Libby Gleeson shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards

21 June 2013

Celebrated children's author, Adjunct Associate Professor Libby Gleeson AM, has been shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award in the Children's fiction category for her latest book, Red (Allen & Unwin).

In the face of declining book sales and an increasingly digitalised publishing industry, Gleeson has remained a prolific fixture in the Australian children's literature landscape. She is author of more than 30 books primarily for children and young adults, as well as several short stories and two episodes of the classic ABC Television program Bananas in Pyjamas.

In a similar vein to her past novel Mahtab's Story, which dealt with an asylum seeker journey from Afghanistan to Australia, Red carries a "strong social/political element", tackling such issues as climate change and natural disasters.

Though originally planning to write a book set in a futuristic post-global warming dystopia, Gleeson changed the focus of Red following a string of extreme weather events in Australia.

"Gradually the story morphed into a contemporary tale with the added drama of a cyclone hitting Sydney. The writing of that section drew on the community tragedies of floods in North Queensland and the fires in Victoria," she said.

Gleeson adds this latest accolade to a long list of achievements across her illustrious publishing career. She has previously been recognised with a Special Award in the 2011 NSW Premier's Literary Awards for her contributions to children's literature, education and mentoring. In 2007 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to literature and literacy education, and in 1997 she received the prestigious Lady Cutler Award for Services to Children's Literature.

As a firm advocate for literacy education, Gleeson is adamant that with continued funding support, there will continue to be a place for fresh books for young people in a rapidly changing publishing industry.

"I believe parents still want kids to read books and schools still want to purchase books for their library. NSW still has teacher librarians who support us and although they - the librarians - are feeling vulnerable with new school funding models, their value in the education system is so strong that we must fight to keep them."

Gleeson recently participated in a panel discussion at the Sydney Writers' Festival on creativity and the arts in education, alongside fellow faculty representatives Professor Robyn Ewing and Honorary Associate Teya Dusseldorp.

The winners of the 2013 Prime Minister's Literary Awards will be announced in July.

Contact: Emily Jones

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