img156My Mother's Eyes 

Mark Wilson

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Latest News...   


Digger - The Dog Who Went to War (Lothian/Hachette) To be released March 10, 2015 

Based on a true story, Digger - the Dog who went to War is the story of a puppy smuggled onto an Australian troop ship during WW1. This is a heartfelt story that shows the bond of love and devotion between a boy and his dog cannot be broken, even by the tragedy of war.

Anzac Exhibition in Newcastle, at the Lovett Gallery March 31- April 1. I'll be doing workshops around my new book Digger - the Dog Who Went to War. Drop in and say hello if you are in the area, and see a wonderful exhibition hosted by Books Illustrated Gallery !

2014 CBCA Notable Picturebook Award Vietnam Diary Lothian/Hachette

2014 West Australian Young Readers Award Shortlist Ben and Gracies Art Adventure Lothian/Hachette

The Yea MARC  Writers Camp at Rubicon was a huge success. Such a great group of kids and so many wonderful stories written in the three days! Thanks Libby (Ahern) for inviting me to be involved. The Yea MARC Literature Festival was  also a great success and on again this year(sponsored by Yea MARC & CLAN, Children's Literature Australia Network & NEEF)  Thanks to all who help make it a sucessful day .

I want to thank the staff and students at Berwick PS for the wonderful two week author residency, and everyone at Moama PS for a wonderful stay up there on the Murray River. Love those old paddle-steamers! Keep those lovely stories & drawings coming!

Aurealis Award 2013 (Best Children's Fiction Told Primarily Through Pictures) Shortlist

Inside The World of Tom Roberts Lothian/Hachette


Whitley Award for Children’s Literature 2013

Deepsea Whale Rescue with Jan Ramage, DEC (Dept. of the Environment & Conservation WA)


CBCA Picturebook of the Year Award Shortlist 2013

A Day to Remember with Jackie French, Harper Collins Publisher 


White Ravens Award 2013

Trust Me Too Illustrated short story collection (Top 250 books from around the world, prepared by the International Youth Library). Various Authors & Illustrators, edited by Paul Collins, Ford Street

100 Readers Project - State Lib. of Victoria                Under the fabulous 'Dome' at the SLV, I read from my favourite book The Roadmeander  to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the 'D'.

Thanks to all who came to my gig at the Melbourne Writer's Festival and the Children's Book Festival at the State Library of Victoria.

New editions of The Last Tree, I Saw Nothing - The Extinction of the Thylacine, Journey of the Sea Turtle, A Day to Remember   and Angel of Kokodaare now in the shops!

Author in Residence - I want to thank the staff and students at Port Lincoln PS, Moama PS & St. Pauls Anglican Grammar, Traralgon Campus, for making my residencies a great success, and also a lot of fun!  

I was recently awarded the Dromkeen Medal for Services to Children's Literature, but I want to emphasise that it also belongs to the many librarians I have had the pleasure to work with throughout Australia, far to many to name here, and all equally deserving of this award. But the winner of this years Dromkeen Medal, Libby Ahern, has been a huge supporter for many years, and together with the help of many others, the Yea MARC Literature Festival has been a huge success. We set it up to support the kids up there who lived through the devastating bushfire four years ago. Many of them still need all the support they can get.This year will be no different, so thanks Libby and all those involved. 

    New Dodgy Chairs CD 'The R&B Sessions' available soon

Music: My band the  The Dodgy Chairs played for the fundraiser at the Carlton Football Club for the Baby Trees Project recently. It was a huge success (funds to build a school and hospital in Cambodia). Thanks for everyones support. It was a great gig!

I want to thank everyone who has supported my book Journey of the Sea Turtle, which has now sold over 13,000 copies. Lothian/Hachette Australia have done a third print run, so the message is still out there - we must save the sea turtles. All six species living in Australian waters are threatened and desperately need our help.


New books 2015

Digger - the Dog Who Went to War Hachette (out in Feb. 2015)

We're All Australians Now (with Banjo Patterson, Harper Collins, (March 2015)

The Horse Soldier  Windy Hollow Books (out in Feb. 2015)

Birrung, the Secret Friend (with Jackie French), Harper Collins (out in Feb. 2015)


Recent Picturebooks 


The Afghanistan Pup Book 4, The Children in War Quartet (Lothian/Hachette.Teach. notes at   See The Afghanistan PupSTUDENT QUIZ at end of this page.              

Vietnam Diary Book 3, The Children in War Quartet (Lothian/Hachette.Teach. notes at 2014 CBCA Notable Picturebook Award

Little Dolphin Windy Hollow Books. Teachers notes at

Inside the World of Tom Roberts book two,Ben and Gracie's Art Adventure series (Lothian/Hachette Children's). Aurealis Award 2013 (Best Children's Fiction Told Primarily Through Pictures) Shortlist

A Day to Remember, the Story of the ANZACS                                                                             with Jackie French (Harper Collins) CBCA Picturebook of the Year Award Shortlist 2013

Deep Sea Whale Rescue with Jan Ramage, tells the true story of  the rescue of a Humpback whale and her calf (Deptartment of Education and Conservation, W.A.) Whitley Award for Children’s Literature 2013

All books are available (including signed copies) through Robinsons Bookshop (Frankston Branch) on 03 9783 6488 or 


Woooohhh! Things are already rockin' this year... 



