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Open Right

Trace Balla

Author, Illustrator, Inspirational Speaker

Trace Balla works with people of all ages and abilities to inspire their creativity and awareness of the wonders of the natural world and the ample stories that surround us. Her book Rivertime is about appreciation of nature, facing challenges, not needing so much, and connecting with the earth. Trace can discuss and show slideshows and offer activities with varying focus, such as; sketching in nature, cartooning, book layout, making mini books, story catching and making combining words and images.

Where were you born?

Melbourne, the big city, on a very hot day.

What other jobs have you had?

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.

What themes are recurring in your
work?

Environmental themes and matters of the heart and soul.

What have been the highlights of your career?

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.

If you were a bird which would you be and why?

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.

Haven’t I seen you before?

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!

In 2015 Rivertime has been short-listed as follows:

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

Also available –  Teachers’ Notes – Rivertime and Teachers’ Review – Shine

Testimonials

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.

—N. Arnold, Literacy Coach, Yarraville West Primary School, September 2015

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.

—T. Higgs, Bendigo Library, August 2015

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!

—Participants in adult botanical drawing class, Horsham, Vic, June 2015

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

—Trish, retired primary teacher, Horsham, Victoria, June 2015

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