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Monday, March 1, 2021

Chasing the Moon captures Newcastle’s magic

When her two-year-old daughter couldn’t sleep, Liesel Rickarby’s husband began a tradition of driving her around Newcastle, until she finally dozed off.

The weary first-time dad would pass some of the city’s most iconic landmarks while the sky darkened, waiting for her to succumb to sleep.

The night-time activity soon became known by the family as ‘chasing the moon’ around town.

Animals, pirates, royalty, castles and even a dragon became characters in the game that became cherished bonding for the toddler.

“She just loved these drives,” Liesel says of her daughter’s evening escapades.

“Days later she would ask to see the castles again.”

Liesel soon realised that her daughter had been adding a touch of magic to the sites she’d seen in the dark.

“Everywhere the moon took them there were magical transformations of Novocastrian landmarks,” Liesel said.

“The Town Hall had become a palace for king and queen, The Civic Park was a jungle full of wild animals and the Art Gallery was home to a mummy dragon and her egg.”

It was this imagery that lead to the creation of Liesel’s first children’s book entitled ‘Chasing the Moon’.

Artist Naomi Wild and Liesel Rickarby with their new book ‘Chasing the Moon’

The book follows the magical adventure of a little girl and her dad as they bundle into a car one evening and chase the moon around town.

“It’s a peak into what Newcastle might look like to a child,” Liesel said.

“Kids have the ability to just go along with imaginings if you let them, and it is so important for us as adults to enter a kid’s imaginative play.”

The book is the result of three year’s work by the former ABC journalist.

After she was robbed of full-time work through chronic illness, Liesel said she was forced to introduce a simpler repertoire of activities she and her daughter could do together.

“We both read so many children’s books over that time,” she said.

Liesel’s daughter is now six years old and while her books have grown with her stature, Liesel has continued to churn through her favourite genre.

“I think children’s books are the pinnacle of human achievement,” she said.

“They are literature, art and education and they are so important in growing a child’s brain.”

‘Chasing the Moon’ is illustrated by Newcastle-artist Naomi Wild.

“Her work is well-recognised in Newcastle,” Liesel said. “So I thought it was fitting that she bring the book to life with her tough of magic.”

On 7 October Liesel and Naomi launched a crowd-funding page to help keep production of the book in Newcastle.

The pair has already reached their target of $3,000, hopefully allowing them to increase the print order.

The book is expected to be available for purchase from December from most Newcastle bookstores.

For more details go to the Newcastle Moon Chase facebook page or the Kickstarter website.