31 March, 2023

Author nominated for illustrious award

Bribie Island-based author Gary Crew (pictured) has achieved the honour of being one of just two Australians to be in contention for the 2024 Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Author nominated for illustrious award - feature photo

The award is the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books, as the award recognises each candidate’s history of published works which have a significant and lasting contribution to children’s literature.

The Australian division of The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) nominated Gary and Australian illustrator Matt Ottley, who are among 59 candidates from 33 countries.

Nominees have a little more than a year to wait for the outcome, as the award winner will be announced at next year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Gary was recognised for his experimentation in genre and format, as well as how these innovations convey his desire to create a fascinating experience for readers.

Being nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award was “the cherry on top” of Gary’s career, as he described.

“It’s a bit overwhelming,” he said.

“I find it very interesting that they’ve chosen me so yes, it’s wonderful.”

Gary said his nomination was courtesy of IBBY, which investigated each candidate’s entire catalogue of works.

“What they do is just astonishing,” he said.

“They ask everything about everything you’ve written.

“They sent me forms, and I couldn’t answer all of the questions.

“They investigated my works, including in the UK and USA.

“I found the entire thing staggering.”

Gary said he knew the other Australian candidate, as the duo had worked together on some of Gary’s books.

The Bribie Island-based author said he had heard of the Hans Christian Andersen Award but had never really thought about it or understood its prestige.

Gary’s first book, titled The Inner Circle, was released in 1986 before he had more than 60 other books published, as he focused on children’s books and young adult themes. His latest book, In the Secret Place, is scheduled for release later this year.

Gary won an Australian Children’s Book of the Year award for his 1991 release Strange Objects, his 1994 release Angel’s Gate, his 1994 release First Light, and his 1995 release The Watertower. The former two were in the Older Readers category, and the latter two were in the Picture Book category.

Strange Objects also earned Gary the Alan Marshall Prize for Children’s Literature, and the New South Wales Premier’s Award.

Gary said he did a lot of reading and research, and that his novels were often based on some historical event such as a shipwreck.

Gary also received the Australian Wilderness Society’s award for Environmental Writing, as well as the Royal Geographical Society Whitley Award.

Also a lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) for nine years and a professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC) for 25 years, Gary retired in late 2020 at the age of 73.

Nowadays he runs classes at a library each Thursday, and “loves the quiet life in Bribie”.


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