Daniel Gray-Barnett won the 2019 Book of the Year Award: New Illustrator for Grandma Z. The Award was presented at Deakin Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne on Friday 16 August. This is Daniel’s acceptance speech:
Firstly, I’d like to thank the Children’s Book Council of Australia as well as the judges for this incredible honour.
A big thank you to my publisher, Miriam Rosenbloom and the team at Scribble Kids for their faith in my work and giving me the opportunity to bring Grandma Z to life. It’s probably fitting that this book didn’t start with a manuscript at all, but with some illustrations of the characters that I did just for fun. I thought that would be the end of it.
Miriam convinced me that these characters had a really good story to tell. So we did. I’m very grateful, Miri, for your vision – working on Grandma Z has opened up doors in my career.
My earliest memory of falling in love with books was in Grade 2, when my teacher Ms Wootton, was reading to us The BFG. Of course, Roald Dahl’s stories are captivating, but for me, the thing that really hooked me onto this book thing, was Quentin Blake’s illustrations.
Something about his scratchy drawings of a big-eared giant sparked my imagination. It was magical and I was in love. It was a stepping stone to imagining the rest of that world for myself. So for me, and I imagine a lot of other kids, illustration was and is an equally powerful way of connecting with stories and growing a love of books.
To all the teachers and librarians who champion illustration and visual literacy with their students – a big thank you!
I’d like to commend the other artists and their terrific work – what they each do is so unique and skilful and difficult – but it’s important work too. I’m very proud to be in such a talented group.
Lastly, I just want to thank my husband, without whom, I would find it very hard to do what I do.
Thank you everyone.