Blue Flower: CBCA shortlisted picture book 2022

Sonya Hartnett, Gabriel Evans

Blue Flower: CBCA shortlisted picture book 2022
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Blue Flower: CBCA shortlisted picture book 2022

Sonya Hartnett, Gabriel Evans

A gentle exploration of a child’s realisation that it is her individual differences and creativity that make her special, with stunning illustrations by the talented Gabriel Evans that delicately and sensitively convey the child’s emotional journey.

A young child describes her qualms about going to school and how hard she finds asking the teacher for help, how she feels shy about making friends, not being funny or a fast runner. But through her love of art, a conversation with her mother and her observations about nature she comes to see that being different might not be a bad thing after all.

I lay down and put my nose in the grass. The grass was dotted with yellow flowers, but blue ones grew there too. I rolled over and looked at the trees and the clouds, and thought about things for a while. ‘Not all clouds are white,’ I said, and Piccolo looked at me.

‘Not all trees are tall. Not all birds are brown. Not all cats are tabby like you, Piccolo. Some are black. Some are orange. Some are calico.’

Piccolo swished his stripy tail. I plucked a flower and showed it to him. ‘This flower isn’t yellow, but it isn’t wrong. It is what it’s supposed to be. No one would want it to be yellow. Everyone would say it’s lovely just the way it is.’

A beautifully told story about being happy in yourself for who you are from one of Australia’s finest writers.


A new book from Sonya Hartnett is always something to anticipate. Blue Flower is her first picture book since 2014 and this magical offering introduces readers to a sweet little character – and their adorably fluffy cat Piccolo – lamenting that they do not want to go to school.

Attending school is intimidating for this little introvert; navigating the landscape doesn’t come as effortlessly to them as it seems to for others. All the other students are far more confident and comfortable than our little character, who accepts that though they do not love being at school, there are some things to look forward to and be grateful for. For instance, art class and the smell of doughnuts at the tuckshop. Our little character is far more at home in the outdoors, observing nature and thinking about the big questions in life. They are different and ‘being different isn’t easy, until you decide it’s a good thing to be’.

As the first ever Australian recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2008, Hartnett is a superbly lyrical writer and when she bends her considerable talent to picture books the effect is especially delightful. Her unique style makes for a euphonious read-aloud experience, giving Blue Flower a mellifluent feel. Gabriel Evans does a masterful job of supporting this feeling with his whimsical illustrations and soft muted palette.

Blue Flower is a gift to those children who feel different: the quiet, thoughtful children who yearn to understand themselves and the world around them, and chafe against the established structures of a daily school routine. It is a magical accomplishment from one of our finest writers, and highly recommended for ages 4+.

Tye Cattanach works as a bookseller at Readings Kids.

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