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Meet the Curious Creatives spending time at Taronga Zoo!

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We must take care of all our creatures, regardless of whether we find them visually appealing or not, as they are all extremely important to our ecosystem.

I hope to continue illustrating and writing for children, exploring the world and all the unusual things hidden within it. Click here to hear Sami speaking on the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ugly Animals, Shortlisted in this year Book of the Year Awards Eve Pownall Award.

I am a 23-year-old author and illustrator from Newcastle NSW, who is obsessed with all things weird and wonderful. I moved to Newcastle from Port Macquarie to start my university degree at the University of Newcastle, a Bachelor of Natural History Illustration (Honours) which is the only one available in the southern Hemisphere.

I love to paint using watercolour and white gouache, in order to create realistic flora and fauna that can be described as strange or downright ugly in order to show others that there is in fact, beauty in ugliness.

Sami Bayly


Abbie Mitchell

As an environmental educator Abbie Mitchell has led programs for NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and EcoXplore. Founding Kids Connecting Nature in 2015 she delivers curriculum-aligned hands-on environmental programs for schools, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, council and community groups, including the ‘Super Pollinators’ about native Australian bees, and ‘Hollow Heroes’, fostering hollow using animals.

Abbie’s book ‘A Hollow is a Home’ (CSIRO) explains complex conservation issues and scientific concepts by introducing young readers to the fascinating lives of over 340 Australian animals - united in their need for a tree hollow. The primary aim of the book is to provide that ‘penny drop moment’ about animal behaviour, their needs, interconnectedness, and the vital need to foster a sustainable environment. It has been shortlisted for the Environmental Book of the Year 2020 (Wilderness Society), and the Children’s Book of the Year, Eve Pownall Award 2020 (Children’s Book Council Australia).


Abbie’s passion as an educator is deeply influenced by her bushland upbringing and she strives to empower people to understand, celebrate and foster biodiversity.

Kids Connecting Nature is balanced with her other role, as the General Manager of Roots and Shoots (The Jane Goodall Institute Australia), a program designed to inspire youth to identify local proactive solutions to the issues impacting biodiversity worldwide.

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Lesley Gibbes

Lesley Gibbes

Lesley is an Australian children’s author, primary school teacher and presenter at the Australian Writers’ Centre where she teaches the adult online writing course, Writing Chapter Books For 6 to 9 Year Olds.

Lesley is a popular author of more than fourteen books for children. Her books include CBCA Honour Book Scary Night, CBCA Shortlisted Book Searching For Cicadas, Whitley Award winner Best Young Children’s Book Fluke and the hilarious, internationally published chapter book series Fizz.

Her writing has received acknowledgement from The Children’s Book Council of Australia, The Royal Zoological Society of NSW, The Wilderness Society, Speech Pathology Australia and the American Booksellers Association.​

Lesley is a dynamic, engaging presenter specialising in school author visits, writing workshops, festivals, professional development and parent forums. She is represented through The Children’s Bookshop Speakers’ Agency. Lesley lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with her husband, two children and two naughty Jack Russell terriers.

Charmaine Ledden-Lewis

Charmaine Ledden-Lewis

Charmaine is a Blue Mountains Artist and descendant of the Bundjalung People. Raised in a loving family, surrounded by art and music, Charmaine developed a passion for all things creative from an early age, and strives to provide such an environment for her two sons, taking great pleasure in nurturing creativity in them. Further, she believes we are all artists and encourages everyone to transcend inhibition and find your creative expression! Equal to her love of creativity, Charmaine also loves animals, and believes they are just as capable of emotion as we are, and deserve to be treated with empathy and respect.

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Liz Anelli

When she lived in England, illustrator Liz Anelli had a job dusting dinosaurs at London’s Natural History Museum. Now she has over 20 children’s and junior fiction titles published with numerous short-listings and awards. Liz likes to mix up the media  - weaving collage, paint and printmaking with found objects into her detail-packed pages. In between picture books Liz explores the Newcastle suburbs by bicycle and creates quirky illustrated maps. She loves watching the harbour ships at work.

Liz is a Board Director of Australia Society of Authors, Ambassador for Books in Homes and reviews picture books for CBCA Reading Time.

Her latest picture books are Dry to Dry written by Pamela Freeman and The Biscuit Maker written by Sue Lawson both published by Walker Books.

Sue Whiting

Sue Whiting

Sue Whiting has worked in publishing for two decades. She was Publishing Manager and Senior Commissioning Editor at Walker Books Australia for many years, before leaving in 2016 to concentrate on her writing and to work from her home as a freelance editor, writing coach and mentor. Sue has also written many books for children and young adults, including the best-selling Missing, the award-winning A Swim in the Sea and the CBCA Notable Books, Get a Grip Cooper Jones, Platypus and Beware the Deep Dark Forest. Sue has two new releases in 2020: The Book of Chance a mystery novel for readers 10+: and Good Question, a picture book illustrated by Annie White. 

As a schools’ performer, Sue has informed, inspired and entertained thousands of kids across the country. Join her on her adventures in story at

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