Freya features in children's book awards

IN THE PICTURE: Freya Blackwood with Banjo and Ruby Red, which was named an Honour Book in the early childhood category of the 2014 Book of the Year awards. Photo: MEGAN FOSTER          0817mfbook1

IN THE PICTURE: Freya Blackwood with Banjo and Ruby Red, which was named an Honour Book in the early childhood category of the 2014 Book of the Year awards. Photo: MEGAN FOSTER 0817mfbook1

A COUPLE of years ago Freya Blackwood thought she was working in a dying industry.

But this week the multi-award-winning children’s book illustrator received some news that  inspired her to continue creating beautiful illustrations for children’s books.

The book Banjo and Ruby Red, which Ms Blackwood illustrated, was named an Honour Book in the early childhood category of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s 2014 Book of the Year awards.

“The other great news is that there has been a big increase in the number of children’s books sold in Australia in the last year,” she said.

“I think it is a tactile thing. Children absolutely love to hold and feel their own book.

“We don’t have any sort of e-reader in our house.”

Banjo and Ruby Red was written by children’s author Libby Gleeson.

The book tells the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between Banjo the dog, who gets the chooks into their pen at night, and Ruby Red, the independent chook who prefers to be different.

Ms Blackwoods illustrations capture the chaos of the evening chook round-up and higlight the nostalgic rural scenes.

Ms Blackwood has forged a highly successful career as an illustrator and is currently at work on a new children’s book Perfect.

“I hope my illustrations live up to the name,” she said.

After leaving school in Orange Ms Blackwood completed a design degree (visual communications) at Sydney’s University of Technology

She became interested in film-making, which took her to New Zealand where she worked on The Lord of the Rings.

However, her passion for illustrating drew her to the children’s book industr.

Since 2004, when her illustrations in Two Summers saw her shortlisted for Picture Book of the Year, Ms Blackwood has won many awards for books including Amy and Louis, No Room for a Mouse, Happy and Hopper, and The Runaway Hug.

The Terrible Suitcase and Maudie and Bear have also drawn high praise in the children’s book industry.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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