IBBY Australia is proud to announce the names of the Australian nominees for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2020: Ann James (for Illustration) and Libby Gleeson (for Writing).

Ann James, AM is one of Australia’s best loved and most respected picture book artists. Since publishing her first book, A Pet for Mrs Arbuckle (1981), by Gwenda Smyth, she has been highly regarded for her gloriously joyous and spontaneous artwork and has collaborated with some of Australia’s finest writers including Sonya Hartnett, Margaret Wild, Janeen Brian, Libby Hathorn, and Frances Watts. She has co-created classic series characters such as Robin Klein’s Penny Pollard, Christine Harris’s Audrey of the Outback and Libby Gleeson’s Hannah. She also wrote and illustrated Bird and Bear (2013), and Bird and Bear and the Special Day (2016) which are bound to become enduring classics. In 1988 Ann and her partner Ann Haddon established Books Illustrated, a gallery promoting picture books and their creators, through exhibitions in Australia and overseas. Ann helped establish the Society of Illustrators in 1988 and as a board director of the Australian Society of Authors (1996–2016), in 2003 she coordinated the The Style File, an online showcase of Australian book illustrators. She is a founding board director of the Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation (ACLF). In 2000, Ann James and Ann Haddon were awarded the Pixie O’Harris Award, and in 2016, the Order of Australia, AM. In 2003, Ann also received the Dromkeen Medal. Many of her over 80 books have been published internationally, and many are award winners. Bernice Knows Best by Max Dann was CBCA Junior Book of the Year, 1984, and Hannah Plus One by Libby Gleeson won the same award in 1997. Her artwork is distinguished by a number of qualities. Always, in a very subtle way, she tells a story in pictures with a filmic continuity which invites readers to question and interpret each image. She is a truly intuitive artist. Her loosely drawn figures are capable of conveying immense emotion. They are whimsical and thoroughly delightful in their improvised poses. Her work celebrates the child’s view of the world and her images are always astutely perceptive. Ann uses watercolour, charcoal, pastels, and a variety of innovative media. She creates her deceptively simple characters with a sleight of hand – a smudge of colour, the placement of an eye, the scale of a figure, the shadows cast by light – to convey the emotion behind words on a page. Ann’s advocacy has had a profound influence on Australia’s recognition in Asia and Europe. She has been a major force in Australian children’s publishing since the early 1980s.

Libby Gleeson, AM began her career as a teacher and has been a full-time writer since 1990. She has written more than thirty books, taught occasional courses in creative writing, and visited many schools throughout Australia to speak about her work. She has played a dedicated advocacy role in her work with the Australian Society of Authors, Copyright Agency and West Words. Libby Gleeson is not only one of Australia’s foremost writers of picture book texts but has also written sensitively for younger children, and important socially progressive works for young adults. Her body of work is astoundingly diverse and she is critically esteemed as one of the very best of Australian writers of literary fiction for young people. On her picture books she has collaborated with some of the finest internationally-regarded artists such as Armin Greder, and Kate Greenaway Medal winner, Freya Blackwood – both on a number of texts – and with Craig Smith, Julie Vivas and John Winch. Her junior fiction has included two delightful series – Hannah and Cleo – and she has also written award-winning stand- alone titles. On her teenage fiction she has been vocal about the need for strong female characters and has routinely been interested in social justice issues re the plight of refugees, outsiders and the dispossessed or powerless. She has also written three books about writing and done some writing for television programs, Bananas in Pyjamas and Magic Mountain. Her awards include being appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) (2007), the Dromkeen Medal (2011), the Nan Chauncy Award for contributions to Australian children’s Literature (2015), and many book awards including 1992 Winner Prime Minister’s Multicultural Award for Big Dog (illustrated by Armin Greder), 2000 Bologna Ragazzi Award for The Great Bear (with Armin Greder), 2002 CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award for An Ordinary Day (illustrated by Armin Greder) and the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Red (2012). Libby has been Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney since 2006. She is one of Australia’s most highly regarded writers for young people.

HCA nominees from the 75 national IBBY sections were announced at the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair yesterday, and IBBY Australia looks forward to the announcement of the winners of these awards at Bologna in 2020. Make ICBD your day to celebrate the Book!

For further information please contact: Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright, President, IBBY Australia.

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