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Trace Balla loves to illustrate and write songs and stories, and inspire others in their creativity and awareness of the wonders of the natural world and the ample stories that surround us.
Her multi award winning books include Rockhopping, Rivertime, Shine and The Thank You Dish. Themes include gratitude, grief, slowing down, growing up, connecting with the land and its’ creatures, the joy of the outdoors and the lessons nature can teach us. She is currently working very slowly on a graphic novella set in central Victoria where she lives.
Trace enjoys visiting schools, festivals and community centres to inspire people of all ages and abilities with slide show talks as well as workshops. These include nature journaling, making graphic novels, mini books and story catching. Talks and workshops can be tailored to the group’s interests.
Melbourne, the big city, on a very hot day.
I have a background in illustration animation, community arts, art therapy and have taught and facilitated many creative workshops such as bookmaking, literary therapy, sketching in nature, basket-making, doll-making, animation, design.
Environmental themes and matters of the heart and soul.
What I love most is to inspire others’ creativity and love and care about nature. Creating “Rivertime” has been a milestone as I have made so many self published books and illustrated for others, but this is my ﬁrst book of words and images with a publishing company. It’s in a lot of schools now, which feels great to know that plenty of kids get to share the experience I had on the river that inspired the book. Some of my animations have been highlights. The Earlybird, about the joy of commuting on a bike, won the environmental ﬁlm award at the human rights ﬁlm festival. I wrote the lyrics for The Trusty Rusty Bike which won kids’ song of the year, and I love hearing kids sing that song on their bike. It was even made into a school musical! Letters to Faraway Friends and Lilly and the Yellow Cake were two of the favourite animations I’ve made.
Oh, too many choices. Maybe a Great Crested Grebe, they look a bit wacky and they love to swim… and sometimes I’m a bit of a galah!
Or maybe one of those Bowerbirds, I’m a hopeless collector of junk.
Maybe spinning past on my bike, singing some song I forget half the
words of, or with my head buried in a book in the kids section of the library, or even up a tree!
Winner, Readings Children’s Book Prize, 2015
Commended, CBCA Awards, Picture Book , 2015
Short-listed, CBCA Awards, Picture Book, 2015
Short-listed, CBCA Awards, Crichton Award for New Illustrators, 2015
Short-listed, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature, 2015
Winner, The Wilderness Society’s Environmental Award for Children’s Literature, Picture Fiction category, 2015
Winner, CBCA Book of the Year, Younger Readers, 2017.
Short-listed, Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards – 8 to 10, 2016.
Trace spoke to three different groups of students: p-2, 3/4, and 5/6. Each group listened quietly and attentively. They were very engaged in her stories and photos. Students responded really well to Trace’s quiet, calm manner. She held the groups of 100 students at a time terrifically.
It was great having Trace speak. I think the students really enjoyed and benefited from meeting an author whose books they have enjoyed.
Trace had such a lovely calm approach, that simply washed over our kids. They were captivated by her research and felt connected to the experiences that she shared. Having explored and created graphic texts themselves, our kids were particularly interested in Trace’s approach to planning. It was incredibly powerful to see how she transformed her own experiences into a most wonderful, detailed Australian story, Rivertime.
We were so happy to claim Trace as a ‘local’ following the shortlisting of her book ‘Rivertime’.
Trace visited us during Children’s Book Week and provided warm, engaging and inspiring sessions to senior primary school children.
Her vast array of beautiful images and sketches greatly added to the experience with both girls and boys alike asking many telling questions.
Interesting and motivating session. Tracy built confidence and boldness… with her use of black ink.
Insightful slideshow… her positive attitude inspired me to pick up a paintbrush again!
Absolutely brilliant and inspiring Trace! Your innovative approach to storyline cartoon childlike drawings – delightful – all credit to you! You managed to incorporate so much of this beautiful bush-area – the ecology, the indigenous culture, the unique flora and fauna – schools should welcome and treasure your material as it is an excellent springboard (of which you have obviously done so much genuine research,) authentic approach so wonderful!! Keep up the good work. – Trish retired primary teacher