Jackie French has written more than 140 books that have been translated into 36 languages and have collectively received more than 60 national and international awards.
But try as she might, the Araluen Valley-based author will always be the most famous for one – The Diary of a Wombat.
Her collaboration with Bruce Whatley brought Mothball to life.
The cheeky wombat, who finds a way to train humans to feed her, is the star of the only Australian children’s book to win every one of the country’s book industry awards and its popularity continues.
For the first time, the picture book has been transformed into a theatrical masterpiece through the unrivalled talents of Monkey Baa Theatre Company Production and Mothball will make her way to the Sunshine Coast.
“Wait until you see it, it’s unlike anything you will have seen before, it really is,” French says.
“It is so hard to explain what they’ve done, I thought it was impossible and that it would never work, but Monkey Baa specialise in the impossible.”
French says it took her three years to find a way to give a voice to Mothball the wombat in her renowned book, and Monkey Baa took a similar amount of time to work out how to bring her to life on the stage before approaching French with their proposal.
“When I went to the first rehearsal, it was impossible not to think of Mothball as a real wombat.
“There is a wonderful scene where she breathes and moves and it is so realistic, she is just standing there, getting angrier and angrier because the humans fenced in the front door.
“The tension is building, but she is not moving, just tensing up and her breathing is getting heavier and heavier.
“This is where the kids start shouting out to her and you can see every muscle getting tenser before she makes the charge.”
After rehearsing for five hours, French says she found herself wanting to ask for Mothball to have a rest.
Every time she is packed away in her box to travel to another performance, every member of the Monkey Baa team give her a pat before the close the lid, as if she were in fact a real wombat.
“The show is absolute magic for people of all ages. I’ve seen a two-year-old stand up and completely mesmerised the whole time,” she says.
“He did not move, he wasn’t going to miss a second of it. Adults also find it fascinating and it is extraordinarily innovative, hilarious, and deeply moving theatrical production.”
Lake Kawana Community Centre, September 19. Tickets are $20 per person or $68 for groups of four. Visit scvenuesandevents.com.au.