In The Beginning... 

I was born in Brunswick, Victoria, just up the road from the Carlton Football ground. I  loved drawing from a very early age. My brother Leigh and I spent most evenings drawing on huge sheets of paper on the kitchen table. I also loved comics, especially The Phantom, and a long forgotten western hero called Kid Colt. The drawings in both were brilliant! I would copy them over and over, which is really how I learnt to draw.

I had my first part-time job when I was 14, delivering bread and milk (I was allowed to take home as much bread as I could carry on my bike, and free bread and milk helped mum out a lot in those days). After that, I worked as a petrol jockey on weekends (as soon as I started my shift on Saturdays, my brother and his mates would pull into the servo trying to get free petrol for his old FJ Holden!).

But as fate would have it, my older brother Leigh was a good drummer and taught me how to play (just to stop me using mums pots and pans as a drumkit-very noisy). After school each day, I'd play along with songs by  Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Chuck Berry, The Beatles and the great Bob Dylan.  I went on to spend most of my teenage years pretending to be a drummer in various rock bands, and trying my hardest to sing like John Lennon.

I started studying art in year ten and went on to study mural design and painting at C.I.T. (now Monash, Caulfield Campus). I skipped classes two days a week to work as a cleaner to pay my way (somehow I still managed to pass though). I remember a few of us in the painting group were invited to lunch by the late great Fred Williams (at his house/studio). It was just amazing to see the paintings and prints he was working on, to see how he worked and to have a chat. He was a really nice guy and a great influence on me as a young painter.


Off to Work ...

After art school, I did National Service for two years, serving with Survey Corps and then Training Command (a slouch hat on my strange looking head wasn't a good look!). After the army, I did  a Diploma of Education, but by now, the band was doing some good gigs, so my choice was to either work for a living, or live the rock'n'roll dream. Not a hard choice. What a life! For one gig, we were flown to King Island and you could see the giant waves in Bass Straight not far below us. The pilot let our crazy guitarist take the controls for a while-what a buzz! 

As the mid seventies rolled around, I thought I should get a 'real' job, and landed a position as designer and illustrator for The Education Magazine and Pursuit Magazine ( still playing drums though, in the bands Centerfold and then Piranha. You can never get drumming out of your blood once it's in there!). I also started writing songs for the band and still write today with my old mate and guitarist Ken Spencer (he plays a good blues harp too!). 

In 1981 started freelance illustration for various other publishers including Penguin, Rigby, Brooks Waterloo in Australia, and Shortland in North America.  My friend Ann James gave me my first picturebook to illustrate at the time, called Drenched. A great little story about a little boy caught in the rain after school. From that moment on I was hooked on picturebooks! 

At about the same time, I became involved with various wildlife conservation groups like the Australian Conservation Foundation and The Wildlife Protection Council of Victoria. I did a lot of illustration work for these groups and others, which led me into writing my own stories concerning conservation and protecting native species. It has now become a lifelong passion. Prayer for the Animals  (Lothian) was the first book, and I worked for the first time with the brilliant editor Helen Chamberlin, who has been my editor ever since.   

In 1982 I held my first solo exhibition of paintings and drawings,at the Artists Proof Gallery in Richmond. I love painting and still paint and exhibit every couple of years (see the painting link at the top of this page). I still get the same buzz as I did as a little kid at school, opening the paint pot and just getting stuck into it!

My absolute passion though, is writing and illustrating children’s books. This also takes me all over Australia doing presentations and workshops in schools and at literature festivals (this fits in nicely with my eternal quest to find the best coffee shop in Australia!).


What A Year...

The Dromkeen collection of Picture Book Art is now a part of the State Library of Victoria Collection. As one of the  Grand Dragons of Dromkeen, I am happy with the promise from the SLV, that they will keep the Dromkeen Dragon Tradition going too, and even expand it. 

I have also been doing volunteer work for a charitable group called CLAN (Children's Literature Australia Network). Our aim is to publish books and to get them to disadvantaged children/schools when and wherever we can. The first book is The Timor Sparrow, and is one of six books I have written for the project. The Timor Sparrow is being printed in the Tetum Language of Timor Leste.  It will be off to the printer soon, as we have finally secured some funding! It's a huge project and we are just getting started, but there are some wonderful people I'm working with, so wish us luck!  

My blues band The Dodgy Chairs (featuring guitarist Ken Spencer)  is recording at the moment. Should have a half decent album soon! Also see the Australian feature length movie Now and Then, for a brief peek at illustrations from my picture book The Penguin Shore.


Take a Moment...

I know it's a busy life we all lead, but if possible, try to put some time aside to do a little for the environment. This in turn helps our wild creatures. Remember, the smallest things are the most important and together, we can change things.

I want to thank all the schools and festivals that have kindly invited me along to do workshops and presentations this year. In particular, thestaff at the State Library of Victoria and Victoria Vaughan and the teachers and students of Mount Eliza North Primary School, for their wonderful enthusiasm and support over the last few years.

Good luck to all the budding storytellers out there, and especially to all the people who read our books. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. 


The Children in War  Series 



This series explores children's experiences of, and reactions to, four different wars involving Australians; WW1, WW2,Vietnam and the war in Afghanistan.

