The future of the Australian picture book would appear to be in very good hands. The most recently published writers include familiar names such as authors Hazel Edwards, Margaret Wild and Gary Crew, and author–illustrators Deborah Niland and Roland Harvey. What makes the latest offerings stand out, however, is the plethora of new and emerging authors and illustrators who are venturing into this genre. Such a combination of experienced and innovative approaches can only be good for Australian children’s literature.
The award-winning Deborah Niland brings years of experience as an author–illustrator to the visual delight that is Annie’s Chair (Viking, $24.95 hb,  pp). From the pink front cover, with its illustration of a smiling child with large pink sunglasses reclining in a cane chair, to the flowery purple endpapers, Niland shows her mastery of this genre. Annie’s Chair is the simple story of a determined little girl who will do anything to protect her exclusive ownership of her chair. This is a perfect picture book for toddlers and pre-schoolers coming to grips with the frustrations of sharing. The text is to the point, and the illustrations often bounce off it with humorous twists. Niland’s design sense is impeccable, with lots of interesting variations in layout, ample white space, crisp lines and bright colours, which should keep the attention of the wriggliest toddler. She has used a wonderful 1960s palette, with bold and exuberant colours contrasted with black-and-white checks and pop-art circles. Annie has chutzpah, and her determination to have unchallenged access to her chair is matched only by that of her dog Benny – a dog with nearly as much attitude as his mistress! This is a book that demands to be shared.