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Wendy Orr is an award winning childrens writer who lives with her husband in Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne. She was born in Edmonton, Canada, in 1953, but spent her childhood in various places across Canada, France and the USA. After arriving in Australia in 1976, Wendy worked as an occupational therapist until 1991 when she was involved in a car accident. She started writing in 1986. Rainbow Street Pets, a collection of six stories published by Allen & Unwin in Australia in 2012 is her latest book. The same stories have been published as a series of separate stories by Henry Holt in the USA between 2011 and 2013.
Return to Nim's Island, a Pinnacle Films movie starring Bindi Irwin, will be screened around Australia from 4 April 2013. See the official trailer here. To co-incide with the release of the film, Allen & Unwin will be publishing The Nim Stories, a two book edition, combining the novels by Wendy Orr that inspired the Nim movies, Nim's Island and Nim at Sea. Return to Nim's Island is the sequel to the 2008 movie Nims Island produced by Walden Media and starring Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin and Gerard Butler. See the official trailer for Nims Island here.
Wendy's book Nim at Sea was released in the USA in 2008 to coincide with the release of the Nim's Island movie. It was first pubished in Australia by Allen & Unwin. In 2007 Mokie and Bik was published by Henry Holt in the USA and More Mokie and Bik followed in the USA in 2008 and 2009. 2006 was a busy year for Wendy with three new children's books released in Australia: Across the Dark Sea, published by the National Museum Canberra, Too Much Stuff, a Penguin Nibble; and Mokie and Bik with Allen & Unwin.
Wendys first novel for adults, The House at Evelyns Pond, was published in August 2001 by Allen & Unwin. The story is set in the UK, Australia and Canada, spanning three generations from the Second World War to the present time. Wendy charts the energy lines of her characters lives and marks their points of intersection with insight and tenderness, weaving their individual threads together into a most satisfying whole.
Wendys latest picture story book is A Princess and her Panther, which was beautifully illustrated by Lauren Stringer and published by Simon & Schuster in the USA in 2010, is available in Australia through Allen & Unwin. Her first picture storybook, Amandas Dinosaur, was published in 1988 by Ashton Scholastic. Arabella (Harper Collins 1998) was beautifully illustrated by Kim Gamble. Its a poetic story about so many important things: the love between a child and his grandfather; the sea, its beauty and ferocity; and the joy and exhilaration of sailing that can be accessible even to a child in a wheelchair.
Works for beginner readers include three HarperCollins Skinny Books: Tin Can Puppy, (1990, also Macmillan UK), The Great Yackandandah Billy Cart Race (1993) and The Bully Biscuit Gang (1995); the Longman Supa Dooper Alroys Very Nearly Clean Bedroom (1996; also published by Scholastic Canada 2001) and the Koala Tadpoles, Jessica Joan (1994) and Sallys Painting Room (1997). Short novels include Bad Martha (1991) published by Angus & Robertson, Micki Moon and Daniel Day (1993) published by Allen & Unwin and the HarperCollins books, The Laziest Boy in the World (1994; Korean rights sold to Hyon Am Publishing, 2001) Yassou Nikki (1995); and Poppys Path (2001) published by Koala Books Australia.
Ark in the Park (HarperCollins, 1994) won Book of the Year in the 1995 Australian Childrens Book Council Awards, Young Reader Category. This award winning book has been published in Japan (1996 Asunaro Shobo through Tuttle-More Agency), Italy, France, USA and UK. Paradise Palace was released in 1997 by HarperCollins and a sequel, Paradise Gold, came out in 1999. These stories follow the adventures of Roland and his madcap family who always enter competitions and end up in Paradise in a Palace. Dirt Bikes (1995) was published by Angus &Robertson. Nims Island was first published by Allen & Unwin in Australia in 1999 and by Random House (Knopf, hardback and Dell Yearling, paperback) in North America. It has been translated into many languages inluding Italian, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Polish, Hebrew, Slovenian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. It was nominated for a childrens choice state award (Maine) 2002/2003 and was named on the LA Times Best Books of 2001 list.
Spooks Shack, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2003. Deep in the bush Finn discovers an old deserted shack. Jack Henry lived there 100 years ago and was friends with all the wild creatures. When Finn is with the old ghost, he can feel what the birds are singing and what the animals are feeling. But now they are all in danger someone is going to bulldoze the land and wreck their homes. How can one boy, a ghost and his dog save the bush?
Across the Dark Sea, was launched by the National Museum of Australia in 2006, as part of a series of fiction books for young children, Making Tracks, inspired by objects from the Museum's collection. The series is supported by a web site at www.nma.gov.au/play that provides teachers with discussion questions, supporting activities and an activity that allows readers to interact with the Hong Hai, the boat in the Museum's collection which provided Wendy with the inspiration for her story. Across the Dark Sea, beautifully illustrated by Donna Rawlins, features a fishing boat used to flee Vietnam after the War. It is the story of Trung and his father who escape attacking soldiers. But what awaits them across the dark sea?
Longer novels include Leaving It to You published by Angus & Robertson (1992 - short listed Australian CBC Awards, Younger Reader Category; published in Denmark by Glyndendal) and Mind Blowing (1994), published by Allen & Unwin. Wendy is best known to high school students for Peeling the Onion, published by Allen & Unwin in 1996 and an honor book in the Australian CBC Awards, Older Reader Category. It was also awarded a Highly Commended Award in the Australian Family Therapists Book Awards. It is about a teenager who suffers a car accident and deals with the consequences. It has been translated into Danish, German, and Italian and English language editions have been released in the USA (Holiday House: hardcover, Bantam Doubleday: paperback) and the UK (Orchard Books).
Wendys work has been published by Annick Press in Canada. Aachoo! is a picture book about an unwell child who accompanies her mother to the office for the day. Micki Moon and Daniel Day was published as a series of delightful picture books and Mind Blowing was published as A Light in Space.
Wendy has been published in USA by Knoph, Holiday House, Dell Yearling Sundance, Houghton Mifflin, Henry Holt and Bantam Doubleday. Her UK publshers include Orchard Books and Young Piper (Pan Macmillan). She is also published by Castor Poche Flammarion (France), Gyldendal (Denmark), Houtekiet/Fontein (Holland), Aare, DVT Junior (Germany), Asunaro Shobo (Japan), Edizioni EL Frontiere, Salani, RCS Libri & Grandi Opere (Italy), Edelvives (Spain) and Hyon am Publishing (Korea).
Wendy speaks at schools, libraries and literary festivals.
For more information about Wendy and her books, go to Wendys web site at www.wendyorr.com.
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