Digger - The Dog Who Went to War (Lothian/Hachette) To be released in March, 2015

Based on a true story, Digger - the Dog who went to War is the story of a puppy smuggled onto an Australian troop ship during WW1. This is a heartfelt story that shows the bond of love and devotion between a boy and his dog cannot be broken, even by the tragedy of war.

The Afghanistan Pup 

An abandoned pup. A young girl in Afghanistan who just wants to go to school, and an Australian Soldier. This is a story of unexpected friendship, sacrifice, and finding hope in the most difficult situations.

Vietnam Diary

2014 CBCA Notable Picturebook Award 

Vietnam Diary follows the story of two brothers, Leigh and Jason, who are inseparable. But when Jason is conscripted and sent to fight in Vietnam, they are divided not just by distance, but by their beliefs about the war. The book explores the nature of brotherhood against a war that still divides Australian people today.

Angel of Kokoda                                                                                                                                                    3rd CJ Picture Book Awards International-Shortlist 2011                                                                                   CBCA CBCA Notable Picture Book Award 2011

Angel of Kokoda tells the story of Kari, a free spirited mountain boy, living in Papua New Guinea during WW2. When he finds a wounded Australian soldier lying in a ditch, he knows he cannot leave him. Together they embark upon a perilous journey along the Kokoda Track...

My Mother's Eyes - The Story of a Boy Soldier  

CBCA Notable Children’s Picture Book 2010                                                                                                                    CBCA-Eve Pownall Award, Notable Children’s book 2010    

My Mother's Eyes-The Story of a Boy Soldier tells the story of William, a young boy who enlists in the Australian Army during the first world war. Like many other underage boys, William is accepted into the AIF and sent to the battlefields of France during WW1. His letters home reveal how, for the boy soldiers, the 'great adventure' was both a triumph and a tragedy.

Hachette Children's Books



Ben and Gracie Art Adventures


Book 1  Ben & Gracie's Art Adventure        Book 2  Inside The World of Tom Roberts

2014 West Australian Young Readers Award Ben and Gracies Art Adventure                (shortlist) Lothian/Hachette

Aurealis Award 2013 (Best Children's Fiction Told Primarily Through Pictures)                Inside The World of Tom Roberts  (shortlist) Lothian/Hachette

Join Gracie and Ben on their magical adventures,  as they discover the world of the pioneers, the early settlers and the bushrangers, through the paintings of the famous Australian artists Fred McCubbin and Tom Roberts - and just a little bit of magic!

Books & Teachers notes are available from:

Hachette Children's Books







Tales From Nature








The Last Tree

Whiteley Award for Children's Literature 2007                                                             Environment Award for Children's Literature 2008                                                                    Wilderness Society, Picture Book Section, Shortlist                                                                                         

Our forests are being decimated at an alarming rate and we must do all we can to protect them. The Last tree is a story about one of our forests, and how nature has a way of surviving against all odds!           Lothian/Hachette Children's Books                  Teachers notes at


Deepsea Whale Rescue

Whitley Award for Children's Literature Award 2013

The amazing true story of the rescue of a Humpback whale in danger.


Journey of the Sea Turtle

Whitley Award for Children’s Literature 2010                                                     

Journey of the Sea Turtle highlights the fragile existence of our Loggerhead Sea Turtle population. It follows a Loggerhead Sea Turtle from its nest on a Queensland beach, to the dangers of the open sea.      Lothian/HachetteChildren's                                                                                                                                                Review:                          Teacher's notes at the end of this page


Prayer for the Animals

The recording of Prayer for the Animals is available on CD at

We need to preserve and protect the natural environment if we have any regard for the wonderful wildlife that inhabit this planet.  Lothian/Hachette Children's 



Environment Award for Children'sLiterature 2011                                                                                 Wilderness Society, Picture Book Section, Shortlist.   Black Dog / Walker Books,

The true story of an amazing rescue of 101 False Killer Whales at Busselton, W.A. Mark worked with old friend Jan Ramage on one of his favourite subjects - the rescue and conservation of our wild creatures.


Little Dolphin  

Follow the life journey of a dolphin as it grows and learns the amazing language of clicks and whistles that this species uses for communication.     Windy Hollow Books


I Saw Nothing - the Extinction of the Thylacine  (New edition, 2013)

Whiteley Award for children’s literature, 2004

Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children’s Literature - Series 2004

CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Australian Children’s Book 2004


This is the story of the last thylacine, one of Australias most amazing creatures. Mark worked with Gary Crew on this one.         Lothian/Hachette Children's



Young Murphy-A Boy's Adventure      Lothian/Hachette Australia

CBCA Notable Picturebook Award  2006



The Penguin Shore


CBCA Notable Picturebook Award 1996      The Five Mile Press



Windy Hollow Books. Teachers notes at

Teacher's notes available at




The Convict Children   



With Jan Ramage, Black Dog Publishing. It is based on a true story.

Environment Award for Children's Literature 2011

Wilderness Society, Picture Book Section, Shortlist.

Stranded tells of the stranding of a pod of False Killer Whales on the Western Australian coast line. A massive rescue attempt is undertaken to save them when a young boy and his father raise the alarm. The fate of one baby whale is held in the balance as the boy struggles against the elements to save him...

