I began illustrating children’s books about forty years ago.
I trained as a secondary art teacher, and although I loved teaching art I hated the routine of school.
When my first baby was born I knew I wanted to work from home, so I got out the Yellow Pages phonebook (this was well before the internet), found Oxford University Press under Publishers, rang up, and asked for a job. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by three lovely women who could see potential in my scrappy folio and gave me a book to illustrate.
After five years of illustrating other people’s stories I found myself getting picky with their texts and had a go at writing my own. Clive Eats Alligators was the result, and I have been writing and illustrating my own stories since then.
In 1997 my first children’s novel, The Quicksand Pony, was published and the The Snow Pony followed in 1999.
Over the last 20 years I have visited and worked in many remote indigenous schools and it’s been a real treat, learning so much from the people I’ve been lucky to meet.
Helping children and adults make books from their stories has been hugely rewarding.
The hardest thing about my job is getting time to do it. A large part of each year is spent giving talks and running workshops on writing and illustrating, and although I love travelling and meeting people, it takes me away from my family and work.
Alison Lester was born in November, 1952 in Foster in Victoria, Australia.
She grew up on a farm overlooking the sea and first rode a horse as a baby in her father’s arms. She still lives in the country and rides her horse whenever she can.
After training as an art teacher and teaching for one year, Alison began illustrating books in 1979 and five years later, wrote her first book.
Her picture books mix imaginary worlds with everyday life, encouraging children to believe in themselves and celebrate the differences that make them special.
Family and nature are the most important themes in her work – loving and caring for the world and its people
She is involved in many community art projects and spends part of every year travelling to remote indigenous communities, using her books to help children and adults write and draw about their own lives.
In 2011 Alison, along with Boori Prior, was appointed Australia’s first Children’s Laureate, a position they shared for two years.
She was also an ambassador for the 2012 National Year of Reading.
She is currently an ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital’s Education Institute, the Clean Ocean Foundation and Buk Bilong Pikinini.
Published Books & Awards
Alison has written and illustrated almost 50 books in over 35 years, published in many countries and all of which are still in print today. Her books have received a number of awards and recognition, both in Australia and internationally.
Published from 1985-1989
Clive Eats Alligators, Oxford University Press, 1985 (Now published with Hachette) - Commended Picture Book, C.B.C. Awards, 1986
- Ruby, Oxford University Press, 1987 (Now with Lothian)
- Rosie Sips Spiders, Oxford University Press, 1988 - Winner A.B.P.A. Design Award, 1989
- The Australian Baby Books - Bibs and Boots, Happy and Sad, Crashing and Splashing, Bumping and Bouncing, Penguin Books, 1989 (Now with Allen and Unwin)
- Imagine, Allen and Unwin, 1989 - Commended A.B.P.A. Design Award, 1989
- The Journey Home, Oxford University Press, 1989 (Now with Lothian) - Honour Book C.B.C. Awards, 1990
- Magic Beach, Allen and Unwin, 1990 - Shortlisted Book C.B.C. Awards, 1991; Winner ABPA Design Award, 1990
- Tessa Snaps Snakes, Oxford University Press, 1990 (Now with Hachette)
- Isabella's Bed, Oxford University Press, 1991 (Now with Lothian); Shortlisted Book, Multi-Cultural Awards, 1992
- My Farm, Allen and Unwin, 1992
- I'm Green and I'm Grumpy, Penguin Books, 1993
- Monsters are Knocking, Penguin Books, 1993 (Now titled Who’s that Knocking?)
- Yikes!, Allen and Unwin, 1993
- When Frank was Four, Hodder, 1994 (Now with Hachette)
- Alice and Aldo, Allen and Unwin, 1996 (Now titled Alison Lester’s ABC)
- Celeste Sails to Spain, Hodder, 1997
- The Quicksand Pony, Allen and Unwin, 1997 - Winner, West Australian Young Readers Book, 1999; Shortlisted 1998 Festival Awards for Literature National Children’s Award; Shortlisted 1998 Book Data Australian Booksellers’ Association Book of the Year
- Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo, Hodder, 2000 - Shortlisted 2001 CBC Awards
- The Snow Pony, Allen and Unwin, 2001
- Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia, Penguin Books, 2004 - Winner, Picture Book of the Year 2005 CBC Awards; Flagship Book for Australia’s National Year of Reading
- Moo - Talk to the farm animals with Alison Lester, ABC Books, 2006
- Purr - Talk to the pet animals with Alison Lester, ABC Books, 2006
- Roar - Talk to the wild animals with Alison Lester, ABC Books, 2006
- Bonnie and Sam - The Shadow Brumby, Allen and Unwin, 2007
- Bonnie and Sam - The Circus Pony, Allen and Unwin, 2007
- Bonnie and Sam - Racing the Tide, Allen and Unwin, 2008
- Bonnie and Sam - Saving Mr Pinto, Allen and Unwin, 2008
- Horse Crazy - The Complete Adventures of Bonnie and Sam, Allen and Unwin, 2010
- Running with the Horses, Penguin Books, 2009 - Shortlisted, Prime Minister’s Prize, 2010; Shortlisted, CBCA awards, 2010; Highly Commended, APA Book Design Awards, 2010
- Noni the Pony, Allen and Unwin, 2010 - Winner, Book of the Year for Younger Children, ABIA Awards, 2011; Shortlisted, CBC Awards, 2011
- One Small Island, with Coral Tulloch, Penguin, 2011 - Winner, Wilderness Society’s Environment Award, 2012; Winner, CBCA Eve Pownell Award, 2012; Whitely Certificate of Commendation, Children’s Literature Category from the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales
- Sophie Scott Goes South, Penguin Books, 2012 - A White Raven Selected Book, 2013; Shortlisted APA Design Awards, 2013; Shortlisted, Picture Book of the Year, CBCA, 2013; 2014 United States Board of Books for Young People (USBBY) List of Outstanding International Books for Children and Young Adults
- Kissed by the Moon, Penguin, 2013 - Winner, Indie Awards, 2014; Shortlisted ABIA awards, 2014; Shortlisted CBCA Awards, 2014; Shortlisted Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, 2014
- Read Along Series - Run Like a Rabbit, Growl Like a Tiger, Green as a Bean and One Clucky Hen, Allen and Unwin, 2013
- Our Island with Elizabeth Honey and the children of Gunana, Penguin Books, 2014 - Notable Book, CBCA Awards, 2015
- Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach, Allen and Unwin, 2014 - Honour Book, CBCA, 2014
- Baby Days, Allen and Unwin, 2014
- My Dog Bigsy, Penguin Books, 2015
- Hello Little Babies, Harper Collins, 2016
- Alison Lester’s Wonderful World, Allen and Unwin, 2016
- Alison Lester’s ABC, Allen and Unwin, 2017
- The Very Noisy Baby, Affirm Press, 2017 - Honour Book, CBCA, 2018
- Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey, Allen and Unwin, 2018
- The Silver Sea with Jane Godwin and children from the Royal Children’s Hospital, Affirm Press, 2018
- Tricky’s Bad Day, Affirm Press, 2018 - Winner, CBCA, 2019
- The Painted Ponies, Allen and Unwin, 2019
- Sing me the Summer by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Alison Lester, Affirm Press, 2020
- Noni the Pony Counts to a Million, Allen and Unwin, 2021