DINGO shortlisted for NSW Premier's Literary Awards. Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature

DINGO shortlisted for NSW Premier's Literary Awards. Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature

Judges Comments

Described as non-fiction, the text of Dingo nonetheless tells the story of a dingo mother and her litter and mate, as she hides and then hunts, and carries the reader though evocative landscapes… as well as giving a parallel, crisp, factual, non-intrusive text to accompany the story and paintings. Claire Saxby invites the reader in at once, ‘Can you see her? There — deep in the stretching shadows — a dingo’. She keeps the text spare and yet vibrant, as we follow the dingo through spectacular landscapes with a lyrical text: ‘Dingo lifts her head, tastes the air, and then uncurls. Five plump pups spill.’ The factual descriptions accompanying each double-page spread do not jar, but add to the dingo story as we learn real facts about this oft-maligned animal, such as, 'All pack members help raise the pups...' A second reading of the factual text alone may be equally satisfying. 

The writer is unsentimental about the ‘lore of the bush’, giving insight into a day in the dingo’s life and especially the way the female must fight to survive. Tannya Harricks’s illustrations are striking. She explains her sketches are first made in situ in the bush and worked over in the studio. They compel the reader to explore the forest and mountains, evoked in thick brush strokes that make the Australian landscape glow and bring the dingo alive. The painterly surfaces achieved in oils and through thick brushstrokes have strong appeal and marry perfectly with the text. 

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The Children's Book Council of Australia ~ Reading Time Review of Mallee Sky

This story effectively highlights the struggle of drought and the effect of climate change. 

I was instantly captivated by Tannya Harricks’ illustrations in this book; They perfectly represent an Australia that is familiar to me – blazing sunsets, dreamy starlit night skies, and the dry and dusty earth. 

Jodi Toering’s style is poetic and thought provoking. Her selection of words portray the heartache of drought through different lenses and perspectives. Mum fighting to keep the dust out of the house while clinging to hope, Dad standing on the veranda looking to the sky and hopeful for rain, the boy and his dog mindful of the need to conserve what water they have; and aware of the impact the drought has on their family and community. 

Toering’s words and Harricks’ illustrations combine perfectly to represent the celebration of rain and the joy, hope and relief it can bring. 

This story is relevant and appropriate as Australia experiences the lasting impacts of climate change. But it’s a positive reminder to remain hopeful so that we too may dance in the rain in the future.

Reviewed by Raquel Mayman

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Books+Publishing Review of Mallee Sky childrens book

Mallee Sky (Jodi Toering, illus by Tannya Harricks, Walker Books)

30 October 2018   

The Australia of Mallee Sky is a familiar one—wide, red-brown, drought-stricken, unforgiving, yet strikingly beautiful—but never a cliche. The book avoids patronising children, instead welcoming them into a mature literary and painterly conversation. Toering’s language is both lyrical and accessible; the narrative dips into first person, helping children connect to the descriptions of landscape, but largely rests in careful, poetic prose. Complementing the textual imagery of the broad, wide stillness of the drought-stricken region, Harricks’ oil paintings are sure, rich, and full of motion. Mallee Sky takes the drought in its stride, neither sentimentalising nor sterilising the devastating potential of the desert. While the book gently hints at climate change and the struggles of rural towns to survival, it is careful to end in tones of hope and positivity appropriate for a middle to upper-primary age group. Mallee Sky would speak equally well to Australian and non-Australian children, and works on both a factual and storytelling level. Though it reads satisfyingly as a story in its own right, it would also make an excellent starting place for educational discussions with primary school readers about place, landscape, environment and climate change, as well as for creative exercises in both visual and linguistic modes, or indeed in combining the two.

Anica Boulanger-Mashberg, an editor and writer, is a bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop

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list of finalists for Benalla Nude

list of finalists for Benalla Nude

Well-known artists in the final selection include former Archibald winner Wendy Sharpe, Melbourne artist and former winner of the Dobell Drawing Prize Godwin Bradbeer, Chilean-born Juan Davila who has work on display in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and traditional figure painter Andrew Bonneau, whose work is represented in collections across the world.


The 32 finalists in alphabetical order are: Lisa Banks, Andrew Bonneau, Godiwn Bradbeer, Agnes Bruck, Pietro Capogreco, Geoff Coleman, Geoffrey Cotton, Juan Davila, Robert Dickerson, Graeme Drendel, Tannya Harricks, Olga Juskiw, Stewart Macfarlane, Lily Mae Martin, Matthew Martin, Ted May, Darren McDonald, Amanda Millis, Glenn Morgan, Antony Muia, Steve Parkhill, Nic Plowman, Jenny Rodgerson, Wendy Sharpe, John Skillington, Peter Smeeth, Charlie Tong, Wendy Wade, Anthony Williams, Marcus Wills and Belinda Wiltshire.

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