Stories about Stories


Iceberg, written by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Jess Racklyeft and published by Allen & Unwin is a stunning, lyrical portrayal of the life cycle of an iceberg: born into spring and travelling through the seasons, before dying in a new spring.
This is the first collaboration between these two picture book creators and the result is a fabulous example of  nonfiction narrative – inviting the reader to get a sense of the animals and place through story. The pace is set by the choice and the rhythm of the words and the space left for the illustrations to develop and enrich the story. With an iceberg as the main character, this book was a challenge for Claire and Jess.

Click here to read the story about the story.

Took the Children Away

Archie Roach is one of Australia’s most powerful songwriters and storytellers. Took The Children Away, his haunting autobiographical song, featured on his debut album, Charcoal Lane, released in 1990.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Archie’s song is reborn in a beautiful picture book, His lyrics, alongside illustrations by Ruby Hunter, his late partner and music collaborator, tell a powerful story of survival and renewal. Also included are Archie’s recollections of his family, artwork by other First Nations artists and rare archival photographs. It is published by Simon & Schuster, 2020.

Coinciding with its release, an extraordinary resource for teachers and families has been developed. Hosted by ABC Education, it was produced by Culture is Life in collaboration with the Archie Roach Foundation to educate the next generations of Australians on the true history of the First Peoples, in their own voices.

Click here to read the story about the story

Goodbye House, Hello House

I loved this picture book text of Margaret Wild’s from the start. It’s a story I think lots of children will connect with – saying goodbye to your home and then hello to a new one. Margaret’s words are very expressive and so carefully chosen. There’s a lovely shape and rhythm to this story and a definite and intriguing passage of time. The story is written in the first person so I very much wanted the reader to hear Emma’s voice and to see through her eyes. This lead me to the way I chose to illustrate her story. Emma is depicted in line looking at colour-filled inside and outside views of her world. At first I thought I’d use photographs for the framed coloured views. Then I decided to paint them using acrylic gouache. The line drawings were made with a brush and black ink and I collaged them together in Photoshop.   Ann James

Click here to read the story about the story.

To the Bridge, The Journey of Lennie and Ginger Mick
Creating this picture book, written by Corinne Fenton and illustrated by Andrew McLean, is a remarkable story in itself. Research, collaboration, serendipity and great skill all play their part. This is a true story of an incredible journey made by nine-year old Lennie Gwyther and Ginger Mick, his nine-year old pony, from South Gippsland in Victoria to Sydney. Lennie’s dream to see the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was realised as they rode together in the Opening Parade across the bridge in March 1932.

Click here to read the story about the story.

Azaria by Maree Coote
This astonishing new picture book is launched in 40th anniversary year of the story that shocked the world: that of baby Azaria taken by a dingo in the Australian outback in 1980.
Media reports at the time accused baby Azaria’s mother— Lindy Chamberlain— of murder. Lindy Chamberlain was sentenced and jailed before eventually being exonerated.
Maree Coote tells the tale with care and empathy for all players, while pulling no punches with the grim subject matter.

Click here to read the story about the story.

Creating Hello, Hello
Hello, Hello is a picture book written by children at the third Spinifex Writing Camp. It was hosted by Tjuntjuntjara School in 2018, as an i nitiative of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, involving twelve students from Laverton, Menzies and Tjuntjuntjara schools working with singer songwriter Chris Aitken, illustrator Ann James and members of the ILF. It was published in March 2020.

Click here to read the story about the story.

Click here to hear the song.