Newcastle illustrator Liz Anelli has won the prestigious Children's Book Council of Australia Eve Pownall Award, for books that have the prime intention of documenting factual material in imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style.
Anelli illustrated the book, Dry to Dry: The Seasons of Kakadu, which was written by Pamela Freeman and published by Walker Books Australia.
The CBCA awards were announced on midday Friday.
"I'm totally delighted, over the moon to accept this award," Anelli said in the online awards via YouTube on Friday.
Anelli produced 20 pieces of artwork for the 32-page picture book, based on two study trips to Kakadu where she observed the flora and fauna.
Anelli uses acryllic paint with a lot of texture underneath to create her work, before scanning into her computer and finalising it on Photoshop.
"I do a lot of painting and making and sticking and crafting," she says.
"That's how I work, I fiddle around."
Anelli has conducted hundreds of workshops for school children of all ages around Australia, from Mamaruni School at Minjilang on Croker Island in the Northern Territory, to Carrington Public School kindergarteners the week before lockdown hit the Hunter.
"We had five-year-olds with load of pinks and blues responding to 'what you think about the sea and the sky?'," she says of that last workshop at Carrington school.
Her sense of humour seems to always be present: "All you need is your teaching staff to trust you that you're not going go make a terrible mess," she says.
The book's author, Pamela Freeman, said, "It's one of the highlights of my career working with her."
On Monday she will lead a children's illustration workshop on Zoom from the State Library of NSW. There have been more than 2000 registrations for the workshop.
It was the illustrated children's book, Desert Lake, about the seasons of Lake Eyre, by Freeman and Anelli that directly led Walker Books to commission Dry to Dry. And that has led to another commission, a book on the Daintree, which is now underway.
Anelli takes nothing for granted. Illustrating a book on a national park of Kakadu's stature was beyond her dreams when she moved to Australia.
"I thank maybe that's one of the reasons I'm so thorough in my research," she says.
"It feels like a real honour to be given one of the most well-known national parks in Australia to illustrate."
A fascinating show of Anelli's artwork for Dry to Dry was due to close this weekend at the Lovett Gallery upstairs at Newcastle City Library on Laman Street. It was set to tour to Darwin, but that exhibition and children's workshops have been moved to the summer holidays.
Dry to Dry has also been shortlisted for the Educational Publishing Awards Australia in the Educational Picture or Chapter category.
After a decade of calling Newcastle home, Anelli and her husband, Professor Mario Minichiello, also a distinguished artist and illustrator, will be moving back to England in 2022.