Book People: Vale Narelle Oliver
You will be so missed by your family, so missed. I know only too well the grief cycle and you, my mum and I have discussed grief at length on many occasions over brunches that extend to lunches. You and I have shared so many stories over the years of your family and of mine – laughs, tears, frustrations and joys. We have shared gossip and news of the Australian children’s literary industry and together we felt we could solve all the problems of all the people involved if only they would put you and I in charge – ‘Narelle and Megan: CEO’s of The Australian Children’s Literary Industry’. You were one of my very first visitors in hospital after the birth of Ava, and have remained a strong force in her life. She will sorely miss your artistic advice, but you have left her, and the children of Australia, the inspiration of your beautiful books. You have agreed with Dan (AKA #backboy AKA my husband) that ‘The Very Blue Thingamajig’ was far too long a book to be read night after night…after night after night…and supported him in hiding it from our bookshelves when it was the only book Georgia wanted to read.
Our families have come together for celebrations and commiserations and Norwex parties (ha!) and I will always be so forever grateful to have had you in my life and the lives my of my children. You, my mum, myself and Greg Rogers…those long lunches of wicked laughter are no longer. Mum and I shall share green tea and remember you…we’ll even take a reaaaaaalllllly long time to make the green tea, to properly recreate the scene.
Narelle Oliver was the talented author-illustrator-artist of many award winning children’s picture books, many of which are distributed internationally. My interview with her is here. Narelle Oliver’s published works are predominantly children’s picture books which she conceptualised, wrote and illustrated. Narelle Oliver’s books were often inspired by natural environments and she would undertake many site visits – taking photographs and sketches to ensure accuracy in her depictions of flora and fauna. Her illustrative technique of choice was linocut printing, often combined with other media, to create illustrations and artworks which are distinctive, meticulously crafted and visually stunning. Both my girls are lucky enough to have a Narelle Oliver artwork each, and over the years I have purchased a number of pieces for myself and my school library. Her ability to create textured tree bark, or a shimmering mermaids tail with sheets of lino, carving tools, ink and pencils was astounding. Her books have received numerous awards, including the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year; CBCA Book of the Year for Early Childhood; CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information Books; NSW Premier’s Literature Award for Children’s Literature; Shortlistings in the Queensland Literary Awards and Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children’s Literature. You can see her in print titles and add them to your home or school library here. I highly recommend them all…
‘Leaf Tail’ (1989)
‘High Above the Sea’ (1991)
‘The Hunt’ (1995)
‘Baby Bilby, Where do you Sleep?’ (2001)
‘Mermaids Most Amazing’ (2001)
‘The Very Blue Thingamajig’ (2003)
‘What a Goat!’ (2003)
‘Dancing the Boom-Cha-Cha Boogie’ (2005)
‘Twilight Hunt’ (2007)
‘The Best Beak in Boonaroo Bay’ (2011)
‘Sand Swimmers’ (2013)
‘Don’t Let a Spoonbill in the Kitchen’ (2013)
So very, very many of us in the children’s literature community in Australia have very heavy hearts today and our deepest sympathies go to her beautiful family.
Some of my fav snaps: