- Bob GrahamAustralia ★ Illustrator
“I’d like to think that maybe that’s one of the better human attributes. That it is possible to care for each other for other animals.”Bob Graham
Born in 1942 in Sydney, Australia, Robert Donald Graham always had an affinity for illustrations in books and comics. He loved drawing but never really studied art at school. He left school in his teens and worked at Qantas for four years, but continued painting and drawing. When it became clear that this was where his passion lay, he enrolled at the Julian Ashton Art School, where he developed his talent and met his wife. While working in pubs and clubs, Graham took a position with the NSW Government printers. He later worked as a resource designer for Department of Technical and Further Education in Sydney, and the Australian National University in Canberra. The first book he wrote and illustrated was about his son and a budgie which briefly flew into their lives. The book was called Pete and Roland, and was published in 1981. Since 1983, Graham has been a freelance artist, illustrating many of his own books for children as well as educational materials and a popular six-page monthly comic strip in the French magazine Les Belles Histoires.
Bob Graham is one of Australia’s most revered and best loved artists for children. His disarmingly insightful and engaging work has also garnered him an international reputation. His illustrative work spans three decades since Pete and Roland was published. He has won the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Picture Book of the Year Award three times, for Crusher is Coming in 1988, Greetings from Sandy Beach in 1991, and for Rose Meets Mr. Wintergarten in 1993. His many international honors include the UNICEF Bologna Illustrator of the Year Award in 1994; the Kate Greenaway Medal for Jethro Byrde, Fairy Child in 2002; the Nestle Children’s Book Prize (Smarties Award) (Under 5 Category) for Max in 2000; the Boston-Globe Horn Book Award in 2002 for Let’s Get a Pup!; and the Charlotte Zolotow Award in 2009 for How To Heal a Broken Wing. In 2011 April Underhill, Tooth Fairy was shortlisted for both the Kate Greenaway Medal and the Australian Prime Minister’s Award Children’s Fiction.
Graham’s stories are authentic in their treatment of family life and ordinary events. The families in his books may be unconventional, but the bonds between them are strong, and his illustrations represent the bonds between characters. His simple, broken-line drawings create characters whose emotions come through their gestures and attitudes, rather than only in their facial expressions. He brings across every character’s point of view within a story. Bob Graham’s stories do not preach morals or good behavior, indeed they rarely tackle serious issues, but they are full of decent people who accept others, who care for animals as well as each other, and who have something to offer for everyone, young or old.