Vale Jan Ormerod

We lost one of Australia’s most prolific contributors to Australian children’s literature  this week.

Jan Ormerod was one of our most distinguished illustrators, with a career spent working with some of the great names of children’s literature, both Australian and international.

Born in W.A., Jan went to live in the U.K. in 1980, returning to Australia as often as possible with her family.  Her first book, Sunshine, a beautiful and evocative wordless picture book written in 1982 after the birth of her first child, won the Mother Goose Award, the Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book Award and was highly commended for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Her output was prolific, and across the years she both wrote and/or illustrated 79 books. Amongst many other awards, she received an IBBY Honour Diploma, Illustration in 2006 for Lizzie Nonsense, another CBCA Award for Maudie and Bear, illustrated by Freya Blackwood, in 2011 and the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, Children’s Fiction in 2011 for Shake a Leg, written by Boori Monty Pryor, our first Australian Children’s Laureate.

Jan’s work was charming, witty and full of energy and that carried over into her words and illustrations. To quote her own words: ‘Telling a story with words and pictures is a little like watching a movie, then selecting the evocative moment, like a still taken from a film.’

She will be sorely missed.

Photo Credit:


  1. Robert Vallis says:

    Very saddened to hear that Jan has died – a very dear friend would like to contact her sisters to express his condolences. He does not have an email address.

    I do hope you can help.

    Thank you

    Robert Vallis

    • Jordi Kerr says:

      Hi Robert,
      Unfortunately, we do not have a personal contact for Jan’s family. We recommend contacting her publisher, Walker books: They wouldn’t be able to give out personal details, but may be able to make contact on behalf of your friend.

  2. Paul Ormerod says:

    Thanks Robert, we will all miss her, and her prodigious but quiet talent, and thanks to Adele for this nice tribute. You might enjoy this nice obit in today’s Guardian newspaper in the UK.
    Paul Ormerod

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