Queensland illustrator Gregory Rogers and Victorian writer Glenda Millard have had publications recognised on the 2012 Honour List for IBBY. The biennial list contains the most highly regarded titles of the previous two years as selected by participating IBBY countries. Rogers and Millard join previous Honour Book awardees, such as Julie Vivas, Nadia Wheatley, Allan Baillie, Margaret Wild and Jeannie Baker all of whom have received significant international recognition for Australian children’s literature. The wordless picture book, The Hero of Little Street, is the third in a series by Gregory Rogers that features a boy and characters such a medieval baron, Shakespeare and a bear. In this latest story, the boy finds himself in the Delft of the Dutch Old Masters after a chase through Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. Many references to famous paintings are scattered throughout the pages as the boy and an escapee dog have multiple and often hilarious adventures. No words are required as the reader pores over the masterful watercolour and pen-and-ink drawings to join in the visual jokes. The Hero of Little Street was the Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year in 2010. The IBBY listing will bring Rogers’ work to the attention of an international audience.
A dystopian, but very recognisable, Melbourne is the setting for Glenda Millard’s A Small Free Kiss in the Dark. War has come suddenly and unexpectedly to the city leaving a disparate group stranded in the State Library, including the narrator, street kid Skip. Billy, an older homeless man, young Max, whose mother has not returned and Skip make a hazardous journey to Luna Park where they find shaky refuge. There they meet up with Tia and her very young baby. Millard challenges readers with notions of family, and although the subject matter is grim, her storytelling is both powerful and hopeful and is conveyed through lyrical prose. A Small Free Kiss in the Dark has been recognised by the US Branch of IBBY on a list of significant foreign titles, was an Honour Book in the 2010 CBCA Awards and won its category in the 2010 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. Both titles are published by Allen & Unwin. Writers and illustrators from more than 60 countries will be recognised on the 2012 IBBY Honour List.