My Dad is a Bear cover

Shortlist year: 2015

Shortlist category: Children's literature

Published by: New Frontier

Charlie's dad is tall, round and soft. Sometimes he growls. Could he be a bear? Luckily for Charlie there's one thing bears do best.

About the author

Nicola Connelly

Nicola Connelly is an emerging Australian author and My Dad is a Bear is her first book.

Connelly writes stories based on real life experiences and books she liked to read as a child.

She is a primary school teacher in Queensland, which means she is constantly surrounded by books for young children.

About the illustrator

Annie White

Annie White

Annie White is a freelance illustrator who has drawn all her life. After studying art and design, she worked in advertising before moving full-time into illustration.

Annie's work has appeared on cards, posters, homepages, magazines, rubber stamps and murals, and she has illustrated over fifty children's books.

Judges’ comments

Making a simple picture book that appeals to and satisfies young readers is far, far harder than most people think. Simplicity is the result of refinement and a keen understanding of the medium.

Here is a perfectly paced book that is a pleasure to read aloud and share between parent and child.

Writer Nicola Connelly and illustrator Annie White achieve all of these goals with My Dad is a Bear, which celebrates the bond between a child and their father. A dad is like a bear in so many ways from how big and round he is, to his love of fishing, and even for sleeping.

The text benefits from a pattern of repetition and clever variation while always exploring the central idea.

The warm, soft textures of White's illustrations convey a sense of comfort and ease. What bears and dads do best of course is give bear hugs, and parents and children will delight in reading and rereading this picture book. The simple pleasures of My Dad is a Bear are a pure delight.