Narelle Oliver is author and illustrator of award-winning picture books which feature narratives based on both natural history and imaginary/social/mathematical themes. Equipped with a Bachelor of Education, teaching experience, and twenty years of publication experience, she has conducted writing and illustrating workshops across Australia and South-East Asia.
I was born in Toowoomba to parents obsessed with the visual arts. As a family, we regularly explored local countryside with a view to photographing or painting it.
After high school, I trained to be a Teacher of the Deaf while also majoring in design and printmaking. I taught at the Queensland School for the Deaf where I was immersed in sign language, visual arts, and picture books. My interest in early language development and children’s literature also led me into work as a Lecturer and Tutor at tertiary level (Language and Children’s Literature subjects) at the University of Southern Queensland.
Many of my titles have been inspired by natural environments I have explored with my parents and, later, with my husband who trained in Environment Science and worked for the National Parks and Wildlife Service for some years. I have a specific interest (obsession?) in animal adaptation, which began at age eight when I first encountered a tawny frogmouth disguised as a tree branch on my aunt’s farm. Other books of mine have mathematical, historical and social themes with a more imaginary focus. The linocut print medium is a special feature of my illustrations, which have been exhibited throughout Australia.
Bucking against the trend of children spending more and more time in front of computer games and screens, I am passionate about inspiring children to explore natural environments and to be curious about less well-known animals and their ingenious adaptations. I am also passionate about visual arts, teaching drawing ‘from the right hand-side of the brain’, story (in general) and all forms of print-making.
Some of my other interests are: ballet (after lessons from age 8 to 16); swing dancing – that’s dance from 30s and 40s such as Charleston and Jitterbug , trying to speak the French language (after learning it in the written form in high school), reading (I’m in a book club and love it) and bushwalking (I’m preparing to walk the Milford Sound Track in New Zealand, with friends in late 2010).