Shortlist year: 2022

Shortlist category: Children's literature

Published by: HarperCollins Publishers: Angus & Robertson

The boy lives in a city, where everything is fast and loud. But amidst the bustle and the noise, the boy has a secret ...

In the overgrown lot next to his apartment building, deep within the green, he has a friend.

But one day progress arrives, bringing with it plans for something new, and the boy must find a way to save his friend before it's too late ...

From award-winning illustrator and storyteller Freya Blackwood comes a magical and tender wordless picture book about the world we live in and our ability to change it.

About the author


Freya Blackwood

Freya Blackwood is a multi-award-winning illustrator and writer. Her books are beloved for her warm and perceptive drawings. Freya has worked with writers such as Libby Gleeson, Margaret Wild, Jan Ormerod, Nick Bland and Danny Parker.

In 2010, Freya won the UK's most prestigious prize for illustrators, the Kate Greenaway Medal, for her book 'Harry and Hopper'. And in 2015 she did what no other creator has ever done, taking out three CBCA Book of the Year awards in a single year. 'The Unwilling Twin' was shortlisted for Picture Book of the Year in the 2021 CBCA Awards.

Judges’ comments

Freya Blackwood's wordless picture book, 'The Boy and the Elephant', is a powerful testament to a number of ideas: that even the smallest and youngest of us can make a difference; that wonder and hope can be found in the most unexpected places; that the natural world is a precious and fragile thing; and the universal adage concerning pictures being worth more than their weight in words.

Blackwood's unmistakable illustrative style is light and nimble, whilst reminding us, through her trademark sketch lines, that hers is a mind busy and driven with ideas, purpose and intent. Perhaps most impressive is her ability to convey such a broad range of body language and emotion in the space of a handful of frames, using little more than form and some carefully chosen yet simple facial features.

Blackwood's inclusion of such subtle character and world details will reward the attentive young reader, and the thoughtful older reader. Along with the larger themes within the story, these details encourage conversation when shared with an adult, perhaps more-so because of the lack of written text. For all these reasons and more, this triumph of visual literacy will reward repeated and careful readings.