Andrew Joyner won the Book of the Year : Early Childhood Award for The Swap, a picture book with text by Jan Ormerod. Andrew gave this acceptance speech at the Awards Announcement at the National Library of Australia on Friday 15 August 2014.
Thank you so much to the judges and the Children’s Book Council for this award. I’m in fine and flattering company on this shortlist, and looking at all of these books reminds me of the great work that the Children’s Book Council and its volunteers do to bring wider recognition to Australian children’s books and our many talented creators.
Speaking of great and remarkable talents, of course it seems wrong that Jan’s not here with me to accept this award. In many respects, I felt like I’d already received a prize simply by being asked to illustrate The Swap. I never met Jan, but I’ve long admired her work. And the fact that Jan wanted me to illustrate one of her books – well, that meant a great deal to me. It was one of the rare times when I was able to start work on a book almost immediately. Of course, I knew Jan was ill, but I always hoped that she would be here to see the final book. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. But I am at least grateful that she got to see the final roughs, and the delight she took in these, despite her illness, gave me some insight into her wonderful personality.
I have a theory that illustrators are always drawing themselves – that you can glimpse the illustrator through their pictures. (Although I’m not sure what that says about me!) From Jan’s drawings I sense an elegance and grace, coupled with a genuine love of the warmth and joy of family life. I like to think that some of her elegance found it’s way into Mama Crocodile’s character. Well, that, plus a little bit of Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction. And I hope that her warmth and joy is spread throughout the little world we made in The Swap.
Given the circumstances, I’m sure it could have been a very stressful experience to work on this book. But, for me at least, it wasn’t like that at all. For this – and many other things – I must thank the wonderful people at Little Hare, my editor Alyson O’Brien and my publisher Margrete Lamond. Margrete has always been so supportive and embracing of my work, so whatever successes I’ve achieved here owe a lot to her calm and thoughtful guidance. Thanks also to our designers Luke and Vida Kelly, and to the many people at Hardie Grant Egmont who have helped bring The Swap to Australia and the world.
I know I would find it very hard to make anything if it wasn’t for the love, support and patience of my personal cheer squad. So finally, much love and many thanks to my wife Beck, and my children William and Charlotte.