About the book

When a gentle creature sets out to search for a lost brother we are taken on an ethereal journey across land and sea to strange, beautiful and faraway places. To fantastic, floating cities, and mediaeval towns full of dark alleyways and winding staircases – to vast open grasslands and eerie, silent forests – and eventually to a place of timeless beauty and light. My Brother is a metaphorical picture book story for older children that looks at loss and grief from a sibling’s perspective.

Book cover of My Brother by Dee Huxley, illustrated by Oliver Huxley
Published by: 
Working Title Press - an imprint of HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks

About the author

Dee
Huxley

Dee Huxley studied design and craft at the National Art School, East Sydney. After graduating she taught visual arts in secondary schools in Australia and London. Between 1984 and 2012 she taught Design and Illustration at TAFE Enmore Design Centre, and Life Drawing at NIDA.

A freelance illustrator since 1976, her works include the short-listed CBCA Picture Books of the Year, Mr Nick’s Knitting, Rain Dance and You and Me Our Place, and the 2009 CBCA Honour Book, Tom Tom, written by Rosemary Sullivan. My Brother is the fourth picture book Dee has both written and illustrated.

Image of Author Dee Huxley

About the illustrator

Oliver
Huxley

I started drawing before I could tie my shoelaces.

I have always loved sketching animals, and drawing strange imaginary creatures - mythical monsters and fantastic beasts - in my sketchbooks.

After closely watching my mother’s successful career as a picture book illustrator and the beautiful books she has done, I spent several years studying both Graphic Design and 3D animation, with the goal of becoming a children’s book illustrator, like her.

During this time I created character for a story I wanted to write about a gentle but strong creature living in an apocalyptic world.  My brother Morgan loved this character and kept a tiny canvas of tit on the mantelpiece in his apartment.  The creature was never designed to be Morgan, but after his death in tragic and destructive circumstances, this character became the focal point of the story my mother and I decided to dedicate to him. 

It was an honour and also a moment of peace to collaborate on this book together with my mother and my sister Tiffany who was the designer.

The book was important for us all. We did not know where Morgan had gone or why. We wanted to try and create a place for him. We wanted to make sense of what was happening around us when there was no sense.

Working on the book gave us gave us a reason to smile, which was hard to do at times. It also gave us hope –and the belief that our story might help a child to find some hope during an equally dark despairing time – when the words, even of loved ones, cannot help.

I am currently working on a book about a chihuahua in Japan, while working nightshifts in a large Swedish company famous for its furniture.

I live in Sydney with my strong willed and very supportive wife, Elizabeth, and my wonderful short haired black Chihuahua Kolo.

Photo of illustrator Oliver Huxley

Judges’ comments

This is a moving story about overwhelming grief and loss. Longing for his lost brother, a distressed and lonely creature searches for him. He searches high and low, visiting all their old haunts, both joyful and scary. When his search is unsuccessful the creature is exhausted and lies down to sleep for a while. On waking he senses a new understanding and acceptance of his loss.  The use of soft watercolour in the final pages replaces the earlier monochromatic images to reflect the realisation that his brother is not lost. Rather he is everywhere and in every memory.

Beautifully designed, My Brother uses careful placement of well chosen, minimal text, almost stream of consciousness and plenty of white space to create the profound sense of pain and loss. Each detailed image engages us in the search and each can be explored at length and re-visited many times. A tiny donkey gently leads us forward to the next page, leading us to the bitter-sweet realisation and relief that we can learn to live through loss and grief and begin to think about the future.  While grief is an intense and personal journey, this book will resonate with older children and adults who have lost someone dear.