I never planned on blogging about my own picture book on my blog. I wanted to explore Australian writing I’d never encountered before, to learn something about my country’s literature, not shamelessly write about things I already knew. But recently, in the process of finally publishing What in the World? as a Kindle edition on Amazon, I’ve revisited the book and it got me thinking: what makes my book Australian?
Well, the illustrator, Adil Soh-Lim, and I are both Australian. And Australia is the country featured for the letter ‘A’ in our book, along with the iconic kangaroo. From there, however, the book departs to explore countries from every continent on Earth (excluding Antarctica). It doesn’t have anything to do with the Australian life or landscape.
If anything makes this book Australian, it is the conception- from a school project through to a publishing project. Adil and I have received lots of help along the way to get the book to where it is now. It is a book born and raised in Australia, and while it has taken tentative steps out into the wider world with our decision to publish the book on Amazon, it is a book that was inspired to be created here and nurtured to its current state on Australian soil.
Perhaps that is what constitutes an Australian book- a book which was created and written against an Australian backdrop, even if it is a book about American marines (like Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow series) or set in Europe (like Tim Winton’s The Riders). At the end of the day, why should Australia’s writing conform to an Australian perception of Australians living in Australia? Isn’t an Australian perspective on the rest of the world just as relevant?
For all the controversy about just what makes a book an ‘Australian work of literature’, maybe we should all relax and remember that no matter the subject, these works by Australian writers were shaped by living ( at least partially) in this country. And that should be good enough.
What in the World?
Raelke Grimmer and Adil Soh-Lim, 2006
Patchery Press, 2012
Also available as a Kindle edition on Amazon.