Teacher's notes are available at

Children in War Trilogy - Book 2

3rd CJ Picture Book Awards International-Shortlist 2011

CBCA Notable Children's Picture Book 2011

Angel of Kokoda tells the story of Kari, a free spirited mountain boy, living in Papua New Guinea during WW2. When he finds a wounded Australian soldier lying in a ditch, he knows he cannot leave him. Together they embark upon a perilous journey along the Kokoda Track...

Teachers notes for Angel of Kokoda and My Mother’s Eyes, The Story of a Boy Soldier are available through Hachette Children’s Books.

Book 1

The Little Wooden Horse

(Children of the First Fleet) is a story that begins in northern England in 1777. Elizabeth and Tom are destined to become two of the first convict children to sail to Australia with the First Fleet. We learn of their friendship, as we discover the circumstances that lead to their imprisonment, and eventual transportation to Botany Bay. Their story also tells us of the triumphs, trials and tragedies of that epic journey.


Windy Hollow Books


Teacher's notes are available at Windy Hollow Books 





All books are available online at the publishers or at:




Other Picture Books


See Children's Books link at the top of this page for more images from these and other titles, also publishing details.


Carpet of Dreams, author, Tessa Duder, Harper Collins 2007

Fortuyn's Ghost, author, Mark Greenwood, Cygnet Books 2006

Young Murphy, A Boy’s Adventure, author: Gary Crew, Lothian/Hachette 2005


Rodeo Darcy, author, Alison Gregory, Cygnet Books 2005


The Extinction Trilogy


       I Saw Nothing – The Extinction of the Thylacine, author; Gary Crew Lothian 2003


       I Said Nothing – The Extinction of the Paradise Parrot, author; Gary Crew, Lothian 2004


       I Did Nothing – The Extinction of the Gastric Brooding Frog, auth., Gary Crew, Lothian 2005


Castaways of the Charles Eaton, author; Gary Crew, Lothian 2002


Yellow-eye, author; David Spillman, ERA Publications 2001


Valley of Bones, author; Gary Crew, Lothian 2000


Rupert Goes to School, author; John Parker, Shorthand, Denver, USA 1999


The Penguin Shore, author; Tim O’Brian, The Five Mile Press 1995


“Hello, Barney!”, author; Mary K. Pershall, Penguin Books 1988



Books with Colin Thiele


       The Fiery Salamander, author, Colin Thiele, Lothian 2007

       Mr. Dumby's Duck, author, Colin Thiele, Lothian 2006



All Marks books are available (including signed copies) through Robinsons Bookshop (Frankston Branch) on 03 9783 6488 or



Picturebook Workshops




Recent Literature Festivals 

Melbourne Writer's Festival, MANTLE Conference, Newcastle, Scotch College Literature Festival, Wicked Fun Festival, Melb. Ipswich Children's Lit. Festival, Ipswich CYA Conference, Voices on the Coast Lit. Festival and the The Somerset Lit. Festival, Queensland, the Dromkeen Centre for Picture Book Art and the State  Library Children's Book Festival in Victoria. Mount Eliza North Primary School mentorship program. The Fremantle Children's Literature Centre, W.A., Cube at Frankston Arts Centre, the Mornington Peninsula Writers' Festival and the Hastings Literary Festival.

Recent Library Workshops & storytelling Sessions

Phoenix Park, Prahran, Cranbourne, Malvern, Carrum Downs, Frankston, Mount Waverly. Mornington, Mulgrave Community House for Monash City Council. 

Recent School Workshops 

Buln Buln PS, Scotch College Hawthorn, Essendon PS, Carey Gramm. Second. Kew, Carlton PS Port Lincoln PS, Our Lady of Help Christians PS Eltham, Casey Grammar Cranbourne, Moama PS Apollo Parkways PS Greensborough, Forest St. PS Ballarat, Saint Paul's Bentleigh, Kingswood College Box Hill, Saint Paul's Anglican Grammar Traralgon, Saint Louis PS Aspendale Overnewton Anglican Community College Keilor , Pembroke College Kensington Park SA, Saint Paul's Anglican Grammar Warragul, Saint Thomas More's PS Mt. Eliza. School workshops through Stonington Libraries are: Malvern Valley PS, De La Salle PS Malvern, St. Josephs Malvern, Holy Ucarist PS Malvern East and Stonington PS. Harrisfield PS, St Josephs, Chelsea & Berwick PS. 

Workshops & Presentations 

In the 60 minute workshops/presentations we discuss picture books and how different writers and illustrators approach them. We also discuss endangered species and Australian history, the main themes that run through my picturebooks. There are also stories and drawing, and we work together exploring line, shape and texture as we create illustrations. The aim is to encourage students to have confidence in their own writing and illustrations.


Storytelling sessions are usually 40-60 min. for mixed groups from pre-school and up. They consist of stories from my books Little Dolphin, Journey of the sea Turtle & 'Where's my Quoll gone', amongst others. Sessions end with drawing the characters from my stories.   



                       Workshops at Books Illustrated Gallery and MENPS


Workshop Feeedback from Schools

Marks workshops are most enjoyable, addressing environmental issues in a fascinating manner as well as encouraging the students to look more deeply at their local surroundings. Anne van den Blink, teacher,  Parktone Primary School, Victoria

The session with Mark was fantastic. His approach to the students and his presentation were excellent. He tapped into their interests to really engage them. Tony Patterson, teacher, Newman College, W.A.

