AustLit logo
Wendy Orr Wendy Orr i(A18347 works by) (a.k.a. Wendy Ann Orr)
Also writes as: Sally George
Born: Established: 1953
Gender: Female
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


Wendy Orr was born in Canada and, because of her father's career in the Canadian Air Force, grew up in France, Canada and the United States. After high school, she studied occupational therapy in London. While on holiday she met and later married a holidaying Australian farmer. Orr emigrated to Australia after completing her studies.

While her husband worked on his dairy farm, Orr worked as an occupational therapist and began writing children's stories. Her first picture-book, Amanda's Dinosaur, was published in 1988. She has since written more than two dozen books for children, young adults and adults. After a serious car accident in 1991, Orr began writing full-time and consolidated her reputation with several awards and commendations during the 1990s. Her books have been translated into several languages, most notably the prize-winning young adult novel Peeling the Onion (1996) which has been translated into multiple European languages.

Orr's Nim duology (Nim's Island and Nim at Sea) were both adapted for film, the first with Abigail Breslin and the second with Bindi Irwin. Her most recent book, Dragonfly Song, written partly in free verse, won both the Prime Minister's Award for Fiction and the Adelaide Festival Award for Literature, and was a notable book for the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards.

Most Referenced Works


  • Orr has also written readers in the Supa doopers series.

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Swallow's Dance Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2018 13658603 2018 single work children's fiction children's

'I wonder if the first day of Learning is always like this - do the girls on the hill always feel the ground tremble under their feet?

'Leira is about to start her initiation as a priestess when her world is turned upside down. A violent earthquake leaves her home - and her family - in pieces. And the goddess hasn't finished with the island yet.

'With her family, Leira flees across the sea to Crete, expecting sanctuary. But a volcanic eruption throws the entire world into darkness. After the resulting tsunami, society descends into chaos; the status and privilege of being noble-born reduced to nothing. With her injured mother and elderly nurse, Leira has only the strength and resourcefulness within herself to find safety.

'A thrilling Bronze Age survival story from the acclaimed author of Dragonfly Song.' (Source: Publisher's blurb)

2019 Children's Book Council Book of the Year Awards Notable Book
y separately published work icon Dragonfly Song Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2016 9510660 2016 single work children's fiction children's

'Abandoned by the priestess of the island at birth, Aissa is an outcast, surviving by her wits - until she joins the acrobatic bull dancers who are sent away to compete on the island of the Bull King. A gripping and powerful adventure by acclaimed author Wendy Orr.

'There are two ways of looking at Aissa's story. She's the miracle girl who escaped the raiders. Or she's the cursed child who called the Bull King's ship to the island.

'The firstborn daughter of a priestess is cast out as a baby, and after raiders kill her adopted family, she is abandoned at the gates of the Great Hall, anonymous and mute. Called No-Name, the cursed child, she is raised a slave, and not until she is twelve does she learn her name is Aissa: the dragonfly.

'Now every year the Bull King takes a tribute from the island: two thirteen-year-old children to brave the bloody bull dances in his royal court. None have ever returned - but for Aissa it is the only escape.

'Aissa is resilient, resourceful, and fast - but to survive the bull ring, she will have to learn the mystery of her true nature.

'A riveting, mythic Bronze Age adventure from award-winning author Wendy Orr.' (Publication summary)

2018 finalist International Awards Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards Canadian Children’s Literature Award
2018 winner Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature Award for Children's Literature
2017 joint winner Prime Minister's Literary Awards Children's Fiction
2017 shortlisted Queensland Literary Awards Children's Book Award
2017 Honour book Children's Book Council Book of the Year Awards Book of the Year: Younger Readers
2017 Children's Book Council Book of the Year Awards Notable Book
2017 shortlisted West Australian Young Readers' Book Award Younger Readers
y separately published work icon Rescue on Nim's Island Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2014 7543052 2014 single work children's fiction children's

'Nim lives on an island with her father, Jack, a marine iguana called Fred, a sea lion called Selkie, and their friend Alex Rover, the adventure writer. Nim's island is the most beautiful place in the world, and she wouldn't swap live anywhere else.

'When Jack invites a group of scientists to visit, they bring their children as well. But two of the scientists have plans other than studying algae... By the time Nim discovers what they really want, and what they will do to get it, the children are in grave danger. And so is the island! Nim must choose between saving a natural treasure and saving someone's life.' (Publication summary)

2015 winner The Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children's Literature Puggle Award - Fiction
2015 winner The Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children's Literature Fiction
Last amended 13 Mar 2018 15:13:11
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: