Bob Graham won the 2017 Book of the Year, Picture Book Award for Home in the Rain. The Award was presented at Government House, Hobart on Friday 18 August. This is his acceptance speech…
I am bowled over to receive this award for Home in the Rain, and I want to make my own small tribute to all at the CBC, past and present. The Book Council and I share a few things beyond our commitment to children’s books. We are both septuagenarians; they being 72 this year and me running just a little ahead of them, trying to catch my breath.
It’s accepted wisdom among children’s book creators that we remain connected in memory and spirit to our childhoods. I can’t think that my books come directly from that land- I mean, it was all a long time ago, but nevertheless there are distant memories. In post war Australia and me at age 4, just as the CBC was first getting together, (I imagine a big pot of tea and lamingtons around the table,) I was at home in my Grandma’s bed with her reading The Owl and the Pussy Cat, to me. So there, I can get there, get back there at times and I can see little bits of it.
Strangely unlike other books of the time I can’t remember illustrations attached, and I usually have a strong memory for those things. Of course it has been illustrated many times now and often with this unusually matched couple under sail in a strong north easter, sails billowing, hell bent to get there, well, certainly quicker than “a year and a day” if they can manage it. I think, were I to illustrate this, I might like to slow it all down. I would be content to have them becalmed, only just moving, sails slack, the cat’s paw not needed on the tiller. The owl would be up front lazing on a coil of rope, his small guitar untouched, (plenty of time to come for love songs), with one wing tip languidly trailing in the water. They are in no hurry to get to the land of the Bong Tree. Happy to be just Here and Now and sharing the moment. And I’m happy for that to remain in my head. Some illustrations can’t always do the job you expect of them.
So here we both are, the CBC and me, fast forwarded to Hobart so many years later, time moving like a freight train. Good for you CBC and here’s to many more candles to come for your cake. Bearded men shouldn’t eat birthday cream cake in public but I would happily share it with my publishers Walker Books, designer Deirdre Mc Dermott, and editor Lizzie Sitton, Anne- Louise Jones for her help on the cover, and all the judges, authors , illustrators and readers who now have so many wonderful books available in libraries and shops and schools around Australia. And the CBC can take a big bow for that.