Meet Gabrielle Wang, children’s book author and illustrator, and the new Australian Children’s Laureate for 2022-23! Gabrielle is an award-winning book creator and advocate, and over the next two years as Laureate, she will be traveling around Australia to libraries and galleries, exercising imaginations, on her ‘Follow the Dragon’ tour. Citing her Chinese heritage influencing all her creative works, Gabrielle’s wonderful tales combine Chinese philosophy and folktale.

Growing up, Gabrielle was enchanted by stories and the imagination, and has lived in many different countries to study and work, including Taiwan and China. Born and raised in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital city in Australia, Gabrielle felt out of place in school, and failed classes in an English-centric classroom. Despite barriers affecting her education, she was determined to follow her dreams and pursue an artistic and creative life. 

“There was no way I ever thought I’d be an author when I was a child because I wasn’t good at writing at school,” Gabrielle says.

“On the other hand, I always wanted to be an artist because I loved drawing so much. In secondary school I thought about being an archaeologist, zookeeper, illustrator or a film director.”

Spending time with her best friend Wendy, together they imagined fantastical stories and acted them out. Many years later after having finished a graphic design degree, Gabrielle had a vivid dream which inspired her to write her first novel, titled ‘The Garden of Empress Cassia’. She has since gone on to write many more books and stories for children and young adults alike, with ‘A Ghost in my Suitcase’ being made into a theater production and shown at the famous Sydney Opera House.

“We all deserve the opportunity to tell our own unique stories,” she says.

“Reading these books helps the reader see the world through the eyes of someone who is of a different culture or skin colour to their own.

“Seeing through their eyes, feeling their emotions, their fears and joys, this is what reading can do.

“We all need to feel like we belong, to feel proud of who we are.”

Gabrielle is passionate about sharing stories with the world, and the ways in which they help us tell our experiences, gain compassion for others and open our eyes to other worlds. As part of her role as Laureate, Gabrielle will be traveling across Australia visiting libraries and galleries, holding workshops to inspire imagination, creativity and storytelling.

Gabrielle’s key messages to children, parents and librarians 

1. Exercise your imaginations as much as possible by reading, writing and drawing.

2. Read books by diverse authors about diverse cultures. 

3. Make your local and school libraries your favourite go-to places. 

4. Get inspiration for your own art or stories by visiting art galleries. 

“Imagination is our most treasured possession,” Gabrielle says.

“Reading, drawing and writing stories can keep your imagination active. Imagination is like a muscle, if you don’t use it, you can easily lose it.

“So I’ll be reminding all the children, teachers and parents to keep imagining, reading, immersing themselves in stories!”

Follow Gabrielle Wang on her ‘Follow the Dragon’ tour, as Australian Children’s Laureate for 2022-23!

Visit the Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation website for more information.