Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

Freedom Machines" by Matt Ottley and Kirli Saunders

I feel honoured that the The Incredible Freedom Machines, written by Kirli Saunders and Illustrated by me, was shortlisted for the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

It is a book that we hope encourages freedom…and the love of reading. Congratulations to all of the nominated authors and illustrators. For a list of the shortlisted and winning works please click here.

Judges’ comments

This beautiful picture book celebrates creativity and the ability of the imagination to transcend the boundaries of our everyday lives.

While searching for her very own freedom machine, a young girl encounters many visually stunning—and obviously powerful—space-age vehicles that are skilfully juxtaposed against the shabbiness of the caravan park where she lives, a place that is bleak and ‘sawn together by boundaries’. Many of these amazing freedom machines are not quite right for her but she persists and ultimately finds a vehicle ready to transport her (and the reader) to places of wonder and unlimited possibility. These ‘most abundant untouched places’ enable her to realise her dreams and help her return to her own world feeling whole. In a sense her journey mirrors the experience of many readers as they search for the most appropriate stories that will help them find their own identities and a sense of completeness.

A seamless collaboration between words and surreal, often whimsical images, this book is a work of art. From the outset the cover communicates the courage and determination of the young girl with her bold stance and outward gaze. While the words are minimalist, each is eloquent and thoughtfully chosen by first-time Indigenous author Kirli Saunders. Coupled with the vibrant images, many reaching across double pages, the story creates a sense of the vastness and beauty of the Australian landscape. Colour and light are used skilfully and each opening reveals additional layers and ambiguities that can and should be explored at length. Multiple readings are a must. The images are brilliantly rendered by award-winning illustrator Matt Ottley, who has embedded inter-pictorial references to his own work as well as to that of a number of other famous Australian artists including Russell Drysdale, Fred Williams and Shaun Tan.

IBBY Australia Honour Book

Matt Ottley IBBY Award

I am honored to have been awarded the IBBY Australia Honour book for my illustration work in Teacup, an exquisitely written text by Rebecca Young and published by Scholastic Press.

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which helps to build bridges to international understanding through children’s books. IBBY is committed to the principles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the United Nations in 1990.

Every two years an Advisory Panel of three children’s literature experts makes the selection from all books published in the period. These outstanding books become Australia’s representative books in a traveling exhibition of about 150 international titles. The exhibition will be shown at the IBBY Congress in Athens in 2018, at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and in many other countries.

Teacup is the story of a boy ‘who had to leave home’ and his long and arduous journey by sea, bringing with him only a book, a bottle, a blanket and a teacup full of earth from the place where he grew up.


NSW Premier’s Literary Awards: ‘Teacup’

Matt Ottley painting an artwork for "Teacup" by Rebecca Young

I am delighted to announce that Teacup, a picture book written by Rebecca Young and published by Scholastic,  released mid last year, and illustrated by me, has just won the $30,000 Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature as part of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

The response by the public continues to overwhelm me. Teacup has now been printed in Catalonia and Canada, and is soon to be released in America!

The original artworks, large scale oil paintings, have been on display at The Literature Centre in Fremantle, with prints available for purchase from my website. Click here to see which prints are currently available.

A huge thank you to Rebecca Young for her soulful text, and to Ana Vivas and the fantastic team at Scholastic for agreeing to publish such a poetic work.

CBCA Book of the Year Awards: ‘Suri’s Wall’ & ‘Teacup’

The King's ship digital print by Matt Ottley

I am pleased to announce that my most recent book, Suri’s Wall, written by Lucy Estela and published by Penguin/Viking has been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards.

Teacup was also listed as a notable.  The winner of the CBCA awards will be announced on August 19th.

Congratulations to Lucy Estela for being shortlisted on her very first picture book. It’s a truly beautiful text. My heartfelt thanks to Heather Curdie and all the team at Penguin Random House.

The artworks from Suri’s Wall will be on exhibition at The Literature Centre in WA in the fourth term.