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Wendy Orr


Wendy Orr is the multi-award winning and internationally published author of over forty books ranging from picture books to adult, including Peeling the Onion and the Nim’s Island series, which have also become feature films. She is passionate about her craft and is known for the honesty and inspirational qualities of her sessions.

Where were you born?

Edmonton, Alberta Canada –  but I don’t have any memory of it, as my dad lost his job the day I was born, and we moved around Canada for the next couple of years, until he joined the air force. Then we moved to France, where I started school – then back to Canada, the US, back to Canada…between pre-school and Year 12, I went to 11 schools. Then I studied animal care technology for a year in Toronto, hated it and went to London, UK, for a summer, stayed for three years to study occupational therapy and married an Australian in the middle of it – so moved to Australia as soon as I graduated, and have lived here ever since.

What other jobs have you had?

I’ve always wanted to write, but at first I thought I should have a sensible job, so I became an Occupational Therapist specialising in Child Development. When I was a student I worked as a Kennel Maid, Chambermaid, Typist, Tea Lady, Receptionist and Horseback Paper Girl. And I’m also a mother, which is a very important job.

What themes are recurring in your work?

Resilience of the human spirit; finding the courage we need to face adversity.

What have been the highlights of your career?

  • The achievement of a lifelong dream with the publication of my first book, Amanda’s Dinosaur
  • The shortlisting of Leaving it to You the same day that devastating injuries forced me to resign from my job as an occupational therapist
  • Ark in the Park winning the CBCA Book of the Year, junior readers
  • The overwhelming response of readers in Australia, North America and Europe to Peeling the Onion; the letters I received meant far more than awards
  • Being involved in the production of Nim’s Island as a Hollywood feature film starring Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin and Gerard Butler
  • The red carpet at the Graumann’s Chinese Theater was one of the most exciting moments of my life – but helping Bindi Irwin give a baby rhino a mudbath before the Return to Nim’s Island premiere at Australia Zoo was even more fun!

What are you passionate about?

The power of stories and the imagination to help us fulfill our potential; I’d love to believe that every child is given the tools to do this.

Haven’t I seen you before?

Maybe while I was walking my dog at the beach? Apart from that, I’ve presented at festivals, schools, libraries and universities across Australia, Canada and the USA, India and Singapore, and have also been interviewed on TV and radio in Australia, the USA and UK. I’m also a Victorian Premiers’ Reading Ambassador, Love to Read Ambassador, and Books in Homes role model.

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