The children were totally engaged with Marks wonderful picture book workshops. We can’t wait to see him again next term.      Victoria Vaughan, teacher, Mount Eliza North Primary School, Victoria

It was interesting, funny, cool and Mark is a talented and exciting author/illustrator. Great stories!

Year 6/7 students, Booragoon Primary School

Mark was a fascinating speaker who really kept the kids engaged. A very successful presentation and enriching day. Keep up the good work Mark!  Parents group, Newman College, W.A.

Students, teachers and parents left Mark’s sessions with a thorough understanding of and respect for the processes involved in the making of a picture book. To complete the sessions, Mark’s step by step instructions resulted in all students creating some amazing work. Jenny Doust, Education Officer, Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre

Phone Simon at 'Booked Out' on (03) 9824 0177 for workshop bookings.


Most Asked Questions by Students

1. Who is your favourite author? Conn Igulden ('Emperor' series), Peter Watt and John Flanagan amongst many others!

2. What is your favourite picture book? Fiona The Pig, by Leigh Hobbs & Little Captain, by Claudio Munoz.

3. How much money do you earn? Not enough.

4. What is your favourite band? Greenday,The Small Faces, The Beatles, Pearl Jam, and the Rolling Stones  (plus many, many more,

5. Who is your favourite singer? Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, John Lee Hooker and many other great artists).

6. What is your favourite song?  I have many. Tin Soldier, by the Small Faces ('Revolution' by the Beatles & 'Positively 4th Street' by Bob Dylan).

7. Do you have a pet? We have two dogs. Kouta, a Sydney Silky Terrier and Toby (I'm not sure what he is) and my sons dog Melvin is also staying with us at the moment, and they all actually get along okay. We have a pond with seven fish and the odd frog drops by now and then, and trees full of Rainbow Lorikeets, Eastern Rosellas and Honey-eaters!

8. What are your hobbies? My Hobbies are playing drums, singing in my band and writing songs. I also love reading Historical fiction.I love Ausi rules football and follow the mighty Saints. I also love walking on the beach and finding old pieces of driftwood and things.

9. How did you become an Illustrator? Very good luck! I had a folio of very strange surrealistic B&W drawings (bodies without heads and strange looking people) and applied for an illustrator job on the student Magazines in Melbourne. Walla! I got the job. 

10. What is the best thing about your job? Going for a walk on the beach or playing drums whenever I want to.

11. What's the worst thing about your job? Going for a walk on the beach or playing drums whenever I want to, which means I don't get much work done!



(The List looks impressive, but that's because I've put it in big letters!) 

2014 CBCA Notable Picturebook Award                                                                                                                                           Vietnam Diary Lothian/Hachette

2014 West Australian Young Readers Award                                                                                                                                  Ben and Gracies Art Adventure (shortlist) Lothian/Hachette


2013 Whitley Award for Children’s Literature

Deepsea Whale Rescue with Jan Ramage, DEC (Dept. of the Environment & Conservation WA),


2013 CBCA Picturebook of the Year Award   

A Day to Remember (shortlist) with Jackie French, Lothian/Hachette Australia,


2013 Aurealis Award 2013 (Best Children's Fiction Told Primarily Through Pictures)

Inside The World of Tom Roberts  (shortlist) Lothian/Hachette Children's


2013 White Ravens Awar

Trust Me Too Illustrated short story collection (Top 250 books from around the world, prepared by the International Youth Library).  Various Authors & Illustrators, edited by Paul Collins, Ford Street


2011 Dromkeen Medal (for Services to Children's Literature)


2011 CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Picture Book

Angel of Kokoda Lothian/Hachette Australia


2011 Environment Award for Children's Literature 

Stranded with Jan Ramage, Black Dog Books/Walker Books, Wilderness Society, Picture Book Section, Shortlist.


2010 3rd CJ Picture Books Awards International - Shortlist 

Angel of Kokoda Lothian/Hachette Australia


2010 Whitley Award for Children’s Literature

Journey of The Sea Turtle Lothian/Hachette Australia


2010 CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Picture Book

My Mother's Eyes, The Story of a Boy Soldier Lothian/Hachette Australia


2010  CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Book, Eva Pownall Award

My Mother's Eyes, The Story of a Boy Soldier Lothian/Hachette Australia


Environment Award for Children's Literature 2008

The Last Tree Lothia, Hachette Aust. Wilderness Society, Picture Book Section, Shortlist.


Whitley Award for Children's Literature 1008

The Last Tree Lothian/Hachette Australia  


CBCA Notable Australian Children’s Book 2006

Young Murphy-A Boy's Adventure with Gary Crew, Lothian/Hachette Australia


Western Australian Premier's Book Awards, Shortlist 2005

Rodeo Darcy with Alison Gregory, University of Western Australia Press


Whiteley Award for children’s literature, 2004

I Saw Nothing, The Extinction of the Thylacine with Gary Crew. Lothian/Hachette Australia

I Said Nothing, The Extinction of the Paradise Parrot with Gary Crew. Lothian/Hachette Australia


Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children’s Literature-Series 2004

The extinction series - I Saw Nothing, The Extinction of the Thylacine.

