About the book

Words sing over the pictures in this evocative story: a beautiful lullaby about what we can be for each other. A mother and baby, a boy and a dog run for their lives. A little boat carries them across the sea. A polar bear, too, has come adrift. When will they find land? Where will they find friends? Who will welcome them in? The Pea Pod Lullaby is an inspiring and timely story of courage, endurance, and hope... for a world in which we can reach out and embrace one another.

Book cover - Pea pod lullaby by Glenda Millard and illustrated by Stephen Michael King.
Published by: 
Allen & Unwin

About the author


Glenda Millard is a highly respected author who writes for children of all ages. Her novel A Small Free Kiss in the Dark was the winner of the 2009 Queensland Premier's Award for young adults, Honour Book in the 2010 Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) awards for older readers, shortlisted for the 2010 NSW Premier's Literary Awards and included on the Honour List for the 2012 International Board on Books for Young People. Books from her popular Kingdom of Silk series have also received individual awards. Her novel, The Novice, was chosen for a White Raven Award in 2006. Glenda has also written many picture books, including The Duck and the Darklings, illustrated by Stephen Michael King, which was winner of the 2016 WA Premier's Literary Awards for children's books and shortlisted in the 2015 CBCA awards. In 2017, her young adult book, the Stars of Oktober Bend was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

Author - Pea pod lullaby by Glenda Millard and illustrated by Stephen Michael King.

About the illustrator

Stephen Michael

Stephen Michael King is an internationally bestselling illustrator who has illustrated over eighty books. He's been nominated for, and won sometimes, a whole bunch of awards. His books have been drawn in, chewed and thoroughly enjoyed throughout the world. He has also written over fifteen books. Books he has both written and illustrated include Milli, Jack and the Dancing Cat, Emily Loves to Bounce, Mutt Dog, You and Leaf. Several of his books have been shortlisted by the CBCA, and they frequently appear in children's choice awards. Stephen lives with his family on a coastal island in the Manning Valley of New South Wales (NSW).

This book grew from a poem Glenda wrote when Stephen and Glenda were preparing their contribution to the Hush Treasure Book for the Hush Foundation. They developed the words and pictures for this story together when Stephen was doing a residency at Manning Regional Art Gallery.

Illustrator - Pea pod lullaby by Glenda Millard and illustrated by Stephen Michael King.

Judges’ comments

'I am the lullaby/ you are the melody/ sing me'.

These opening words introduce Pea Pod Lullaby, a gentle but thought-provoking hymn to how we should live in harmony, connecting with each other and caring for our world. Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King both acknowledge that the original idea for the lullaby was inspired by a Leonard Cohen song, and conceived when contributing to a publication to raise money for the Royal Melbourne Children's Hospital Children's Cancer Centre.

This story is sadly all too familiar today: a mother and her children, one a newborn, and their dog flee a war-ravaged land by boat. They journey over the sea to a new beginning. Along the way they welcome a lost polar bear ironically adrift on an empty refrigerator. Deeply evocative, the story can be interpreted as a metaphor for the many difficult and dangerous journeys we might need to take during a lifetime. Themes of courage and resilience are reflected alongside the need to trust and support one another and hold out hope against seemingly insurmountable odds.

This picture book is a seamless collaboration between words and image: beautifully crafted, carefully positioned minimalist couplets overlay the rich and lyrical watercolours that convey much of the narrative. Each image uses colour and light skilfully and each opening depicts different possibilities that can be explored at length and revisited many times. Other literary journeys are alluded to (for example, The Owl and the Pussycat). Interestingly, although we might initially assume it is the mother who is singing to her baby, the 'you' consistently supports or nurtures the 'I' suggesting it is also the baby's lullaby ('I am the small green pea you are the tender pod; I am the diving kite you are the bow-tied tail'). At the same time the choice of 'you' ensures the reader is directly addressed throughout this meditation. While outwardly calm and reflective, this haunting and inspirational picture book is a deeply layered, eloquent exploration of different kinds of love, including the love for a mother and her child, care for the creatures who share our world and deep respect and concern for our environment.