The books that made me by Lee Walker

To celebrate the Australian Reading Hour, we asked Australian Publishers Association President and OUP Australia School Publishing Director Lee Walker about the books that made her.

Humphrey the Friendly Camel  by Diane Elson, published 1975.

This was the first Scholastic Book Club book that I bought with my own pocket money that I saved in my Commonwealth Bank elephant money box. It’s not a particularly good book, but I pretended I liked it because I was so thrilled to buy my own book with my own money.

The blue and white set of Encyclopedia showcased proudly on the wall unit in my parents’ living room.

They were purchased by my parents from a door-to-door salesman in the 1970s. I pored over every volume! They made me because they informed my school project work and helped me get good grades. The medical illustrations – produced on transparent plastic pages that showed every detail of the human body, inside and out – were my favourite pages in volume M!

How Little Lori Visited Times Square by Amos Vogel, pictures by Maurice Sendak, published 1963.

Maurice Sendak is one of my very favourite illustrators. I discovered this book in my thirties; it’s a very funny book about a little boy called Lori who wants to visit Times Square, but keeps getting lost. This book continues to make me because I love New York, and Maurice’s artwork  and Amos’ tale remind me of New York when I’m not there.

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan, published 2001.

Shaun Tan is a marvel – his illustrative talent is unrivalled and his storytelling through pictures and very few words (and sometimes no words) is unique. This book makes me because it helps me through those very low days when all my troubles seem to come at once … and reminds me that the horrible feeling will not last.

The Boy Who Grew into a Tree by Gary Crew, pictures by Ross Watkins, published 2012.

This book made me because it connects humans with the environment in a very special way. I grew up mostly in the country, and I often miss being there – the smell  of eucalyptus trees and the wet earth after rain is delicious and intoxicating – so the story of a boy turning into a tree fits with what makes me me.

Find out more about how you can get involved in the Australian Reading Hour.


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  1. I’m with you on the Maurice Sendak, Lee. For another great picture book about NY I love Gus Gordon’s ‘Herman and Rosie’ – very evocative!

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