Since he was given his name, Cecil has watched as other illustrations are created, coloured in, and given stories. After wishing for his own adventure and dreaming about what his finished self would look like, Cecil comes free of the artist’s pin board and hopes this means his story can begin. Cecil’s excitement is cut short, however, when a finished drawing tells him he’s not ready for a story. Upset, Cecil jumps into the first book he finds and although adventures are more frightening than he thought they’d be, Cecil is determined to find a book he can belong in.
Writer and Illustrator Narelle Oliver uses collages, photography, sketches, and linocuts to contrast Cecil against his environment and the books he enters. None are like the little pencil drawing of Cecil and therefore it’s clear he doesn’t belong and that the intensity and definition of those stories are not something he can handle just yet. In the end Cecil is taken back by the artist and stuck into a notebook next to a list of pencilled story ideas— Cecil has not been forgotten after all and will eventually go on to have a series of adventures all his own, he’ll simply need to be patient a little longer.
Narelle Oliver had not finished I Want to be in a Book before her death in late 2016, but the vision for Cecil’s book was complete and it is a touching end to a storied career. Her books having received numerous awards, including the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year; CBCA Book of the Year for Early Childhood; CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information Books; NSW Premier’s Literature Award for Children’s Literature and been Short listed in the Queensland Literary Awards and Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children’s Literature.