Much-loved children’s authors Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor were announced on December 6th as the first Australian Children’s Laureates at the launch of the initiative in Adelaide.
Both are talented and award-winning storytellers who bring a wealth of experience and creativity to the role – Alison as a renowned author and illustrator, and Boori as a celebrated author, performer, dancer and poet.
This prestigious national honour, the first of its kind in this country, is to be awarded at the launch by the Hon. Grace Portolesi, SA Minister for Education and Child Development and iconic children’s presenter Noni Hazlehurst, and is the culmination of the work by the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance (ACLA) to promote the transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians.
ACLA Chair Marj Osborne says, “We are delighted to announce Alison and Boori as our joint inaugural Australian Children’s Laureates for 2012 and 2013. In them we found not one but two incredible individuals with the creative and passionate spirit we were looking for, so we made the unusual but exciting decision to appoint both.”
During their appointment Alison and Boori will act as national and international ambassadors for Australian children’s literature and will separately visit every state and territory inspiring young people to tell their own stories.
“I am very happy to share this honour with Boori, a friend and respected colleague,” says Alison, a previous winner of many literary awards and author of more than 20 books. “We come from very different backgrounds and perspectives, but we are both incredibly passionate about sharing our stories and encouraging children to share theirs.”
Boori, who this year also won a Prime Minister’s Literary Award for his book Shake a Leg, also sees the joint appointment as an honour and great opportunity to create change and awareness around reading and literacy.
“Like Alison, for the last twenty years I’ve been teaching kids about the beauty and power found in stories and words, using dance, song, play, pictures and writing to inspire in them a love of books. Accepting the Laureate role together means we can reach more children, no matter where they may be in Australia, and double our focus on bringing children in this country into the circle of reading.” …from the Australian Children’s Laureate website
By Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch
Macquarie Island lies in the Southern Ocean, between Antarctica and New Zealand. A speck of green in the vast, windswept sea, it is a haven for many creatures that live above and below the waves.
In One Small Island, Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch bring us the story of this remote and precious World Heritage Site. Together they explore the island’s unique geological beginnings, discovery and degradation at the hands of humans, and the battle to restore it today.
This beautifully presented book leaves us with an important question: can Macquarie Island and places like it be saved?
Alison Lester is a popular and best-selling writer and illustrator of children’s books, and has won many awards, including the Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book Award for Thing by Robin Klein (OUP), and Honour Book for The Journey Home (OUP). Over her twenty-one year career she has produced such classics as the Clive Eats Alligators series, Magic Beach, Imagine and My Farm, and recently she has also started writing novels, including The Quicksand Pony and the Bonnie and Sam series with Roland Harvey. Her picture book, Are We There Yet?, won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award in 2005, and Running with the Horses was an Honour Book in the 2010 CBCA Book of the Year Awards and 2010 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.
Her picture books mix imaginary worlds with everyday life, encouraging children to believe in themselves and celebrate the differences that make them special. Alison is involved in many community art projects and spends part of every year travelling to remote Indigenous communities, using her books to help children and adults write and draw about their own lives.
By Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod
From pizza shop to bora ground, here is a joyous celebration of food, dance and cultural understanding. When three young boys go to a pizza parlour and meet an Aboriginal chef who can speak Italian and make a deadly pizza, they’re in for a surprise!
All you fellas watching, come up, join in, warrima.
Clap your hands, little ones.
Stamp your feet, nannas.
Get down and dance, you smart young things, mummas and daddas.
Let’s get the whole town dancing!
Boori Monty Pryor was born in North Queensland. His father is from the Birrigubba of the Bowen region and his mother from Yarrabah (near Cairns), a descendant of the Kungganji and Kukuimudji. Boori has worked in film, television, modeling, sport, music and theatre-in-education. He has written several award-winning books with Meme McDonald including Maybe Tomorrow, My Girragundji, The Binna Binna Man and Njunjul the Sun. His picture book collaboration with Jan Ormerod, Shake a Leg, won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Children’s Fiction in 2011.
Boori’s stories are about finding strength within to deal with the challenges without, and his skill is to create positive visions of the future for both Indigenous and all Australians.
The Australian Children’s Laureate initiative has been funded by the Australia Council for the Arts, Australian Government Office for the Arts, Australian Publishers Association, CAGES Foundation, Children’s Book Council of Australia, CAL Cultural Fund – Copyright Agency Ltd, the Department for Education and Early Childhood Development (SA) and the State Library of Victoria.