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The powerful new picture book from Greenaway Medallist and seven-time CBCA winner Freya Blackwood

The boy lives in a city, where everything is fast and loud. But amidst the bustle and the noise, the boy has a secret …

In the overgrown lot next to his apartment building, deep within the green, he has a friend.

But one day progress arrives, bringing with it plans for something new, and the boy must find a way to save his friend before it’s too late …

From award-winning illustrator and storyteller Freya Blackwood comes a magical and tender wordless picture book about the world we live in and our ability to change it.


Dear Reader,

Thank you for taking the time to look at my new book, The Boy and the Elephant. All new books are exciting, however, this one feels very special to me because it’s mine alone, and more than all the others, it is closest to representing who I am.

The Boy and the Elephant evolved from ideas I was developing for a series of murals for the high care children’s ward of the Canberra Hospital. In one sketch for ‘hide and seek’, I hid an elephant in the form of a tree, or a tree in the form of an elephant. I liked the idea, and was reminded of a picture book from my childhood called Anno’s Animals by Mitsumasa Anno. The drawing wasn’t used in the series of murals, but instead was saved and nurtured, and became the inspiration for a story of its own.

Slowly a story gathered shape, developed over a few years through many drawings, while working on other projects. At random moments, ideas and solutions occurred to me and eventually I had the book sketched out in storyboard form. As the book was developed in images only, I needed to visualise well to make the sequence of events understood.

As I worked on the art, I wondered whether the art alone could carry the story, but by the time the artwork for the book was completed, it had a gentle, quiet feel to it and I couldn’t imagine it having words at all.

I hope you like it.

Freya Blackwood



Freya Blackwood is a multi-award-winning illustrator and writer. Her picture books are beloved for her warm and perceptive drawings. Since publishing her first picture book in 2003, Freya has worked with writers such as Libby Gleeson, Margaret Wild, Jan Ormerod, Nick Bland and Danny Parker.

In 2010, Freya won the UK’s most prestigious prize for illustrators, the Kate Greenaway Medal, for her book Harry and Hopper. And in 2015 she did what no other creator has ever done, taking out three CBCA Book of the Year awards in a single year. Her latest book, The Unwilling Twin, is shortlisted for Picture Book of the Year in the 2021 CBCA Awards.

Freya lives in Orange, New South Wales with her daughter, Ivy.




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