Shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s literary awards

April 12th, 2020

The nicest thing that has happened recently is that Ella and the Ocean has been shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s literary awards – specifically, the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature.

This was such a glorious surprise to come in the middle of the whole pandemic thing, and the two weeks until they announce the winner feels like a really long time. (You can see the rest of the shortlist here.

Part of the joy of writing Ella was that I got to work with illustrator Jonathan Bentley.

When I say I worked with him, what I actually mean is, my publishers gave him the manuscript, he did the artwork, and we didn’t even speak to each other by email until the whole thing was finished. And yet he captured everything that was in my heart, and went far beyond it.

If you’ve read Ella, you might notice a toy boat. That was Jonathan’s idea, and it’s in almost every picture. I didn’t know it was going to be there, but as soon as I saw it, I loved it.


What’s more, the farmhouse he drew for Ella and her family looks very like the farmhouse my grandparents lived in, in South Australia.

This is the wonder of illustrators – they create magic. They bring their own dreaming to a story; they make it their own, as well as yours.

BTW, I’ll be putting up a new writing challenge for kids on Tuesday, based around the Festival of Lies. Watch out for it here.

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