor Kristy McBain congratulated every child and presented them with their high quality, full colour, picture book, all of which were written and illustrated by the children. 

“This shows the amount of talent we have on the Far South Coast, these children all worked extremely hard and they have proven that hard work does pay off,” Cr McBain said. 

Create a Picture Book is a differentiated educational program designed to extend and challenge creative and talented students. The ten-week project takes students through the processes of writing, illustrating, editing and publishing their own, original stories.

It’s the second time the program has run on the Far South Coast and the two ‘pilot’ programs have helped thirty-six Bega Valley Shire primary school students to become published authors.

At the launch the children, parents and teachers thanked WebCaTs director Judith Radin as well as Towamba principal Peter Claxton who initiated the program locally in 2015.  

“We had a very talented student and being an isolated school we have limited gifted and talented opportunities, so I started looking at ways we could support the learning and extend these students,” Mr Claxton said. 

While it was all smiles and celebrations at the launch Mr Claxton said it wasn’t always fun and games.

“There was a fair amount of tears and drama. It’s a lot of work but that’s what the program is about. Giving kids that have the capacity and ability the chance to get to that higher level.” 

The books, about everything from stolen tarts to rocket ships, can be viewed at


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