I Said Nothing, The Extinction of the Paradise Parrot. I Did Nothing, The Extinction of the Gastric Brooding Frog.                     with Gary Crew. Lothian/Hachette Australia,


CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Australian Children’s Book 2004

I Saw Nothing, The Extinction of the Thylacine, with Gary crew, Lothian/Hachette Children's Books


Wilderness Society Environment Award for children’s literature 2003

Yellow-eye, with David Spillman, ERA Publishing


CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Australian Children’s Book 2003

Yellow-eye, with David Spillman, ERA.


CBCA Book of the Year Award: Notable Australian Children’s Book 1996

The Penguin Shore, with Tim O’Brien, The Five Mile Press


Rotring National Art Award for Drawing 1990


Westernport Art Prize 1989  (painting)


Attellier National Art Award 1988 (painting)


Undine Award, Melbourne Town Hall Collection 1988 (painting) 


Applied Chemicals Australia Art Award 1987 (painting)




This is me painting the mural on the YEA MARC Library truck last year (I've put on a bit of weight since this photo!). It was great fun, as mural commissions don't come along that often, so I really enjoy them when they do. Just have to watch those ladders. It's a long way to the ground from the top of a truck!



Illustration Folio

This section is just to show off a bit!


Published fiction






Published Educational




 Prints and original illustrations from Mark's books are available by contacting;





Teachers notes: My Mothers Eyes-The Story of a Boy Soldier and Angel of Kokoda are available at or Email: for teachers notes for all titles.

Ben and Gracie's Art Adventures teach. notes available at

Workshop Bookings: Phone Mark on 03 97897036/Email Mark at                                  or phone Simon at 'Booked Out' on (03) 9824 0177





Journey of the Sea Turtle

by Robyn Sheahan-Bright



Themes & Curriculum Topics

              Study of history, society and environment


              English language and literacy..................

              Visual literacy.......................................

              Creative arts.........................................

              Learning technologies............................


Further Topics for Discussion & Research


About the Author/Illustrator                                               


About the Author of the Notes





‘Many began the journey across the open beach, but the shadow birds were waiting.’


Journey of the Sea Turtle highlights the fragile existence of the loggerhead turtle population, in a story which explores the migratory habits of sea turtles and the challenges they face to survive.


This is the story of a turtle which returns to the beach where it was born, to find that not only are the predatory shadow birds not there anymore but that the beach itself is now densely populated and built upon.


It is beautifully illustrated and sensitively told by author/artist Mark Wilson whose impressionistic images sing a lament and ultimately celebrate the resilience and instincts of wild creatures in their environment. 


Where to now for the turtle? Will she find a place to lay and bury her hatchlings? What further challenges will she face? And will she survive?



Themes & Curriculum Topics


This picture book might be used in conjunction with themes and curriculum topics (with lower, middle and upper primary level school students) in the following suggested areas:



Study of History, Society and Environment

Turtles, including sea turtles, freshwater turtles, terrapins and tortoises, are reptiles belonging to the Order Chelonia (also known as Testudines). They are known to have first appeared on earth about 200 million years ago, during the Triassic period. They may be recognised by the hard shell which protects their internal organs. And there are 250 species of turtle!

All types of turtle are threatened in some way, but the sea turtle is the most vulnerable. Sea turtles face threats mainly from fishing activities, but also from poaching, destruction of their habitats, and climate change. Hence, they are rated amongst the most endangered species on the planet. There are seven different kinds of sea turtle: Green Sea Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Leatherback, Australian Flatback and Loggerhead. This story is about a loggerhead.

 ‘Some turtles that live on land are called tortoises. A terrapin is a turtle that lives in or near freshwater or partly salty, coastal water. The name terrapin is only used for a group of North American turtles... Turtles can be grouped into seven main types: (1) mud and musk turtles, (2) pond and marsh turtles, (3) sea turtles, (4) side-necked turtles, (5) snapping turtles, (6) soft-shelled turtles, and (7) tortoise.’ (42eXplore Project The Topic: Turtles and Tortoises.

Activity: Research sea turtles.


Activity: Study the loggerhead turtle. In this story there are facts at the end of the story about the plight of loggerheads in our waters.


Activity: Study the flatback turtle. ‘perhaps most distinctly the flatback is the only marine turtle to call one nation home. The flatback forages, mates, and lays eggs along Australia’s coasts; its penchant for swimming, rather than riding oceanic currents, keeps it from migrating across oceans as other turtle do.’(Hance 2009)


Discussion Point: How are sea turtles different to freshwater turtles?

Test your students’ knowledge by visiting Kids Questions About Turtles

[See also Creative Arts below.]



Environmental Degradation and Pollution


During the last 150 years, the world’s population has grown from one to almost seven billion. The resulting pressure on the environment has caused a range of environmental problems including depleted natural resources, overcrowding, and displacement of, or destruction of, natural habitats. Commercial fishing, for example, creates hazards such as the depletion of food supplies or the dangers of tangled nets and lines such as the one which captures the turtle in this story.  To add to this, the cycle of climate change makes the lives of creatures in the wild often very tenuous. 

Activity: Research the effect of population growth and urban sprawl on the migratory habits of species such as turtles.

