32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
If you read the entry for Dorothy Wall, creator of Blinky Bill, in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, you learn, “Dorothy Wall (1894-1942), author and illustrator, was born on 12 January 1894 at Kilbirnie, Wellington, New Zealand, daughter of Charles James William Wall, soldier, and his wife Lillian, née Palethorpe, both English born.”
If you read the new biography by Tania McCartney, creator of Mamie (amongst many others), you learn. “On a frosty day , in a land of long white clouds and snowy peaks , a little girl was born. Her name was Dorothy but her family called her Dorrie.”
If you look at the ADB entry you get a formal photo of the subject…
While the McCartney version is this…
Two different styles for two different audiences, each appropriate for their situations, but Dorrie demonstrating yet again why it is essential that we, as teacher librarians, must continue to offer our students non fiction in accessible, engaging print format.
As with Mamie, in which McCartney brought to life May Gibbs, the creator of the Gumnut Babies and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, so too has she created an appealing, readable biography of the author of the Blinky Bill series, focusing on her early life that helped shape the creation of the characters. As a child, Dorrie was a master creator- singing, Dancing, sewing, making jewellery, designing patterns, painting nature and drawing illustrations, winning scholarships to prestigious art colleges in New Zealand and then migrating to Australia at the outbreak of World War 1. But it is when a cheeky koala appears in a tree outside her window, her world is turned upside down. A fascination and passion for Blinky soon becomes her life work – and not only is a lifelong friendship born but also a series of stories that remain children’s favourites generations on. Who hasn’t read The Adventures of Blinky Bill or seen the television series or movie made from them?
The little koala in the red overalls is a literary staple in our children’s lives and this outstanding new biography is an essential addition to the collection because just as Dorrie captured the warmth and beauty of Blinky, his pals and their environment, so has McCartney. Although in reality, if you continue to read the ADB entry, Wall’s life was not an easy one and she died from pneumonia at a young age, McCartney focuses on the joy and the fun of playing and singing and dancing like no one’s watching. The final illustration of her books being displayed in an Angus & Robertson window (a company synonymous with books in times past) is perfect – not just for the book itself, but also for this year’s CBCA Book Week them of Read. Grow. Inspire. Both Wall and McCartney encourage that.