In a new epic #literarycritters project, I’m getting behind the launch of a forthcoming book, Animals Make Us Human, edited by Leah Kaminsky & Meg Keneally, to be published next month by Penguin. Animals Make Us Human features the work of a stunning array of writers and photographers; and proceeds from the sale of the book will support the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
When I first heard about Animals Make Us Human, my initial response was disappointment that I’d not been invited to contribute. Then I got over myself and wondered how I might be able to use my literary critters to help promote the book in order to help raise funds for wildlife conservation. I contacted Leah and Meg to see what they thought and they were keen; so was the team at Penguin. However, with over 42 creatures featured in the book and only a couple of months before it was due to be launched, I figured I couldn’t do it on my own.
I put a call out through my networks and, after a brief moment of panic thinking no one would come to the party, I soon had another 26 crafters on board, many of them also writers, others editors, librarians and avid readers. As of now, they have committed to making 33 critters–an outstanding result and a testament to the generosity of the arts community (the same generosity we saw manifest in the #authorsforfireys initiative earlier this year).
I’m aiming to make a few critters myself, the first of which (pictured above) is the Glaucus Atlanticus or Blue Nudibranch, a glamorous seas slug that Ashley Hay writes about in Animals Make Us Human, alongside photos by Steve Smith. The pattern (yes, someone had actually made a crochet pattern for a Glaucus Atlanticus) is by Joy Koestner aka The Craft Frog.
I’ve set up an Instagram account (@literarycritters) where you can see more.
Meanwhile, here’s the full blurb on what is a stunning book:
A fundraiser for our wildlife, from land, sea and sky. Proceeds go to the Australian Marine Conservation Society and Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
A response to the devastating 2019–20 bushfires, Animals Make Us Human both celebrates Australia’s unique wildlife and highlights its vulnerability. Through words and images, writers, photographers and researchers reflect on their connection with animals and nature. They share moments of wonder and revelation from encounters in the natural world: seeing a wild platypus at play, an echidna dawdling across a bush track, or the inexplicable leap of a thresher shark; watching bats take flight at dusk, or birds making a home in the backyard; or following possums, gliders and owls into the dark.
Hopeful, uplifting and deeply moving, this collection is also an urgent call to action, a powerful reminder that we only have one world in which to coexist and thrive with our fellow creatures. By highlighting the beauty and fragility of our unique fauna, Australia’s favourite writers, renowned researchers and acclaimed photographers encourage readers to consider it in a new light.
Featuring: Barbara Allen, Robbie Arnott, Tony Birch, James Bradley, Mark Brandi, Geraldine Brooks, Anne Buist, Melanie Cheng, Claire G. Coleman, Ceridwen Dovey, Chris Flynn, Nayuka Gorrie, Dan Harley, Ashley Hay, Toni Jordan, Leah Kaminsky, Paul Kelly, Meg Keneally, Tom Keneally, Cate Kennedy, David Lindenmayer, Ella Loeffler, Maia Loeffler, Jen Martin, Angela Meyer, Sonia Orchard, Favel Parrett, Marissa Parrott, Bruce Pascoe, Jack Pascoe, Sue Pillans, Nick Porch, Holly Ringland, Euan Ritchie, Antoinette Roe, Kirli Saunders, Graeme Simsion, Tracy Sorensen, Shaun Tan, Lucy Treloar, Karen Viggers, Emma Viskic, John Woinarski, Clare Wright.
And photographers: Tim Bawden, Kristian Bell, Rohan Bilney, Justin Bruhn, Andrew Buckle, Matt Clancy, Amy Coetsee, Craig Coverdale, Angus Emmott, Jayne Jenkins, Vivien Jones, Sue Liu, Michael Livingston, Caleb McElrea, Nick Monaghan, Richard Pillans, Gillian Rayment, Linda Rogan, David Maurice Smith, Steve Smith, Colin Southwell, Georgina Steytler, Wayne Suffield, Heather Sutton, Peter Taylor, William Terry, Patrick Tomkins, Matt Wright.