Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

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.