Activity: Research why sand temperature can affect sea turtle populations around the world. [Answer: If the sand is too hot, more females are born, if it’s too low in temperature, more males are born. Global warming may cause an imbalance in male/female ratios.]

Question: Why are plastic bags a major threat to sea turtles? [Answer: They look like jellyfish drifting in the ocean, so that turtles often swallow them and die. Such bags take approximately 1000 years to break up.]

Activity: Compare the environmental message of this book to that of Jeannie Baker in Where the Forest Meets the Sea, Window and Belonging.


Survival of Species


This story traces the cycle of life in nature where ‘the survival of the fittest’ is contingent on chance, individual strengths and on the nature of the ecosystem in which animals and plants co-exist.


Discussion Point: The shadow birds are described as both symbols of danger and of hope. What do the birds signify in this story?


Activity: Discuss the variety of threats which most reptiles confront in their life cycle.



Science -  Biology and Zoology are areas which might be studied in relation to this text.


Activity: Create a taxonomy listing the species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom, domain and life of the turtle (or of one type of turtle).  


Question: What type of bird is the shadow bird likely to be?



 English Language and Literacy


The text of this book might be used to encourage creative writing.


Activity: Have your students write their own story of a journey by a sea turtle from any region to any other region. Ensure that they research the regions and underpin their creative writing with factual information. Impress on them that they don’t need to include every detail of what they’ve learned, but that they should make sure that the story is factually correct in the obtuse details suggested. 


Activity: The sstructure of this narrative is underpinned by the widely used traditional trope of the journey or rite of passage. In this story the sea turtle travels away and then returns to the beach of her ancestors to find it unrecognizable. The turtle then encounters a variety of hazards before finding a new home for its nesting.  Write a cumulative version of this story based on the folk tale structure in which a repeated sequence of events is foregrounded by a repeated statement or question, and then ends in a climax. e.g. And then the turtle splashed and dived but was stopped by a [?] which [?].


Activity: Write another description of the events in this book, which are described in third person, in the ‘first person’ voice of a sea turtle.


Activity: The language used in the book contains a series of verbs describing the turtle or the birds in movement. e.g. ‘hovered, swooped, crept, dig, splashed, swam, drifted, diving, looked’. Ask the students to make up a sentence describing the turtles’ or birds’ movements using another verb or verbs.  


Visual Literacy


The visual text of a book must work in tandem with the written text to tell the story using the design of the other parts of the book outlined below:


Activity: The cover of a book is an important part of its message. Read the cover and discuss its impact. The title page of the book repeats the same picture of the turtle swimming in a sea with shadow birds hovering over her. What idea does this picture convey? Discuss the impressions each painting in the book gives you.


Discussion Point: The format of the book is square, and the layout of the storyboard contains a range of double page and single page images — some framed and some bleeding off the edges of the pages. How does the format of, and design of the book, influence your reading of it?  


Activity: The book is illustrated in a variety of mixed media, including oil or acrylic painting on canvas, watercolour, pastel crayons, and black and white sketching. (All illustrations except the oil and acrylic are finished in Derwent coloured pencils, the same ones students use in school.) The paintings are often very impressionistic. Discuss the style used in the book by the artist. Then create your own paintings in these media, depicting scenes from this text.


Question: Colours used in this book are richly vibrant. How does colour affect your interpretation of this work?


Question: The endpapers in the book depict two different beach scenes. What do they say to you as a reader?


        Creative Arts


Celebrate World Turtle Day. This annual event was established in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue, an organisation founded in 1990, and based in Malibu, California. The official date for WTD is May 23rd, and it is intended to invite people all over the world to register their appreciation for turtles and tortoises. For example, The Humane Society of the United States carries out observation and surveys to record how well turtles are thriving (or not thriving) in various parts of the world. There are many creative activities you could take part in on WTD, or on any other day in conjunction with your curriculum planning:


If there is a wildlife area or national park near you where turtles can be viewed, take the class on an excursion to observe them. Visit: Ten Tips for Safe Turtle Watching on World Turtle Day

Dress up as turtles!

Find cards online to email to friends to celebrate WTD. Visit the website: 123 Greetings Free Greetings For the Planet ™

Colour in the sea turtle found at:

Examine the postage stamps featuring sea turtles at: Sea Turtle Postage Stamps of the World Then design your own stamp!

Make a Model Sea Turtle. Visit the following website to find out how to do it: Williams, Tracia Ledford Sea Turtles: Hands on Craft for Kids

Make up your own dance to appropriate music, depicting some of the issues you’ve learned about in this unit of study. Watch Lekelia’s ‘Sea Turtle Conservation Dance’ on YouTube It should give you some idea of how to go about this exercise.

Watch a script for a documentary about turtles.

Create a play which explores some of the issues covered in this book. Your play might include music or dance.

Create your own Turtle Display.

Create a Diorama of a beach and of turtles nesting.


Learning Technologies


Information on turtles, conservation and the environment is widely available not only in libraries but on the internet.

Activity: Research sea turtles on the internet. [See Bibliography below.]





The study of statistics relating to turtle numbers in particular regions or countries could be undertaken.


 Activity: Create a table of the major turtle populations in Australian waters.



Further Topics for Discussion & Research


·         Research the work of Mark Wilson.


