Introducing the new Australian Children’s Laureate (@Ozlaureate @GabrielleWang @EasternRegional)

Image thanks to: Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation

The Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation (ACLF) recently named Melbourne-based author and illustrator Gabrielle Wang as the 2022-2023 Australian Children’s Laureate.

According to ACLF website, the Children’s Laureate “is appointed on a biennial basis and must be an Australian author and/or illustrator of children’s and/or youth literature, who is making a significant contribution to the children’s literature canon of this country”.

Since 2012, some of Australia’s best artists have been appointed as Children’s Laureates to help promote the value and importance of reading in the lives of children and young adults. These include Alison Lester, Boori Monty Pryor, Jackie French, Leigh Hobbs, Morris Gleitzman, and Ursula Dubosarsky.

For her two-year term as Children’s Laureate, Wang’s themeImagine a Story – encourages people of all ages to exercise their imaginations by reading, writing and drawing.

“Your imagination is very important. Reading, writing and drawing stories can keep your imagination active,” says Wang. “Imagination is like a muscle – if you don’t use it, you can easily lose it. So I’ll be reminding all the children, teachers and parents to keep imagining, reading, and immersing themselves in stories.”

Wang is also passionate about diverse storytelling. Her maternal great-grandfather was 18 when he arrived in the Victorian gold fields from China in 1853, and her father came from Shanghai during the Second World War.

“Australia is such a culturally diverse country, so I believe it’s important for novels and picture books to reflect this. We all deserve the opportunity to tell our own unique stories.”

“Reading these books helps the reader see the world through the eyes of someone who is of a different culture or skin colour to their own. Seeing through their eyes, feeling their emotions, their fears and joys – this is what reading can do. We all need to feel like we belong, to feel proud of who we are,” says Wang.

To date, Wang’s 20 published books have enjoyed combined sales of over 170,000 copies. Among these are The Garden of Empress Cassia (2002), The Pearl of Tiger Bay (2004), The Lion Drummer (2008), A Ghost in My Suitcase (2009), Little Paradise (2010), The Race for the Chinese Zodiac (2010), The Wishbird (2013), The Beast of Hushing Wood (2017), and Ting Ting the Ghosthunter (2018) – just to name a few.

Meanwhile, Wang is the creator of two popular characters – Poppy and Pearlie – for the highly successful Our Australian Girl series. The Eastern Regional Libraries (ERL) have an excellent collection of these books.

In 2017, this reviewer had the pleasure of reviewing two of Wang’s books. The Beast of Hushing Wood is a beautifully illustrated fantasy tale for children aged 8-13, while Little Paradise, tenderly written for young adult readers, is a fictional account of Wang’s mother’s life story, especially her experience of living in Melbourne and Shanghai during the Second World War.

Readers are invited to visit both ACLF’s and Wang’s websites to discover more inspiration about the transformational power of reading, imagination and storytelling.

Note: This article was originally published under the title “Introducing the Aus Children’s Laureate” by Ranges Trader Star Mail, March 29, 2022, P.8.

Note 2: 寫給中文讀者:請參考 SBS 中文專訪:澳洲華裔兒童文學家:冀以故事書抗擊種族歧視

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