Pixie O’Harris Award recipient 2021 – Maryann Ballantyne

4 May 2021

Jane Covernton who is a former publisher and was the Pixie O’Harris Award recipient in 2018, nominated this year’s Hall of Fame inductee, publisher Maryann Ballantyne from Wild Dog Books. Jane writes about Maryann’s career below.

The Pixie O’Harris Award recognises book industry representatives who have worked consistently in the field of children’s literature, demonstrated commitment beyond the call of duty, and who have developed a reputation for their contribution. It is named in honour of children’s book author and illustrator, Pixie O’Harris (1903 – 1991), who had a longstanding career in publishing and painted many murals for children in hospital wards, health centres and schools.

Maryann Ballantyne has worked in the Australian publishing industry as an editor, packager, publisher, and mentor to writers, illustrators and members of the book industry for more than 35 years. 

She began her career in Australian publishing in 1983 as a work experience intern with Penguin Books Australia while studying for a degree in Communications at RMIT, Melbourne. Soon after she joined the company as a full-time editor working for the dynamic publishing director, Brian Johns, and associate publisher, Jacqui Yowell.

In 1989 after a brief move to Five Mile Press, Ballantyne took up a role as managing editor at the nascent Reed Books, where she worked on Lindy Chamberlain’s book Through My Eyes and the story of John Friedrich – Code Name Iago, ghost written by then unknown author, Richard Flanagan. 

In 1991 Maryann was appointed the inaugural Children’s Publisher at Reed, going on to publish many notable books, such as The Blue Dress edited by Libby Hathorn, and a host of authors including David McRobbie, Gary Crew, Brian Caswell, Libby Gleeson, Sophie Masson, Nadia Wheatley and John Marsden. 

In the early ’90s Ballantyne joined her husband, Andrew Kelly in his book packaging business, Black Dog Books. In 2000, after building up a very successful series of primary readers, Black Dog stepped into trade publishing, thus beginning Black Dog’s steady transition from a packager to an independent children’s publisher of note. 

Between 2000 and 2010 the company published multiple award winning and short-list nominee titles – including When Mum Was Little by Mini Goss winner of the Crichton Award for Children’s Book Illustration in 2002 and Carole Wilkinson’s fantasy novel Dragon Keeper, winner of more than five awards, including the Children’s Book of the Year Award: Younger Readers.

In 2011 Black Dog Books was sold to Walker Books, with Maryann appointed as publisher to look after the Black Dog imprint. During this time Maryann focussed on the works of Indigenous Australians, with a particular emphasis on those living in urban areas. The book she is most of proud of publishing while at Walker is Welcome to Country, written by senior Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy Murphy and beautifully illustrated by Trawawool woman Lisa Kennedy. 

Seven years later Ballantyne left Walker Books to take up the role of publisher of children’s non-fiction and picture book imprint Wild Dog Books, and to pursue her interest in fostering the work of Indigenous writers and illustrators with the WA based independent publisher Magabala Books. 

In 2019 as part of an editorial team with illustrator and designer Donna Rawlins she was responsible for producing the childrens’ book adaptation of Magabala’s best-selling title Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, Young Dark Emu.

Maryann has always been passionate about publishing new authors and illustrators and stories that ‘tell us something about ourselves’ and reflect upon ‘where Australia has come from and who we are now’. 

She is known for her fierce intellect and curiosity, her innate sense of style, taste and judgement, her unswerving loyalty to her authors and illustrators and her great respect and commitment to the Australian publishing industry. In her 30 or so years of publishing she has given several generations of young readers books and stories that explore what it means to be part of a dynamic, and ever-changing Australian culture and society and provided them with a valuable sense of community.

Congratulations Maryann Ballantyne.

Business Award shortlist + Hall of Fame inductees

19 Apr 2021

The ABIA celebrate the professionals in the book business – the dedicated individuals and teams who bring stories to life, authors dreams to reality, and books to the right readers. 

Today we announce the shortlist in the Business Award categories and also the two people who will be inducted into the book industry’s illustrious Hall of Fame. 

