A touching and tender picture book about the joy that can be found in companionship and community.
An old man and an old dog look after each other on their daily trip to the local park. Along the way they meet friends new and old who brighten their day in different ways. A beautiful, heartwarming book that celebrates community and connection.
Within the old (and new) walls of an inner-city Sydney terrace dwells Christopher Cheng. He is the author of many children’s books including his previous Nature storybook title Python (illustrated by Mark Jackson) which was shortlisted for the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year awards. Passionate about animals, particularly those native to Australia, it's fitting that he established the Zoomobile and taught at Taronga Zoo in Sydney for many years, celebrating his background in education. He has always loved to write (he mostly always carries his notebook and pens) but he never thought he would be a full-time children’s author.
Illustrator Liz Anelli previously lived and worked in England but now resides in Newcastle, NSW. She has a huge passion for drawing and keeps rows of sketchbooks in her studio. In 2017, her book Desert Lake: The Story of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre (written by Pamela Freeman) was a CBCA Notable Book and was short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, NSW Premier’s History Awards, the Environment Award for Children’s Literature and the Educational Publishing Awards. Her other picture books with Walker Books include Ten Pound Pom (written by Carole Wilkinson) - shortlisted for CBCA Picture Book of The Year and winner of the Educational Publishing Awards in 2018 - Maddie’s First Day (written by Penny Matthews) as well as Dry to Dry (written by Pamela Freeman) and The Biscuit Maker (written by Sue Lawson), both of which were CBCA Notables.
There are only a handful of authors who can take such an everyday occurrence as an old man and his dog taking their daily exercise and turn it into such a charming story that has so many possibilities. Indeed, Chris Cheng has dedicated this story to the “Old fellows of Campderdown Memorial Park”, suggesting that he. himself, has spent an hour or more there just practising fika as he watches all the meetings and greetings and connections that are made, for a walk in the park is as much mental and emotional exercise as it is physical.
The Bottom Shelf
Old Fellow by Christopher Cheng and illustrated by Liz Anelli is a glorious, heart-warming tale that reflects on and celebrates companionship, the power of community, connection and the positive and affirming role parks play in a local area.
Reading Opens Doors
Revealing many people’s lives as they grow older, Cheng contemplates the winding down of life, the quiet easing of a life well lived, the two content to meet friends in a garden. Both the man and his dog are relaxed and comfortable with their lives, and the book reveals the promise of relaxed ease in old age.
Anelli’s illustrations so warmly capture the characters and reflect Cheng’s engaginly simple story. I found this story heart-warming, and one which captured the blessing of community and connection.
Old Fellow is a delightful picture book full of warmth and comfort. It is beautifully illustrated by Liza Anelli from the front cover through to the end papers.A visual and literary feast! Highly recommended.