Jo has worked as a children’s librarian for many years and feels privileged to have shared hundreds of books with children. Jo was awarded the biannual Australian Library and Information Association Marjorie Cotton Award in 2004 for recognition of outstanding contribution to children and youth library services. She lives on the outskirts of Sydney with her husband and three boys.
New Frontier published Jo’s first book Pilgrim in 2008. Pilgrim was commended as a Notable Book by The Children’s Book Council of Australia and Jo was shortlisted for their Crichton Award for new illustrators in 2009. Pilgrim is also on the Premier’s Reading Challenge and received great reviews.
Pilgrim is about a boy’s first journey out to sea on their boat with his Dad. They see a pod of dolphins and the boy overcomes his fears. His relationship of trust with his father supports him and together they share the power and beauty of the natural environment. The motifs below the illustrations and place names in the book lend another level to Pilgrim, the legacy of freedom and safety we enjoy as a result of sacrifices made by Australians in war. Pilgrim is also about a spiritual journey and the idea of coming safely home.
Jo’s second book Tatiara (published in 2010) is about a girl and an injured seal who become friends in a sheltered bay. The book tells the story through words and pictures of how healing comes to each of them and the environment in which they live. Tatiara has a message of hope for young generations. The name Tatiara is an Aboriginal name meaning beautiful country.
The illustrations for Jo’s books use forms of printmaking. Pilgrim uses linocuts and Tatiara uses dry-point etching. The images are then hand painted in vibrant watercolour washes in the colours of the sea. When Jo shares her books with children she shows them how the illustrations are made.