Mandy Macky is this year’s Lloyd O’Neil Award recipient. This award recognises outstanding service to the Australian Book Industry by an individual with exceptional long service to the industry. Mandy Macky has been the Dymocks, Adelaide Rundle Mall, bookshop owner for 30 years and has recently announced her retirement. Generosity, tireless mentoring and business leadership have marked her career. 

Managing Director of Dymocks Retail Mark Newman has shared, “Mandy has championed innumerable initiatives and improvements within the business. Mandy is a wonderful mentor to her loyal and dedicated team, finding their strengths and then encouraging them to follow through and improve and have some control of those areas. She sets the highest standards for customer service, and her willingness to go the extra distance for a customer is an example the team follow. Dymocks is honoured to have had a long and fruitful association with Mandy and congratulate her on this well deserved prestigious award.”

The second individual to be added to the Hall of Fame in 2021 is children’s publisher Maryann Ballantyne, of independent press Wild Dog Books, who is named as the 2021 Pixie O’Harris Award recipient.

The Pixie O’Harris Award recognises industry representatives who have worked consistently in the field of children’s literature, demonstrated commitment beyond the call of duty, and who have developed a reputation for their contribution. Previous Pixie O’Harris Award recipient and children’s book publisher Jane Covernton AM has said, “Maryann has always been passionate about publishing new authors and illustrators and stories that ‘tell us something about ourselves’ and reflect upon ‘where Australia has come from and who we are now’. She is known for her fierce intellect and curiosity, her innate sense of style, taste and judgement, her unswerving loyalty to her authors and illustrators and her great respect and commitment to the Australian publishing industry.” 

Bookshops and booksellers are key to the success of the industry and this year, the businesses shortlisted for National Retailer of the Year and Bookshop of the Year are:

National Retailer of the Year shortlist

  • Big W
  • Booktopia.com.au
  • Dymocks
  • Harry Hartog
  • QBD Books
  • Readings

The judging panel remarked that, “Book retailers have cemented their place as an essential element of Australian life in the past year. 

Each and every shortlisted retailer excelled in their own market, capturing the imaginations of the Australian reading public. They have innovated, evolved and grown, and are key partners to the ongoing success of the Australian publishing industry.”

Bookshop of the Year shortlist

  • Avid Reader (Brisbane)
  • Books Kinokuniya (Sydney)
  • Mary Martin Bookshop Southgate (Melbourne)
  • Matilda Bookshop (Adelaide)
  • The Little Bookroom (Melbourne)
  • The Sun Bookshop (Yarraville)

Judges comments: “All the entered stores, in particular the shortlist, show fantastic evidence of the value of bookshops in Australia. The shortlisted entries exemplify this through their innovation, resilience and community engagement. Regional bookstores in particular play a vital part in their communities and the stores entered from regional areas exemplified this. 

The role of bookshops in Victoria was invaluable during the extended lockdown, through reading, engagement and innovation they became the lifeblood of their communities.” 

Publishers large and small are also celebrated for their professionalism, efforts and successes in bringing books to life. This year the shortlists for the Publisher of the Year and the Small Publisher of the Year are:

Small publisher of the year shortlist

  • Affirm Press
  • Australian Scholarly Publishing 
  • Cordite Publishing Inc.
  • Magabala Books
  • Pantera Press
  • University of Queensland Press

The judges have said, “Small Publishers in Australia are innovative, creative and essential. The range of publishers represented on the shortlist, each with a unique focus and position within the cultural landscape of this country is testament to this.”

Publisher of the year shortlist

  • Allen & Unwin
  • Hachette Australia
  • Hardie Grant Publishing 
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • Pan Macmillan Australia
  • Penguin Random House Australia

The Judging panel has said they, “would like to acknowledge the immense support Australian publishers offered their retailer partners throughout 2020, they were proactive in reaching out with help for booksellers around the country. It was a collaborative effort amongst the entire industry and as a result Australian publishing had one of its best years on record. 

“It was an incredible year all round for Australian voices, with publishers focussing on, and investing their time and resources in local authors. The industry as a whole has elevated their efforts to great success. 

Between now and the ABIA event on 28 April we will share in-depth stories about these people and businesses. 

You can catch more about Mandy Macky in this week’s interview on Better Reading.