A LOCAL art teacher has launched her career as an illustrator by publishing a book with an award winning author.
Rita Sinclair, who works at Ingham State High School, has teamed up with former Australian children’s laureate Boori Monty Pryor to create the book Story Doctors.
The narrative explores the idea that stories can heal us and that we are all connected through Australia’s history.
Speaking at the book’s official launch at Rotary Park, Rita said: ‘When I first heard Boori speak I thought: “Everyone needs to meet this man because if they do we’ll heal the problems we have in the world.
‘When I was a librarian at a school and had a budget I brought him in as a speaker, and our friendship grew from there.
‘I’ve been with Story Doctors as it was being born night after night. Boori would phone me and read a page and I would start sketching.
‘It was about reading together and talking – and I think if we did that a bit more we wouldn’t have the problems we have in Australia.’
Rita’s stunning illustrations paint the author’s rhyming narrative, which takes us on a journey through Australia’s past through to the present.
She completed the work in six months, which is half the standard time it takes for experienced illustrators to finish a book.
Boori Monty Pryor, who grew up in Townsville and now lives in Melbourne, is a First Nations Australian author who is descended from the Birri Gubba nation of the Bowen region and the Kunggandji people from Yarrabah, near Cairns.
He said: ‘Life sucks sometimes. But we have to do the work on ourselves. And if we love ourselves, others might start loving us.’
He added: ‘Working with Rita is a natural process. She was always going to do the book.
‘We work really well together. I’d come up from Melbourne and we’d meet in Townsville at the C-Bar.
‘It was quite noisy and Rita would say: “No, we need to go to the library.”
‘So we did go to the library, once’.
‘Twice,’ Rita corrected him.
She went on to thank her colleagues for their support: ‘I have to give a shout out to the Ingham High School community for their support.
‘I’ve been home sick all week and they’ve put this together for us.
‘You guys fill up my heart daily and it’s nice to be part of such an amazing community.’
Warrgamay traditional owners performed a welcome to country to open the book launch and 15-year-old Janae Pearce sang ‘We are Australian’ in language.
Story Doctors has been published by Allen and Unwin.
Boori dedicated the book to the Pryor mob, while Rita wrote: ‘For my son, Cody’.
Story Doctors is on sale at the Mary Who Bookshop in Townsville.