·         What were the main points raised by this book? Have students summarise them and then deliver a short address to the class based on the impressions gleaned from the text.




This work should encourage students to read more widely about the environment and how wild creatures, such as turtles, are affected by the behaviour of the other animals and people who share the planet with them.



About the Author/Illustrator


Mark Wilson is an international author/illustrator with 23 national and international awards for children’s literature. He took to drawing from a very early age, and also loved comics and went on to spend most of his teenage years ‘pretending to be a drummer in a rock band (and trying my hardest to sing like John Lennon)’. He studied mural design and painting at C.I.T. (now Monash, Caulfield Campus). He also did National Service, followed by a Diploma of Education. In the early seventies, he became designer and illustrator for Pursuit Magazine, and also started illustrating for various publishers including Penguin, Rigby and Brooks Waterloo. In 1981 he held his first solo exhibition of paintings and drawings. Recently, he has focussed on writing and illustrating children’s books and also picture book presentations in schools and at literature festivals. Awards include five Whitley Awards for Children’s Literature, six CBCA Highly Commended Awards and four Wilderness Society Awards for children’s Literature.







Fiction and Poetry


Adams, Patricia Harriet’s Race to the Reef. Ill. by Lynne Wilson. Knowledge Books and Software, 2005.


Mattingley, Christabel. Chelonia Green: Champion of Turtles Allen and Unwin, 2008.


Plater, Inge and Pearson, Sue The Green Turtle HarperCollins, 2001.


Non-Fiction Books and Articles


Dunbier, Sally Sea Turtles: Animals of the Oceans Lothian, 2000.


A Matter of Time: Sea Turtles of Queensland. Qld Turtle Research, Qld Dept of Environment and Heritage, 1994.


Hance, Jeremy ‘Little-known flatback sea turtle receives extra attention at symposium in Australia’ February 17, 2009


Hatzakis, Maria ‘Researchers fear hotter temperatures threaten sea turtles’ ABC News Online

‘Journey Of A Green Turtle From Indonesia Into Australian Opens Mystery Of 'Oceanic Superhighway'’ Science Daily January 7, 2009


Noonan, Diana The Green Turtle Macmillan Education, 1999.


Pyers, Greg Green Turtle Echidna Bbooks, 2002.


Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia(Online) Prepared by the Marine Species Section

Approvals and Wildlife Division, Environment Australia in consultation with the Marine Turtle Recovery Team

July 2003 Environment Australia, 2003.




Plays and Films


‘Green Sea Turtle on Heron Island, Queensland Australia’ Youtube


General Information Websites

123 Greetings Free Greetings For the Planet ™ s

42eXplore Project The Topic: Turtles and Tortoises.


Bundaberg Coral Coast & Country ‘Turtles’


Cornish, Jim Elementary Theme Pages Sea Turtles 2002.


Defenders of Wildlife: Sea Turtles


Earthwatch Institute Conserving Turtle Populations on World Turtle Day


Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)


Green Sea Turtles


Green Sea Turtles Print ’N’ Go Coloring Book


International Sea Turtle Society


Kids Questions About Turtles


Kidz Korner: Sea Turtles for Kids


Loggerheads in Australia


Project Global Global Bycatch Assessment of Long-Lived Species: Sea Turtles


Queensland Government Environmental Protection Agency Turtles


Sea Turtle Encounters On Western Australia’s Coral Coast


Sea Turtle Foundation


Sea Turtle Net


Sea Turtle Postage Stamps of the World


Sea Turtle Restoration Project


Sea Turtles


Sea Turtles A Kids Heart: A Play and Learn Site with Resources for Children and their Teachers


Ten Tips for Safe Turtle Watching on World Turtle Day


Tracking Sea Turtles


Turtle Nesting in Mackay


Turtle Time Inc


‘Turtles.’ KidsConnect.Com


Williams, Tracia Ledford Sea Turtles: Hands on Craft for Kids


World Turtle Trust


About the Author of the Notes


Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright operates justified text writing and publishing consultancy services, and is widely published on children’s literature, publishing history and Australian fiction. She also teaches writing for children and young adults at Griffith University (Gold Coast) where she gained her PhD for a thesis on the development of the Australian children’s publishing industry. Her latest publications are Paper Empires a History of the Book in Australia 1946-2005 (co-edited with Craig Munro) (UQP, 2006) and Kookaburra Shells Port Curtis Literature (justified text press, 2006).





These questions can all be answered by reading or interpreting the text of this picture book.


1.     Where did Kinah live?


2.     What does her name mean?


3.     On what day was the pup born ?


4.     On what date was the school destroyed?


5.     In what province is Tarin Kowt situated?


6.     Which country had their base in Tarin Kowt?


7.     What weapon hit the vehicle in which the young soldier died?


8.     What emotional illness do some soldiers return with?


9.     Which organisation helped some Australian soldiers to bring their dogs home with them?


10. How many Australians have lost their lives in Afghanistan?


Answers: 1. The village of Hafir. 2. Strong-willed. 3. Norwuz or New Year’s Day.  4. 7th April, 2008. 5. Uruzgan. 6. Australia. 7. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED). 8.Post-Traumatic Stress. 9. Nowzad, an animal shelter in Kabul. 10. Forty.